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Mexico vacation travel guide

Why choose a Mexico vacation?

A Mexico vacation has something to offer for everyone. From the crystal-clear waters and white sandy beaches of the Caribbean in the Yucatan Peninsula to the tall mountains and deep canyons in the North, there’s a natural setting for every taste.

History enthusiasts will be captivated by the ancient Mayan and Aztec ruins scattered throughout the country, such as Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan.

 

Moreover, the culinary scene is a significant highlight of any Mexico vacation. With an array of flavors and dishes that extend well beyond the typical tacos and burritos, it provides a genuine taste of local traditions and ingredients.

mexico vacation

Planning your Mexico vacation

Visa: Check if you need a visa for a Mexico vacation. Many countries, including the U.S. and Canada, don’t require a visa for short visits. Instead, you’ll get a tourist card (FMM – Forma Migratoria Múltiple) upon arrival. Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months from your date of entry.

• Vaccinations: No specific vaccinations are required for a Mexico vacation, but it’s always good to be up-to-date with routine vaccinations like MMR, tetanus, and flu shots. Consider Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccinations, as they can be contracted through contaminated food or water in Mexico.

• Flight Booking: Check out our flight booking tips to make sure you get the best value for your money.

• Currency: The currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). It’s a good idea to have some cash for smaller purchases, as not all places accept credit cards, especially in rural areas. Use ATMs in banks or secure locations to withdraw cash in pesos.

planning a mexico vacation

Mexico packing tips

• Pack a basic first-aid kit with bandaids, pain relievers, and any personal medications.

• Include insect repellent, especially if you’re visiting jungle areas or during the rainy season.

• Mexico uses the same power outlets as the US, so if you’re coming from a different country, you might need an adapter.

• Sunscreen is crucial, as the sun can be quite strong, especially near the coast and in southern regions.

 

Mexico is well-equipped with stores and pharmacies in case you forget something or need to pick up additional items.

mexico vacation packing tips

Can't-miss Mexico attractions

• Chichen Itza: One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, this ancient Mayan city in the Yucatan Peninsula is famous for its massive pyramid, El Castillo.

• Mexico City’s Historic Center: The heart of the nation’s capital, this area is home to significant landmarks like the Zocalo, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Palacio Nacional with its Diego Rivera murals.

• Cancun and the Riviera Maya: Famous for its stunning beaches, clear waters, and great nightlife. The Riviera Maya also includes other attractions like Playa del Carmen and the eco-archaeological park Xcaret.

• Guanajuato: A UNESCO World Heritage city, famous for its colourful buildings, historic mines, and the unique mummies of Guanajuato museum.

• Copper Canyon: A group of canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental in the northern part of the country, larger and deeper than the Grand Canyon.

mexico vacation attractions

Our favorite food in Mexico

• Tamales: A traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (a dough made from corn) and filled with meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables, or chilies, then wrapped in a cornhusk or banana leaf and steamed.

• Chiles en Nogada: A patriotic dish featuring poblano chiles stuffed with picadillo (a mixture of meat, fruits, and spices), topped with a walnut-based cream sauce, and pomegranate seeds, representing the colours of the Mexican flag.

• Pozole: A traditional soup or stew, made from hominy, with meat (typically pork), and garnished with shredded cabbage, chile peppers, onion, garlic, radishes, avocado, salsa, or limes.

• Elote (Mexican Street Corn): Grilled corn on the cob, usually served coated in a mixture of mayonnaise, cotija cheese, chili powder, and lime.

• Mole: A rich, complex sauce typically served over meat. There are many types of mole, but the most famous are Mole Poblano and Oaxacan Mole Negro, known for their deep flavours and blend of spices, chocolate, nuts, and more.

mexico vacation food

Cultural experiences in Mexico

• Participate in Local Festivals: Join in on local festivals like Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a colourful celebration honouring ancestors, or the Guelaguetza festival in Oaxaca, which celebrates indigenous culture.

• Attend a Mariachi Performance: Experience the passionate performances of Mariachi bands, traditional Mexican folk music.

• Learn About Indigenous Cultures: Visit indigenous communities to learn about their traditions, language, crafts, and way of life. States like Chiapas and Oaxaca have strong indigenous communities.

• Attend a Lucha Libre Match: Experience the excitement of Lucha Libre, Mexican wrestling, known for its colorful masks and high-flying maneuvers.

• Visit a Coffee or Cacao Plantation: In regions like Chiapas or Veracruz, tour a coffee or cacao plantation to learn about these important Mexican crops.

mexico vacation cultural experiences

Mexico customs and etiquette

• Social Gatherings and Punctuality: For social events, it’s common for guests to arrive 30 minutes late. However, for business meetings, punctuality is expected.

• Tipping: Tipping is customary in Mexico. In restaurants, 10-15% of the bill is standard if service is not included. Tipping small amounts for various services, like bag handling, is also common.

• Titles and Respect: Use titles such as “Señor” (Mr.), “Señora” (Mrs.), or “Señorita” (Miss) followed by the surname until invited to use first names. Showing respect, especially to elders, is important in Mexican culture.

• Celebrating with Fireworks: Don’t be surprised by fireworks at all hours. Mexicans love fireworks and use them during many celebrations, often late into the night.

• Understanding ‘Mañana’: The concept of ‘mañana’ (tomorrow) in Mexico doesn’t always literally mean the next day. It reflects a more relaxed approach to time. Patience is key in situations where things don’t happen as quickly as you might expect.

mexico vacation customs and etiquette

How do I avoid Mexico roaming charges?

Before international travel, you should always make a plan for how you’ll use your phone.

Mexico roaming charges can add up quickly, and you don’t want to get stuck with a huge phone bill after an amazing vacation.

Carrier travel data packages are often expensive, with limited data and a lot of restrictions.

A budget-friendly way to avoid Mexico roaming charges is to download a Mexico eSIM that comes with a prepaid Mexico data package.

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Need data for your Mexico vacation?

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Travel tips for your Mexico vacation

mexico vacation best beaches

Best beaches in Mexico

• Holbox Island: This car-free island offers beautiful beaches, rich wildlife including flamingos and whale sharks, and a relaxed atmosphere.

• Los Cabos: Located at the southern tip of the Baja California peninsula, Los Cabos is known for its stunning beaches and luxury resorts.

• Playa Zicatela, Puerto Escondido: Famous for its big waves, it’s a top destination for surfers from around the world.

• Bahia Balandra, La Paz: Known for its shallow waters and iconic mushroom-shaped rock, it’s a stunningly pristine beach.

• Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres: Just off the coast of Cancun, Playa Norte is known for its calm, shallow waters and beautiful sunsets.

mexico vacation locals

Phrases that will come in handy during your Mexico vacation

• Please: “Por favor” – (por fah-VOR)

• Thank you: “Gracias” – (GRAH-syahs)

• Yes/No: “Sí” / “No” – (SEE / noh)

• Excuse me/Sorry: “Perdón” / “Lo siento” – (pair-DON / loh SYEN-toh)

• How much does this cost?: “Cuánto cuesta esto?” – (KWAN-toh KWEHS-tah EHS-toh?)

• Where is the bathroom?: “Dónde está el baño?” – (DON-day eh-STAH el BAH-nyo?)

• I don’t understand: “No entiendo” – (noh en-TYEN-doh)

mexico vacation itineraries

Mexico itinerary suggestions

Relaxing Itinerary in Riviera Maya (7 Days):

• Day 1-2: Cancun – Relax on Cancun’s beaches and enjoy resort amenities.

• Day 3-4: Playa del Carmen – Lounge on the beach, stroll along Quinta Avenida, day trip to Cozumel.

• Day 5-6: Tulum – Visit Tulum ruins, relax on the beach, explore local cenotes (natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock that reveals underground water).

• Day 7: Akumal – Enjoy the beaches and snorkel with sea turtles.

 

Adventurous Itinerary in Chiapas and Yucatan (7 Days):

• Day 1: Palenque – Explore Palenque ruins and rainforest hiking.

• Day 2-3: San Cristobal de las Casas – Visit indigenous villages, hiking or horseback riding.

• Day 4: Agua Azul & Misol-Ha Waterfalls – Swim and explore waterfalls.

• Day 5: Merida – Discover Merida’s historic streets and markets.

• Day 6: Uxmal & Cenote – Tour Uxmal ruins, swim in a cenote.

• Day 7: Valladolid – Quick visit to Valladolid and cenote Zaci, then depart.

mexico vacation shopping tips

Go on a Mexico shopping spree!

• Cash is King: While many shops in tourist areas accept credit cards, smaller markets and street vendors usually only accept cash. Keep smaller denominations of pesos handy for easier transactions.

• Know What to Buy: Mexico is famous for certain items like silver jewelry (especially from Taxco), Talavera pottery, textiles, leather goods, and local handicrafts. Each region has its specialties.

• Markets to Explore: Visit the Mercado de la Ciudadela in Mexico City for handicrafts from across the country. In Oaxaca, the Mercado Benito Juárez is a must-visit for local products.

• Local Art: Places like San Miguel de Allende and Oaxaca have a rich art scene. Visit local galleries to find unique paintings, sculptures, and folk art.

• Spices and Cooking Ingredients: Visit local markets to buy fresh spices, mole pastes, and other cooking ingredients. They make great gifts for foodies.

Plan the perfect Mexico vacation

  • Mexico in January

    Visiting Mexico in January, you’ll find it’s generally cooler than other months, but still quite pleasant compared to winter in colder climates.

    In Mexico City and central highland areas, expect mild days with temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F), with cooler nights.

    Coastal areas like Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula offer warmer weather, perfect for beach-going, with temperatures hovering around 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F).

    The Pacific Coast, including places like Puerto Vallarta, also enjoys warm weather, though evenings can be a bit cooler.

  • Mexico in February

    February brings pleasant weather in Mexico, as it’s still the dry season in most regions.

    In Mexico City and other central areas, days are comfortably warm with temperatures ranging from 12°C to 22°C (54°F to 72°F), while nights can be a bit cool.

    Coastal destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya see slightly warmer conditions, perfect for beach activities, with average temperatures around 24°C to 29°C (75°F to 84°F).

     

  • Mexico in March

    March in Mexico marks the transition from the cooler winter months to the warmer beginnings of spring. In central regions like Mexico City, temperatures are comfortably warm, typically ranging from 14°C to 26°C (57°F to 79°F), perfect for city explorations.

    Coastal areas, including popular destinations like Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and the Pacific Coast, experience warmer weather, ideal for beach and water activities, with temperatures averaging between 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).

    This month sees an increase in sunny days, making it a great time for outdoor adventures and exploring Mexico’s natural beauty.

    March is also a popular travel time, especially around Spring Break, so expect some tourist areas to be busier than usual.

  • Mexico in April

    April brings warmer temperatures, ranging from about 15°C to 28°C (59°F to 82°F) in Mexico City. The days are typically sunny and dry, ideal for outdoor sightseeing and exploring the cities.

    Expect higher temperatures in coastal regions, typically ranging from 26°C to 31°C (79°F to 88°F). The sea temperatures are also warm, perfect for swimming and water sports.

    Northern Mexico starts to heat up in April, with daytime temperatures often reaching into the high 20s or low 30s Celsius (80s-90s Fahrenheit), particularly in desert areas.

    April is the tail end of the dry season in most of Mexico, so there’s a low chance of rain. It’s a popular time for tourists, especially around Easter, so expect some crowds around the major tourist destinations.

  • Mexico in May

    In May, Mexico starts to warm up significantly as it approaches the summer months.

    In Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Puerto Vallarta the humidity starts to rise, and there’s a slight increase in rainfall, especially towards the end of May.

    Temperatures in the northern parts, especially in desert areas, can get quite hot, often exceeding 30°C (86°F).

    May is generally a good time to visit Mexico, especially early in the month, to avoid the peak heat and humidity that come later in the summer. It’s also less crowded than the winter and early spring months.

  • Mexico in June

    In June, Mexico enters its summer season, characterized by warmer temperatures and the start of the rainy season in many areas.

    Central regions, including Mexico City, experience warm days with temperatures ranging from 18°C to 26°C (64°F to 79°F), and occasional afternoon showers.

    Coastal destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya become quite hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching 28°C to 33°C (82°F to 91°F), accompanied by increased rainfall.

    June is a great time for fewer crowds, but plan for rain, especially in the afternoons and evenings.

  • Mexico in July

    July brings hot and humid conditions. Places like Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and other beach destinations see temperatures ranging from 28°C to 34°C (82°F to 93°F), often accompanied by high humidity and frequent rain showers or thunderstorms.

    Inland and central areas, including Mexico City, experience slightly milder temperatures, around 17°C to 26°C (63°F to 79°F), but with an increased likelihood of rain compared to the drier spring months.

  • Mexico in August

    August is marked by hot, humid weather and frequent rainfall. Coastal areas, including popular destinations like Cancun and the Riviera Maya, see temperatures ranging from 28°C to 34°C (82°F to 93°F), with high humidity and regular afternoon showers or thunderstorms.

    Central regions, such as Mexico City, have milder temperatures, typically between 16°C to 25°C (61°F to 77°F), but with a higher chance of rain than earlier in the summer.

  • Mexico in September

    In September, Mexico is wrapping up its rainy season, so it’s still pretty warm and a bit wet, especially early in the month.

    In beach places like Cancun, it’s hot and humid, with temperatures around 28°C to 33°C (82°F to 91°F) and some rain showers. Inland, like in Mexico City, it’s cooler, with temperatures from about 15°C to 24°C (59°F to 75°F).

    September is also the peak of the hurricane season, particularly affecting the eastern coastal areas, so it’s wise to stay informed about weather forecasts.

  • Mexico in October

    In October, Mexico starts to cool down a bit as it enters the fall season. The temperatures in beach areas like Cancun are still warm but more comfortable, ranging from about 26°C to 31°C (79°F to 88°F), with less humidity and rain.

    In central parts of the country, including Mexico City, expect cooler weather, with temperatures around 12°C to 22°C (54°F to 72°F). The rainy season is winding down, so there’s more sunshine and fewer showers.

    October is a great time to visit as the peak summer crowds have gone, and the weather is more pleasant.

  • Mexico in November

    In November, Mexico welcomes cooler and drier weather as it moves further into the fall season. Coastal regions like Cancun experience pleasant temperatures, ranging from about 23°C to 28°C (73°F to 82°F), with reduced humidity and minimal rainfall, making it ideal for beach activities.

    Central areas, including Mexico City, see cooler and more comfortable weather, with daytime temperatures around 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). Rain is much less frequent, and there’s plenty of sunshine. The Pacific Coast also enjoys mild and dry conditions, perfect for outdoor exploration.

    November is a great time to visit Mexico, as the weather is comfortable for both sightseeing and relaxation.

  • Mexico in December

    In coastal areas like Cancun, temperatures are mild and comfortable in December, ranging from around 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F), with less humidity and clear skies, ideal for beach holidays.

    Central regions, such as Mexico City, have cooler days with average temperatures between 6°C and 21°C (43°F to 70°F), and chilly nights.

    December is a popular travel month due to the holiday season, offering sunny days perfect for exploring and enjoying various outdoor and cultural activities.

How do I use my phone in Mexico?

Affordable eSIM data

Choose a data package

Start by deciding how much data you’ll need. Then choose a prepaid data package for your Mexico vacation. If you need more, it’s easy to buy more Mexico data.

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Install your eSIM

An eSIM is a downloadable SIM card, so you’ll install your eSIM on your phone or tablet. It takes less than two minutes, and then you will have a Mexico eSIM on your phone.

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Activate your package

When you’re ready to start using your Mexico eSIM you’ll activate your data package and make sure your device knows to use your Mexico eSIM for all mobile data.

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