The following list of useful Mexico travel tips is mostly for first time visitors to Mexico. But it can help everyone who wants to visit this beautiful country and have a safe and worry free trip. During my travel route I discovered the beauty of the peninsula Yucatán and I discovered breathtaking cenotes, beaches, cultures, temples and cities.
Before visiting Mexico I did an extensive research about the culture, the safety, the highlights and further travel information. However, some things you have to experience to learn from.
This is why I summed up the 14 most useful Mexico travel tips, because these are all the things I wish I had known before visiting Mexico.
1. Don’t stress out because of safety concerns
We all know that Mexico doesn’t have a very good reputation. Think about the bad reputation on media, drug cartels, violence and missing people. Ofcourse, these things do happen unfortunately. However, it mostly happens in areas that you are very unlikely to visit.
It is important to remember: Mexico is in general safe, with very friendly and helpful people. Just like a lot of locals said to me: Mi casa es tu casa (my house is your house). During my trip in Mexico I visited mostly the region of Yucatán and I was blown away by the kindness of the local people. I haven’t felt unsafe during the entire trip. 40 millions (!!) of people visit Mexico each year and violence against tourist is very rare.
The main crime is petty theft, so it is important to look after your belongings.
2. Visit a lot of cenotes
Before coming to Mexico I never heard of cenotes. But I during my trip I fell in love with them and even became a little obsessed with cenotes!
A cenote is a cave or a pool that contains water which can be underground, but it doesn’t always have to be. One can be a small and dark lake, while the other one can be a mind-blowing underground swimming area where you can dive at the same time. They are very diverse so it is important to try at least 3 or 4 of them.
The origin of these special natural phenomena goes back millions of years ago. A meteorite impact put an end to the era of dinosaurs, while at the same time making holes in the surface. These holes have been filled with water over the centuries, and are now called cenotes. In the province of Yucatán in Mexico you will find three thousand cenotes, scattered throughout the area. HERE are the most beautiful ones.
3. Always pay in pesos and not dollar
In a lot of places in Mexico it is possible to pay in U.S. Dollars (USD). However, it is always a smart choice to pay in pesos, simply because this is cheaper. This is because of the exchange rates. So when you take money from an ATM make sure you choose pesos and not USD!
4. You will get a paper slip upon entering Mexico, make sure you don’t lose it
When you arrive in Mexico the immigration officer will hand back your stamped passport with an included paper slip. This paper slip is the end section of your immigration form which is break-away paper. It is very important to not loose this paper slip because you will need it when you leave the country. If you loose it you will get risk paying a fine.
This is very important to know before visiting Mexico, so make sure you write this down!
5. Bring a Filter Water Bottle for Safe Drinking
In Mexico you can 100 precent not drink the tap water anywhere! But, because of the heat in Mexico you will have to drink a lot. This means that you will have to spend a lot of time (and money) on chasing water and polluting our planet with all these plastic bottles.
So the best solution for this is to buy a water bottle with a travel-grade filter. This is the most eco-friendly and convenient option so that you can drink water anywhere you go.
The most trustworthy and popular name is: The Lifestraw Filtered Water Bottle.
Lifestraw has been used by lot’s of travelers all around the world. It is really easy, you fill up the water bottle and let the heavy-grade filter remove bacteria and parasites as you drink.
6. Explore beyond the tourist resorts
Mexico has so much to offer and there are so many special places to discover. It would almost be an offense to the country to just stay in one place. However, there is nothing wrong with spending some time at the Riviera Maya. Just make sure you explore more of this huge country. There are a lot of authentic colonial towns, ancient ruins, beaches and cenotes to discover!
-For our travel route click here–
7. Leave your drone at home
If you have a drone and want to take some beautiful shots of the ancient ruins, the breathtaking cenotes or the beaches in Tulum you have to know a thing or two.
First you have to know that all drones weighing over 250 grams (.55 pounds) must be registered with the DGCA. Registration requires an official ID proving Mexican citizenship, therefore prohibiting registration by foreign persons.
Also, flying a drone above archeological sites such as Chichen Itza and Uxmal is forbidden. It is even legally accepted to confiscate your drone while entering or leaving Mexico.
To see all the rules regarding flying a drone in Mexico I suggest you visit this site.
8. Learn basic Spanish
Most of the Mexican people are used to tourists speaking English. However, you will visit some towns where it might be a good idea to know some basic Spanish. For me it really helped to connect with the locals. They love it when you at least try to speak a little bit.
9. Understand the Mexican bathrooms
I think everyone who visited Mexico before can relate to this one. The Mexican bathrooms can be really confusing.
The Mexican word for woman is “mujeres’ . So the bathroom doors marked with an M are for woman and not for men! So gentlemen, you should look for a door marked with an ‘H’ -for ‘hombres’- or a ‘C’-for ‘caballeros’.
Also, next to most of the toilets you will find a basket. This means that you should deposit your used toilet paper in there because the place is not connected to the public sewage and your used toilet paper can cause blockages.
10. Check the weather
Yes, the biggest part of Mexico is warm during most of the year. And in Quintana Too you will probably never have a cold night. However, there are more popular destinations in Mexico which can be surprisingly cold, especially during the night. A couple of these destinations are Oaxaca and Mexico City. They are located at high altitude and therefore the climate is a bit different than Quintana Roo.
Also, another thing to consider while planning your Mexico trip is the seaweed. Seaweed is also called ‘Sargassum’ and the sargassum season is mostly from April to August but this can change. Make sure you check the Red de Monitoreo del Sargazo.They post daily reports of the seaweed situation on the beaches of the Caribbean cost. Most of the people don’t like their white sand beaches covered in brown seaweed so make sure you check this.
11. Go early to touristic places
I can not express this more! Especially in the Yucatán region it can be very crowded at some places. Make sure you visit the most popular places early in the morning so that you experience some magical moment by yourself. And of course when there are almost no people you can shoot some awesome shots!
12. Withdraw as many pesos as possible
Because you will almost pay for everything in cash it might be a good idea to always have enough pesos with you. I learned this the hard way, because I ran out of pesos one time and there was no ATM to be seen. Just make sure you don’t bring all the money with you. If you have a locker in your hotel or Airbnb room, leave a small amount there.
Also, for everytime you withdraw money you have to pay a fee. So it is smarter to withdraw the maximum amount of money to avoid paying every time this fee.
-Book your stay at Airbnb HERE! and earn 34,- euro’s on your first trip!-
13. Arrange the trip by yourself
I know that some people are hesitant about arranging everything by themselves. But if you are hoping to see Mexico through arranged tours. You are only going to see long lines and other tourists. There is absolutely no fun and freedom in that! You only have limited time to explore the different sites and it will always be crowded with lot’s of people.
The best thing is to go off the beaten path and to discover the authentic Mexico at your own pace. This will greatly increase your travel experience.
14. Connect with the local people
The thing that surprised me most during my trip in Mexico are the local people. These people are so helpful and friendly, it is just a whole another level.
Mexicans really are super helpful, kind, genuine and funny. Because these people are so open it is easy to start a conversation or ask for help. So don’t be hesitant to ask help or to make a nice comment. They will win you over!