Here are some useful notes for travelers visiting the city of Oaxaca.
A toll road connects to Mexico City and one can take a bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca; this saves significant driving time compared to the old road. The original road was hard to navigate and very poorly marked. I have friends who drove this old road and they said that they often lost the road in small villages and had to ask directions from locals.
An upscale jewelry store located on Calle 5 de Mayo is called Oro De Monte Alban. They specialize in replicas of Mixtec and Zapotec jewelry including some very intricately crafted gold masks. This is one of several higher-end jewelry stores in this part of town.
This store and other nearby jewelry stores are located near the Hotel Presidente Stouffer. The clientele of Stouffer often stop in these stores and shop. Visit their official store website: www.orodemontealban.com
Tobala Mezcal de Oaxaca sells Mezcal (an alcoholic Mestizo drink), located at 20 de Noviembre. There are also several other Mezcal dealers in this area.
Interdisa a money exchange is located at the corner of Hidalgo and Valdivieso. Cash Express is located at 201 Macedonio Alcala Street. Exchanging money is fairly convenient and fast. However, this means that you have to carry extra cash which can easily be lost.
I discovered the easiest and usually most affordable way of acquiring Mexican pesos was to use any of the 24 hour ATM machines. Your home bank will generally charge a processing fee for the transaction but overall you will save money versus exchanging money. The majority of ATM’s are located near the zocalo. All the ATM’s that I visited were located in small rooms – to gain entry one had to slide an ATM card through a special slot. Serfin, Banamex, Bital, Bancomer, and Banco Union are several of the banks near the zocalo that provide ATM’s.
Several movie theatres are located in Oaxaca. Two we saw include one a block or two immediately north of the zocalo and the other is about 8 blocks north of the zocalo on the corner of Berriozabal street, across from the Parque Paseo Juarez. Most theatres charge about 100 pesos per person or around $5 US.
A tourist information center is located on the corners of Cinco del Mayo and Morelos Street and also at the corner of Independencia and Garcia Vigil. These tourist offices are excellent resources for travelers. A visit usually with someone who is local; this person may be able to refer you to new or “local” restaurants or specific “in the know” attractions that are not listed in general travel guides.
It is refreshing to speak to someone who really knows Oaxaca. These tourist offices also can help with securing tour operators or recommending specific niche tours.
All services and products include VAT (value added tax) Tips to waiters are generally between 10% and 15%. Bellhops are usually given 20 pesos or approximately one US dollar.