Protect Your Credit Cards
Playa Del Carmen and Cozumel are especially notorious for fraud, copying, and the theft of credit cards. There are hundreds of credit card fraud stories on the Net about these two places.
Beware of waiters or hotel attendants "double swiping" cards, even at reputable places. Also be cautious of fake ATM machines, plain white machines that look innocent enough but don't actually dispense cash, they read "out of service" once you swipe your card. (I got taken in by one of these.)
Use cash for transactions whenever possible! In Playa, use the ScotiaBank across from the bus station, but cover your PIN number when you type it in and take a look around the machine for any hidden cameras that may have been added by thieves. If you must use your card, never let it out of your sight, go with the waiter or worker and watch everything they do. This is a huge problem in this area of Quintana Roo. When you get home, check your statement often (online or over the phone) to make sure nobody's currently using your numbers.
- Luxury Travel
- Budget Travel
There is no point in bringing your mobile to Mexico any more because their service providers really take advantage on long distance calls. I checked my rates the 2nd day I was there and they were going to charge me $3.50/minute, which is completely ridiculous, especially considering the fact that we are on the same continent (eg. from Tunisia it costs $1.50 to call Canada).
The National company selling Phone cards in Mexico will charge $1.50 to $2.00 USD a minute.
You are much better off going on the 5th avenue and going into one of the many phone stations which will charge 0.20 to 0.30 cents to calls made to the US and Canada. Calls made to Australia will cost about $1.20 USD. There was one with a really nice owner on the 5th and 14th avenues.
Watch for Jellyfish
Early one morning while searching the beach for shells, we were stopped dead in our tracks by this thing. What on earth was it? It was a very unique shape, purple, and had just washed up on the beach. We finally decided it must be a jellyfish - what else could it be? Finally, one of the beach maintenance folks came along, and he confirmed our suspicions. It was a jellyfish.
- Family Travel
Take care when you buy phonecards, not all of them are useful. Be sure to check if your phonecard can be used at publicphones, many of them can not. We found out that the cards from TelCel where the best, as they have phoneboxes many places in the city.
TAKE CARE WITH MONEYEXCHANGERS
All around the city you can find small Money Exchange Offices, but be careful if you use them! If you have american dollars it seems like most of them have almost a standard rate, and it might be the same for other frequently used curriences like euro, sterling pound etc. But you should know the exchangerate before going there, and if they don't give you a good rate you should go somewhere else.
One night my ATM card stopped working, all banks were closed and we had to pay for our hotel plus food. We only had norwegian money and many of them didn't exchange it. Also it were getting so late so most of them started closing down. Finally we found someone that could change our money, but I thought we got much less than we should. Since we had just gotten from Belize I thought maybe it was just me that was mixing up the currencies. Anyway I went straight to the hotel to check if it was correct. Then we found out we had just gotten half of what we should have, instead of getting 50 USD we only got about 25 USD. We went straight back to ask if this was correct, and of course they admitted no mistake. There was really not so much we could do, we should have known the exchange rate before we agreed to change the money, but unfortunately we didn't. Luckily the ATM card started working again so we didn't have to use the exchange offices again.
We were walking through Playa del Carmen looking around and all of a sudden we hear "hola Barcelo Maya guests!!" and some guy comes walking out of a bar. He introduces himself and tells us that he works at our hotel and offers us to come have some drinks with him.Well,he only knew what hotel we were staying at by our wristbands, so basically he was just trying to get us to come buy some drinks at his friend's bar.Be careful...that guy was the master of BS I'm sure there are others!
Maybe it was the season....every niight at sundown, if we were on the beach, we were practically devoured by Mosquitos. the worst were at an Open air restaurant at Tank-Ha. which is a GREAT place to be during the day.
Take your own repellant! The citronella just didn't seem to cut it and by the time we got to one of the small drug stores that was all we were able to find. If you have time to shop in the H..UGE supermarket it Playa..Chederaui I'm sure you can get anything, but be prepared and pack some from home. I'm still itchy!!
Be careful driving in the highway in Riviera Maya
I f you rent a car be careful driving in the corridor/higway that goes from North to South. Starting in Cancun and the airport going all the way south to Tulum.
The highway has two lanes on each side however if someone needs to do a U turn they have to make it into the fast lane of the lanes going in the other directions.
Since there is a lot of construction of new hotels there are a lot of slow moving trucks. I was unfortunate to encounter one of this as I was driving quite rapidly.
Eventhough my rental car was insured, I ended up paying over $1000 to the car rental company as a deductible.
If you can avoid renting a car do that. It is also very expensive, there are cheap and reliable buses that go down and up the corridor. That way you get to see more of the locals.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Literally everyone that provides you a service expects a tip from the bus guide coming from the airport to the bell boy to the tour guides to the snorkel trip operators and they are not shy about asking for them or telling you that tips are a big part of their income.
I think that it is true that tips are a large part of the salary for people in the service industry in Mexico so I gave them freely when I thought the service was good which was almost all of the time.
I have never suffered from this particular ailment but I have known people that have become very ill in Mexico.
The basic rule to be followed it boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it. This isn't foolproof but it certainly can't hurt to make sure that the food is hot.
A couple of other tips:
drink bottled water-it's cheap and it's not worth the risk to drink the tap water
I read somewhere that you should take a Pepto Bismal tablet every morning as a precaution. I didn't do this in Mexico but I did in China.
Bring some Immodium with you.
Renting a car
We were told that renting a car in Playa del Carmen, Mexico is not very wise to do so, because the authorities, meaning the police are very corrupt. When you are driving your rented car, you can be stopped by the police for no reason whatsoever, and get a traffic ticket! If you are lucky they will stop you just one time, but if not, after driving a few miles they can stop you again and give you another ticket. No point in reasoning with the police, they will give you that ticket and if you argue with them, you can suddenly find yourself in prison! And you don't wanna have that in Mexico!
If you like to send postcards to friends or family whilst on holiday, Be sure to write AIRMAIL on them!
I sent 3 postcards from Playa del Carmen to the western US back on Dec 20th and it took about 5-6 weeks for them to arrive. I sent a 4th card to Montreal, Canada, (also on Dec 20th) and it didn't arrive until Feb 27th!! I assumed that the Canadian got her postcard and just never emailed me about it. Then she emailed me on Feb 27 to say she got a card dated Dec 20th LOL.
Next time I won't forget to write AIRMAIL
Make sure you bargain with cab drivers before they push on the pedal, especially during high season.
Maximum fare from Playa Car to downtown Playa del Carmen: 40 pesos
Calles 34 to Playa Car: 50 pesos
A beautiful sea, but...
At Playa del Carmen the sea is beautiful, but could be dangerous too. Few years ago a tourist woman was looking at the sea leaning out of a little boat when a barracuda came out of the water and sank its teeth into her throat because was attracted by the glittering of her silver necklace. This is an extreme case, anyhow when you swim don't put on any glittering thing!
Chichen Itza - a huge fraud
See my Chichen Itza page to find the fraudulent secrets of the "ancient ruins" revealed
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