Mexico Vacation - Travel Guide
Mexico vacation - we guarantee you will never regret it! Mexico is not your typical tropical destination. It is a country full of life, colour, and fascinating indigenous cultures you will not find anywhere else in the world. Succulent cuisine (oh you must try it!), must-see one-of-a-kind attractions, the most impressive historical ruins of Mayan and Aztec civilizations, cenotes (natural sinkholes with ground water), museums that will shed a light on the rich history Mexico, and the most exciting activities you will want to engage in, even if you are more of a peace and quiet fan. On your journey to Mexico you will meet the most friendliest Mexican people that will always be willing to give you a helping hand. Do not think twice, you have made the right choice! Now be on your way to Mexico vacation and explore its many wonders!
Why go on Mexico vacation?
Here are the top reasons that attract tourists to Mexico:
We all know that Mexico has so much to offer that you will need weeks of vacation to do and to see all that it has. Once you are here, try to explore as much as you can. These memories will last a lifetime.
Aside from all the amazing water activities such as parasailing, swimming with the dolphins, snorkeling, flyboarding, scuba diving and fishing tours, there are plenty of things you can do on land. Horseback riding, eco tours, ziplining adventures, archaeology tours and historical day trips are among many of the activities offered to those on Mexico vacation.
The Mexican nature is incredible, so when you get a chance check out the gorgeous mountains such as Sierra Madre Occidental range on the west and the Sierra Madre Oriental range on the east. You can explore the northwestern deserts, tropical lowlands, southern mountain ranges, Yucatan Peninsula and the Mexican Coastlines that stretch for miles, you will not be able to take your eyes off these beauties.
Several great ancient civilizations left their footprints in Mexico. The most advanced of them, Mayans and Aztecs, built impressive structures such as houses and pyramids. Archeological ruins of former buildings built by these cultures such as Tulum, Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone are very popular among tourists on Mexico vacation.
Mexico's all-inclusive resorts are among some of the most exclusive properties in the world and quite affordable even in the high season when the rates for Mexico vacation increase significantly.
What's amazing about the local Mexican cuisine, is that it varies by region so you can try many different dishes famous for their freshness, delicious taste and local spices. Mexico is also the place where chocolate was created. Both Mayans and Aztecs were using cocoa in their drinks, beginning as early as 1100 BC. This tradition lives up to this day and some vendors, restaurants, cafes and bars offer the authentic Aztec chocolate. Please your palates, this chocolate has a mouthwatering taste and will keep you asking for more.
Mexico's gorgeous, endlessly beautiful coastlines of white sand are a dream come true. Once you are on the beach, go snorkeling or, for a more serious and more fascinating experience, take a diving lesson to see the local marine life.
We cannot tell you enough about the beauty of this country, travel to Mexico and see it with your eyes. Your Mexico vacation will be packed with fun, super interesting information and do not forget about souvenirs to bring back home. Welcome to Mexico!
Best time to go on Mexico vacation
Mexico is a very large country and its' weather conditions vary by region and season, so some Mexican destinations may appeal more than others, you just have to decide which city or area you will be staying in. The best time to go on Mexico vacation is usually from December to April. During this season there are little to no rains and the weather is pleasantly warm at average 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit), not humid and feels quite comfortable. However, accommodation rates jump sky high as it is the high season here, so if you are not willing to pay extra just because it's the peak time, postpone your Mexico vacation until spring/early summer months. But it is not so much the budget that might be a concern, your biggest issue might be the crowds, especially in March and April when the cities become hubs for spring-breakers. So if you are looking for a quieter and more relaxing time, avoid travelling in the winter season.
If you are planning on traveling to Mexico in the spring or beginning of the summer, you have made the right decision as it is also a great time to enjoy your Mexico vacation. Weather starts to rise up to about 27-29 degrees Celsius (81-84 degrees Fahrenheit), the rainy season (August to October) is far away and the resorts and hotels become much cheaper than in the winter months. You will also notice, that there are fewer crowds in the resorts and hotels, but not in the downtown core of large cities as some tourists choose different style of lodging when coming here and not necessarily stay at the hotels.
Many people go on Mexico vacation to experience one of the popular events the country holds such as Monarch Butterfly Migration (October to March), Day of the Dead (October 31 to November 2), the Radish festival (December 23) or witnessing the release of baby sea turtles on the beach (end of June-beginning of July). If you would like to be part of these great celebrations, plan your trip so it coincides with at least one of them.
Where is Mexico on the map?
Mexico, located on the continent of North America, shares land borders with 3 countries: Guatemala, Belize and the United States of America. With a population of nearly 130 million people, that come to live in Mexico from all over the globe, the country covers enormous 1,943,945 square kilometres of land and 20,430 square kilometres of water making it the 14th largest nation in the world size-wise, with the total area of 1,964,375 square kilometres.
Mexico is a federation that contains 31 states. It is bordered to the north by the United States and to the south and the west by the cold waters of the Pacific ocean. Southeast of Mexico is Guatemala and Belize and the Caribbean Sea. The Gulf of Mexico is located on the east corner of the country. Mexico is also located 2,549 km (1584 miles) east of Cuba and 2,836 km (1762 miles) southeast of Florida.
Mexico is one of the few countries that has such a vast variety of the most beautiful landscape types, such as lush tropical rain forests, intriguing deserts and seashores, rugged mountains that entice people from all over the world to go on Mexico vacation.
Capital city of Mexico
Mexico City, the vibrant capital of Mexico, is the largest Spanish-speaking city in the world. It overflows with bubbling street life, refreshing springlike climate no matter which region you find yourself in and an abundance of cultural offerings - cathedrals, churches, museums, and epic murals on the wall of Palacio Nacional, built in 1693.
Mexico City has a long and very rich history and is known for being one of the largest financial centers on the continent. The population of the capital in 2016 was estimated to be at 8,918,653 million people.
Mexico City is a popular spot for Mexico vacation for its' large and spacious art museums, where you will find many paintings, drawings and murals made by some of the famous Mexican artists. Visit Metropolitan Cathedral and see for yourself, that is the one of the most beautiful capital's cathedrals that took more than 150 years to build.
Palace of Fine Arts is another historical spot where visitors can enjoy both the artwork and numerous performances such as the Ballet Folklorio! This is one of the popular attractions in Mexico city that has almost 10,000 visitors every week contemplating the art pieces and learning the history behind them.
The national Museum of Anthropology is a must-see destination for anyone on Mexico vacation wanting to learn about Mexico's rich culture, traditions and vibrant life while finding the most rare artifacts in the country.
Once you pay a visit to a few historical landmarks in Mexico City, stop at a nearby cafe. Enjoy the aroma and pure taste of local coffee, indulge in fusion cuisine or have a drink or two at a local bar, where they serve real Mexican tequila and the most delicious cocktails and local appetizers made by a chef.
Population in Mexico
According to the national demographic statistics, the population of Mexico in 2017 is 130,560,643, making Mexico the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world.
Despite the rapid urbanization in Mexico, you will still find small-town life on your Mexico vacation the way it existed for centuries. We suggest you take a tour into the country, where you will be able to have a glimpse at the local villages, huts and see the life in Mexico through the eyes of a tourist. Most households have at least 2 (sometimes more) generations of the same family living under one roof. Boys that are in school are allowed to have part-time jobs working as bagging clerks in the supermarkets or working the fields at the local farm. Quite a few old villages still have their own Catholic churches, stores, government buildings and markets.
An interesting fact to remember when you talk to a local on your Mexico vacation is that they are very sensitive to people from the United States calling themselves "Americans", only because Mexicans call themselves Americans too, in other words “Estados Unidos Mexicanos”. So it is very important, when speaking to someone in Mexico to clarify that you are an American from the United States.
Mestizos who are a mix of Spanish and Indian ancestry is the main and the largest ethnic group in Mexico. The second largest group is the indigenous population residents and there are about 68 of them, each one having their own language and dialect. They survived because of their rural isolation thousands of years ago. That is why the government is doing everything they can in order to support these very important to Mexican history group of people.
Mexican people are generally poor, but that does not prevent them from being the nicest, friendliest, welcoming and hospitable people in the world. They are always willing to help, even if they do not speak English, always willing to start up a conversation with you or give you some valuable information to make your Mexico vacation unforgettable.
Roman Catholicism is the main and predominant religion in Mexico, and approximately 88% of residents are Roman Catholics. Religion plays an extremely important role in the life of a Mexican. They pray, attend the Church and celebrate all of the religious holidays. Other faith group consists of Protestants and Evangelicals that are considered as the second largest religious group in Mexico.
Local Languageс in Mexico
Spanish is the most-spoken language in Mexico among the population, but the local government also recognizes other 68 indigenous Mexican languages and created The Law of Linguistic Rights to protect these native languages and encourage the residents for bilingual and intercultural education. Mexicans pride themselves in their culture, traditions, family life and upbringing, so nowadays there are over 6 million residents that speak these indigenous languages.
Spanish is the dominant language in the country of Mexico but surprisingly enough it is not defined as the official language in the Mexican legislation. This legislation allows for more rights when it comes to indigenous languages in all government communications and official documentations.
Mexico is an ethnically diverse country that welcomed thousands of immigrants from Europe, Asia, United States and Latin America. Those that came looking for a better life brought their languages with them. On your Mexico vacation you will find people that speak Greek, English, Italian, German, Arabic, French, Chinese and Japanese. Although 95% of residents will speak Spanish, 1.2% is not fluent in the language at all.
Tourists will have no problem communicating if they stay in resorts, hotels and tourist concentrated areas in general, as all the staff there understand and speak basic English. But if you go further into the country on your Mexico vacation for some local life exploration, pack a dictionary with you, you might need it.
How to get to Mexico
The fastest way to get to Mexico is to fly, but if you would like to stretch out your trip, you may travel to your destination via train, bus, car or a cruise ship. Flying is the quickest and sometimes a cheaper way to go on Mexico vacation than travelling by land. Flights to all major Mexican airports are available daily from both United States and Canada. If you live closer to the Mexican border, it is always cheaper to cross the border by train or a bus, and take an internal flight to whenever you need to go. This method of getting to Mexico is not for everyone, but is still an option for those that would consider it.
Connecting and nonstop flights to Mexico City are available from Dallas, Houston, Miami, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal. Most planes land in Mexico City, but if you are travelling further for Mexico vacation, direct and connecting flights from USA and Canada are conveniently available to Monterrey, Guadalajara, Leon, Aguascalientes, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Morelia, Los Cabos and Acapulco depending on the season and the airlines' timetables. You may also change planes internally and take one of the domestic flights to get to your final stop in other Mexican regions.
Toronto and Montreal have fewer scheduled nonstop and connecting flights to Cancun compared to the United States, but if you are flying from the US it expands your options further where numerous cities have flights available.
European passengers going on Mexico vacation have an option of taking a nonstop or a connecting flight from London, UK, to either Mexico City or Cancun. Taking a charter flight is always an alternative too if you are not on a strict budget. Although, these flights are nonstop, they depart from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester with Thomson and Thomas Cook and will take you to Cancun only. Connecting flights are also available from these cities but expect to be in and out of different planes and airports for many hours ahead. If you are flying from anywhere else in the United Kingdom to any other Mexican destination other than Mexico City and Cancun, be prepared to change planes at some point in your trip.
Buses that travel to Mexico have daily schedules from multiple cities in the USA, and you have an option of buying a ticket for a higher class bus. These tickets are more expensive but if you want to go onMexico vacation in comfort, choose Greyhound buses. Depending on the bus company and their professional connections with Mexican border, you might need to change buses at the border crossings. From the bus station there, hop on a Mexican bus that travels to the city you need to be. Another thing to keep in mind is that travelling by bus is long, so plan your trip accordingly. Depending on the bus's routes, they might take you to El Paso or Tijuana first, and from there you would need to travel even more to get to Mexico City. But if you are up for an adventure and do not mind at least 40 hours of bussing, then this option of getting to Mexico is there if you need it.
Trains also travel to Mexico but stop at the border. From there on, you will have to take an intercity bus. Keep an eye out which destinations the bus travels to and if in doubt ask the bus station attendant. Travelling by bus is long and you do not want to end up on the other side of the country.
Taking your own car to Mexico will definitely benefit you and give you a lot of freedom on your Mexico vacation. You can manage your own time and pace but it might give you headaches here and there as well. Be prepared to deal with border formalities, and aside from those the quality of the fuel, the local roads and driving on them. Choose this method of transportation if you are on a road trip and just want to enjoy the local Mexican vibe, culture and nature.
You might even want to sail to Mexico on your own boat, but the same conditions and formalities apply as if you were coming here by car. If you want a more rewarding experience, buy a cruise ship package. Several lines offer cruises on the Pacific Coast particularly between LA and Acapulco. These boats stop at Los Cabos, Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta and Zihuatanejo. Other companies offer cruise trips and dock their ships at Cozumel, Playa del Carmen and other Mexican destinations depending on the season and schedules.
Due to the vast size of Mexico, travelling by air between the Mexican cities is a great option. The main airlines fly between the larger Mexican cities, check their timetables as they might change periodically. Going between the cities on a bus or a car on your Mexico vacation is fine too, but again only if you are not limited with time. Mexico is such a large country that it has at least 50 airports and most of them are international. The busiest airport is located in the country's capital, Mexico City. It serves as the main hub for a big local Mexican airline Aeromexico and services 30 domestic and international passenger airlines and 17 cargo carriers. As many as 100,000 passengers come to this airport daily from almost 100 worldwide destinations.
Now, you have a generous amount of options available on how to get to Mexico, choose the one that best suits your needs, budget and enjoy your Mexico vacation to the fullest no matter how you travel.
Mexico vacation options
Depending on your final destination in Mexico, a wide range of accommodation options is available to suit every tourist's budget, needs and preferences no matter where you travel.
Planning and budgeting your Mexico vacation is very important, so if you want to budget the exact amounts then all-inclusive hotels will be a great choice. There are many family-friendly and adult-only all-inclusive properties in Mexico. Cancun, Riviera Maya, Puerto Vallarta are among some of the most popular Mexican destinations offering great all-inclusive deals that are so worth the cost.
If an all-inclusive resort is not your preferred method of accommodation, you may find boutique lodgings that are situated in quite idyllic settings, tucked away in the most phenomenal surroundings. These type of accommodations range from grandiose estates to more simply palm-thatched bungalows. Either way, they provide the total seclusion, peace and privacy with the highly professional service personnel that will make your Mexico vacation a one to remember.
House and villa rentals are becoming more common in Mexico; however, if you are seriously considering renting one, keep in mind that few companies offer such service, and those that do, do not specialize in Mexico, rather than offer vacation rentals throughout other tropical destinations. Your best bet would be to inquire about them privately through "Vacation Rentals by Owner" ads.
Hotels with breakfasts included are available for those that do not want to be tied up to the resort. You will also find clean and comfortable places that provide bed and breakfast, and where other daily meals are not included in the total price. Hostels are also advertised and provide the coziness and privacy many are looking for in a Mexico vacation at a great price.
Weather in Mexico
The typical weather in Mexico varies as there are a few regions that have slightly different weather climates that change once you move closer to the North, South, East or West parts of the country. However, overall the weather forecasts are similar no matter where you plan your Mexico vacation within the country with a small variation of a couple degrees during each season.
Mexico City is located in the center of southern Mexico and due to its' high elevation receives more rainfall each year as well as wider range in daily temperatures. The average annual temperatures in Mexico City are approximately 12°C to 16°C (54 to 61 degrees Fahrenheit), in the winter months that run from December to February. Being quite chilly in the winter, Mexico City boils with hot temperatures of 30°C or higher (86 degrees Fahrenheit) during the late spring and summer months.
Once you move to the northern part of Mexico, you will feel the cooler temperatures. East coast of Mexico is much warmer than the west and the rainfall is much lower there. And although there is little rain on the east coast, both the east and the west are affected by tropical storms that sometimes can last for up to three days. These heavy rainfalls occur mostly in the months of August to October, so if you are looking for warmer and sunnier weather conditions, book your Mexico vacation for the spring or summer months.
Generally, January and February are the coolest months of the year in Mexico with average temperatures at 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit), sometimes going up to 27 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) and dropping down to the low 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit). The weather starts to heat up in March and April to about 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) during the day going up to 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit) closer to the evening hours.
May starts to show more warmer temperatures with highs of 31 degrees Celsius (88 degrees Fahrenheit) and cooling down to about 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) in the evening after the sunset. June and July are two of the hottest times of the year and temperatures reach 32 and sometimes 33 degrees Celsius (90-91 degrees Fahrenheit). The days are hot and humid, so drinking plenty of water is a must to keep yourself hydrated on your Mexico vacation.
August through October are the rainiest months of the whole year and although there is a lot of precipitation, temperatures stay at 33 degrees Celsius (90-91 degrees Fahrenheit) with sticky, humid air. It does cool down in the late afternoon hours, so those that vacation during these months can enjoy less hot evenings and mornings. Temperatures start to rise up by late morning, so you might want to avoid going to the beach, as a sunburn is guaranteed at those hours.
Temperatures continue to cool down in the months of November and December, there is a significant decrease in humidity and the days and evenings feel much more comfortable without the amount of heat that Mexico experiences during all other months.
Hurricanes are also a possibility as in some Caribbean islands, but the east coast is more prone to having one than the west.
Public Transportation in Mexico
Public transportation in Mexico is a reliable source of moving around the country. Buses are easily accessible, run on a regular basis and will take you practically anywhere you want to go on your Mexico vacation. Taking a bus is quite common in Mexico and some buses are even equipped to provide first-class service to its passengers. If you ever need to travel from one city to the other and renting out a car is not an option, take a bus, you will be glad you did. Once being relaxed in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus, you will be able to see the magnificent local scenery, contemplate the amazing surroundings and Mexican life. Buses that run between the cities are large Greyhound-type comfortable buses that are separated into three categories: First Class (primavera), Second Class (segunda) and Delux (ejecutiva). Delux buses normally have fewer seats, have small tv sets installed, air-conditioned, have a washroom on board and only make a few stops. If you do choose to travel long distances on a bus, choose the one of the higher classes. The price difference will not break your bank, but the trip will be worth the money. Keep in mind, that very little English is spoken at the bus stations, so a dictionary will be handy.
Local buses, also called camiones,that run in the city are an effective method of travelling. They are retired school buses and get super crowded especially at peak times. So if you are out for experiencing the local life, culture and people during your Mexico vacation, this type of transportation is for you. Be ready that at peak hours the buses become so full that you will see people hanging out the windows and both, front and back doors. Do not be surprised, this is normal in Mexico! But if you do not want to be jammed and squished while enjoying your bus ride, buy a ticket and enjoy the city between 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m., before the rush hour starts.
Micro buses, also known as "micros" in Spanish, are green and white mini buses where you pay your fares right when you get in. The price varies depending on how far you will travel, so advise the driver of your destination so he can calculate the price accordingly.
There is also something called "collectivo". It can be a regular car, a van or a pick-up truck that operates as a shared taxi. The driver will normally drop off and pick up passengers anywhere along his route and will fit as many people as he possibly can, so be ready for an uncomfortable ride. They charge per person, not per trip or route, so have the exact cash handy, as the drivers rarely have change especially for large bills.
Taxis are a great alternative to a bus or renting a car, so if you thinking of hiring one-do it. Fares for short trips are preset by zone and are reasonable compared to those in the United States or Europe. For longer distances, a taxi cab can be hired for $15-$20 per hour or for a daily rate negotiated with the driver prior to your trip. For those feeling uncomfortable driving in Mexico, taxis are a great and cheaper way to see the country on your Mexico vacation. The bonus of hiring a cab is that in case something happens on the road, you have a Spanish-speaking person with you. Some taxi drivers speak a little bit of English, some speak Spanish only. If you are staying at a hotel or a resort, ask the front desk to help you make taxi arrangements. If you are in the city looking for a taxi, do not hail one. Wait for it at specific "Sitio" stops and someone will come pick you up.
Metro is another economical way to get around the country on your Mexico vacation, but this type of transport is only available in two cities - Mexico City and Monterrey. El Metro is the main rail-based transport system in Mexico City. All the trains operate underground, until they reach several stretches where the train needs to go overground. This Metro system is so popular that millions of people use it on a daily basis to get to their destinations. The first two cars are generally reserved for women and children, others can use the rest of the train. The Metro system connects most of the major areas in Mexico City, and where Metro does not reach, Micro or Local buses run their routes.
Metro Bus, that is part of the Metro system in Mexico city runs on a dedicated bus lane, and serves as an effective way of travelling through a congested city. This bus lane stretches along Avenida Insurgentes, a boulevard that is over 35 miles long and is considered to be the longest commercial boulevard in the world! If you see a red and white Metrobus with pink signs on their platforms it means they are designed for women-only and men are not allowed on that bus.
Biking and walking is another way of travelling through the cities of Mexico; however, not everyone chooses these methods of travelling. If you are a pedestrian, make sure to always look around you. Yellow and white stripes indicate the area for pedestrian crossing, but it is strongly advised to wait until the light turns red and the first row of cars come to a complete stop before beginning to cross the road or street.
Some tourists like to bike on Mexico vacation. If you are feeling adventurous, grab a mountain bike and enjoy more the nature rather than the busy city life. Some parts of towns have cobbled streets, cycling there can be challenging. There are also cycle paths available for biking enthusiasts. So if you are a fan of biking, choose a good place and enjoy the surrounding area while riding a bike.
There are so many options of transport to travel around during your Mexico vacation, choose what best suits your needs, preferences and of course budget and be on your way to exploring and enjoying Mexico!
Renting a car in Mexico
Sometimes taking the public transit is an ideal way of travelling around Mexico, but if you are on a tight schedule or planning on visiting more remote areas during your Mexico vacation where public transit is not accessible, renting a car is the way to go. Yucatan, for example, is one of the best places in Mexico and is perfect for driving. While looking out your car window you can contemplate the many beautiful beaches, ancient ruins or old villages that carry their own history.
It is simple to rent a car in Mexico; however, for best rates try to book your vehicle a week before your arrival into the country. You will require a valid credit card, a licence and a passport, and if you are 25 years of age or younger the price for renting will be slightly higher. Most car rental companies offer ridiculously cheap rates, but that should not fool you as those rates do not include the insurance which sometimes can double or even triple depending on the situation. Never rely solely on your abilities to drive as things can happen fairly quickly on the road and you will be left with high fees to pay. In most cases, car insurance is mandatory, and if it is not, do not decline, purchase one, it will save you the headache and keep your dollars in your pocket if anything happens during your Mexico vacation.
Highways in Mexico are in pretty good shape and the government is always working on their improvements, so you will not see a lot of bumpy roads, sudden turns or unpaved roads. Watch out for fellow local drivers on the road, as some might drive aggressively.
And although Mexican roads might seem ok to drive on during the day, at night some areas might not be lit and trucks, cars, cyclists or pedestrians do not have any identification signs on them. Pay close attention to your speed and always look where you are going, as you might approach uncrossable bridges without warning, animals or potholes.
If your car breaks down in the middle of the road, the help might already be on the way. Do not panic and just wait for someone to come. Green repair trucks with fully equipped radios are run by uniformed officers that fully speak and understand English. They patrol all the major highways during the day hours of 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. and will assist you with any car problems you might have.
When possible, many Mexicans either drive away from minor accidents or try to negotiate the settlement with the other party at the scene, without involving the police. If the police arrives at the scene of the accident, both parties' cars get confiscated and both parties will likely have to appear in court. This is a long process and many locals try to avoid it any way they can. People who do not not speak fluent Spanish, specifically the tourists on Mexico vacation, are at a disadvantage, because they will not be able to give exact details of what happened. If an accident occurs, stay in your car and call your insurance company right away. Their job is to intervene on your behalf and they will assist you immediately.
There are a few speed limit restrictions in Mexico, so this all depends on where you find yourself to be. Parking lots and residential areas allow 10 km/h (6 mph). If you are on a street and do not see a speed limit sign, you are allowed to speed up to 60 km/h (37 mph). If you are travelling through a freeway, your speed limit should be 60–80 km/h (37–50 mph), and avenues with no speed limit allow the car to travel at the speed of 80 km/h (50 mph). If you go on rural two-lane roads, please watch your speedometer, as the speed limit in those areas is from 70–90 km/h (43–56 mph). Two-lane highways have signs that your speed must be 90 km/h (56 mph). If you are driving on a major highway inside the city, you are allowed to go up to 90–100 km/h (56–62 mph), and on regular highways outside of cities the limit is 110 km/h (68 mph). Drivers are not allowed to speed more than 110 km/h on these highways, but the speed limit in most cases is enforced only if the car reaches more than 130 km/h (81 mph).
All gas in Mexico is provided by a government-owned brand called "Pemex" and only a couple of their gas stations accept credit cards as form of payment. In that case, you have no other way but to pay with cash, so keep it handy during your Mexico vacation for these kind of situations.
Money in Mexico
The national currency of Mexico is Mexican peso ($MXN), but US dollars is widely acceptable almost anywhere in the country. Prices throughout Mexico are most often shown with the dollar sign ($) in front of the peso amount. To distinguish it from the US dollar, you will see a MX$ or $100MN, meaning the price is in pesos. Mexican peso is a free floating currency in Foreign Exchange Markets and just like any other currencies there it fluctuates on a daily basis.
Some parts of Mexico willingly accept US currency, while in other parts it is less expensive for the tourists on Mexico vacation to pay with pesos. This is all depends which region or part of Mexico you are vacationing in, so if in doubt, take US dollars with you and exchange them for pesos locally. On the side note, if you pay with American currency at restaurants, shops or cafes, the exchange rate will not be as favourable as at ATMs and banks, so it is recommened to do your exchange rate session prior to going on a shopping spree.
When you pay with US dollars, keep in mind that the change you receive will always be in Mexican pesos. Getting the required change can be a problem here, as small-denomination bills and coins are hard to come by, so start collecting them early in your Mexico vacation. ATM machines (called "cajeras" in Spanish) are available through Mexico and provide the best exchange rate. This is a reliable and super quick way to get cash, as ATMs are almost always opened and will let anyone who has a VISA or Mastercard to withdraw money. Whether or not your debit card will work in Mexico, please inquire with your bank in advance. Banks are also opened during regular business hours 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. and provide all of the necessary banking services to their clients.
Casas de cambio (exchange houses) are more convenient for money exchange than banks, as they have more locations and longer operating hours; however, their exchange rates are either the same as the banks' or slightly lower. Major hotels have their own banks and/or exchange houses on their premises. That is a convenient way to exchange currency during your Mexico vacation without having to look for a bank. Their exchange rates might change periodically, so inquire about them either at the hotel's front desk or the bank at the hotel itself.
Almost all Mexican establishments accept credit cards, mainly VISA or Mastercard, but some will even honor AMEX; however, that form of payment is not very popular. A few small cafes, mainly further away from the downtown core, more into the country, might not accept credit cards. Always use pesos to pay your way through at those stops on your Mexico vacation. A small number of Mexican restaurants will not accept credit cards either, for that they always make a sign at the doors when you walk in saying "'Lo Sentimos - No Tarjetas de Crédito' (Sorry - No Credit Cards) or attach a note to their menus, so the customers know how they are paying prior to beginning ordering their meal.
Traveller's cheques are still accepted by a few Mexican places, but the best advice is to not rely solely on them as fewer places use them.
Tipping I Mexico
Tipping guidelines in Mexico are nearly the same as in the United States. Most employees earn very little money and tips comprise most of their daily income. That is why it is very important to tip the service staff on your Mexico vacation, especially if they provided over-the-top service.
Generally, the service staff (waiters, bellhops, housekeepers etc.) prefer gratuity in Mexican pesos. So if you are at the financial institution exchanging dollars for local currency, request a higher amount. This will save those that work in the service field a trip to the bank. A very important fact to remember is that the buy and sell rates in Mexico are different, so if you decide to use foreign currency for tipping throughout your stay, it will be worth less than what you have intended.
Some all-inclusive hotels in Mexico have a "no-tipping" policy, meaning tips are not required. But it never hurts to give some extra dollars to those who go above and beyond in making your stay extra special.
If you received good service from a waitress or waiter it is customary to leave a 15% tip on top of the final price. Tip more, if you think the service provided was more than excellent. Some restaurants add the so called "propina", it is a gratuity that is automatically added to your bill no matter how big a group of people at the table is. Check your bill carefully, and if "propina" was added by the restaurant, it is not necessary to leave extra money.
If you are staying at the resort, buffet and a la carte restaurant personnel would be very delighted if you left them small tips after your meals. If you eat at the buffet, leaving $1-$2 is sufficient for your waiter. If you eat at the a la carte restaurant, $5 will make your waiter's day as well.
Bartenders or cocktails servers usually receive $1-$2 per every round of drinks, this includes independent bars and restaurants in the city as well as the resorts. If you are running a tab at a bar or a dining establishment, then 15%-20% of gratuity at the end of your stay will do the trick.
Housekeeping staff normally receive $2-$5 per every housekeeping visit. Tip more if your room is extremely messy (clothing scattered all over the room, sand tracked in hard to reach places, lots of dirty dishes). These staff members depend on the tips to live, so tip generously on your Mexico vacation.
Spa service providers are tipped as well. If you received a treatment from a massage therapist, a hair stylist of an aesthetician, leave 15%-20% in addition to the cost of the spa treatment. You do not need to tip if the service was provided by the owner of the establishment or a medical provider such as a nurse or a doctor.
Baggage handlers and bell boys receive $1-$2 every time they help you carry your bag, luggage or provide any other service. If you have very heavy suitcases, tip them a few dollars more than what is required, otherwise a couple of bucks will make them very happy.
Tourists and residents of Mexico normally do not tip the taxi drivers; however, if he/she provided extra service (loading/unloading your baggage or groceries, waiting for you while your shop or acted as a tour guide), leave an extra $2-$5 at the end of your trip.
Bagging clerks in the supermarkets are often children, and a lot of people do not realize that they are service personnel too and they work solely on tips. Bagging clerks help you pack all of your groceries and assist with taking the bags to your car. These children contribute to their household income, so leaving 1-2 pesos for every bag they help you pack and $0.50-$1 (10-20 pesos) if they bring everything to the vehicle is considered thoughtful and is highly appreciated!
If you are enjoying a live band or a musician somewhere in the beautiful gardens of Mexico or even in the resort, a tip is not required but is appreciated as well. You may leave $2-$5 depending on your preference and enjoyment of the show.
Tour and activity guides normally receive a tip anywhere between 15%-20% of the total price. If the group of people is large (20-100 people) each person is required to leave $5 for the guide that provided the service.
Mexico is popular for its fishing activities, so if you are hiring a private charter or a boat to enjoy the day in the ocean, then remember that tipping at the end of your day tour is required. Some people argue on how much tips you should leave, but the general rule of thumb is leaving 15%-20% of the total price of your trip. If you are very satisfied with the service you have received, you may leave an additional $25 for each crew member. Remember, it is customary to give the tip directly to the captain rather than his/her assistants or boat crew.
Overall, tipping should be done either in US dollars or local pesos. If you are using US currency, only paper bills (no coins) are accepted.
Solicitation in Mexico
There are many vendors in Mexico strolling through the beaches selling their merchandise. Some of them work for a company or another person, and their salaries are based on commissions, others, are independent and work for themselves. The prices of these vendors are typically lower than those that work for example, for a boat company selling tours or selling hand-made items that come from a store.
Either way, all those vendors are super friendly, welcoming and will never push you to buy. If one approaches while you are on Mexico vacation, you may even strike a friendly conversation. They love talking about their lives, kids, work and might give you a few helpful tips on vacationing in their country. If you are not interested in an item and would rather enjoy the sun instead of chatting, simply say "No thank you" or "No gracias" and they will walk up to someone else.
All vendors that you see on the beach are required to be licensed and to wear white attire. There are some "pirates" as well. You will be able to tell the difference between the two because illegal sellers are not wearing white and can become rude at times.
Beach vendors do a job no one wants to do. Most of them work seven days a week, walking miles of the same stretch of sand, always being under the sun and having to deal with sometimes unpleasant tourists that think they are "bothering them". It is not an easy job and yet these folks are the most honest and nicest people you will ever meet. Enjoy your Mexico vacation at the beach and if a vendor comes over, it is a great way to make a new local friend.
Safety in Mexico
Generally speaking, Mexico is a safe place, and violence that does occur there is often targeted on the Mexicans itself, further from the big cities. Tourists can rest assured, their Mexico vacation will be safe. The Yucatan peninsular is considered one of the safest places to be. Other than the regular petty thievery that frequents in all tourist destinations worldwide, major crime in Mexico involving tourists is almost non existent.
Common sense goes a long way, so exercise caution anywhere you travel. Carefully research the destination of your choice and select accommodations where you can safely stroll through the streets. Most areas in Mexico are safe to explore; however, if you are renting a room somewhere outside of the city, where the concentration of tourists is quite limited, always be on the lookout and take all of the necessary safety measures if required.
Large hotels, resorts, big and even small towns where tourists love to go on Mexico vacation are safe. However, that does not mean you do not need to take precaution. If you are travelling anywhere during the evening/night hours, make sure you either take a taxi or travel with a group of friends. Never stroll through the streets alone in the dark, this can cause unnecessary attention. If you are walking alongside of the road at night, walk closer to the curb and further away from the bushes and trees.
Never take any extremely valuable belongings with you no matter how much you feel like taking them. If something is very sentimental is it best to leave it at home and not take it with you on your vacation. All other personal items should be left in a safety security box in your hotel room. If you are taking cameras, money and other things with you when leaving the hotel room, always keep it close to you and never leave anything unattended whether on the beach or anywhere in the city.
If you are planning on buying silver in Mexico, go to a legitimate shop and purchase it there. Make sure your new purchase is stamped and you get an authentication of it's validity and quality.
If you are travelling in a rented vehicle, always lock the windows and doors whether the car in moving or not. And if you decide to contemplate on the beautiful Mexican nature, take all of your belongings from the car, lock the doors and be on your way of exploring.
Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid any kind of drama. After all, you are here to enjoy your Mexico vacation, the never-ending sun, the picture-perfect white sand beaches and the tropical aura you will never find anywhere else, so enjoy it to the fullest!
Water in Mexico
When go on Mexico vacation, it is strongly advised to avoid drinking water from the tap, otherwise you will be struggling with digestive problems. In some areas of the country, even the locals drink bottled water that you can purchase in nearby supermarkets, convenience stores or through vendors at local markets. Many hotels will provide bottled water for free, either in small bottles or in large ones. When you purchase bottled water, make sure it is factory sealed to ensure it is safe to drink.
Tap water in Mexico in most areas is contaminated by garbage dumps and runoff, so bottled water is easily found almost in every store. If you walk along the streets of Mexico, you will see how local children buy huge purified bottles of water and drag it in special carts to resell to tourists and local residents that do not live close to the stores.
Although, some cities in Mexico have excellent public water systems, while others are not as lucky and have contaminated water not even suitable for brushing your teeth or cooking. So if you want to fully enjoy your Mexico vacation and not have to deal with an upset stomach, opt out for bottled or filtered water that is potable, tasty and absolutely safe to drink.
Electricity in Mexico
Electricity in Mexico is at 110-120 volts and 60 cycles, same as in all North America. So if you are coming from the United States or Canada, an adapter is all you will need in order to plug in all of your appliances safely. Tourists coming from Europe will require either a transformer or a converter for their appliances to work in Mexico.
In case you find yourself without the compatible device for your appliances during your Mexico vacation, adaptors, transformers or converters can be purchased right there. Although, keep in mind they might not be of the same quality and brand as back home.