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Mexico travel guide: adventure tips and more

Are you traveling to Mexico? Read tips and all the information you need to have an amazing experience during your trip.

אוגוסט 2, 2023

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Mexico is a wonderful country, but visiting can be overwhelming because of everything there is to see and do. Thus, we have created this travel guide for you, with which we hope to guide you on your next adventure.

In our guide, you will learn general information about Mexico, discover the best dates to travel, the top destinations in the country, its gastronomy, what and where to buy, how to make your itinerary, how to connect to the Internet, and so much more!

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What you should know about Mexico: General information

Before traveling, it is essential that you know some general information to get ready for your vacation.

  • Weather: The weather in Mexico is varied since the temperatures are different in each region. In the south of the country, you will find temperatures ranging from 24 to 34 °C, while in the north, temperatures range from 24 to 29 °C. The highest temperatures are in the coastal areas of the country.
  • Language: The official language is Spanish. (In the commercial and business areas of Chihuahua and Baja California, it is very common to hear English as well.)
  • Currency: Mexican Peso (MXN).
  • Time Zone: In Mexico, you will find four different time zones. In the Southwest (Quintana Roo) UTC-5 applies, in the center, UTC-6 is used, in the Pacific zone, UTC-7 and in the northwest (Baja California and Colima) UTC-8, but in summer, UTC-7.

To plan any trip, you have to consider the currency exchange. If you do not have Mexican pesos, you can exchange your domestic currency at the airport, at a bank, or at an exchange house, although we recommend that you do it at the exchange houses since they offer a much better exchange rate than at the airport, for example. But, be careful! Commissions can be high.

Now, if you are wondering how much money you should exchange, it is important to exchange enough money to cover your expenses during the trip. Nonetheless, it is not necessary to exchange all your money at once, both for security and practical reasons.

Mexico city
General information. Source: Freepick.es

What to take into account when traveling to Mexico?

When you start planning your trip to Mexico, it is important that you keep in mind both the necessary documentation, and some security, culture, and connectivity tips. This will help you have a great and peaceful experience.

Visa

If you are a citizen of the United States, Canada, or the European Union, you do not need to acquire a visa to travel to Mexico as a tourist, since you will be allowed a maximum stay of 180 days.

However, if you are a citizen of another country, you may need to apply for a visa. You can find more information about whether you need a visa on the website of the Mexican Embassy in your country or on the website of the Government of Mexico in the Migration section.

Below is a table with some of the countries that need a visa to enter Mexico according to the percentage of applications. If you want to know the complete list of countries, go to the migration website indicated above.

 Countries that need Visa 
BrazilHondurasUkraine
GuatemalaDominican RepublicIraq
CubaGuyanaHaiti
ChinaIranAlgeria
EcuadorLebanonCameroon
VenezuelaMoroccoPhilipines
RussiaQatarSouth Africa
El SalvadorThailandJordan
IndiaTunisiaGrenade
NicaraguaTürkiyeEquatorial Guinea
Table 1: Countries that require a visa to enter Mexico

Security

It is also very important that you get travel insurance since it will protect you in the event of an accident, illness, or the loss of your luggage.

We have some tips that will surely be of great help in a country to which you have not traveled before:

  • Keep your valuables with you at all times.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the people and things around you, especially in crowded areas.
  • Avoid walking alone at night, and even more so in poorly lit areas.
  • Do not carry a lot of cash with you. Take only what is necessary and keep the rest in a safe place.
  • Do not trust strangers or give them personal information.
  • Do not consume drugs or alcohol excessively.
  • Be respectful of the local culture. Avoid making comments or gestures that could be considered offensive.
  • If you are a woman, you may like to know that in Mexico City there are “pink taxi” lines whose purpose is to provide security to their users. In the same way, in the city subway, there are exclusive cars for women, which you could take advantage of if you needed to.

Culture

Mexico is a country with a very rich culture. You must be respectful of Mexican traditions and customs. This includes dressing appropriately, avoiding taking photos of people without their permission, and considering your actions.

Although English is widely spoken in the tourist areas of Mexico, it is important to know a little Spanish before you travel, as this will make it easier for you to communicate with the locals and will help you avoid misunderstandings.

Internet connection

In Mexico, you may have connection problems in some areas of the country, since there is no excellent navigation coverage in the entire region. Some of the options that you can take into account to connect to the Internet are choosing an eSIM with unlimited data, a SIM card, pocket WiFi, using free Wifi networks, or checking the international roaming of your domestic operator.

We recommend you use the Holafly eSIM card for Mexico. With it, you will have unlimited data and coverage in destinations such as CDMX, Cancun, and other cities or tourist places, except for Isla Holbox, Isla Contoy, Chiquilá, and Ojo de Agua, where the general coverage is reduced.

Try to avoid connecting to public Wi-Fi networks in crowded places, such as airports, cafés, or public places, as you will be exposed to malware, data theft, and even identity theft. Do not use banking apps or those that request or have your personal information.

Best dates to travel to Mexico

If you are wondering when is the best time to travel to Mexico, we tell you that it is the season that goes from November to April since the weather is warm, sunny, and with little rain.

Although if what you are looking for is to know Mexico in all its splendor, we recommend you travel during the following dates:

Special Events

  • Carnival (February 8-February 13): Carnival is a party celebrated throughout Mexico, but it is especially popular in the south of the country. You will be able to contemplate parades, dances, and music when traveling during these dates.
  • Feast of May 5: The victory of the Mexican army against the French forces of Napoleon III in the battle of Puebla is commemorated. That day, you can witness concerts, parades, performances, mariachi bands, fireworks, re-enactments of the battle, and much more. (The celebration can be extended for up to a month!)
  • Independence Day (September 16): Different festivities are held throughout the country, from parades, concerts, and recreations to the delight of exclusive dishes of the season.
  • International Cervantino Festival (October): This festival is one of the most popular in Latin America and is celebrated in Guanajuato. It is a performing arts festival in which theater, music, dance, and literature presentations from all over the world are performed.
  • Day of the Dead (November 2): This festival is one of the most important in Mexico, in which life and death are celebrated. It is characterized by its offerings of food, drinks, flowers, and candles. (Do not forget to try the bread of the dead, as it is different in each region.)
  • Festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe (December 12): This festival is the most important in all of Mexico because the Virgin of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the country.
Day of the Death
Day of the Dead, Mexico. Source: Freepick.es

What is the cheapest month to travel to Mexico?

The cheapest month to travel to Mexico is January. Why? Because it is considered low season in Mexico, you will find fewer tourists and lower prices.

If what you want is to save a few cents, you can travel in the January-March season, since the prices of flights, accommodation, and activities are cheaper than in any other month of the year.

Also, the weather in January is nice, since the average temperatures are 21 °C.

How to get to Mexico?

There are several ways to get to Mexico, as there are direct flights to Mexico from many countries around the world, including the rest of North America, Europe, and Latin America.

Although if you don’t want to fly, you can also get to Mexico by bus or car, as there are buses that travel to Mexico from many cities in the United States and Canada, and there are even ferries that travel to Mexico from the United States and Cuba.

Getting to Mexico by car

The most common way to get to Mexico by car is to cross the border between the United States and Mexico. There are several land borders between the two countries, but the most popular is the border between San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico.

If you are traveling from Canada, you can cross the Canada-Mexico border at several checkpoints, but we recommend crossing the Nogales-Arizona, and Nogales-Sonora borders.

If you prefer to travel by bus, we tell you that it is a cheap way to get to the country. Some of the companies in the United States, Mexico, and Canada that provide this service, are Greyhound, Turimex Pullman, ADO, Estrella Blanca, and Primera Plus.

Getting to Mexico by plane

If you want to arrive in Mexico by plane, the most common way is to fly into one of the many international airports in the country. The most important international airports in Mexico are Mexico City International Airport (MEX), Cancun International Airport (CUN), Guadalajara International Airport (GDL), Monterrey International Airport (MTY), Tijuana International Airport (TIJ)).

  • United States and Canada: The airlines that offer direct flights are Aeroméxico, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, United Airlines, and Volaris.
  • Europe: In Europe, you can also get direct flights to Mexico. We recommend flying with Aeroméxico, Air France, British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Swiss International Air Lines, TAP Air Portugal, and Vueling.
  • South America: Due to its proximity, South America could not be the exception. You will get direct flights to Mexico with Aeroméxico, Avianca, Latam Airlines, Copa Airlines, and Aerolíneas Argentinas.
  • Asia: Even though the distance is much greater, you can also find direct flights from Asia. The most prominent airlines that offer this service are Aeroméxico, China Airlines, EVA Air, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Thai Airways International, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific Airways.

Our main recommendation is that before buying your ticket, visit platforms such as Skyscanner so that you can compare flights and find the most suitable option for your needs and travel budget.

Go to Mexico by sea

Going to Mexico by boat or ferry is also possible, as different means of transportation travel to this destination from different parts of the world.

Departing from the United States, you will find companies such as Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises, Holland America Line, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International. Generally, they leave from California to Baja California, and if the starting point is Alaska, they disembark in Puerto Vallarta.

If you prefer to travel by ferry or if it is more comfortable for you, we tell you that the most popular companies for this service are: Caribbean Ferry, Baja California Ferry, Mazatlán Ferry, and Puerto Vallarta Ferry. These companies operate from Los Angeles, San Diego, Mazatlán, and Puerto Vallarta, respectively.

There are two ways to buy ferry or boat tickets from the United States to Mexico: online or directly at the ticket office or company office.

If you buy your tickets online, you will find different options for ferry trips, such as passenger ferries, cargo ferries, and luxury ferries. But if you buy your tickets in person, you’ll have the ability to go to a ferry company’s ticket office and speak with an agent to learn more about schedules, prices, and available ferry options.

Discover Mexican cuisine: flavors and cultures

Mexican gastronomy has been recognized worldwide by various international organizations, such as UNESCO, which declared that traditional Mexican cuisine is an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

This was because of the richness of its gastronomy, which is the result of a mixture of cultures that have been adapted over time. If you want to try authentic Mexican cuisine, you cannot stop eating its tacos, enchiladas, mole, quesadillas, pozole, burritos, nachos, cochinita pibil, chiles en nogada, carnitas, or the Veracruz style fish.

Some of the most recommended cities to try Mexican cuisine are:

  • Mexico City.
  • Guadalajara.
  • Puebla.
  • Oaxaca.
  • Cancun.

Note: Mexican food is especially spicy since they use varieties of chilies or chili peppers, so if you are not used to these flavors, we recommend that you find out about the level of spiciness of the dish that you will consume.

Top 10 best cities to visit in Mexico

Discover our top 10 of the best cities to visit in Mexico:

  • Mexico City: It is the capital of Mexico, and also, one of the largest cities in the world. You will find various attractions, such as the National Palace, the Templo Mayor, and the National Museum of Anthropology.
  • Guadalajara: This city is known for its food, tequila, and culture. We recommend visiting the Tequila Route, Lake Chapala, Tlaquepaque, the Degollado Theater, and the Libertad market.
  • Puebla: This colonial city is known for its architecture and culture. You can visit attractions such as the Cathedral of Puebla, the Amparo Museum, and the Great Pyramid of Cholula.
  • Oaxaca: Known for its food, its mezcal, and its marked culture, you can visit the Zócalo de Oaxaca, the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, and the Temple of Santo Domingo.
  • Cancun: It offers white sand beaches, crystalline waters, and prestigious natural parks, such as Holbox, Playa del Carmen, Isla Mujeres, Xcaret Park, and Chichén Itzá.
  • Tulum: It is one of the most beautiful destinations in this country. You will find Mayan ruins, beaches, and white sands. Must-sees: Tulum archaeological zone, cenotes, paradise beach, and Xel-Há Park.
  • Monterrey: It is known for its warm weather, its culture, and the beer industry. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Museum of Mexican History, the old quarter, and Fundidora Park.
  • Hermosillo: Some of the best tourist attractions are the cathedral, the art museum, Lake Sauceda and La Pintada.
  • Chetumal: Discover the Museum of Mayan Culture, the archaeological zones of Kohunlich and Calakmul, the Altamirano market, and the Milagros lagoon.
  • Mérida: It stands out for its colonial architecture, gastronomy, and Mayan culture. Its attractions are Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, the city museum, the Government Palace, and the Plaza Mayor.
top 10 cities in Mexico
The top 10 best cities to know in Mexico. Source: Freepick.es

What are the 10 best beaches in Mexico?

If you are looking for an unforgettable beach vacation, Mexico is the perfect place for you because they are considered some of the most beautiful in the world. Therefore, we will immediately present our top 10 best beaches in Mexico:

  • Playa del Carmen: Located in the state of Quintana Roo, it is known for its lively, party atmosphere, restaurants, and shops.
  • Tulum: It is known for its Mayan ruins, its crystal-clear waters, its relaxed atmosphere, and its dreamy sunsets.
  • Cozumel: It is an island located in Quintana Roo, characterized by its white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, and different water activities.
  • Isla Mujeres: Also located in Quintana Roo, it is known for its white sand beaches, and its blue waters. It is a paradisiacal destination.
  • North Beach: It is on Isla Mujeres, and is very popular among European and North American tourists.
  • Playa Paraíso: It is known for the beauty of its waters, bars, restaurants, and dishes with seafood.
  • Xcacel: The lost jewel of Quintana Roo, offers the most unique landscapes in the world, almost virgin beaches, and beautiful mangroves.
  • Holbox: It is a paradise on the Gulf of Mexico where you will find the perfect harmony between tourism and nature. But remember that it is a protected natural reserve, so all of us must take care of it.
  • Bacocho Beach: Ideal for water sports. It has hotels and restaurants on the shores of the beach that offer the best gastronomy in the area.
  • Zipolite: If you’re looking for a peaceful setting by the Pacific, this beach is for you. But it should be noted that it is the first official nudist beach in Mexico.
Best beaches in Mexico
The best beaches in Mexico. Source: somewhereholbox.com

Best destinations for cultural tourism in Mexico

If you are looking for a cultural tourist destination in Mexico, you can explore the cities listed below because there you will find ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins, colonial cities, and more.

  • Mexico City: In this city, you will find many places with great historical and cultural wealth, such as the following museums and historical sites: the Palace of Fine Arts, the Natural History Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the Frida Kahlo Museum, and others.
  • Yucatan: There you will see one of the most emblematic places in the country, which is preserved as a World Heritage Site. Chichén Itzá is an ancient Mayan city, considered an archaeological treasure, in which you will discover the Kukulcán Pyramid, the Temple of the Thousand Columns, the Sacred Cenote, and more.
  • Teotihuacán: Located in the state of Mexico, this city was one of the largest and most powerful in Mesoamerica, but mainly, it is known for its pyramids, such as one of the Sun and the Moon. In the same way, you will have the possibility to explore the temple of Quetzalcóatl, the Palace of Quetzalpapálot, the murals of the Feathered Snails and the Jaguars, and the Calzada de los Muertos.
  • Puebla: In Puebla, our cultural suggestion is to visit the National Railway Museum, the Artist’s Quarter, the Callejón de los Sapos, and El Parián, which will help you learn a little more about the history and traditions of Mexico.
  • Oaxaca: This city is known for its Zapotec culture, its indigenous peoples, its market, and its gastronomy. To explore its historic center, we recommend you visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Soledad. Other sites are the Casa de Juárez Museum, the Xochimilco arches, the 20 de Noviembre market, the Benito Juárez market.

Where to practice ecotourism in Mexico?

Mexico is not only a country rich in culture, history, or gastronomy, but also in nature reserves, which are ideal for ecotourism. Some of the best destinations are the following:

  • Chiapas: Known for its tropical jungles, there you will find waterfalls, rivers, and indigenous peoples. The most outstanding destinations for ecotourism are the Selva Lacandona National Park, the Cañón del Sumidero National Park, the Palenque National Park, and the Lagos de Montebello National Park.
  • Quintana Roo: As we have mentioned before, here you will have at your disposal beautiful beaches, cenotes full of magic, mangroves, and an exquisite tropical jungle. We suggest you visit Tulum National Park, Xcaret National Park, Xel-Ha National Park, and Holbox National Park.
  • Oaxaca: This city has much more to see and visit. If it is about ecotourism, it has some places that show the best of this beautiful country. The most outstanding destinations for practicing ecotourism are The Sierra Norte de Oaxaca Biosphere Reserve, Huatulco National Park, Benito Juárez National Park, and Monte Albán National Park.
Chichén Itzá
Destinations for cultural tourism in Yucatán. Source: yucatanahora.mx

Moving in Mexico: How does transportation work?

Depending on your needs, budget, and requirements, you will find different ways to move throughout Mexico:

  • Car: It is the most convenient way to get around in Mexico, especially if you are planning to make long trips across the country. However, the cost of renting a car can be a bit high. Additionally, traffic in big cities is really heavy. Some of the agencies that provide this service are: Rent a Car México and Alamo Rent a Car.
  • Public transportation: This is the cheapest option in Mexico. Public transportation alternatives vary from city to city but generally include buses, trains, and the subway. As for the metro, it is available only in Mexico City and Guadalajara.
  • Taxi: This option is available in all cities around Mexico. We suggest you negotiate the price of the taxi before getting in.
  • Transport apps: As in the rest of the world, in Mexico, you will find apps to move around the city. The most popular throughout the country are Uber, DiDi, Cabify, Mi Taxi (Government App), BlaBlaCar, and Beat.

What to buy in Mexico?

Souvenirs and Gifts Mexico
Souvenirs and gifts in Mexico. Source: playasmexico.com.mx

You may want to get a souvenir or gift to remember your adventure. So, we will tell you about some of the best things you can buy before returning to your country.

  • Crafts: In craft markets or tourist sites, you will find different items made of wood, stone, ceramics, glass, and textiles. We recommend buying huipiles, shawls, Talavera-style ceramic pieces, filigree-style jade or obsidian jewelry, earrings, and beads.
  • Clothing: Mexico is a country with warm weather, so you can find summer clothes at very reasonable prices. If you want to buy a memorable souvenir, a traditional hat will always be a suitable option.
  • Other souvenirs: You can choose the typical refrigerator magnet, postcards, or decorative figurines, but also wrestling masks, leather goods, tequila, Frida Khalo or Day of the Dead souvenirs, embroidery, hammocks, and alebrijes.

Best places to buy in Mexico

If you wonder where to buy the best souvenirs in Mexico, you can do it in the traditional markets or the handicraft stores located in the tourist sectors of the city. In Mexico City, you can go to the Mercado de San Juan or the Mercado de Jamaica. In the city of Sonora, the most recommended market is the Mercado de Sonora.

If you travel to Cancun or Puerto Vallarta, you will find the best souvenirs in the city’s gift shops. But remember, you may get much higher prices in places like these than, for example, in Mexico City.

What is the cheapest thing to buy in Mexico?

If you are looking to save money, know that prices vary depending on the season, so you can haggle. It is essential that you check the price of the same item in different stores in local markets. This way, you will find the best offer.

It will always be cheaper to buy the typical refrigerator magnets, small ceramic figurines, local sweets, and even commemorative T-shirts.

FAQs about traveling to Mexico

How many days does it take to learn about Mexico?

The number of days will depend on your interests. Generally, you can visit the main cities in 7 days. If you are looking to enjoy its beaches and natural adventures, the ideal would be 15 days.

How do I get internet in Mexico?

It is very simple. If you want to avoid headaches, get the Holafly eSIM card for Mexico with unlimited data. (Make sure that your cellphone is compatible with eSIM technology.)

What countries can I visit near Mexico?

The list of cheap countries to travel to from Mexico is not as limited as it might seem. We invite you to set your destination for countries like Colombia, the Dominican Republic, or Canada.

When are the high and low seasons in Mexico?

The high season runs from April to September, while the low season runs from November to March. But remember, the special or festive dates also represent the high season. Depending on the region, prices may vary.

How much money is needed to go to Mexico?

The number of dollars or euros will depend on your travel style and the activities you want to do. Generally, you could spend between 50 and 100 dollars per day.

Can I use a credit card in Mexico?

Yes. Most of the restaurants, hotels, and shops in the big cities accept credit cards. However, in small towns, souvenir shops, or tourist and archaeological sites, you must use cash.

Tips for exchanging currency in Mexico

1. Check the exchange rates at different exchange houses before exchanging your currency.
2. Ask for your invoice when making the currency exchange.
3. Change your currency in a safe place. Avoid doing it on the street or with strangers!