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 Neo-Volcanica 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.
The 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.
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.
The government of Mexico requires that all U.S. and Canadian citizens present a valid passport when entering the country via international flight.
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, changing accordingly with the Daylight savings time.
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 about $1 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 usually 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.
Some 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!
Technically, there isn't one in Cancun, but guys must wear a shirt into the clubs.
No worries, your blow dryers and clothes irons will work without adapters.
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.
Roaming charges can be very expensive. Check with your cell provider before leaving on your vacation. The cheapest and easiest way to contact home is by email or a web app. Wifi is readily available at local restaurants and hotels.
Keep all medication with you at all times. Do not put it in with your checked luggage and keep it in the prescription bottle.
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.
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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