Destination guide: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Only 52 kilometers from Cancun and in the middle of the Mayan Riviera is Playa del Carmen, a beautiful beach town whose main activities aretourism, nightlife and local fishing. This Caribbean paradise is ideal for diving, since its crystal-clear water is home to beautiful fishes and underwater caves.
Playa del Carmen also has an area of tropical jungle, with lakes, coral reefs, pools and swamps, where spider monkeys, crocodiles and an endless number of exotic birds live. On your next trip to Mexico, don’t forget to visit this spectacular destination.
Playa del Carmen- Practical Information
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Every tourist must have an easily obtainable Mexican-government tourist permit. Some nationalities also need to obtain visas. The regulations sometimes change: it’s wise to confirm them with a Mexican embassy or consulate. The websites of some Mexican diplomatic offices, including the London consulate (http://portal.sre.gob.mx/conreinounido) and the Washington embassy (http://portal.sre.gob.mx/usa) give useful information on visas and similar matters. The rules are also summarized on the website of Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Migración (INM, National Migration Institute; www.inm.gob.mx).
Citizens of the US, Canada, EU countries, Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Norway and Switzerland are among those who do not need visas to enter Mexico as tourists. If the purpose of your visit is to work (even as a volunteer), report, study or participate in humanitarian aid or human-rights observation, you may well need a visa whatever your nationality. Visa procedures can take several weeks and you may be required to apply in your country of residence or citizenship.
Non-US citizens passing (even in transit) through the US on the way to or from Mexico should check well in advance on the US’s complicated visa and visa-waiver rules. Consult a US consulate or your travel agent or the US State Department (http://travel.state.gov) or Customs and Border Protection (www.cbp.gov) websites.
Things that visitors are allowed to bring into Mexico duty-free include items for personal use such as the following: clothing; two cameras; two cell phones; a portable computer; a portable radio/CD or DVD player or digital music player; three surfboards or windsurfing boards; two musical instruments; one tent; four fishing rods; medicine for personal use, with prescription in the case of psychotropic drugs; 6L of wine and 3L of other alcoholic drinks (adults only); and 400 cigarettes (adults).
The normal routine when you enter Mexico is to complete a customs declaration form (which lists duty-free allowances), and then place it in a machine. If the machine shows a green light, you pass without inspection. If a red light shows, your baggage will be searched.
Stores are typically open from 9am to 8pm Monday to Saturday. In the south of the country and in small towns, some stores close between 2pm and 4pm, then stay open till 9pm. Some don’t open on Saturday afternoon. Stores in malls and coastal resort towns often open on Sunday too. Supermarkets and department stores usually open from 9am or 10am to 10pm every day.
Offices have similar Monday to Friday hours to stores, with a greater likelihood of the 2pm to 4pm lunch break. Offices with tourist-related business, including airline and car-rental offices, usually open on Saturday too, from at least 9am to 1pm.
Typical restaurant hours are 7am (9am in central Mexico) to midnight. If a restaurant has a closing day, it’s usually Sunday or Monday. Cafés typically open from 8am to 10pm.
Banks are normally open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday. In smaller towns they may close earlier or not open on Saturday. Casas de cambio (money-exchange offices) are usually open from 9am to 7pm daily, often with even longer hours in coastal resorts. Post offices typically open from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 9am to 1pm Saturday.
Plug with two parallel flat blades
Two parallel flat blades above a large circular grounding pin