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Business Hours -- The following are general open hours; specific establishment may vary. Businesses and offices are open from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Banks' hours are usually Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm; Saturday, 10am to 1pm. Many banks and other outlets offer 24-hour access to ATMs. Shops' operating hours are likely to be daily from 10am to 6pm. Most bars and nightclubs close at 2am.

Electricity -- The U.S. uses 110 to 120 volts AC (60 cycles), compared to 220 to 240 volts AC (50 cycles) in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.

Emergencies -- Call tel. 911 for emergencies, fire, ambulance, or police. For physician referrals and walk-in urgent care facilities in Kansas City, call tel. 816/751-3751. A major hospital is Saint Luke's Hospital, 4400 Wornall Rd. (tel. 816/932-2000). Walgreens is a 24-hour pharmacy located at 39th Street and Broadway (tel. 816/561-6980).

Internet Access -- Free Internet access is available at the many branches of the Kansas City Public Library. To find a location, call tel. 816/701-3487 or go to www.kclibrary.org. Panera Bread, 4700 Pennsylvania Ave. (tel. 816/931-8181) offers free Wi-Fi, as do many hotels, though some of the ritzier ones might charge. Many lodging properties also offer business centers with internet access, which may come in handy for those not traveling with a laptop.

Liquor Laws -- The legal age to purchase and consume alcoholic beverages in the U.S. is 21; proof of age is required at bars, nightclubs, and restaurants, so bring ID when you go out. Beer, wine, and hard liquor can be purchased at liquor stores. Do not carry open containers of alcohol in your car of any public area that isn't zoned for alcohol consumption. Driving while intoxicated is considered a criminal offense.

Mail -- At press time, domestic postage rates were 27¢ for a postcard and 42¢ for a letter. For international mail, first-class postcards and letters weighing up to 1 ounce cost 94¢ (72¢ to Canada and Mexico). You can buy stamps and mailing supplies at any post office; to find locations in Kansas City, call 800/275-8777 or go to www.usps.com.

Newspapers & Magazines -- The two main local papers are the Kansas City Star (www.kansascity.com) and the Daily Record (www.kcdailyrecord.com). The town's leading periodical is the monthly KC Magazine (www.kcmag.com). Regional news is also available online at www.pitch.com.

Pets -- To bring your pet to Kansas City, you must have a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) for your pet supplied by a state-licensed veterinarian, as well as a current rabies vaccination. No entry permit is required. Most airlines allow pets on flights, but require pets to be at least eight weeks old. Some Kansas City hotels, as such the Holiday Inn at the Plaza (tel. 816/753-7400; www.ichotelsgroup.com), are pet-friendly.

Police -- For emergencies, dial tel. 911. This is a free call. The Kansas City Police Department can be reached at tel. 816/234-5000.

Safety -- Though Kansas City ranks as one of the safer cities in the U.S., and though crime isn't usually a concern during the day, there are a few parts of town that become discomfortingly deserted at night. You should also be careful if you're downtown after dark -- but none of this should deter you from visiting enjoyably. Simply take the usual common-sense precautions: Avoid desert areas, especially at night, and don't venture into public parks at night unless a concert or another event is attracting crowds. Keep money and valuables out of sight, always lock your hotel door, and don't carry too much cash.

Smoking -- Smoking is prohibited in public places and places of employment, including restaurants, bars, and nightclubs. Exceptions include designated smoking rooms in hotels, retail tobacco stores, outdoor patios, private clubs, and family-owned-and-operated places of business.

Taxes -- Sales tax is 6%; the hotel tax is 7.5%. In the U.S., there is no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level.

To Make International Calls -- To dial international numbers, dial 011, then the country code, then the phone number. The telephone system in the U.S. is run by private corporations, so rates, especially for long-distance service and operator-assisted calls, can vary widely. Generally, hotel surcharges on long-distance and local calls are remarkably expensive, so you're usually better off using a public pay telephone or a cell phone if you have one with you. Many groceries and convenience stores sell prepaid calling cards; this can be the least expensive way to call overseas.

Time Zone -- Missouri, like Chicago, is in the Central Time Zone, which puts it 6 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT-6).

Tipping -- Gratuities are not usually included in rates. Here are guidelines to follow when tipping: In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per piece of luggage and the housekeeping staff $1 per person per day (more if you've left a mess). Tip the doorman or concierge if he or she has provided you with a service, such as calling a cab or obtaining hard-to-get tickets. Tip the parking attendant 15% of the parking rate. Cab drivers should get at least 15% of the fare. In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip wait staff 15% to 20% of the check, bartenders 10% to 15%, and checkroom attendants $1 per garment. Skycaps at airports generally get at least $1 per bag, while hairdressers expect 15% to 20%.

Water -- The tap water in Kansas City is considered safe to drink.

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.