Introduction

Facts for the Traveler

Transportation

Recreation

Communications

Baja Cities and Sites
La Paz
Todos Santos
San Ignacio
Santa Rosalia
Loreto
Ciudad Constitution
Cabo Del Este
Los Cabos

Further Reading

Baja Map

More Baja Maps
  

Baja Travel Guidebook

FACTS FOR THE TRAVELER

[immigration] [money] [safety & security] [shopping] [tax] [tipping] [medical] [language] [vehicle insurance] [climate & weather]

IMMIGRATION
US and Canadian citizens need a valid passport and a tourist card available at the border. Tourists from other countries should check with a Mexican consulate or embassy.

MONEY
Use the Xenon Laboratories Universal Currency Converter™ to calculate exchange rates between Mexican New Pesos and other international currencies. Most prices in Baja are quoted in pesos, but tourist centers use both. Peso prices are indicated by the symbol N$ before the amount. In resort areas beware of prices being listed in US dollars. Tourist shops may take dollars but it is better to use pesos if you can. In small towns, shops often won't have change for anything over a $20 (20 peso note). American travelers checks are readily exchanged.

If you can, change what you think you'll need for the first day before you arrive. Small airports may not be able to change money for you and the bigger airports give a poor exchange rate. Most taxi drivers would be able happy to take American dollars but they may not be able to change large bills.

Shop around for the best exchange rate although at this time the differences are negligible. Banks are your best bet but often have long lines and short hours. Money exchanges (casa de cambio) have better hours and post their rates outside. They may charge a commission. Large hotels exchange money and some cities in the south have ATMs. Some tourist shops and large supermarkets will take your dollars and give you change in pesos. Credit cards are useful in large centers and are essential when renting a car. Gas stations only take pesos. Businesses may add a surcharge for credit card use. Cash advances are available at banks.

SAFETY AND SECURITY
Keep your possessions on you in a safe place and never leave a bag unattended even in front of your hotel and especially not at an airport. Most hotels provide security safes for passports and plane tickets but you run the risk of forgetting them when you leave or needing your passport to cash traveler's checks during the day.

Vehicles and/or contents are at risk of being stolen even in broad daylight. Buy Mexican insurance at the border.

SHOPPING
Prices are fixed in stores and it is considered rude to bargain. When buying that Mexican blanket at a market or on the beach you can have fun bargaining. Vendors will speak English and will enjoy engaging you in a conversation. To get a better price insist on price negotiations in pesos. If you're simply not interested, just say so politely and they will leave you alone. If you are interested you should know your prices by having shopped in the stores. The secret of course is to not care whether or not you buy.

TAX
A 10% tax is included in many prices but sometimes shows up as an extra on hotel and restaurant bills.

TIPPING
Just like at home, a 10 - 15% tip is expected for good service. You don't need to tip gas station attendants but do tip the person that washes your car windows.

MEDICAL
Travel insurance is recommended. No shots are required. Baja's standards of sanitation are higher than those of the rest of Mexico, but often a change of diet will upset the system. Some visitors take a preventative such as Pepto Bismo and most carry medication such as Imodium. Although Baja's water is from wells and has been considered safe for years, many people now drink bottled water. Watch out for the sun and drink lots of fluids when you first arrive.

Medical Assistance - Medical standards are high in Baja. North Americans often choose to have dentistry or medical treatments or elective surgeries done here because of the quality of the care and the cost.

There are hospitals in Tijuana, Mexicali, Ensenada, Guerrero Negro, Santa Rosalia, Ciudad Constitucion, La Paz and Cabo San Lucas. These hospitals will treat you and expect you to pay cash when you leave. Get a receipt so you can collect on your medical insurance on return.

Pharmacies sell more over-the-counter medications than we have in the US and Canada so you can count on getting most everything you need in the towns.

LANGUAGE
You'll need a Latin-American Spanish phrase book. People accustomed to tourists will speak some English but do appreciate the efforts of visitors. Out of the towns you'll need to communicate in Spanish.

Learning Spanish - The Baja California Language College 011-52 (646) 174-5688 offers language courses. The University of La Paz also has courses.

VEHICLE INSURANCE
Purchase the full theft insurance package at the border when you exchange money. Your American/Canadian insurance will not cover you in Baja.

Baja Bound Mexican Insurance

CLIMATE AND WEATHER
The Pacific coast of Baja averages 60-75 degrees F (16-24 degrees C). Summer temperatures can be 85 degrees F (30 degrees C), winter nights can drop to 48 degrees F (9 degrees C). Inland summer temperatures can be 110 degrees F (43 degrees C). The Baja Cape from La Paz to Cabo is warm year round with summers as hot as inland and winters a moderate 70-80 degrees F (21-27 degrees C).

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