MEXICO
Peso (MXN) with bills of 1000, 500, 200,100, 50 and 20 and coins of 10,5,2,1 and 0,50 cent

Exchange Rate:
1 Euro:   16 pesos
1 Usd:    14 pesos

Changing currency is possible at the casa de cambio (exchange house) which are open almost the entire day. They usually only have a little less exchange rate then at the bank. In big hotels it is also possible to exchange money. ATM machines are everywhere and it is possible to get money here with a bankcard that has a Cirrus / Master or Visa logo.

$ (with 1 stripe) is the sign for pesos; with 2 stripes it is USD dollar but usually it says USD.

GUATEMALA
Guatemalan Quetzal with bills of 200, 100,50, 20,10,5,1 and 0,5 and coins of 1 quetzal, 0,50, 0,25, 0,10, 0,05, 0,01 cents.

In Guatemala the Exchange rate for 1 USD is about 8 Quetzals (about Euro 0,10). Paying with Euros is not possible in these countries. USD can be changed to Quetzales in large towns.

With bank passes with a Cirrus / Mastercard or Visa logo it is usually easy to cash money from an ATM machine in Guatemala. In Flores it can be a bit difficult to get money but there are for sure possibilities in Santa Elena (close to Flores). Never choose the option “retiro rapido” because then you can only get 400 Quetzales at a time. With “retiro normal” you can choose how much money you want! On the border it is possible to change your Quetzales to Belezean Dollars when you leave Guatemala. Outside Guatemala Guatemalan Quetzales are not accepted!

BELIZE
Belizean Dollar with bills of 100,50,20,10,5,2 and 1 and coins of 1, 0,50, 0,25, 0,10, 0,05 and 0,01 cents.

On Placencia there is only an ATM machine but we cannot guarantee you that it is working. You can pay anywhere in Belize with USD. If you would like to change USD to Belizean Dollars you can do that at Casa de Cambio´s (exchange house) which are open almost the entire day. They usually only have a little less exchange rate then at the bank. In big hotels it is also possible to exchange money.

Important:
• Make sure that your bankcard is activated for being able to use it in these countries!
• As a backup to cards, it is a good idea to take enough USD cash which can come handy at the border, for entrance fees that are not included and in little towns where you will not be able to exchange money or find an ATM machine!!

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FLIGHT RECONFIRMATION
It is your own responsibility to reconfirm any onward flights. Please check details given to you by your airline for local contacts. You can also check at the airline counter in the airport when you first arrive. Should there be a change to your flights, that requires a change to any transport arrangements; please contact the local agent as soon as possible to advise them of this.

TRANSFERS
When you have chosen for a private transfer then you will be picked up at the time and place indicated on the voucher. Of course it is possible, for whatever reason, that the transport it late. It is very common that collective shuttles are late!
In case the transporter is more than 15 minutes late, contact immediately the transporter or your local agent Solana Tours. The contact details can be found on your vouchers. To avoid misunderstandings make sure you tell the driver where you are going. Some drivers speak a little English but do not worry, with (hand) gestures you will get there! Bienvenidos!

TAXI
Something you will notice is that there are many taxi´s in Mexico. Taxis are relatively easy to navigate and inexpensive. They are normally clean and there seems to be a good amount available (except when it rains). Most taxis are smaller cars. Many taxis are Nissan Tida models which have a good amount of room in the back seat and make for a more comfortable taxi ride. Tipping is not usually done but if you care to round up to the next whole amount, that is fine. Taxis can be hailed on the street or picked up at a taxi stand. The taxi stands are places where there are more people wanting them. They charge usually more when using the taxi stands. It is recommended to ask how much the ride will cost before agreeing and entering the taxi. If it sounds fair, hop in. Don’t get taken for a ride by a taxi driver trying to overcharge you after you have taken the ride at the agreed price. Some taxi drivers speak English; those that work from taxi stands tend to speak a bit more English. If your Spanish is not that good, when you check in at your hotel, grab a card with the address so when you hop in a taxi you can show him the address you want to go to.

TRAVEL BY PUBLIC BUS IN MEXICO
• Mexico has a good road network and comfortable, frequent bus services connect all cities. Most cities and towns have one main bus terminal where all long-distance buses arrive and depart. It may be called the Terminal de Autobuses, Central de Autobuses or simply La Central (not to be confused with el centro, the city center!).

• Baggage is safe if stowed in the bus’ baggage hold: get a receipt for it when you hand it over. Upon arrival you will need to hand the given receipt in order to get your luggage so keep this safely.

• Keep your most valuable documents (passport, money etc) in the cabin with you.

• Air-conditioned buses can get cold, so wear long pants or a skirt and take a sweater or jacket and maybe a blanket on board. Eye pads can be handy if you don’t want to watch videos the entire trip!

• You will travel with assigned seats, after ‘asiento’ it says which seat number you are on.

• First class buses usually leave on time. We recommended you be at the bus station at least 15 minutes before departure.

TRAVEL BY COLLECTIVE SHUTTLE
• For any collective shuttle, it is wise to be always a bit earlier at the mentioned place on your voucher and please keep in mind that the departure time is “around” so you can get picked up a bit later as well!

• Sometimes you have to switch buses along the way because routes from different directions can be combined. Mexican vans are not allowed in Guatemala. Drivers will wait for each other so nothing can go wrong!

• Depending on your travel itinerary there might be additional charges at the border for leaving and entering countries! Follow the instructions of the driver regarding border formalities.

• In some areas it isn’t possible to get dropped off at the hotel, the driver will give you instructions how to quickly walk there!

San Juan Travel:
• You should go directly with your vouchers to the office of San Juan Travel to reconfirm your transfers.

• The office of San Juan Travel is open from 05:00 am till 09:00 pm. You can find their office on the main street in Santa Elena.

• San Juan Travel also has a office in Flores but there you can only reconfirm your vouchers to Tikal and often they will not confirm the 4.30 am bus. Anyways for reconfirming the other services, you will have to go to the office in Santa Elena (we know from experience)

• At the office you will be also able to change the departure time in case the original 4:30am departure time will be too early for you. However, we do recommend leaving early so you have a bigger chance of seeing animals and to avoid the worst heat.

• To get to the gate of Tikal it takes about 1 hour and then another 15 minutes to get to the real entrance.

• If you couldn’t reconfirm your vouchers in the office of San Juan Travel before 09:00 pm (even though it must be possible), please give them a call to reconfirm your transfer to Tikal. You can reconfirm the other vouchers the next day because you will pass the office on your way to Tikal

 

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Travel by rental car
• On the first day of your rental contract, an employee of the rental car company will come to the hotel or welcome you at their office. The rental contract is then drawn up. You also have to pay the guarantee; this can only be paid by credit card. A copy of your credit card (blank slip) will be made and will be used as a guarantee. You will get this copy back when you return the car.

• To drive a vehicle in Mexico, you need a valid driver’s license from your home country.

• Check your car before you leave; the lights, doors, windows, mirrors, tires, see if the air-conditioning is working and make sure the car has a spare tire (in good shape), tools and a jack. You will complete a checklist form about the car condition.

• It is also important to ask for a copy of the tarjeta de circulación con vigencia 2014/2015 which you will have to show together with your driving license should you get stopped by the police.

• At the office you can reduce your own risk by paying extra amount for insurance per day. Let the representative from Europcar explain the details before you sign for this and do not let them talk you into it when you don’t want it! If you do accept the agreement make sure to check that you mark the ‘I accept’ box on the form.

• A liter of gasoline will cost approximately 13 pesos (green = Magna), so you have an idea what a first tank should cost. At the gas station, always get out of the car or check at least that they start at 0,00 because you won’t be the first one that they will try to trick!!

• Also be aware of the fact that the traffic lights at intersections are on the other side of the street and not on your own side, but off course you need to stop in front and not on the intersection!

• In case of damage or accident always contact Europcar directly to avoid trouble with your insurance!

• If you ever run into police just stay calm and polite. Often they just want money. Try to ‘play’ the ‘ignorant tourist’, keep smiling and don´t get intimidated. Ask them to explain exactly what you did wrong. If you really have to pay, give us a call immediately.

• There are also some perfectly genuine military or police roadblocks, which are generally looking for illegal weapons, drugs, migrants or contraband. They are unlikely to give tourists a hard time, and are no cause for alarm.

• Take your time to adjust to the Mexican way of driving. Even if the Mexicans drive like crazy people doesn’t mean that you have to do the same. Just take your time and keep your eyes on the road.

• Mexico’s highways are serviceable and fairly fast when traffic is not heavy. There are more than 6000km of toll highways (autopistas), which are generally good, four-lane roads: tolls vary from M$0.50 to M$1.50 per kilometer.

• Driving at night is best avoided, since unlit vehicles, hard-to-see speed bumps, rocks, pedestrians and animals on the roads are common and drunken drivers are more numerous – and general highway security is better by day.

• It’s best to leave vehicles in secure lock-up parking lots overnight – these are fairly common in cities and hotels can tell you where they are if they don’t have their own secure parking.

• Along the way you might get scared of little ropes that are on the road. Usually this is an attempt from locals to earn some extra money . Do not react because you are not obliged to give something. Normally it is enough to speed up and they will take the rope down.
Road Rules

• Be careful with the ‘topes’ or ‘vibradores’ (speed bumps) on the road. You will find them in every single village and sometimes without any prior notice or they are often not where you would expect them. Missing one can cost you in traffic fines or car damage.

• Drive on the right-hand side of the road.

• Speed limits range between 80km and 120km per hour on open highways and between 30km and 50km per hour in towns and cities.

• One-way streets are the rule in cities.

• The cities count with clear signaling of the speed limit as well as the restrictive preventive signaling.

Return of the rental car
It is very important to check in your travel documents when and where the car drop off is scheduled.
If you are delayed please ensure you call Solana Tours so they know you are safe and make alternative arrangements for the car drop off if necessary.
Return the car in a similar state as when you received it, which means please do not leave it full of dirt or rubbish because if the car requires special cleaning services you may be charged for this.
Check very well that you don´t forget any personal belongings!

Offices of Europcar:
In order to contact them from a Europe cell phone you will need to dial (+52) before the number or from your hotel you will need to dial (01) and then the number given below

Europcar Hotelzone Cancun 998 8850483
Europcar Puerto Morelos Centro 998 2069372
Europcar Playa del Carmen 984 8732820
Europcar Tulum (bahia Principe) 984 8755000
Europcar Campeche 981 8234083
Europcar Cancun Centro 998 8928952
Europcar Cancun Airport 998 8860920
Europcar Merida Airport 999 9464900
Europcar Merida Fiesta Americana 999 9253548
Europcar Tuxtla Gutierrez 961 1214922
Europcar Villahermosa 993 3560884
Europcar Mexico City Airport 9555 7868264
Europcar Mexico City Paseo de la Reforma 555 5337161
Europcar Mexico City Av. Insurgentes 555 5635383
Europcar Chetumal (hotel Noor) 983 8339959
Europcar Oaxaca Airport 951 1438340
Europcar Oaxaxa Centro 951 5169305
Europcar Puebla Airport 227 1025045
Europcar Puebla Centro 222 2242418
Europcar Veracruz Airport 229 9568046
Europcar free 18002012084

Important:  In case of an emergency you will need to dial the 01800 number! In order to get helped, you will need your contract number.

 

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Drinking water

• do not drink water from the tap.  Drinking water offered by the hotel, whether bottled or in a (glass) can, is safe of course. Sometimes you even find “garrafons” (blue plastic vessels of 20 liters) with drinking water in the reception or corridors of the hotels.  Besides, you can buy bottled water everywhere in town.

Toilet paper
• Do not throw any paper in the toilet, but use the baskets beside it. Outlet-pipes are not designed for toilet paper and get blocked very easily.

Sun
• Be careful in the sun! You can get sun burnt very easily without noticing.

Mosquitos
• Use mosquito repellent with at least a 10% concentration of DEET and try to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, not only it is uncomfortable to get bitten by mosquitoes, in some areas exist dengue fever.

Dehydration
• To prevent yourself from dehydrating you should drink a lot of water anyway, but especially if you get diarrhea.  And keep in mind you can use ORS (salt/sugar solution) not only with diarrhea, but also in case you feel a bit faint. Mexican, preprepared ORS = Pedialite (suero oral in spanish), is available in ‘farmacias’.

Treat
• A great option to try during your holiday: Not only healthy, but also a very tasty drink too: LICUADOS = mashed fresh fruit, mixed with purified water (agua) or milk (leche)!

THINGS THAT CAN HAPPEN DURING YOUR TRIP
The infrastructure in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize is generally good. Delays because of a broken down bus, police and/or military checks, road construction or roadblocks can happen more often here. You should be prepared for the unexpected! “It´s part of this way of life”. If something happens during your trip which can cause a big delay that means changes to your program, you should contact Solana Tours. They can answer your questions, give you advice on what to do and assist to make alternative arrangements if needed.

LOCAL TIME
The biggest part of Mexico operates the Central Standard Time (CST) which is a 7 hour time difference with Europe, in summer and winter. Only the state Quintana Roo has all year long daylight saving time so in winter there will be a 6 hour difference with Europe and in summer there will be a 7 hour difference with Europe. Belize and Guatemala operate the Central Standard Time and do not observe daylight saving time so in winter time there will be a 7 hour time difference and in summer time there will be an 8 hour time difference with Europe. It is important to check if there will be any time changes during your trip.

SAFETY
Always keep an eye on your luggage. Carry a copy of your passport with you and make sure it has your picture. We do advise you to always carry your money and valuables with you. Never leave anything valuable in the hotel room, unless there is a safe or that you can lock your luggage. Don’t wear expensive jewellery and keep a low profile with your video and photo cameras. At busy places, be aware of pickpockets and we advise to carry your bag in front of you or to carry your money in a money belt under your clothes. Don´t leave anything unattended at the beach or waterfalls when you go for a swim. If you travel with a rental car, don´t take any hitch hikers.

TIPPING GUIDELINES
It is customary to tip money for services provided by a hotel, guides, drivers and restaurants. Giving a tip is a way to show that you are satisfied with the service that you have been offered. The wages in mexicoo are so low that a little extra is always good. There are no fixed rules when you give a tip. You are the one who will decide how much you want to give, however at some tourist places a tip is already added automatically to your bill (it says “servicio incluido”). In case that happens, you pay the end amount on your bill and don’t leave any additional tip.

TIPS FOR A PLEASANT STAY
• Always keep an eye on your luggage.
• Carry a copy of your passport with you. Make sure it has your picture.
• Store your return ticket, cash, documents and traveler’s checks in a safe place.
• Use the safety deposit boxes that are at the hotels.

• Don’t wear expensive jewelry and carry only the amount of cash you need for the day.
• Keep a low profile with your video and photo cameras.
• While walking, keep your wallet on you, in a safe place.
• It is recommended to ask the reception for exact opening hours and entrance fees at any destination.

DEPARTURE
We recommend being present at the airport 3 hours before departure. If you have a departure transfer booked, the pickup time will be based on getting you to the airport at this time and allowing for driving time. You will need to have your passport, flight ticket or a printed copy of your e-ticket and your tourist visa. In most cases departure tax is already included in your ticket from Mexico. For departures from Belize and Guatemala it is important to verify if the departure tax is already included!

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