Mexico travel guide
Lk_Drak (pixabay)

by: Jason Young, Luke Redmond

Mexico has a long and fascinating history, exquisite food, gorgeous beaches, and incredible monuments. When travelling to this country, you might want to find out more about only one of these things, or maybe all of them. There’s something for everyone in Mexico, and this Mexico travel guide aims to narrow down some ideas for your trip.

Things to Do In Mexico

Scuba Dive in Cozumel

Swimming at El Cielo beach, Cozumel, Mexico
Swimming at El Cielo beach, Cozumel, Mexico – Fernando Jorge (unsplash)

Mexico isn’t just the vast territory linking the USA to South America. It has many islands along its coast, one of the most stunning being Cozumel. Located in the Caribbean Sea just off the Yucatán Peninsula, it’s a perfect beach getaway.

The crystal-clear waters make it a diver’s paradise. There’s a UNESCO protected coral reef where you can see seahorses, turtles, and the aptly named splendid toadfish. If you’ve never been scuba diving, then this is definitely the place to learn. There are schools all along the coast who offer great deals.

There is an airport on Cozumel, but the easiest way to get to the island is with the ferry that leaves Playa del Carmen on the mainland coast almost every hour. This town is about an hour south of Cancún, so it’s easily accessible.

Clap Along to Mariachi

To take it further: dance along to Mariachi
To take it further: dance along to Mariachi – Mikhail Nilov (pexels)

Mexico is world-famous for mariachi, the musical style that originated in the 17th century in the region of Jalisco. It was promoted as a symbol of national identity after the Mexican Revolution. Nowadays, it’s recognisable not just for the catchy tunes, but for the traditional clothing worn by the players.

You should be able to find mariachi in most towns and cities in Mexico, but for a truly authentic time, visit the International Mariachi and Charrería Festival in Guadalajara. This festival has been taking place every September for nearly 30 years and celebrates this fantastic style of music.

Explore the Bays of Huatulco

Beach at Santa Maria Huatulco, Mexico
Beach at Santa Maria Huatulco, Mexico – Liz Schorr (unsplash)

When in the southern regions of Mexico, the Huatulco area is an essential stop. There are nine bays, dozens of beaches, a national park, and astounding ruins from before European settlers arrived in the area.

There are some beaches which are only accessible by boat or hiking trails. Bahia de Cacaluta is in the Huatulco national park and is a beautiful example of a more secluded bay.

If you’re looking for something that’s easier to access, Playa La Entrega is a great choice. It has wonderful restaurants and is close to a lighthouse that has stunning views of the nearby cliffs. It’s also an excellent place to try snorkelling.

Sip a Smooth Glass of Mezcal

A glass of Mezcal Old Fashioned - Julianna Arjes
A glass of Mezcal Old Fashioned – Julianna Arjes (unsplash)

While not everyone knows what mezcal is, they have heard of and probably drank the most famous type: tequila. A traditional Mexican drink, mezcal is made from the agave plant. And while you can drink shots of it, sitting back and savouring it with food works best.

You can try it anywhere, from beach bars to small town taverns. One great way to have it is with lime, salt, ground chilli peppers, and, if you’re feeling adventurous, fried larvae.

The region that produces the most of this spirit in the country is Oaxaca, so this is the perfect place for a tour of a distillery. The little town of Santiago Matatlán is known as the World Capital of Mezcal, so it’s a good place to start.

Munch on Traditional Tacos

Mexican tacos
Mexican tacos – Hana Brannigan (pexels)

Mexico has some of the best street food in the world. Tacos can be found almost anywhere and make a tasty and simple snack or meal. Try not to expect big flour tortillas though: traditional tacos are made from corn flour and are quite small.

The most common fillings are marinated pork, ground beef, and chorizo sausage. If you’re in a seaside town, you can get prawn and even marlin tacos. No matter what you put in them, they’ll be delicious.

Jump into a Cenote

A couple in cenote Suytun, Guanajuato, Mexico
A couple in cenote Suytun, Guanajuato, Mexico – Matej Rieciciar (unsplash)

If you’re looking for something really exciting, why not try diving into a cave filled with water? Cenotes are areas where a cave ceiling has collapsed inwards, and you can jump into them from above.

They were used by the Mayans for sacrificial ceremonies, but nowadays they’re a great place to have a thrilling jump followed by a relaxing swim. The Yucatán region has hundreds of cenotes which are easily accessible on a daytrip.

Be Astounded by Chichen Itza

A man taking a picture of Chichen Itza pyramid, Mexico
A man taking a picture of Chichen Itza pyramid, Mexico – VViktor (pixabay)

Chichen Itza is one of the most visited attractions in Mexico. Once you see the area for yourself, you’ll understand why. It’s a city that was built sometime before the 10th century and was a capital for the Mayan people.

Nowadays you can visit the awe-inspiring ruins and get a sense of what life was like for the Mayans. The most visited part of the site is the central Temple of Kukulkan, also known as The Castle. It was built to honour the god Kukulkan, a feathered serpent.

The best time to visit this temple is during the spring and autumn equinoxes, when the shadow of a serpent appears on the construction.

Drink a Refreshing Michelada

Iced michelada in a salt-rimmed glass
Iced michelada in a salt-rimmed glass – Arina Krasnikova (pexels)

There are so many fantastic Mexican drinks to try, and the michelada is one of them. It might remind you of a Bloody Mary, but has one key difference: beer instead of vodka.

While there are many variations, including adding Worcestershire sauce or clamato (clam and tomato juice mix), the main ingredients are beer, tomato juice, lime, spices, and salt. It usually comes in a chilled glass with a salted rim. No matter what type you choose, you can be sure it will be delicious and refreshing.

Go Surfing in Sayulita

Surfboard rental at Sayulita beach, Mexico – AnirMitra (pixabay)

Mexico has some of the best coastlines in the world. With the Pacific on one side and the Caribbean on the other, it’s no wonder. If you’re looking to go surfing, the west coast is a great place for surfers of all levels.

Just north of the Puerto Vallarta resort town, the Sayulita area has gorgeous beaches. Playa Sayulita has fantastic surf schools for beginners. Playa Carricitos is a better match for more experienced surfers in search of bigger waves.

No matter which you choose, you can relax and enjoy the sun, sand, and sea, then head into colourful Sayulita town for great cafés and restaurants.

Marvel at Beautiful Monarch Butterflies

Butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Michoacán, Mexico
Butterflies at Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, Michoacán, Mexico – naticastillog (depositphotos)

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a must-see spot for nature lovers in Mexico. Located a few hours northwest of Mexico City, it’s a protected park where these magnificent insects can wait out the winter.

Between October and March, with the highest population in January and February, millions of butterflies stop over between trips to Canada to rest in this wooded area. This makes for an absolutely stunning view.

Despite there being so many, the butterflies only occupy a small area of the reserve. However, there are many amazing creatures to spot, including foxes, owls, and deer among many others.

Travel as the Aztecs Did

Visitors enjoying Xochimilco boat ride, Mexico
Visitors enjoying Xochimilco boat ride, Mexico – Roberto Carlos Roman Don (unsplash)

Head to the Floating Gardens of Xochimilco, where you can rent a colourful boat and enjoy a few hours on the water. You can book a tour or go with a group of friends, just as the locals do.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site was built over the Aztecs’ transport system. Street vendors in their own boats will come by so you can get some delicious food and drink as you relax. You may even come across a mariachi band.

It would take a long time to visit every part of the canals, so heading for the centre might be your best bet. There is a greenhouse with fabulous flowers, plus turtles and the endangered Mexican axolotl.

Eat Cabrito in Monterrey

A dish from El Rey del Cabrito, one of the most popular cabrito restaurants in Monterrey
A dish from El Rey del Cabrito, one of the most popular cabrito restaurants in Monterrey – El Rey del Cabrito

Monterrey is the third-largest city in Mexico and is famous for its diverse cuisine. The climate and mixture of ethnic groups in the area has created some amazing dishes that are really unique.

One of the most recognisable dishes from the area is cabrito (kid goat). It’s cooked for around 6 hours over coal, but doesn’t have much of a smoky flavour as it’s turned every 15 to 20 minutes. Wash your meal down with a local beer or cola, then a customary dessert made from goat milk.

Admire the Beauty of Cancún

Sandy beach at Cancún
Sandy beach at Cancún – Michelle_Raponi (pixabay)

Cancún is easily one of the most famous places in all of Mexico. Millions of tourists go to the city on the Caribbean every year, and it’s easy to see why. Beautiful sandy beaches, clear blue water, delicious food, and fun resorts are in abundance.

Take a stroll down to Playa Tortugas for a vibrant day at the beach. The water is warm and perfect for swimming and snorkelling. Once you emerge from the sea, lay down on the sand or rent a comfortable beach chair and umbrella to get a rest from the sun.

For somewhere a bit less crowded, Playa Delfines is a great choice. It’s further away from the city of Cancún but is still close to some wonderful resorts. The name comes from the dolphins which can be sighted just off the coast.

Feel the History in Teotihuacan

Hot air balloons over giant pyramid at Teotihuacan
Hot air balloons over giant pyramid at Teotihuacan – Jorge (pexels)

No trip to Mexico would be complete without a visit to Teotihuacan. This ancient city used to be one of the most populous in the whole world. Nowadays, you can admire the ruins of this former metropolis, including the pyramids of the Sun and Moon.

This amazing complex is only about an hour and a half by bus from Mexico City, and there are countless tours to choose from.

How to Get Around in Mexico

We all know that getting around a new city can be confusing and intimidating, especially when the language is unfamiliar and the country has different driving rules. Luckily, there are plenty of options for getting around in Mexico that make travel a breeze!

Travel by Bus

A bus parked at Central bus station in Taxco, Mexico
A bus parked at Central bus station in Taxco, Mexico – eskystudio (depositphotos)

There are over 200 bus companies operating in Mexico, making bus travel one of the easiest and most economical ways to explore the country. Each of the bus companies in Mexico is privately owned, so there is a heavy focus on customer service and guest experience to make each journey enjoyable. The majority of companies operate clean, updated buses equipped with bathrooms and often offer services like snacks, drinks, and sandwiches on longer journeys. Private bus companies in Mexico serve all major metropolitan areas as well as outlying territories with trips anywhere between $2-$120 depending on the distance, location, and optional first class services.

With the availability, affordability, and ease of taking the bus in Mexico, it’s no surprise that Mexico City is the main hub of bus transportation offering service to virtually anywhere in the country. A two hour journey from Puebla to Mexico City starts at just under $10 whereas a fifteen hour trip from Cancun to Mexico City will cost around $70. With over 150 bus stations nationwide, purchasing a ticket at the counter is usually not an issue, but the majority of Mexico’s major bus providers also offer online purchasing for advance tickets if you need one.

Travel by Plane

Although buses are available almost anywhere in Mexico, ground transportation can take up to 24 hours or more depending on which city or area you are heading to. For longer trips, consider flying to your destination if you’re on a strict schedule or just want to save some extra time on your vacation. Mexico’s largest major airline is Aeromexico offers international routes as well as domestic flights starting at just under $70.

However for best deal on flights, there are also Mexico’s popular low cost carriers like Volaris and VivaAerobus. Flights from Mexico City to Cancun take about two hours and can be purchased for as little as $33. Meanwhile flights from Mexico city to Tijuana take about 3.5 hours and cost around $60. Plan your itinerary and cost by checking prices and time at Skyscanner or Momondo.

Rent a Car

Countryside drive at Tapalpa, Mexico
Countryside drive at Tapalpa, Mexico – Alex Jumper (unsplash)

If you prefer having the freedom to explore the country on your own schedule, renting a car in Mexico can actually be an affordable, viable option for some travelers. Most major car rental companies like Alamo, Avis, Budget, and Hertz offer rentals in Mexico. You can either rent on the spot or order online via Discovercars.

The minimum age to rent a car in Mexico is 21 years, with some companies requiring an additional fee for drivers 21-24 years of age. Be sure to pay attention to local laws and regulations, maintain proper speed and follow street signs, watch for potholes and speed bumps, and carry proper documentation with you at all times.

Below are the average cost based on car type:

  • 5 seats small car: $68/day
  • 5 seats SUV: $88/day
  • 7 seats van: $195/day

Gas price is $1.1/liter ($4.232/gallon).

Take a Taxi

Taxi in Mexico
Taxi in Mexico – Alice Kotlyarenko (unsplash)

Taxis are relatively inexpensive and readily available in major cities in Mexico as well as in most towns and villages in surrounding areas, but there are some important safety considerations to keep in mind when utilizing this form of transportation. When taking a taxi in Mexico, they are either metered, not metered, charged on a per kilometer basis, or charged by zones.

If you come across a non-metered taxi, it’s important to agree on the price you are willing to pay with your cab driver before starting the ride. Additionally, it is advised to secure a taxi from an authorized taxi booth versus hailing a street cab in Mexico City. When identifying an official taxi, look for the distinctive white license plate beginning with a capital letter and five numbers that is required by the Mexican government.

Taxis fares in Mexico vary by city, but online calculators make it easy to determine a fair fare ahead of time. It’s important to note that most taxi drivers speak little to no English and having a basic understanding of the Spanish language is needed when utilizing this mode of transportation.

Rideshare Apps

Although not available everywhere in Mexico, popular rideshare apps like Uber and Cabify operate in many of Mexico’s major cities. When using a rideshare app in Mexico, you can expect the same rules, regulations, and customer service as their stateside counterparts. Rideshare apps can be a safer and more straightforward alternative to taking a taxi because the in-app navigation map helps mitigate confusion on where to go. Pricing for rideshare apps largely fluctuates based on supply and demand at any given moment, but the app provides an estimate before travel so there are no surprises when agreeing to a ride.

Public Transport (within a city)

Public transportation in Mexico is readily available via buses, locally known as camiones, which are different from the privately owned bus companies found throughout the country. Although it can cost as little as $0.25 one way to take a public bus, they are often crowded and not user-friendly, which makes getting lost very likely. Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey all offer public transportation via metro rails which require the purchase of a rechargeable smart card which costs about $0.80 with fares starting at around $0.25 one way.

Where to Stay in Mexico

A room at Residence Inn Cancun
A room at Residence Inn Cancun – Residence Inn Cancun Hotel

Given the width and breadth of Mexico; and with over 70 recognized large metropolitan areas and over 30 World Heritage sites it’s important to plan your trip to the country with a decent itinerary with full notes on where to stay. The general recommendation are:

  • Hostel: budget conscious traveler, solo traveler. About $15 for a dorm bed and $35 for private room.
  • Vacation Rentals (AirBnB/Vrbo): traveler with partner(s), doesn’t need much amenities or services. $40 for 2 people accommodation, $70 for 4 people accommodation. Prices are widely varied.
  • Hotel: solo traveler or with partner(s), expect standardized services and amenities. $35 for a 3 stars hotel room, $90+ for a 5 stars one.

Note:

  • Prices based on Mexico city, they can be more expensive in Cancún and cheaper on smaller towns/cities. Do some research on each city you want to visit.
  • There are several beautiful all inclusive resorts around Mexico if you’re looking for different experiences. Check the most recommended one at best Mexico all inclusive resorts.

Cancún

The beaches of Cancún almost sell themselves with the idyllic white sandy beaches with palm trees looking ever-so inviting. It’s a no-brainer to find a villa or resort to stay here for the perfect relaxation getaway. There’s also plenty of history to take in with the El Rey, Cobá, and Muyil in the surrounding area.

El Meco Archaeological Site is one of the highlights of the locality too; with many ancient Mayan ruins including an impressive pyramid. While there you can also spy a plethora of Iguanas which populate the area. If you want to take in more history, down the coastline is the popular former Mayan civilization area, Tulum.

Cancún neighbors the state of Yucatan; which holds possibly the most popular and well-known tourist spot in Mexico: The Chichen Itza. This awe-inspiring Mayan pyramid is a mere two hours away from the beast resort of Cancún so is well worth a visit to add some culture to your beach holiday.

Recommended accommodation:

Zacatecas City

Budding culture vultures should look no further than Zacatecas City for one the highest concentrations of historical landmarks in Mexico. The city is full of historical sites which pay homage to the Battle of Zacatecas where a deeper understanding of Mexican history can be studied, especially in the dedicated museum. In addition, the center of the city is home to some eye-catching churrigueresque architecture including the famous cathedral.

The city also serves as a great base if you want to travel around the wider Zacatecas region which features such attractions as Altavista, La Quemada and if you go in August you’ll get to sample rich local culture in Holy Week.

Recommended accommodation:

Mexico City

A dorm room at Suites DF Hostel, Mexico City
A dorm room at Suites DF Hostel, Mexico City – Hostel Suites DF

Mexico City serves as the capital city of the country for good reason, over nine million people call the place home across 16 special boroughs of the city – it’s an urban metropolis rich in culture. Much like any contemporary big city you can eat, drink and dance to your heart’s delight. You should however experience the assets which make the destination unique. That means shopping at Artisanal Market in La Ciudadela; getting lost in Chapultepec Forest and appreciating local creativity, including murals at the Palace of Fine Arts. Oh and there’s no way that you can visit without dropping by the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Not only does Mexico City serve as a great destination in itself, but as an awesome base if you want to see other key attractions within commutable distance. To the Northwest is Querétaro which is easily accessed via train or by car and has lots to see including the multi-colored buildings. Going in the opposite direction is also a great idea on the same infrastructure as the city of Puebla is within reach. There you can literally walk down historical streets gleaming with rich Aztec vibes as well as twin volcanoes to appreciate Iztaccíhuatl and Popocatépetl.

In addition to those destinations, Mexico City is well connected to the rest of the country via several air routes from the airport with flights regularly running to domestic points of interest including Cancun, Guadalajara, and Tijuana.

Recommended accommodation:

Tijuana

As the second-most populous city in the country, it’s worth considering seeing Tijuana while on your trip. The metropolitan area is well known for its rich diversity thanks in part to its geographic proximity to the United States. As a result, the city enjoys a vibrant art scene with countless exhibitions happening at once. For sports fans, the city is a haven with three major teams to visit including the soccer club, Club Tijuana which is a former league champion.

Of course, if you’re visiting from the US, you can take advantage of the commerce tourism in Tijuana. Despite being only a few miles from major American states like California and Arizona; Tijuana boasts much lower prices on commodities like medicines, jewelry, and other similar services which can be taken advantage of for the savvy-minded tourist.

One of the best attributes of Tijuana besides its own attractions is the fact that it is well connected to other cities with regular flights to international and domestic points. In addition, it is also very close to San Diego, the USA; which makes it great if you’re plan includes visiting both countries.

Keep in mind that Tijuana is also known for human trafficking, drug trades, and gang violence. Keep to well-known tourist area, don’t be adventurous, and don’t walk alone at night. If necessary consult your hotel about places you plan to visit.

Recommended accommodation:

Puerto Vallarta

By comparison to the other destinations on this list, Puerto Vallarta is much smaller and less well-known; but that doesn’t mean it deserves to be omitted from your trip to Mexico. The town has a concentration of attractions, including the scenic Banderas Bay along the coastline. The town has retained a lot of its original charm and was a hotbed for Mexican movie sets in the 1960s.

This resort town has utilized the sea and made itself a hub for water sports and other aquatic adventures like the opportunity to swim with dolphins at Biocean Wildlife Encounters. For a unique experience, scaling the Sierra Madre mountain range should enthrall any adrenaline junkie.

If money is no object to you then you can also enjoy the affluent riches of the township as many well-to-do foreigners made it their home. This ensured that amenities like the Vista Vallarta Golf Club and various spas surfaces to accommodate the luxury-seeking population.

Jorullo Bridge is a newer attraction in the area, just south of the town. There you can cross the bridge and observe the natural wonder of the forests and green canyons as well as ride on an ATV – which has become very popular with tourists.

In fact, the town of Puerto Vallarta serves as a great base when wanting to see the natural beauty of the Jalisco state. Not only is the aforementioned bridge accessible but so is the Palo Maria waterfall and Nogalito Ecopark. The latter is an acclaimed day-out experience with opportunities to see wildlife, ride zip wire lines and trek through the bountiful riches of nature.

Recommended accommodation:

Must Try Restaurants

Mouthwatering Donkey de Trompo from Parrilla Urbana, Mexico City. Perfect when coupled with beer
Mouthwatering Donkey de Trompo from Parrilla Urbana, Mexico City. Perfect when coupled with beer – Parrilla Urbana

If you’re used to the franchised Mexican food back home, it’s time to taste the originals. The average cost are $5-10 at small eateries, $12-30 for a decent sit-in restaurant, and $30+ for fine dining. This average is based on prices at Mexico city, can be more or less expensive at the other parts of the country.

Best Time to Visit Mexico

One sunny afternoon at Cancun
One sunny afternoon at Cancun – David Vives (unsplash)

Mexico is a large country with many different climates ranging from desert, plains, tropical rainforest, and coastline. These variations in climate as well as which cities you visit will play a factor in the best time to visit. Here is what Mexico is like year-round and generally what is the best time to visit.

Spring: March-May (Best Time To Visit)

Springtime is the peak tourist season in Mexico when the climate is just right. Street food stalls are in full swing and the shops are open early and close late. You can feel the joy and vibrancy of Mexico in the evenings when the locals come out to enjoy their city. You’ll find people having family dinners or going on evening walks as well as enjoying the nightlife.

The weather in March and April is mostly clear and dry, while towards the end of April to May you may see a bit more rain and overcast skies. The average temperature in spring is 17°C (69°F) in the interior, and 26°C (78°F) along the coast.

Due to the pleasant weather in the spring, you can expect to see lots of tourists all over Mexico. This can increase prices on souvenirs and tours, so it’s always best to shop around to get the best prices.

Expect popular places like Chichen Itza, Cancun, or the Cenotes to be crowded. This is the best time to visit the interior of the country if you want pleasant weather and the best time to visit the coastal regions as it is a bit warmer and makes perfect beach weather.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Benito Juarez’s Birthday (mid March): a public holiday in Mexico that celebrates the birthday of a popular and well-known politician. Since this is a public holiday, many locals will be out on the beaches or enjoying some of the more touristy spots with their families.
  • The Holy Week of Easter (mid April): during this very religious week, you will find many businesses close as families are spending time together and attending church. You also might see dramatic reenactments in the streets or locals enjoying celebrations and food.
  • Cinco De Mayo: one of the most famous celebrations in Mexico celebrates the Mexican victory over the French at the battle of Pubela. You are likely to see military parades, dancing, and celebrations

Summer: June-August

Summertime in Mexico can be sweltering and make traveling outside difficult if you aren’t acclimatized to the heat. The coastal regions still attract lots of beachgoers and the resorts are still quite full. You are likely to see fewer people out mid-day from 11-3 pm and more likely to see people out enjoying the evening and night hours. Be prepared to feel the heat of the sun well into the night. You might want to stay up late and enjoy a night full of dancing, food, and fun.

The weather in the summer months can be a bit more muggy and overcast, which continues well into autumn. The average temperature in the interior is 18°C (64°F) and the average temperature along the coast is 28°C (82°F). If you want to escape the sweltering coastline, this would be a great season to explore the interior of the country, where the temperature would still be hot but more bearable compared to the coast.

Highlighted events during this period:

  • St John The Baptist Day (June 29): this religious day celebrates St John the Baptist. Many people in Mexico celebrate by tossing water on one another as well as attending religious services.
  • The Feast of Saint Augustine (August 26): on this day it is customary to make the Mexican dish “chiles en nogada” which is peppers, stuffed with beef and walnut sauce. Families gather together and feast in Saint Augustine’s honor.

Autumn: September-November (2nd Best Time to Visit)

September in Mexico can see similar weather as the summer months and will slowly tapers off towards the end of the season. This is the second-best season to visit as the weather becomes more pleasant and you will see a return to mid-day activities.

The tourist hotspots will pick up again and become full and you can expect to pay full price for tours or activities. The coastal regions still see warm temperatures and the beaches will be full as there is less rain and clearer skies, especially towards November.

The weather at the beginning of Autumn can still see some of the muggy weather from the summer months but quickly tapers off towards the end of the season. Overall the weather is pleasant and perfect for touring the country in the interior as well as the coast. The average temperature in the interior is 16°C (60°F) and the average temperature along the coast is 27°C (80°F).

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Cowboy Day (September 14): on this day cowboys parade through the streets on their horses while Catholic mass takes place, the priest’s words being projected onto the streets. Head to a bullring after the parade for an afternoon of games and competitions.
  • Day Of The Angel (October 1): this day celebrates the patron saint of Puerto Angel, so this would be the best place to celebrate. You can see fireworks and dancing in the evening.
  • Day Of The Dead (November 2): possibly the most famous Mexican celebration, you can find elaborate parades, decorated graves, and people in costume to celebrate loved ones who have passed on. Homes are often decorated and treats are left out for the deceased family members. In some of the bigger cities, it wouldn’t be too hard to find a festival or party to attend.

Winter: December-February

Winter in Mexico is when you will see the coolest temperatures overall, but this doesn’t detour the tourists. Many people from the Americas and Europe like to spend their Christmas vacations in Mexico because of the comparatively better climate. The skies are very clear and towards the end if December the weather will be more dry and pleasant.

In the interior of the country and outside of the holidays, you can see a dip in tourism and might be able to get the best prices on gifts and tours. The coastal regions still have pleasant temperatures so when visiting those regions you can expect to pay full price for all tours and gifts throughout the season.

If you avoid the holidays, this would be the best season to get the best price when visiting the interior. The weather in the winter can range from cool mornings and evenings if you aren’t on the coast, to comfortable mornings and evenings with a hot mid-day. This would be a good time to visit the coast if you want the heat, and the interior if you want to avoid it. The average temperature in the interior is 14°C (57°F) and the average temperature along the coast is 23°C (73°F).

Highlighted events during this period:

  • Constitution Day (beginning of February): a day of celebration to remember the day when Mexico’s constitution came into law. This is a public holiday in Mexico so expect to see more locals out in the streets and some stores to have reduced hours.
  • Flag Day (February 24): this day celebrates patriotism and the Mexican flag. You are likely to see a parade in the streets with the flag of Mexico going by.
  • Christmas (December 25): in the days leading up to Christmas, you can find many religious ceremonies, parades, lit candles, and gatherings happening. It’s tradition to fill piñatas with candies to break open.

Mexico Trip Cost

Be sure to have your Mexican peso ready
Be sure to have your Mexican peso ready – Bren-birb (pixabay)

Be sure to have your pesos prepared before you leave for the country. Your expense will depend on what kind of traveler you are and the time of the year when you get there.

Transportation

  • Bus around the country: $2-120 depend on distance and class. For example Puebla to Mexico City’s 2 hours ride cost under $10 while Cancun to Mexico City’s 15 hours trip cost $70.
  • Plane: if you opt to take a flight to minimize trip time, utilize Mexico’s budget airlines for best deals. For example Mexico City to Cancun cost $33 while Mexico City to Tijuana cost $60. Utilize Skyscanner or Momondo to check or find one.
  • Rent car: average prices for 5 seats small car: $68/day; 5 seats SUV: $88/day; 7 seats van: $195/day. Gas cost $1.1/liter ($4.232/gallon). Check your option at Discovercars.
  • Taxi: start around $0.95 with $0.30/km in Mexico City. Check Numbeo for more estimated fare.
  • Metro (available in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey): card cost $0.80 with trip fare starts from $0.25.

Accommodation

  • Hostel: $15/night for a dorm bed, $35 for private room. Find one at Hostelworld.
  • Vacation rental: $40/night for 2 people accommodation, $70 for 4 people. Find one at AirBnB.
  • Hotel: $35/night for a 3 stars hotel, $90+ for a 5 stars one. Find one at Booking.

*price based on Mexico City. Prices in Cancún will be more expensive.

Food

Just like accommodation cost, food prices might vary between cities/towns. Below are food prices at Mexico City:

  • Small eateries/street food: $5-10
  • Decent sit-in restaurant: $12-30
  • Fine dining: $30+

Entertainment and Attraction

Many of the attractions in Mexico are free as there are a lot of nature related spots, some that you might want to spend your money on are:

Covid Update

Covid19 situation is fluid and keep changing. At the moment (6 March 2022) Mexico doesn’t implement any Covid related measure to incoming travelers. This mean no test, no quarantine, only health screening at the airport. The government site is unfortunately mostly in Spanish so be sure to browse for latest information from a few other sources before you leave for the country. If you’re a US citizen, you can check the US embassy site.

How to Stay Safe in Mexico

Crowded popular spot in Mexico City, stay aware of your surrounding
Crowded popular spot in Mexico City, stay aware of your surrounding – Jezael Melgoza (unsplash)

Ranked 140 in the Global Peace Index (above Israel), Mexico is considered as a relatively safe place to travel to. Nevertheless, there are things to remember when visiting Mexico as a tourist. 

Some non-touristic areas are notorious for high crime rates but tourist areas are usually relatively safe. Crimes like pick-pocketing and drug-peddling are common in tourist areas, specifically during the high winter season, but armed assault or kidnapping of foreigners are almost nonextant. This is due to the government paying special attention to keep tourist areas from gang violence and high level crime.

Some areas are nevertheless considered unsafe for travelers to visit. Travel warning by the U.S Department of State recommends not to travel to Guerrero and to consider carefully to travel Baja California due to their high crime rate. See the full list here.

Even in touristic, low-risk areas, you must exercise caution and stay aware of your surrounding in unfamiliar environment. If people approach you for seemingly no reason you should be cautious for scam or theft attempt. Also bear in mind that the more insistent they are the less you should trust them. 

Even though prostitution is allowed and regulated in many states, try to avoid it, and keep in mind that many prostitutes can be minors, with age of consent varying from one state to another. 

The use of drug substances poses another risk. Despite the fact that cannabis has been legalized for personal and recreational uses, and possession of drugs in small quantities is decriminalized, it is still advised not to consume illicit substances in Mexico. Using and purchasing them can expose you to gangs and thus potentially to gang violence. 

Keep in mind that one of the best precautions when traveling to Mexico is to get a good travel insurance. If anything goes wrong you can get yourself covered, including canceled flights, losing luggage or other items, got picpocketed, or other unexpected things. Travel insurance can also get you covered if you need medical attention while you’re there or need emergency evacuation back home.

Here is a list of things to bear in mind when traveling around Mexico

  • Master basic Spanish words
  • Travel by public transport during the day but by private means at night
  • If you pass through high crime area don’t attract attention, try to blend with the crowd
  • Keep your valuables close to you when in public spaces or leave them in a safe place such as a strong-box at your hotel
  • Keep copies of all your important documents and don’t carry all your money on you