Mexico

Mexico is a country filled with warmth, colour and magic. There’s no other country on earth where you can find yourself marvelling at a 1,300 year old Mayan palace at Palenque as parrots screech and howler monkeys growl in the emerald jungle around you or sliding from a palm-fringed sandy beach into the warm, turquoise waves of the Pacific at Puerto Vallarta, dining on salmon enchiladas at a Mexico City fusion restaurant, or kayaking at dawn past a colony of Baja California sea lions.

When to Visit

The interior of the country enjoys a temperate climate and is a year-round destination, while the coastal areas are best visited when the heat and humidity of the summer have passed, from October to April. July and August, and mid-December to mid January are popular holiday months for both Mexicans and visitors, so it's best to book accommodation well in advance.

Highlights

MEXICO CITY Mexico City is one of the world’s most densely populated cities and also one of its most vibrant and colourful. Once the ancient Aztec city of Tenochtitlan, the city was originally constructed over the ancient Lake Texcoco.

TAXCO Known as the world’s silver capital, the small city of Taxco sits in an area sheltered by hills and mountains. Taxco is distinguished by its stone-paved lanes, traditional plazas and ancient houses with viceregal facades.

TEOTIHUACAN The ruins of Teotihuacan are among the most remarkable in Mexico. The Teotihuacan civilisation remains shrouded in mystery as the site was abandoned in the eighth century. The Aztecs believed that the gods created the universe in this ancient city.

CHICHEN ITZ A Chichen Itza was named one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World” and is the most visited of all Mayan sites. This ancient Mayan ruin is a rugged place of soaring pyramids, massive temples and startling carved columns.

RIVIERA MAYA The Riviera Maya is a natural paradise with pristine beaches and exotic wildlife. It is surrounded by caves, sinkholes and underground rivers. The translucent water is perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.

PALENQUE In the Mexican state of Chiapas, verdant jungle parts to reveal ancient Mayan temples in Palenque, an archaeological wonderland and the most studied Mayan site.

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Useful Information

Customs

Generally speaking, Mexicans shake hands when they meet or in the case of two women meeting or a man and a woman meeting, kiss each other on the cheek once. In the case of close friends and on special occasions, such as New Year's Eve, Mexican men and women embrace each other, pat each other gently on the back, and then shake hands. Because strangers cannot be placed within the different circles of intimacy and confidentiality they are generally treated with suspicion. When people of different socioeconomic status meet, the individual with the socially ascribed inferior status will wait for the person with superior status to define the terms of the encounter. Mexicans are very keen on being addressed with their academic or professional title. The most commonly used academic title is that of licenciado. People of lower standing will also invariably address a socially superior with the formal you (usted), while the latter will most likely use the informal you (tu). Conversations will mostly begin with polite and informal exchanges and slowly move toward the subject matter. Even then Mexicans remain indirect speakers, avoiding clear-cut statements. 

Health

The following information is intended as a guide only and in no way should it be used as a substitute for professional medical advice relative to a travellers individual needs and vaccination history. No guarantee is made as to its accuracy or thoroughness. For further information, please contact The Travel Doctor on (+64) 9 373 3531. Vaccination against Hepatitis A is recommended for travellers to Mexico. Vaccination against Hepatitis B and Rabies (particularly if working with animals) should be considered by frequent or long stay travellers. Vaccination against Typhoid should be considered particularly when travelling to areas with poor sanitation and hygiene. Care with food and beverage selection is recommended. As Malaria and Dengue Fever occurs in Mexico, insect avoidance measures and medication may be necessary depending on your itinerary. Please consult a medical practitioner or contact The Travel Doctor for your specific risk to these preventable diseases and the appropriate avoidance measures. New Zealanders travelling to Mexico should ensure that they have adequate travel insurance to cover the length of their stay. Medications that are legal in New Zealand may be illegal in other countries. 

Visa's

Official travel advice regarding visas is available by calling 04 439 8000 or visiting their website www.safetravel.govt.nz

Electricity

Electrical Plug: Japanese Voltage: 110-120 volts Modem Plug: USA Source: Korjo Travel Products. Please view the Korjo adapter guide at www.korjo.com.au for further information on this matter.

Communications

Country Code for Mexico: +52 Offical Travel Advice: Visit www.safetravel.govt.nz Emergency Services: 066 Although there may be English speaking operators available, to avoid delay it is best to seek the assistance of a Spanish speaker to call the emergency service.

Shopping

Mexico is well served by a number of supermarkets and hypermarkets. Most reasonable sized towns and all cities have at least one, and usually several, supermarkets to choose from. Local ambulant street market traders start trading at around 10am and will start to pack their stalls away from about 4pm. Some markets stay open late and even keep selling into the night, but they tend to be those selling durable goods and prepared foods. Shopping hours in Mexico vary by the type of store and the size of the town or city you are in. Generally speaking, Mexican stores offer shoppers extended opening hours and many stores are open on Sundays, too.

Tipping

Workers in small, economy restaurants usually do not expect a significant tip. However, tipping in Mexico is common in larger, medium and higher end restaurants. It is customary in these establishments to tip not less than 10% but not more than 15% of the bill as a voluntary offering for good service based on the total bill before value added tax, "IVA" in English, VAT. Value added tax is already included in menu or other service industry pricing since Mexican Consumer Law requires the exhibition of final costs for the customer. Thus, the standard tip in Mexico is 11.5% of the pre-tax bill which equates to 10% after tax in most of the Mexican territory, except in special lower tax stimulus economic zones.

Getting around

Distances in Mexico can be huge, and if you’re intending to travel on public transport, you should be prepared for some very long journeys. Getting from Tijuana to Mexico City, for example, can take nearly two days nonstop by bus. Although public transport at ground level is frequent and reasonably efficient everywhere, taking an internal flight at least once may be worthwhile for the time it saves.

Language

Spanish 93%, Indigenous and Spanish 6%.

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