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Riviera Maya , Mexico - General Information
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Riviera Maya , Mexico | General Information

General Info, Travel Info, & FAQs are provided to assist with your vacation.

Not all ATMs in the Caribbean operate like those in your home country. Some may only accept a four digit PIN number, so if yours is longer you may want to change it before your trip. Ensure you keep your travel money in your primary chequing account as some ATMs default to this account and will not allow you to choose another. Withdrawal fees are generally much higher outside your home country.

ATMs are called cajeros. Most of the towns along the Riviera Maya don't have banks, although most have ATM machines, which may be located in a local grocery store or such. ATMs generally accept Visa and MasterCard and dispense Mexican pesos. Be quick removing your card otherwise the machine may keep it. Note: ATMs often run out of money or experience disruptions in service, such as due to power failures. Ensure you plan accordingly.

Bancomer (tel 01-800-228-2728) has branches in Puerto Morelos and Tulum, and HSBC (tel 984/871-2201) has a branch in Tulum.

Bancomer branches are open Mon-Fri 8:30am-4pm.

Predominantly Roman Catholic.

The local currency is the Mexican peso (Mex$ or MXN), which is divided into 100 centavos (cents). Paper money runs in denominations of $10, $20, $50, $100, $200 and $500 notes, and coins in 5¢, 10¢, 20¢ 50¢, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20 and $50 pieces. Notes in $100 and $200 are most commonly used. It's hard to obtain change for $500 notes. Ensure you carry coins in smaller denominations of pesos as many vendors don't have change.

Note: Mexico uses the "$" sign to denote pesos. Many tourist businesses, such as hotels and dive shops, post their prices in US dollars, while local businesses general post their prices in pesos. Ensure you confirm which currency is being used.

Most tourist shops and restaurants accept US dollars; few accept credit cards. In Puerto Morelos and Tulum particularly, most businesses only accept cash. To ensure hassle-free purchases during your trip, you may want to contact your credit card company and let them know you will be travelling abroad.

You can exchange your money in many of the larger towns, such as Akumal, Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos and Tulum. Exchange booths are known as casas de cambio.

American Express: lost or stolen card, 336/393-1111 (call collect); lost or stolen cheques or cheque cards, 866/247-6878 (toll free) or 801/964-6665 (call collect)
Discover Card: 801/902-3100
MasterCard: 800/307-7309
Visa: 410/581-9994 (call collect)
Western Union: HSBC (Tulum), 984/871-2201; Telecomm 23006 (Felipe Carrillo Puerto and Tulum), 01-800-800-8930

All visitors must pay a departure tax of about US$13 and a tourism tax of about US$8.50. It is usually included in your airfare, so check in advance. If it is not, you must pay it in cash at the airport.

A valid passport is preferred and ensures faster processing through immigration; however, American and Canadian citizens can also use proof of citizenship (such as a certified, not photocopied, birth certificate, Naturalization Certificate, a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a Certificate of Citizenship) and valid official photo identification (such as a driver's license).

Upon entry into Mexico all visitors must provide a completed tourist card, known as an FM-T, which is provided by the airlines or at points of entry. The cost for the tourist card is usually included in the price of your airline ticket.

Single/lone parents or other adults travelling alone with children must provide a notarized letter from the absent parent/guardian authorizing consent for the children to travel.

For more information consult your nearest Mexico consulate/embassy or call the Mexico immigration office in Cancun (52-998/884-1749).

As of January 23, 2007, all persons travelling by air, and as of January 1, 2008, all person travelling by land or sea (including ferries) to the Caribbean, Central and South America, Mexico and Bermuda will require a valid passport or other documents as determined by the US Department of Homeland Security to enter and/or re-enter the United States in accordance with the US Government's Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. For more information visit the US Government's Bureau of Consular Affairs website at www.travel.state.gov.

Some countries require single/lone parents or other adults travelling alone with children to provide documents showing evidence of parental/custodial and/or access rights, and/or documents authorizing consent from the parents, legal guardian, and/or the court for the children to travel. Parents of adopted children, particularly those of a different nationality, should carry the proper documents.

British Embassy: 55/5242-8500 (Mexico City)
Consulate of Canada: 998/883-3360 (Cancun), 01-800-706-2900 (Embassy in Mexico City, and for after-hours emergencies), 800/514-0129 (toll free to Ottawa) or 613/996-8885 (collect to Ottawa)
US Consular Agency: 998/883-0272 (Cancun), 987/872-4574 (Cozumel), 55/5080-2000 (Embassy in Mexico City)

As of September 13, 2007US$Mex$/MXN
British pound sterling2.0321722.51919
Canadian dollar0.9609310.64839
European Union euro1.3864415.36363
Japanese yen0.0087630.09711
Swiss franc0.843099.34252
US dollar--11.08135

Doctors and medical facilities may require immediate payment. Be prepared to pay for medical care yourself and seek an insurance refund when you return home, as many medical facilities will not deal directly with insurance companies.

English-speaking doctors who provide 24-hour emergency medical service anywhere in the Riviera Maya include Dr Bernardo J Diaz Avila (cellular 044-984/745-0294), located in Playa del Carmen, and Dr Nestor Mendoza Gutierrez (cellular 044-987/806-4616), located in Akumal. Dr Gutierrez also offers 24-hour ambulance service (cellular 044-984/876-2250 and 044-984/806-4616).

In Akumal, English-speaking doctors include Dr Elizabeth Mendoza (cellular 044-984-108-0094), who has a pharmacy and also makes house calls, and Dr Nestor Mendoza Gutierrez, who runs Akumal Medical Service (tel 984/875-9393 or 984/873-1142, home; open 10am-4pm).

In Felipe Carrillo Puerto (area code 983) there is the Hospital General SESA (834-0092), Clínica San Rafael (tel 834-0700) and the Centro Diagnóstico Jesús (tel 834-0538). Doctors include Dr David Chay Vivas (tel 834-0071), Dr Lidia Tún Molina (tel 834-0211) and Dr Miguel Chí Lavadores (tel 809-2447).

Puerto Morelos and Tulum (tel 984/871-2050) also have health clinics.

In Playa del Carmen (area code 984) there are a number of hospitals and clinics, many with English-speaking doctors. Medical facilities include Hospital Playa Med (tel 879-3145), Clinica Medica del Carmen (tel 873-0885), Hospiten (tel 803-1002) and Coral Dental Center (tel 803-1622). Buceo Medico Mexicano/BMM (tel 873-1365 and 803-1216) specializes in diving-related medicine and has a hyperbaric chamber.

In Cancun (area code 998) hospitals include AmeriMed Hospital (tel 881-3400), Total Assist (tel 884-8082), Hospital Americano (tel 884-6133), AMAT Hospital (tel 887-4422) and Hospiten (881-3700). Buceo Medico Mexicano/BMM (tel 887-1688) specializes in diving-related medicine and has a hyperbaric chamber.

Additionally, you can ask about English-speaking doctors at your hotel reception.

Your home medical program may not provide payment for medical services outside your home country. Obtaining adequate medical/travel insurance, including air ambulance coverage, and consulting a physician or travel medicine specialist six to eight weeks prior to your trip to determine health risks and necessary vaccinations is recommended.

Pharmacies, called farmacias, are well stocked; however, prescription and over-the-counter medications may have minor differences from those you obtain at home. There are pharmacies in Akumal, Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Puerto Aventuras, Puerto Morelos and Tulum.

Traveller's diarrhea is the main health risk for tourists. Unless you're in a hotel with a water purification system you trust, avoid tap water (use bottled water to brush your teeth), ice cubes, raw fruits and vegetables washed in tap water, unpasteurized milk and milk products, raw fish and seafood, and food from roadside vendors, including ice cream and sorbet.

Emergency phone numbers for Akumal, Boca Paila (Sian Ka´an Biosphere Reserve), Puerto Aventura and Tulum, as well as Playa del Carmen, which are all within the municipality of Solidaridad (area code 984):
Ambulance and police, 066 (or 113 from cell phones)
Fire, 879-3670
Hospital IMSS emergencies, 803-0256
Hospital SESA, 873-0314
Public Security (Seguridad Pública), 877-3340
Red Cross (Cruz Roja), 873-1233
Tourist police (Policía Turística), 877-3340

Emergency phone numbers for Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which is within the municipality of the same name (area code 983):
Medical emergencies, 834-0092
Federal police (Policía Federal Preventiva), 834-0195
Public security police (Policia de Seguridad Pública), 834-0369

Emergency phone numbers for Puerto Morelos, as well as Cancun, which are both within the municipality of Benito Juárez (area code 998):
For all emergencies, 060 or 066
Fire, 884-1202
Police (Policía), 884-1913
Federal police (Policía Federal Preventiva), 884-1107
Red Cross (Cruz Roja), 884-1616 and 884-7666
There are harsh penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs, and strict regulations for exporting or temporarily importing firearms, ammunition and weapons.

Prohibited items include narcotics; insecticides; live predator fish of any size; stamps, stickers, drawings, illustrations or printed materials representing children in a denigrated or ridiculous way, or inciting violence; earth, straw, padded containers of hay and straw decorations without processing; homemade foods; flours of animal origin; and fresh, dry, canned or frozen meat and meat products.

For more information call the customs department (Aduanas Mexico) in Mexico City at 52-55/5802-0836 or 5802-0839.

The official language is Spanish, although most locals in the Riviera Maya speak Mayan. Some people speak rudimentary English.

The Mexican postal service is called SEPOMEX (tel 01-800-701-4500). Post offices are located in Felipe Carrillo Puerto (tel 983/834-0077), which is open Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, as well as Puerto Aventuras and Tulum (tel 984/871-2091), which are open Mon-Fri 8am-4pm. (Note: in Sept 2007 SEPOMEX reported that these two branches remain closed most of the time due to a lack of postal masters.) Stamps are called estampillas. The Mexican postal system can be slow. Courier service is also available.

- Jan 1, New Year's Day (Año Nuevo)
- Feb (first Mon), Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución)
- Mar (third Mon), Anniversary of Benito Juárez's birth (Natalicio de Benito Juárez)
- Mar/Apr (varies), Maundy or Holy Thursday (Jueves Santo)
- Mar/Apr (varies), Good Friday (Viernes Santo)
- May 1, Labour Day (Día del Trabajo)
- May 5, Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla (Aniversario de la Batalla de Puebla/Cinco de Mayo)
- Sept 1, President's Report Day
- Sept 16, Independence Day (Día de la Independencia)
- Oct 12, Race Day (Día de la Raza)
- Nov 2, Day of the Dead (Día de los Fieles Difuntos)
- Nov (third Mon), Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 (Aniversario de la Revolución Mexicana)
- Dec 12, Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe)
- Dec 25, Christmas Day (Día de Navidad)

Shop hours vary greatly. Most are open 8/9/10am-9/10/11pm daily, but generally close for lunch and siesta in the afternoon (1/2pm-4/5pm). Some grocery stores open as early as 7am.

A 10% value-added tax (VAT), called IVA (impuesto de valor agregado), is added to all goods and services, including hotel and restaurant bills. A 2% hotel tax is also added to most room bills.

Upon departure, international tourists can receive a refund on the VAT they paid on merchandise by presenting their receipts (valued at a minimum of 1,200 pesos) to customs for verification.

The phone system in Mexico is adequate and cellular and Internet services are available. To find an Internet café look for signs that say Acceso a Internet, Cibercafe or Cibernautica.

The country code for Mexico is 52. Local area codes are as follows: Akumal, 984; Cancun, 998; Felipe Carrillo Puerto, 983; Puerto Aventuras, 984; Puerto Morelos, 987; Playa del Carmen, 984; Tulum, 984. Local Riviera Maya phone numbers have seven digits while local numbers in some major cities, such as Mexico City, have eight digits. For local directory assistance dial 040 and for the national long distance operator dial 020. To make a long distance call from a public phone dial 090. To place an international call dial 00 + country code + area code + local number. To make a local call just dial the seven digit number. To call a Mexican cell phone number dial 044 + area code + local number. To call long distance within Mexico dial 01 + area code + local number.

Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) is the country's national telecommunications company. Public pay phones do not accept coins. Telmex/Ladatel prepaid Multifon cards, which allow you to make local and long distance calls from any public telephone, as well as offering prepaid Internet access, are available at Telmex stores (tel 01-800-123-0101) and authorized dealers, such as pharmacies and convenience stores, displaying the Multifon logo. Insert the card into the slot, press "abc" to switch the instructions to English, and follow the voice prompts. Telmex/Ladatel phone booths offer the best rates for making long distance calls. Rates are extremely high when using credit cards, hotel phones, or when making collect calls.

For more information see the section in FAQs: Can I use my calling card from here?

Not all US and Canadian toll-free 800 numbers work in Mexico. If you're willing to pay the regular phone rate dial 001-880 instead of 1-800, 001-881 instead of 1-888, 001-882 instead of 1-877 and 001-883 instead of 1-866.

Cellular services are available all over Mexico. Check with your service provider to see if they have a roaming agreement with a company in Mexico.

Most towns have businesses that offer phone, fax and Internet services.

In the Riviera Maya average annual temperatures range from 77°F to 86°F. The rainy season is June-Nov.

The Riviera Maya is on Central Standard Time, which is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight savings time is observed.

Disclaimer: Information is provided as a service to visitors and is updated regularly. All information should be verified prior to travel.

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