Traveling in Mexico
I have been to Mexico on two different occasions. Once, to visit my sister who was studying in at the time, and then again nearly 4 years later for my honeymoon. The first time was obviously a more authentic experience because we weren’t going to the beach. The next time we did go to Playa del Carmen for our honeymoon, which is kind of an American cliché, but you know who else likes Cancun? Mexicans. The country is such a great place to spend time and I don’t think it gets near the attention that it should as a backpacker destination compared to say, Costa Rica. There are tropical jungles in Mexico, a seemingly infinite amount of ancient ruins, amazing beaches with coral reefs, and great colonial towns scattered all over. In America, we think we have a pretty good idea about what the Mexican culture is just based on its influence on ours. However, anyone who spends time in real Mexico will be surprised to find out it is so different.
The Cost of Travel in Mexico
- Currency: The Mexican Peso
- Exchange rate: 18 MXN = $1 US Dollar
- Rooms: Std. Central American rates ($20-$30 per night)
- Beer: $15-$20 pesos for anything made in Mexico
- Food: Street food=$3-$5, Restaurants=$10
- Credit Cards: I have not used credit cards in Mexico so I’m not the one to ask
- ATM’s: There are banks with ATM’s in most major cities.
Tips for Traveling in Mexico
- Yes, the police a corrupt and if they are f*ing with you then they most likely want to be paid off.
- Don’t get too borracho and turn into a malacopa
- It’s very safe to travel in Mexico and Mexico City is really cool
- You can take public transit anywhere in the country
Things to do in Mexico
- Eat Street tacos, Gorditas, Sopas, Churros,& Flan
- Drink Mezcal, Tequila, Cerveza, Micheladas, & Pulpa
- Mexico City
- Los Teotihuacanns
This is the town my sister was going to university in. She’s going to see me writing about it and be pissed about how little I remember. There is a good sized university here, so there is obviously a pretty young crowd around. As you can imagine, that gives rise to a number of great bars, clubs, and restaurants. The old town area is a great place to hangout for the day. You can go to a mezcalaria or get gorditas while you window shop for authentic Mexican clothing. Try drinking tequila in a waffle shop or go get an authentic michelada from the place they call…”Micheladas.” The area is super safe, even night, and the locals are very friendly.
Mexico City is a real gem. I think that the perception is that it’s too dangerous, so its devoid of too many tourists. In reality, it’s probably the safest feeling capital I have ever been to. There is such an active police presence in the city, I swear I saw two cops for every one person everywhere we went. The center of town is the place to be. There is so much history in the city. The whole area used to be a lake and parts of the city are slowly sinking into the Earth. Old structures like the big cathedral are really noticeable examples of this. The national art museum is a great place to see some of the most famous Mexican art work in the world. One night we stayed out too late and when we came back to the neighborhood we were staying in, they had closed the gates to the entrance for the night. That’s when I learned that, despite growing up on a farm, my sister is really shitty at climbing fences.
Something about it’s the largest freestanding rock in North America? I don’t know. You have to take fun facts people tell you while traveling with a grain of salt. It’s a fun hike up to the top though. The town below is nice and tranquil. There is a pretty cathedral and some good little restaurants to eat at. There is a shrine on the rock that people put candles on, but the sun melts them all, so it looks really cool with all of the melted wax.
Yes, Cancún is a big party town. It’s like what would happen if Miami on Spring break, and New Orleans on Mardi Gras, got together and had a baby while they were both drunk on tequila. However, if you do want to spend a week drinking on the beach for cheap, it is a good place to be. It also provides easy access to several really cool ancient ruins. We were on our honeymoon and stayed in Playa del Carmen and kept to ourselves the whole time. We had just gotten back from 7 months of backpacking in South America and were delighted to just relax on the beach and gorge ourselves eating. We were so used to trying to pack as much action as we could into each day, it was refreshing just to kick back. If you want to go on a cheap relaxation vacation though, Cancun is one of the cheapest international destinations out of the U.S. and if you stay at the hostels in town and eat street food, you can spend the rest of your money on tequila and weed and have a better time than anyone at the resorts.