Other Travel Facts & Info!
Do I need a passport?
Yes! A valid passport with 6 months a validity beyond your final date of travel is required. Please be sure if your passport is close to renewal that you have enough time to renew your passport. You can find information for US passport renewals here.
Once you land and go through Immigration and Customs you can put your passports away. At your hotel, put them in your safe and keep them there. We would recommend you each have a copy of your passport that you carry when you are out on day trips or anywhere else you may go outside the hotel, or if your passport is lost you will need a copy to give to the consulate to obtain a new one. Its also a good idea to leave a copy with someone at home, in case of emergencies.
Mexico Tourist Card?
What is a Mexico Tourist Card? If you are visiting Mexico you need a Tourist Card which is an Entry Immigration Form that details information about your visit to Mexico. The Tourist Card is per person regardless of age and how long you will stay in Mexico. The information you provide in the Tourist Card is kept by the Mexican Immigration Authority as an official record of your visit to Mexico. A tourist visa in Mexico is valid for up to 180 days. Most airlines, depending where you are flying from already include the cost of this tourist card with your ticket. (Most carriers from the US and Canada, include this cost).
Immigration & Customs forms?
The Immigration form (which includes the tourist card) will be handed out on the plane, or if you would like to fill out your form in advance, you can do so here. If you fill out the form on the plane you will complete one form per person. VERY IMPORTANT. There will be a portion of the immigration form (which is the tourist card) that the Immigration officer will give back to you. DO NOT LOSE THIS CARD. When you depart Mexico, you will be asked by the airline for this part of the form. If you do not have it, you will have to go to Immigration and pay a fee for a new one. A good idea is to tuck the tourist card inside your passport and put in a safe place, like your hotel safe box.
Customs forms will be given on the plane the form is filled out 1 per family. These will be collected as you leave the airport by the Customs officers.
What is the legal drinking age in Mexico?
The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old. You may need to show ID, especially at some of the parks and pubs.
Will I need different electrical plugs for my devices in Mexico?
No, if you are coming from United States or Canada. All of Cancun and the Riviera Maya use the same electrical outlets as the United States. If you are coming from Europe, or any country that uses 220 volts, you will need the proper adapters.
Will my cell phone work in Mexico?
Check with your cell service provider before coming to Cancun. Some do offer international roaming. There is local cellular service. Most cell phones will work, but they must be reprogrammed by the local service provider. If you bring your own, it will need to be reprogrammed. Also, remember to keep your phone charged and bring your phone charger. Phone charger is the #3 most forgotten item not packed for vacations.
How to dial Mexico numbers to and within Mexico?
Many people are confused by how to dial Mexico either from the US or Canada or while they are here in Mexico. We have put together a guide to help. You can find it here Calling Phone Numbers in Mexico.
Money: Can I use my credit cards? ATMs?
Yes, most restaurants and shopping centers accept credit cards, but most process the charge in pesos. Your bank will convert the charge back into dollars and may charge you a small foreign transaction fee. Most ATMs here will give you pesos, however there are a few that dispense US Dollars.
Money: Is it necessary to exchange money to pesos?
In most of Cancun and Riviera Maya, the US dollar is widely accepted and you can ask for a quote for goods and services in USD or Pesos. Inside your resort, especially at an All Inclusive, there would be little or no need for pesos. Spas at the hotels will either charge to your room account or ask for credit card at time of purchase. Tips can be either, but USD is welcomed.
Outside the resorts, we would suggest using a credit card for large purchases, if the store or restaurant accepts cards. Most large retail stores in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, etc. will accept credit cards, but ask before you buy and don’t forget that your bank or credit card company may charge fees, if charges are in pesos, as they will be converted to USD by your bank.
For tipping, USD in small bills, $1, $5, $10 & $20 are very good to have on hand. Larger bills won’t be exchanged for you in most cases or you will be sent somewhere to have them exchanged, like the front desk of your hotel. Just know, most hotels do not give good exchange rates. Most hotels exchange rates are lower (15 or 16) rather than (17 up to 18.5) at actual exchange houses. The airport is also another place where exchange rates are not very good. If you do use pesos for tips, remember to keep in mind the exchange value, USD versus pesos. A $20 pesos bill will equal approximately $1.00 US Dollar. So, but do the math and tip accordingly. For more information about money, see exchanging your money for Mexican Pesos.
What is the weather like?
Hot, humid and sunny. The coolest months are January and February and the hottest time in Cancun is June, July & August. The beaches offer a continuous breeze. Weather systems move though very quickly and it is not uncommon to have an afternoon shower every day. Keep in mind storm season is June to November, same for all of the Caribbean and the U.S.
Can I drink the water? Is the ice safe?
You should only drink bottled or purified water. All restaurants, even the dive bars in downtown only serve purified water and ice made with purified water. Refrain from drinking tap water. Tap water for brushing teeth and showering is ok.
Can we get married in Cancun?
Cancun is a great place for destination weddings. However, there are strict requirements that must be met to be legally married in Mexico. We highly suggest working with a travel agent from your home country as they will have the knowledge and experience to guide you on the right path and put you in touch with the correct people in destination to help weed through all the paperwork. If you need suggestions for a good travel agent, please contact us, we can put you in touch with some of the best in the business.
Are there hospitals and dentists available?
Yes, Cancun offers some very modern medical facilities. Also, most resorts have an in-house doctor or a doctor on call.
Travel Insurance is it necessary?
Yes, yes, yes! Many people think travel insurance is a waste, but who can predict the unexpected? Travel Insurance can provide more than just medical coverage, it can help with lost bags, flight delays, bad weather, etc. Most also have 24/7 customer care that will help you with other things like language interpretation, recommendations on medical facilities, advice about Dr's, etc. Typically a policy will cost about 8 to 10 percent of your total vacation costs and is based on age. Children 17 and under are sometimes included for free when traveling with parents or guardians. As policies can vary on what they include and cover, we suggest talking to your local travel agent to have them help you find the policy that is right for you.
Is it expensive to eat out in Cancun?
There are some very awesome places to eat and drink in Cancun, from gourmet to street foods, you will find a lots of variety and pricing. If you are planning to go off your hotel property, celebrating a special occasion and wish to dine around Cancun or Playa del Carmen, contact us for suggestions and assistance.
What is the Montezuma's Revenge?
Also called Travelers' diarrhea, Montezuma's Revenge affects 20% - 50% of international travelers. Along with diarrhea, symptoms also include abdominal cramps, nausea, and bloating. The best means of prevention is to avoid any questionable foods or beverages. Traveler's diarrhea is fundamentally a sanitation failure, leading to bacterial contamination of drinking water and food. Most cases are mild and resolve in a few days without treatment, but be sure to stay hydrated.
Do I need to speak Spanish?
Most people that vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya do not speak Spanish. Most hotel front desk staff, concierge & wait staff speak English or at least enough English to communicate with you. Just be patient, speak clearly and SMILE! Laughter will break all language barriers. Find some of the common words, phrases and learn a little Spanish by clicking here.
If you have traveled to Cancun before, you know the routine as you leave the airport. If not, here are a few suggestions to get through the “timeshare” area of the airport. After Customs, you need to exit the building, but before exiting you will always see many people trying to solicit you. They will approach you and ask you to come see them for tours or transfers. If you tell them you have a transfer, they may say "your transfer is over here" or "I have your transfer waiting" and guide you to their desk. These are TIMESHARE folks. Best advice, if you are not at all interested in a Time Share, is to put your blinders on and your earplugs in and keep walking. You will also find these folks in the hotels. A polite "No Thank-you", is all that is needed. Unless you are ready to give up a half a day or more to a time share presentation, you can probably better spend your vacation time and money doing things you really love, like sipping a margarita or visiting the ruins.
Maps of Cancun & Riviera Maya
You can look at some maps of the different areas of Cancun & Riviera Maya by clicking on the area. Cancun Hotel Zone. Riviera Maya North & South Hotels. Tulum Hotels. Playa del Carmen. Puerto Morelos. Cozumel. Isla Mujeres. Playa Mujeres/Costa Mujeres/Isla Blanca. **Playa Mujeres, Costa Mujeres & Isla Blanca is a new and developing area, this map does not show what has been added in the past year. There are several new hotels in this area.
Sargassum (seaweed) what to expect?
Sargassum is a large macroalga, meadow or dark green color, which lives in the seas and moves by the currents of the oceans. The causes for overgrowth are mostly linked to pollution of the ocean waters. Many areas affected are the Gulf of Mexico, Florida, many Carribean Islands and the east coast of Mexico, Belize, etc. There is no particular "season" for seaweed, there is always some in the water or on the beaches. However, some areas are affected more than others. For instance, Playa Mujeres, Isla Blanca, Isla Mujeres, and the west side of Cozumel, etc. remain relatively unaffected by large amounts of seaweed, as well as some of the beaches in Cancun. In the Riviera Maya, there may be days with lots of seaweed and others when the beaches and water are pristine. There is a great effort by hotels and the government to clean the seaweed from the beaches. We have added some webcams here for you to see current beach conditions. Please keep in mind that there is no accurate prediction and people are enjoying their vacations in spite of the seaweed. See how the beaches are. Cancun webcam. Various webcams around Riviera Maya. More Riviera Maya webcams.
Tipping in local restaurants, what to expect?
In Mexico it is nice to give a tip your restaurant servers and we encourage you to do it whenever appropriate. However, there is one thing you should know. Businesses are not allowed to add a mandatory tip to your bill. This practice is forbidden under the Mexico Consumer Protection law. Always check your bill for an added line item for any auto-added gratuities. If you see one there, you can ask to have it removed. There is actually a government agency (Profeco) where this practice can be reported. Things that businesses are not allowed to do. 1. Tipping is 100% voluntary, no mandatory tipping is allowed on the bill. 2. All prices must be visible and listed on the menu. 3. The exhibited price must be the total amount to be paid. 4. Businesses must honor ads and promotions.