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Travel guide to Mexico

Passports
Your passport must be valid for 90 days after your return date and have two blank facing pages for entry stamps. Soiled, damaged or defaced passports will not be accepted
Visas
UK and most  EU passport holders do not require a visa for holidays < 30 days (or <180 days in the case of USA citizens)
Health
There are no compulsory health requirements, but you should be up to date with your primary courses and boosters. Malaria tablets are not usually recommended, but check with your doctor. As dengue fever is present, a good insect repellent and anti-histamine are recommended. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Always check with your doctor at least 8 weeks before travel for any other inoculations recommended (eg Hepatitis A+B, Cholera, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Polio, Meningococcal Meningitis, Rabies and TB).
Currency
Mexican Pesos (MXN) - remember to ask for small denominations, which are useful for tipping. US dollars (USD) are NOT accepted.
Language
Spanish. Very little English is understood outside the tourist hotels.
Time Zone
GMT - 5 hours.
Travel Tips
To ensure that you have the best possible holiday experience, we ask you to read the following information carefully. If you have any questions, please discuss them with us before you depart. 
 
Hand Luggage – pack essential items for a day or two in your hand luggage, in case your bags go astray and take a few days to catch up with you, especially if you have any tight connecting flights. 
 
Documents – take a copy of your travel insurance policy with you, and leave a copy of your passport with a reliable contact at home, in case the originals are lost or stolen. 
 
Electronic Devices – ensure these are all fully charge before travel, as you may be required to switch them on at airport security. Any device that does not switch on cannot be checked in and must be surrendered. 
 
Mobile Phones – make sure they are set up for international calls and turn off data roaming to avoid nasty bills. Be aware that some remote areas may not have cell phone coverage or Wi-Fi. 
 
Credit Cards – remember to inform your bank when travelling abroad. Credit cards are widely accepted, but always ensure you have cash when travelling in the countryside as some places may not accept them. A credit card is essential if you are hiring a car. 
 
Clothing – as the climate is hot and humid at the coast, pack lightweight clothing and a good pair of walking shoes. Take a day pack, T-shirts, shorts, jeans, sunhat, swimming costume, flip flops, sunglasses and sunscreen. Waterproof reef walking shoes are essential. Rain gear will be required in the wet season. Mexico City and the Colonial Highlands are at higher altidude and will require warmer clothing. Eye drops can be handy, especially if you wear contact lenses, and sanitising hand cleaner/wet wipes. Take a generous supply of insect repellent to spray on your neck, wrists and ankles. 
 
Accessories – pack your phone (with charger and a spare battery pack), camera (with spare memory cards and batteries – a 200 mm zoom lens is good for wildlife photography) and binoculars (large 8x40 is best). If you are a keen birder we suggest one pair per person, as it can be frustrating to share. 
 
Plugs – type A (2-prong, as used in the USA) and B (Japan), but many Mexican sockets are not grounded (i.e. no third pin) or polarised (i.e. one blade slightly taller than the other to prevent plug being inserted upside down) so a Mexican adaptor is useful. 
 
Books – pack a good travel guide and a Spanish phrase book. Knowing a few simple greetings will go down well. Also pack a generous supply of English reading material for quiet evenings and when waiting for flights, as these will be hard to come by. 
 
Water – use and drink only bottled water, as tap water is not safe. Avoid washed salads outside your hotels, peel all fruit before eating it and remember to brush your teeth with bottled water. Pack diarrhoea tablets and rehydration sachets for emergencies. 
 
Food – Mexico is world famous for its cuisine, having introduced us to chillies, tacos, burritos, fajitas and tequila, as well as many other wonderful regional specialties. In the larger cities you will find a huge array of excellent restaurants. Vegetarians and food allergies are well catered for. 
 
Respect the Local Culture – always take into account the wishes of the local people, some of whom do not wish to be photographed. 
 
Taxis – the best way to get around Mexico City is by tourist taxi, booked in advance by your hotel. The pink and white (and older red and gold) metered taxis are much cheaper, but have a reputation for ripping off tourists. 
 
Self-Drive – driving is on the right. The only region we would recommend self driving is the Yucatan Peninsula, but remember all road signs will be in Spanish and very little English will be understood. Any valid European or American driving license is accepted as long as it has a photograph and signature. It is advisable to hire a sat-nav, as signage can be sparse in rural areas. Pack some CDs as the local radio stations can be a little limited, and always allow some extra time to stop for photographs along the way. 
Safety – as this is a third-world country, take all sensible precautions. Leave valuable jewellery/watches at home, wear a money belt and be alert when outside your hotel. In particular, avoid taking out large wads of cash in public view and keep your spare cash in your hotel safe. 
 
Tipping – this is voluntary and should depend on the level of service received. We suggest the Pesos equivalent of the following USD per couple, but this can be reduced for longer stays: 
- city driver/guide: $10 per day ($5 for half day) 
- overland driver/guide: $15 per day 
- tipping box for hotel staff $2 per day 
- waiters: 10% if not already added to your bill 
- porters $1 per bag.
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