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Jamaica

2011 March 19 by

Jamaica Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Jamaican Dollar
  • Coins: In denominations of 25 cents, and 1, 5, 10, and 20 dollars
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 50, 100, 1000, and 10,000 dollars
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: The US dollar is widely accepted in places most tourists visit. Indeed, all hotels, most restaurants, most shops, and almost all attractions in major cities will accept the US dollar.  US dollars, Canadian dollars, British pounds, and Euros are easily converted to Jamaican dollars at forex cambios and commercial banks island wide.
  • Credit Cards: Credit cards such as VISA, MasterCard and to a lesser extent American Express and Discover are accepted in many business establishments, such as supermarkets, pharmacies and restaurants.  For cash advances on a non-Jamaican bank issued Mastercard or VISA cards or any American Express or Discover card, be prepared to show your foreign issued passport or overseas drivers license.
  • ATM: ATMs are called ABMs in Jamaica and are widely available.
  • Visas: Not required for stays up to 6 months.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Many places do not allow tipping, however most Jamaicans will appreciate the extra income. Wages in Jamaica are generally small, and living costs are high.
  • Some restaurants include a 10% to 15% gratuities charge into the final bill, others do not. Review the bill or ask your server about the charges.
  • If a gratuities charge is not incorporated, it is typical to tip 10% to 15% depending upon the level of service.
  • Similar to restaurants in Jamaica, many hotels tack on a service charge for food, beverage, and room expenses. Then again, some other hotels do not include this charge.
  • Bellhops expect $1(USD) to $2(USD) per bag, and maids $1(USD) to $2(USD) per day. Give the tip directly to the person; do not leave cash on a pillow etc.
  • A word of caution for those travelers staying in all-inclusive hotels: most of these establishments strictly prohibit tipping. Employees at no tipping resorts can lose their jobs for accepting gifts or tips.
  • A 10 percent to 15 percent tip for taxi drivers is customary.
  • Tour guides should be tipped like taxi drivers unless a service fee is included in the cost of the tour.

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Venezuela

2011 March 19 by

Venezuela Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Bolivar Fuerte, which replaced the old bolivar on January 1, 2008 at the rate of 1 BsF to 1000 old Bs.
  • Coins: In denominations of 0.01, 0.05, 0.10, 0.12½, 0.25, 0.50 and 1
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100
  • Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are widely accepted, American Express and Diners Club are usually accepted at upscale restaurants, hotels and shopping centers. Merchants always ask for ID before a credit card transaction.
  • Miscellaneous: It is best to carry small change rather than large bills as many traders, in particular taxi drivers, rarely have change. Tipping taxi drivers is not customary and can appear strange.
  • Visas: A visa is required to visit Venezuela. All visitors without a tourist card or valid visa could be subject to detention or deportation. Canadians must ensure that their status is up-to-date at all times. Tourists are given a tourist card by their airline upon arrival. This card is usually a small two-page form, which is stamped by an immigration officer along with the passport. The card allows the visitor to remain in Venezuela as a tourist for 90 days. It must be presented prior to departure; a lost card may result in delays.

 

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • In Venezuela tips are widely accepted and appreciated
  • Most restaurants already add a 10% service charge but you would still be expected to tip an additional 5-10% extra if the service is good
  • Cab drivers don’t expect tips but won’t turn them down either
  • Bell boys expect around the equivalent to US$1 per piece of luggage
  • Tour guides and drivers expect tips as well

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Cuba

2011 March 19 by

Cuban Currency

  • Currency Used: There are two currencies circulating in Cuba, Cuban Pesos and Cuban Convertible Pesos. The Cuban Convertible Peso is the currency all tourists will use in Cuba. It is how you will pay for hotels, official taxis, entry into museums, meals at restaurants, etc.  Locals refer to the currency as “kook” or “kooks”.  The Cuban Convertible Peso is a restricted currency and difficult to find until you arrive in Cuba. However, the currency should be readily available at airports and hotels.
  • Coins: In denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50, and 1 peso
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 1, 3, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 pesos
  • ATM: ATMs are rare in Cuba, with only a handful found in Havana. Most are linked with either the Mastercard/Cirrus or Visa/Plus interbank systems.
  • Traveler’s Cheques: A passport is required if you want to exchange traveler’s cheques or make a credit card advance. American Express cheques are difficult to cash due to the likelihood that they were purchased with U.S. dollars.
  • Visas: Canadians must also carry a tourist card (or visa), or a business or student visa. The tourist card is generally provided by tour operators or airlines, or can be obtained from a Cuban government office in Canada in the case of privately organized flights. It can also be purchased at certain airports in Canada.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Tipping is common in Cuba
  • In general 1CUC is fine for waitresses, barmen, maids, with maybe 5CUC for a tour guide.
  • However, it is not expected to tip every time they bring a drink, after every meal, or even every day for the maid.
  • It’s easy to forget the staff behind the scenes. Don’t forget that the guys making the hotel gardens look beautiful, or standing all night on the perimeter to keep you safe in your beds deserve recognition too. A few pesos go a long way in helping these people.

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Cayman Islands

2011 March 19 by

Shops in Georgetown

  • Currency Used: Cayman Islands Dollar
  • Coins: In denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, 50 and 100 dollars
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: US dollars are also accepted throughout the islands, although you’ll usually get change in Cayman Dollars even if you pay with US dollars.
  • ATM: ATMs are easy to find across Grand Cayman. There’s one on Cayman Brac and none on Little Cayman.
  • Credit Cards: Major credit cards are widely accepted. ATMs accepting Visa, MasterCard and cards with Cirrus affiliation are located at banks on Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac.
  • Traveler’s Cheques: Readily accepted, but expect service charges when cashing.
  • Visas: Travelers from most countries do not require a visa to enter Cayman Islands.

 

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • For most services, 5-10% is normal.
  • Restaurant bills usually include a 10-15% charge in lieu of tipping.

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Belize

2011 March 19 by

  • Currency Used: Belizean dollar
  • Coins: In denominations of 5, 10, 25 and 50 cents, and 1 dollar.
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 dollars.
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: US dollars are widely accepted
  • ATM: ATMs are common – but exchange rates differ, as well as an average 2 BZD service fee. Atlantic Bank and Scotiabank do not have as high service fees as other banks, and have a higher withdrawal limit.
  • Traveler’s Cheques: Can be exchanged at most banks, however there are per-cheque fees to pay when cashing.
  • Credit Cards: Accepted in most places.
  • Miscellaneous: The 25 cent coin is often referred to as a shilling, and you may hear the 100 dollar bill referred to as a ‘bluenote’. Belize has 5 commercial banks – Belize Bank (largest and oldest), Heritage Bank, Atlantic Bank, FirstCaribbean International Bank, and Scotiabank.
  • Visas: American, Mexican, Canadian, Singaporean, Jamaican, Australian, Malaysian and EU passport holders do not need a visa, but need a valid passport. When leaving country by land, prepare to pay border tax (around B$38) in cash.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Tipping is not usually included in restaurant charges.
  • A rough idea is anywhere around 15% – similar to what you might tip in the US. Sometimes resorts do add a gratuity or service charge on to meals and even tours, so it’s a good idea check your receipts.
  • Other places to tip are similar to the US, meaning anyone working in a service industry or someone that goes out of their way for you.
  • One place to keep in mind is when scuba diving. Anything from 10-20% or $5/tank seems appropriate.

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Bahamas

2011 March 19 by

Bahamas Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Bahamian Dollar
  • Coins: In denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 cents
  • Banknotes: In denominations of $1, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: US dollars are widely accepted; used as readily as Bahamian Dollars and are equal in value
  • ATM: ATMs are available throughout Nassau, Paradise Island, and Freeport, but are harder to find throughout the smaller islands.  ATMs at the casinos and near the Tourist Info Area give US dollars; all others will give Bahamian Dollars.
  • Credit Cards: Credits cards are used throughout most of the Bahamas, but some of the smaller islands only take cash purchases, sometimes even for car rentals.
  • Visas: Travelers from most countries do not require a visa to enter.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINE

  • All food, whether self serve or served at the table will have an automatic 15% gratuity added to the bill.

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Russia

2011 March 19 by

Russia Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Russian Ruble
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1000 and 5000 rubles
  • Coins: In denominations of 50 kopeks, and 1, 2, 5 and 10 rubles
  • Traveler’s Cheques: Not used
  • ATM: bring enough cash to last you for a few days, as occasionally communications networks handling ATM and credit card transactions are not available
  • Miscellaneous: The 5 and 10 ruble notes are not issued anymore and are very rare in circulation.  The 1 and 5 kopek coins are of little use, as their value is low.  Museums and sightseeing places take only cash, no credit cards. Have plenty of cash on hand each day to cover entrance fees, photographic fees (museums charge a fee for cameras and video recorders), tours, souvenirs, meals and transportation.
  • Visas:It is imperative that Canadians contact a Russian embassy or consulate to make sure they are aware of all entry and exit requirements pertaining to their stay in Russia (prior to arrival in Russia and upon exiting the country). Many steps must be taken and details provided in order to comply with Russian entry and exit requirements, which can change on short notice.Tourist Visa: Required (for those staying in commercial accommodations)
    Guest Visa: Required (for those staying in private accommodations)
    Business Visa: Required
    Student Visa: Required
    Transit Visa: Required (including for Belarus)
    Exit Visa: Required

 

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Tipping is increasingly encouraged in Russia.
  • 10-15% is the accepted rate of tipping for restaurant servers, coat check and luggage attendants.
  • If there is no waiter in a restaurant or bar, a tip is not encouraged.
  • Tip amounts vary as many establishments do not use credit cards, so costs are often rounded to the nearest whole number.
  • You can tip drivers or tour guides up to 10 SUR per day, and housekeeping staff the equivalent of 1-2 SUR, usually left in an ashtray daily.

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Indonesia

2011 March 19 by

Indonesia Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Indonesian Rupee  Coins: In denominations of Rp 100, Rp 200, Rp 500
  • Banknotes: In denominations of Rp 1000, Rp 2000, Rp 5000, Rp 10 000, Rp 20 000, Rp 50 000, Rp 100 000
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: US dollars are the second currency of Indonesia and will be accepted by anyone in a pinch, but are typically used as an investment and for larger purchases, not buying a bowl of noodles on the street.  Many hotels quote rates in dollars, but all accept payment in rupiah. Singapore dollars are also widely accepted, especially in more touristy areas.
  • ATM: ATMs on the international Plus/Cirrus networks are common in all major Indonesian cities and tourist destinations, but may be harder to come by in the backblocks.
  • Credit Cards: Be careful when using credit cards, as cloning and fraud are a major problem in Indonesia. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but American Express can be problematic. At smaller operations, surcharges of 2-5% over cash are common.
  • Miscellaneous: Bills printed in 1992 or earlier are no longer in circulation, but can be exchanged at banks.  Shopping malls open at around 10 am, and street shops (and traditional markets) open as early as 6 am, and close at around 8 to 9 pm. Twenty-four hours stores (not malls) is not uncommon in major cities.
  • Visas: A visa is required. A 30 day tourist visa can be purchased upon arrival. However, it is recommended that Canadians obtain a visa before travelling to Indonesia. The 30 day tourist visa can be extended for a maximum of 30 days at an Immigration office in Indonesia.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Fancy restaurants, hotels and the like will often slap on a 10% service charge plus 6-11% tax. This may be denoted with “++” after the price or just written in tiny print on the bottom of the menu.

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Dominican Republic

2011 March 19 by

Dominican Republic Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Dominican Peso
  • Coins: In denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 25 centavos, and 1, 5, 10, and 25 pesos
  • Banknotes: In denominations of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2000 pesos
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: The US dollar is widely accepted.  The US Dollar is implicated in almost all commercial transactions of the Dominican Republic.  Many tourist sites will often take the Euro as well.
  • ATM: Banco Popular, Banco Progreso, Banco de Reservas, Banco León and Scotiabank all have ATMs that accept most foreign debit cards.
  • Credit Cards: Visa and MasterCard are accepted widely, especially in areas frequented by tourists. However, most businesses add a surcharge for credit card purchases (typically 16%).
  • Visas: Canadians entering the Dominican Republic for tourist purposes must purchase a tourist card, at a cost of $10 US, which is valid for 30 days. Those wishing to stay for a longer period must pay a surcharge at the airport upon departure or request an extension by visiting the Department of Immigration in Santo Domingo. Those wishing to work in the Dominican Republic must apply for a business visa.

 

TIPPING GUIDELINES

  • Tipping is much appreciated in the Dominican Republic, as wages are low.  A dollar to them means a lot.
  • Guests can leave small items and usually 1 or 2 U.S. dollars each morning on the pillows for the maids and just add a little note to let them know that it is for them.
  • It is also common to tip at restaurants, and at the bar.
  • You will find that once you have tipped, they will run for you and go out of their way to make sure you don’t need anything else.

Small Island

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Barbados

2011 March 19 by

US Banknotes

  • Currency Used: Barbados Dollar
  • Coins: In denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25 cents, and $1
  • Banknotes: In denominations of $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100
  • Currency Easily Exchanged: US currency is accepted across the island and most stores, restaurants and hotels accept major credit cards and traveler cheques.
  • ATM: ATM’s are widely available.   Look at the back of your bank card to see which network you’re on, then call or check online for ATM locations at your destination.  The debit card network is worldwide, and any debit card endorsed by a major credit card is virtually universally accepted.  When you withdraw money using your card it will be dispensed at the current exchange rate in Barbados dollars, as well as an additional service fee.
  • Credit Cards: All major credit cards are accepted.
  • Miscellaneous: The Barbadian dollar is tied to the US dollar on the rate of exchange that is fixed at 1 USD = 2 BB.
  • Visas: Travelers from most countries do not need a visa to enter the country. At the rare chance a visa is required, the form for a visa must include 2 passport size photographs. The visa costs BDS$50 for single entry and BDS$60 for multiple entry. You can obtain your visa from an embassy or consulate of Barbados.

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