Things Every Traveler Should Know Before Going To Mexico
It’s hard to come up with one reason why Mexico remains one of the most popular vacation destinations. Why? Because there are too many reasons to count. And while you’ve likely heard of the country’s most famous spots — Cancun, Los Cabos, the Riviera Maya, and Mexico City — there is a lot more of Mexico that begs to be explored. That’s because Mexico is blessed with stunning beaches, amazing history, fascinating traditions, incredible food, and beautiful natural scenery that’s hard to exhaust in just one trip. If all of this sounds overwhelming, don’t worry. Oyster.com has been to Mexico so many times that we’ve figured out just how to have the perfect vacation there. From when to visit Mexico to the best things to eat and how to stay safe, read on for the 16 things that every traveler needs to know before going to Mexico.
1. The history of Mexico goes back centuries, and you can still see it everywhere.
Mexican history began well before any kind of Spaniards arrived, and thriving indigenous communities as well as kingdoms covered the landscape for centuries. While that background is as well long to detail below, you can see remnants of it throughout the country. The majority of notoriously, Mexico is house to numerous spectacular pyramids. Chichen Itza– a UNESCO Globe Heritage Website– is one of the most famous and also is a popular day trip from Cancun and also the Riviera Maya. Measuring Up To Chichen Itza are the impressive pyramids of Teotihuacan, located regarding a hr north of Mexico City. There, you can climb atop the Pyramid of the Sun for remarkable sights throughout the landscape around. Various other popular historical damages are discovered in Tulum and Coba in the Yucatan, along with at Monte Alban in Oaxaca. Actually, without leaving Mexico City you can see proof of the area’s native, ancient societies at the Templo Mayor (atop which the massive Catedral Metropolitana was developed).
Colonial relics abound throughout the nation as well. Mexico City’s Centro is one of the largest stretches of colonial style in the Americas, however smaller cities like San Miguel de Allende, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Puebla, and others give a fascinating peek right into the country’s colonial background too.
2. Mexican food is incredibly diverse (and don’t be afraid of street food).
If you think Mexican food is limited to tacos, you ‘d be wrong. As a matter of fact, Mexican food is available in limitless regional and also neighborhood variations. Yes, tacos are a staple nearly anywhere you go, but also these can be found in an excessive variety of styles, from the pita-like tacos al arabe of Puebla to warm-spice infused cochinita pibil tacos from the Yucatan.
Past tacos, you’ll find an impressive selection of various other types of food to sample also. You ‘d do well to attempt Oaxacan tlayudas– a chewy, smoked kind of herb-infused quesadilla– or scope out the streetside tlacoyos that are preferred in main Mexico, as well as are composed or blue-corn masa loaded with beans and also covered with intense sauces, cheese, and also nopales. There are additionally infinite regional variations on the renowned Mexican torta, which– legend has it– come from Puebla (and also are most preferred there as cemitas). That’s to say nothing of the world-famous mole Poblano.
Ceviches as well as seafood are also located almost everywhere, though are fundamentals in Yucateca and also Baja cuisine. Remember that eating road food is typically risk-free, though if you want to work out a bit of caution, see to it whatever you ingest is piping hot. If you’re feeling especially daring, chapulines (roasted crickets) are a staple in many regional cuisines, and Mercado San Juan in Mexico CIty is packed with all type of adventurous eating stalls. Hungover? Go with chilaquiles (just trust us).
Mexico’s high-end dining scene is expanding too, varying from world-famous Pujol in Mexico City to places like Arca or Hartwood in Tulum. Sweets are common across the nation, from the popular concha (a sort of pleasant bread) as well as seasonal pan de muerto to cinnamon-and-sugar covered churros, the whipped chocolate beverages of Oaxaca, the obleas of Puebla, as well as delicious gorditas de nata located in market delays around the country.
3. Everyone wants to know, “Is Mexico safe?” The answer is complicated.
There is no denying it: Since late 2019, Mexico got on track to have its most terrible year on record. Much of this is sustained by corruption within local police and physical violence connected with the medicine profession. And also the trouble is expanding. However, the vast majority of tourists going to Mexico are unlikely to experience any type of such violence on their gos to. Bear in mind that a lot of areas of Mexico often visited by tourists– the Riviera Maya, Cancun, Mexico City, Oaxaca, Los Cabos, and Puerto Valllarta– are a crucial part of the nation’s economic situation, and hence see an increase of federal resources devoted to safety and security. Moreover, these parts of Mexico have the exact same Degree 2 advisory from the U.S. State Department as France, the U.K., and Germany. Still, you must exercise some vigilance when traveling around the nation by roadway or exploring a new city.
4. Credit cards are widely accepted in Mexico, but you should always carry pesos.
Also in one of the most remote edges of Mexico, you’ll likely discover restaurants and also stores that accept most international charge card. Be prepared to bring ID, however, as some cities and states are more rigorous about verifying your identification than others. On a recent trip to Tulum, we had to show our ticket or motorist’s license for several purchases completed by bank card. Nevertheless, money is still king in many arenas of Mexican day-to-day live. That consists of anything you plan on purchasing from regional markets, any type of street food, several smaller dining establishments, as well as also some smaller sized store hotels. Keep in mind that net solution isn’t the most stable in some locations (like the remote edges of the Riviera Maya or coastal Oaxaca), and when it’s down, paying by charge card won’t be an alternative either.
5. The weather in Mexico varies by destination and time of year.
Let’s put one myth to rest: It’s not warm and balmy everywhere in Mexico. Actually, some parts of this large country can get downright freezing at night. It all boils down to where you’re intending on seeing and also when. The Riviera Maya and also Cancun are warm year-round, though evenings during the winter season can mean that a long-sleeved shirt is in order. You’ll discover reduced humidity during the winter months there, and high humidity in the summer season. On the southwestern shore, in Oaxaca, temperature levels stay cozy year round (also during the night). In Los Cabos, the air is drier all year, though it can be scorchingly hot during the summer season. Wintertime in Los Cabos sees hot days and also awesome evenings. The country’s interior is normally greater in altitude, which implies completely various types of weather. There, the temperatures are pretty regular year-round, with highs in the 70s as well as 80s during the day, as well as nights that can range from the 40s right into the 60s from winter months to summer. Bear in mind that the entire nation is essentially based on a wet-dry cycle. Summer months see high amounts of rainfall, while wintertime is considerably drier. Hurricanes are, certainly, a danger from June with November along both coasts.
6. English is widely spoken in Mexico’s tourist areas, but Spanish will help.
There are some parts of Mexico where you might neglect that you are, as a matter of fact, in Mexico. That’s particularly true in Cancun’s Resort Area, Cabo San Lucas, as well as Puerto Vallarta, where you’ll see all of the acquainted chain restaurants from back residence. Many employees in the tourist sector throughout much of the country will certainly be speak relatively good to exceptional English. However, if you would love to get any taste of the regional society, endeavor off the visitor track, or intend to comprehend what you’re ordering in a regional dining establishment, knowing some Spanish will be available in handy. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there are many parts of Mexico where you’ll listen to aboriginal languages, consisting of Nahuatl as well as Mayan.
7. What’s the best time to go to Mexico? That depends.
We’ve already informed you concerning the climate in Mexico, yet you’ll need to represent other seasonal elements when preparing to visit Mexico. Mexico commemorates numerous vital holidays that can affect travel. At the top of that checklist are the festivities around the Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Muertos. The communities and also cities throughout the country– specifically the central and southerly states– are dressed up in marigolds, while family members develop lovely ofrendas to recognize their ancestors. Numerous towns likewise hold ceremonies as well as various other festivities, and some companies will certainly be closed. Dia de los Muertos is additionally a major tourist draw, as well as resorts and trips can be a lot more expensive during that time of year.
Semana Santa– the week before Easter Sunday– is another major vacation in Mexico and also is a peak residential travel time. You’ll find a lot of the country’s coastline destinations as well as towns are packed to the gills. Again, hotel costs will certainly rise at this time of year (as will certainly domestic flight prices). The summer months allow service for domestic tourism also, as well as hotels can be fuller than you might expect in some of Mexico’s beach locations.
8. You don’t need a visa to visit Mexico, but a passport is required.
Long gone are the days when United States citizens could zip across our neighbors’ border with nothing more than a driver’s license. Now, you’ll need a passport to enter Mexico. Given the reported backups in passport processing as of 2019, you should apply for yours as soon as possible if you think a trip to Mexico is in your future. Keep in mind that there are no tourist visa requirements for United States travelers visiting Mexico (for stays up to 180 days). The same holds true for business visas at the time of writing, though this may change as legislation is in Congress as of late 2019 that may alter U.S. business relationships with Mexico.
9. Mexico is home to Magic Towns, known as Pueblos Magicos.
You check out that correctly. Magic Towns– or Pueblos Magicos– aren’t as magical as they appear, however. This designation is offered by the Mexican federal government to small cities as well as communities that have a little additional something special. Whether these towns have spectacular settings like Tepotzlan, overlook multi-colored shallows like Bacalar, are residence to nesting sea turtles like Mazunte, or hold historical wonders like San Miguel de Allende, all provide a really remarkable vantage on Mexico. You ‘d be smart to include one or numerous of these communities to any kind of travel plan.
10. Mexico has several LGBT-friendly destinations.
As a deeply Catholic nation, Mexico could not enter your mind as the most gay-friendly location to see. Nevertheless, there are a number of locations throughout the country where gay tourists will likely really feel as comfy as they may back home. One of the most popular of these locations is Puerto Vallarta, which has transformed itself into something like the Fire Island of Mexico. Here, regional and global gay vacationers pack the coastlines, resorts, bars, as well as bars virtually year round. Mexico City is likewise home to a sizable and visible LGBT community, specifically in neighborhoods like Juarez, Zona Rosa, Condesa, Roma, Polanco, and even the historic Centro. There are numerous gay clubs as well as bars, a number of companies working to breakthrough LGBT rights, as well as queer art exhibits galore. You’ll commonly identify queer pairs holding hands in public in Mexico City. Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and Zipolite likewise figure largely when it involves LGBT-welcoming locations in Mexico.
11. You might feel an earthquake in Mexico.
In September 2017, Mexico City was rocked by an earthquake that triggered substantial damage throughout the city and parts of several neighboring states. The event served as a reminder that Mexico sits on one of the most active geological fault worldwide, and its whole western shore belongs to the famous Ring of Fire. In fact, Popocatepetl– a towering stratovolcano that sits just beyond Mexico City– is exceptionally energetic, as well as can commonly be seen with a stream of smoke originating from its cone. You’re most likely to experience temblors in the states of main as well as southwestern Mexico. Mexico City has a substantial network of early-warning alarms that sound in case of an impending significant quake, though much less established regions of Mexico don’t have the same capabilities. It’s worth downloading an application like Alerta Sismica, which can push alerts to your phone in real time.
12. Mexico is home to stunning natural landscapes.
Mexico has hundreds of amazing biospheres, parks, and nature reserves — and all are worth a visit. In the Yucatan, you’ll find vast stretches of jungle that are untouched, especially around the Sian Ka’an Biosphere just to the south of Tulum. On the other side of the country, the two states that make up Baja California are home to El Vizacaino, one of the largest biospheres in the world, and beautiful reserves like Isla Espirito Santo and Cabo Pulmo, near Los Cabos. Inland, Copper Canyon is a jaw-dropping natural landscape that’s rapidly developing as a tourist destination, as is Hierve al Agua in Oaxaca. Mexico is also home to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in Michoacan, which is hosts millions of this species during the winter months.
13. Mexico’s all-inclusive resorts are some of the world’s best bargains…
Mexico’s all-inclusive scene beats almost any other country in the world. In terms of brand diversity, different settings, sizes, services, and price points, everyone can find a fit here. These incredibly popular resorts and hotels also happen to line some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, especially in Cancun, Los Cabos, and the Riviera Maya. What’s more? Your money is likely to go farther at a Mexican all-inclusive resort than at similar properties in Punta Cana and Jamaica — in fact, out of over 60 top winter destinations, Mexico is ranked twentieth in terms of affordability according to Oyster’s own data. That’s not bad considering the perfect weather, beautiful beaches, and amazing food.
14. …But the country offers way more than all-inclusive vacations.
While all-inclusive resorts tend to dominate the hotel scene in some regions of Mexico, the vast majority of the country is far different. To the south of Cancun, Tulum and Bacalar are both boutique-hotel-only destinations that are intentionally keeping development smaller scale. The same is true on Isla Holbox to the north of Cancun. Along the west coast, destinations like Sayuilta and other towns of the Riviera Nayarit are also home to charming boutique hotels. Mexico City, of course, has its share of massive luxury hotels and chain properties, but you’ll also find incredible charming boutique properties — like the Red Tree House in leafy, tranquil Condesa or Las Alcobas in Polanco— that will give you a more local perspective on the place you’re visiting.
15. The day starts a little later than you might expect in Mexico.
If you’re waking up in Mexico City– or throughout Mexico, truly– you could not discover your preferred coffee shop or breakfast spot up and running yet. As a matter of fact, these normally do not open up until 8 AM on the weekdays, as well as in some cases as late as 9 AM on the weekends. You’ll likely locate street vendors offering sets of sweet coffee, tamales, chilaquiles, as well as frying pan dulce up and running at earlier hrs if you need your repair. Yet if you like an early begin, it’s finest to get some stipulations the evening prior to. It deserves noting all-encompassing hotels dealing with global vacationers often start their morning meal solution fairly very early.
16. Don’t drink the water in Mexico (but seek alternatives to bottled water).
It’s practically way too much of a saying to discuss, however the faucet water is not risk-free to drink in Mexico. Citizens as well as visitors alike eat billions of plastic bottles of water yearly as a result of this trouble. Why is that a big deal? These plastic containers usually wind up in landfills, waterways, as well as oceans, and the global firms buying up Mexico’s water reserves continue to rob neighborhood neighborhoods of accessibility to clean alcohol consumption water. To aid deal with these concerns, see if your resort offers a water-purifying station to refill your very own portable canteen as needed. Some hotels– like the TRS Yucatan– have their very own water-purification plants that make the faucet water safe to take in as well. If you need to go with bottled water, acquire the largest kind readily available (these frequently been available in several-gallon containers) as well as use that to refill your own water bottle daily.
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