Things you need to know before planning your trip to Argentina..
When To Go and Weather:
- Best Time To Visit - Year Around
- Currency - Argentine Pesos
- Area Code - 0261
- Language Spoken - Spanish
- Electrical current - 220 Volts, 50 cycles alternating current (AC) Most american appliances need a converter that can be purchased locally in Mendoza at any hardware store
Getting to Mendoza:
Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral share offices; Aerolíneas flies several times daily to Buenos Aires.
LATAM Airlines has multiple flights daily to Santiago de Chile.
Sol flies to direct Córdoba and Neuquén, with connections further afield.
Mendoza is a major transport hub so you can travel to just about anywhere in the country. Mendoza’s bus terminal has domestic and international arrivals. You can also take scenic ride up and down the cordillera by renting a vehicle from Santiago, Chile which takes about 7 hours. This requires crossing the customs and immigration at the border and you need a special permit to cross with your vehicle. Many also travel from Buenos Aires to Mendoza by car which is about a 10-12 hour drive (approximately 800 miles)
Passports & Visas:
U.S Citizens must have a passport valid for at least six months to enter Argentina for visits of up to 90 days. US citizens were granted exemption from paying the reciprocity fee as of August 2016. Australian Citizens must pay a reciprocity fee of $100 (valid for one year) and Canadian Citizens $75 (for one entry only). Please consult with the Argentinian Embassy in your Country for more information. For reciprocity fee information please visit Dirección Nacional de Migraciones (National Directorate for Migrations) website: www.migraciones.gov.ar . For those that require a reciprocity fee, you must print a copy of the confirmation to keep with you while travelling, the customs and immigration will require it at the port of entry.
Embassy of Argentina USA (http://www.embassyofargentina.us/)
Embassy of Argentina Australia (http://eaust.mrecic.gov.ar/)
Embassy of Canada (http://www.consargtoro.ca/)
Find out here if you are a resident of any other country besides the above for visa requirements: http://www.clond.mrecic.gov.ar/en/node/2424
To pay the reciprocity fee: www.migraciones.gov.ar
Mail & Shipping:
Correo Argentino, the mail service has an office in most city neighborhoods and towns; Some Locutorios (Cyber Cafes) also have collection points and stamps. Valuable items are best sent with DHL, UPS, or Fed-Ex Delivery which for a 5 Kilograms (11 pound) package starting at approximately 2000 pesos.
Sipping Souvenirs: To bring back wine from Argentina, you can either pack it in your check in luggage or ship directly to your country of residence. Please note that the customs and importation rules and maximum capacity allowed vary from state to state in the USA. You may have to contact your customs office in order to check the maximum allowance per person. Shipping options from Mendoza include DHL, UPS, Fedex and WineFlite International Wine Shipping Courier. For more information on WineFlite please email firstname.lastname@example.org
**Many wineries in Argentina offer free/paid shipping when you purchase wine. Please consult with the host at your winery for more information.
Mendoza city dwellers are appearance conscious and mostly wear stylish but casual attire. Jeans, Khakhis, Capris, Skirts and Dress are ideal for site seeing. Combine with walking shoes or flats or sneakers. In Summer many locals wear sandals and flip flops with the exception of truly Posh establishments. A blazer and tie or stylish dress is necessary if you planning to do some fine dining.
Some Recommended Essentials and Must Haves:
sunglasses, sunblock, moisturizer, first aid kit, cap or hat, antibacterial wipes, insect repellent may be useful in the summer, scarves and warm clothes in the winter and even a light jacket for the summer. We always recommend that you wear layers due to weather changes as we get closer to the mountains.
P.S: don't forget a camera with lots of memory cards! :-)
Currency Exchange Rate/Money:
All currency can be changed at money exchanges, airports and most banks.
ATMs called "cajeros automaticos" are found all over Mendoza City. Many banks have daily withdrawal limits of 2,000 pesos or less. Your home bank may charge a service fee.
Most Shops & Restaurants accept credit cards. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, followed closely by MasterCard. American Express is also accepted in hotels and restaurants. Diners Club & Discover might not even be recognized. If possible, bring more than one credit card, as some establishments accept a single type. Nonchain stores often display two prices for goods; precio de lista (the standard price, valid if you pay by credit card) and discounted price if you pay in efectivo (cash).
Note that there's a perennial shortage of change in Argentina. Hundred-peso bills can be hard to get rid of, so ask for 50s when you change money. Traveler's checks are useful only as an emergency reserve.
Propinas (tips) are a question of rewarding good service rather than an obligation. Most restaurants don't include gratuities however most locals usually add 10% to 15%. Bellhops and maids expect tips only in the high end hotels, and tips are appreciated. It is a nice gesture to tip tour guides and taxi cab drivers.
Mendoza and Argentina in general is safer than many other Latin American countries, however street crime is still a concern. Mostly pickpocketing and occasional bag snatching. Taking a few precautions before travelling will keep you from harms way. Keep your back packs secured and personal belongings like cameras, computers, tablets and electronics closer (never leave it hanging on the chair while seating or the floor). Try to spread out your cash and credit cards in different places, and never travel with excess cash but enough to use (most hotels provide safety boxes). Tickets and Passports are best left there. Avoid wearing flash jewelry. There is a noticeable police presence throughout the City and Highways.
As in many countries, be careful of the vehicles. Many drivers still do not honor the right-of-way-for pedestrian or stop-sign laws. Especially be careful when there is a bus or taxi approaching from any direction.
Mendoza is a very liveable city and the ways of maneuvering around here are easy to adapt to. A few things to know about Mendoza & Mendocinos are:
- The Siesta (afternoon nap) is still observed in Mendoza, mostly due to the heat. Most businesses in the City will close around 12:30 - 13:00 PM and re-open around 17:30 - 21:00 PM. Banks are open Monday - Friday from 8:00 - 13:00 and Casas De Cambio (money exchanges) close at 20:00.
- Even by Argentinian standards, Mendocinos eat late dinners. On Weekdays kitchens open aroound 9PM, but few diners arrive before 10PM. On Fridays and Saturdays things don't get going until 11PM.
- It is common to greet people with a kiss on the cheek in Mendoza. Men and women both greet one another with a kiss or embrace.
- Yerba Mate (pronounced ma-tay) is like an herb tea, and everywhere — from the shade of a tree in the park to sitting rooms to the back seats of cars — friends slow down and share mate. This is as much a social experience as it is a way to quench a thirst. Oh, and there are rules. Mate is shared from the same cup, using the same straw, person to person. Why? Sharing mate with a buddy or a stranger is all about friendships.
Free or inexpensive internet is widely available in several establishments in Mendoza. Both budget and high-end hotels tend to have Wi-Fi. The connections have fairly improved in recent years however, you may occasionally experience slow speeds. Many bars and restaurants offer free Wi-Fi. Look for stickers on their windows or doors.
Local Phone/Calling Cards
Argentina's phone service is run by the duopoly of Telecom and Telefónica. Service is efficient, and direct dialing—both long-distance and international—is universal. You can make local and long-distance calls from your hotel (usually with a surcharge) and from any public phone or locutorio. Public phones are increasingly rare and usually broken; those that aren't accept coins. Phone cards can be used from both public and private phones by calling a free access number and entering the card code number.You can use prepaid calling cards (tarjetas prepagas) to make local and international calls from public phones, but not locutorios. All cards come with a scratch-off panel, which reveals a PIN. You dial a free access number, the PIN, and the number you wish to call.
All cell phones in Argentina are GSM 850/1900 Mhz. There are three main phone companies here: Movistar , Claro, and Personal. Although they’re similar, Claro has the most users and is said to have the best rates, while Movistar has the best coverage, and Personal the best customer service. All three offer 3G, but service is patchy even in the big cities, and most local users complain that they spend more time on 2G than 3G.The best way to use your own smartphone in Argentina is to get it unlocked before you travel, then purchase a prepaid local SIM card (tarjeta SIM) once you land. You can buy one for 15 to 20 pesos from any of the companies' offices and sales stands, which are easy to find country-wide. Top up credit by purchasing pay-as-you-go cards (tarjetas de celular), available from kioscos, locutorios, supermarkets, and gas stations, or by carga virtual (virtual top-ups) at kioscos and locutorios, where sales clerks add credit to your line directly while you wait.
Roaming charges for US Cell Phone providers may be significantly expensive. Certain providers like T-Mobile USA offer a free roaming plan that charge as low as 20 cents per call.
Free web apps that allow calling and text messages would be a cost effective option. Recommended apps: WhatsApp , Viber, Skype