Mexico offers something for nearly every type of traveller. Nature lovers can dive into the world’s second-largest barrier reef, explore cenotes or adventure into the jungle. History nerds can traverse Mayan and Aztec sites. Yogis can head to a retreat on Tulum beach. And foodies will be happy nearly everywhere. This Mexico travel guide will tell you everything you need to know about planning a trip to Mexico.
Tourist Visas for Mexico
Passport holders from countries on Mexico’s no visa required list do not need to apply for a formal tourist visa to visit Mexico. Australia is on the list (yay). A tourist visa will permit you to stay for up to 180 days. Simply ensure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your departure date.
You will have to pay a fee when exiting Mexico. As of October 2018, the fee was just over 500 Mexican pesos. You will need cash to pay this fee.
Currency in Mexico
The currency in Mexico is Mexican Pesos. You can use the XE currency conversion tool to check the exchange rate. USD are also widely accepted.
Flights to Mexico
There are many airports in Mexico. The airport you choose to fly into will depend on the destinations you plan to visit within Mexico. Mexico City Airport and Cancun Airport are the most popular, and therefore would be the cheapest. Book flights to Mexico here.
If you are coming from USA, Belize or Guatemala, you can also take a bus to Mexico.
Getting around Mexico
Mexico is a large country so if you are short on time, the best way to get around will be by flying. If you have more time to spare, the ADO bus service is a great option for getting around Mexico safely. The ADO buses are comfortable and have wifi, a bathroom and movies on board.
Once in a destination, you can take public buses, taxis, hire a bike or moped or rent a car.
Accommodation in Mexico
Mexico has plenty of accommodation options, ranging from hostels to luxury hotels and Airbnbs. Prices vary from city to city and, of course, the quality of the place you’re staying at.
Bucket List Destinations in Mexico
You will be spoiled with choice when planning your trip to Mexico. Some places you should add to your Mexico bucket list include:
Mexicos Riviera Maya should be at the top of your Mexico Bucket list. It is absolute paradise. The Riviera Maya is home to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.
Tulum is a laid-back coastal town found on the Carribean Coast of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Tulum is popular because of its beautiful beaches, yoga scene, fine dining, boutique shopping and laid back atmosphere. This is my favourite destination in Tulum, one you absolutely MUST add to your Mexico bucket list.
Isla Holbox is an island north of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, separated from the mainland by the Yalahau Lagoon. The car-free island is rich in marine life such as sea turtles and whale sharks. The region is also home to flamingos and pelicans. Some highlights of Isla Holbox include the laid-back Holbox Village and Punta Coco Beach.
Akumal is a coastal resort on Mexico’s Riviera Maya, home to white sands, a coral reef and warm waters rich in marine life, including turtles. Some highlights in Akumal are Half Moon Bay and Yal-ku Lagoon. Yal-Ku lagoon has lots of tropical fish and is unique because this is where the fresh water from the cenotes meets the salt water from the ocean. Inland, Aktun Chen Parque Natural is known for its caves, cenotes (freshwater pools) and underground river.
Bacalar was a highlight of Mexico for me, found in the South East, near the border of Belize. The highlight is Lake Bacalar, also called the Lagoon of Seven Colors due to its blue and turquoise hues. The best part is that the lagoon is fresh water. To the south is Cenote Azul, a small, deep lake with underwater caves. 2 days in Bacalar is enough time to enjoy the lagoon, Cenote Azul and the freshwater lagoon.
Found in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Chichen Itza is a popular and impressive Mayan ruin. Here are some tips of visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun.
Los Cabos is a popular tourist destination, found on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula.
Puerto Vallarta is a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast known for its beaches, water sports and nightlife scene. Its cobblestone centre is home to the ornate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe church, boutique shops and a range of restaurants and bars. From Puerto Vallarta, you can visit Hidden Beach.
This is a Mexico bucket list destination for the surfers. Puerto Escondido is a surf town on Mexico’s Pacific coast in the state of Oaxaca. Here you will find beaches with surf breaks and a bussing nightlife.
Map of Mexico
Budget for Mexico
Mexico is a relatively expensive country to travel around. I suggest creating a travel budget when planning a trip to Mexico.
This is a general estimate for tourist areas. The cost will vary depending on your location.
$ – Expect to pay around 200 – 300 pesos ($20-30) or a bed in a hostel dorm room.
$$ – Expect to pay around 350 – 800 pesos($35 – $80) for a basic Airbnb/ mid-range hotel room.
$$$ – Expect to pay 1500 pesos ($150) plus for a luxury / beachfront hotel in Mexico.
Domestic flights start at $50, for example, Mexico City to Cancun. I recommend booking flights early to get the best deals.
Car hire starts at 500 pesos ($50) per day.
If you eat street food, you will pay around 15 pesos ($1.50) for a taco/quesadilla. In a standard restaurant, you will pay between 60 pesos to 120pesos ($6 – $12) for a meal. In a beachfront restaurant, you will pay between 150 pesos to 300 pesos ($15 – $30) for a meal.
Mexico is my favourite place in the world to eat street food so if you are looking to cut back on your food budget, don’t be afraid to eat street food. I do daily.
You can use my travel budget planner to create your travel budget.
Mexican food is some of my favourite in the world. Some popular Mexican dishes are:
Tacos – Tacos are made in small tortillas (either hard shell or soft, usually corn-based) and can come with a variety of fillings, usually including some kind of protein (commonly beef, but also fish or chicken), cheese, salsa, vegetables, and/or sour cream.
Burritos – A burrito is a flour tortilla filled with a protein (usually chicken, pork, beef, or steak), rice, beans, and other fillings like lettuce and salsa before being wrapped.
Enchiladas – This is a rolled up tortilla with filling (which can include meat, beans, and vegetables) and covered in a chilli pepper sauce.
Chilaquiles – Typically served for breakfast, chilaquiles are corn chips covered in green or red sauce with cheese, onions and sour cream.
Tostadas – Tostadas are bread topped with Mexican filling.
Quesadillas – Is a wheat or corn tortilla that’s cooked flat on a grill with cheese, vegetables, and often protein on top before being folded over to make a half moon.
Ceviche – Peru may be more famous for its ceviche, but Mexico does this dish of raw fish, lime juice, and chillies quite well too. You will find the best ceviche in coastal towns.
Guacamole – Avocado is smashed with chilli, onion, coriander and lime served with corn chips.
You can expect fresh chilli to be served with every Mexican meal. Some restaurants also serve fresh corn chips and tomato salsa with every meal.
Churros are a popular Mexican desert.
Weather in Mexico
Mexico has warm tropical weather year round, although it is important to note that different regions have different climates and conditions.
The weather at sea-level tends to be warm to hot throughout the year, making for year-round beach weather (yay) whereas at higher elevations in cities like Mexico City, the weather can get chilly in the winter months, especially from November through January.
The most rainfall is in the summer months, between June – September. Hurricane season lasts from June to November. You may want to plan your trip to Mexico outside these months.
Mexico’s beach resorts tend to be most pleasant between October and May.
Travel Insurance in Mexico
Safety in Mexico
Mexico is known to be a dangerous country, but it really just depends on where you travel to in Mexico. Some destinations are safer than others. Generally, the tourist destinations are relatively safe.
In Mexico, you should always exercise caution. My general tips are to avoid carrying valuables. Avoid walking on unknown streets at night, especially alone. Never get too drunk. Remain aware of your surrounding. Lock away your valuables and so in. See more tips for keeping safe when travelling.
See more safety advice for Mexico, from the Australian Government website.
What is the Langauge in Mexico
The most common language spoken in Mexico is Spanish. Most people in the tourist areas speak English.
Key Mexican Phrases (Spanish)
I suggest learning a few keyphrases when planning a trip to Mexico.
Hola = Hello¿Cómo está(s)? = How are you?
Mucho gusto = Nice to meet you
Estoy bien = I’m fine
Por favor = Please
Gracias = Thank you
De nada/Con gusto = You’re welcome
¿Cuánto? = How much?
Adiós = Goodbye
Lo siento = I’m sorry
¿Dónde está el baño? = Where is the bathroom?
¿Qué es esto? = What’s this?
Quiero un taco/una cerveza. = I want a taco/a beer.
¡Salud! = Cheers!
Vaccinations in Mexico
Check the Travel Doctor website to find out what vaccinations you need when planning a trip to Mexico. If you have any further questions regarding vaccinations required for Mexico, I recommend consulting a doctor.
Other tips for visiting Mexico
- Avoid drinking tap water. Opt for bottled water instead or try to refill your water bottle at filtered water stations. You will find one in most hotels.
- If you are short on time, it will be best to stick to one region but do it properly. Mexico is a very big country so getting around can be time-consuming, expensive and exhausting.
- Mexico is a relatively expensive country. Be sure to create a travel budget when planning a trip to Mexico.