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HANDY INFORMATION ABOUT BUENOS AIRES

LANGUAGE:
Spanish is the official language of Argentina and if you are planning to stay for any length of time you” ll need to at least master the basics. English is spoken in parts, particularly in Buenos Aires and tourist areas, but you shouldn’ t relie on locals being able to communicate in anything other than Spanish.

In Argentina, especially in Buenos Aires, the locals speak very fast, with a distinctive pronunciation that even fluent Spanish speakers may have trouble grasping at first. Fortunately, Buenos Aires is a great place to learn Spanish, with many high-quality language institutes offering a range of classes for all levels. Send us an email for more information.


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CURRENCY:

The currency in Argentina is the Argentine peso (AR $). There are $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes and $1, 50, 25, 10 and 5 cent coins. It’ s worth noting that there is a national shortage of change in Argentina and as they are frequently required for subway tickets, buses and tips, it’ s worth keeping a stash of them whenever possible.
The U.S. dollar is the major international currency used inArgentina and many businesses will accept dollars as payment. If paying by dollars or by credit card it is always advisable to check first.


EXCHANGING MONEY:
It’ s easy to change US Dollars, Euros, British pounds and most major foreign currencies but be wary of changing money on the street – fake notes are in constant circulation.

Florida Street is the best place to exchange money – make sure you have your passport with you for identification.


BANKS:
Banks are open Monday to Friday from 10AM to 3PM, after which you can only enter the ATMs. Most ATMs have a daily limit for withdrawals and often they have a limit of AR$300 withdrawals per transaction.


ATMs:
There are thousands of ATMs across the city but it’ s best to use those inside the bank. You” ll need to swipe your card to get in and always ensure that the door is closed properly behind you – thieves are known for targeting ATMs.


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POST:

The postal service in Argentina is reliable, if slow. For sending parcels, you must use post office boxes available to buy either at the post office or in local stationary stores. You will often be asked to show your passport and for sending parcels abroad you may need to supply a photocopy that will be attached to the parcel.Sending mail to North America, Europe and Australasia can often be pricey and will usually take 2 weeks or longer to arrive.
Post offices are abundent in Argentina but be prepared to wait. Take a ticket from the machine by the door and wait for your number to be called (it usually takes around 20 minutes but sometimes longer).



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SHOPS:

Shops are generally open from 9 AM to 7/8PM. Many are only open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm while larger stores (supermarkets and high-street clothing stores) remain open all day. Sunday services are limited to tourist areas and supermarkets.


VAT:

Foreigners are able to recover the 21% VAT when they leave the country. To do this you must keep receipts for all purchases made and complete an application at the airport.

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SUPERMARKETS:

The largest supermarket chains in Argentina are Disco and Coto, both of which offer a wide range of local produce as well as many imported foods (although imported goods are notoriously more pricey). Remember to weigh and price your fruit and vegetables in the grocery section before proceeding to the checkouts. Credit cards are accepted and these supermarkets can be a good place to change AR$100 bills.

Fresh fruits and vegetables are often cheaper in the smaller green grocers located along most residental streets.


PHARMACIES:
Pharmacies in Argentina (and in most of South America) are the main place to buy toiletries, makeup and medical supplies, as well as prescription medicines. “Farmacity” is the largest chain and is open 24 hours a day. It’ s worth noting that in Argentina birth control pills and antibiotics are available to buy over the counter without a prescription.


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COMMUNICATIONS:


TELEPHONE:


Call Cards:
These are the most economical option for international calls and a AR$10 card will last around 1 hour when calling internationally.


– Cell Phones:
Phones can be bought in Argentina from around AR$100 upwards or else many international phones will accept local sim cards (around AR$5 to buy). Although monthly payment plans are available, most travellers will find pay-as-you-go to be the simplest option – top-up cards are available to buy from most newstands and newsagents.

– Public phones:
For local calls, public phone boxes are coin operated and cost around AR$0.20 a minute.

– Locoturios:
Public telephone booths, called Locoturios provide local and international calls from private booths. For international calls the prices are normally reasonably cheap.


How to make and receive calls?
Calling abroad:
00 + country code + area code (without the first digit) + local number.

Example: 00 55 31 – 2020 3030

Calling Buenos Aires from abroad:
00 + country code (54) + area code (in Buenos Aires 011, without 0) + -Local number.
Example: (0054) 11 – 4111-1111


If you call your cell phone:
00 + 54 + 11 + 2222 -2222 (you don’ t need to put the “15” from the beginning of your cell phone number).

You must have credit to receive a call as it is chargeable to both the caller and the receiver.
Example: 00 54 11 5050 10 10


However..

If you dial: 00 54 9 + 11 5050 -1010, adding the “9” will make the call free for the receiver.


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INTERNET:

There are thousands of Internet cafes throughout the city and typically they have reliable and speedy connections. Prices start at around AR$1 per hour. Many bars, hostels and hotels offer free Wi-fi for customers with laptops. Skype is available at many internet cafes but check first and expect to pay a little more for the use of a camera and micrrophone.

To get the @
on a spanish keyboard:

Press ALT + 64 or also: AltGr + 2


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TRANSPORT:

TAXIS:
Taxis are black and yellow, with a registration number on the door. It’ s safe to flag these taxis on the street and will cost a standard charge of AR $3.80 plus additional costs indicated by the meter. To avoid being overcharged, make sure the meter is turned on before starting your journey.

BUSES:
Local buses (Collectivos) run 24 hours a day in Buenos Aires is 24 hours and provide a thorough, regular service to all areas of the city. Pick up a GuiaT (an A-Z map of Buenos Aires available from most newstands in the city) for a full guide to the cities bus routes or else check out the website www.comoviajo.com.ar which is in Spanish but very easy to use – write in your location and desired destination and it will list the possible travel routes available.
Buses typically take coins and cost upwards of $1.10 depending on your destination. Tell the driver your destination or the amount (AR$1.25 is the most standard fare if you are unsure) and then insert your coins into the ticket machine behind the driver.

The most popular bus routes run every 5 minutes at peak hours but it’ s unlikely you will wait more than 20 minutes for a bus, even at weekends.

SUBWAY:
Buenos Aires operates a thorough underground service with 6 lines running throughout the city. Each trip costs AR$1.10 and the service typically operates every 5 or 10 minutes from 5am to 10:30 PM.
Some stations have multiple entries for the different directions so it’ s best to check the signs on the street entrance before entering. Lines are indicated by a colour system and the direction by the final destination of the line.
Although the subte is generally safe to use, it’ s best for women alone to avoid using the subte at night.


TRAINS:
Trains run from the city to various districts in the Greater Buenos Aires area. Although the service is less than reliable (delays are common), the cheap prices make it easy for tourists to explore other areas of the city.
Most out-of-town trains run from Retiro, Constitucion and Eleven, but make sure youknow your destination before heading out of town – some suburban towns are not safe for travellers.




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THE LAW

DRUGS:
Drugs, even small quantities of marijuana are illegal in Argentina and police take drug issues very seriously. Imprisonment is common for posession.

ALCOHOL:
Drinking alcohol in the street is permitted (in many cities in Chile, for example, it is strictly prohitbed). Drinking and driving is not tolerated and frequent tests are carried out on drivers throughout the city. Those exceeding the limit are subject to a high fine and loss of license.



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A FEW LOCAL DIFFERENCES:

– When purchasing beet from a supermarket or grocery store, bring your empty bottles back to exchange them. Non-returnable bottles are available but they are more expensive and limited to certain brands.

– Due to low water pressure in South America do not not throw toilet paper, tampons or tissues down the toilet. Rubbish bins are typically provided by the toilet for to dispose of these articles.

– Most kitchens use gas and electric devices (such as electric kettles) can be rare (thanks to the hefty 50% tax applied to imported electrical goods).

– Many stores and businesses use a ticketing system for customers – take a ticket upon entry and wait for your number to be called. Post offices, government buildings and bakeries typically use this system.

– Many larger stores and supermarkets have lockers at the front for extra bags to prevent shoplifting. Lock up your bags and carry the key with you – typically a security guard will be present to watch over the lockers.

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