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Important Info:

Things we thought of that might be helpful for you to know...

Airport (pictures and more info here)
--When you get off of the plane, you will go through immigration first to get your Tourist Visa (make sure you sign the back twice, everyone forgets this part!) and show your passport.
--Next, you'll pick up your bags and then go to customs. You turn in your customs paper saying you didn't bring anything illegal and you press a button. Green means you go, red means they look through your bag. About 1 out of 7 get the red light. Not a big deal.
--When you get through a door, you'll see several stands and people offering you taxis, etc. Go to the ADO stand on your left near the end. Buy your tickets for the next bus to Playa. $8 USD each.
--When you exit terminal 3 and get outside, you will turn the left. Continue straight ahead and you'll see a sign for the shuttle to terminals 1 and 2. This shuttle is free (tip).
--When you get out of the shuttle, you will walk to your left if you are facing the airport. You should see some other buses and shuttles down there (although not always). You will board the Playa del Carmen bus (see schedule). It's about a 45 minute bus ride.
--When you get off of the bus in Playa there is a McDonalds directly ahead of you (and an ATM if you want to get pesos). To the right is a taxi stand. Take the taxi to the Luna Blue (show them the business card). If you don't have the card, it's on calle 26, entre 5 and 10 ave. These taxis won't be anymore than $4 USD or 40 pesos. You can pay them with US dollars.
--A link to TSA's site for what you can and can't bring is here.

Money (more info here)
--It is MUCH easier to use pesos than dollars. The exchange rate is about 10 pesos=$1 USD, so think of it by just dropping a 0. We recommend that you get/exchange money once you get to Playa and use pesos during your stay.
--You can exchange money at cambios up and down 5th Ave. They will give you a receipt, make sure to count your money before walking away. There are two rates listed on the signs. One is for exchanging dollars for pesos and the other is pesos for dollars. You lose a little money if you have to sell back your pesos, so try to just get what you need. You can also sell back pesos at the airport if you need to.
--There are several ATMs in town. One directly across from the bus stop. Closest one to the Luna Blue is probably on Constituyentes and 10th Ave. at Scotia Bank. The amount you enter in the ATM is in pesos, not dollars! The best exchange rate is normally at an ATM.
--We think you can plan to spend $50 a day eating and drinking well. Beers are normally 25 pesos, so about $2.50. If you go to the right place, you can eat inexpensively. Try places off of 5th (tourist zone!). 30th ave has lots of great restaurants!
--If you plan on using your credit/debit card, let your bank know ahead of time. Sometimes their security will hold all charges until they confirm that you are the one using your card in an odd place.

--You can barter with any store, tour, etc. This is slow season, so even better. If the prices are marked, they don't seem to be as flexible, but you can try anyway if you want.
--You can take 2 liters of alchol home from the duty free store. We normally just buy ours at Mega or Wal-Mart (a little cheaper) and pack it in our bag with a bunch of cloths. Now, not being able to take liquids on the plane, it's kinda pain to buy duty free in the airport.
--If you want to take Cuban rum or cigars home, you have to sneak them.

Phones/Internet (more info here)
--If you chose to bring your laptop, you have to take it out of it's case to go through security each time. Place it in it's own container with nothing else.
--The Luna Blue has wireless internet. Get the password at the front desk. There is not a public computer at the Luna Blue.
--Your cell phone is normally .99 cents a minute. This can really add up if you are using the internet on your phone, as each minute your cell phone is connecting to WiFi, downloading emails, etc. you are being charged. You might want to turn WiFi off and not use the internet features while you are out of the country.
--There are internet cafes all over town that are very inexpensive (normally 20 pesos/$2 USD per hour). These places are the cheapest places to make international phone calls also. The closest internet cafe is El Point which is on 5th avenue between 24 and 26th streets. There are also several restaurants/cafes on 5th between 26th and 28th that have internet service. I think some are free if you buy something and ask for the password.
-- The Luna Blue has a US number which is 415-839-8541. You can leave this number as an emergency contact. Even if you aren't staying at the Luna Blue, we can be reached here. Another number you can leave for emergency calls is Sarah's Mexican cell which is 011-52-984-129-9966.

--The days will be hot. Night will get a little cooler, probably in the high 70s.
--It's the end of hurricane season. Pray for no rain!

--Hotels have garafons full of water for drinking and brushing your teeth. Restaurants use clean water in ice and sell bottled water.
--You can drink in the streets. Everyone returns bottles, so you can't leave a bar with a bottle, but you can get a cup to go.
--We'll be meeting at the Luna Blue Bar each night around 6:30. If you want to go to dinner with us, great! There are some really great local restaurants tucked away.
--Most restaurants have corn tortillas rather than flour. Might seem weird if you aren't used to them.
--You will not be given your bill unless you ask for it b/c it's fine to just sit and hang out. If you want your bill you can ask for the check or la cuenta.
--There is normally a IVA tax on your check at a restaurant. This is for prepared food and not the tip. The tip is the propina. It's normally not included, but make sure to check or ask if there is an additional charge.
--There is only sales tax on prepared food and medicine.
--Salsas are normally very hot. Green is normally hotter than red. Taste with caution!

--Tipping is an important part of the income in Mexico. Maids make around $400 USD a month. Please remember to tip the tour guides, bartenders, maids, etc. 10% is the tipping rate in Mexico. It's not customary to tip taxi drivers. A few dollars or 20-30 pesos a day for the maids is good.

--Be careful walking around town. There are often holes in the road or sidewalks that are uneven. Again, this has drastically improved, but wort mentioning if you are drinking and walking!
--People drive pretty crazy, especially taxis. Don't assume they see you or that you have the right away.

--If you are the person with the reservation at the Luna Blue and have people staying with you, please email the hotel and let them know. Officials randomly stop by to check hotel records and they can get fined if this is off, so it's important to let them know. The charge is $10 per person per night (other than the first two people in the room). Some rooms have double beds, some have a double and two singles, and some have a double/single/trundle. You probably want to find out exactly what your room has if you are sharing.
--The sewer system isn't what it is in the USA, although it has gotten much better over the years! Many places will have a sign in the bathroom asking that you don't flush the paper. Some places, including the Luna Blue, can handle the paper, but if you need to use a lot, flush a few times!
--There are people around that ask if you want a photo with them (men dressed in Mayan, people with monkeys or iguanas, etc.). They do this for tips.
--Taxis should be less than 20 pesos to get anywhere you will want to go in town. Just hand them 20 pesos and get out. If they are at a taxi stand (a line of them) or you have luggage they will charge a little more.
--Mexicans hug and kiss to greet often.
--Playa is very casual. Because of the brick streets, it's hard to walk in heels, girls!
--At the corner of Constituyentes and 5th ave, some prostitutes hang out (even though it's illegal). They don't come out until very late and they don't seem to come out or talk to anyone other than guys that are alone, but just FYI. Prostitution isn't legal in Mexico.
--There are some really great local places off of 5th Ave, so don't be nervous to venture off. 10th and 30th Aves have some great restaurants and cheaper shops.
--If you haven't checked yet, we put together a list of things you might want to pack here.
--If you are interested in going on the Catamaya with us, let us know. Info here. Other activities to do are here, including info about Tulum since I know some of you want to go there during your stay.


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