Quick Tips to Visit Mexico

Playa del Carmen, Mexico @albertolamaphotographer

Getting Around

Please make sure that you read the local government sites of that location to follow COVID19 restrictions before visiting.

Stores: Shopping hours begin around 10 or 11 a.m. and continue between 8 and 10 p.m. Large stores are open 7 days a week; Smaller places may close on Sundays, except tourist spots in high season. Christmas and Easter holidays are observed; On other holidays, you will find most things open in larger cities and towns and tourist spots. Smaller towns will have more limited opening hours, and in warmer, non-touristy regions they may close between 2 and 4 p.m. verify locally.

Banks: Banks in Mexico are beginning to act together from a commercial point of view. Branches are now open from 9 am to 4 pm in many large cities and towns, and some are even open on Saturday mornings. HSBC is now open from 8 am to 8 pm six days a week.

Hours of Operation: Business hours tend to coincide with the US and UK: 8:00 AM. at 6:00 p.m.

Churches: some churches are permanently open; others are locked up if there is no service, especially those that house valuable art or artifacts. If you visit a church, be aware of those inside who may be participating in a religious service.

Archeology Parks: Archeology parks are open to the public from 8 a.m. at 5 p.m., and all but those in the most frequented tourist areas (for example, Chichén Itzá in Yucatán) are closed on Mondays.

Holidays in Mexico

Mexico celebrates several holidays throughout the year. You can learn more about the dates, holidays, and events that surround them here https://travelinglamas.com/ 

Video and photography in Mexico

If you want to print your digital photos while in Mexico, you can visit the photography department within the major supermarkets (eg, Commercial Mexicana, Wal-Mart). There are also independent photography stores, especially common in small towns where there are no major stores, where you can edit/print your digital photos, buy additional memory chips for your digital camera, buy batteries and accessories, and buy a new camera or equipment. video (note that photographic equipment is more expensive in Mexico than in the US). Film and videotapes for non-digital cameras are becoming obsolete, but may still be available at some specialty photography stores in larger towns and cities.

Video and photography in Mexico in Special Locations

Museums – Some museums and all major archaeological parks will charge a small fee if you wish to bring a portable video recorder to the museum or site with you; some charge for cameras, although this is rare. Some will not allow flash photography, especially on old stone and murals, as it affects the longevity of the work. You will see notices written in Spanish and English advising you at each location.

Tripods: The use of tripods at all archaeological sites and in some museums requires a permit. If you want to use a tripod, you will need to apply for a special permit from INAH (the government department that manages archaeological sites and some museums) and there will be a significant fee and a lot of paperwork involved. If you are outside of Mexico, please contact your local Mexican Consulate for information and details. Sites and museums that do not allow tripods offer a “package hold” facility for people carrying tripods, where they can be left until you leave the site or museum. The use of tripods is allowed in other places (public spaces, beaches, towns, etc.).

Military and naval installations: it is better not to photograph the army or any military installation to avoid misunderstandings.

Churches – Taking photos inside a church when a service is in progress is considered disrespectful, so you should refrain from doing so. Taking photos inside a church at other times is acceptable in Mexico.

DRONES: Pretty much you can fly your own entry-level Drone (Spark, Mavic Air, etc) as long as you are careful not to fly in any areas close to an Airport. Follow the regular guidelines. In some places, they will charge you an extra fee to fly Drones. Flying Drones near to Ruins or Pyramids are not allowed 😉

Drinking alcohol in Mexico / Legal drinking age in Mexico

The minimum legal drinking age in Mexico is 18 years old; three years before the US legal drinking age, which is why many older American teens “fly south” to Mexico for a weekend or more.

Although it has been rare in the past, requests for proof of age or identification when ordering an alcoholic beverage in Mexico are on the rise. However, it is still not as strict as the US, where anyone who appears to be underage is immediately asked for identification.

It is safe to party in Mexico? Well, that depends on what do you call a “party in Mexico” Like a lot of places in the US, people drinking alone, getting drugs and stuff just because it’s easier than in the states it will get you in trouble soon or later.

Drinking on the street in Mexico: Technically, it is illegal to drink on the street in Mexico, but some people do it, especially in tourist areas. Cops just pretend not to see anything.

Drinking and Driving in Mexico: Drinking and driving is a serious crime in Mexico. If you drink, take a taxi – Taxis are very affordable in Mexico, there is absolutely no need to take your car if you are drinking. Plus you don’t want to give any excuses to cops to take your money. Drinking and driving is even more common in Mexico than in places like the US and Canada, so if you’re driving at night or are a pedestrian near a tourist area with lots of bars, be very vigilant for cars and traffic, especially in the early hours of the morning when drunk drivers can be around.
Mexico’s police are stepping up their campaign against drunk drivers with stiff penalties (including the possibility of prison terms) for offenders. Prostitution in Mexico is Illegal! Even if you see some, it’s because they have been obligated, forced, or trafficked.

Traveling to Mexico with children

Bring your family to Mexico with confidence. Read the full guide on Traveling to Mexico with Kids for detailed information on how to make the most of your family visit to Mexico.

Tips and negotiations in Mexico

Tipping is common in the United States: it is almost second nature and is frequently practiced in most service establishments. In many European countries, it is not as common or customary to tip people for services. In Mexico, it is not only common, it is expected and appreciated in exchange for good service (15% is normal). Most of the people working in Mexico’s tourism and service sectors rely on your advice to supplement their base salary and provide good service to show that you make a significant difference to them.

When traveling to Mexico, always keep a loose change in your pocket because you never know when you will need a tip. Although tips are prevalent in Mexico, the amounts are relatively small and can really make a difference for the person you are rewarding.

If you did not receive poor service, you should consider tipping in these situations:
Restaurants: 10% – 15% is normal, depending on the class of establishment and the level of service received. In diners and similar places 10% is enough; In high-end restaurants and bars, 15% is expected for good service. Make sure to leave a writing Review after.

Hotel maids: Many people tip the maid, approximately US $ 5 equivalent per night of stay, depending on the type of establishment.

Valet Parking: If you drive to a bar or restaurant and park your car at the property’s valet, you need to leave the attendant about US $2 equivalent in pesos when you leave, unless the valet has a pre-advertised rate (probably higher than this) in which case, pay that fee and no more.

Porters: When you arrive at a bus station, airport or hotel, there will usually be a group of porters nearby waiting to carry your bags. US $ 2 per bag in equivalent pesos is enough; maybe a little more if the bags are too big, particularly heavy, or if the assistant offers some additional value, for example, some local advice or instructions.

Taxis: if you take a taxi from the street, it is appreciated that you round up the cost of the meter to the nearest 5 or 10 pesos, depending on the comfort and speed of your trip; however, taxis hired at hotel taxi stands or official taxi ranks must be paid the advertised fare (or the fare agreed upon in advance) and no more. 

Bars and Canteens: Tables are often served at these (no need to go to the bar to order food or drink), and a tip of 10% of the value of your expenses that night is normal.

Spas: for personal services in Resort Spas, 10-15% of the value of the service (for example, a massage) is normal.

Negotiation and barter in Mexico

People who visit Mexico rate shopping in local markets as one of the most rewarding travel experiences they find.

Mexican merchants love a good barter, but be careful: if they feel like they are trying to devalue their products too much, they will be upset and may even refuse to trade with you. Bargaining and bartering are common activities in Mexico, especially in markets and artifact stores, and craft workshops.

Department stores, shopping centers: department stores and large (chain) hotels will not negotiate with you; You’ll have better luck negotiating with the check-out attendant at your local supermarket!

Drinking-Water

When traveling to Mexico, you should be especially careful when drinking water or cool drinks that may have tap water added. Also, check the ice – ask if it was made from tap water, especially in more rustic establishments and rural areas. All the major hotels and good restaurants use purified water everywhere. All commercially produced beverages, including bottled and canned water, carbonated drinks, wine, beer, spirits, etc., will be perfectly safe to drink.

Electricity

Mexico’s electrical system is the same as that of the United States: 120 V; 60 Hz. Any electrical equipment you carry with you that runs at a higher speed (240v) should be a dual voltage (eg hairdryers). A large number of electrical equipment (such as video cameras, digital cameras, laptops) that operate on 12 volts through a specific adapter for the product, will be able to cope with double voltage; check the adapter and device instructions to be sure. Electricity in Mexico is more expensive than in the US, try to turn off all your AC’s, electronics, TV, etc if you leave your room.

You may need a plug adapter. Most of the plugs in Mexico are the same as in the United States; Two flat tips. Some have a third circular prong for ground, and you can also look for adapters for these if the plug you want to connect to does not have the third ground (ground).

Time zones in Mexico

Mexico has three time zones. Most of Mexico, including Mexico City and Mérida, stick to US Central Time (same as Dallas, TX) and is always six hours behind GMT (Greenwich Mean Time).

The second time zone begins just north of Puerto Vallarta and affects all areas on the coast north of here and ALL of Baja California Sur. This time zone adheres to Mountain Time (same as Denver, CO); an hour behind Mexico City.

The third domestic time zone begins in the extreme north of Baja California (the northern area of ​​the peninsula). This area sticks to Pacific Time (same as Los Angeles, CA) and is, therefore, one hour behind Mountain Time and two hours behind Mexico City. Consult an updated map for the precise location of the timelines. 

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* Part of this Information thanks to Happy Address

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