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Practical information Jamaica

  • Jamaica
    iStockphoto.com / Ruth Peterkin
Amy Adejokun
Amy Adejokun Expert destination Jamaica
Jamaica : the key figures

Area : 4,244 sq. ft. km2

Population : 2,847,232 inhabitants

Jamaica : Travel Information before you go!

Flights

Between 10 and 13 hours. Flights available with Air Jamaica, among other airline companies.

Airports

Two international airports: Norman Manley International Airport, in Kingston (roughly 13 miles from the capital) and Donald Sangster International Airport, in Montego Bay (2 miles from Montego Bay).
From Norman Manley to Kingston, prepare between $15 (9) and $21 (13) to hire a cab; from Donald Sangster to Montego Bay, prepare $10 (6). Countless shuttle buses service the airport road, and are not at all expensive.

Security

While we can assure you that many worries surrounding safety in Jamaica are exaggerated, it remains inadvisable to venture into certain neighbourhoods of Downtown Kingston. (Consult the FCO travel advice section for Jamaica before travel).
Be cautious around taxis, which are known to surpass the speed limit.
Note that the possession, consumption, sale and cultivation of cannabis are strictly illegal and, though its prevalent use may suggest otherwise, prosecutable offenses.

Languages

English is the official language. Jamaican Patois, an Engligh creole language with African influences, is also spoken.

Required travel documents for

A visa is not mandatory for a stay of less than one month, but a passport valid for six months after your arrival date is required.

Religion

80% of Jamaicans are Christian. Of those, 38% are Anglicans, 18% Baptists, 8% Catholics, 6% Methodists and 5% Presbyterians. You will also come across Pentecostals, Quakers and Christian Scientists. Other forms of worship are practised on the island: pocomania, a type of religion of the spirit, Kumina, a belief with origins from Africa, the Rasta religion or garveyism, a veritable black nationalist cult. And finally, there are believers in animist sects such as Voodooism.

Currency

The currency is the Jamaican Dollar, the Jay (JMD). 1 Sterling = approximately 134 JMD. US Dollars are also accepted. Credit cards (MasterCard, Visa and American Express) and travellers cheques are accepted almost everywhere on the island in hotels, restaurants and shops. ATM machines are not always reliable and few of them are linked to international networks, but in any case, there are enough banks where you can exchange money. Beware of the rather restricted bank opening hours, though: from 9:00am to 2:00pm Monday to Thursday, and from 9:00am to 3:00pm on Fridays.

Local transportation

Most taxis are not equipped with counters; you should therefore bargain before leaving. In Jamaica, you will find two types of taxis: government taxis and others, those with the JUTA license (Jamaican Union of Tourists), that are more expensive and specialised in the transportation of tourists. They can be found in airports and close to most hotels.

Buses are generally the cheapest means of travel around the island. They are frequent and travel to all parts of Jamaica. You can actually ride across the island on the equivalent of 2.5 pounds. The destination is written on the windscreen. Often overloaded, the buses carry people, poultry, and cumbersome luggage at the same time and ride to the sound of Reggae. Be warned, these buses only leave when they are crowded, so you may have a bit of a wait at times.
Slightly more expensive, minibuses also cover the island and make very frequent stopovers.

In 1988 a cyclone damaged part of the railway, and reconstruction work is yet to be started.
You will find a number of car rentals on the island, including a dozen local businessmen. You can hire a car from the airport, though it will be more expensive. In high season, book your car beforehand.
To hire a car, it is advisable to take out an insurance policy. Jamaicans are dangerous drivers, so beware. To rent a car, you need to be at least 21 years old and hold a national driver's license (note: Some rentals do not hire their cars to people aged less than 25). Finally, do not forget that in Jamaica, people drive on the left!

For travel by plane, there is Air Jamaica Express, the national airline which flies to the island's main towns (Montego Bay, Kingston, Negril, Ocho Rios and Port Antonio).

Health

No vaccine is required. However, be sure to be up to date with your vaccinations: tetanus, poliomyelitis, hepatitises A and B, diphtheria. Do not forget to bring good sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. Also bring a mosquito repellent. If you practice diving, take a minute to disinfect the wounds caused by coral cuts well, as they take a long time to heal. You can drink tap water almost everywhere. However, favour bottled water in remote regions.

Useful numbers:
Ambulance emergency services:
Ambucare Ambulance: 204 Mountain Vw Av
Kingston 6 Jamaica
Tel: 876-978-2327 or 876-978-6021 or 876-978-8253 or 876-927-5337

St John Ambulance
2E Camp Road
Kingston 5
Jamaica
West Indies
Tel: 876 926 7656

St-Johns Ambulance in Ocho Rios: 876-994-1126

List of hospitals:
University Hospital of the West Indies: Mona, Kingston 7
Tel: (876) 977-2607 or (876) 927-1620

Kingston Public Hospital: North Street, Kingston
tel: (876) 922-0210

Medical Associates Hospital, 18 Tangerine Place, Kingston 10
tel: (876) 926-1400

Cornwall Regional Hospital: Mount Salem, Montego Bay
Tel: (876) 952 5100-9

Electricity

Voltage is 110 or 220 V. Adaptors are easy to find at retailers.

Tourist numbers

2.5 million visitors per year.

Taxes and tips

15% taxes on hotel services, in restaurants and in most shops. Concerning restaurants, taxis and doormen, service is rarely included in the price,and so it is recommended to add a tip of 15%.

Telephone

To call Jamaica from the UK, dial 001 (US country code) + 876 (Jamaica country code) + the local number.
From Jamaica to the UK: dial 00 + 44 + the number you are calling.
To call within the island, dial only the last 7 numbers.

Jamaica : Useful addresses in the country

Before leaving

Jamaica Tourism Authority
1-2 Prince Consort Road
London, England
SW7 2BZ, United Kingdom
Tel: (44) 207-225-9090
Fax: (44) 207-225-1020
Website: http://www.visitjamaica.com/
Email:mail@visitjamaica.uk.com


At the destination

British High Commission
P O Box 575
British High Commision
28 Trafalgar Road
Kingston 10
Jamaica
Phone: (001) (876) 936 0700
Fax: (001) (876) 510 0737
Website: http://ukinjamaica.fco.gov.uk

Jamaica Tourism Board
64 Knutsford Boulevard
Kingston 5
Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 929-9200 - 19
Fax: (876) 929-9375
Website: http://www.visitjamaica.com/
Email: info@visitjamaica.com

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