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Leaving for Mexico

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Practical A to Z

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Practical A to Z


Eating out

Opening times

After a frugal morning coffee, Mexicans eat desayuno (breakfast) around 11am; the main meal (almuerzo or comida) between 2-4pm; merienda (tea) later on and a light dinner in the evening between 7-9pm (10.30pm in large tourist towns).

Tips

Tipping (propina): 10% minimum and 15% maximum of the bill. Some tourist restaurants already include a service charge in the bill.

Establishments

Comedores – Humble and cheap. Limited choice.

Fondas – Very reasonably priced daily menu.

Taquerías – For traditional tacos.

Torterías – Sandwiches and fresh fruit juice.

Loncherías – The classic antojitos.

Cantinas – A genuine institution where civil servants meet to drink beer, nibble snacks and play dominoes.

Cevicherías or ostiomerías – For seafood and fish.

Cafeterías – For snacks…


Electricity

The voltage in Mexico is 110V and 60Hz with flat-pin plugs. European 220V devices will require an adaptor.


Embassies and consulates

British Embassy – Río Lerma 71 - Col Cuauhtémoc - 06500 México DF - t 55 1670 3200 - http://ukinmexico.fco.gov.uk/en/

British Embassy Consular Section – Rio Usumacinta - Col Cuauhtémoc - 06500 Mexico DF – t 55 5242 8500 - consular.section@fco.gov.uk

Irish Embassy –Cda. Blvd. Avila Camacho, 76-3 Col. Lomas de Chapultepec 11000 Mexico DF – t 55 5520 5803 - http://www.irishembassy.com.mx/


Getting around

By collective taxi

Collective taxis run regular links between places that are little or not at all served by bus lines. Combi stop on request and leave according to a regular timetable, while colectivo only leave when they are a minimum number of passengers.


Health

Also see Know before you go.

Illnesses

The most common problem is turista (diarrhoea).

Food and water

Only drink mineral water and never accept ice cubes. Food poisoning is mainly caused by eating seafood, undercooked meat and poorly washed vegetables or fruit. Never eat already peeled fruit.

Emergencies

Emergency services – t 065

Fire brigade, police, ambulances – t 080


Money

Currency

The currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso (MXN), subdivided into 100 centavos.

Exchange

American dollars are the easiest currency to exchange. Money can be changed in banks (Banamex, Bancomer, HSBC, Santander, etc.), but not all day long.

Traveller’s Cheques

Take traveller’s cheques in US dollars. Most banks and some hotels change traveller’s cheques. Keep cheques and receipt slips in two different places.

Credit cards

Few establishments accept credit cards. Visa and Mastercard are the most accepted cards. ATMs are widespread and accept most international cards.

Average budget

Allow MXN870 per day and per person in a comfortable hotel, at least one good restaurant meal and travel in first class or “deluxe” coaches.


Post

Post offices (correos) are generally open Monday-Friday 9am-3pm or 5pm, and sometimes Saturdays 9am-1pm. Mail will take between 10 days and 3 weeks to reach Europe.


Public holidays

1 January – New Year’s Day

5 February – Constitution Day

24 February – Flag Day

21 March – Anniversary of the birth of Benito Juárez

March-April – Easter Thursday and Good Friday

1 May – Labour Day

5 May – Victory of the Mexicans over the French army at Puebla

16 September – Independence Day

12 October – Columbus Day

1-2 November – All Saints

20 November – Revolution Day

25 December – Christmas Day


Safety

In addition to the usual precautions, at night time: don’t withdraw money from ATMs, avoid bus journeys in the south and in out-of-the-way parts of town and use radio taxis for trips about town.


Shopping

Opening times

Shops: Monday-Saturday 9am-7pm. Some close from 2-4pm.

Permanent markets: generally from 9am-6pm.

Bartering

While expected in markets, bartering is considered offensive and rude in shops.

Where to shop

In tourist mercado de artesanías, independent and private shops are run by the government, FONART.

Souvenirs

A vast choice of arts and crafts for holiday souvenirs and gifts awaits the tourist ranging from pottery and ceramics, leather and wooden objects, wickerwork to jewellery and musical instruments.


Telephone

To call Mexico from abroad

Dial 00 + 52 + town code + 7-digit number (or 8-digit number for Mexico City).

To call abroad from Mexico

Dial 00 + country code (UK 44 and Ireland 353) + the number of the person (without the first 0).

Local calls

Dial the 7-digit number (or 8-digit number in Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey) of the person.

Inter-regional calls

Dial 01 + 3-digit town code + number of the person.

Calls to mobile phones

From a landline – Dial 044 + town code for a local call (or 045 + town code for an inter-regional code) + number of the person.

From a mobile phone – Dial 01 + town code + number of the person.

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