Trinidad
Arrival Briefing
Part 1

Rental cars can be scarce. Reserve in advance.

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Trinidad Travel and Tourism Information

Area:
Trinidad is roughly rectangular in shape, 37 miles wide and 50 miles long, a total of 1,864 square miles. It is only 7 miles off the coast of South America.

Language: English with some French and Spanish occasionally spoken.

Population: Approx. 1.3 million, one of the most heavily populated in the Caribbean .

Time Zone: Atlantic Standard Time, 1 hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Rainy Season: June through December. Showers can be torrential, real frog stranglers, but usually clear quickly. Both Trinidad and Tobago are well south of the normal hurricane belt, but powerful storms don't respect any man-made boundaries and hurricanes still clobber the region periodically.

Documents: U.S. & Canadian citizens need a birth certificate with some form of photo ID that is valid for 2 months. For everyone else, passports are required of anyone above 16. Visas are required of some citizens. Entry permits are good for 1 month. If you plan to stay longer, ask for up to 3 months on arrival since extensions can be a time-consuming process. An ongoing, dated ticket (not open-ended) may also be required at immigration, plus proof you are able to support yourself during your stay. A specific address for your stay will also be requested.

Currency: The Trinidad and Tobago or TT dollar is worth about TT$6.24=US$1. This is a floating rate that has steadily been declining in value since 1985. Banks are open 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to noon , 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. US currency is readily accepted everywhere. Banks may charge a fee for cashing traveler's checks.

Taxes & Tipping: The hotel room tax is 10% and the service charge (tacked on to about everything) is also 10%. There's also a 15% value added tax on all goods and services. An exit tax is required upon leaving: TT$100 and it must be paid in the local currency, a real annoyance.   

Electrical Current: Either 115 or 220 volts, 60 cycle on both Trinidad & Tobago .

Getting There: Trinidad 's Piarco Airport is the main entry for visitors to Trinidad or Tobago . U.S. visitors have a choice of American Airlines (www.aa.com ) or BWIA (www.bwee.com). Canadians can take Air Canada (www.aircanada.com). The airport is 16 miles from Port-of-Spain, so allow plenty of time when leaving.

Getting Around: The official taxis have an "H" as the first letter on their license plate. Negotiate ahead of time and know whether the price is in TT$ or US$. Other taxis that have the "P" registration of a private car on the license are known as pirate taxis. You may be able to negotiate a better rate with them. In time you will discover route taxis with the "H" initial; these are far cheaper but drive only a specified route, like a bus. They stop and pickup wherever you wish along that route. The only way to tell a "regular" from a "route" taxi is ask the driver. Some taxis also charge 50% more after midnight.

Rental cars are difficult just for weekends because many locals, who cannot afford the exorbitant price of a car, lease on a long-term basis. Make sure the rental company accepts credit cards. If it requires a cash deposit, be aware your money may be returned to you in TT$, which you then have to change back. A foreign or international drivers license is good for 90 days

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