The official language in Mexico is Spanish, but some people in tourist areas speak English.

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Mexico’s official currency is the peso, which is divided into 100 centavos. Most major credit cards, like Visa, MasterCard and American Express, are accepted almost everywhere. Traveler’s checks are also accepted, but they’re best if in US dollars. Most towns and cities have ATMs, but you should only use them during business hours to be safe. Most places will accept foreign currency, but you should use pesos. Casas de cambio (exchange bureaus) tend to have longer hours and faster service than banks.

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Mexico’s international country code is 52. To call another country from Mexico, dial 00 followed by the appropriate country code. It’s usually cheaper to use a phone card, instead of dialing directly from your hotel room. Beware of fees charged at phone booths. Most of the tourist areas have Internet, as does much of the country.

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Tipping is almost always expected in Mexico. If there’s no service charge on the bill, tip waiters and bar staff 10 to 15 percent. Most of the international resorts expect 15 to 20 percent. Taxi drivers usually receive a tip if they’ve helped with luggage.

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Mexico has high crime levels. Robberies and muggings are serious risks in Mexico City, and you should never show off your valuables. Be vigilant on public transportation and at tourist sites. Stick to authorized taxi services and never travel on the bus at night. Take first class if you can. If you’re a woman traveling alone, stay particularly alert in tourist areas; there have been a number of serious sexual assaults. Exchange money only during the day, and be cautious when leaving ATMs or exchange bureaus. Be wary of people identifying themselves as police officers, especially if they are trying to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason. These incidents sometimes lead to theft or assault. Ask the officer for identification, and try to make note of the officer’s name, patrol number and badge number. Avoid all demonstrations, as many become violent. Be very careful in Oaxaca’s city center, where there have been a number of violent protests. It’s a good idea to check with the State Department for its current advisories before traveling. From June to December, hurricanes can be a problem on the coast.

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If you’re arriving from an area infected with yellow fever, you’ll need a yellow fever vaccination certificate to enter the country. Otherwise, there are no vaccination requirements. It’s a good idea to get immunizations against hepatitis A and typhoid, and you should consult your doctor about malaria prevention. Some of the rural areas have a malaria risk, but the Pacific and Gulf Coast areas are usually fine. Some mosquitoes can carry dengue fever. Be wary of street food and stick to bottled water. Dysentery and diarrheal diseases are common complaints from Mexico travelers. Make sure that you’re covered by health insurance.

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Mexico’s electrical current is 130 volts, 60Hz and uses two-pinned, flat blade plugs.

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Melisse Hinkle
A New England native but explorer at heart, Melisse has lived in four U.S. cities, spent a summer in Hawaii, made her way through wine-producing regions in Australia and New Zealand, and traveled around Europe while studying abroad in London. She is the Content Manager for the U.S. and Canada at Cheapflights.
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