Travel Tips for Mazatlan

What to do before you get to Mazatlan:

  1. Make sure you have a current passport (8 weeks) and check the expiration date.
  2. Check with your phone carrier about whether your phone needs an international package (Verizon, AT&T, Mobile 1).
  3. Obtain ~300 pesos (approximately $28 USD) from your bank who will give you the best rate. Poorest rate is at the airport in your international terminal because they will charge you an extra fee to change funds. The 300 pesos is just enough to pay a taxi if you need it or a ride to El Cid. The hotel can change money for you as well as ATM’s located throughout the hotel.
  4. If you forget, there are ATM’s in the Mazatlan airport. But there is still a fee plus whatever your bank charges to use a bank ATM that isn’t theirs. For example, I bank at Wells Fargo, they charged me $2.23 to get 400 pesos out of the ATM.
  5. If you intend to use a credit or debit card in Mexico, call and let them know ahead of time or they may see charges in Mexico as potentially fraudulent and freeze your account until you can call them.
  6. If you are bringing fishing rods – they are not allowed as carry-ons leaving Mexico, so have them in something that can be checked.

 

What to expect when you arrive in Mexico:

  1. Sometime during the flight to Mexico you will be given two forms by the Flight Attendants (bring your own pen, they usually don’t have any to offer). The first form is an immigration form. To fill this out properly you will need your flight info, where you are staying (name of hotel, address) and your passport number. There are TWO sections to this form. The top and the very bottom need to be filled out with identical information. Fill out both before you land. If you don’t fill out the bottom, they will send you to the end of the line.
  2. Once you land, you will stand in a long line for immigration where they will ask to see your passport and the form described above. They will ask you how long you are staying and for what purpose…say that you are attending the AFS Conference at the El Cid. Check the “tourism” box. Once you get through this, they will stamp your passport and the form and return the bottom portion to you with your passport. Keep this part of the form, you will need it when you leave!!!
  3. The second form is a customs form (larger of the two forms). Once you are through with immigration, you will go through customs. Do not bring any fruit off the plane with you. They have these cute labs now that can find where you may have “forgotten” about that tasty apple you put in your bag (trust me on this…). They also may scan your luggage (similar to the US airports) and then manually search your luggage. They are looking for high quantities of sellable items or any guns, drugs etc. Leave all that at home.
  4. After you exit the secure area, prepare yourself for some chaos. Americans are easily identified once they get out of security and are usually inundated with Taxi and ride requests. Taxi’s are not metered like they are in the US (certain price per mile). Prices are negotiated; they are good at negotiating a higher rate for their services, their livelihoods depend on it and they are better at it than you are. Take advantage of the $25 roundtrip transport with Pronatura, otherwise be prepared to spend $30 US each way. Pronatura is a significant savings. Pronatura is a link present on the El Cid website. You can sign up for this service after you make your reservation.

Things to know once you are at El Cid:

  1. There are three hotels that we are using for the conference (Castilla, Mora and Granada). The Castilla and Moro hotels are connected to each other with the conference center in between. The Granada is very close, but across the street from the other two; crossing the street is easy.
  2. If you are at any of the three hotels mentioned above, your food and drinks are free with your hotel registration. You are not expected to tip for food and drink service, because this is included in your resort fees that you pay when you register. When you check in, they will give you a wristband that identifies you as an “all inclusive” guest.
  3. The hotel has several “nicer” restaurants (Sushi, Italian etc), and they ask that you make reservations to eat at these places.
  4. Although most folks we encountered at El Cid spoke enough English so that we could communicate, it would be time well spent if you could learn a bit of the key Spanish words before you arrive.
  5. Weather is warm during the day and coolish at night (light jacket). Some of the nicer restaurants do have a dress code (no sandals), but in general dress is very casual here.
  6. Be careful with your receipts here, they still have your full credit card number and expiration date on them!!! Do not have them laying around in your room or in other obvious places
  7. Water is fine to drink on the resort; can’t say for off resort, I’d stick to bottled water in that case.
  8. There are lots of vendors at the airport as well as on the beach in front of El Cid. Simply say “No, gracias” if you are not interested in what they are selling; remember that their prices are high because they expect people to negotiate.

 

If you decide to go exploring:

  1. We totally encourage you to explore the area around the hotel and find adventures on your own!! El Cid is a wonderful place to stay but provides a very singular view of Mazatlan and Mexico in general.
  2. The area just outside and around the hotel has shops, restaurants, banks, small grocery stores.
  3. If you drive, plan on paying to park. This isn’t a parking fee per se but more for someone to watch your car.
  4. Tipping and negotiating price for items is key outside the resort.
  5. If you eat or drink off the resort, use pesos!! Currently the exchange rate is about 13:1 dollars to pesos but for ease of math, I just use 10:1 (which is the rate you’ll typically get if you use dollars to pay for stuff off resort). So if it says $200 pesos, it is about $18 to $20 in US currency.

 

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Posted November 26, 2013 by fisheriestn