Uruguay

Essentials A-Z

Electricity

220 volts 50 cycles AC. Various plugs used: round 2-pin or flat 2-pin (most common), oblique 2-pin with earth, 3 round pins in a line.

Festivals and events

1 Jan, 6 Jan; Carnival; Easter week; 19 Apr; 1 May, 19 Jun; 18 Jul; 25 Aug (the night before is
Noche de la Nostalgia
, when people gather in
boliches
to dance to old songs); 12 Oct; 2 Nov; 25 Dec. 8 Dec is a religious holiday that is also the official start of the summer holiday.

Carnival
begins in late Jan/early Feb and lasts for some 40 days until Carnival week, officially Mon and Tue before Ash Wed (many firms close for the whole week). The most prominent elements in Carnival are Candombe, representing the rituals of the African slaves brought to the Río de la Plata in colonial times through drumming and dance. The complex polyrhythms produced by the mass of drummers advancing down the street in the 'Llamadas' parades is very impressive. The other main element is Murga, a form of street theatre withparody, satire, singing and dancing by elaboately made-up and costumed performers.

Business also comes to a standstill during
Holy Week
, which coincides with La Semana Criolla (horse-breaking, stunt riding by cowboys, dances and song). Department stores close only from Good Fri. Banks and offices close Thu-Sun.
Easter Mon is not a holiday. A weekend of Oct is chosen annually for celebrating the
Día del Patrimonio
(Heritage Day) throughout the country: hundreds of buildings, both public or private, including embassies, are open to the public for that day only. Also special train services run. Mid-Dec there is a
Fireworks night
at Pocitos beach.

Money

The currency is the
peso uruguayo
. Bank notes: 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 and 2,000 pesos uruguayos. Coins: 50 céntimos, 1, 2, 5 and 10 pesos. Any amount of currency can be taken in or out. Rates change often.

There's no restriction on foreign exchange transactions (so it is a good place to stock up with US$ bills, though AmEx and some banks refuse to do this for credit cards; most places charge 3% commission for such transactions). Those banks that give US$ cash against a credit card are given in the text. Most ATMs in Montevideo can dispense both Uruguayan pesos and US$. Dollars cash can be purchased when leaving the country. Changing Argentine pesos into Uruguayan pesos is usually a marginally worse rate than for dollars. Brazilian
reais
get a much worse rate. US$ notes are accepted for some services, including most hotels and some restaurants.

In some places there is a 10% charge to use a credit cards Visa and MasterCard. Most banks operate with
Banred
ATMs for Visa or MasterCard withdrawals. Most cheaper hotels outside major cities do not accept credit cards.

Safety

Personal security offers few problems in most of Uruguay. Petty theft does occur in Montevideo, most likely in tourist areas or markets. Beggars are often seen trying to sell small items or simply asking for money. They are not dangerous. The Policía Turística patrol the streets of the capital.

Tax

Tax is payable on all air travellers leaving Uruguay and a tax of 3% is payable on all tickets issued and paid for in Uruguay.

Time

GMT -3 (Sep-Mar -2).

Tipping

Restaurant and cafés usually include service, but an additional 10% is expected. Porters at the airport: US$1 per piece of luggage. Taxis: 5-10% of fare.

Visas and immigration

A passport is necessary for entry except for nationals of most Latin American countries and citizens of the USA, who can get in with national identity documents for stays of up to 90 days. Nationals of the following countries need a visa for a tourist visit of less than 3 months: Albania, Armenia, China, Egypt, Estonia, Guyana, India, Morrocco and Russia. Visas cost £27 (or equivalent), and you need a passport photo and a ticket out of Uruguay. Visa processing may take 2-4 weeks. For those living in a country with no Uruguayan embassy, a visa can be applied for online and collected at any Uruguayan consulate before entering the country. Visas are valid for 90 days and usually single entry. Tourist cards (obligatory for all tourists, obtainable on entry) are valid for 3 months, extendable for a similar period at the
Migraciones office
, www.dnm.minterior.gub.uy.


This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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