Mexico is the third largest nation in Latin
America (after Brazil and Argentina) covering 1,972,550 square kilometers.
The country has a wide variety of terrain, from high rugged mountains and
low coastal plains, to rainforests, high plateaus and desert. Various massive
mountain ranges include the Sierra Madre Occidental in the west, the Sierra
Madre Oriental in the east, the Cordillera Neovolcanica in the center and
the Sierra Madre del Sur in the south. Lowlands are largely along the coasts
and the Yucatan Peninsula. The interior country is high plateau. There are
many rivers in Mexico, though few are navigable. Most are short and run
from the mountain ranges to the coast. Cancun is located on the northeast
point of the Yucatan Peninsula, 350 miles southeast of Miami, Florida. Back
official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso. The rate of exchange against
the US dollar fluctuates daily. Most hotels have a currency exchange desk,
but you will get the best rates at banks and exchange houses. Mexican banks
are generally open from 9am to 2:30pm weekdays. Exchange houses are open
longer and provide faster service. Banks will give cash advances in pesos,
for a fee, if you have a major credit card. Most restaurants, bars and shops
accept major credit cards. You may want to notify your credit card company
in advance to be sure you are set up to access your card outside the country.
ATM machines are available and most bank cards with Cirrus or Visa/Mastercard
status can be used; check with your bank before you leave to be sure. Keep
in mind the machines will dispense Mexican Pesos, not U.S. Dollars. Back
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, spoken
by nearly all. About 8% of the population speaks an indigenous language;
most of these people speak Spanish as a second language. Knowledge of the
English language is increasing rapidly, especially among business people,
the middle class, returned emigrants, and the young. In major travel destinations,
such as Cancun, English is spoken in most shops, restaurants, and public
places. Back to Top
The government of Mexico requires that all U.S. and Canadian citizens present a valid passport when entering the country via international flight. Driver's permits, voter registration cards, affidavits and similar documents are no longer accepted to prove citizenship.
Upon arrival in Mexico, business travelers must complete and submit a form (Form FM-N 30 days) authorizing the conduct of business, but not employment, for a 30-day period.
Children traveling without either parents or guardians will need a notarized letter from the absent parent or guardian authorizing the trip to and from Mexico.
It is always recommended that visitors make two copies of their passport identification page. This will facilitate replacement if a passport is lost or stolen. Leave one copy at home with friends or relatives. Carry the other with you in a separate place from your passport.
Cancun is on Central Standard Time year round.
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Government certified taxis have a license with a photo of the driver and
a taxi number prominently displayed. Most of them have a meter, although,
more often than not, it is broken. Always choose your taxi, don't let the
taxi choose you. Never share a taxi with strangers nor allow the driver
to pick up additional passengers. Agree upon a price before you get into
the taxi. Many drivers will ask you what you want to pay to get a sense
of how street-smart you are. The doorman or front desk personnel at your
hotel can help you with acceptable fares. The local bus system is the cheapest
way to get around; it only costs 5 pesos (50 cents US) Buses come along
every so many minutes so there is never too long of a wait and during spring
break, the bus is an excellent way to meet new people! Getting off the bus
can be a bit confusing. Stop buttons are usally located at different intervals
on the side of the buses, and once you press the button, the bus driver
will let you off at the next available stop. You can also ask the bus driver
to let you off at a certain place if you are not sure of the location or
call out "ALTO"! (this means STOP in spanish!) when you are close
to your destination. Back to Top
like it HOT! During the day, temperatures range from the mid to high 80s,
but the light ocean breeze makes the climate quite enjoyable. A message
to those who worship the sun - WEAR THAT SUNSCREEN! The evening weather
is a bit cool; it's nature's way of keeping the hot clubs from catching
fire! Rain is very rare for the spring break season! Back
Technically, there isn't one in Cancun, but guys
must wear a shirt into the clubs. Back to Top
No worries, your blow dryers and
clothes irons will work without adapters. Back to Top
Every dollar counts when you are a college student, but please don't forget
to tip the people who are good to you: bartenders, waitresses, maids, bellboys.
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Collect phone calls to home are very expensive.
The best way to call home is to purchase a Telmex calling card when you
arrive. These cards are available at any convenience store or hotel shop;
30 pesos for 3 minutes; 50 pesos for 5 minutes; 100 pesos for 10 minutes.
The cards can be used at the white Telmex pay phones by inserting the card.
There is a language button on the phone that will allow you to receive instructions
in English. If you are going to place a collect call, it is wise to check
with the hotel operator before you call to verify what the charges will
be. Calls made from the hotel can cost around $40 US for just a few minutes,
so it is best to call people in the states from a pay phone and five them
your number in Mexico. It is less expensive to call Mexico from the US.
It's also best to have the hotel turn off your long distance priviledges
so that you know that your hotel phone bill will not incur an unexpected
charge at the end of the week. The cheapest and easiest way to contact home
is by email. Ask your STS representative on location for the closest CyberCafe
or Internet service provider. Back to Top
Keep all medication with you at all times. Do not
put it in with your checked luggage and keep it in the prescription bottle.
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Most stores are open from 10am to 10pm Monday thru Saturday. Some stores
may close between 2pm and 4pm for the traditional siesta. Many convenience
stores, including Wal-Mart stay open 24 hours as well. If you are bargain
shopping, and you don't mind "haggling" for the best price, you
will want to visit the Mexican Flea Markets. Be prepared to be bombarded,
the locals will try to persuade you to look and buy their wares. Don't ever
pay the first price they give you - They will try to rip you off! Bargain
with the salesperson to get your best price. Back to Top
Mexico has a chief executive (president), a bicameral
legislature, a judicial system with a Supreme Court, local and federal courts,
and an administrative subdivision of 31 states and one federal district.
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Student Travel Services (STS) has been
the most trusted student tour operator
for over 24 years. During that time STS
has helped over 400,000 college
students plan incredible Spring Break
trips. STS does more than provide you
with airline tickets and hotel reservations,
STS gives you the best party experience
on Spring Break. Read More...