Communications

Internet

Internet cafés have sprung up all over Puerto Vallarta and even small surrounding towns and villages, making email by far the easiest way to get in touch with people back home. However, the best Internet in town, as in so many other cities of the world, is at Starbucks; nobody will charge you for the Internet service and all you need to do is get yourself a cappuccino. There are several branches within the tourist areas; just look on their website to locate the nearest one.

If you're bringing a laptop with you, check with the manufacturer's technical support line to see what service and/or repair affiliates it has in the areas you plan to visit. Carry a spare battery to save yourself the expense and headache of having to hunt down a replacement on the spot. Memory sticks and other accessories are usually more expensive in Mexico than in the United States or Europe, but are available in megastores such as Sam's Club and Office Depot as well as mom-and-pop computer shops.

The younger generation of Mexicans is computer savvy and there are some excellent repair wizards and technicians to help you with problems; many are bilingual.

Contacts

Cybercafes. This website lists more than 4,000 Internet cafés worldwide. www.cybercafes.com.

Starbucks (www.starbucks.com.mx.)

Phones

The area code for PV (and the northern Costalegre) and Nuevo Vallarta is 322; San Francisco's is 311; between Bucerías and Sayulita, 329; Lo De Marcos and Rincón de Guayabitos, 327; San Blas, 323. The Costalegre from around Rancho Cuixmala to San Patricio–Melaque and Barra de Navidad has a 315 area code.

The country code for Mexico is 52. When calling a Mexico number from abroad, dial any necessary international access code, then the country code, and then all of the numbers listed for the entry. When calling a cell phone in Mexico from outside the country, dial 01152 (access and country codes) and then 1 and then the number.

Toll-free numbers in Mexico start with an 800 prefix. These numbers, however, are billed as local calls if you call one from a private phone. To reach them, you need to dial 01 before the number. In this guide, Mexico-only toll-free numbers appear as follows: 01800/123–4567. The toll-free numbers listed as 800/123–4567 are U.S. or Canadian numbers and generally work north of the border only (though some calling cards will allow you to dial them from Mexico, charging you minutes as for a toll call). Numbers listed as 001800/123–4567 are toll-free U.S. numbers; if you're calling from Mexico, you'll be charged for an international call.

International Calls

To make an international call, dial 00 before the country code, area code, and number. The country code for the United States and Canada is 1. Avoid phones near tourist areas that advertise in English (e.g., "Call the U.S. or Canada here!"). They charge an outrageous fee per minute. If in doubt, dial the operator and ask for rates.

Calls Within Mexico

Directory assistance is 040 nationwide. For assistance in English, dial 090 for an international operator; tell the operator in what city, state, and country you require directory assistance, and he or she will connect you. There’s no charge for the former; the latter can be dialed only from a home phone, as the charge appears on the monthly phone bill.

Much less often seen today, a caseta de larga distancia is a long-distance/overseas telephone service usually operated out of a store such as a papelería (stationery store), pharmacy, restaurant, or other small business; look for the phone symbol on the door. Casetas may cost slightly more to use than pay phones, but you tend to be shielded from street noise, as you get your own little booth. They also have the benefit of not forcing you to buy a prepaid phone card with a specific denomination—you pay in cash according to the calls you make. Tell the person on duty the number you'd like to call, and she or he will give you a rate and dial for you. Rates seem to vary widely, so shop around.

Cell Phones

If you have a multiband phone (some countries use different frequencies from those used in the United States) and your service provider uses the world-standard GSM network (as do T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon), you can probably use your phone abroad. Roaming fees can be steep, however: 99¢ a minute is standard. And you normally pay the toll charges for incoming and outgoing calls. It's almost always cheaper to send a text message (or at least to receive one, which is sometimes substantially cheaper than to send).

If you just want to make local calls, consider buying a new SIM card (note that your provider may have to unlock your phone for you to use a different SIM card) and a prepaid service plan in the destination. You'll then have a local number and can make local calls at local rates. If your trip is extensive, you could also simply buy a new cell phone in your destination, as they go for around $30 and sometimes come with a couple hundred prepaid minutes to start you off. The two cell phone carriers in Mexico are Movistar and TELCEL; minutes can be purchased at their offices or more conveniently at OXXO convenience stores, Guadalajara pharmacies, or other locations.

If you travel internationally frequently, save one of your old cell phones or buy a cheap one on the Internet; ask your cell phone company to unlock it for you, and take it with you as a travel phone, buying a new SIM card with pay-as-you-go service in each destination.

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