US dollars ($)
Budget: Less than $100
- Hostel dorm beds: $30–55
- Take-out meal: $7–12
- Motel or hotel double room: $100–150
- Rental car per day, excluding insurance and gas: $50–80
Top End: More than $200
- Upscale hotel or beach resort room: $150–300
- Three-course meal in top restaurant excluding drinks: $80–120
Bargaining is usually not appropriate, except with sidewalk vendors and at outdoor markets, such as arts-and-crafts shows. Elsewhere you're expected to pay the stated (or tagged) price.
ATMs are widely available. Credit cards are usually required for reservations. Traveler's checks (US dollars) are rarely accepted. Tipping is customary, not optional.
- ATMs are available 24/7 at most banks, shopping malls, airports and grocery and convenience stores.
- Expect a minimum surcharge of around $3 per transaction, in addition to any fees charged by your home bank.
- Most ATMs are connected to international networks and offer decent foreign-exchange rates.
- Withdrawing cash from an ATM using a credit card usually incurs a hefty fee and high interest rates; contact your credit-card company for details and a PIN number.
Most people don't carry large amounts of cash for everyday use, relying instead on credit and debit cards. Some businesses refuse to accept bills over $20.
- Major credit cards are almost universally accepted. In fact, it’s almost impossible to rent a car, book a hotel room or buy tickets over the phone without one. A credit card may also be vital in emergencies.
- Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most widely accepted credit cards.
For current exchange rates see www.xe.com.
- You can exchange money at major airports, bigger banks and currency-exchange offices such as American Express (www.americanexpress.com) or Travelex (www.travelex.com). Always enquire about rates and fees.
- Outside big cities, exchanging money may be a problem, so make sure you have a credit card and sufficient cash on hand.
Tipping is not optional. Only withhold tips in cases of outrageously bad service.
- Airport skycaps & hotel bellhops $2 or $3 per bag, minimum $5 per cart
- Bartenders 15% to 20% per round, minimum $1 per drink
- Concierges Nothing for simple information, up to $20 for securing last-minute restaurant reservations, sold-out show tickets, etc
- Housekeeping staff $2 to $4 daily, left under the card provided; more if you’re messy
- Parking valets At least $2 when your car keys are handed back
- Restaurant servers & room service 18% to 20%, unless a gratuity is already charged (common for groups of six or more)
- Taxi drivers 10% to 15% of metered fare, rounded up to the next dollar
- Traveler’s checks have pretty much fallen out of use.
- Big-city restaurants, hotels and department stores will often accept traveler’s checks (in US dollars only), but small businesses, markets and fast-food chains may refuse them.
- Visa and American Express are the most widely accepted issuers of traveler’s checks.