What are the first things that come to your mind when you think about Mexico? Tacos, tequila, sombreros and mariachi?! Although you will encounter all of those things on your trip this beautiful country offers so more than the usual clichés. Here we have some first-hand travel tips for a truly unforgettable Mexican holiday.
If you would need to decide visiting only one Maya Ruins site then you should definitely visit Tulum. No words can ever describe this experience. You really don’t know what is more impressive, the Maya ruins that are hundreds of years old and loaded with such cultural history or the incredible beauty of the ocean which shimmers in all shades of blue you can possibly imagine.
If you are planning your trip to Tulum then you should consider buying a combo-ticket which not only gives you access to the ruins but also includes a snorkeling tour and a train ride (it is a long walk to get to the ruins from the ticket area, especially in the blazing sun and heat and therefore taking the train will make the visit more comfortable).
Bohemian Beach Paradise aka Tulum
Situated about 130km south from the famous spring-break destination Cancún is Tulum. A town that is renowned for its more bohemian holiday makers who want to find inner peace, practice yoga and eat clean. In Tulum you can find the entire spectrum of hipster vacationing from cheap motels, to reasonably priced hotels and to very expensive resorts with suites costing up to $12,000 per night. Hollywood stars and fashion industry figures have long come to Tulum with its pristine white sand beaches. Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Neil Patrick Harris Evan Rachel Wood, Jamie Bell, Kate Bosworth, Sam Shepard, Jessica Lange, Ryan Phillippe, Sienna Miller and Alexander Skarsgard have all been spotted on the beach of Tulum. But recently the place has been made particularly well-known by prominent Instagram posts of fashion bloggers, models and the likes of Paris Hilton.
There is no way you would not want to have a dip in the water and go on a snorkeling trip. The water of Mexico’s Caribbean coast is crystal clear and pleasantly warm. You will need to be a bit of an adventurer, especially if the sea is rough. A small boat (which carries about 8 people) will bring you to a coral reef where turtles, stingrays and the most colorful fish will swim past you. Remember to be respectful, stay calm and do not try and touch or pet any of the sea life.
We strongly recommend you to stay in a less commercial and more sustainable resort. There are a lot of beautiful eco-hotels along the Riviera Maya for example. These hotels are not only beautifully built within a natural jungle but also boast a virgin beach. If you are staying in a small resort you can be sure to be almost entirely on your own. There is hardly anything more relaxing than getting a hot stone massage in palm-hut on an empty virgin beach.
If you are a diver then this must be one of your dreams. Yucatan is world famous for its turquoise natural pools with its fascinating marine life. Cenotes are underwater sinkholes and caves with crisp mineral-rich water. You should definitely book a snorkeling tour as swimming in some of the tiny lakes can be a bit boring. Scuba diving on the other hand takes it to a whole different level and it will truly be one of the most magical experiences in your life.
Please remember that creams and lotions negatively affect the underwater world and therefore you should only use biodegradable sunscreen if you are planning your visit to the cenotes.
If you have friends in Mexico then you can be sure that they will treat you like a member of their own family during your stay. And they will feed you incredibly well. Mexican food is quite heavy and it already starts with a calorie loaded breakfast. If you are brave then you should definitely try authentic Ceviche. It is basically raw prawn that is “cooked” in lime juice. It is absolutely delicious but if you have a sensitive stomach then you might be better off eating something properly cooked instead. Or another option, have a shot of tequila after every meal and then you might not need to worry about food poisoning.
There are some places that you should avoid going to due to safety reasons, may it be because of the prominent situation with gangs or other issues like the Zika virus. You should know that stopping several times at police/military checkpoints along the way is completely normal and shouldn’t frighten you. In regions which are less touristy you might also spot some cars with bullet holes in the windscreens.
Also remember that as a female tourist (especially if you are blond) you attract a lot of attention. If you are walking on the side of the road it is not uncommon that cars will honk at you when passing by.
Mexican people are incredibly welcoming and friendly. But be especially aware at airports that some people use overly helpful behavior for criminal reasons. There are gangs operating and if you are not careful enough you might end up being used as a drug mule. If someone offers to carry your bag or help you with your luggage do under no circumstance let go of anything and check all your pockets afterwards. Especially women (who travel alone) are targeted by charming younger men who will help you with your luggage until you reach the check-in counter. In a conversation this person will find out where you are going and will find out when your flight arrives at your destination in order to alert another person who will then help you with your luggage there too. Unknowingly, you could have been used as a drug mule.
When you arrive at the airport you should know that all taxi or minibus companies offer the exact same rate and communicate with each other through radio. You can save yourself the hassle and time by not devoting too much effort to negotiate a better price. Also the more you haggle the higher the possibility that a private person outside in the parking lot will offer you his/her taxi service. Please do only stick to official and registered taxi drivers.
Unfortunately, Ubers are hardly existent as there have been some huge issues with other taxi drivers who tired and succeeded getting rid of Uber (by blowing up some Ubers or shooting the drivers, it was reported to us that no tourists have been harmed).
The cheapest and most authentic way of getting around is by using Collectivos. Just stand on the side of the road and when you see a minibus flashing the lights you will know that they have space for you. Now check what destination is written on the front of the minibus and if it is the right way then just wave your hand. Collectivos have certain fixed bus stops, nevertheless you can hop-on and off at any time by telling the driver where you want to hop off once you go on the bus. You will need to pay a very small fare (that can be as little as 20pesos for a 30 minute ride) by the end of your trip.
Enjoy your unique adventure in Mexico and let us know in the comments below where you went! Be sure to check out our other Travel Tips and our collection of watch rings.