Fact file: Jamaica

Did you know?
Jamaica was originally settled by a South American tribe called the Arawaks.
Language
English and patois.
Visas
None required from the UK.
Getting there
Several flights a week from Heathrow and Gatwick.
Flying time from London
Ten hours.
Getting around
The bus service is cheap and extensive but chaotic, as is the private minibus service. Driving can be hazardous.
Currency
Jamaican dollar (jay).
Costs
Litre of petrol 35p, moderate restaurant meal £7-£14, four-mile taxi ride £3, roll of camera film £6, bottle of beer 50p. Prices will vary.
Weather
Year-round average temperature is 27-31C (80-86F). Annual rainfall averages 78 inches. The rainy season runs from May or June to November or December, although rain can fall in short, sharp bursts at any time. Humidity is fairly high year round.
Time difference
Five hours behind GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 1 876.
Voltage
110V in most hotels, with some on 220V. More up-market hotels can usually supply a transformer if needed.
Opening hours
Offices open 8.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday; Shops 8/9am-5pm Monday-Friday, 8/9am-noon Saturdays. Few shops open on a Sunday.
Health — before you go
Take out good medical insurance. Vaccinations/boosters for tetanus, typhoid, polio and hepatitis A are all recommended but not obligatory.
Health — when you are there
Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water (tap water is generally safe to drink, but best avoided in rural areas). Make sure you wear adequate sunscreen (factor 15 or more). Medicine is normally cheap, but check the sell-by date. Take warm clothing if hiking in the mountains.
Warnings
Beware the undertow when swimming, and look out for sea urchins and moray eels too. Stay away from the poisonous machineel tree. Be prepared for hustlers; it's something you will have to learn to put up with. Gay travellers should be aware that homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica.
Emergency
Ambulance 110. British High Commission, 26 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10. Tel 926 9050.
Customs
Marijuana is readily available and plentiful, but whatever you do don't try to smuggle any out of the country. Police won't go easy on you because you're foreign, and Jamaican prisons make Turkish ones look like Butlin's.
Pets
Jamaica was included in the Pets travel scheme under long-haul regulations in 2001. However, this is a long and complicated procedure requiring vaccinations, medical check-ups and route planning; it is not as simple as walking on and off a plane with your pet. Therefore the scheme is more suited to those returning from a long stay abroad, rather than the two-week holidaymaker. It takes several months to set up the relevant documentation; see your vet for further details.
Tipping
Tips are not expected at all-inclusive resorts.
Tourist office
1-2 Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ. Tel 020 7224 0505.
Did you know?
Jamaica was originally settled by a South American tribe called the Arawaks.
Language
English and patois.
Visas
None required from the UK.
Getting there
Several flights a week from Heathrow and Gatwick.
Flying time from London
Ten hours.
Getting around
The bus service is cheap and extensive but chaotic, as is the private minibus service. Driving can be hazardous.
Currency
Jamaican dollar (jay).
Costs
Litre of petrol 35p, moderate restaurant meal £7-£14, four-mile taxi ride £3, roll of camera film £6, bottle of beer 50p. Prices will vary.
Weather
Year-round average temperature is 27-31C (80-86F). Annual rainfall averages 78 inches. The rainy season runs from May or June to November or December, although rain can fall in short, sharp bursts at any time. Humidity is fairly high year round.
Time difference
Five hours behind GMT.
International dialling code from the UK
00 1 876.
Voltage
110V in most hotels, with some on 220V. More up-market hotels can usually supply a transformer if needed.
Opening hours
Offices open 8.30am-4.30pm Monday-Friday; Shops 8/9am-5pm Monday-Friday, 8/9am-noon Saturdays. Few shops open on a Sunday.
Health — before you go
Take out good medical insurance. Vaccinations/boosters for tetanus, typhoid, polio and hepatitis A are all recommended but not obligatory.
Health — when you are there
Avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water (tap water is generally safe to drink, but best avoided in rural areas). Make sure you wear adequate sunscreen (factor 15 or more). Medicine is normally cheap, but check the sell-by date. Take warm clothing if hiking in the mountains.
Warnings
Beware the undertow when swimming, and look out for sea urchins and moray eels too. Stay away from the poisonous machineel tree. Be prepared for hustlers; it's something you will have to learn to put up with. Gay travellers should be aware that homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica.
Emergency
Ambulance 110. British High Commission, 26 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10. Tel 926 9050.
Customs
Marijuana is readily available and plentiful, but whatever you do don't try to smuggle any out of the country. Police won't go easy on you because you're foreign, and Jamaican prisons make Turkish ones look like Butlin's.
Pets
Jamaica was included in the Pets travel scheme under long-haul regulations in 2001. However, this is a long and complicated procedure requiring vaccinations, medical check-ups and route planning; it is not as simple as walking on and off a plane with your pet. Therefore the scheme is more suited to those returning from a long stay abroad, rather than the two-week holidaymaker. It takes several months to set up the relevant documentation; see your vet for further details.
Tipping
Tips are not expected at all-inclusive resorts.
Tourist office
1-2 Prince Consort Road, London SW7 2BZ. Tel 020 7224 0505.


Telephone

+44 (0) 203 696 2870

Mon – Fri 8:30am – 5:30pm

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