Tuesday 26 February 2019

PHILIPPINES: Philippines AirAsia Introduces New Routes

Philippines AirAsia introduced a new service between Cebu (CEB), the host airport of Routes Asia 2019, and Macau (MFM) on 8 February.

The LCC will operate the 1,717-kilometre connection daily using its fleet of A320s. It faces direct competition from Cebu Pacific Air, which already serves this airport pair with four weekly flights.

Cebu becomes Philippines AirAsia’s second link to Macau after Manila. The airline is scheduled to begin a third route to Macau on 2 March with the launch of services from Kalibo.

Philippines AirAsia returned to Cagayan de Oro (CGY) on 28 October, when it launched three new domestic connections to Cebu (CEB), Clark (CRK) and Manila (MNL).

The LCC last served Cagayan de Oro in August 2015. All three links will be operated by the carrier’s A320 fleet and each one will face direct competition from incumbent carriers.

The short 195-kilometre hop to Cebu will be flown daily, and is already served by Philippine Airlines (21 weekly flights), Cebgo (14) and Cebu Pacific Air (7). The 845-kilometre Clark connection will operate four times weekly and is already served by Philippine Airlines with 10 weekly services.

Philippines AirAsia will serve the 753-kilometre Manila route twice daily. Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines already provide 56 and 30 weekly flights on this airport pair respectively.

On 30 October, the LCC will add another node to its Cagayan de Oro network when it introduces flights to Ilo Ilo.

Philippines AirAsia commenced two new links in the past week with the launch of flights from Cebu (CEB) to Shenzhen (SZX) on 9 May, and from Clark (CRK) to Cebu on 11 May.

The LCC will operate daily services with A320s on both the 1,745-kilometre Chinese sector, and on the 657-kilometre domestic link. There is no direct competition on the Cebu-Shenzhen route, but Cebu Pacific Air and Philippine Airlines both already operate 10 weekly flights on the Clark-Cebu connection.

Philippines AirAsia will operate to three Chinese destinations from Cebu this summer, with Shanghai Pudong and Hangzhou also being served. It will provide seven domestic destinations from Clark in S18.

Philippines AirAsia launched services between Cebu (CEB) and Hangzhou (HGH) on 18 May. The LCC will operate the 2,243-kilometre airport pair twice-weekly, with flights departing Cebu late in the evening on Mondays and Fridays before returning from Hangzhou in the early hours on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Flights will be operated by the carrier’s A320 fleet and there is no direct competition. The airline previously operated this route three times weekly for a short season between 24 January and 18 March 2017. The Cebu link is the carrier’s only current connection to Hangzhou.

Philippines AirAsia launched a new link between Manila (MNL) and Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) on 22 April. The 2,200-kilometre connection will link the capital cities of the Philippines and Thailand with daily flights operated by A320s.

There is no direct competition, but schedules show that multiple carriers including Philippine Airlines and Thai Airways will operate a combined 46 weekly flights from Manila to Bangkok Suvarnabhumi during the week commencing 24 April.

AirAsia is a product of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and we are so proud to be part of this region we call home, said Dexter Comendador, CEO Philippines AirAsia.

We are the only airline that carries the - I love Asean - painted on our aircraft including the ASEAN logo. AirAsia loves Asean is a commitment to help bridge communities and economies as we move toward even greater integration and mutual understanding.

Kajorndet Apichartrakul, Director, Tourism Authority of Thailand, said: We want to bring people across the Asean region closer together and further expand our Asean footprint to serve more and more communities.

We have 100% load for this inaugural flight and we hope to do more inter-Asean routes to serve every Filipino traveller’s needs and enable them to connect, do business and build socio-economic ties with neighbouring economies.

Philippines AirAsia introduced a new route between Clark (CRK) and Seoul Incheon (ICN) on 19 January. It will operate the 2,543-kilometre airport pair three times weekly using A320s.

There is a considerable amount of incumbent competition on the sector, with Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, Jin Air, Philippine Airlines and that way Philippines AirAsia is already offering daily services.

We are staying true to our commitment to provide the much needed international connectivity and convenience for travellers in Metro Manila, Central, and Northern Luzon, said Gomer Monreal, Director of Flight Operations, Philippines AirAsia.

The future of aviation, travel, and tourism is taking shape in Clark. Now more than ever, Clark is truly saving us from air traffic congestion, and enabling airlines and travellers to enjoy the convenience of travelling.

This inaugural flight is a fantastic opportunity for Filipino travellers to explore and experience winter in Korea.

Philippines AirAsia also offers flights from Clark to seven domestic destinations during W18/19. Its only other international link from Clark this winter is to Taipei Taoyuan.

Tourism Observer

DOMINICAN REP: Seaborne Airlines Commences Flights Between San Juan And Dominican Republic

Seaborne Airlines, which is owned and cooperatively operated by Silver Airways, launched flights between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic on 15 February, with it launching a three times weekly service between San Juan (SJU) and Santiago de los Caballero (STI).

We are thrilled that Seaborne Airlines has returned to the Dominican market, said Jesus Medina, COO, Seaborne Airlines. Santiago shares important historical, cultural and economic ties with Puerto Rico and we are delighted to be providing safe, reliable and customer-friendly service for travellers in the region.

The carrier will operate the 494-kilometre sector three times weekly using its fleet of Saab 340s, with departures on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

No other carrier currently operates between the two airports.

Seaborne Airlines is a FAR Part 121 airline headquartered in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was established in 1992 and operates domestic seaplane and land plane services.

In late 2008, Seaborne Airlines began land based flight service between St. Thomas, St. Croix, and San Juan TJIG Isla Grande Airport under the brand name Seaborne Airshuttle.

In January 2011, Seaborne Airlines began service to San Juan TJSJ Luis Munoz Marin International Airport. On December 18, 2013, Seaborne announced a headquarters change from Christiansted, St. Croix to San Juan, Puerto Rico, completed by March 2014.

Seaborne Airlines is owned and cooperatively operated by Silver Airways.

Seaborne has started codesharing flights with American Airlines, on routes which correspond in both timetables. This includes service from San Juan to all of Seaborne's destinations, excluding St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Miles from Seaborne (SeaMiles) are not currently convertible to AAdvantage miles, and cannot be used for travel on American. All passenger services, including baggage and assistance, are provided by American on codeshared flights.

Seaborne previously started codesharing flights with Air Europa between Las Americas International Airport at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Luis Munoz Marin International Airport at San Juan, Puerto Rico for passengers from their route Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport - Las Americas International Airport. This codeshare has ended.

As of September 30, 2014, Seaborne has an interline agreement with United Airlines.

As of March 30, 2015, Seaborne Airlines expanded American Airlines' codeshare agreement to include St. Thomas and St. Croix, and adding Anguilla Services April 30, 2015. Starting December 15, 2015, Seaborne will be flying to Antigua.

As of October 21, 2015, Seaborne Airlines begins codesharing with Jetblue Airways.

As of July 18, 2016, Seaborne Airlines launches codesharing with Delta Air Lines.

As of March 8, 2017, Seaborne Airlines launches codesharing with Vieques Air Link

On January 8, 2018, Seaborne Airlines announced its restructuring plan under the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Code following the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, specifically Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The airline announced the acquirement of a $4.2 Million credit facility and has entered a purchase agreement with Silver Airways, which is subject to the Court's approval and potential overbids.

On March 28th, 2018 it was announced that Seaborne was bought by Silver Airways. As of April 24, 2018, Silver Airways completed the acquisition of Seaborne Airlines.

As of February 2019, the Seaborne Airlines fleet includes the following aircraft:

- De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter 2

- Saab 340B 8

- Total 10

Tourism Observer

USA: Alaska Airlines Goes To El Paso

Alaska Airlines launched operations from El Paso (ELP) on 19 February, with the carrier commencing flights to the airport from San Diego (SAN) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA).

The airline will operate both routes daily using its fleet of E175s. There is no direct competition on the 2,198-kilometre sector from Seattle-Tacoma, however Southwest Airlines already offers eight weekly flights on the 1,109-kilometre link between San Diego and El Paso.

According to airport data, El Paso handled just over 3.26 million passengers in 2018, with this representing an 11% increase versus the 2.93 million that were handled during the previous year.

Alaska Airlines becomes the airport’s seventh scheduled airline, joining Southwest Airlines (46% market share of passengers in 2018), American Airlines (31%), United Airlines (13%), Delta Air Lines (6.9%), Frontier Airlines (1.9%) and Allegiant Air (1.5%).

Alaska Airlines is a major United States airline headquartered in SeaTac, Washington, within the Seattle metropolitan area of the state of Washington.

It is the fifth-largest airline in the United States when measured by fleet size, scheduled passengers carried, and number of destinations served.

Alaska, together with its regional partners, operates a large domestic route network, primarily focused on connecting cities on the West Coast of the United States to over one hundred destinations in the contiguous United States, Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, Costa Rica, and Mexico.

Alaska Airlines is not a member of any of the three major airline alliances. However, it has codeshare agreements with 17 airlines, including member airlines of oneworld, SkyTeam, Star Alliance, and unaffiliated airlines.

Regional service is operated by sister airline Horizon Air and independent carrier SkyWest Airlines.

The airline operates its largest hub at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, and it also operates hubs in Anchorage, Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco and focus cities at San Diego and San Jose.

As of 2018, the airline employs over 21,000 people and been ranked by J. D. Power and Associates as having the highest customer satisfaction of the traditional airlines for eleven consecutive years.

Through the airline's parent company, Alaska Air Group, it is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol ALK and is part of the Dow Jones Transportation Average and the S&P 500 Index.

For the fiscal year 2017, Alaska Airlines reported earnings of US$1.028 billion, with an annual revenue of US$7.933 billion, an increase of 33.8% over the previous fiscal cycle. Alaska Airlines shares traded at over $63 per share, and its market capitalization was valued at US$7.5 billion in October 2018.

Alaska Airlines has 23,400 employees. Alaska's pilot group is represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International and its over 5,872 flight attendants are represented by the Association of Flight Attendants.

Since May 2005, the airline's baggage-handling operations have been outsourced to Menzies Aviation. This was in response to rejection of a contract between IAM the union which represented the baggage handlers, and Alaska Airlines.

It also allowed the airline to save an estimated $13 million a year. In late 2016, Alaska Airlines created a wholly owned subsidiary McGee Air Services which would compete with Menzies Aviation for ground handling contracts in select Alaska cities.

Tourism Observer

UAE: High Passenger Demand, Emirates To Deploy World's Largest Plane On Dubai-Amman Route

Downtown Amman with its Roman amphitheatre
For the first time, the world’s largest commercial plane will fly regularly from Dubai to Amman, Jordan.

Emirates Airways announced on Thursday that it will be deploying its A380 on the route for four months this year to meet high passenger demand during summer.

From June 1 to October 26, the Dubai-based carrier will operate one of its three daily flights between Dubai and the Jordanian capital. It will be the first time that the airline will operate a scheduled A380 service to Amman, following the historic one-off A380 flight in September 2016.

The service upgrade will help Emirates cope with increased visitor traffic to the tourist destination, which is home to numerous ancient ruins. It is also in line with the company’s strategy to strengthen its presence in key markets.

From January to April 2018 alone, more than 1.5 million people visited Jordan.

The flight will depart Dubai at 2pm and arrive in Amman at 3:55pm. The return flight will leave Amman at 6pm and arrive in Dubai at 10pm.

Emirates has been operating the world’s biggest plane for more than a decade. Since its first flight to New York from Dubai in August 2008, the A380 has transported more than 105 million flyers.

The world’s largest operator of A380, Emirates has 104 aircraft of that model flying to 49 cities as of August 2018.

A three-hour flight from Dubai, the capital city of Jordan is a fascinating fusion of old and new.

Elegant and centrally located, the historic Landmark hotel oozes old-world charm and boasts fine-dining restaurant Turquoise and the hip Glass Bar, with its panoramic city views.

Or try the boutique Bonita Inn a converted 1950s house, with a tapas restaurant and garden terrace, where you can enjoy breakfast. Plus, it’s just 15 minutes from Rainbow Street. It costs 60 dinars (Dh312) per night for two.

Towering above downtown Amman, the ancient Citadel an archaeological site is a must-see not just for the ruins, you can see the second-century AD temple of Hercules but also for the views, which take in the two contrasting sides of Amman.

The modern, green Abdoun area referred to as the Beverly Hills of Jordan and the poorer downtown East Amman.

During Ramadan the Citadel comes alive and traditional cafés and handicrafts are set up among the lit-up ruins. Walk to the downtown area from here and visit the 6,000-seater, second-century AD Roman theatre.

Jafra in old Amman is a must visit, it’s a little grungy, but has a balcony, an oud player and great dishes like arayes, a sandwich of spiced minced lamb.

Another culinary institution is Hashem a favourite of His Majesty,a tiny café downtown, which dishes up delicious falafel, hummus and sweet mint tea.

The health conscious should head to eco-eatery The Wild Jordan Café on Rainbow Street. Enjoy veggie food, herbal teas and smoothies on the terrace in the evening, while overlooking the Citadel.

You can book tours to Jordan’s various nature reserves here. Rainbow Street is home to many restored houses-turned-cafés and is buzzing at night.

There are lots of modern malls, but to experience the real strains of Amman, visit the main souq area in downtown – King Al Hussein Street features lots of trashy kitsch and Jordanian souvenirs, from 100 per cent Bedouin-made rugs, to mosaic plates and Dead Sea products.

Rainbow Street, the city’s most walkable and interesting quarter, is home to charming boutiques and antique emporiums selling locally made products.

Between May and October and excluding Ramadan, visit Souq Jara here which on Friday evenings comes alive with stalls offering handmade, recycled pieces, knick-knacks and antiques, as well as local food stalls and local musicians entertaining.

Just 45 minutes away, take an afternoon to explore Jerash, one of the largest and best-preserved Roman towns in the world, entrance costs 8 dinars (Dh41). Dating back 6,500 years, see colonnaded streets, soaring hilltop temples, spectacular theatres, public plazas, baths and fountains.

As it boasts more than 100,000 archaeological sites, it’s worth getting a guide to explain things, 20 dinars (Dh105). While here, watch the re-enacted Roman chariot races in the theatre - 11am and 2pm daily.

If you visit in July/August, the Jerash International Festival is on, a lively cultural event with performances by international and local artists and musicians.

Visit the second-hand market, Souq Jara. It’s just off Rainbow Street with a strip of great vintage stores nearby. Also, visit Books@cafe in the evening.

Don’t leave Jordan without buying some Dead Sea products – get some salt, olive oil and mud soaps.

An absolute must-visit is the Eco-Tourism Café, it’s the oldest townhouse in Amman and has a terrace overlooking the bustling streets below. Order sage tea and watch the world as you enjoy your money .

Tourism Observer

INDIA: Hindus Travel To Varanasi Looking For Death

They arrive in battered cars, on crutches and sometimes on a stretcher barely able to breathe - but salvation is close for thousands of Hindus who go to the holy city of Varanasi each year to die.

Some end up in homes for the elderly overlooking the revered Ganges river where they eventually hope to be cremated but a few struggle to the Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, or Salvation House, which is reserved for those with only a few days to live.

About 20 men and women each month come from around the world to finish their days at Varanasi's Death Hotel, a tired old red colonial-era building with 12 sparse concrete floor rooms.

Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi releases them from the eternal cycle of life and death reincarnation. Cremation in the Ganges is an added spiritual bonus.

There used to be more guest houses like Mukti Bhawan, but the buildings have increasingly become regular hotels for tourists who bring more cash to the city where 24-hour cremations on the holy river are a huge draw.

Bhairav Nath Shukla, who has been Mukti Bhawan's caretaker for more than four decades, said most of his residents pass away within in a few days.

Normally, two weeks is the limit for using a room.

There have been some exceptions. Some people were really sick but were still alive after more than a week, said Shukla, who is often to be found in the courtyard in front of the entrance.

Sometimes we ask their family to take them home and come back again later. Sometimes we let them stay longer.

Because of the growing development in Varanasi, Mukti Bhawan, which is run by a charity, no longer has a view of the river. But there is still no shortage of mainly poor people wanting to die there.

Many have travelled thousands of kilometres (miles), sometimes taking a plane from a foreign country, or even just being put in the back of a car in an isolated Indian village.

The residents pay about a dollar a day for their room and a fan.

Daily prayers are led by an elderly pandit a Hindu priest who also offers residents Ganges water, which is considered pure and holy by Hindus.

For those with extra cash, a local Hindu choir can also be hired to perform holy songs for the ailing visitors.

All kinds of people from different backgrounds come here, said Shukla. They come from the east, the south, remote northeast India and abroad.

Most come here with their family who pray and wait for the end.

Shukla reckons more than 15,000 people have died at Mukti Bhawan and been taken to the Ganges for cremation since it opened in about 1908.

And while Hindus maintain their undying belief in Varanasi's spiritual powers the Mukti Bhawan path to salvation has a bright future, he says.

Hotel Salvation

Hotel Salvation, known in India as Mukti Bhawan is a 2016 Indian film written and directed by Shubhashish Bhutiani and produced by Sanjay Bhutiani. The film is a comedy-drama about a son who is forced to set his job aside to accompany his elderly father to the holy city of Varanasi.

It stars Adil Hussain and Lalit Behl in the lead roles. The film received four nominations at the 63rd Filmfare Awards, including Best Film Critics.

Mukti Bhawan follows the story of a reluctant son who must take his father to the holy city of Varanasi, where his father believes he will breathe his last and attain salvation.

When a 77-year-old man, Daya, wakes up from a strange nightmare, he knows his time is up and he must get to Varanasi immediately in hope of dying there to attain salvation.

His dutiful son, Rajiv, is left with no choice but to drop everything and make the journey with his stubborn father, leaving behind his wife and daughter.

The two of them check into Mukti Bhawan, a hotel devoted to people hoping to spend their last days there. Rajiv finds himself having to live and take care of his father for the first time in his life.

While Rajiv struggles to juggle his responsibilities back home, Daya starts to bloom as he finds a sense of community in the hotel, and a companion in the 75-year old Vimla.

As the days go by and Daya shows no sign of letting up, Rajiv is faced with the dilemma of whether to remain there with his father or fulfill his duty back home. Rajiv gives his father a shot at salvation but as family bonds are tested, he finds himself torn, not knowing what he must do to keep his life together.

Faced with his father's untimely and bizarre demand to go and die in the holy city of Varanasi and attain Salvation, a son is left with no choice but to embark on this journey.

Varanasi is a city in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh dating to the 11th century B.C. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges River’s sacred waters and perform funeral rites.

Along the city's winding streets are some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath, the Golden Temple, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Tourism Observer

COLOMBIA: Cucuta, Here Driving Is A Challenge It's So Crowded

Cucuta is in Colombia in the Andino region of Colombia.

Cucuta is the capital of Norte de Santander, home of 1 million people in all of the metropolitan area. It's a major commercial hub in the northeastern Colombia, playing a significant role in trade between Colombia and Venezuela.

Cucuta is located in the northeast, 580 km to the north of the capital Bogota.

Cucuta, officially San Jose de Cucuta, is a Colombian city, capital of Norte de Santander department. It is located in the northeast of the country, in the eastern branch of the Colombian Andes, on the border with Venezuela.

Cucuta has a population of approximately 750,000 people according to the 2005-2020 census, making it the 6th largest city in the country. Due to its proximity with Venezuela, Cucuta is an important commercial center.

Hosting many billion dollar companies. The international border in Cucuta is said to be the most dynamic of South America. The city has a length of 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) from north to south and 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) from east to west.

It is divided into 10 communes and it is the political, economic, administrative, industrial, cultural and tourism hub of the Norte de Santander department.

Cucuta has experienced a great urban development, as a result other cities has been constituted around the city, like Los Patios in the east, and Villa del Rosario in the south. They are part of the Metropolitan Area of Cucuta which has a population of about 850.000 people.

It is connected by roads across the country to major cities like Bogota, Bucaramanga, Ocana, Valledupar, Pamplona, Tunja and Cartagena de Indias and because of its location, to many cities of Venezuela. Its airport, Camilo Daza International Airport, offers flights to several Colombian cities.

The city was the place of some of the most important events in Colombian history, like the redaction of the first constitution by the Congress of Cucuta which led to the foundation of the Republic of Colombia, also known as Gran Colombia, and the Battle of Cucuta.

This is where troops led by Simon Bolivar defeated the Spanish Royal Rorce, thereby liberating the city from Spanish rule and allowing Bolivar troops to continue their campaign toward Venezuela.

The Battle of Cucuta was one of the most important events of the Spanish American wars of independence, due to its role in the independence of Colombia and Venezuela. This battle was the beginning of the Admirable Campaign of Simon Bolivar.

On February 28, 1813, Bolivar captured the city after a battle that lasted from 9:00 a.m. until early afternoon. About 400 men led by Bolivar fought 800 troops led by the Spanish general Ramon Correa.

Bolivar's forces reported losses of two killed and 14 injured, whilst the royalists are said to have suffered 20 killed and 40 injured. The victory freed the city of Cucuta and led to the Admirable Campaign.

Colonel Simon Bolivar then launched a major offensive against the Spanish forces who were on the east bank of the Magdalena River and quickly achieved resounding victories. These led him to undertake a journey to liberate the Valley of Cucuta held by the command of royalist Colonel Ramon Correa.

On 18 May 1875, Cucuta was largely destroyed by the earthquake of Cucuta, also known as the Earthquake of the Andes.

The earthquake occurred at 11:15 a.m.; it destroyed Villa del Rosario, San Antonio del Tachira and Capacho, seriously damaged the Venezuelan settlements of San Cristobal, La Mulata, Rubio, Michelena, La Grita and Colon, and was felt in Bogota and Caracas.

The city is in the eastern part of the Department of North Santander, in the Cordillera Oriental, close to the border with Venezuela. The city's area is 110 square kilometres (42 square miles) and its elevation is 320 metres (1,050 feet) above sea level.

Rivers in Cucuta and Norte de Santander include the Pamplonita River, Guaramito River, San Miguel River and Zulia River.

The Pamplonita River crosses the Norte de Santander Department.

Cucuta has a tropical savanna climate. The mean temperature is 27.6 °C; high temperatures are around 38 °C. There is a sharp contrast between the wet season and the dry season.

The driest months are December, January, February and March; the wettest are April, May, September, October and November. June and July usually have significant precipitation, whereas August is sunny and windy. The annual precipitation is around 1,041 mm (40.98 in).

Cucuta's streets are organized in a grid layout adopted from Spain in colonial times. Calles or streets run from east to west, perpendicular to the hills, and numbering increases to the north and to the south from Calle 1.

Avenidas or avenues run from south to north, parallel to the hills, and numbering increases both east to west, and west to east from a central avenida numbered 0.

Avenida Cero, one of the city's most important avenues. From west to east, avenues are numbered with an E added to their number, to denote East or este.

More than 300 neighborhoods form the urban network. Poorer neighborhoods are in the north, north-west and south-west, many of them squatter areas. The middle class lives mostly in the central and eastern areas.

The metropolitan area, which includes the municipalities of Villa del Rosario, Los Patios, El Zulia, San Cayetano and Puerto Santander, has a combined population of more than 830,000 people. It is the largest metropolitan area in eastern Colombia and seventh in Colombia, behind Barranquilla, Bucaramanga and Cartagena.

The city is notable for bilateral trade and manufacturing. Its location on the border between Colombia and Venezuela has made possible strong links with the Venezuelan city of San Cristobal, Tachira.

Its Free Zone is the most active of all those in the country and one of the most active in all Latin America, largely due to Venezuela being Colombia's second largest trade partner.

The most developed industries are dairy, construction, textiles, shoes and leather. The city is a producer of cement of the first order and its clay and stoneware industry has the best reputation nationally for its high quality. The mining of coal also plays an important role in the local economy.

The University Francisco de Paula Santander in Cucuta, the National University of Colombia in Bogota, and the Pedagogical and Technological University of Colombia in Tunja are the only ones in the country that provide for the career of Mining Engineering.

The peso is the official and sole legal tender currency in the city. Owing to its proximity to Venezuela, the bolivar was accepted by the vast majority of commercial establishments until the rapid devaluation of the Venezuelan currency began after the 2013 recession.

Colombia signed a Free Trade Agreement with the United States against opposition by Venezuela. Despite this opposition, industries from Venezuela are constructing their infrastructure in Cucuta to export their products to the United States.

Registering their products as if they were Colombian, a strategy that allow them to export without paying certain tariffs. For that reason, Cucuta is expected to become an industrial city.

Colombian law provides tax exemptions for Venezuelan imports through the Zona Franca, which, coupled with the motorway links between Cucuta and Maracaibo, increases the possibility of exports from Maracaibo into Colombia.

For travel outside the city, there is a bus station called Terminal de Transportes, the Camilo Daza International Airport in Colombia and the San Antonio Airport in Venezuela. Eighty years ago the city had the Railroad of Cúcuta, which connected with Venezuela.

The main forms of public transportation are the bus or collective and taxicabs. In addition, National Planning has a project to build a mass transit system, under the name Metrobus.

The highway to Bucaramanga connects Cucuta with Bogota, Medellin and Cali. The highway to Ocana connects the city with Barranquilla, Cartagena and Santa Marta, and the highway to San Cristobal connects it with Caracas.

The main monuments in the city are:

- The monument of Camilo Daza, at the Camilo Daza International Airport.

- The monument of the Battle of Cucuta

- The monument of Juana Rangel de Cuellar, the founder of Cucuta

Main parks in the city are:

- Santander Park or Parque Santander, the main park of the city located in front of the city hall.

- Colon Park or Parque Colon, constructed in honor of Cristopher Columbus, Cristobal Colon.

- Simón Bolivar Park or Parque Simon Bolivar, constructed in honor of Simon Bolivar and donated by the Consulate of Venezuela in Cucuta.

Cucuta has more green zones than many cities in Colombia. Some consider the city an urban lung, due to its greenery and lack of pollution.

Cucutenos, and the legion of foreigners who reconstructed the city after the 1875 earthquake, led by engineer Francisco de Paula Andrade Troconis, led to the development of greenery in the city. The first planted trees were clemones.

Soon they were replaced by acacias, peracos and almond trees that adorned the parks and roadsides. An example of this city design is the Avenue of the Lights based on oiti, ficus and cuji, that forms a natural tunnel admired in the rest of the country and by tourists.

Palm trees are common in places such as Santander Park, Great Colombian Park, the Bank of the Republic and the Department Hall of Norte de Santander.

The sport that gather people the most is football, although basketball, volleyball, and Inline speed skating are also popular. The Cucuta Deportivo recently relegated to the First Division is the main professional team of the city, and play their local matches at the General Santander stadium.

The team won their first Championship in the 2006 season and had a well remembered participation in the 2007 Copa Libertadores, when they reached the semifinal and lose to the multi champion Boca Juniors.

Since that year, only one other Colombian team has reached the semifinal of the prestigious competition Atletico Nacional from Medellin in 2016.

Other professional teams located in the city are the Norte de Santander a Basquetaball team, and futsal team Cucuta Niza; Both squads play local at the Coliseo Toto Hernández.

The city hosted the XIX National Games of Colombia in 2012, which helped to modernize many of the sport venues like the Coliseo Toto Hernandez.

The Colombian Football Federation announced that Cucuta will be one of the venue cities to host the 2016 FIFA Futsal World Cup, an event that is celebrated every four years.

The city has recently undergone development at an historically unprecedented rate.

This has included construction of six overpasses, a convention center, a new bus terminal, a new Integrated Massive Transportation System called Metrobus, modernization of state owned schools, renewal of downtown, and doubling the capacity of the General Santander Stadium.

New industries are expected to come from Venezuela, which will place their factories in Cucuta to export through the Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement between Colombia and the United States.

Cucuta has a domestic airport, Camilo Daza with flights to Bogota, Medellin and other Colombian cities. Avianca has a non-stop flight to Medellin - Rionegro International airport. ADA, the low-cost carrier EasyFly and LAN fly to the local airport in Medellin Olaya Herrera.

Cucuta can be reached also by the neighboring airport of San Antonio in Venezuela.

It is usual the arrival of passengers in transit to San Antonio, Venezuela.

Cucuta is connected by national highways with Bogota (14 hours / 80,000 COP) and Caracas (16 hours / 90 VEF) in Venezuela.

Buses arrive to the Cucuta's Bus Station or La Terminal de Transportes de Cucuta.

The city of Cucuta is built on a grid system. The calles or streets cross the Avenidas or Avenues and run from East to West. Calles are abbreviated as C, Cll and Cl.

Avenidas, abbreviated as Av, are usually larger and main streets. The numerical system for the Avenidas is used but some have names that are more commonly used such as Avenida Libertadores or Avenida de Los Faroles. Each address consists of a series of numbers, for example: Av. 4 #12-24.

This indicates that the building on Av. 4 is 24 meters from the corner. The city's avenues are numbered both east to west and west to east, starting from a central avenue numbered 0 or Avenida Cero. Like in the example, the letter E is added to avenues numbered west to east, as to denote East or Este.

There are many public and private transportation companies that offer bus services and cover almost all of the metropolitan area such as Villa del Rosario, Los Patios and El Zulia.

It's a cheap way, ticket cost around US$ 0.45, but it will cost more depending on the bus, the route and the day to travel around Cucuta. Buses may be overcrowded, lack air conditioning and could be traveling very fast to try to outdo the one(s) from the competing lines that covers the same route.

Taxi is by far the best way to travel around if you don't mind spending a bit more for transportation. The cabs here may take you to anywhere you want, but they could be old Fords or Chevys from the 50's in very different stages of disrepair.

As of August 2010 the state of taxi service is much better than 50's vintage fords and Chevy's. Expect to find a fleet of small but newer vehicles that are typically not more than 3-5 years old.

Driving in Cucuta can be a challenge, it's gotten much more crowded in the last three years and it it's certainly exciting to watch the personal vehicles, taxi and lots of motorcycles vie for the limited road space.

A ride on Cucuta's modern Ciclo-Vía is a very exiting and healthy way to get to know the city and get closer to the people. There are certain rules that must be followed: Helmet must be worn when riding, also a reflective vest must be worn. The bicycle must have reflective panels in the wheels and back.

The Av. Libertadores the largest and most important of the city is closed to use it as Ciclo-Vía on Sundays (8 AM - 1 PM)

Attractions in Cucuta:

- House of Francisco de Paula Santander 1 Km International Freeway to Venezuela

- Catedral of Cucuta

- Santander Park

- Municipal Park

- Colon Park

House of Santander Francisco de Paula Santander is hero of the independence of Colombia and his house is located in Villa del Rosario which is a municipality member of the Metropolitan Area of Cucuta.

There you can visit the Historic Church that was the principal sede of the Congress of the Great Colombia - Colombia, Panama, Venzuela,Ecuador.

In the Av. Libertadores there are ample green zones and platforms that allow their visitors to walk and to contemplate the own nature of the Pamplonita River; this proximity to the shore has allowed that the custom has denominated it Malecon becoming a site of recreation par excellence.

It runs from the San Rafael bridge in the south of the city to Arnulfo Briceno Square, where there's a beautiful metallic sculpture called Musical Mirror as well as a skating track and children's park.

Unicentro is the most important shopping mall in Colombia. There are five sedes located at Bogota, Medellin, Cali, City of Panama and Cucuta. More than 48.000 m2 of commerce, 110 stores, Center of foods, Bingo and casino, Supermarket Carrefour, Open spaces and green zones.

Ventura Plaza This is the biggest shopping center of Cucuta. It is located in the heart of the city and close to the Casino International Hotel. Diagonal Santander between tenth and eleventh street.

Vivero Almacenes Vivero was creaed in 1969 as a t-shirt store, but now is one of the most important malls in Colombia. Av. Demetrio Mendoza, Diagonal Santander.

Gran Boulevard It is one the most traditional mall of Cucuta, located in the Av. 0 is unique. It has a building of apartaments. There you can get computers, shoes, clothes and visit an excellent bar called LA MICRO. The main office of Movistar Colombia for Cucuta is there.

Plaza de Los Andes

Dine & Wine:

- Kokoriko Av. 0 Calle 8 Esquina

- PRESTO Av. Los Libertadores # 3-08

- Los Carritos Av. 0 # 15-71

- Los Carritos Av. Los Faroles # 9E - 51

- Juan K Av. 3E #1-218 La Ceiba

- Restaurante Rodizio Malecon II Etapa La Riviera

- Pinchos & Asados (Rodizio)

- Restaurante El Corral

- Mangos Av. Libertadores #7-22

- Restaurante La Gran Muralla Av. Libertadores #10-84 Malecon

Local coffee is excellent. Aguardiente is a must for all tourists. It can be found at all cafes and bars.

Restaurante Ochoa serves the very best Roast Chicken, Villa del Rosario. Right next to Casa de Santander

Accomodations in Cucuta:

- Hotel Tonchala

- Hotel Casablanca Av. 6 # 14-55

- Hotel Quinta Avenida

- Hotel Villa Antigua. Located on the highway to Venezuela.

- Hotel Arizona Av 0 # 7-67

- Hotel Bolivar Av. Demetrio Mendoza

- Hotel Casino Internacional Calle # 2E-75

- Hotel Acora Calle 10 #2-75

- Hotel Acuaris Calle 5 # 3-37

- Hotel Amaruc Av. 5 # 9-73

- Hotel Chucarima Calle 7 # 2-30

- Hotel Exelsior Av 3 # 9-65

- Hotel Lord Av. 7 3 10-58

- Hotel Luxor Calle 10 # 2-66

- Hotel Victoria Plaza Calle 8 # 2-98

- Hotel Paraiso Calle 10 # 5-84

- Hotel Conquistador Av 11 E. Frente al Parque Simon Bolivar, Colsag.

- Hotel La Paz Calle 6 Av 3 y 4

- Hotel Cacique Av 7 calle 9 y 10

- Hotel El Saman (Prosocial) Autopista Internacional, en Villa del Rosario

- Hotel Barcelona Avenida7, Calle13. 24hrs service. Friendly family hotel, free WIFI. Possibility to wash clothes. 15 Rooms with ventilation or air condition. Good prices and service. Walking distance to the centre of Cucuta.

Officially it is not legal to work in Colombia without a proper working visa. Visas can be obtained by employers on your behalf.

Tourism Observer

Monday 25 February 2019

ANDORRA: Andorrans Are A Romance Ethnic Group. Enjoy Duty Free Shopping In The Tax Haven

Andorra is a small, mountainous country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain.

Andorra, officially the Principality of Andorra, also called the Principality of the Valleys of Andorra is a sovereign landlocked microstate on the Iberian Peninsula, in the eastern Pyrenees, bordering France to the north and Spain to the south.

It is believed to have been created by Charlemagne, Andorra was ruled by the Count of Urgell until 988, when it was transferred to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Urgell, and the present principality was formed by a charter in 1278.

It is known as a principality as it is a diarchy headed by two Princes: the Catholic Bishop of Urgell in Catalonia, Spain, and the President of France.

Andorra is the sixth-smallest nation in Europe, having an area of 468 square kilometres (181 sq mi) and a population of approximately 77,281. The Andorran people are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalan descent.

Andorra is the 16th-smallest country in the world by land and the 11th-smallest by population. Its capital, Andorra la Vella, is the highest capital city in Europe, at an elevation of 1,023 metres (3,356 feet) above sea level. The official language is Catalan; but Spanish, Portuguese, and French are also commonly spoken.

Andorra la Vella is the capital of Andorra, in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain. It’s known as a duty-free retail hub, with shops lining Meritxell Avenue. The 12th-century Sant Esteve church has baroque altarpieces.

The nearby area of Vallnord has resorts with trails for winter sports, plus a bike park.

Tourism in Andorra sees an estimated 10.2 million visitors annually. It is not a member of the European Union, but the euro is its official currency. It has been a member of the United Nations since 1993. In 2013, Andorra had the highest life expectancy in the world at 81 years, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study.

Andorra has an alpine climate and continental climate. Its higher elevation means there is, on average, more snow in winter, lower humidity, and it is slightly cooler in summer.

The diversity of landmarks, the different orientation of the valleys and the irregularity relief typical of the Mediterranean climates make the country have a great diversity of microclimates that hinder the general dominance of the high mountain climate.

The great differences of altitude in the minimum and maximum points, together with the influence of a Mediterranean climate, develop the climate of the Andorran Pyrenees.

When in precipitation, a global model characterized by convective and abundant rains can be defined during spring and summer, which can last until autumn that is May, June and August are usually the rainiest months.

In winter, however, it is less rainy, except in the highlands, subject to the influence of fronts from the Atlantic, which explains the high level of innivation of the Andorran mountains.

The temperature regime is characterized, broadly, by a temperate summer and a long and cold winter; in accordance with the mountainous condition of the Principality.

Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny, well-to-do economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 10.2 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and by its summer and winter resorts.

One of the main sources of income in Andorra is tourism from ski resorts which total over 175 km (109 mi) of ski ground. The sport brings in over 7 million visitors annually and an estimated 340 million euros per year, sustaining 2,000 direct and 10,000 indirect jobs at present since 2007.

The banking sector, with its tax haven status, also contributes substantially to the economy, the financial and insurance sector accounts for approximately 19% of GDP.

The financial system comprises five banking groups, one specialised credit entity, 8 investment undertaking management entities, 3 asset management companies and 29 insurance companies, 14 of which are branches of foreign insurance companies authorised to operate in the principality.

Agricultural production is limited, only 2% of the land is arable, and most food has to be imported. Some tobacco is grown locally. The principal livestock activity is domestic sheep raising.

Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture. Andorra's natural resources include hydroelectric power, mineral water, timber, iron ore, and lead.

Andorra is not a member of the European Union, but enjoys a special relationship with it, such as being treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods with no tariffs and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.

Andorra lacked a currency of its own and used both the French franc and the Spanish peseta in banking transactions until 31 December 1999, when both currencies were replaced by the EU's single currency, the euro.

Coins and notes of both the franc and the peseta remained legal tender in Andorra until 31 December 2002. Andorra negotiated to issue its own euro coins, beginning in 2014.

Andorra has traditionally had one of the world's lowest unemployment rates. In 2009 it stood at 2.9%.

Andorra has long benefited from its status as a tax haven, with revenues raised exclusively through import tariffs. However, during the European sovereign-debt crisis of the 21st century, its tourist economy suffered a decline, partly caused by a drop in the prices of goods in Spain, which undercut Andorran duty-free shopping.

This led to a growth in unemployment. On 1 January 2012, a business tax of 10% was introduced, followed by a sales tax of 2% a year later, which raised just over 14 million euros in its first quarter.

On 31 May 2013, it was announced that Andorra intended to legislate for the introduction of an income tax by the end of June, against a background of increasing dissatisfaction with the existence of tax havens among EU members.

The announcement was made following a meeting in Paris between the Head of Government Antoni Marti and the French President and Prince of Andorra, François Hollande. Hollande welcomed the move as part of a process of Andorra bringing its taxation in line with international standards.

The population of Andorra is estimated at 77,281. The Andorrans are a Romance ethnic group of originally Catalan descent. The population has grown from 5,000 in 1900.

Two thirds of residents lack Andorran nationality and do not have the right to vote in communal elections. Moreover, they are not allowed to be elected as prime minister or to own more than 33% of the capital stock of a privately held company.

The historic and official language is Catalan, a Romance language. The Andorran government encourages the use of Catalan. It funds a Commission for Catalan Toponymy in Andorra, and provides free Catalan classes to assist immigrants. Andorran television and radio stations use Catalan.

Because of immigration, historical links, and close geographic proximity, Spanish, Portuguese and French are also commonly spoken. Most Andorran residents can speak one or more of these, in addition to Catalan.

English is less commonly spoken among the general population, though it is understood to varying degrees in the major tourist resorts. Andorra is one of only four European countries, together with France, Monaco, and Turkey that have never signed the Council of Europe Framework Convention on National Minorities.

Observatori Social d'Andorra indicates that the linguistic usage in Andorra is as follows:

- Catalan 38.8%

- Spanish 35.4%

- Portuguese 15%

- French 5.4%

- Others 5.5%

The population of Andorra is predominantly (88.2%) Catholic. Their patron saint is Our Lady of Meritxell. Though it is not an official state religion, the constitution acknowledges a special relationship with the Catholic Church, offering some special privileges to that group.

Other Christian denominations include the Anglican Church, the Unification Church, the New Apostolic Church, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The small Muslim community is primarily made up of North African immigrants. There is a small community of Hindus and Baha'is, and roughly 100 Jews live in Andorra.

The official and historic language is Catalan. Thus the culture is Catalan, with its own specificity.

Andorra is home to folk dances like the contrapas and marratxa, which survive in Sant Julia de Loria especially. Andorran folk music has similarities to the music of its neighbours, but is especially Catalan in character, especially in the presence of dances such as the sardana.

Other Andorran folk dances include contrapas in Andorra la Vella and Saint Anne's dance in Escaldes-Engordany. Andorra's national holiday is Our Lady of Meritxell Day, 8 September.

Among the most important festivals and traditions are the Canolich Gathering in May, the Roser d'Ordino in July, the Meritxell Day or National Day of Andorra, the Andorra la Vella Fair, the Sant Jordi Day.

The Santa Llucia Fair, the Festivity from La Candelera to Canillo, the Carnival of Encamp, the sung of caramelles, the Festivity of Sant Esteve and the Festa del Poble.

In popular folklore, the best-known Andorran legends are the legend of Charlemagne, according to which this Frankish King would have founded the country, the White Lady of Auvinya, the Buner d'Ordino, the legend of Engolasters Lake and the legend of Our Lady of Meritxell.

Andorran gastronomy is mainly Catalan, although it has also adopted other elements of French and Italian cuisines. The cuisine of the country has similar characteristics with the neighbors of the Cerdanya and the Alt Urgell, with whom it has a strong cultural ties.

Andorra's cuisine is marked by its nature as mountain valleys. Typical dishes of the country are the quince all-i-oli, the duck with winter pear, the lamb in the oven with nuts, pork civet, the massegada cake.

The escarole with pear trees, confited duck and mushrooms, escudella, spinach with raisins and pine nuts, jelly marmalade, stuffed murgues or mushrooms with pork, dandelion salad and the Andorran trout of river.

To drink, the mulled wine and beer are also popular. Some of the dishes are very common in the mountainous regions of Catalonia, such as trinxat, embotits, cooked snails, rice with mushrooms, mountain rice and mato.

Pre-Romanesque and Romanesque art are one of the most important artistic manifestations and characteristics of the Principality. The Romanesque one allows to know the formation of the parochial communities, the relations of social and political power and the national culture.

There are a total of forty Romanesque churches that stand out as being small austere ornamentation constructions, as well as bridges, fortresses and manor houses of the same period.

Summer solstice fire festivals in the Pyrenees was included as UNESCO Intangible cultural heritage in 2015. Also the Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley became Andorra's first, and to date its only, UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, with a small extension in 2006.

Andorra is famous for the practice of winter sports. Popular sports played in Andorra include football, rugby union, basketball and roller hockey.

In roller hockey Andorra usually plays in CERH Euro Cup and in FIRS Roller Hockey World Cup. In 2011, Andorra was the host country to the 2011 European League Final Eight.

The country is represented in association football by the Andorra national football team. However, the team has had little success internationally because of Andorra's small population.

Football is governed in Andorra by the Andorran Football Federation founded in 1994, it organizes the national competitions of association football Primera Divisio, Copa Constitucio and Supercopa and futsal.

Andorra was admitted to UEFA and FIFA in the same year, 1996. FC Andorra, a club based in Andorra la Vella founded in 1942, compete in the Spanish football league system.

Rugby is a traditional sport in Andorra, mainly influenced by the popularity in southern France. The Andorra national rugby union team, nicknamed Els Isards, has impressed on the international stage in rugby union and rugby sevens. VPC Andorra XV is a rugby team based in Andorra la Vella actually playing in the French championship.

Basketball popularity has increased in the country since the 1990s, when the Andorran team BC Andorra played in the top league of Spain or Liga ACB. After 18 years the club returned to the top league in 2014.

Other sports practised in Andorra include cycling, volleyball, judo, Australian Rules football, handball, swimming, gymnastics, tennis and motorsports.

In 2012, Andorra raised its first national cricket team and played a home match against the Dutch Fellowship of Fairly Odd Places Cricket Club, the first match played in the history of Andorra at an altitude of 1,300 metres (4,300 ft).

Andorra first participated at the Olympic Games in 1976. The country has also appeared in every Winter Olympic Games since 1976. Andorra competes in the Games of the Small States of Europe being twice the host country in 1991 and 2005.

As one of the Catalan Countries, Andorra is home to a team of castellers, or Catalan human tower builders. The Castellers d'Andorra, based in the town of Santa Coloma d'Andorra, are recognized by the Coordinadora de Colles Castelleres de Catalunya, the governing body of castells.

Andorra does not have its own armed forces, although there is a small ceremonial army. Responsibility for defending the nation rests primarily with France and Spain.

However, in case of emergencies or natural disasters, the Sometent or an alarm is called and all able-bodied men between 21 and 60 of Andorran nationality must serve.

This is why all Andorrans, and especially the head of each house usually the eldest able-bodied man of a house should, by law, keep a rifle, even though the law also states that the police will offer a firearm in case of need.

Andorra is a full member of the United Nations (UN), the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and has a special agreement with the European Union (EU).

Andorra has a small army, which has historically been raised or reconstituted at various dates, but has never in modern times amounted to a standing army.

The basic principle of Andorran defence is that all able-bodied men are available to fight if called upon by the sounding of the Sometent. Being a landlocked country, Andorra has no navy.

Prior to World War I, Andorra maintained an armed force of about 600 part-time militiamen under the supervision of a Captain, Capita or Cap de Sometent and a Lieutenant, Desener or Lloctinent del Capita.

This body was not liable for service outside the principality and was commanded by two officials or veguers appointed by France and the Bishop of Urgell.

Cities of Andorra:

- Andorra la Vella is the Capital of Andorra

- Santa Coloma, South of Andorra La Vella towards the border with Spain

- Sant Julia de Loria, South of Santa Coloma towards the border with Spain

- Escaldes-Engordany. This is really an eastern suburb parish of Andorra La Vella

- Encamp. Parish to the NE of Andorra La Vella between Engordany and Canillo on the road to France.

- La Massana, small town and parish about 5 miles north of Andorra La Vella. You can access Arinsal Pal ski area from it directly

- Ordino, Northernmost and least populated parish but almost the largest.

- Canillo. Northeasternmost parish on the main road and border to France

- Arinsal - Small village in the north west

Destinations to visit:

Madriu-Perafita-Claror Valley is worth a visit.

Long isolated and impoverished, Andorra achieved considerable prosperity through its tourist industry after World War II. Many migrant workers legal and illegal are attracted to the thriving economy and its lack of income taxes.

Tourism, the mainstay of Andorra's tiny economy, accounts for roughly 80% of GDP. An estimated 9 million tourists visit annually, attracted by Andorra's duty-free status and summer and winter resorts.

Andorra's comparative advantage as a tourist destination has eroded recently as the economies of neighboring France and Spain have been opened up, providing broader availability of goods and lower tariffs. The banking sector, with its tax haven status, also contributes substantially to Andorra's economy.

Agricultural production is limited only 2% of the land is arable and most food has to be imported. The principal livestock activity is sheep raising. Manufacturing output consists mainly of cigarettes, cigars, and furniture.

Electricity is supplied at 220 to 230V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 Schukostecker or Schuko or the compatible, CEE-7/16 Europlug types.

Due mainly to the mountainous nature of Andorra, there is only one road entering Andorra from France and only one widely-used road entering Andorra from Spain. Almost all entry into the country happens at one of these two points.

Andorra is not a member of the EU, EEA or Schengen Area. However, Andorra is a member of the EU Customs Union and is treated as an EU member for trade in manufactured goods no tariffs and as a non-EU member for agricultural products.

Andorra has no visa requirements and requires only a passport or European Union national identity card for entrance. However, in practice, as entry is only possible through Schengen countries, one must satisfy the conditions of entry into Schengen.

Visitors from outside the EU ought to know that, as Andorra is not a Schengen member, exiting France or Spain into Andorra will theoretically terminate a single-entry visa. In practice, though, immigration does not enforce this, seeing as one must re-enter the Schengen Area in order to travel onwards.

A souvenir passport stamp may be available at the border on request.

There are no airports in Andorra. The nearest airports are:

Perpignan (France) 128km to the east, no coach connections but you can take a Yellow train to La Tour de Carol and farther to L'Hospitalet.

Carcassonne (France) 130km to the North North East. 2 hours by car, depending on weather. Ryanair offers cheap flights to Carcassonne from limited European airports.

Lleida (Spain) 157km to the south, Lleida-Alguaire Flights from the UK only during the ski season, chartered by Thomas Cook Airport is 2.5 hours away from Andorra by bus. This airport was chosen in 2011 by the UK-Based tour operator Neilson to cater to tourists visiting the ski resorts.

Flights arrive/depart on Sundays. For independent travelers, getting to Andorra from Lleida Airport can be difficult, as Montmantell bus company will leave you in Lleida town, a 20-minute taxi ride from the airport.

Toulouse–Blagnac (France) 196km to the north. You can pre-book a coach or a taxi from Toulouse Airport to all the resorts in Andorra with Andorra Airport Transfers.

Barcelona (Spain) 202km to the south. There are frequent connections to Andorra from Barcelona.

From airports to Andorra by car: 3 hours

An airport for Andorra Andorran, Spanish and regional Catalan governments developed a Pirineus - la Seu d'Urgell airport, also known as Pirineus-Andorra airport at Seu d'Urgell but there are no scheduled flights there.

From Andorra la Vella, La Massana or Arinsal to airports, the journey for a maximum of 5 passengers takes around 30 minutes and costs €2,500.

There are no train lines or stations in Andorra, and none close to the Spanish border. The nearest rail stations are:

L'Hospitalet (France), 3 km (1.8 mi) from the Andorran border. Served by SNCF trains from Toulouse, in addition to a sleeper service to/from Paris.

Puigcerdà (Spain), 80 km (50 mi) from Andorra.

That said, buses operate daily from L'Hospitalet to Pas de la Casa, the first town after the Andorran border, from where it's possible to take frequent buses to Andorra la Vella — every 30min with Cooperativa Interurbana line 4 or cia Hispano-Andorrana. Timetables can be found here.

The Hispano Andorra Bus departs Andorra la Vella at 5:45 and Pas de la Casa at 6:40 and arrives in L'Hospitalet at 7:10, departing L'Hospitalet at 7:45 and arriving in Pas de la Casa at 8:15 and in Andorra la Vella at 9:10.

The evening bus departs Andorra la Vella at 16:45 and Pas de la Casa at 18:15 and arrives in L'Hospitalet at 18:50, departing L'Hospitalet at 19:45 and arriving in Pas de la Casa at 20:10 and in Andorra la Vella at 21:00. Oneway fare from Pas de la Casa to L'Hospitalet is 4,50 €. Buses run every day except December 25th.

Reaching Andorra by train is only cost-effective for holders of SNCF discount cards such as Carte 12-25 or those coming on the sleeper train from Paris; other travelers would be better off taking a direct bus service from nearby cities like Toulouse.

In any case, everybody under 26 years-old traveling off-peak hours with SNCF is entitled to the "Découvert 12-25" discount.

One should bear in mind that the L'Hospitalet train station is located in a deserted area, is often unmanned, and its rooms have restricted open hours, so it's important to match connections well.

Roads in Andorra are generally of a good quality. Entering on the main road from the Spanish side is a relatively straightforward drive; however, entering from France is a more stressful affair involving many hairpin bends. Border control officers at both sides are generally fine.

Entering Andorra, you generally do not need to even stop, but you must slow down and be prepared to stop if it's requested. When leaving Andorra, you must stop and be prepared for delays during busy times. Be sure your car is in good condition.

Andorra has many steep roads at high altitude. Gas prices are usually cheaper in Andorra compared to France and Spain, so it's a good idea to fill up the tank before you leave the country.

Also beware of black ice and snow drifts as the temperature in Andorra can be much colder than at sea level.

If entering from France, one can pass through the 2.9km long Tunel d'Envalira, which requires a fee payable by cash or credit/debit card. The amounts are: Winter in the remainder of year.

Cars €6.60 (€5.80) but others €16.70 (€10.70) and Winter is from 1 Dec-31 Mar

Car rental. The usual car hire companies operate from Andorra la Vella / Santa Coloma. The desks are sometimes quiet and unmanned, so it may be a good idea to book in advance online.

From November to April, it is prudent to have winter tires and/or snow chains available for your car. In very snowy road conditions, cars without winter tires or snow chains may not be allowed to drive.

This is often enforced at police checkpoints on access roads to the ski resorts and on mountain passes such as the CS-311 and the road above Pas de la Casa.

Drivers are considered to be at fault in fatal accidents, and are always prosecuted and usually imprisoned.

There are many coach services operating into Andorra.

From France there is a coach service from Toulouse, Andbus, from the bus station adjacent to Toulouse Matabiau train station departing at 10:30 am, 3:00 pm May-November, and 7:30 pm and from the Toulouse–Blagnac airport departing at 11:30am, 3:30 pm May-November, and 8:00 pm.

It is 35 euro one way or 65 for a round trip. The entire trip takes 3 1/2 hours, leaving you just one hour in Andorra la Vella if you decide do a day trip. Arrive at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure as the driver will leave once everyone who was waiting has boarded.

Andbus is easily identified by its name in large letters on the side. Tickets can be purchased online, at the ticket counter in the bus station it is closed on holidays, or you can pay the driver directly.

The bus stop at the Toulouse airport is close to where the fire truck is parked. A second coach service operates via L'Hospitalet and La Tour de Carol.

From Spain, coaches to Andorra can be caught from a variety of locations, such as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Lleida and Valencia. There are at least two bus companies offering daily service from the Barcelona airport.

Eurolines departs from outside the door of Terminal B, but you must be early and quick because the driver has a habit of arriving early and driving off if no one is there. Also, you don't pay for the ticket at the airport, but rather have to travel to the Barcelona Sants and get off there to buy a ticket.

Service is slow. One should also remember that one will need to show one's passport here. Trip time is about 3.5 to 4 hours.

Andbus also operates a service from the Barcelona airport, outside Terminal 1 and 15 minutes later outside Terminal 2. €33 one-way or €56 for a round-trip; tickets available on the official website or on the bus. Be wary of a late flight however; their sales team say you can take the next bus but their drivers will state otherwise.

Autocars Nadal also travels between Andorra and Barcelona and its airport.

The bus company Alsina Graells has eight trips a day from Barcelona. The trip takes 3.5-4 hours and costs €23 one-way and €40 round trip.

Alsa has daily trips between Barcelona and Andorra. In Andorra, buses arrive at the new bus station (centrally located) where you can buy tickets, credit cards accepted; the building has a small waiting area with about 30 seats, two vending machines and free wifi.

If you arrive late, or leave early, these may be your only dining options. They tell you to come 30 minutes early, but it is not necessary; make sure you check at ticket counter to get a boarding card to give it to a driver.

If you have a few days in Andorra, then you can easily visit most of the main villages using the local bus service, called the Cooperativa Interurbana Andorrana, S.A.

There are 8 main bus lines and all of them pass through Andorra La Vella. The fare is anything from €1.20 to two or three euros depending on how far you are going. Drivers will provide change. For the towns nearest to Andorra La Vella, the service is very regular, and as frequent as every 10 minutes during the day.

If you are traveling to outlying rural places like Canolic, there are only 2 or 3 buses per day.

The lines are:

L1 Sant Julia de Loria - Escaldes-Engordany
L2 Andorra la Vella - Encamp
L3 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Canillo
L4 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Canillo - Soldeu
L5 Andorra la Vella - Encamp - Encamp - Canillo - El Pas de la Casa
L6 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Arinsal
L7 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Ordino
L8 Andorra la Vella - La Massana - Ordino - El Serrat

Andorra's official language is Catalan; however, Spanish is the dominant language of communication among people of different linguistic backgrounds.

French is widely spoken, especially in Pas de la Casa. Portuguese is the native language of 13% of the population. English is widely spoken by those involved in the tourism industry.

Andorra has the euro (€) as its sole currency along with 24 other countries that use this common European money.

These 24 countries are: Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain - official euro members which are all European Union member states.

This as well as Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino and the Vatican which use it without having a say in eurozone affairs and without being European Union members.

Together, these countries have a population of more than 330 million.

One euro is divided into 100 cents. While each official euro member as well as Monaco, San Marino and Vatican issues its own coins with a unique obverse, the reverse, as well as all bank notes, look the same throughout the eurozone. Every coin is legal tender in any of the eurozone countries.

Andorra La Vella is a good destination to buy all kinds of cheap goods, due to the country's status as a tax haven.

However, do compare the base price with that in your own country or region. Tax free does not necessarily bring you net lower final expense.

If you don't just want to buy new releases of brand name luxury goods, whose base prices can be very different from the just arrived category, Andorra is not the right place for you. Just wander around then, it is also very enjoyable.

Andorra's huge ski resorts with their family-friendly slopes are probably the main reason for Andorra's popularity among tourists, but the country has other things to offer. In terms of landmarks and culture, the many churches and shrines are a main sight.

The famous statue of Our Lady of Meritxell was destroyed in a 1972 fire, but a nice replica is still on display. In the country's capital, Andorra la Vella, you'll find the Romanesque Esglesia de Sant Esteve, located in the old part of town and therefore a perfect stop during a city walk.

Just 2 kilometres out of town, the church of Santa Coloma d'Andorra is even older, as it dates back to the 9th century.

Ski resorts. Most of these resorts were once small mountain villages which have grown in recent years because of the skiing industry.

The resorts have all joined together so that your ski pass covers neighboring areas. As a result, there are two large alpine skiing areas known as Vallnord and Grandvalira.

Vallnord covers Arcalis and the Arinsal-Pal ski area. Despite the considerable distance between Arcalis and Arinsal-Pal, the two ski areas have been connected by cable car in recent years. The Arisnal-Pal ski area is directly accessible from La Massana the middle of the town. 93km (58 mi) of pistes.

Arcalis ski area located at the head of the valley from El Serrat

Arinsal skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area. Also known as Vallnord, which means Valley North in English

Pal skiing resort part of the Arinsal Pal ski area.

Grandvalira covers Soldeu and Pas de la Casa. The Soldeu ski area is also accessible from El Tarter, Encamp and Canillo. This quite cleverly has opened up these areas to cope with the influence of visitors without putting all the strain on Soldeu.

It has 210km of ski slopes between 1710-2640m. The area of Grandvalira is about 1,926 hectares, and it's divided into 6 different sectors.

Pas de la Casa skiing resort located right on the French border with a good sized town that has plenty of duty free shops, hotels and restaurants.

Grau Roig skiing resort only with a large car park and a hotel.

Soldeu skiing resort in a small town with hotels, restaurants and shops

El Tarter skiing resort in a small town with hotels, restaurants and shops.

Canillo skiing resort accessed by gondola from a medium sized town with hotels, restaurants and shops.

Encamp, a large town with hotels, restaurants and shops connected to the Grandvalira ski slopes by the 6.1km Funicamp gondola - was the longest in Europe but maybe surpassed now.

La Rabassa is a cross-country (Nordic) skiing area in southern Andorra above the town of Sant Julia de Loria.

If you would like more information on the mountain huts in Andorra, go to Mountain huts in Andorra]. If you are afraid of sleeping in a tent because of wild animals and night sounds or demons, a good place to stay while hiking and trekking in Andorra is the Himàlaia Hotel in Soldeu .

It has its own team of hiking guides who go every day with their guests to walk and discover a lot of interesting hiking routes around the country. Be sure to bring something other than sandals for your feet and a purse for your cellphone.

Andorra is a great place for hiking. The point of departure is the town of Arinsal at the foot of the Coma Pedrosa 2,942m (9,652 ft) and the Pic de Medecourbe 2,914m (9,560 ft).

Treks from Arinsal (1,500m) - Pic de Sanfons 2,888 m/9,475 ft, 4h45, climb 1,310 m/4,298 ft, medium until the hut, difficult on the ridge. View on the Coma Pedrosa, the valley of Tor, the lakes of Baiau in Spain as well as on the Pallars mountains. Mountain hut and lake on the way.

Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580 m (5,184 ft).

Pic de Medecourbe 2,914m, 4h30, climb 1,335m/4,380 ft, medium until the hut increasing to difficult on the ridge. A classic! Mountain hut half-way up, lakes and a breathtaking view over the valley of Arinsal, Boet and Vicdessos (France). Parking at Torrent Ribal 1,580m (5,184 ft).

The peak is the western tripoint international boundary of Andorra, France, and Spain.

Pic de Coma Pedrosa 2,942m 4h30, climb 1,370m, medium until the lake, difficult on the ridge. The highest mountain in Andorra. Mountain hut half way up, lakes. Beautiful view of the surrounding summits, the valley of Arinsal and to the West, the Maladeta and Ecantats massifs. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580m.

Montmantell lakes and the Pic del Pla de l'Estany 2,859m (4h20, climb 1,280m, medium). Mountain hut half-way up, lakes, magnificient view over the Ariège mountains in France and over Andorra. Parking at Torrent Ribal 1580 m.

Arinsal, Percanela les Fonts Pla de l'Estany - Arinsal circuit 2,055m (4h30, climb 670m, medium) 2 mountain huts. Very pleasant circuit which one can do either way. Lovely views of Coma Pedrosa via the imposing natural amphitheatre of Les Fonts. A few bordas (farm houses) on the way, some renovated, some in ruins. Parking at Arinsal 1,466m.

Cami del coll de les Cases 1,950m (1h40, climb 490m, medium) Panoramic view over the Ordino mountains and la Massana. Ideal picnic and meditation site. One can continue along the GR11 to Arans, parking at Mas de Ribafeta 1466m but transport back to Arinsal must be provided.

Lamb is the main meat; different French and Spanish cuisines and cheeses are used as well. You can enjoy French and Spanish cuisine in the same area

As Andorra is not in the European Union, virtually citizens of all countries require a work permit. Usually with an employment offer signed by your prospective employer it is relatively easy to get an Andorran work permit.

There is not much threat from other people in Andorra, but keep safe on mountains. Don't go too high without knowing what you are doing.

Drivers are warned to avoid crossing back into France if the Spanish side of the Pyrenees has enjoyed beautiful warm sunshine all day and the road temperatures drop considerably towards the evening, there is danger of black ice from ice melt.

The weather in the French Pyrenees is frequently vastly different than that of Andorra and the Spanish Pyrenees. Stay overnight if necessary, as cold morning temperatures are more apparent and less treacherous than sudden evening icing.

Caldea is a very popular spa/swimming pool complex which is located up at the top end of Andorra la Vella. You can't miss it because of its unique glass spire structure.

The main hospital in Andorra is the Meritxell.

Andorra is a well-connected country that has accepted the internet with open arms. Almost as many people subscribe to the internet as own landline phones.

Andorra relies on the Spanish and French postal systems; the main office for each is located in Andorra la Vella.

The French post office, Correus Francesos located at Carrer de Bonaventura Armengol AD500 Andorra la Vella, Andorra is usually open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 11:59AM

The Spanish post office Correus Espanyols is open from 8:30AM - 2:30PM Monday - Friday and Saturdays from 9:00AM - 1:00PM.

Visitors should note that since Andorra is not part of the EU/EEA, using mobile phones may be a lot more expensive than in France or Spain.

At Andorra Estacio, there are regular buses to Barcelona and Toulouse. To get to Toulouse, take Andbus, departs at 5:00 am, 10:00 am, and 3:00 pm. The bus drops makes stops at Pas de la Casa, Toulouse Airport and Toulouse Matabiau train station. It costs 35 euro.

Latour-de-Carol, first stop on the scenic descent for Perpignan with the open-top Yellow Train or Petit Train Jaune is reachable with the same TER train line 22 that serves L'Hospitalet-près-l'Andorre.

Tourism Observer

Friday 22 February 2019

Chinese Tourists Still Dominate Asia

Chinese tourists are difficult to ignore, whether in the news or on holiday. But when you consider that travellers from the Middle Kingdom made 140 million outbound trips in 2018, the fact that they are in your feed and on the ground is, frankly, not that surprising.

However, pundits perturbed by current trade-war tensions, a diplomatic row with Canada and China’s economic slowdown are predicting that tourism will take a hit in the months ahead, meaning that destinations dependent on their biggest spending visitors could feel the pinch unless they diversify their source markets.

Increasingly, Asian holiday hotspots are looking to the region’s other very populous country with a fast growing economy and outbound tourism industry.

Airlines have been adding routes between India and Thailand, while Australia saw record arrivals from both China and the subcontinent in 2017, a trend that is expected to continue.

Indian tourists have a long way to go to catch up with their well-travelled Chinese counterparts, though. According to the most up-to-date statistics available from India’s Ministry of Tourism, a mere 24 million outbound trips were made by its 1.3 billion inhabitants in 2017.

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that figure will reach 50 million by 2020, driven by a growing and increasingly affluent middle class, but that is only where China was in 2009, when almost 48 million of its citizens made journeys beyond its borders.

Back then, American tourists were still considered the worst in the world, denounced for their rudeness, vulgarity and general obnoxiousness.

In 2013, 15-year-old Ding Jinhao from Nanjing etched his name into Egypt’s ancient Luxor Temple, bringing shame upon his nation and alerting the international media to the virality of stories about misbehaving Chinese, that travellers from China took the undesirable crown.

That year, overseas visits swelled to 98 million, according to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute, and the reports of improper antics have multiplied as the number of outbound trips has increased.

A number of factors are holding Indian travellers back from becoming the next dominant wave.

India currently has a passport power rank of 69, placing it alongside Sierra Leone and Sao Tome Principe in the Global Passport Index.

Indian citizens can travel visa-free to 25 nations, qualify for visa on arrival in 39 and need to apply for a visa to enter 134. Chinese fare slightly better, at number 60 in the list, with visa-free access to 28 countries, visas available on arrival in 46 and a visa required for 124.

In January 2018, The Economist suggested that India had a hole where its middle class should be. According to the magazine’s research, only 78 million citizens could be considered middle class.

Although that figure has been contested, most convincingly by Indian financial newspaper Mint, which placed 158 million Indians in the middle class, it is significantly lower than China’s 400 million middle-class residents, according to Beijing’s National Bureau of Statistics.

For the time being, destinations from Phuket to Perth will vie to attract visitors from both China and India or Chindia, as Indian politician Jairam Ramesh calls the neighbouring nations that together account for more than one-third of the world’s population, while the title of world’s worst tourists remains uncontested, at least as far as the media is concerned.

RUSSIA: Anadyr, The Summer City Of Russia

Anadyr is the capital city of Chukotka and the easternmost town in Russia.

Anadyr is a port town and the administrative center of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Russia, located at the mouth of the Anadyr River at the tip of a peninsula that protrudes into Anadyrsky Liman. Anadyr is the easternmost town in Russia.

More easterly settlements, such as Provideniya and Uelen, do not have town status. It was previously known as Novo–Mariinsk.

The city's recent history is related to the name of the governor Abramovich, now deposed, and whose renovations have touched upon all aspects of city's life.

Due to the colors of the houses the city bears the name of summer city. It was founded by a Russian explorer Semyon Dezhnev in 1689 on the mouth of the river Kazachka.

It is claimed that the town of Anadyr annexed the neighboring ethnic village of Tavayvaam in May 1994, and that this was done by then governor Alexander Nazarov with a view to saving money from the autonomous okrug budget.

If the national village had indeed been absorbed into the town of Anadyr then there would have been no obligation for the autonomous okrug to allocate specific funds for the indigenous population there.

Paul Steinhardt in 2011 led a group of scientists that landed in Anadyr en route to an expedition into the Koryak Mountains to search for naturally occurring quasicrystals.

Three quasicrystals have been found to date from the material gathered on that expedition, including icosahedrite, decagonite, a yet unnamed third natural quasicrystal, which unlike icosahedrite and decagonite is unlike anything ever previously synthesized in a laboratory.

Steinhbardt's team has established that the natural quasicrystals were embedded in meteorite that had hit Earth about 15,000 years ago.

The town of Anadyr is situated at the tip of a large cape, to the north of which is the mouth of the Anadyr River and to the east the estuarine part of that river, the Anadyrsky Liman, which empties into the Gulf of Anadyr.

The town itself is situated on a gentle slope rising up from the sea, on the other side of the Anadyr River are mountains, but to the west, beyond the town are large expanses of flat tundra.

It is on a similar parallel as Fairbanks, Alaska; Skelleftea,Sweden; and Oulu, Finland. Apart from those cities, population at such northerly parallels are normally sparse.

Anadyr is the administrative center of Chukotka Autonomous Okrug and, within the framework of administrative divisions, it also serves as the administrative center of Anadyrsky District, even though it is not a part of it.

As an administrative division, it is, together with the selo Tavayvaam, incorporated separately as the town of okrug significance of Anadyr an administrative unit with the status equal to that of the districts.

As a municipal division, the town of okrug significance of Anadyr is incorporated as Anadyr Urban Okrug.

Anadyr is an important sea port on the Bering Sea and is connected to almost all major Russian Far Eastern seaports.

Anadyr's Ugolny Airport serves major and minor cities in the Russian Far East with connections to Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, and Moscow, while Bering Air provides charter flights to Nome, Alaska in the United States.

The airport is on the other side of the Anadyrsky Liman, and from January to May, transportation from the airport to Anadyr is by ice road.

In the summer there is a ferry which transports passengers across the Anadyr River to the airport, but during spring and autumn when the river ice is melting and full of drifting ice floes, the only means of transportation to the airport is via helicopter.

Although there is a network of roads between Anadyr and Tavayvaam, the town is not connected to any other settlement via road. Construction of the Anadyr Highway was started in 2014, to link the town to Magadan, a distance of 1,800 kilometres (1,100 mi).

Anadyr experiences a subarctic climate. Winters are long and very cold; summers are cool and short. January is the coldest month with an average temperature of −22.6 °C (−8.7 °F).

July is the warmest month with an average temperature of 11.6 °C (52.9 °F). Temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) are rare. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −46.8 °C (−52.2 °F) recorded on January 3, 1913. The highest temperature recorded in was 30 °C (86 °F) on July 7, 1956.

The weather changes easily with heavy storms often being brought in from the Anadyrsky Liman and the Bering Sea. This coupled with strong southerly winds in the autumn often brings flooding to the area. May is the driest month while January is the wettest.
Anadyr Chukchi Dancers

There are regular flights from Moscow by Transaero, from Khabarovsk and Vladivostok by Vladavia and from Magadan by Yakutia. Moscow flight is daily one, the other ones are served once or twice a month.

There is a Bering Air charter flight from Nome, Alaska. Foreigners need at least invitation paper from the tour agency. The airport's location is on the far away coast from the city, so get ready for a long outdoor trip, first leg of which is covered by 40 min by bus and the second leg is on board of a cutter. Cutter departs every two hours.

Local airport serves plane flights to Bilibino, Pevek, Provideniya and others, to where a ticket is being bought months in advance. So helicopter is the right choice.

To view Anadyr's landmarks will take couple of days, but to learn about it will need much longer. Enjoy Chukchi national dance to compare it with Kamchatka's.

Memorials observed in Anadyr:

- Saint Trinity Cathedral and a statue of St. Nikolai.

- Cathedral of Divine Transfiguration.

- First workers of Chukotka memorial.

- Chukotka Legacy Museum

Winter is time for dog-sledging. Summer is good for hiking to mountains, fishing and rafting. Visiting remote villages of Chukchi and Eskimo peoples.

On sale you will find Bone carvings as souvenirs

Only three hotels are available:

- Chukotka Hotel

- Anadyr Hotel

- Gostevoy Dvor

Tourism Observer

Thursday 21 February 2019

MEXICO: Visit Cozumel, Beware Of Wide Spread Scams At All Gas Stations

Cozumel is a Caribbean island just off the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico. It has great beaches, nice people, and safe streets, with prices comparable to other Mexican tourist destinations.

Cozumel was badly hit in 2005 by Hurricane Wilma, but, with few exceptions, has been completely repaired.

Cozumel being an island and municipality in the Caribbean Sea off the eastern coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, opposite Playa del Carmen, and close to the Yucatan Channel. The municipality is part of the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico.

The economy of Cozumel is based on tourism, with visitors able to benefit from the island's balnearios, scuba diving, and snorkeling. The main town on the island is San Miguel de Cozumel.

The island is located in the Caribbean Sea along the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula about 82 km (51 mi) south of Cancún and 19 km (12 mi) from the mainland. The island is about 48 km (30 mi) long and 16 km (9.9 mi) wide.

With a total area of 477.961 km2 (184.542 sq mi), it is Mexico's largest Caribbean island, largest permanently inhabited island, and Mexico's third-largest island, following Tiburoon Island and Isla Angel de la Guarda.

The majority of the island's population lives in the town of San Miguel which is on the island's western shore.

The municipality, which includes two small areas on the mainland enclaved within the Municipality of Solidaridad with a land area of 10.423 km2 (4.024 sq mi), has a total land area of 647.33 km2 (249.93 sq mi).

The island is covered with mangrove forest which has many endemic animal species. Cozumel is a flat island based on limestone, resulting in a karst topography. The highest natural point on the island is less than 15 m (49 ft) above sea level.

The cenotes are deep water-filled sinkholes formed by water percolating through the soft limestone soil for thousands of years. Cozumel's cenotes are restricted to qualified cave divers with appropriate credentials.

Tourism, diving and charter fishing comprise the majority of the island’s economy. There are more than 300 restaurants on the island and many hotels, some of which run dive operations, have swimming pools, private docks, and multiple dining facilities.

Other water activities include para-sailing, kitesurfing, and a tourist submarine. There are also two dolphinariums. At the cruise ship docks, there are several square blocks of stores selling Cuban cigars, jewellery, T-shirts, tequila, and a large variety of inexpensive souvenirs.

San Miguel is home to many restaurants with a huge variety of different cuisines, along with several discotheques, bars, cinemas, and outdoor stages.

The main plaza is surrounded by shops; in the middle of the plaza is a fixed stage where Cozumelenos and tourists celebrate every Sunday evening with music and dancing.

All food and manufactured supplies are shipped to the island. Water is provided by three different desalination facilities located on the island.

The Festival of Santa Cruz and El Cedral Fair is a historical tradition held in the town of El Cedral, in the south of Cozumel Island at the end of April. This annual event is said to have been started over 150 years ago by Casimiro Cardenas.

Cardenas was one of a group that fled to the island from the village of Saban, on the mainland, after an attack during the Caste War of Yucatanin 1848. The attackers killed other villagers, but Cardenas survived whilst clutching a small wooden cross.

Legend has it that Cardenas vowed to start an annual festival wherever he settled, to honor the religious power of this crucifix.

Today, the original Holy Cross or Santa Cruz Festival forms part of the wider Festival of El Cedral, which includes fairs, traditional feasts, rodeos, bullfights, music and competitions. The celebrations last about 5 days in all and are held every year at the end of April or beginning of May.

The Cozumel Carnival or Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the most important carnival festivities in Mexico. It has been celebrated as a tradition beginning from the late nineteenth century and fills Cozumel’s streets with parades. It begins the week before Mardi-Gras in February.

Cozumel's Carnaval is a tradition which has been passed down through many generations that celebrates a mixture of cultures that escaped to the warm embrace of Cozumel.

Dating back to the mid-1800s, Cozumel Carnaval was started by young people dressed in vibrantly colorful costumes known as Estudiantinas or Comparsas, who expressed themselves in the streets of Cozumel through the artforms of dance, song, and fantasy.

Cozumel has an international airport whos Airport Code is CZM, which receives direct flights from Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Halifax, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Montreal, and Toronto as well regional flights from Mexico City.

However, most of the travelers fly into Cancun whos Airport Code is CUN, which generally has more flights. Take a bus or van south to Playa del Carmen and take the ferry across to Cozumel.

A shared van from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen will cost around 300 pesos per person one-way, where a bus will be around 130 pesos or $12 USD if you do not have pesos handy, per person one-way.

Also you can take a small plane to Cozumel from Cancun airport's domestic terminal. It takes just 15 minutes and the trip is an amazing experience for about $75 USD per person one way.

There are nearly hourly rides to and from Playa del Carmen and it will take you about 35-40min on the ferry. There are two companies in service. They are called Ultramar and Mexico Waterjets.

Ultramar was 150 pesos per person one direction and Mexico Waterjets was as low as 45 pesos. Mexico waterjets depart from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel every full hour at 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 21 o'clock.

To get from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen you can go at 07:30 and at the full hour at 9, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 18 and 20 o'clock. There are two companies, so buy a single ticket because you may need to use the other ferry company coming back and the tickets aren't transferable,two one-way tickets cost the same as a return anyhow.

A car ferry leaves from Calica, a few kilometers south of Playa del Carmen, pass Xcaret. The car ferry from Puerto Morelos no longer exists.There are 4 ferries each day, but the first at 04:00 AM and the second at 08:00 AM are specially for supply and logistics of the locals and islander.

So take the ferry at 12:15 PM and 06:00 PM. From Cozumel back to the mainland you can take all ferries: 06:00 AM, 10:00 AM, 04:00 PM and 08:00 PM. Rental cars are allowed and cost 400 pesos for the car and driver. You purchase your tickets in the wait line at the dock.

Recommend you get in line at least one hours before the scheduled departure time. But parking in Cozumel city is a nightmare and you will be ticketed and they will remove your rear license plate that can only be retrieved at the policia station on Quintana Roo Ave.

That is about 300 feet beyond the intersection with Ave Rafael E melgar, the main road that runs along the waterfront at a cost of 300 pesos if you pay within 24 hours,600 pesos after 24 hours.

Cruise ships often visit the island. A few can dock virtually downtown. A larger pair of piers lies about two miles south of downtown San Miguel, and primarily serves Carnival and Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ships.

If many ships arrive the same day occasionally in high season, some may moor offshore and tender passengers to docks virtually downtown.

Walk, rent a car, or take a taxi; there is no public traffic out of town. The docks are saturated by pushy agencies trying to lure you into car rentals and activities. The younger travelers or anyone who has free time may want to take them up on their offer.

Always check first so you are not getting scammed but it is usually just a timeshare offer. You pay about $20 for a jeep rental or a moped for the entire day and you get free breakfast at a five star resort.

A regular day car rental is around $55, but speaking Spanish will get you a discount 95% of the places if you ask. For example, the posted price for a VW Pointer at Less-Pay next to Hotel Barracuda is $40, without insurance and taxes.

As an American who speaks Spanish, you can get that same car for 350 pesos, with insurance and taxes. Even if prices are posted, they can be bargained. Scooters half that ~25 dollars.

Be aware that the rental insurance usually does not include scams. If any part of the rented vehicle will get stolen you will have to pay for it from your own pocket. There are options of additional insurance options though, paid on top of the rental price.

Alternatively, taxis are always available and will take you to the west-shore beaches for $20 onwards, depending on distance and number of people. Taxis cost between $2 and $3 or 30 to 60 pesos for intra-town destinations. Like the rest of Cozumel, they accept US Dollars at the current exchange rate.

Bicycle rentals are also available. The Cozumel rent-a-bike offers several different types of bicycles. The rates vary depending on how many days you want to rent the bicycle. One day is 20 USD. Two or three days is 15 dollars a day. 4 or more days is 15 dollars a day.

It should be mentioned that the majority of traffic accidents that befall tourists involve scooters or motos. These accidents seem to be due to a few factors:

Some inexperienced riders expect that if they can drive a car, then they can drive a scooter.

Some riders are unfamiliar with driving practices and conditions in Mexico.

Roads are not always in the best condition, and potholes are generally unmarked.

Scooters offer substantially less protection from accidents than anything with four wheels.

Many accidents are also caused by tourists having too many alcoholic drinks and then driving motos.

Scooters can be a great way to explore the island, but should only be driven by experienced riders. If you are not experienced, please do not rent them.

Cars and Jeeps are available for rent at multiple locations, including airport and cruise terminals. At Cruise terminals, one day rental costs roughly between US$45-$80 for most of models without insurance. The paved road is in very good condition from mid-part of the island to the southernmost part.

Jeep would be a better choice if you plan to drive on unpaved road in some parks. The cars tend to be with relatively higher mileages comparing to those in US and Europe.

Wide spread scams at all three PEMEX gas stations on Cozumel island have been frequently reported for many years by tourists online. Some scams may occur even with tourist watching. PEMEX stations are individually owned and operated. So, each gas station has its own office handling complaints.

Some car rental agencies at cruise terminals offer $25 flat fuel charge without refill at the time of return. Use credit card, rather than cash, to pay for the gasoline may offer potential chance for charge dispute and settlement later.

Carretera costera sur km4. Right Across from Park Royal hotel. 08:00 AM - 06:00 PM. Scooter and Jeep rentals. Scooters 15/20 USD for 12/24h; Jeep Wranglers for 45 USD for 24h, unlimited milage and liability insurance included.

Most visitors travel to Cozumel to dive and see its wonderful underwater life. While there are quite a few beach clubs that offer snorkeling, the main attractions are the reefs offshore and the multiple dive shops and operations are always ready to take you there.

The main town, San Miguel, and dive operations are on the west side of the island, but if you rent a car or scooter then the east side of the island is the place to go. The east side of the island is mostly undeveloped, but there are beautiful beaches, big waves, and rocky outcrops over the ocean.

If the waves are sufficient you can find a few small blow holes. Be aware that the waves and attendant undertows can make swimming on the east side very dangerous, however. You will also find a restaurant on the beach every few kilometers.

Cozumel also offers several Mayan archaeological sites. The most extensive vestiges are those at San Gervasio. Admission fee is 77 pesos, an inland site a few miles north of the Carretera Transversal highway.

Another site is located near the village of El Cedral, inland from the Carretera Costera Sur highway. In Punta Sur Park, at the southern tip of the island, there is the El Caracol temple, believed to have been used as a lighthouse by the Mayans.

Cozumel is one of the premier scuba diving destinations in the western hemisphere. The island abounds with dive shops, most willing to give you a scuba class or resort course and take you out if you are not yet certified.

A boat dive for certified divers with two tanks will cost around $90, plus any equipment rental, note that all Cozumel dive shops include only tank and weight belt in their prices so expect to pay another $20-25 for BCD, reg, mask, fins and wetsuit and Marine Park Fee.

Most dive sites are located well south of the city proper, as are a number of dive shops if you want a short boat ride. Most diving in Cozumel is drift diving, where you are dropped off by the boat at the beginning of the dive, are carried along the reef by the current, and picked up at the end of your dive by the boat.

There is some shore diving, but it is limited compared with what you can enjoy further out and places like Palancar Reef and the walls. Along with other marine life Divers are able to see Seahorses and Eagle Rays and Turtles, especially during Turtle Nesting season, sees large numbers of Turtles on Cozumel's beaches during nesting seasons.

Aquaworld Cozumel is ranked among the world´s top scuba diving destinations. 7 am to 7 pm. Cozumel diving is second to none, you can’t visit Cozumel without diving! We offer more than six options for certified divers that will ensure you witness the best dive sites in the area as well as providing quality service and safety.

Aldora Divers, training, certification and fast 6 person boats with high capacity steel tanks and long surface intervals, usually at Palancar Beach Club. Rental equipment. Night Dives. Nitrox available. Villa Aldora room and suite rentals.

Always Diving. Diving lessons and professional certified dive instructors in the best dive spots in Cancun, Cenote dives, Cozumel dives.Hours: 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, 365 days a year.

Aqua Safari. Training, certification and two types of daily dive trips, fast or large boat. Good company but they tend to pack more people on a dive trip, with up to 16 on the big boats. When the wind is blowing and the small boats cannot go out, their seaworthy boats often still can provide service.

They also have a 8 person fast boat available. 1 tank afternoon dives are a very good deal. Night dives Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday. Nitrox Available. Hotel packages with Safari Inn, Cozumel Palace and several other hotels.

Blue XT~Sea Diving. Training, certification, equipment rental, and nitrox are available from this dive op. Personalized service, max 6 divers per fast boat. They'll keep and clean your dive gear except wetsuit if you wish and have it on the boat the next morning.

Night and Afternoon dives based on demand, and hotel packages with decent savings are offered.

Bottom Time Divers. Training, certification and 6 pack diver fast boat are available from this very popular family run dive op. Owner/instructor with excellent local knowledge, beach SI's and dive gear overnight wash and rinse etc. Private groups accepted.

Buena Ventura Diving, is a small, personable dive outfit dedicated to the specialized needs of its diving clients.

Cozumel Dive School. A full service, five star PADI dive resort offering recreational and professional certifications, divemaster internships, specialty courses, TecRec courses, multiple daily boat dives, private shuttle to/from the harbor, equipment and accommodations included.

Courteous and friendly multilingual staff and students from all over the world offer the opportunity to meet a diverse group of like-minded divers looking to learn, gain experience, pursue the professional realm, and have a great time doing it in one of the World’s Top Dive Destinations.

Deep Blue. Training, certification, nitrox, technical and known for fast boats. At most 8 divers with 2 divemaster or as few as 4 divers with 1 dive master. Rental equipment. Night Dives. Hotel and dive package is available through numerous hotels.

Dive shop is located in town across the street from La Choza. Divers are usually called the day before diving to arrange dive location and possible divemaster.

Dive Paradise. Training, certification and two types of daily dive trips with a fast or slow boat. Night dives. Numerous dive / hotel packages. Several dive shops. Rental equipment. In Cozumel since 1984.

Find & Dive. Is an online tool for planning and booking your next dive trip to Cozumel.

Living Underwater. Small, personalized service offering steel 120s offering super-long dives. Best for advanced divers.

Mestizo Divers. Small groups of divers on a modern fast boat. Custom trips to the dive sites of your choice. When not diving they also offer fishing charters.

Ocean Tours Scuba and Water Sports (At Cozumeleño Beach Resort & Hotel), North Hotel Zone. 7 am to 7 pm. Since 1986, Laura and Jose De la Fuente have been hosting and diving with Cozumel´s visitors. PADI scuba dive operation, fully equiped with top of the line gear available.

Dive Trips for certified divers, scuba school all levels, equipment rental, repair and retal. Deep sea fishing charters.

Salty Endeavors. This is a boutique dive center featuring personalized service, small groups, fast boats, and highly experienced staff. We are a PADI and SSI Dive Center and carry a full line of rental equipment. Scuba classes start daily and certified divers can enjoy upt o 5 dives daily in the Cozumel Marine Park.

Sand to Sea Adventures. AM or PM Departures, Most often has small groups with personalized dives to fit your needs. Snorkel charters, Fishing charters and SCUBA GROUPS with special large (10+) group pricing. Pickup from many hotel piers and arrangements for cruise ship passengers.

Discover Scuba, SCUBA refresher, PADI certification, equipment rental, nitrox rental (EAN Cert Required) and night dives.

ScubaLuis.com. PADI certified Instructors and 2nd Generation Cozumel Divemaster. PADI scuba certification, Discover Scuba and private dive trips available, too. Small boats maximum of 6 divers, concierge diving and overnight gear handling.

Scuba Mau. Training, Discover Scuba, Hotel/Dive packages, Dive trips. Utilizes small boats with six people and a well-trained but personality-filled dive staff. Located next to the Villablanca Hotel. $60 per day for two tanks, $10 per day for full equipment rental.

Koox Diving Cozumel (Koox Diving), 10a Av. Nte 62, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico. 7:30AM – 9PM. Koox Diving Cozumel is a diving center located in Cozumel. They specialize in Scuba diving and Reef Snorkelling.

The Koox team consists of highly experienced diving instructors with more than 15 years of diving experience, they gained in the best dive sites worldwide.

If diving or tours are not what you're looking for, there are still plenty of other things to do:

Snorkeling. The second most popular activity after diving. Many beach-side dive shops rent equipment for $7-10. Even though all beaches in Mexico are public some require fees to enter and use the facilities.

Beaches with a rocky limestone shoreline on the west coast are the best for snorkeling or shore dives since less sand is disturbed so visibility and coral growth are better.

Catamaran Sail and Snorkel Excursion. Great excursion operated by Cozumel Water Sports taking you snorkeling to 2 reefs with music, open bar, snacks of fresh fruit and guacamole, 2 daily departures.

Glass Bottom Boat Tour — a twist to snorkeling. You visit about two or three reefs, which are small parts of the second largest coral reef in the world. It costs at the most about $40 a couple but you can get it a little cheaper depending on where you buy your tickets.

While heading to the snorkeling sites you have the privilege of looking through the glass bottom of the boat to see all the sea-life you pass on your way. Very fun to do as a couple or a family.

Mini Submarine Tour. A new way of exploring the underwater world. This new activity by Cozumel Water Sports offers all non divers and non snorkelers to explore the reefs and sea life of Cozumel.

Riding your underwater scooter with your head dry in the air filled helmet, you can drive around the reefs. Especially great for people who wear glasses as you can have them on under water.

Beach lounging. Most of the calm western side of Cozumel has rough rocky beaches not suitable for swimming or sun bathing. The areas that are suitable have been turned into small parks.

Some charge entrance fees which includes a beach chair and umbrella as well as access to the washroom and shower facilities; others are free to use, and offer many of the same amenities, while relying on visitors to purchase food or drinks.

Playa San Francisco is located 20 minutes by taxi south of town and has a restaurant on site.

The Other Side. Beaches on the east windward side of the island. Sandy surf and large waves alternating with rocky limestone coastlines on the east side of the island are beautiful but can be dangerous for swimmers. The roaring surf creates strong breakers and undertows in many areas.

Never enter the water alone. There are now many areas where flags are displayed showing the level of safety for a particular area.

Despite the potentially dangerous swimming conditions, these beaches are stunning and serene for enjoying sunbathing, long walks or playing in the water very close to shore. These beaches are popular with surfers and kite surfers, and with locals on the weekends.

Chankanaab National Park, About 9km south of town. 7am - 5pm daily. The park includes a beach, restaurant, bar, changing rooms, walking trails, and a lagoon with a large iguana population.

Activities include snorkeling & diving, swimming with the dolphins, snuba, and Seatrek. $2 coupon and packages available at their website. approx. $19 for adults.

Deep Sea Fishing, Puerto Abrigo Marina. Cozumel is rated as one of the top ten sport fishing hotspots in the world. Fishing is enhanced by the deep-water channel between the Yucatan Coast and the Cozumel Island. The channel squeezes the Gulf Stream as it passes by Cozumel on its journey northward.

This funnel effect causes an upwelling and an abundance of fish. The nutrient rich Caribbean waters around Cozumel support a vast array of sport fish with exceptional fishing opportunities all year long.

Paradise Beach, Carretera Sur Km 14.5, Cozumel, Q.Roo, 5 miles South of Int.Cruise Ship Pier, 7 miles South of downtown. 9am-5pm daily. Free admission, beach chairs $2. Beautiful sandy beach, one of Cozumel´s largest swimming pools, a $18 FunPass is available for unlimited access to over 14 land&ocean activities.

These including snorkel equipment, kayaks, paddleboards, waterslides, water trampolines, bungee trampoline, coconut tree climb, a 14-ft. climbing iceberg, and more.

Fabulous food and drinks served right on the beach or at the restaurant. Clean bathrooms, showers, change rooms and lockers. Beachwear boutique, parasailing, wave runners, massage, etc. also available.

Located 9 miles south of San Miguel Downtown - Cozumel, 5 miles south of the International Cruise Ship Pier. Sometimes they do insist to buy $10 per person worth of food or drinks. Free Entrance.

Playa Palancar. 10AM - 5PM. This west-side park features a quiet white-sand beach, lounge chairs and hammocks under shady palm trees, and a well-stocked bar and restaurant. It's about a $20 taxi ride south of San Miguel, but you'll be free to spend the day with the purchase of food.

Equipment for shore-based snorkeling can be rented for $10, and it's not difficult to find schools of colorful fish even in the shallow waters.

Silver is cheaper here than in the U.S. but be sure to look for the .925 stamp as some places do sell fake silver jewelry.

Sergio's Silver and More. Two locations on the island. Very low key approach to sales. Selection is good and prices more than fair.. Service is the best. Can size rings and very patient with novice buyers of silver. Between Avenidas 10 and 15 past Palmira's and The Square.
Local restaurants, most fairly good and fairly similar to each other, are plentiful in and around the city's downtown main square.

Alberto's Beach Bar, Carretera Costera Sur km 18, Cozumel 77600, Mexico a few km north of Playa Palancar. This isolated beach-side bar and restaurant distinguishes itself by catching its own seafood daily. The grilled Mahi-mahi filet is a definitely a worthy experience.

Tables are literally setup on the beach, so it's also a great place to watch the sunset. Atmosphere is very informal, with a live DJ most nights. Although not officially recommended, it's possible to walk the 1-1.5 miles up the beach from Playa Palancar if you're not afraid of a small hike.

Located between the Occidental Grand and Iberostar resorts and walkable along the beach from both, though a small flashlight may come in handy after dark.

Casa Denis, Near San Miguel main square. This self-declared oldest restaurant in Cozumel has very good, reasonably priced entrees featuring some Mayan and Yucatan specialties, along with more conventional Mexican fare like tacos and enchiladas.

The Mayan Pork is an interesting take on conventional barbecue, tender with a slightly sweet marinade, and no sauce needed - and margaritas are freshly made and strong. Dinner comes with a free Tequila shot at the end. $10-$20.

Casa Mission, 55 Avenida entre Avenida Juarez y calle 1 Sur, Cozumel 77600, Mexico one block before fire station. 8 am - 10 pm Daily. BREAKFAST, LUNCH & DINNER Casa Mission offers superb food, however the real attraction here is not the food, but the setting.

Located off the beaten path, the restaurant is the veranda area of a large hacienda style Mexican home. It is surrounded on all sides by an extensive garden that combines perfectly with the colonial hacienda ambiance.

There are no longer any lions or monkeys, but there still are a number of beautiful caged birds. One of the most romantic spots on the island for cocktails or dinner. One margarita is sufficient.

La Cocay. Off the beaten path but worth the finding. La Cocay is Mayan for the Firefly. The food is delicious and presented extremely well.
La Choza, Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas #198, at Avenue 10.

Great homestyle, local Mexican food served in a relaxed atmosphere. Fish is excellent, tasty fajitas and guacamole. Only one Margarita needed here.

Kinta, Ave 5 between Calle 2 and Calle 4. Tues.-Sun. 5:30pm to 11pm. This restaurant takes a contemporary look at some traditional Mexican dishes, applying a French/Latin fusion style. E.g., the Chile Relleno includes ratatouille in the filling and is topped with a delicate cream sauce. Atmosphere is relaxed but sophisticated. $20-30.

El Morrito III, 6th Street North between Rafael E. Melgar Avenue and 5a North Avenue. This tiny restaurant is located in a Mexican home off the beaten path. If offers cheap, cheap for Cozumel, although expensive compared to the rest of Mexico, authentic Mexican food.

Tacos are ok but not as good as other places in Mexico, and cost about $1.25 apiece. The atmosphere is unbeatable though.

Pepe's Grill, At the corner of Avenida Megler and C Salas, Steak and Seafood.

Prima Trattoria, Adolfo Rosado Salas between Avenidas 5 and 10. Northern Italian style cuisine offered along with wonderful salads, try the blue cheese salad. Excellent pasta and seafood, they know how to prepare it properly and it’s super super fresh. Try the surf and turf for a mix or the seafood linguine combo, both will suit you.

Rolandi's, Melgar & 11, Past the Mega, right next to Margaritaville. 11am-Midnight Daily. Italian finer dining eatery directly on the water. Good service. $12-$20 USD for most entrees and $6-$8 USD for desserts.

Senor Frogs, Located right above Carlos 'n Charlies, Senor Frogs is a hotspot for young people and tourists. A very laid back atmosphere with very few rules. There is a bar incorporated with tire swings; just to have fun while you drink.

They have a dance floor and a stage for the live music they sometimes provide. If there is not a band, there is always a DJ to keep the party going. Prices vary depending on the drink.

Kondesa, 5ta Av. between 5 y 7 Sur #456. A sister restaurant to Kinta; run by the brother of Kinta's owner. Wonderful modern Mexican food in a great setting. A charming outdoor courtyard of seating, good service. It's a little outside the main tourist area of town, but is worth a visit.

Guido's, Ave. Rafael E. Melgar #23 between Calle 6 & 8 North. European restaurant run by a sweet family of expats. Guido's has a beautiful courtyard, a romantic ambiance, and delicious food.

Downtown, bottled liquor prices seldom vary, though you'll find some drop-off the farther you get from the center of the city. Don Julio Tequila runs $45-50 at the tourist shops, but if you have time find a local grocery and get it at half price. Kahlua runs $10.

Bars seldom monitor customers for age or drunkenness, so take care driving or walking as the evening wears on.

1.5 Tequila Bar and Lounge, Av. Rafael Melgar at Calle 11 Sur. Club atmosphere with dancing and a view. Nice mix of locals and tourists. Thankfully, no cruisers. Can get crowded on weekends.

No Name Bar, Avenida Rafael Melgar next to Hotel Barracuda. Quiet place, friendly atmosphere, sometimes air conditioned. A traditional expat hangout with an excellent selection of semi-pricey tequilas. Loud dance music during the day. Have recently established a $100 peso minimum per person.

Reef Bar, Rafael E Melgar, across from Mega, near Hotel Barracuda, just a block north. Laid back atmosphere. Great place to have a few beers once you are finished diving for the day. The bartenders are friendly and will take excellent care of you. $1.50 beers.

Kondesa, Ave 5 between 5th & 7th. Sister restaurant to Kinta. Mexican food with a modern twist.

Wet Wendy's, #53 Avenida 5, Entre Calle 2 y Juarez. All American staff is very friendly, laid back. They have their own house-brand of tequila that is astonishingly good for the price. Excellent margaritas the size of Mt. Everest.

Pancho's Backyard, Rafael Meglar 27. m-s 10a-11p sun 6p11p. Pancho’s Backyard provides a gastronomical experience that comforts all of the senses. In the peaceful and romantic environment of Pancho’s actual backyard, among the murmur of fountains and the soft Mexican music, your soul will be renewed by the cool caribbean breeze.

You will be swept away into a tropical paradise, while enjoying the colorful personalities and full flavor of our Mexican delicacies.

Pescador San Carlos, 50 ave and bet calle calle2 and 3. 9 am-6 pm. a Family owned restaurant, the fisherman catches and prepares whatever you like from his catch of the day. Off the tourist strip, this place is a real taste of Cozumel and worth the trip.

A five dollar cab ride from the docks will get you a great meal, at a very reasonable price. cheap.

Hotel Villas Las Anclas, 325 south 5th Avenue. checkin: 132:00; checkout: 12:00. Offers spacious suites in a serene tropical garden. 80-120 USD.

Beachouse Hostel Cozumel, Lote 36, Cozumel,Country Club Estate, Zone North. The Beach House Cozumel is mixed in a warm, traditional Mexican style with European quality and a few personal touches.

You can also enjoy our private swimming pool and the beautiful garden. Just a few steps away is our fantastic white sand beach, which offers some of the best kite boarding conditions in Mexico. The Beachouse organize Diving-,Snorkel- and Fishing Tours. 25 - 55 USD.

El Cid La Ceiba Beach Hotel, Carretera A Chankanaab Km 4.5. A member of El Cid Resorts, this beachfront hotel on the southern shores of Cozumel Island features private balconies, all inclusive plans, ocean view swimming pools, an oceanfront restaurant,and snorkel and shore diving.

Casa del Mar Hotel & Aquatics, Carretera a Chankanaab Km 4. 2 reasonably priced and convenient hotels and dive shops located near all of the major dive locations, The Casa Del Mar is Generally less expensive than La Ceiba.

Hotel Flamingo, Calle 6 Norte. Simple but comfortable rooms, available for very affordable package rates through many common travel booking sites. The daily included breakfast is high-quality and a welcome bonus.

This is a small business so some minor imperfections may need to be tolerated, but the staff is quick to help whenever possible.

Occidental Allegro Resort, Kilometro 17.5, Carretera Sur. A five star resort located on the beach offering all-inclusive packages. 3 on-site restaurants, still included in your stay, a snack bar equipped with a buffet for lunch and late-night snacks.

They have a swim-up bar, direct access to the beach and docks for any snorkeling or scuba diving. From $68 p.p.

The Summer Place Inn, Av. 10 between 17 and 19. Private units and a condo which can be booked nightly, weekly or monthly, run by a Canadian family.

Villa Anna Maria, 65 bis Av. 171 between 1 y Rosado Salas. Bed and breakfast place run by a Scotsman and a Mexican.

Villas El Encanto, Calle 21 sur No.44 entre Av.Rafael E Melgar y Av 5, Col. Andres Quintana. This hotel offers cozy and well-appointed rooms, all of which have air-conditioning, cable TV, and Internet access.

Some of its amenities include swimming pool, spa services, and assistance for yoga sessions, scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing trips, sea treks, golf, shopping. rates start at USD 50.

Villablanca Garden Beach Hotel, Costera Sur Km 3,3km south of town. Located outside of town, this hotel is adjacent to three SCUBA shops. Dive Paradise, Scuba Mau, Papa Hogs), making it a good option for divers.

Hotel amenities include a pool, tennis courts, restaurant, wireless internet in the lobby, air-conditioning, and an appointment-only spa/gym. $50-$150 per night.

Villas Deja Blue, Calle 21 Sur esq. 5av #101. Villas Deja Blue provides twin, queen, king, double, deluxe and villa deja blue villas with central air-conditioning, cable TV and wireless DSL internet access. Its facilities and services include salt-water pool, pool deck, scuba driving arrangements and housekeeping services.

Casa Colonial or Mexican Colonial Architecture, Ave. 35 Entre 8 Y 10. Casa Colonial; Cozumel vacation rentals in the heart of San Miguel, Cozumel Mexico. These vacation villas represent Luxury without the price tag.

El Cid La Ceiba Beach, Carretera a Chankanaab KM 4.5. A Cozumel resort on the beach located on the southern shoreline. This oceanfront hotel features newly renovated accommodations, El Cocay Spa, a brand-new eco-park and a private dive center. ADR: $81.

Coral Princess, 2.5 Kilometer Zonal Hotelera Norte. An older resort on the North end of the island. There is a hotel side and a side rented to travel club members.

Many of the same people have been visiting this hotel for years and years, and the people who work here are wonderful. Direct access to snorkeling and an on-site dive shop.

Big Fish Cozumel Dive Hostel, Ave 10a Nte #498 esquina Calle 10 Norte. checkin: 1pm; checkout: 11am. Big Fish is the ultimate brand new dive hostel and dive school in downtown Cozumel, carefully designed for scuba divers and dive students, managed by experienced instructors and are great fun to dive with.

Perfectly located in downtown, only 2 blocks from the ocean and the main street. Everything is within walking distance, main square, restaurants, bars, clubs, 24 hrs supermarkets and pharmacies etc. 12-45 USD.

Amigos Hostel Cozumel, Calle 7 sur # 571 x Ave 25 & 30 col. centro, walk south from pier to calle 7 make left walk 5.5 city blocks to gate. checkin: 2pm; checkout: 11am. Two mixed 8 bed each dorms one private room set in large tropical garden with swimming pool.

Large full kitchen, communal area pool table darts,board games, DVD movies, free WIFI, many electrical outlets, reading lamps, AC 10p-8a may-oct in dorms, 3 hot water showers for 16 dorm clients, lockers, book exchange.

Private with 3 single beds, AC, kitchenette, private bath. Lots of hammocks and smoking areas. BBQ grill for client use. Rental of snorkel gear on site. bike, moped, car rentals, snorkel and dive trips arranged. Extensive welcome briefing by 25+yr island resident offered upon arrival with detailed map for your keeping! 12 US/bed.

El Cantil Condominums, Av.Rafael E Melgar, calle 15 y 17. Condominium rentals for a few days or a week. Oceanfront with spectacular water views. Air-Conditioning, cable TV with US stations, free Wi-Fi, free VOIP phone calls to US. Walking distance to downtown. On site pier for scuba pick up.

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