Q: Should I change USD to JMD?
A: Everybody takes USD in Jamaica. Do NOT change money at the airport - this is the worst place to change money (they will try to trick you into changing money there). When you arrive, there will be information in your apartment on best places to change money and occasions when having Jamaican Dollars is better than USD.
Q: Is it true that everybody smokes marijuana in Jamaica?
A: NO! I personally don't smoke weed (also known as "ganja" in Jamaica) and I've seen more people smoking weed in the UK or the USA than in Jamaica, even if we take into account the proportion of the population. Only 2% of Jamaican population are true Rastafarian, which is way less people than in Africa, Europe or States. So, don't believe what media tells you.
!!! WARNING !!!
Do NOT get ripped off by buying marijuana! There is a high chance that you will be offered to buy it anywhere on the way from the airport by random people. Keep in mind, the real price for it is 100 Jamaican dollars per small bag (about 80 cents), but you'll get offers like 50 USD for it, claiming "it's super good quality", but in fact it's just the same one they got for 80 cents! Please also note, it IS legal to smoke/posses and grow marijuana in Jamaica, however, it's actually ILLEGAL to buy or sell it.
Q: Is it expensive to live and/or travel in Jamaica?
A: YES! Very. It's a very expensive country when it comes to.. pretty much everything: food, clothes, transport - you name it. What is more, local people overestimate everything they provide and put unrealistically high prices on things of very low quality, because they assume you have unlimited budget. E.g. you can be expected to pay over 60 USD to go on a raft along the river (which should really cost next to nothing), 35 USD per person to view a waterfall (which should be free, because they haven't invested anything into it) or 600 USD per person for an individual excursion with some Jamaican tour company, which is simply ridiculous. There are ways to avoid being overcharged for everything, but then it would depend where and how you wish to travel and what you want to see.
Q: Where can I buy souvenirs? What should I buy?
A: Best place to shop for souvenirs:
For true Jamaican stuff we recommend goods made in Jamaica. These include the following:
Q: Is it safe to drink water?
A: You CAN drink tap water, which is free. It's rather good quality, because all water system in Jamaica gets water from the mountains. It's probably the only country in the world with such high quality of water. However, if you're extra cautious and wish to buy bottled water, then buy any brand in a supermarket, they are all more or less the same. Note, there is NO sparkling/carbonated water available to buy, except for imported Perrier for $5 per bottle, so don't waste your time in a supermarket trying to find it!
Q: Is it really dangerous in Jamaica because of the high crime rate?
A: NO. It's perfectly safe to walk, even at night, as long as you don't do anything that you wouldn't do in your home country. For example, finding a drunk person and flashing 10000 USD in front of his face WILL get you robbed. Otherwise, it's much safer in Jamaica (including Kingston) than in most big European and American cities. Don't get us wrong, of course, there is crime, but if you look at the statistics, you will be surprised to learn, that the crime rate in Jamaica is much lower than in the USA.
!!! WARNING !!!
The true danger in Jamaica is related to being ripped off by taxi drivers and random people in the street. This is mostly relevant to Montego Bay and Negril area. People will approach you and offer to be your guide. They will act as your best friends and then charge you a ridiculous price for their "help". If you mention that 300 USD for an hour drive around shops in town is a bit too much, they will start showing pictures of their children and claim they are very poor (they are NOT!) etc. To prevent these situations, please follow the rules:
Q: Is it possible to travel around Jamaica and see everything in a few days? After all, Jamaica is just "a small island".
A: Well, even though it might seem that Jamaica is a small island, it may take weeks or even months to see everything here. The thing is, most interesting places are located far away from everything and it can take hours or days to get there simply because there are no highways leading to those places as such. Just to give you an example – you might look at the map and assume, that 90 km (56 miles) from Montego Bay to Negril along a good road shouldn't take more than an hour, but in fact this trip might take from 1.30 to 2 hours or even more, depending on the traffic, time of the day and weather conditions. So, if you want to explore the island – give yourself at least 2 full weeks. This will allow you to see about 10% of Jamaican beauty..
Q: Should I bring something from home?
A: Please view a list below.
Q: Is it safe to eat food in the street?
A: It's safe to eat any food in Jamaica. Please note though, local cafes don't care how their food look like, so don't expect anything fancy, unless you go to a fine dining place. However, any local food is always tasty and fresh.