How can I keep track of all the local events that will take place during my visit to Oaxaca?
You can call or visit the local tourism office at the corner of Av. Independencia and Garcia Vigil, near the Zócalo. They keep a current listing of most current attractions, including theatre, concerts, art exhibitions, cultural events and sporting events. They also have the best supply of maps and brochures in the city. Telephone 516-0123, ask for the “Guia Cultural” for the current month. Also inquire at the local museums, most have at least one staff member that speaks English. Also, look for a copy of “Oaxaca Times”, a monthly newspaper for tourists, published in English.
Will I be able to use my credit cards? Can I get cash from the banks with my credit cards?
Yes, to both questions. All major credit cards (except Discover) are widely accepted. In smaller restaurants or shopping areas, it is best to ask before ordering, not every business accepts credit cards, just as back home. All of the banks will cash advances, most have ATM machines at their locations, for after hours cash. We have a link to a Visa ATM locator on our Links page. Most of the malls and shopping areas have banks or ATM’s where you can get cash, if needed.
What can I use as proof of citizenship to enter México?
To enter Mexico, you will need a valid passport, a tourist card given to you upon arrival and an additional photo id (drivers license, government identity card, etc.)
What will the weather be like in January (or any other month)?
Nobody can predict the weather, even for Oaxaca. We have an Average Temperature Chart on our Local Weather page. Check this and call your hotel a few days before your arrival if you wish to make to make sure. In summer it is advisable to carry an umbrella, as sudden showers may occur, especially in the late afternoon or early evening.
How do I find the best airfares, hotel rates and the most affordable rental cars?
Use the services of our new travel partner, Travelocity.com, to search all available deals to find the one that is best for you. They take the confusion out of booking your trip by searching many airlines, hotels and rental car companies to get you the best price. Travelocity also guarantees that everything about your trip will be right – or they will get it right for you! Their customer “Bill of Rights” is one of the best in the travel industry. With Travelocity you don’t travel alone – they are there to help.
What is the legal drinking age in México, and what time do the nightclubs close?
Answer: The legal drinking age is 18. There is no set closing time, many of the night clubs stay open until the wee hours of the morning (3 or 4 AM).
Will my hair dryer, portable iron, electric toothbrush, etc. work in México?
Answer: Yes, if you are from the U.S. or Canada. México uses the same voltage as the United States. If you are coming from Europe, or any country that uses 220 volts, you will need the proper adapters.
What about going topless or totally nude on the beaches?
Answer: Both being nude and topless on beaches is illegal in México although enforcement is ignored (the practice is tolerated), in some areas. Use your common sense, look around, see what others are doing, if there are others that are topless nearby, the chances are pretty good that it is, most likely, locally accepted.
Can I drink the water?
In most hotels and restaurants, you will get purified water, if in doubt – ASK. (Agua purificada, por favor). I would not drink the water from a private home or condo, unless you know there is a purification system installed, and you know it is working. Buy bottled water; why not be completely safe? Don’t take the chance of ruining your vacation?
Will my cellular phone work in México?
There is local cellular service. Very few U. S. cellular services will allow you to roam in México. Many cell phones will work in México, but they must be reprogrammed by the local service provider. If you bring your own, it will need to be reprogrammed. Remember to have your phone reprogrammed again before returning to the U.S. If you really need cellular service in Oaxaca, it might just be easier and cheaper to take advantage of one of the many low priced cellular promotions that include a phone and a pre-set amount of time. You will then have a phone you can use whenever you are traveling to México. You can add more time, if needed, on your next trip.
Can I use my laptop computer to get my e-mail and have Internet access?
You can bring your laptop computer, you will have to contact one of local ISP’s who will provide you with temporary Internet access for your limited stay. A few of the hotels in Oaxaca have modem ports that let you bypass their PBX phone system. If they have a data port on their phones you should have no problem, set your modem to dial whatever number you normally dial for an outside line, then your ISP’s access number. Bringing a laptop computer into México computer is a legal and accepted practice, no hassles with Aduana (Customs). There are Cyber Cafes in all areas of Oaxaca
Is it safe to walk around the town at night?
Generally, yes. As anywhere, beware of walking alone on dark streets at night. Don’t wear flashy jewelry or carry large sums of cash if you must walk at night. If possible walk in pairs and stick to busy lighted areas of the city. Most restaurants and nightclubs will be happy to call a cab for you, if asked. This may take a little more time than hailing one on the street but is generally safer. You will probably feel safer in Oaxaca than in most larger cities in the United States. The city has a special tourist police force, you will see them in the area of the zócalo and historic center. They are are friendly, very helpful and many speak English. Use common sense, and be careful! Remember: leave your fancy jewelry at home if you are going to walk after dark.
Can you tell me what the taxi rates are?
No, but the taxi fares in Oaxaca are very reasonable. It always a good idea to check with the desk at your hotel. They should be able to tell you what the approximate fare should be to your particular destination. Then check again with the taxi driver. Do this before you get into the taxi! Buses run all over town, every few minutes, at all hours in Oaxaca. For just a few pesos you can get to anywhere, within reason.
How will I know if I am getting a good deal on merchandise?
This is one question that nobody but you can answer. A good rule of thumb is, with shopping among street vendors, always get at least a 30% discount, sometimes more. In most stores, especially in the malls, prices are fixed just as they are at home. If you are making large purchases or if there are several people in your party that are buying something, you can always ask for a discount. If you’re happy with the quality and price of an item, then you are getting a good deal. Pretty simple really.
What about hospitals and doctors?
Oaxaca has good hospitals and some excellent doctors. A few of the doctors here speak English. Check with your hotel, many of the larger hotels have English speaking doctors on premises or on call. If not, they can give you the name of an English speaking doctor. Write the phone number down and carry it with you. If there is any doubt in your mind about a doctor, procedure or medication, check with your doctor at home, if possible. As a generally rule, medical service in México is not as sophisticated as in the U.S. or Canada. There are English speaking doctors, dentists and hospitals listed (not necessarily recommended) on our Travel Tips page.