Dangers & Annoyances

The biggest danger in Cancún isn’t violent crime – it’s the streets themselves. Vehicles speed along narrow roads and pedestrians (often drunk) sometimes get injured. A poked eye or twisted ankle is more common than a shooting or mugging; however, if anyone does demand money, don’t argue. Most violent incidents involve fights where tourists put themselves in danger.

That said, do not purchase drugs on the street or be seen talking to street dealers: this can be interpreted by either police or gangs as you being involved, marking you for interrogation or mugging, and you want to avoid both.

Theft

Theft of valuables left unattended is a possibility. Use prudence, keeping vital items with you or leaving them in a hotel safe, and you’ll avoid problems. Napping sunbathers probably won't wake up to find cameras, phones or wallets gone; but just the same, it's unwise to leave anything unattended on the beach.

Hawkers

Hawkers can be quite irritating but are not dangerous. The best way to avoid them is to just keep walking. As frustrating as this may be, remember that these vendors are just trying to make a living. A friendly 'No' is enough to tell them to look elsewhere.

Police Stations

Tourist Police Handles tourist-related issues such as theft.

Discount Cards

Discount cards can get you reduced airfare at youth-oriented travel agencies and occasionally they'll get you discounted prices at museums and archaeological sites. Seniors over 60 get free admission into the Museo Maya de Cancún with proof of ID.

  • ISIC student card
  • IYTC (under 26 years) card
  • ITIC card for teachers

Embassies & Consulates

Canadian Consulate Has limited consular services such as passport replacement.

Dutch Consulate Visits by appointment only.

German Consulate A friendly and helpful spot for German consular services.

Irish Honorary Consulate Visits by appointment only.

UK Consulate Note that all calls are routed through the main office in Mexico City first.

US Consular Agency No visas are processed here, and most services must be done through the Merida office location.

Emergency & Important Numbers

Cruz Roja (Red Cross)911, 065
Fire911, 998-884-12-02
Police911, 066
Tourist Police911, 066, 998-885-22-77

Etiquette

  • Greetings A handshake is common when meeting people for the first time. Among friends, men usually exchange back-slapping hugs; for women, it's usually an air kiss on the cheek.
  • Bargaining It's okay to bargain with vendors selling their wares at market stalls but do not lose sight of what's fair for the seller.
  • Restaurant checks Waiters usually wait for their customers to ask for the bill; leaving a check on the table while the clients are still eating would be considered rude.

LGBT Travellers

Same-sex marriage is legal in Quintana Roo and Cancún is considered to be one of the state's most progressive cities. Gay Cities website (http://cancun.gaycities.com) lists bars and gay-friendly hotels in Cancún and www.gaymexicomap.com has some good recommendations as well. Most locals have open-minded views about sexuality and gays and lesbians rarely attract open discrimination and violence.

11:11 This nightclub makes a good starting point to tap into the LGBT scene.

Insurance

A travel-insurance policy to cover theft, loss and medical problems may make you feel more at ease. Some policies exclude dangerous activities such as scuba and cave diving. Mexican health care is relatively cheap. Some US health insurance policies stay in effect while traveling abroad.

Worldwide travel insurance is available at www.lonelyplanet.com/travel-insurance. You can buy, extend and claim online anytime – even if you’re already on the road.

Checking insurance quotes…

Internet Access

Wi-fi is available in most destinations, though you often get spotty service at accommodations in some of the more remote towns. Free public wi-fi in town squares rarely works, but you can almost always connect in a restaurant or cafe.

Money

There are several banks with ATMs throughout the Zona Hotelera and downtown on Avenida Tulum. Cancún’s airport also has ATMs and money exchange.

ATMs

Banamex ATM

Santander With several money exchange offices nearby.

Tipping

  • Restaurants About 15% unless service comes included on the check.
  • Hotels Few people actually do it but you should leave about 5% to 10% of the room cost.
  • Taxis Drivers don't expect tips unless a special service is provided.
  • Baggers in supermarkets About M$3 per bag.
  • Gas station attendants M$5 to M$10

Opening Hours

Opening hours vary throughout the year and some businesses may close for several months during the low season.

Archaeological Sites 8am–5pm

Banks 9am–5pm Monday to Friday; some until 2pm on Saturday

Money Exchange Offices 9am–5pm; some close Sunday

Museums 9am–6pm Tuesday to Sunday

Stores and Malls 11am–10pm

Post

There is no post office in the Zona Hotelera, but some hotels’ reception desks sell stamps and will mail letters.

The Main Post Office is downtown at the edge of Mercado 28. You can also post mail in the red postal boxes sprinkled around town.

Public Holidays

Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) on November 1 and 2 is considered an optional holiday.

Año Nuevo (New Year's Day) January 1

Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) February 5

Día del Nacimiento de Benito Juárez (Benito Juárez's birthday) March 21

Día del Trabajo (Labor Day) May 1

Día de la Independencia (Independence Day) September 16

Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day) November 20

Día de Navidad (Christmas Day) December 25

Smoking

Quintana Roo has a ban on smoking in public indoor spaces, except in designated areas. Enforcement, however, is inconsistent.

Taxes & Refunds

Taxes are not always included in hotel rates; if not, expect to pay an additional 19%.

Some stores participate in a tax reimbursement program (look for the Moneyback logo) that allows visitors to claim back 8.9% of the purchase price with a minimum spend of M$1200, providing they are leaving by air or sea. See www.moneyback.mx for more details.

Telephone

International access code011
Country code52
Cancún area code998
  • From local cell phone to local cell phone dial the 10-digit number.
  • From landline to cell phone dial 044 before the 10 digits, or 045 before the 10 digits for long-distance calls.
  • From another country to a Mexican cell phone, dial the international access code, the country code, plus 1 before the 10-digit number.

Mobile Phones

Using your own cell phone in Mexico can be expensive due to roaming. You can usually insert a Mexican SIM card into your phone but it must be unlocked. Alternatively, buy a cheapo Mexican phone (M$500) that comes with credit.

Toilets

Expect to pay M$5 to use public toilets.

Tourist Information

City Tourism Office City tourist office with ample supplies of printed material and knowledgeable staff.

More Information

Amigos de Isla Contoy Has helpful info about Isla Contoy and works to conserve the island.

Cancún Visitors Bureau (www.cancun.travel) An informative website, but no tourist office.

Casa Consular While they don't provide consular assistance themselves, Casa Consular will find the exact information you need and tell you where you need to go. It is a service for all visitors, not just those with an embassy or consulate in the city. Located inside the police and fire department building.

Travel with Children

With such easy access to sand, sea and swimming pools, most kids will have a blast in Cancún. Children dig outdoor activities such as boat tours to Isla Contoy or swashbuckling outings on a pirate ship; meanwhile the open-air malls are chock full of child-oriented attractions.

Water-Related Fun

Kids never like to get pulled away from fun water attractions and can you really blame them?

  • Isla Contoy

Children dig Asterix boat tours to Isla Contoy, where their imagination can run wild playing on the beaches of an uninhabited island.

  • Museo Subacuático de Arte

Glass bottom boat tours and snorkeling trips (for children over 7) provide hours of oohing and aahing as the little ones marvel at life-sized sculptures at this underwater museum.

  • Pirate Ship

Captain Hook's nighttime pirate ship adventures are both thrilling and fun.

Need to Know

  • Babysitting Some of the larger resorts, such as Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites provide child care services.
  • Booking hotels Make sure when reserving a room that the hotel accepts children – some are adults-only.

Accessible Travel

Lodgings in Cancún generally do not cater to travelers with disabilities, however, you'll have a better chance of finding hotels and restaurants with wheelchair access in the Zona Hotelera. The visually impaired will find it difficult to get around on the city's busy streets.

  • Cancun Accessible (www.cancunaccesible.com) provides transportation services and more.

Accessible Travel Guide

Download Lonely Planet's free Accessible Travel guides from http://lptravel.to/AccessibleTravel.

Volunteering

If you're interested in protecting sea turtles, you can make arrangements with Flora, Fauna y Cultura to volunteer for one night (voluntary donation M$200) from June to August, which involves patrolling nesting grounds in Xcacel, a Riviera Maya beach, from 8pm to 5am.