MEXICO TRAVEL TIPS: How to plan a trip to Mexico
More articles at the bottom of the page: 9 best unique and unusual places to visit in Mexico |
Discover all the essential Mexico travel tips with this ultimate country guide. Find out why you should visit Mexico, the best time to visit, and some essential travel tips.
Mexico is one of the most visited countries in Latin America and for good reasons, it offers dynamic cities, vibrant cuisine, and a large variety of outdoor activities. Use these Mexico travel tips to plan your perfect vocation!
Why visit Mexico
This country is often listed as one of the year’s hottest destinations. Mexico truly has it all: From secret islands, a Caribbean coastline, bustling cities, and ancient ruins there are plenty of activities and unique sights to discover.
Mexico is the land of adventures, with lush forests, snowcapped volcanos, and over 10 000 km of sandy coastline. No matter your budget, there are plenty of things and activities available. No wonder why Mexico is considered one of the best destinations for adventure seekers and families alike.
Essential Mexico travel tips
LANGUAGE: Spanish is the official language, however, the government recognizes 68 national languages, 63 of which are indigenous. English is widely spoken in the biggest cities.
MONEY/ATM: The legal currency of Mexico is the Mexican peso. ATMs are widespread in the biggest cities.
ELECTRONIC APPLIANCES: In Chile, the power plugs and sockets are of type A and B. The standard voltage is 127V and the standard frequency is 60 Hz.
VISA: Everyone traveling to Mexico for tourism or business on short-term purposes (up to 180 days) needs to get Mexico Tourist Card. Available at your point of entry.
Best time to visit Mexico
The best time to visit Mexico truly depends on the reason for traveling. Generally speaking, there are two main seasons, wet (from May to October) and dry (December to April).
The rainy season brings frequent storms and a higher chance of hurricanes. Nevertheless, this is a great time to visit Mexico on a budget, the vegetation is green and lush and the lack of tourists gives a higher sense of authenticity. July and August are also a great time for water sports, such as surfing.
The dry season offers clear blue skies and very little rain. The coolest months are between December and February, although temperatures are still warm and comfortable. March and April are the peak tourist season and the most popular time to visit.
How much is a trip to Mexico?
Generally speaking, Mexico is pretty cheap compared to other countries in South America. Use these Mexico travel tips to organize your holiday on a budget. These prices are rough estimates.
Airbnb and budget hotels are widely available and relatively cheap, starting from around 30 USD. Mid-range hotels start from 50 USD and more luxury options are available for over 100 USD.
Of course, street food is the cheapest and best option to experience Mexican cusine on a budget, starting from only 5-7 USD. There are plenty of mid-range restaurants offering a full meal with drinks for only 15 USD.
Luckily the country has a lot of free outdoor sights ready to be explored. Nevertheless, activities in Mexico are generally quite affordable. Admission to historical sights ranges from 5 to 10 USD. Scuba diving and water activities are slithy more expensive, starting from 100 USD…
What to eat in Mexico
Mexico has one of the richest gastronomes in the world, so much that the UNESCO recognized it as an intangible cultural heritage. The country’s cuisine is characterized by vibrant and colorful dishes, a perfect mix of traditional pre-hispanic ingredients and European influence.
Officially the most popular Mexican dish! The most common are beef, chorizo, and marinated pork, all mixed together with vegetables and spices! A unique mix of flavours, and one of the best dishes in Mexico!
A burrito is a rolled flour tortilla stuffed with many different ingredients of choice. Usually, they come with pork or beef mixed together with cheese, avocado, and a lot of spices. A burrito is a simple fulfilling dish available all throughout Mexico.
Enchiladas date back to Mayan times. These are flour or corn tortilla rolls filled with fish, beef, or pork and covered with a savory sauce. Enchiladas are the perfect combination of meat, cheese, and spices. A symbol of a traditional Mexican meal.
These are tortillas cut into quarters, lightly fried or baked, covered in salsa, and topped with crumbled cheese and Mexican crema. As with many Mexican dishes, regional and family variations are quite common. Chilaquiles is usually considered a breakfast meal!
Best things to see and do in Mexico
Whatever you are looking for a quick city break, an outdoor adventure, or a resort holiday this country has it all. Use these Mexico travel tips to narrow down the best things to do and places to visit, starting from the northern part of the country all the way to the south.
Mexico’s Grand Canyon-Copper Canyon
Mexico’s Copper Canyon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this is is actually a series of 6 canyons, which cut through the Sierra Madre Occidental in northwestern Mexico. Their lengths combined is almost 4 times the Grand Canyon in the USA, at points even deeper.
The area surrounding the canyonland is rich in cultural history with growing tourist infrastructure.
The most popular way to cross and visit the canyon is by El Chepe, a 418 miles train journey. Despite being possible to complete the trip in one day it is advisable to spend a few nights in the towns along the way. More information and booking details.
La Paz and Isla del Espiritu Santo
La Paz is a growing and expanding town in Baja California, north of Mexico. The city is surrounded by clear blue waters and long sandy beaches, it offers some of the best worldwide sportfishing and great water activities. One of the best excursions is the famous Espiritu Santo Island, a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site since 2005 – There are plenty of organized bout tours reaching the island.
There are no hotels or infrastructures available making this a perfect spot for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking as whales, dolphins, whale sharks, and sea turtles are usually found in the waters. On top of that, it is possible to camp on the beach, a perfect way to enjoy nature from a luxurious tent site.
Mexico City, also known as the Nation’s capital, is a perfect combination of Aztec ruins and modern buildings. It features many churches, cathedrals, art galleries, and museums as well as modern and contemporary architecture. Mexico City has a strong culinary tradition: from fine dining to street food there are colorful and vibrant dishes all over the town.
In the past few years, the city has revamped a lot of the public spaces making it safer and more welcoming each day.
Finally, this is a great starting and ending point to your trip due to great international connections.
San Juan Teotihuacán
Teotihuacan is a vast Mexican archaeological complex just north of Mexico City. The vast settlement is filled with pyramids, temples, and platforms, leaving a central path called “avenue of the dead”. Teotihuacan is a UNESCO world heritage site as it’s one of the most powerful cultural centers in Mesoamerica and is well known all over the world. This is one of the most popular day trips from Mexico City.
La Huasteca Potosina and Las Grutas Tolantogo hot springs
La Huasteca Potosina is a relatively small region located in the north-central part of Mexico. The entire area presents a variety of landscapes, from flatlands to hills, there is a huge amount of waterfalls, canyons, natural pools, and caves across the entire region. Truly a playgroup for outdoor and adventure seekers. Rafting, rappelling, waterfall jumping, and canoeing are only a few of the best things to do in the area – Read the Ultimate Guide to La Huasteca Potosina!
Right at the edge of Las Huasteca Potosina, only 3 hours away from Mexico City, are the very famous Las Grutas Tolantogo hot springs. A collection of hot pools built into a cliff in Hidalgo and one of the most Instagram-worthy places in Mexico. Although the heated pools are the main attraction, the resort offers a lot more to offer, such as a turquoise river, many waterfalls, grottos with natural spring water, and waterfalls.
Another one on the list of Mexico’s UNESCO world heritage sites, El Tajin, meaning “thunder” (although other records show “place of the dead” or “place of the invisible spirits”). It is the best-preserved excavated pre-Hispanic town of its period, it comprises a number of temples, plazas, and pyramids, with the biggest and most notable being the Pyramid of the Niches.
Don’t let the name fool you, this beach is a spectacular destination but very well known by international tourism. Despite being relatively busy it remains an incredible spot with colorful marine life. The beach is on Islas Merietas, just off the coast of Riviera Nayarit.
It hides in an ancient volcanic crater and it’s only reachable by canoes or swimming, completely invisible from the outside.
Pico de Orizaba
Only a couple of hours drive away from Mexico City is this dormant but not yet extant volcano. The mountain (5636m) attracted many climbers each year, due to its snowcap top and glaciers along the way. Because of the high altitude, people are required to climatize and have previous mountaineering experience. The town of Tlachichuca is the closest to the starting point of the mountain’s main routes and a great place to start the hike, there are also a few options for lodging available.
Oaxaca and the Sierra Norte Mountains
Oaxaca has always been a destination for foreigners seeking a quieter, and more preserved version of the country’s indigenous history. The city is only a five hours drive from Mexico City and it has a vibrant vibrant art scene, full of colorful and extroverted festivities and a unique cuisine.
Oaxaca is a great base to explore the Sierra Norte mountains, one of the best places to go hiking in Mexico. The mountain indigenous villages came together to create a protected area project with a well-established network of hiking trails. Trekking is the most popular activity as well as horse riding and even zip-lining across the paths.
Bioluminescence Laguna de Manialtepec
In Mexico, there are few places where luminous plankton can be observed. One of them is Laguna de Manialtepec in the area of Puerto Escondido. Of course, there are a series of factors and conditions that needs to be accounted for in order to fully appreciate the phenomena, such as light pollution and time of the year. July, August, November, and December are the best time to witness the event, you can even swim between these small luminous creatures…unfortunately, heavy rain or full moon are the worst conditions to visit.
This is the second-most visited archaeological park in Mexico and a UNESCO protected area. The layout of the buildings, which date from between 700 and 1000, reveals a knowledge of astronomy, making this a unique sight in southern Mexico. The most attractive building is the famous “Pyramid of the Magician”, at 100 feet the tallest structure. The name comes from an ancient legend: a magician-god named Itzamna single-handedly constructed the pyramid in one night.
Chichen Itza, Yucatan
This is a very popular destination due to its proximity to Cancun, one of the most touristy towns in Mexico. This UNESCO heritage site is one of the seven wonders of the World and welcomes over 2,500,000 visitors each year. It is thought to have been a religious, military, and political center and it’s now characterized by temples, sacred sinkholes, and curious Mayan ballcourts.
Cancun is recognized all over the world for its spectacular white sand beaches and its turquoise blue sea. With incredible natural places, water activities, and luxury hotels and spas no wonder why Cancun is the top tourist destination in Mexico.
This is a great place to unwind after traveling across the country, perhaps hiking the Pico de Orizaba or white water rafting in the Sierra Norte mountains.
One of the most popular activities in Cancun is scuba diving, the city has an underwater museum with hundreds of sculptures hiding under the sea.
Tulun and the Cenotes
Only a couple of hours’ drive from Cancun is the popular and stunning town of Tulun. The city was constructed and inhabited by the Mayan people between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, today Tulun is a thriving tourism hot spot with a bohemian feeling.
Aside from dreamy beaches and a picturesque landscape, the area is well known for its famous Cenotes, these are limestone sinkholes filled with freshwater connected by a large underground river system. Most of them have a small entrance fee to pay, swimming and snorkeling are the most popular activity and scuba diving trips are highly recommended to explore deeper into the caves. Some of the most popular are Dos Ojos, Zacil Ha, and Jardin del Eden.
A tropical island located a few hours north of Cancun and a 20-minutes ferry ride from Chiquila. This small paradise offers white dreamy beaches and plenty of activities all year round, with the most popular being swimming with whale sharks between May and September. The rustic small town has a unique bohemian feeling, no cars are allowed on the dirt roads, and the only way to travel around the island is by golf cart or bike.
Unfortunately, Isla Holbox is not a cheap place to visit, due to its many luxury hotels and expensive restaurants.
Cozumel Scuba Diving and water axtivities
Cozumel is only a short ferry ride away from Playa del Carmen, despite being a relatively small island it has its own airport due to its popularity and amount of visitors each year.
Cozumel offers some of the best underwater activities and scuba diving in the world, a rich and colorful coral reef characterized by many limestone caves and mountains. The island has numerous dive centers offering PADI-regulated courses, fun dives, and even underwater photography lessons.
Have these essential Mexico travel tips made you eager to plan a trip to this huge and beautiful country? Mexico is a land full of surprises, activities, and diverse landscapes ready to be discovered….
If you found these Mexico travel tips helpful, or have experienced any of these beautiful locations, let me know in the comments below.