Mexico is larger than life in many ways other than its sheer size. Rich in culture, history, cuisine, colour, energy and some of the most amazing people. With pretty much every time of landscape imaginable, choosing where to start your Mexican adventure is a challenge in itself. The bustling metropolis of Mexico City? The cultural hub of San Cristobal? Or maybe the white sand beaches of the Caribbean coast? Whichever you choose you're in for the journey of a lifetime.
UK citizens do not require a visa to visit Mexico. So long as your passport is valid for 6 months you may stay for up to 180 days. You will be given an immigration card upon arrival which you must keep on your person at all times. Although you are entitled to stay for up to 180 days, in the first instance, you may only be authorised an initial 15 days which you will need to extend at another immigration office. If, like us, you don't do that you'll have a pretty hefty fee to pay before you can leave.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
The behemoth that is Mexico City is home to some 22 million people. The city has a reputation for being dirty, congested and dangerous. But the truth is Mexico City is a wonderful place to explore. Embrace the crazy and lose yourself in the adventure within.
San Cristobal is rich in Mexican culture and is considered the backpacker hotspot of the Chiapas region. A large part of long-term travelling is emerging yourself in the local culture and San Cristobal gives you a real taste of what everyday life is like for many Mexicans.
Considered one of the most authentic regions for a taste of real-life Mexico. Oaxaca is famous for being the home of the best food in the whole country. If that isn't a claim to fame, we don't know what is.
Cheaper than Cancun with fewer people and so much more beautiful and authentic. It's the kind of place where you feel like you're way off the beaten path. Although recent years have seen a spike in tourism in Tulum, it has still maintained its warm and charming hippy vibes. Tulum is small and personal and we highly recommend renting bicycles to get around. Everything is easily accessible by bike and the town is so pretty that you'll want to ride through slowly and take it all in.
Isla Mujeres is a small island of 12,500 inhabitants about 12 kilometres off the coast of Cancun. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful places we have visited and was the perfect end to our tour of Mexico's Caribbean coast.
Chichen Itza is a complex of pre-Colombian ruins and is the largest of the archeological cities of the Maya civilisation. Such is its magnificence, it was once listed as one of the seven wonders of the world and is a UNSECO world heritage site. This is an incredibly popular tourist site with nearly 1.5 million visitors each year.
BUDGET & MONEY
Mexico can be as cheap or as expensive as you make it. On average, for 2 people, we were spending about 1,200 MXN (£50) per day. That figure includes accommodation, transport (some flights), activities, food and, of course, beers.
Mexico's currency is the Peso (MXN) and its exchange rate to GBP is currently around £1=24.
A private double room in a hostel or cheap hotel will run you around 350-450 MXN (£14.60-18.75) and dorm beds from 180 MXN (£7.50).
Street food is king in Mexico! Morning, noon and night you will find endless choice in all directions. If you're sticking to street food you can get yourself a nice, filling meal for between 20-80 MXN (£0.85-3.35) and you can expect to pay a minimum of 100 MXN (£4.15) for a meal in a local restaurant.
There is plenty of choice when it comes to bus companies in Mexico, meaning there is great variation in prices and quality too. For the most part, buses are modern, safe and comfortable. The average price per hour of bus travel in Mexico is 55 MXN (£2.30).
- San Cristobal to Cancun - 22 hours - 1,500 MXN (£62.50)
- Cancun to Tulum - 2.5 hours - 86 MXN (£3.60)
- Chichen Itza to Tulum - 3 hours - 123 MXN (£5.15)
- Cancun to Chichen Itza - 3 hours - 205 MXN (£8.55)
- Oaxaca to San Cristobal - 11 hours - 450 MXN (£18.75)
- Mexico City to San Cristobal - 13 hours - 600 MXN (£25)
If, like us, you find yourself pressed for time, there are plenty of internal flights which you can take. We took two flights in Mexico which were:
- Tuxla Gutierrez to Mexico City - Viva Aerobus - 850 MXN (£35.40)
- Mexico City to Cancun - Viva Aerobus - 1,100 MXN (£45.85)
There is no ignoring the fact that violent crime is a very real issue in many parts of Mexico. The country's bloody drugs war is no secret to anybody and there are some parts of the country that you would be extremely stupid to visit. Be sure to conduct more in depth research into any area you wish to visit which is outside of the typical tourist trail. In these areas the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping or even murder can be very high.
In popular tourist destinations the presence of police and military personnel does a lot to deter more serious crimes before they take place. That being said, try not to make yourself a target in the first place by not being flashy with cash, jewellery or electronics, avoid being out alone after dark and only use registered taxis which staff in most bars, clubs and restaurants will call for you.
As with any destination on the backpacker trail you need to keep a sharp eye on your belongings on buses and in and around stations, cities and major attractions as petty crime and bag theft is always a concern.
Final thing; make sure to have these numbers saved in your phone -
- Police: 911
- Ambulance/Fire: 911
- Your Embassy (UK): +52 55 1670 3200