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American Express -- Offices are located in Buenos Aires, Bariloche, Salta, San Martín, and Ushuaia. In Buenos Aires, the Amex office is at Arenales 707 (tel. 11/4310-3000).

Business Hours -- Banks are open weekdays from 10am to 3pm. Shopping hours are weekdays from 9am to 8pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Shopping centers are open daily from 10am to 8pm. Some stores close for lunch.

Driving Rules -- In cities, Argentines drive exceedingly fast and do not always obey traffic lights or lanes. Seat belts are mandatory, although few Argentines actually wear them. When driving outside the city, remember that autopista means motorway or highway, and paso means mountain pass. Don't drive in rural areas at night, as cattle sometimes overtake the road to keep warm and are nearly impossible to see.

Drugstores -- Ask your hotel where the nearest pharmacy (farmacia) is; they are generally ubiquitous in city centers, and there is always at least one open 24 hours. In Buenos Aires, the chain Farmacity is open 24 hours, with locations at Lavalle 919 (tel. 11/4821-3000), and Av. Santa Fe 2830 (tel. 11/4821-0235). Farmacity will also deliver to your hotel.

Electricity -- If you plan to bring any small appliance with you, pack a transformer and a European-style adapter because electricity in Argentina runs on 220 volts. Note that most laptops operate on both 110 and 220 volts. Luxury hotels usually have transformers and adapters available.

Embassies -- All in Buenos Aires: U.S. Embassy, Av. Colombia 4300 (tel. 11/4774-5333); Australian Embassy, Villanueva 1400 (tel. 11/4777-6580); Canadian Embassy, Tagle 2828 (tel. 11/4805-3032); New Zealand Embassy, Carlos Pellegrini 1427, 5th Floor (tel. 11/4328-0747); United Kingdom Embassy, Luis Agote 2412 (tel. 11/4803-6021).

Emergencies -- The following emergency numbers are valid throughout Argentina. For an ambulance, call tel. 107; in case of fire, call tel. 100; for police assistance, call tel. 101.

Internet Access -- Cybercafes called locuturios are found on every corner in Buenos Aires and in other cities and towns as well, so it won't be hard to stay connected while in Argentina. Access is reasonably priced (usually averaging just under $1 per hour) and connections are reliably good.

Mail -- Airmail postage for a standard letter from Argentina to North America and Europe is about $3. Mail takes, on average, between 7 and 10 days to get to the U.S. and Europe.

Maps -- Reliable maps can be purchased at the offices of the Automóvil Club Argentino, Av. del Libertador 1850, in Buenos Aires (tel. 11/4802-6061 or 11/4802-7071).

Smoking -- People who hate smoke can rejoice. Antismoking laws have finally been passed in Buenos Aires, as well as a few other Argentine cities. These are among the few laws actually paid attention to in Argentina.

Taxes -- Argentina's value added tax (VAT) is 21%. You can recover this 21% at the airport if you have purchased certain local products totaling more than 70 pesos (per invoice) from stores participating in tax-free shopping. Forms are available at the airport and participating stores, but beware that you may be asked to display your purchases when leaving.

Telephone -- The country code for Argentina is 54. When making domestic long-distance calls in Argentina, place a 0 before the area code. For international calls, add 00 before the country code. Direct dialing to North America and Europe is available from most phones. International, as well as domestic, calls are expensive in Argentina, especially from hotels (rates fall 10pm-8am). Holders of AT&T credit cards can reach the money-saving USA Direct from Argentina by calling toll-free tel. 0800/555-4288 from the north of Argentina or 0800/222-1288 from the south. Similar services are offered by MCI (tel. 0800/555-1002) and Sprint (tel. 0800/555-1003 from the north of Argentina, or 0800/222-1003 from the south).

Public phones take either phone cards (sold at kiosks on the street) or coins (less common). Local calls cost 20 centavos to start and charge more the longer you talk. Telecentro offices -- found everywhere in city centers -- offer private phone booths where calls are paid when completed. Most hotels offer fax services, as do all Telecentro offices. Dial tel. 110 for directory assistance (most operators speak English) and tel. 000 to reach an international operator.

Time -- Argentina is 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States in northern summer. In 2007, the country introduced daylight saving time in the east of the country with Buenos Aires and the coast moving forward 1 hour from December 30 to March 16. This means the capital will be 3 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in northern winter, while the Andean provinces will be 2 hours ahead.

Tipping -- A 10% tip is expected at cafes and restaurants. Give at least $1 to bellboys and porters, 5% to hairdressers, and leftover change to taxi drivers.

Water -- In Buenos Aires, the water is perfectly safe to drink. But if you are traveling to more remote regions of Argentina, it's best to stick with bottled water for drinking.

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.