Cancun is located in the State of Quintana Roo, in the northeastern end of the Yucatán peninsula. It is approximately 1.5 hours flying time from Miami or New Orleans, 3 hours from Los Angelus and 4 hours from New York City. Thirty-two kilometers south is the stretch of coastline known as the Riviera Maya, starting at the Cancun International Airport and ending in the quaint fishing village, Punta Allen, in the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Between these two points, there are many communities, each with its own unique character, as well as a variety of beautiful bays and solitary beaches. The largest towns are Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventuras, Akumal and Tulum. Surrounding this area are many interesting sites such as Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy, and Maya ruins such as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and Cobá. Belize, Guatemala, Cuba and Belize are a few hours away.
Cancun has a population of 500,000. Since it is a relatively new city (25 years old) there are no natives and the locals are actually from other parts of Mexico. Cancun also has a large international population of Americans, Canadians, Germans, French, Italians and South Americans.
Cancun follows Eastern Standard Time and practices daylight savings time. The International 24 hour clock is often used. See the following chart for a quick calculation: 13:00 = 1 PM, 14:00 = 2 PM, 15:00 = 3 PM, 16:00 = 4 PM, 17:00 = 5 PM, 18:00 = 6 PM, 19:00 = 7 PM, 20:00 = 8 PM, 21:00 = 9 PM, 22:00 = 10 PM, 23:00 = 11 PM, 24:00 = 12 Midnight.
Tips and Taxes
In cases where the tip not included in the bill 15% to 20 % is the standard tip. Most of the wait staff lives off their tips, as salaries in Mexico are quite low. Most items sold in Mexico have a "value added tax" or sales tax of 10% that is additional to the posted price. In Spanish, it is called IVA. You will see it itemized separately on your receipt.
Mexico has been updating its telephone system and it is now easier than ever to phone home. The Mexican telephone company (TELMEX) has installed new telephones throughout the area that use electronic telephone cards. The cards, called LADATEL, are sold at most corner stores and pharmacies. Using these cards is the cheapest way to call home, as long distance charges in Mexico are still prohibitive. To call Cancun from the US or Canada dial 011 (int'l access code) + 52 (Mexico's country code) + 98 (Cancun's area code) + the local number. To call Canada and the US from Cancun dial 00+1+area code+local number. See our Communications page for more information.