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Villa Del Palmar


Cabo FAQS

  1. Mexico Entry Requirements
  2. What do I do when I arrive at the airport?
  3. Currency Exchange Rate
  4. Will I be able to use credit cards?
  5. Credit cards versus cash
  6. Will I be able to get cash from the banks with my credit cards?
  7. Electricity
  8. Time zone
  9. Should I drink the water?
  10. Gratuities
  11. Telephone
  12. Newspaper
  13. Swimming
  14. Drinking in public

What are the Mexico Entry Requirements?

Beginning January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and  Mexico will be required to present a valid passport.  See U.S. Department of State International Travel FAQS for more information.  Holders of American passports do not need a visa to visit Mexico.

IMPORTANT - your passport, regardless of country of origin, MUST be valid for a minimum period of 6 months, regardless of how long you intend to stay.

In addition, visitors must carry a Mexican Tourist Permit, which is issued free of charge on arrival after proof of citizenship is shown, or may be provided in advance by an airline or travel agent.  This form is usually given to you on the plane before you arrive.  This permit must also be given to an immigration official upon departure.

Upon arrival at the airport, you will need to have your documentation ready:

  • Passport (MUST be valid for at least 6 months)
  • Mexican Tourist Permit (FMT) - available at the airport if the airline does not offer them to you
  • Customs Declaration Form
  • Once you arrive, take your forms to the immigration area and queue up in the lane signposted for foreign visitors
  • An immigration official will inspect your documents, write the number of days (maximum 180) that your permit will allow you to stay in Mexico on the Tourist Permit, stamp your Tourist Permit and passport, and return a copy of the Tourist Permit to you
  • Proceed to customs

IMPORTANT - KEEP YOUR TOURIST PERMIT SAFE!
If you do not have your tourist permit with you when you leave, you will need to undergo some Mexican Immigration red-tape and apply to get an exit permit!  These cost about DOUBLE the normal entry permit cost (the current "lost permit fee" is around US$40 and the hassle factor is immense).  A lost permit, especially if you only notice at the airport when you are ready to leave, will delay your exit. You may even miss your flight.

Recommendation - before you leave the U.S., make a copy of your passport.  After arrival at the resort/hotel, place your passport and your Tourist Permit in the safe.  Keep the copy of your passport in your wallet.

Additional information is available at the Mexperience website.

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What do I do when I arrive at the airport?

According to every trip report I've read, you will be accosted by a barrage of Mexican humans offering to assist, sell, coerce you on a variety of items, primarily time-share units.  They are super pushy, aggressive, belligerent and totally bothersome!!!  The best advice I've seen is once you have your luggage, start walking toward the outside, DON'T STOP for any reason, look for your transportation (in my case, a BAJA GROUND SERVICES agent/driver wearing a light BLUE polo shirt and holding a sign with my name) and keep saying "NO GRACIAS, NO GRACIAS, NO GRACIAS" to the myriad of people trying to get your attention!!!  Hopefully, this will work for you!!!  More information on the Cabo Transportation page.

If you pre-booked ground transportation, then take a RIGHT after you get through Customs.  This will take you to the area where Baja Ground Services will be waiting for you.

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What is the Currency Exchange Rate?

As of June 6, 2008:
1 US Dollar = 10.363 Mexican Peso

The currency is the Mexican Peso. Exchange rates at booths and hotels are slightly lower than banks, but you may have to wait in line a lot longer.  Banks are open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. or later, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Some do not exchange travelers checks. Ask before you line up. Shops and restaurants accept dollars and credit cards. Both towns have ATMs and American Express offices. Cash is dispensed in  pesos.

If you make any type of purchase your change will be given in Pesos, so there's a money exchange without going someplace different.

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Will I be able to use Credit Cards?

All major credit cards are accepted in Los Cabos and in Mexico - VISA and MasterCard are the most widely accepted. American Express is accepted in some stores and restaurants, but VISA and MasterCard are preferred. The Discover Card is not yet accepted. It is suggested that you ask the merchant, in advance, which credit cards are accepted. 

IMPORTANT:  Call your credit card company before you leave:
Credit cards are no problem at hotels for the most part.  Notify your credit card company that you will be using the card in Mexico, so they do not see charges from a foreign country and put a temporary hold on your card costing you lost time and more than a few Pesos in calls to straighten it out.  (Note from HH - my card wouldn't work when we first got to Aruba because I hadn't notified my credit card company ahead of time.)

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Credit Cards versus Cash

KNOW if you're being charged in DOLLARS or PESOS.  When you sign one of the old fashioned credit card slips, they don't have a currency specified on it.  So, if you're paying in pesos, make sure you write MXP next to the total amount.  If you're paying in US dollars, write USD next to the total amount.  That way, you are protected if you are paying in pesos but the vendor calls it in to Visa (or M/C or Amex) as a US dollars purchase.  UPDATE - Mastercard and VISA add 3% to each foreign transaction.

If you bring USD with you, bring lots and lots of small bills ($1's, $5's, and $10's) as most smaller vendors don't have much (if any) USD for change. You'll get your change in pesos (and sometimes they don't even have enough of those to make change!). Don't even bother offering them US coins -- the Mexican banks won't take them so the vendors don't want them. (Note from HH - Gordo LeLe takes pesos; I would guess other small taco/street vendors do the same.)

Local recommendations - best to pay in pesos at restaurants, etc.  But, when you're haggling with a vendor over a price for something like jewelry, you'll get a better deal if you offer USD.  Vendors will hold onto the USD they collect and then exchange the USD with their bank when the peso to USD rate rises.  Count your change!

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Will I be able to get cash from the banks with my credit cards?

All of the banks will give cash advances, most have ATM machines at their locations for after hours cash.

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What about the electricity?

120 cycles/60 volts, the same as in the United States.

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What is the time zone?

Mountain Standard Time, which is one hour ahead of Pacific Standard Time, one hour behind Central Standard Time and two hours behind Eastern Standard Time.

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Should I drink the water?

The water treatment systems in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas produce water that meets most standards for purity and cleanliness for the water as it leaves the plant.  However, pipes in between the plant and the hotel/restaurant may be old and highly suspect. Everybody (gringos and Mexicans alike) drinks bottled water, and restaurants universally serve purified water from the standard 5-gallon (18 liters) containers and serve ice delivered from an ice company that uses purified water as well.  Bottled water is also available at every grocery store, from the largest to the smallest, in , 1, and 1-1/2 liter bottles. If you stick to bottled water, you shouldn't have a problem.  Update - posting from 4 travelers who spent a week at Villa del Palmar - drank from the tap at the resort without any ill effects.

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Gratuities (in Espanol - propina)

House Staff: Tipping the housekeepers is not common, nor is it un-common.  A small tip after the first night will insure attentive extra service should you require it; another tip at the end of your stay, if you appreciated the overall housekeeping service, is appropriate. Leave your tip on a piece of paper and write "para tu servicio...gracias!" (for your service...thank you!) so they know it's a tip and not your pocket-change, unintended for a tip. The housekeeping staff generally works hard for small salaries to make you comfortable...a few dollars (in pesos, of course) will be most appreciated.  Update from a frequent visitor (Cabo Princess) - "The housekeeping staff works very long hours six days a week. Although you may be 'assessed' a tipping fee, please remember your housekeeper separately. She makes $250 per month - at THE MOST! - for all her very hard work. If you have any food or sundry items that you are going to throw away, consider giving it to your housekeeper. They truly appreciate it."

Waiters/Waitresses: Gratuities for wait staff are comparable to gratuities here. The standard tip is 15%, 20% for exceptional service.  As you will likely be serviced by many people through out your meal, you can expect that the gratuity you leave will be divided between all of them.  Also know that in Mexico, going out to eat is an event. You will RARELY be offered the check until you ask for it!  Do not assume that the waiter/waitress is being rude or ignoring you, this is simply customary.  When you are ready for your bill, simply signal the waiters with a small wave, and ask for "la cuenta" (pronounced "la kwenta").

Taxi Drivers: It is NOT necessary TO TIP TAXI DRIVERS unless they perform an extra service for you (help you with your luggage; wait for you while you exchange money or get something from a store, etc.). If they do, then your tip should be appropriate to the amount of service they provided for you ($2 for waiting, $3-$5 for helping with luggage, depending on how much luggage you have).

Airport Porters: Figure about $1 per bag is a reasonable tip for airport porters if you use their services. $5 or $50 pesos should be your maximum tip unless you have an excessive amount of baggage.

Salon Staff: Similar to the US, the standard tip for salon services (massage therapy, hair cuts, pedicures etc.) is 10-15%.

Grocery Store: In the large supermarkets it is customary to tip the young boy or girl who sacks your groceries...two to five pesos is fine.

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Telephone

$10 FOR ONE MINUTE!!!! However, the hotel has an Internet Cafe.

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Newspaper

The Gringo Gazette is the only local English language newspaper.  The February 20th issue contains articles about:

  • Timeshare hasslers (OPC's), page 24 
  • Special Tourist section, page 28
  • Fishing charters advice, page 29

Update - no longer accessible for free.  Must provide credit card info to read online.

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Swimming

Do NOT swim at the Pacific Ocean beaches in Cabo.  People drown there every year due to the undertow and the massive waves that can throw you against the rocks.  If you see signs that say conditions are dangerous, DO NOT go walking into the surf. You can drown in seconds.

The beaches on the Sea of Cortez side (where our resort is located) are very safe most of the time and beach conditions are posted at most hotels.

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Drinking in Public

From what we've read, drinking in the streets and on the sand is acceptable, and it's often possible to walk right up to a beachside bar and take a seat with beer already in hand.  Daytime drinking is a ritual as is that early-evening "power nap," known as a "siesta" in Mexico.

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Updated 06/09/08