There are theives in Mazatlan just like anywhere else. If you go to an ATM machine and there are people lurking about or trying to help you...Do not accept help and go to a different machine. They are crafty... They have cameras inside the ATM and they make copies of your bank card and clean out your account. Trust me this happened to my brother. They can also get a hold of your credit card information and use it fraudulently. That is what happened to me. I had $1000.00 in charges in Phoenix ,Arizona.
I have never been to Phoenix!!!! They made a fake copy of my card!!! Just be extra careful about how you use your cards in Mexico. If you can use travellers cheques that is probably the best way to go. I haven't had any problems with them yet!!!
Locals in Mazatlan are generally friendly people if you treat them with respect, and you will most likely find that your hotel, bar, and restaurant workers are polite and helpful. However, there are times when locals may try to cheat you. When we were in Mazatlan we had our 13-year old son with us, so we only went out for a good meal in the evening. Although we had no problems with our billing and everyone was friendly, I was recently told that if you visit a bar you should always pay as you go rather than running up a tab to pay at the end of the evening. You could find at the end of the night, that you have been charged a larger sum than you think you should owe. Since it is your word against the employees, the manager of the bar may not do anything to help you out. Hopefully this does not happen too often, but you might just want to play it safe, and pay as you order.
Don’t ever pay the asking price on anything you buy in the shops or on the beach. You are expected to offer a lesser price for the item, and then you and the seller will bargain by offering prices back and forth, until you eventually settle on a price that both you and the seller agree on. This custom can get you into trouble if you do not understand how it works. If you show interest in an item you may find yourself in a price bargaining situation that you do not want to be in. There are many venders on the beach that will approach you and want to sell you something. If you know that you have no interest in the item be sure to say no right away, and stick with your no, even if they begin to lower the price. If you don’t sound like you really mean no the bargaining will begin and it is hard to stop it once it gets underway. Be especially careful about purchasing fishing trips form a beach vender, even if you to do not pay until you arrive at the harbor. If you are getting a boat at a bargain price, it is very likely that these boats do not meet U.S. or many other country’s safety standards, nor are they covered by any accident insurance. We made a mistake when we did this, if you read about our fishing trip in my travelogue you will see that the trip was misrepresented to us, as we did not get what we thought we paid for. My suggestion is to ask at your hotel for a reputable boat before purchasing a trip. Unfortunately we hadn’t planned a fishing trip, and got caught up in the idea while talking to the beach vendor, we sure won’t make that mistake again. Note: You will see roped off areas along the beach by many beachside Hotels. These are boarder markers, marking off a line, which the beach vendors are not suppose to cross.
There are some street vendors that may offer you tours or sport-fishing activities at reduced prices that seem like a great bargain. The vendor will seem very friendly convincing you that they are nice people. If they ask to be paid immediately, BEWARE! Even if they give you a ticket with a tour logo on it that looks real, these usually are fake tickets. You will wait to be picked up for the tour, but the car will never arrive. Once you have been scammed in this way there is nothing you can do to get your money back.
BEWARE of the CLinics in Mazatlan...they often are SCAMSTERS who will jerk your credit card and defraud your insurance if they possibly can. They often take passports from tourist patients and hold them against their will, threatening them with arrest if they don't accept the ripoff rates and un-needed procedures they might want to soak them for.
The local English paper runs warnings about them every issue (pacificpearl.com/important.htm)
Consulates have entered to demand passports back. MANY people have filed complaints with the tourist DA (conveniently located right upstairs) but are often threatened to drop suits or leave country--including death threats or being arrested and held by paid-off cops. Don't even THINK about going into these clinics or so-called "ambulances". If your hotel recommends them it's because they were paid to. If you DO end up there DON'T let the "kindly" redneck lady handle your insurance or credit card. Demand an itemized bill. If it's too high, walk.
There are good hospitals in the area, including Sharpes. DON'T be a victim of these vicious crooks.
DON'T accept help from the "kindly insurance lady". DO demand an itemized bill. DON'T surrender your passport to them...they have no right to ask for it. DO get billing info straight up front and let them know you will walk if they jerk you. DO walk if they jerk you. DON'T give them your credit card. DO demand a copy of bill if you are crazy enough to submit to them...scan if for catch phrases or inaccuracies they can use against you if you challenge them.
Sharpes Hospital in Golden Zone is the best.
Military Hospical in downtown is cheap, honest, and good for small matters.
If you need to make any phone calls while in Mexico buy an international phone card (like a Latadel card) at any market and use that from your hotel or pay phone. The phone system in Mexico is unregulated and if you use your home calling card (ie Sprint, AT&T, etc) you might end up with a surprisingly hefty phone bill. Making calls from pay phones without a Mexican phone card can cost up to $40 US just to CONNECT the call. It's a totally unregulated system. So beware. If you need to make a call from your hotel room make sure you talk rates with the front desk first. Also make sure you buy the phone card once you're in Mexico. My friend bought one in the States and was unable to use it down there.
Like all tourist areas in Mexico, there are a lot of the locals that try to sell you things either on the street, on the beaches or even when you are sitting in a restaurant having a meal. Most are not a problem & they leave you alone once you tell them that you don't want anything, but there are always some that don't want to take NO for an answer. You then have to be more forcefull in saying NO or just walk away from them.
But we have found most to be very friendly & they enjoy spending time joking around with you (you have to realize that they are just trying to earn a living.
------Pic is of Lynda joking around with a few peddlers on Stone Island.
Check with your bank before you go!! Though it's VERY easy to get money out of an ATM in Mazatlan with your debit card, Wells Fargo charged me $5 each time! So if you have to withdraw, get plenty of cash at a time. I made several smaller withdrawals because I wasn't aware of the high fees. You will need cash to pay for tours and some other things. Only the larger restaurants, hotels and major stores take credit cards.
Pulmonias are the white, open-air taxis that will be buzzing you around the city. The only place in the world they can be found is here in Mazatlan. I have seen it alot...tourists paying too much for a taxi ride! You can get to most of your destinations for no more than 20-40 pesos!
I thought when I saw what was posted,was really a warning..I suspect the post. We too went to La Jolla, which is right down the street from our timeshare..these people expected us to sell our timeshare (a villa) to them and join them for a uncompleted place that looked like a crowded small room. Pool?...good question,it looked more like a pond. The salesperson got upset at my wife for not paying attention. They wanted our Villa (worth some bucks)..plus give them $6,000. Final cost was suppose to be $60,000 plus closing costs. We were approached at Stone Island,where we were promised $200- non commitment. Well the best thing I can say is we got our $200-. The worst thing is that you have to sit there and have someone try to make you make a $60,000 decision Like I told them,only a fool would make a life changing decision like that in a span of one hour. We also told them that we were going to still be there for 3 more day's,let us think about it..then answer was NO..make up your mind now. I did..I took the $200 and left. We may of had to walk back to our hotel (we were promised a ride)..but that was what we had to do.