Traveling to Mexico

Old Dec 16, 04, 3:41 pm
  #1  
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Location: Bellevue, WA, USA
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Traveling to Mexico

I'm traveling to Puerto Vallarta next week and have a few questions as I realize that Mexico is not just like the USA and thus has different laws and customs and so I want to be prepared.

1. Are there any regulations for what I can bring into Mexico via air. For example, are fresh fruits or meat banned ? What about dried fruit, dried fish, snacky food like rice crackers ?

2. Are there any special precautions that we should take in terms of personal safety beyond what I'd do in say New York City ? Are my belongings (such as digital camera, laptop, etc) going to be safe stored in my room ?

3. Is renting and travelling by car a good idea ? I heard that it is a bad idea especially for those like me who don't speak Spanish.

4. Should I exchange my dollars for pesos and pay in pesos or just hang on to my dollars and pay in them ? Are there any things (like bus, tips, etc) that I should use pesos for ? What is the best way to get pesos - ATM, hotel, bank, money changer ?

5. Is bribery really very prevalent and expected ? Are there situations where I should give a bribe and situations that I shouldn't ? And if so what are the amounts expected. Specifically I'm thinking about customs, getting stopped by police, etc. Personally I think it is bad karma to bribe.

6. What are things to do and avoid in Puerto Vallarta ?

Thank you
alanwar is offline  
Old Dec 20, 04, 9:32 am
  #2  
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I've sailed out of Mexico a few times and have brought frozen, prepared food with me. That's always been OK. (If it's obvious you're carrying food - have an ice box - you will get the "random" red light upon entry and be stopped by officials. Dried things and rice cakes should be no problem. Fresh plants aren't allowed, as I recall, but prepared foods are generally fine. You may want to ask a consulate official about any specific items.

Are my belongings (such as digital camera, laptop, etc) going to be safe stored in my room ?
I'm not sure anyone can assure you your things will be safe anywhere in the world. Obviously, use a safe if you have one. I've never been a victim of theft anywhere in Mexico though, including Puerto Vallarta, but I've also never left expensive items in my room or unattended.

I've never rented a car in Mexico and never will. If you're staying in Puerto Vallarta for a week or less there's enough to see and do there without getting a car. Cabs are plentiful.

I've always used pesos, which I usually get at an ATM, but I have used banks in P.V. to get good rates.

Is bribery really very prevalent and expected ? Are there situations where I should give a bribe and situations that I shouldn't ? And if so what are the amounts expected. Specifically I'm thinking about customs, getting stopped by police, etc. Personally I think it is bad karma to bribe.
They don't call it bribery there - it's mordida and it's just a different way of doing business. I've only had one situation where I had to do this and it was a unique one involving checking back in with immigration after cruising. If you're not driving or aren't doing anything unusual such as trying to bring in boat parts or doing your own immigration check-ins/outs you shouldn't encounter this. But when there's a "big paperwork problem" $20 can usually help fix it.

What are things to do and avoid in Puerto Vallarta ?
Take a boat trip to Yelapa. (That's a "do", not an "avoid." )
l etoile is offline  
Old Dec 24, 04, 12:43 am
  #3  
 
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Defintely not worth to rent a car unless you are there for an extended time. You can always negotiate with the cabs standing outside your hotel (though the ones in front of your hotel will also negotiate if you dare to walk if your price for a 'day tour' is not met).

Saftey is the same as everywhere, normal things happen, but nothing major. If you are leaving valuables in the room, it's not a bad idea to leave them in your safe, specially money.

Pay in Pesos (about 11 pesos per US$) which can be withdrawn from any ATM, though the ones in the hotels are quieter making one less worried. Don't exchange with the hotel as they will give a bad rate most of the time. Travellers' cheques, aahh.. most places will give a lower rate or charge a fee for exchanging them. In other words, I think they are outdated.

Definetly go the outskirts of town and explore them by hiring a cab for a day or taking the local bus (but be patient with this route), but dont' go into Nuevo Vallarta as it's not really anything special in my opinion.

There a few restaruants overlooking the bay which offer good food and great views of Vallarta. Try one for a special dinner.

I would walk around Vallarta during the day time and explore the shops, restaurants and the sorts as its' worth it. Though barganing (when paying cash) will give you a better price (even in high end shops).

If you have specific things you want to do, post 'em and I can try and give some recommendations.

cheers
sargento is offline  
Old Dec 25, 04, 6:28 pm
  #4  
 
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Normally I rent a car in Puerto Vallarta, but have decided to rethink this strategy based upon cost. The rental agencies in PVR including Avis, Hertz and Dollar are some of the worst in the world. You think that you are getting a cheap rate with Dollar, but they neglect to tell you that you must buy liability insurance. Hertz, Avis, and Dollar all have vehicles that have seen better days, even those of recent vintage. Each of the above have consistently managed to boost the final invoice by making errors on the bill or billing for things like extra gasoline. The last insult was by Hertz who gave us a car with 1/2 of a tank, noted on the check out, and after driving all of 60 km tried to bill us for additional gas even thought the guage read 3/4. I had added 120 pesos worth of gas at the Pemex down the highway. BTW: my 60 km came to $168 for 6 days. The car was an "A" class Ford that is similar to a Eurpopean Smart Car.

The last trip also involved my first mordida experience with a local cop. A 200 peso contribution got him to put away his pen. Unless you plan to drive up or down the coast, stick with taxiis. Beware that the shared vans will nick you for the trip from the airport to your hotel. For the return trip use a normal taxi and ignore the vans and Suburbans.



The last
opushomes is online now  
Old Feb 26, 08, 7:34 pm
  #5  
 
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Traveling to Teotichuacan

I'm looking for accommodations for me and another woman to stay near Teotichuacan. I don't want to stay in Mexico City. Are there places outside Mexico City that could accommodate us and would we be safe?
jodiinreno is offline  

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