Baja Travel Guidebook
FACTS FOR THE TRAVELER
[safety & security]
[climate & weather]
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
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
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
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.
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.
A 10% tax is included in many prices but sometimes shows up
as an extra on hotel and restaurant bills.
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.
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.
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.
Purchase the full theft insurance package at the border when
you exchange money. Your American/Canadian insurance will not
cover you in Baja.
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).