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Argentina - Useful Information

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Welcome to Argentina, a country of magnificent landscapes and fascinating people. Visit colonial cities, discover spectacular jungle waterfalls and marvel at colonies of chattering penguins. All this and more will be yours in Argentina. To make your trip most enjoyable, we offer the following information:

A valid passport is required of all U.S. citizens. Others should contact the Argentinean consulate for entry requirements.

We suggest that while touring or shopping you leave your passport and the bulk of your money in the hotel safe; only take with you the money you intend to spend or exchange at that particular time. It is also helpful to take a copy of the picture page of your passport to carry in your wallet, because it is sometimes needed to exchange traveler's checks. The copy can also be useful if your passport is lost or stolen.

No vaccinations are needed to enter Argentina. Throughout the country there are good private and government health centers and hospitals. As when traveling in any foreign country, visitors with sensitive stomachs may want to drink bottled water and bring medicine from home.

Currency And Exchange Rates
The currency of Argentina is the Austral, which comes in denominations of 1, 5, 10 and 50. The exchange rate fluctuates, so you may want to check the rate before leaving the United States. Money can be exchanged at banks and many major hotels.

Tips And Taxes
As in most countries, taxes are unavoidable and tips are given on the basis of the quality of service. The amounts suggested for tips in this section are a guideline for appropriate tips for average to good service.

Hotels: Bellboys and maids are generally tipped for their services as you would at home.

Restaurants: It is customary to tip about 15 percent if no service charge has been added to the bill. If a service charge has been added, it is customary to leave an additional tip so the total tip comes to 15 to 20 percent for good to excellent service.

Tour guides and drivers: On group tours, the average tip for a tour guide is $2 per person for full-day tours and $1 per person for half-day tours. The driver's tip is usually half of what is given to the guide. For private car tours, guides usually receive at least $10 per full-day tour and $5 per half-day tour.

Airports: The international departure tax is about $25 payable in U.S. dollars or Argentinean Pesos upon departure from Argentina.

Taxis: Taxis are black with yellow tops and a red light on the meter. On main avenues in Buenos Aires pickups are at specified stops. Look for people waiting in line, then wait your turn. Drivers do not expect tips.

Souvenirs And Such
Leather clothes and accessories, some furs (don't buy leopard, jaguar or other endangered species), antiques, silverware, gaucho paraphernalia, wines and silver and gold jewelry are popular souvenirs.

Argentina is in the southern hemisphere so the seasons are reversed from those in the United States. During the summer (January) in Buenos Aires the temperatures range from 63 to 83 degrees; during the winter (July) temperatures range from 42 to 57 degrees. Iguazu Falls is tropical, divided into wet and dry seasons. The Andean regions and far south are pleasant in summer, cold in winter. Winters in Patagonia are cold with possible snow storms and very strong winds. Summers are mild with average temperatures of 60 to 65 degrees during the day and 20 hours of sunlight.

Outside Buenos Aires dress is casual. In cosmopolitan Buenos Aires casual clothing is appropriate during the day, a jacket for men and dress for women are appropriate for nicer restaurants at night. For trips to the Patagonia, sweaters and a warm, waterproof jacket are essential. Dress in layers, because temperatures vary during the day.

Useful items to include:

  • Light raincoat/umbrella
  • Medium-weight jacket for cool evenings
  • Warm jacket, sweaters and heavy socks for points south (Patagonia)
  • Sneakers and comfortable walking shoes
  • Sunscreen, lip protection, wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Binoculars, camera, batteries and plenty of film
  • Small backpack (for day trips and to carry souvenirs home)
  • Pocket calculator
  • Small battery-operated alarm clock
  • Personal medicines
  • Bathing suit (for pool and/or thermal springs)

Time Difference
The time is two hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. Most of the country observes a daylight savings period about half the year.

Electric Current
The electric current is 220 volts, 50 cycles AC, so you will need an adapter to run electric razors, hair dryers, etc. from the United States. Many of the major hotels in Buenos Aires have 110 volt sockets for use with U.S. appliances.

Spanish is the official language, but English is spoken in most hotels, tourist shops and major visitors centers.

Business Hours
Banks are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most offices are open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., but close from noon to 2 p.m. for lunch. In Buenos Aires most stores are open during lunch hours.

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