More than anywhere else, in Jamaica it was hard to control the prices: It's clear the presence of a double economy, expensive for tourists, and... I don't know for locals.
The double currency used (Jamaican and American dollars) don't help.
Not interested in jewels, I couldn't find many interesting things to buy.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Blue Diamond Plaza- wolf in sheeps clothing!
Like with other shops in Montego Bay, they see you coming from a mile away! As a somewhat seasoned traveller, i understand the need to barter since the asking price is almost always double what they will take. The blue diamond plaza, namely the liquor store and craft store (attached to each other) are similar. They mark their prices up substantially and then give you a discount thinking you are getting a great deal. Unlucky me, I bought a bottle of what they suggested was an expensive bottle of rum only to find out it was less than half the price at the airport. Be careful, they are smooth talkers!
Next time I go back, I will not be so charitable with the vendors.
Fun Alternatives: shop at your resort...its a lot cheaper and less intimidating (unless you like to barter)
The exchange rate for US dollars is about 10% less at the Montego Bay airport than 5 minutes away in town in 2008. The rate at the Kingston airport was 7% less than in town in 2009.
In June 2009 the rate was 86 Jamaican dollars for one USD.
Unique Suggestions: Since it is a rate and not a commission, change just enough to get into town or just use US dollars for the initial transportation cost.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Hair braiding ---beware!
You can find locals willing to braid your hair in many caribbean destinations and Mexico. If this is your first visit to Jamaica you may feel the overwhelming urge to have your hair braided. Although this is a great way to keep super frizzy humidified hair at bay, beware of the charges. I made the mistake of negotiating my way down to $2 for hair braiding. After all was said and done, the lady demanded $2 PER BRAID. I had a rather ugly $60+ hairdo...don't make that mistake!
Unique Suggestions: Be very specific about costs!
Fun Alternatives: Just put your hair up in a jaw clip!
Jamaica's citizenry are a friendly bunch but there are a few errant souls that will sell you swamp land if you let them. At the markets it is common to haggle with the vendors. I hate haggling but this is acceptable practice in many countries and Jamaica too. Shop around before buying because alot of the vendors sell the same items, just different prices depending on the day and your ability to haggle.
Unique Suggestions: This is not so much a trap, we just bought Jamaica Blue Mountain Coffee from one of its employee, because he was our favorite person working there, I even hooked him up and took pics with him because he was so down to earth and friendly, but come to find out, he pulled one over on us, my wife and I bought the coffee and got home and it was not the coffee, it had hints of the smell, but not the real deal! We both were so upset, because we got took by this person that we thought was real and come to find out, he wasnt!
Fun Alternatives: Buy your coffee from a store with the seal of approval, it is a must, do not get tricked like we did, when we got home. I was sad, becuase I fell in love with this coffee and yes its expensive, so buy it direct with that approval! I bet they all pull this scam, you should have seen me, it looked like a drug deal or something illegal! Never again!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
I am not going to say anything bad about the great people of Jamaica, what I will say, is that in town everything I bought was cheaper back at the resort. I mean it, from the spices to the knick knacks you take back to your family and friends, were cheaper at the resort. I lost about $30.00 in town buying their same exact items for way more money. Just the spice, I bought was four dollars higher in town! Buy everything you can at the airport before you leave, liquor too!!!!!
Unique Suggestions: If you stay at the resort and you want to buy something, I say til you go to the airposrt if you have time to kill, buy all your liquor there too, we read this but I could gather it until we ended up being mad we bought anything from in town or our resort. Please, if you have time, shop at the airport, if you want to save, before I left, I lost about $100.00 in buying elsewhere.
Fun Alternatives: Please just buy what you want while you are out, if you think you cannot live without, like the sweathsirt jacket in town was a great buy, but the knick knacks not so much, the liquor from the resort, was far better at the airport. The liquor at the airport is cheaper and in bigger bottles, its so worth it!!!!Related to:
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
One thing you have to accept if exploring Jamaica, it seems, is that tourist attractions are a bit too neatly packaged for some tastes. On the whole I was happy to live with this, but here at Outameni I felt the packaging went too far, and our visit here left a slightly sour taste in my mouth.
We were the only two people on our tour of the “Experience”. This probably made it worse, as there was an element of forced fun which seemed incongruous to say the least, e.g. joining in with our guide (or as she insisted, our “Time Traveller” as she sung her way from one scenario depicting Jamaican history to the next.
These scenarios covered Taino native peoples, a Spanish flamenco dancer (who claimed to be a descendent of Christopher Columbus), a British colonial village, a slave’s hut, Indian and Chinese immigrants and present-day Kingston. I have to admit they were quite well-staged, each with an actor (sometimes more) who would explain a bit about life in their time before a video with more info was shown. But each time there was something we were expected to join in with, such as worshipping a tribal statue, or a maypole dance in the British village. Particularly excruciating was the slavery scene, with a ship of dead bodies, a “blood-stained” noose and an actor who cowered from us in fear. I was left feeling very uncomfortable by this attempt to turn the experience of slavery into entertainment.
The least bad elements were the video sequences, which showed a more rounded view of each period and were well filmed – it was good to see Spanish Town from the air, for instance. But another disappointment was the promised food sampling – a square of chocolate fudge in a plastic seal, another of a coconut sweet, a bag of salted peanuts and so on – where I was expecting fresh local fruits and other produce.
And all this disappointment and discomfort cost us $36 per person – in my view you should save your money!
Unique Suggestions: ... check out the website first so you know what to expect - I wish we had!
The whole island is a trap
Reality dictates that two worlds can live side by side and from time to time collide. As soon as you step out of the secure environs of your all inclusive resort you must face the poverty that rides side saddle along with your NEED to buy cheap and worthless stuff that your just going to sell in a garage sale.
Unique Suggestions: I suggest, roll with it with a smile and pocket full of small denominations. I can't stand the haggling types. For real what gives? if that is you. Did you really come on vacation to save money on a freakin trinket? Pay a fair price, help out the local economy and for goodness sake don't be a prick about stuff. It is what it is.
Beware Doctor Feelgood
Marijuana or "Ganja" is ever present in Jamaica. While it is everywhere it is still illegal and you can be given a citation or even be arrested for possesion. There are street peddlers everywhere and it seems that every cab driver or tour guide is also moonlighting as "Dr. Feelgood." Even if you dont want any you will still be offered until you politely but firmly state that you are not interested. I found that simply telling the truth was most effective. I tell them I work for a company that conducts random drug testing and I cant take the chance. That IS the truth!
Unique Suggestions: Just laugh with them when they tell you that all "Jamericans come Jamaica to smoke de'joint."
Fun Alternatives: Pound down some Red Stripes on an empty stomach. You will get plenty buzzed that way!Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Adventure Travel
- Family Travel
The local craft market in Ocho is a major tourist trap. These ppl will sell there mother to make a sale. If you don't mind being constantly asked to "come over here pretty lady" go. There are a lotta bargains to be had. Be sure to BARTER! the price is always lower at the next stall.
it's not jamaican ganja you're smoking
As all of U know,it's hard to have a walk on the marvellous beach of Negril without being proposed something to smoke what is to be understood as lots of Jamaicans live on tourism and sell all and nothing. But if U think U gonna smoke real jamaican one , U're wrong. Most of the ganja in Jamaica grows in the jamaican land but the seeds they're using come from...HOLLAND. I got it from the mouth of a bushman still producing the original organical one that Bob used to smoke, the meditation one.It looks quite different from others and takes 8 months to grow instead of the 3, 4 of the others. 80% of the jamaican ganja comes from dutch seeds..Ya man
Legal drugs.....not really
When arriving in Jamaica I was almost immediately approached and asked if I wanted to buy drugs. In Jamaica, the use, sale, and possession of drugs such as ganja (marijuana), cocaine, crack, ecstasy, heroin and any other controlled substance is ILLEGAL. Violators are subject to severe punishments – specifically arrest, fine and imprisonment. DO NOT attempt to purchase, use, consume or transport ANY drug. If there is someone trying to sell you drugs, be firm and say NO! Incarceration is not a pleasant way to extend your holiday – you really don’t get much sightseeing done from behind the bars of a prison!
Unique Suggestions: A simple no, or as I found was effective was to tell them that your involved with law enforcement in the states. This will usually get them to back off and leave you alone.
Watch out for Voodoo sales people on the beach
Wanting to talk with the locals is what I always do-but it is virtually impossible to do so since you get harassed pretty much everywhere you go on the beach.....
We were told that a curse was put on us because we did'nt want to buy whatever this guy was selling.... this kind of freaked me out!
Unique Suggestions: Just keep walking say no thanks and don't make too much eye contact.....
I hate to say this but it is the only way to get by without the hassle,if you wanna relax and do your own thing you must follow this rule
Dunns River Falls
The Dunns River Falls is a lot of fun, HOWEVER, when your visit is over be sure to leave the Park through the entrance. DO NOT FOLLOW THE EXIT SIGNS. It takes you through an area where all the merchants harass you to buy JUNK. They are very forward and do not respect the words No Thank You. I even bought a $10 bag of Coffee from one merchant to be nice and he turns and tries to screw me by quickly (10 seconds) carving my wifes name into a wooden statue while I'm paying for the coffee and says I owe him $40 for it. A BIG MESSS that will ruin your visit.Related to:
- Adventure Travel
- Water Sports
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