Visit the markets –
Mexico’s markets are a great place to experience traditional food, pick up a bargain, and purchase plenty of souvenirs. Head to the Ciudadela market in Mexico City or Oaxaca for folk art.
Wander through Chapultepec Park – Chapultepec is one of the largest city parks in the world, encompassing the Mexico City Zoo, Atlantis (marine life park), La Feria amusement park and the world class Museum of Anthropology. The park is a must if you are visiting Mexico City.
See Chichén Itzá – Chichen Itza is a large Mayan archaeological site located in the north of the Yucatan Peninsula. The site has been declared one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is thought to be the best Mayan site in Mexico. The most impressive structure on the site is the 78 feet tall Temple of Kukulkan, or the “Castillo” as it is often known. The site also boasts elaborate wall carvings, a ball court, and intricately-designed columns.
Explore the Zócalo (Plaza de la Constitución) – The Zócalo is at the heart of Mexico City and it encompasses the Templo Mayor and the Palacio Nacional. Situated just off the Zócalo is La Catedral Metropolitana a magnificent cathedral fortified with gold and a beautiful example of Spanish colonial architecture.
(These were taken in May 2014 while at the Tulum Ruins)
Trek Around Tulum – Many visitors combine sightseeing with a day’s swimming and relaxing on the beach but Tulum is also situated right next to Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site – prime trekking ground for those who want to experience jungle wildlife living amidst pristine rainforests and Mayan ruins. I really enjoyed the ruins here. It’s beautiful setting and the beach swimming around Mayan ruins was an amazing experience.
Visit a volcano – Mexico has over active 30 volcanoes. Most volcanoes are found within national parks, and these offer some of the best hiking and mountain biking in the country. Popocatepetl frequently features in the top 10 lists of must-see volcanoes in the world but it is closed to climbing since it is so active, so tourists favour Paricutin and Orizaba.
– The seas surrounding Mexico make for some of the world’s best diving spots with their diverse marine life, coral reefs (including the second largest reef system in the world, the Great Maya Barrier Reef) and excellent visibility. Aside from diving, the waters are popular with snorkelers, sports fishermen and more or less any other watersport enthusiast. We loved Xel-Ha
, a tourist destination with a ton of snorkeling and fun!
(These guys are EVERYWHERE!)
Party in Cancun
– Depending on what you’re looking to do, Cancun can offer you a crazy fun, party in the sun, or some quiet and hidden local markets and restaurants. On the one hand, you have spas, resorts, and picturesque beaches. On the other, you have Mayan ruins, archaeological sites, and little nearby villages. Check out Party Rockers!
They will take you to the best clubs and provide transportation and fun, AND they have great reviews on Tripadvisor.
Get active – Laying around on the beach is great and all, but there is a ton of stuff to do. Consider surfing, snorkeling, SCUBA diving, sea kayaking, zip-lining, caving, and more. Mexico is a great country for the adrenaline junkie.
Get lost in Guadalajara – This urban sprawl has a major downtown and plenty of culture to check out. There are many museums to explore, nightclubs for dancing, and colonial streets to wander.
Visit the Ex-Hacienda San Gabriel de Barrera – Outside of Guanajuato, this is a great place to escape to for an afternoon. Now a museum, complete with beautiful, manicured gardens, this was once the home of descendants from the Conde de Rul during the 17th century. This home is another product of the prosperous mining of the surrounding area.
Get your Aztec history fix – Mayan culture gets all the glory for being found along the touristy coast, but the Aztec empire was equally impressive and has left an enormous mark on Mexico. Check out the awe-inspiring Aztec pyramids at Teotihuacan, located 30 miles outside of Mexico City. It’s hot and unsheltered here, so bring sunscreen and a hat.
Relax on the Pacific Coast – While the beaches may not be as beautiful as the east coast, the Pacific side of Mexico has just as many resorts and opportunities for partying and surfing. Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Huatulco, and Sayulita are popular vacation spots. Diving is better on the Gulf of Mexico, however.
Indulge your love of tequila and mariachis – The province of Jalisco is home to Tequila and Mariachis, as well as tortas ahogadas (a food similar to a Sloppy Joe). Take all three of these in combination and you have the perfect recipe for a memorable night out.
Before you leave:
- Research your destination. The US State Department‘s Web site has information about Mexico as well as current warnings and public announcements regarding safety issues for travelers. World Travel Watch also offers frequently updated reports.
- As you’re packing, think twice about taking valuables with you. If they’re not essential, they’re probably better off left at home. This will also make for lighter bags, allowing you greater ease of movement which can deter potential thieves.
- Scan your passport and travel documents and e-mail them to yourself. That way, if your documents are lost or stolen you can easily access copies from your e-mail.
- Take your bank or credit card’s international telephone number with you (the 1-800 numbers used in the United States don’t work in Mexico).
- Leave a copy of your itinerary with someone at home, but don’t share details of your travel plans with others you meet while traveling.
- Buy a money belt (not a fanny pack) to carry your money and passport underneath your clothing.
- Credit or debit cards are the most convenient way to access your money while traveling, but losing your card (or having it swallowed by a cash machine) can be a great inconvenience, so have a back-up plan. Take some travelers cheques (or a small amount of cash) just in case.
While you’re there:
- Blend in as much as possible. Walking around with a camera around your neck and a guidebook in your hand advertises your tourist status and may make you a mark for thieves. Try to be discreet.
- Choose ATMs in malls or stores if possible. Avoid using ATMs at night or in deserted places. When you withdraw money from an ATM put it away immediately.
- Carry only the cash you need for the moment in your pocket or purse. Carry your passport, credit card and extra money inside your clothes in a money-belt, or leave them in your hotel’s safe. When you need to get something out of your money belt do it in a private place.
- Exercise particular caution when in crowds, markets or on public transportation. Pickpockets can be very crafty and sometimes work in pairs – one person will distract you while another takes your wallet.
- Ask your hotel manager or another knowledgeable person if there are some areas of the city you should avoid.
Business Hours and Public Holidays in Mexico
Shops: Shopping hours in big towns and cities start at around 10 or 11 am, and continue through to between 8 and 10 pm. Shops in cities and big towns are open 7 days a week; smaller places may close on Sundays, except tourist spots at high season. Christmas & Easter public holidays are observed; on other public holidays you’ll find most things open in cities and bigger towns and tourist spots. Smaller towns will have more limited opening hours, and in hotter, non-tourist regions may close between 2 and 4pm; check locally.
Banks: Banks in Mexico are beginning to get their act together from a commercial view-point. Branches are now open from 9 am to 4 pm in many cities and big towns, and some even open Saturday mornings. HSBC now opens from 8am to 8pm six days a week. For more information about managing your money in Mexico, connect to the Money in Mexico
section on Mexperience.
Office Hours: Commercial Office hours tend to run in line with those of the US and the UK: 8am – 6pm. Lunch breaks usually last an hour, but business lunches can go on much longer. Connect to the Business Center
on Mexperience for full details about business practices in Mexico.
Churches: Some churches are permanently open; others are locked up if there is no service going on, especially those hosting valuable art or artifacts. If you visit a church, be mindful of those inside who may be taking part in a church service.
Museums: Museums tend to have specific opening hours, and those outside of the major tourist areas usually close for a day in the week (often Mondays, not always) – so it’s best to check beforehand if you want to visit a specific museum.
Archaeology Parks: Archaeology parks are open to the public from 8am to 5pm, and all except those in the most frequented tourist areas (e.g. Chichen Itza
in Yucatan) are closed on Mondays.
Public Holidays in Mexico
Mexico celebrates a number of public holidays throughout the year. You can learn more about the dates, holidays and events surrounding them on our guide toPublic Holidays in Mexico