20 Things not to do in Uruguay

  1. Don’t forget to be on alert when visiting Montevideo,

Being a tourist frenzy country, opportunistic street crime is on the rise. Be careful of your personal belongings at all times, don’t slack off and be aware of your surroundings. Take particular care in and around the downtown and port areas.

  1. Don’t forget to say hello with a kiss.

If you meet somebody for the first time here, people greet each other with a single kiss on the cheek. And guys, don’t be surprised when another man gives you a kiss on the cheek as well.

  1. Don’t expect Montevideo to be Buenos Aires.

Similar like Santiago de Chile, Uruguay’s capital city is near to Buenos Aires. It is not far than 144 miles, but is also worlds apart in every aspect. Buenos Aires continues to be known as South America’s Paris, but Montevideo doesn’t comply with that scene…nor does it try to.  

  1. Don’t stick with coffee.

Montevideo has many restaurants and bars serving quality freshly brewed coffee — even the McDonald’s has a separate café inside its Ciudad Vieja (Old City) location. But if you stick to plain old hot coffee in Uruguay, you’re going to miss out on something special.

  1. Don’t expect variety in cuisine.

Uruguayans are known to be very conservative people who don’t seek out change. They stick to tradition and act accordingly— and that holds true when it comes to their food.

  1. Don’t  be satisfied with Punta del Este.

This is known to be Uruguay’s most famous beach town, catering to a diverse crowd of the rich, the famous, the tourist, and the backpacker, all at the same time. It’s crowdy during summertime when it gets visited by the Argentinians, Brazilians and Mexicans. Clubs, beaches and abundance of restaurants make the months between December and March una locura or crazy in other words.

  1. Don’t expect modern music.

There is hardly any presence of modern music in Uruguay. Again, in various ways, Uruguay can seem to exist in a time warp taking you back in time. This goes for the majority of the music you’ll hear throughout the country, whether on the radio in a cab or on the dance floor (indeed, it seems to be a regional phenomenon). Maybe people of Uruguay like to stick their roots even in the scene of music.

  1. Don’t… give money to Montevidean street kids.

This might sound quite harsh, but there’s good reason for it. Tourist filled sections of Montevideo are home to the planchas, a community of young people hooked on the drug-Pasta Base or Paco and intend to do nothing else than buy more. It’s an impure cocaine sulfate that takes a heavy toll on the body — one sign of it is teeth being eaten away.

  1. Don’t forget to park in paid parking areas.

Cars left on the streets at night in Montevideo are regularly broken into. Make sure that you park your car in a paid car park or a well-lit and busy area.

  1. If you need to report a crime you must go to the nearest police station.

You can also start by filing a police report online. Then you must get it signed at a police station within 48 hours of submitting it online.

  1. Don’t forget to eat at Super Marcado’s.

You can save your money on your food by eating at Super Marcado’s. They offer plenty of tasty, prepared foods including all kind of meats, pasta’s and more. You have to spend around $6.00 a day.

Try to avoid isolated or poorly lit areas at night and avoid walking downtown or in the port area without any trustworthy company.

  1. Water is sometimes as expensive as beer.
  2. To the Canadians

Here is a Uruguay travel tip for Canadians: Canadian Dollars are very rare in Uruguay, so to avoid hassle, exchange your Canadian currency into US dollars when you are at home. You will get a way better exchange rate back home. In a few cases I was able to save 25 percent just by converting my money before travelling to Uruguay.

  1. Don’t go into the water when a red flag is flying.

Some beaches in Uruguay are outfitted with lifeguards throughout the summer time . Be careful when swimming in the rivers and also the Atlantic ocean due to the currents, rocks and sand banks which have sudden descents. You can see beaches with lifeguards display red, amber and green flags with respect to the climate conditions. plus they show a warning sign with red flag with green cross.

  1. Beware of hotel laundry service in Uruguay

I was shocked to find out that by sending my laundry away through my hotel, costed me a hefty amount of $38USD which was as much as the actual hotel room itself. Check with the Concierge before you send your laundry away or you might be in for a costly surprise.

  1. Prices for items in Uruguay vary greatly

 It pays to shop around. I don’t mean to drive all over the cities of Uruguay, trying to save a few cents. Prices can vary greatly from store to store even if they are right next to each other. So don’t fix on the first shop you visit instead check out a few of them.

  1. Don’t forget to bring USD

US Dollars is highly appreciated in Uruguay. You will get the best deals if you are pay with US dollars. Prices can easily be negotiated and bargained down when a Uruguayan shop owner knows that you are dealing with US dollars.

  1. Don’t forget to learn some Spanish before you go

English is not as common in Uruguay as you might expect. While the people of Uruguay are very gracious and most of them will patiently try and explain things to you in Spanish or take the time to try and understand your English. But to be on the safer side learn a little Spanish to get yourself around or keep a language handbook.

20.  Foreign credit card discount

Pay your restaurant bill with your foreign credit or debit card and you will not have to pay any Uruguayan VAT (22% discount). Rent a car (without driver) and you will not pay have any Uruguayan VAT either. There are discounts of 10.5% on the prices of real estate leasing with tourist purposes and also tenants who are non-resident individuals. Please see all the benefits in this link: VAT Discounts for tourists in Uruguay (in Spanish) – still Applicable (feb. 2016)


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