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Banks -- For money exchanges and/or other banking needs, the two best choices are Scotiabank (tel. 876/952-4440) and National Commercial Bank (tel. 876/952-3640), both on Sam Sharpe Square in the center of Mo Bay. Each maintains a 24-hour ATM and is open Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 4:30pm, Friday 8:30am to 4pm. Both are part of the Cirrus system, so participating cards work in their machines. Ironically, most of the ATMs we ran across in Jamaica dispense U.S. dollars only, but if there's any confusion, the currency dispensed by each machine is clearly indicated on the outside.

Bookstores -- If you'd like to do some light reading on the beach, you can go to Sangster's Bookshop, 2 St. James St. (tel. 876/952-0319), www.sangstersbooks.com, the largest book outlet in Montego Bay. It's open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6pm. Another retailer is Henderson's Book Store, 27 St. James St. (tel. 876/952-2551), open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 6pm.

Business Hours -- Stores' policies vary, but in general they open Monday to Saturday 8:30am to 4:30 or 5pm. With the notable exception of some shops that cater specifically to the cruise ship trade, Sunday gets sleepy in Montego Bay, except at the hotels.

Doctors & Dentists -- All major hotels have a doctor or dentist on call. For emergency treatment, go to the hospital. If you will need medicine or any particular treatment while in Montego Bay, bring a letter from your home physician before arriving on the island.

Drugstores -- One of the best pharmacies in Montego Bay is Clinicare Pharmacy, 14A Market St. (tel. 876/952-8510), open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 8pm and Sunday 10am to 6pm. Note that local pharmacies will only accept a prescription if it has been issued by or "endorsed by," (countersigned by) a Jamaican doctor. If whatever ails you might be handled with an over-the-counter medication, ask the pharmacist to recommend something.

Emergencies -- Dial tel. 110 to report a fire or call an ambulance. Dial tel. 119 for the police.

Hospital -- The biggest hospital in Montego Bay is Cornwall Regional Hospital at Mount Salem (tel. 876/952-5100). An alternative clinic, Montego Bay Hope (tel. 876/953-3649), is associated with the Half Moon resort. There's also the Doctor's Hospital in the suburb of Freeport (tel. 876/979-8983 or 876/953-6008). Patients in emergency situations who can afford it are sometimes flown to Miami, where medical facilities are better.

Internet Access -- Your best bet if your hotel isn't equipped is Irie Tech, 17 Harbour St. (tel. 876/971-6057; irietech2@cwjamaica.com). The cost is US$2 per hour for the use of a computer. It's open Monday to Saturday 9am to 7pm.

Laundry & Dry Cleaning -- If your hotel doesn't offer guest laundry facilities, you can drop off laundry at Fabricare Centre, 4 Corner Lane (tel. 876/952-6897), which also features 1-hour dry cleaning. Hours are Monday to Saturday 7:30am to 5pm. Offering much the same service, including 1-hour dry cleaning, is Quality Laundry & Dry Cleaners, 11 Perry St. (tel. 876/952-6105), open Monday to Saturday 8am to 5:30pm.

Mail -- Include "Jamaica, W.I." in all island addresses.

Maps -- Go to the tourist board for a good map of Montego Bay.

Post Office -- Many visitors buy Jamaican stamps as collector's items, as they are often flamboyant. The chief post office in Montego Bay is in the center of town at 122 Barnett St. (tel. 876/952-7389). It is open Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm.

Safety -- Montego Bay is far safer as a destination than Kingston. All the major resorts, especially the all-inclusives, have private security guards patrolling the grounds; on-site you'll probably run into few problems. As is the case anywhere in the world, security is less tight when you leave the premises of your hotel. One annoying inconvenience involves the occasional hustler -- peddling souvenirs, flesh, drugs, or whatever -- who might pester you. Most of them are harmless; a few, though, are muggers or pickpockets, so be careful around them. As for wandering around Montego Bay's narrow, dark streets at night -- suffice to say that it's a bad idea. Take comfort in the fact that in recent years, the situation in heavily touristed areas is much better than it was in the mid-1990s, thanks to increased police supervision.

Telephone -- Hotels sometimes add outrageous surcharges to long-distance calls. For that reason, some frugal travelers purchase a Cable & Wireless Phone Card -- available at most hotel desks and within many gift shops -- for J$200 (US$2.80), allowing them to talk to places in the U.S. and Canada for about 11 minutes. For more information, call tel. 888/225-5295.

Travel Agencies -- There is no local representative for American Express in Montego Bay. A leading travel agent is Trafalgar Travel, 14B Market St. (tel. 876/979-1556), open Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 1pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.