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Travel Tips for Cancun - Riviera Maya

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Note: All United States citizens are required to have a valid passport to re-enter the United States.

Size / Population: Cancun - 350,000. There are about 80,000 people in the 70 mile strip south of Cancun known as the Riviera Maya.

Political Status: Located in the state Quintana Roo in the Republic of Mexico

Language: Spanish is the official language, but English is widely spoken in hotels and tourist areas. Mayan is the local language in the Riviera Maya, but English is widely spoken.

Currency: Mexican peso. The rate of exchange against the US dollar fluctuates daily. ATMs available; US dollars are widely accepted.

Electricity: 110 volts, same as U.S.

Time Zone: Central Time; Daylight Saving Time is observed.

Communication: To call from the U.S. to the Riviera Maya, dial 011 (int'l access code) + 52 (Mexico's country code) + 984 (Riviera Maya's area code). To call from Cancun or the Riviera Maya to the U.S., dial 001 + area code + local number. In order to use your cellular phone in Playa del Carmen you must first contact your cell phone company and tell them you are going to Mexico and that you will require International Calling (fees apply). Many U.S. long-distance phone companies have access numbers that you can dial in order to use your phone card, usually through the Mexican telephone company public phones, LADATEL. Internet access is widely available. In Playa del Carmen you can find dozens of Internet Cafes.

Drinking Water: Water is potable throughout the tourist areas and hotel zones, but if you travel to the countryside bottled water is recommended. Ice is safe in the drinks. The ice that is provided to most restaurants and bars is produced in ice factories using purified water. Hotels and restaurants that use ice machines also use purified water.

Transportation: Rental cars are available at the airport in Cancun and through some hotels. Driver must be 25 years old, hold a valid driver's license and a major credit card. Taxis are a common mode of transportation throughout the Riviera Maya. Local buses are available to the main tourist areas along the Riviera Maya where you can catch a taxi to your hotel. The bus ride to your hotel can be as long as 1 1/2 hrs. and even two if there are a number of drop-offs at other hotels or there is some problem with traffic. Usually the drivers try to get you to your hotel as fast as they can. Private transfers are available and may be a good option if your hotel is further down the Mayan Riviera corridor. A colectivo is a mini-bus [van] that runs up and down the coast along highway 307 from Cancun to Tulum. It is an inexpensive way to travel up and down the Riviera.

Local Customs: The legal drinking age is 18. Tipping: generally 15-20% in restaurants; bellmen: $1 per bag; housecleaning staff: $1-$2 per day. Many all-inclusive hotels include all gratuities. Ask if you are in doubt.

Getting Married: Both Cancun and the Riviera Maya are popular destinations for weddings (and honeymoons) and it is legal for U.S. citizens to marry in Mexico. Please contact a Vacation Express representative for details on resorts offering special wedding packages and to discuss your particular wedding requirements. Our experienced group department will be happy to assist with travel arrangements for all attendees.

Wedding Requirements
The information below is a general list of requirements to perform a legal wedding ceremony in Mexico. Depending on the area of Mexico or even resort you have chosen for your wedding ceremony, legal requirements may vary. Please check with the Mexico tourism department or wedding coordinator at your resort for additional information on legal requirements and fees for weddings on the Riviera Maya. All foreign documents which are to be submitted (except passports) must have the legal Spanish translation and must be certified by an Apostille. An apostille is an internationally recognized notary certification, done in the country of origin of the document, and usually issued by the State Department of each country. In the United States, contact the Secretary of State in the state where you live. All information below is subject to change without notice.
Ceremony: For a wedding ceremony to be considered legal and binding in Mexico, the bride/groom must have a civil ceremony with a Justice of the Peace.
(Note: A civil ceremony is a marriage performed with no religious affiliation, officiated by a Judge, Mayor, Justice of the Peace or non-denominational minister. Civil ceremonies can be performed just about anywhere. In a judges chambers, at the wedding location, the City Clerk's office, or even on the beach. In most cases, couples can choose the ceremony's wording and offer their own vows as they see fit. Religious readings can also be added, if this is what the couple desires.)
Most hotels offer symbolic (or non-legal) ceremonies as well, for those who choose to marry at home first then celebrate with a symbolic destination wedding with family and friends in attendance. Again, only a civil marriage is recognized as legal. Persons wishing to do so may also have a religious ceremony, but it has no legal effect and does not replace in any way the legal and binding civil marriage. A civil wedding in Mexico is fully valid for legal purposes in the U.S.
Documentation: The bride/groom must bring original copies of the following documents:
• Original and copy of official birth certificate
• A valid, non-expired passport
• Tourist Card (this is given to all arriving passengers at the airport - keep it in your passport)
• Original prenuptial medical certificate with test results issued locally within 15 days of wedding
• Divorce or death certificate if applicable
• Original and copies of the official identification of two witnesses
Divorced/Widowed Travelers: For divorced or widowed parties, you must provide official copies of the divorce decree (Decree Absolute) or a certified death certificate. Divorced people cannot marry in Mexico until one year after the termination of the divorce.
Blood Test: A blood test will need to be performed in destination with test results for venereal disease, HIV and Rh factor (blood type) determined prior to the wedding. Note: Some resorts provide this service onsite. Check with your wedding coordinator.
Waiting Period/Residency Requirement: It is recommended that the bride/groom arrive at least 5 days (or 3 business days) prior to the wedding date to ensure time for translation into Spanish of any necessary documents and processing of paper work; however, there is no legal residency requirement.
Witnesses: You must have two witnesses over the age of 18 each with proper identification credentials. Your destination wedding resort may provide witnesses if necessary.
Fees: Marriages are performed without charge at the the “Registro Civil” (or Local Registry Office). If performed elsewhere, a license fee may apply. Fees vary so consult your wedding coordinator at your destination wedding resort for the most current information.

Ten Spanish Phrases Everyone Should Know
  • ¿Cuánto cuesta?      How much is it? (As you're pointing at an item)
  • ¡Qué hermosa eres!      You are so beautiful! (To a girl ... For guys, substitute “hermosa” with “guapo,” which means “handsome”)
  • ¿Donde estoy?      Where am I?
  • ¿Cómo se dice ... ?      How do you say ... ? (Followed by the word you wish to learn)
  • ¡Muchas gracias!      Thank you!
  • Con permiso.      Excuse me. (As you are trying to get by someone)
  • Por favor ...     Please ...
  • No hablo español. ¿Hablas inglés?      I don't speak Spanish. Do you speak English?
  • ¿Dónde está ... ?      Where is ...
  • No, gracias.      No, thanks.
Aventura Palace Conversion to Hard Rock Riviera Maya  Please note that the Aventura Cove Palace and Aventura Spa Palace are currently undergoing a transformation to become the Hard Rock Riviera Maya in mid-2013. Some services may be in a different location or temporarily unavailable while upgrades & renovations are ongoing.  
 
If You Have Pre-Purchased Optional Tours  Please present your tour voucher to ground operator upon arrival to reconfirm your tour day and to confirm tour departure time and other details. You will have an opportunity to select a preferred tour date at time of booking; however, tours pre-purchased online are not pre-reserved for a specific date.  
 
If You Booked Your Stay At the Hard Rock Hotel Before September 1, 2013: Effective September 1, 2013, Hard Rock Hotels changed their up to $1500 Resort Credit to the up to $1800 Limitless Resort Credit. On arrival, you will receive your original up to $1500 Resort Credit if you qualified for it at the time of booking, or you will be presented the opportunity to upgrade to the newer $1800 Limitless Resort Credit. The main differences: The Limitless Resort Credit will be unlimited for all amenities that apply with the resort credit. No caps per day. No coupons. No limits on any one thing. A 20% Service Fee will apply across the board for all services and products (with the older $1500 Resort Credit, a flat tax also applied that had to be paid at the time of departure). The Service Fee can only be paid with cash, room charge or credit card, it cannot be paid with any remaining Limitless Resort Credit balance.
 

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