Mexico Travel Guide
Start Planning Your Trip to Mexico
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist destinations, especially for those living in North America.
There is so much more to Mexico than tacos and tequila. Planning a trip to Mexico can be a great way to get to know this country more deeply, and gain a bigger appreciation for the vibrant culture.
Travelers visiting Mexico can experience world-class resorts, gorgeous beaches, and activities — such as scuba diving, snorkeling, deep sea fishing, caving, etc. But there are also charming villages, gorgeous culture, colonial towns, ancient ruins, and delicious food!
One of our top Mexico travel tips is to be open to soaking up all the amazing experiences you can find in Mexico!
This travel guide contains all of our Mexico travel planning tips you need to help you plan your vacation to Mexico.
Top Places to Visit in Mexico
Popular places to visit in Mexico include the Yucatan peninsula or Maya Riviera. This part of Mexico borders borders the Gulf of Mexico and is home to popular tourist towns such as Cancun, Tulum, Playa del Carmen, and even the island of Cozumel (a popular cruise ship port).
Tourists visiting Mexico also enjoy vacationing on the west coast of Mexico, typically the resort towns of Cabo San Lucas or Puerto Vallarta. Cruise ships (specifically from Los Angeles) also frequent the towns of Ensenada.
These popular tourist destinations in Mexico are well-traveled and quite safe.
More adventurous travelers to Mexico also may want to visit popular cities like Oaxaca, Guadalajara and Mexico City.
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Mexico Travel Planning FAQ's
Even if you are an American citizen, you do need a valid passport to go to Mexico. And no, you can’t use your driver’s license or birth certificate. This includes cruise ship passengers.
** For more details about, read our full post “Do you need a passport to go to Mexico?“
If you plan to travel to major tourist destinations in Mexico and stay in large resorts, then you will encounter many English-speakers to help you out.
But if you go out and about for shopping, dining, or if you travel to less touristy places then you should expect to encounter fewer English-speakers.
Many local shopkeepers or those working in the tourism industry may know a bit of English, but don’t expect them to be fluent speakers. They may just know a few basic words in English.
We Recommend Learning some Spanish Basics Before Traveling to Mexico
As with anywhere you travel, it’s important to try and learn some of the local language to show respect and interest in their local culture. You’d be amazed at just how much learning a few words in the local language can help you out!
Even just learning some basics such as hello, thank-you, how much, 1-10 numbers, please, and how to order food, etc. will go a long way.
There are technically no additional vaccines required for US travelers to go to Mexico. However, it is recommended that you be up-to-date on shots such as Hep A as well as Tetanus and Typhoid.
These are easy to get, even at your local CVS Minute Clinic.
In general, most countries outside the USA don’t accept US dollars for payments. However, in some very touristy areas of Mexico they might accept them (such as major cruise ship ports).
However, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. In fact, you are probably going to get ripped off by paying in USD.
It’s always best to have local currency with you when you travel, and that includes getting some Mexican Pesos when traveling to Mexico.
It’s easy to exchange currency before your trip at the airport or after you land. We recommend that you buy some currency before your trip directly from your home bank — or the BEST way to get Mexican Pesos after you arrive in Mexico is just to pull it out from a local ATM (as long as you let your bank know in advance).
** For more tips about accessing your money in Mexico, check out our detailed post about Money Travel tips you need to know.
It’s true, as in many countries around the world you do not want to drink the tap water in Mexico. The best thing to do is to drink bottled water.
When you are dining out, bottled water is best although many tourist restaurants will serve bottled or filtered water as well as filtered ice cubes.
Yes! In fact, we recommend it in some destinations so that you can venture off and explore on your own.
Renting a car in Cancun is an especially great way to have more freedom and be able to see and do so much more.
While it’s true that Mexico is experiencing violence in certain areas, this is not the case in most of the major touristy areas that we recommend here on this website.
In general, the Yucatan is quite a safe part of Mexico and places such as Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum are safe to visit.
Even major cruise ship ports on the west coast of Mexico such as Cabo San Lucas are extremely popular and safe to visit.
However as with anywhere in the world, you should always use common sense and keep your wits about you.
Mexico Travel Tips & Recommendations
We have explored different areas of Mexico over the years, but our top recommended place to visit in Mexico is actually the Yucatan. This is because of affordable flights, safety, and sheer abundance of things to do in the area!
And then there’s also the incredible white sand beaches, blue water…and famous Mayan ruins. In fact, the Yucatan is one of our favorite travel destinations!
What Does Your Ideal Mexico Vacaton Look Like?
One of the most important things to planning a trip to Mexico is knowing what you want to get out of it.
If you are looking to plop yourself at a beach resort and relax, then you will have no problem finding some amazing hotels anywhere along the coast between Cancun and Tulum. You could also do an all-inclusive resort in Mexico if you want to keep things super easy.
However if you are active travelers like us and want to get out there and see more of the area outside the resort, then our top Yucatan, Mexico travel planning tip is to rent a car in Cancun so you have the freedom to drive around and explore!
Renting a Car & Driving in the Yucatan
We even did a road trip around the Yucatan a few years back and it was really one of our most memorable trips to Mexico. Beginning in Cancun, we drove to visit the famous Chichen Itza and stayed onsite at one of the most memorable hotels we’ve stayed.
We also swam in some magical Yucatan cenotes before heading to the coast and exploring an underwater cave system! The coastal community in Paa Mul is also where we went scuba diving for the first time (and we even saved a baby turtle that just hatched!).
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