Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Traveling to Mazatlan
Documents required to visit Mazatlan
A valid Passport is required to visit Mexico. Citizens of some countries, including the United States and Canada, are exempt from many of the more time consuming document requirements for obtaining a Mexican tourist visa, and are issued Mexican tourist visas routinely and efficiently. Mexican tourist visas can be valid for up to 180 days, so they will usually cover even the most extended Winter visits.
Remember this important Mazatlan visitor information: Passport and Mexican tourist visa requirements change. Travelers are advised to check Mexican entry requirements with their State Department, or with the Mexican embassy or consulate in their home country when planning a trip to Mazatlan so that they have the most current information about the documents required to visit Mexico.
Driving to Mazatlan in your registered car
If you are driving to Mazatlan from United States or Canada, the documentation required to bring your car into Mexico is simple and straightforward:
1. You must have Mexican auto insurance.
Mexican auto insurance can be purchased at the border; just inside Mexico, or from various insurers in the United States and Canada such as Lewis & Lewis in Beverly Hills. Lewis & Lewis has an excellent reputation, and can fulfill your mexican automobile insurance requirement online by their website.
2. You must have a mexican automobile import permit (a Banjercito).
Banjercitos are issued when you enter Mexico or when you leave the Sonora Free Zone, just before you enter Sinaloa state. Documents required to obtain a Banjercito are: clear title to your vehicle, drivers license from United States or Canada, proof of mexican auto insurance. If you don’t have clear title when driving to Mazatlan you will need a notarized letter from your lender granting permission for you to take the car to Mexico.
Banjercitos are issued for the length of your tourist visa and are inexpensive, costing approximatly $35 USD for the entire term of your tourist visa.
Some healthcare providers in Mazatlan accept American or Canadian health insurance, if your insurance company is willing to pay a mexican healthcare provider.
If you intend to rely on American or Canadian health insurance to cover you on your trip it is wise to check with your insurance provider before your trip to learn what their policies are, and what the procedures are if you have to make a claim.
For many visitors to Mazatlan, especially those who spend longer periods of time here (more than six months per year), it is worth considering buying health insurance coverage that is specific to Mexico. One brokerage with an excellent reputation for providing such coverage is Global Insurance Net.
Public Telephones in Mazatlan
There are public telephones everywhere in Mazatlan Mexico. These phones take either coins of phone cards that can be purchased at any convenience store, such as an OXXO.
Local call from public telephones in Mazatlan are extremely inexpensive. International calls can be made from these Mazatlan public telephones but the rates are rather high compared to what an American or Canadian is used to.
Mailing letters and postcards from Mazatlan
The Mazatlan post office is located in Centro across from the central Cathedral/Basilica. Hours are 9 am – 5 pm weekdays, and 9 am – 1 pm on Saturdays. It is also usually possible to mail postcards and letters at hotels, and the front desk will often have stamps.
How to use cellphone/smartphone in Mexico?
Cellular providers offer supplemental services and plans to enable customers to bring their cell phones in foreign countries. Other options include using local SIM cards to make calls while traveling or residing in another country. Some basic guidelines and tips will help you effectively use a cell phone and smartphone abroad to save money.
1. Contact your cell phone provider to activate inter calling, rent an inter cell phone or purchase an unlocked phone and SIM card for use in another country.
2. Check the voltage requirements for the desired country and bring a power converter for the phone charger, if necessary.
3. Type frequently used telephone, emergency contact, hotel and transportation numbers on the phone and save them in the phone’s address book. Make sure to enter the telephone numbers using the inter dialing format: for example, calls to the U.S. should be entered with the prefix “+011” followed by the area code and telephone number because calls made abroad will initiate from the local phone carrier.
4. Turn off the function for “Automatic” checking of emails, if you’re using a smartphone such as a BlackBerry or iPhone. Instead, change the email settings to “Manual” to reduce data roaming charges. During your trip you can choose when to check for email messages when you’re connected to a free, wireless Internet connection, such as in a hotel lobby or Internet cafe.
5. Consider signing up for Skype and activating a Skype to Go number or downloading and installing the Skype mobile application for smartphones. A Skype to Go number is a local number that serves as a gateway to call outside the country to save money on roaming charges and providing a number for calls to be forwarded to your cell phone. The Skype Mobile application uses the smartphone’s data plan or wireless Internet connection for calls to Skype members or other telephone numbers.
References: USA Today Travel Tips
Is the water safe to drink?
Yes, Hotel Playa Mazatlan has its own purified water system and all of our water—from your shower to the ice cubes—is perfectly safe. Elsewhere in Mazatlan, many hotels, restaurants and bars have internal water purification systems as well. When in doubt, however—ask! (‘Agua purificada?’) You will also find bottled water readily available.
Where is Mazatlan located?
Mazatlan, Mexico lies just a few miles below the Tropic of Cancer and shares the same latitude as Honolulu, Hawaii. It is due east of the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula, about 720 miles south of the Arizona border.
What’s the weather like?
Mazatlan enjoys a mild, year-round climate, with an average temperature of 80° F (26.7° C). Check out today’s Weather
Do I need a passport?
A passport is by far the most convenient and widely accepted form of identification for customs officials, especially for changing money (where a photo I.D. is required.) However, your original, U.S. or Canadian birth certificate is also considered legal I.D. For further questions on proof of citizenship, please check with your travel agent or the Mexican Consulate.
What time is it in Mazatlan?
Mazatlan is in the Mountain Time Zone and observes daylight savings. Check out Mazatlan’s Local Time
Is english spoken in Mazatlan?
Yes, Hotel Playa Mazatlan has a bilingual (English/Spanish) staff, as do most resorts and restaurants in the Golden Zone. Don’t let this stop you from practicing some Spanish—a little effort goes a long way with the locals!
How much should I tip?
For restaurants and bars, 10-15% is standard. Be aware there is a consumer tax of 16%, known as I.V.A., added to food and most other purchases—it is generally included in most prices. Any extra or exceptional service welcomes your gratuities.
Hotel maids, although often providing “invisible” services during your stay, can and should be tipped for good service. Tip: $2 per day in a moderate hotel, $3 to $5 per day in a deluxe hotel (Tipping daily rather than when you check out ensures that the tip will go to the specific person who cleaned your room).
Do I need a converter for my electrical appliances?
Electricity in Mexico is 110 volts/ 60 cycles (same as U.S. and Canada) so your 2-pronged appliances (electric razors, hair curlers, etc.) will work just fine without a converter.
How do I get around town?
From Hotel Playa Mazatlan, you´ll find most restaurants, bars, shopping and banks only a short walk or taxi ride away. Mazatlan famous mode of transport is the Pulmonia, an open-air taxi resembling a golf car and usually playing colorful music. Just like regular taxis, they will take you anywhere within the city. For only $10.00 pesos, the city´s air conditioned buses will take you downtown (Route: Sabalo Centro) or to the mall for shopping and groceries (Route: Cerritos-Juarez). For more information, check with our Concierge.
Is it safe to walk around at night?
Generally speaking, Mazatlán is very safe. Hotel Playa Mazatlán´s location in the heart of the Golden Zone—a popular, tourist district—is readily patrolled by the local police force with friendly, English-speaking officers. Most restaurants, bars, shopping and banks are just a short walk or taxi ride away from the hotel. As with any vacation, do exercise your common sense and personal safety.
What events are happening in Mazatlan?
To find out what´s going on around town, check out the Event Calendar. To receive e-mail updates on special events and activities happening each month in Mazatlán. It’s free—and you won’t miss a thing!. Also visit Cultura Mazatlan that lists all the cultural events mazatlan offers its tourists
Where are the American and Canadian consulates located?
Conveniently, the United States of America Consulate is located on the premises of Hotel Playa Mazatlan:
Consular Agent: Luis Ramírez
Playa Gaviotas 202 local 10
Zona Dorada Mazatlan, Sinaloa 82110
Contact us: (669) 916-5889 (in Mexico) 011-52-669-916-5889 (dialing from the U.S.) Fax: (669) 916-7531
Service Schedule: Monday – Friday: 09:00 am – 3:30 pm
The Canadian Consulate is located on:
Centro Comercial La Marina Business and Life
Blvd. Marina Mazatlan 2302, Oficina 41
Marina Mazatlan 82103
Mazatlan, Sinaloa – Mexico
Contact us: (669) 913-7320 (in Mexico) Fax: (669) 914-6655
Service Schedule: Monday – Friday: 09:30 am – 12:30 pm
What if I get sick?
Hotel Playa Mazatlán has an on-call, English-speaking doctor available 24 hours a day for our guests. There is also a First-Aid Station and small pharmacy located on hotel premises. Pharmacies are generally well-stocked and staffed by knowledgeable, English-speaking staff. There are two, large hospitals in Mazatlán (Clinica del Mar and Sharp Hospital), both with excellent facilities, doctors and specialists. For more information, contact the Front Desk.
Can I get married in Mexico?
Yes, marrying in Mexico is legal, official, and a popular destination to “tie the knot” for hundreds of couples each year. Check out Requirements for Marrying in Mexico.
Should I pay in Dollars, Canadian Dollars or Pesos in Mazatlan?
Tourists and visitors should virtually always pay in pesos because the vast majority of prices of any product or service in Mazatlan will be denominated in pesos, and a visit or tourist who pays in pesos will usually get a better deal.
For many years for Mazatlan visitors from the United States (or others spending American Dollars) the easiest way to make on-the-fly conversions between prices in Mexican Pesos and the cost in United States dollars was to divide by 10, i.e. 10 pesos = 1 dollar / 100 pesos = 10 dollars / 500 pesos = 50 dollars, etc.
Using the rule of Ten usted to be a very easy way to get a general idea of prices, but with the peso hovering in the 12-13 range vs. the United States dollar since mid 2008, the math has become slightly more complicated.
Mexican currency comes in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 peso denomination bills. The newer bills (like the 20 and 50 pesos) are made of plastic, and have a clear window in them.
It is often difficult to use 1000 peso notes as payment except at Banks or very large retailers because most small stores, Mazatlan merchants, restaurants and bars will not have sufficient cash to make change, or will simply be unwilling to accept the risk that the bill is counterfeit.
500 peso notes can also present a problem in change making so try to carry bills smaller than this. 100’s and 200’s are not too large for all but the smallest vendors and stores.
Virtually no business in Mazatlan will accept a bill which is not entirely intact, and ripped or torn bills may be refused as well. You should not accept ripped or torn bills as change, they will probably be a headache to spend.
Common Mexican peso coin denominations are 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. The 10 is especially easy to identify (it’s a nice thick, substantial coin, bronze on the outside and silver on the inside).
There are also 5, 10 , 20 and 50 centavos (cents) coins coming into wider circulation. They are roughly the United States and Canadian equivalent of 1/2, 1, 2 and 5 cent coins, and the smallest ones are made of aluminum and have the appearance and weight of toy money.
Is ATM machine available near to the hotel?
Yes and there are few pointers to keep in mind when it comes to using an ATM machine in Mexico:
- Stick card into the slot on the machine as indicated.
- Press Enter/OK (there will be a sign talking about the importance of not sharing your PIN number).
- Enter your PIN number and press OK/Enter on the screen of the machine.
- Enter the amount of money you wish to withdraw (most machines only allow up to $4,000.00 – remember that this is pesos and your account will reflect the withdrawal in its currency equivalent).
- Say OK to the charge fee (it should be the equivalent of $2.00 – $5.00 US dollars pending on your bank).
- Say “NO” to the donation question unless you wish to donate.
- It will ask you if you want a printed receipt (Yes/No).
- Retrieve your cash from the receptacle.
- Keep your eye on the slot for your card, it will reject it without warning and you only have a certain amount of time before it sucks it back in.
- In the case that you lose the debit card in the machine, immediately take note of the location of the machine, bank it comes from; write down the phone numbers that appear on the top of the machine for.
Contact and request assistance at the front desk!
What’s the money exchange rate?
Mexico’s currency is the Mexican Peso. As a traveler, your main concern will be getting the most favorable rate possible. Generally credit cards offer the most favorable exchange rates for changing money, since credit card companies have access to better rates than individuals. If you would rather not carry large sums of cash, ATMs are a convenient way to obtain local currency at a reasonable exchange rate.
Keep in mind that The Mexican Peso is a “free floating” currency in Foreign Exchange Markets and like other similar currencies, its value fluctuates daily.
Check Today’s Exchange Rate.
How do I change money?
‘Casas de cambio’ (money changing stations) and banks will change U.S. dollars and traveler’s checks for pesos. While ‘casa de cambio’ rates may run a few pennies higher than banks, they are found everywhere, open longer hours and usually have much shorter lines. Some of the larger restaurants, hotels, and shops may accept U.S. dollars.
All Banks are open Mondays – Fridays, almost all from 9 am to 5 pm. Some are open Saturday mornings.
Important. As of June 21st, 2010 the banks will change only US$300.00 daily and up to US$1,500.00 in one month, that is per person and you have to show your passport to the teller.
Can I use my credit card? Can I get a cash advance from a bank or ATM?
Yes, Hotel Playa Mazatlan accepts Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. Most other large hotels, shops, and restaurants also accept credit cards. Your purchases will charged in pesos, and your bank will convert the amount back to the equivalent in the local currency where your account is held and charge it to your account.
However, smaller establishments often do not. It is a good idea to carry (or have access to) either cash or traveler’s checks, as well. All banks will perform cash advances from a credit card, and many have ATM machines on site for after hours cash.
Mazatlan International Airport
How to print boarding passes at hotel?
Hotel Playa Mazatlan let you print your boarding passes FREE of charge. Please contact the Concierge Department.
At what time I need to leave the hotel to don’t lose the flight?
To calculate what time you should arrive at the airport (and at what time you must leave the hotel) must take into account two factors:
1. The destination (domestic/inter). You should check the airline’s website to check the time limit of acceptance.
2. The method chosen for the check-in. If you have checked in online, the boarding pass is already printed and then you will save the time for the queue at the check-in, but if you does the check-in at the airport, you have to consider the time of the line at the check-in.
The trip from the Hotel Playa Mazatlan to the airport takes about 35 to 40 minutes, so we recommend you leave the hotel at least two and a half hours prior to departure (for inter flights).
Do you have information for travelers entering into Mexico (entry requirements)?
When you first enter to the Mazatlan Airport you’ll need to go through the Mexican Immigration process. During your flight you will be given a visa form to complete (one per passenger), and a customs form (one per family). Complete these forms on the plane prior to your arrival. Immigrations will process your visa and stamp your Passport. They will return a stub from the visa form. DO NOT LOSE this stub; you will need it to exit Mexico.
After immigrations, you will immediately enter the baggage claim area. After collecting your luggage you will exit through a customs line where they will view your luggage through a scanner. After your luggage has been scanned, you will be requested to press a button and to surrender your customs declaration. If a green light appears, you are free to leave, if a red light appears, they will want to look inside your luggage. The red light is used about 20% of the time, and is nothing to be concerned about.
After you leave customs you enter and enclosed area of the airport that is used to try to sell TIMESHARE condominiums to the tourist. Be polite, but try to get past the sales pitch. You will then exit through the doors into to public part of the Airport.
Do you offer free shuttle service from the airport?
We do not offer a complimentary shuttle service. You may arrange shuttle service through an agency. Please contact the concierge or reservation department for further transportation assistance.
What age do kids stay for free?
- European Plan (only room): Children under 12 years old stay for free in existing bedding when accompanying an adult.
- All-Inclusive Plan: One infant free per adult. Maximum of two infants free per room (Infant: 0 to 6 years old).
Do you have a fitness center?
Yes we do and is open to hotel guests from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm (Monday – Sunday).
What is check in/check out time?
Check in time is at 3:00 PM and check out time is at 12 noon.
Do you have a business center?
Business services are available 24 hours/day for any on site administrative needs. The cost is $3 USD ($30 pesos) for an hour.
Do you have safety deposit boxes available?
Yes, we offer complimentary safety deposit boxes to all of our guests. They are located at the front desk inside the lobby.
Do you provide cribs?
We have limited number of cribs, please request in advance and the cost will be $
What room amenities do you have?
We provide shampoo, hair conditioner, body soap and towels.
What’s for Breakfast?
As in many cultures, eggs play a central role in Sinaloa breakfast cuisine.
Because of the number of non-Mexicans who visit Mazatlan, your eggs (huevos) can be prepared pretty much any way you want them, from simple scrambled or over easy variations common in coffee shops in the United States and Canada to very spicy Mexican versions like Ranchero style with either red or green salsas.
Eggs are virtually always accompanied by refried beans, and chips rather than bread.
Chilaquiles: are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish. The word chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl word “chil-a-quilitl” which translates as “herbs or greens in chile broth”.
Corn tortillas cut in strips or quarters that are lightly fried from the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa is poured over the crisp tortillas and the mixture is heated until the tortilla softens and is topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese). Pulled chicken or pork (or scrambled of fried eggs) are often part of this delicious mix which is nearly universally served with refried beans.
Chilorio: is a Sinaloa breakfast treat! Chilorio was invented in the State of Sinaloa. Chilorio is made with shredded pork seasoned with vinegar and chiles. Chilorio is a great spicy way to start your day in Mazatlan!.
Machaca: another way to spice up your eggs is to order them with Machaca, which is most commonly made from shredded (dried) spiced beef or pork. Carne Seca is another name for this tasty treat. Machaca with eggs is a very popular breakfast or brunch dish.
Care for a Drink?
Aguas Frescas could be anything from fruit flavored water drinks to mashed sweetened rice mixed with ice water. Aguas Frescas from street cars are made with purified water and ice cubes. Aguas Frescas are the perfect choice for hot day!
Licuados are blended drinks similar to smoothies usually made from rice milk (or cow milk), vanilla and cinnamon. Sweet and refreshing, Licuados are served from many food stands, carts and at shops devoted only to selling them.
Refrescos are soda. In addition to Coke, Pepsi in Mazatlan offers a variety of locally produced soda pop products.
Tuba is a traditional drink made of coconut milk, palm sap and chunks of apple and nuts served over ice. This is a very common street car/vendor item, and you’ll see street sellers carrying a pole over their shoulders with a gourd on one end and a bag of ice and cups on the other.
A bit of Soup?
Birria is a popular Mexican meat stew usually made with goat, lamb, or mutton. Spicy, hearty and filling, Birria is flavored with roasted peppers, onion and coriander and thickened by hours of simmering.
Pozole is a seasoned stew with pork and hominy. Pozole is usually served with onions and cabbage on the side.
Sopa de Mariscos is seafood soup. The Mazatlan version of Sopa de Mariscos is similar to many Mediterranean soups with shrimp, clams, octopus and the catch of the day usually included.
Tortilla Soup combines salsa, avocado, cilantro, fresh hot tortilla chips, and more, into a soup version of a perfect enchilada!
Typical Mazatlan Dishes
Ceviche de Camaron (shrimp ceviche) is a regional classic that is served virtually everywhere in Mazatlan Mexico. Its prepared by marinating fresh uncooked shrimp in lime juice and then blending them with chopped spicy fresh chili’s and vegetables. Ceviche de Camaron is served mounded on a plate or in a glass with crisp fried corn tortillas.
Pescado Zarandeado is butterflied whole fish covered with sliced tomatoes, peppers and onion with usually a mayonnaise-based dressing, cooked over coals. This is usually ordered by size of the fish.
Smoked Marlin is primarily served three ways in Mazatlan: in Escabeche which is a sweet and sour preparation with carrots and onions and other veggies; Estofado, which is stewed; or ‘a la Mexicana’ with tomatoes, chiles and cilantro.
Tamales are chicken, beef or pork with vegatables surrounded by cornmeal and wrapped in corn husks. Sweet Tamales are also sold.
Arracheras is grilled skirt steak served with guacamole, salsa, beans and tortillas.
Asado a la Plaza is grilled beef, cut up into pieces, served with potatoes and/or another vegetable, lettuce, onions and tortillas.
Carne Asada is grilled beef. Carne Asada can be served in a taco, as a very thin steak or cut into pieces and served with potatoes and/or vegetables. Sinaloa is known throughout Mexico for the quality of its’ beef.
Chiles Rellenos are poblano chilis stuffed with cheese, breaded and pan fried or deep fried. Chiles Rellenos are sometimes served in a soupy ranchero sauce.
Enchiladas is a lightly fried tortilla (usually corn) that is stuffed with cheese and/or shredded chicken or beef. Sinaloa Enchiladas are usually served sprinkled with grated queso cotija and a hot sauce or sauces.
Gorditas is a corn cake made with cornmeal and stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings. It is similar to a pasty and can include pork, chicken, shredded beef, chorizo (hot sausage), carne al pastor, nopalitos (cactus), beans, rajas (sautéed strips of chile), potatoes, eggs or picadillo (ground meat usually mixed with tomatoes, onions, olives and often raisins).
Tacos are soft flour (harina) or corn (maize) tortillas filled with your choice of beef, pork, chicken or shrimp.
Pollo a la Plaza is grilled chicken with potatoes and/or another vegetable served with lettuce, onions and tortillas.