The chilis aren’t the only thing hot about Mexico. One of the largest countries in its hemisphere, Mexico has long been a hot destination for a truly expansive variety of tourist activities.
Honeymooners, backpackers, and families alike flock here to experience its famous cuisine, distinctive cultures, crystal clear waters, wild forests, impressive mountains and volcanoes, stunning Mayan ruins and miles of picture-perfect coastline. History buffs, beach bums, wildlife enthusiasts and adventure-seekers can all find what they’re looking for in this spectacular country!
The best time to visit Mexico depends on where you’re headed, since it is a large country and climates vary from region to region. The highlands can get very cold at night, especially during the winter months. The coast ranges from warm to hot throughout the year, meaning that any time is a great time to hit the beach!
However, it can get quite stifling and humid from June to September, and September and October bring rougher seas, heavier rains, mosquitoes, and sometimes hurricanes. Summer, from June to October is also the rainy season in Mexico, though the amount of rainfall received varies widely throughout the country.
The northern parts don’t see much rain at all, the central parts usually receive a short rainfall each afternoon during these months, and Chiapas is the wettest state where smaller roads will sometimes become flooded. High season is generally during December to April - the dry season.
November — May
Average number of rainy days 3-8
June — October
Average number of rainy days 8–11
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One of the world’s richest cities, the gigantic and sprawling Mexico City could be an economy in its own right. Aside from its vast modern splendor, it has a fantastic historic center that appeals to city walking enthusiasts. With myriad shops, cafes, neighborhoods and historical treasures to explore, it’s easy to spend a day (or several) wandering about this huge capital. One of the safest cities in the country, Oaxaca is not too far from the capital. Known for its scrumptious cuisine, popular markets and celebrated colonial center, this is a fantastic stop for those who love strolling about picturesque cities.
Not far from Cancun, Merida is a small, historic city which provides travelers with an unparalleled sense of authentic Mexico. San Miguel de Allende is a UNESCO World Heritage Site brimming with artisanal shops and old cathedrals. For those looking for something a bit bigger than Merida of San Miguel de Allende but much more manageable than Mexico City, Puebla is a nice in-between city featuring historic churches, colonial architecture, great museums and unique cuisine.
Regardless of which cities are on your agenda, remember that it’s a good idea to have sunscreen and something to keep your money secure.
With seemingly endless coastline, Mexico has the perfect beach for every type of beachgoer - from popular party spots, to luxurious resorts, to small hippie hamlets and undiscovered slices of paradise.
Lovers of nightlife flock to Cancun, the country’s most famous beach which is considered either wonderful or notorious - sometimes both. Calm, turquoise waters and brilliant white sand characterize the Mayan Riviera, a stretch of Caribbean coastline framing many of the famous Mayan ruins. Located here, Playa del Carmen is Mexico’s newest resort town and is hailed as a calmer, better-planned Cancun.
Wildlife lovers should head to Mazunte, a lovely bay famous for its sea turtles. Water sports enthusiasts as well those seeking less posh place to party should head to the small port city of Puerto Escondido, which is also known for its wildlife-sheltering mangroves a bit further inland. Once catering to beach bums on a budget, Zipolite - which is famous for being friendly to nudists - attracts a wide range of travelers looking for a quintessential laid-back beach town experience.
Wherever you decide to lay down your beach towel, remember that the sun in Mexico is unforgiving all year round, so it’s recommended to bring plenty of sunscreen, a beach umbrella, and a hat.
If you’re not up for looking all the wondrous life the oceans around Mexico offer from in the water, don’t worry; Mexico is a great country for whale watching as well! From the comfort of a boat, sit back and admire these gentle giants in all their glory. Baja California has some prime spots for whale watching, and some of the best spots include Guerrero Negro, Mazunte, Zipolite, Cabo and Vallarta.
On a definitely different note, the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres are noted for their boat tours to spot whale sharks. On any of the above excursions, remember to bring sunscreen and a hat, as the Mexican sun is strong. Pills to combat seasickness might be necessary if you’re prone to it, and of course don’t forget your camera!
If you don’t want to trek through the Barrancas in Chihuahua as mentioned below, you can also ride horses! This is a fun and easy way to see the natural wonders that the region offers. Other fun vantage points of this spectacular area can be found from cable cars and ziplines.
Mexico is renowned for its archaeological sites, which put the glorious achievements of the ancient (The Maya, The Olmec, The Inca and The Aztec) civilizations on full display. The most famous areas to see these ruins are Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. Here, you can not only marvel at these ancient wonders, often hidden amid wild tropical jungles or even bordering some of Mexico’s finest white sand beaches, but you can also immerse yourself in the incredibly interesting field of ancient history.
The sacred city of Chichen Itza is the most famous of the Mayan ruins and is one of the most visited sites in Mexico. Just 30 minutes outside of Mexico City and at its time the most powerful city in the New World, Teotihuacan is also a must-see.
Mayapan is notable because it was the last-standing civilization before the arrival of the Spanish, making it a veritable wealth of information. Coba is one of the more off-the-beaten-path ruins, but it considered quite distinct from the others and is considered by archaeologists to be one of the most important sites on the Yucatan Peninsula. Uxmal is another underrated ruin, and since it is much less crowded than Chichen Itza, tourists have said that it can provide a much deeper experience.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site within a UNESCO biosphere reserve, Calakmul - in the jungles near the Guatemalan border - is the place to go to see a fantastic blend of wild nature and ancient archaeology. If you’re near Playa del Carmen, the Playacar ruins are a convenient place to go, and the same goes for the San Miguelito ruins in Cancun. Tulum is the only Mayan settlement located right on the Caribbean coast and offers the unparalleled chance of a great history lesson in a picture-perfect location.
Regardless of which ruins you go to, make sure that you bring the essentials - a bottle of water, some snacks, sunscreen and/or a hat, some mosquito spray, and of course a good camera!
The picturesque interior of Mexico offers fantastic mountainous landscapes and some popular hiking routes. There are a number of picturesque volcanoes in the country, and even some truly great hikes around Mexico City.
The mountains around Mexico City aren’t tame, and professional climbers come here to begin their careers and train to conquer other chains, like the Himalayas. Mexico’s three highest peaks within a day’s driving distance of Mexico City are El Ajusco, Nevado de Toluca, and Iztaccihuatl - the latter of which clocks in at 5,230 m (17,126 feet). El Ajusco is the most popular and accessible, as you can drive up to within a half mile of the volcano’s crater and just walk the rest of the way up (though it is quite steep). Nevado de Toluca - Mexico’s fourth highest mountain overall - can also be hiked in half a day and can be characterized as moderate alpine climbing. Iztaccihuatl takes two days and is more challenging. If you are hiking this latter one, it is the altitude more than anything which makes the hike challenging. And note that unlike the lower two mountains, Iztaccihuatl can only be attempted during the dry season, from October to May.
Another popular hiking destination is the Copper Canyon, a magnificent natural landscape that can be seen on foot, by train, or with the assistance of a donkey. Technically a group of six different canyons in the Sierra Madre Occidental range, it is both larger and at some points deeper than the Grand Canyon in the United States! It’s fairly easy to hike with the assistance of donkeys, as you’ll only need to carry a daypack. However, hiking the canyon backpacker-style has its benefits, as you can hike in some areas that donkeys are unable to. The Barranca Candamena, one of these famous canyons of the Chihuahua region, even offers the chance to glimpse Mexico’s highest and third highest waterfalls. Many people choose to take part in an organized multi-day trek through the canyons, but shorter tours may be able to be arranged.
Pack all the essentials and extra items you might need as in the jungle you cannot get any help, so it’s extremely important to be prepared.
With all the adrenaline-inspired adventures that Mexico has to offer, it’s no surprise that you can go caving here, too. Naica , Bustamente, and San Joaquin in Queretaro offer caves among their natural landscapes. Baja California is a particularly popular destination for this, as many caves here feature marvelous ancient cave paintings which some consider to be the region’s greatest treasure. There are numerous locations, with some caves being easy to get to and others more difficult. Thus, it is recommended to book a trip with a guide. Along with your camera, don’t forget to bring a good headlamp!
The cave route is usually pretty slippery, so you won’t want to wear your running or hiking shoes or trekking sandals. None of these will help you. Instead, a pair of rubber slippers is the best option to crawl through the caves.
You’ll need them. Some parts of the route are equipped with a rope, and since it’s very humid and dirty in the cave, your hands will be wet and grimy. It’s always safer to have grip gloves when sliding on a rope.
For any water lovers seeking an adrenaline rush, Mexico offers opportunities for getting to know seas and rivers via sea kayaking and whitewater rafting. Baja California is the place to be for sea kayaking, and the state of Veracruz has excellent whitewater rafting opportunities on its six rivers. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-timer or an experienced rafter - Veracruz has trips and locations for people of all levels!
Pack all the essentials and extra items you might need as in the jungle you cannot get any help, so it’s extremely important to be prepared.
Mexico is a true melting pot of cultures, as it is home to people of Olmec, Zapotec, Toltec, Maya, and Aztec descent - and more! In fact, there are 53 indigenous languages still spoken in Mexico today, making for a remarkably intricate culture.
Many visitors looking to explore indigenous culture in the modern age head to Chiapas, where one can simultaneously witness beautiful traditions and learn about the struggles that people of indigenous descent face in Mexican society. If you are visiting a completely indigenous town or society, it is best to do so as a part of an organized tour.
However, others choose to connect with aspects of Mexican culture by visiting during a certain holiday. Oaxaca, for example, is a popular destination during the Day of the Dead, a celebration which dates back to the time of the Aztecs.
Polaroid-type camera makes immediate pictures to present them as well. This camera is small, relatively cheap and allows you to produce photos immediately. One of the greatest options is by Fuji, as they recently issued a very good Instax model for shooting and getting images immediately.
With 9,330 kilometers of coastline as well as numerous paradisiacal offshore islands, it’s no surprise that Mexico has an abundance of world class snorkeling spots. In fact, the Great Maya Reef stretches along Mexico’s coastline, from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula all the way to Belize.
This means that the Mayan Riviera is just as spectacular underwater! South of Tulum, Sian Ka’an is the largest protected area in Mexico’s Caribbean, which allows for truly phenomenal snorkeling conditions. The ubiquitous Cancun has always been at the top of the list for tourists looking to snorkel, with its clear waters and idyllic setting.
If you’re planning on staying on the Pacific coast instead, don’t worry! There are a number of spots in Baja California, such as Cabo Pulmo National Park, La Paz, Loreto, Mulege, and Isla Espiritu Santo. If an island sounds like the ideal snorkeling destination to you, the Caribbean has two utterly fantastic islands as well - Cozumel and Isla Mujeres. Both of these have a number of options for exploring the wonder that is the Great Maya Reef.
Since snorkeling is such a popular activity in Mexico, the equipment at shops is likely to be overpriced and worn. Instead of paying to rent this, it’s always a great idea to bring your own!
If there’s anything even more spectacular than the snorkeling that Mexico offers, it’s the diving. Go deeper and explore further in all of the top snorkeling destinations and then some! Along with Baja California, Cancun, Cozumel, and Isla Mujeres, the colorful underwater scenery of Acapulco and Cabo San Lucas make for excellent diving. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even head to the cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula for some marvelous underwater cave diving.
While all of these hot spots will have equipment available for rent, there’s a chance that it will be worn and overpriced, so it’s always a good idea to bring your own.
There are surfing spots in nearly every Mexican region that borders the coast, and there are waves for surfers of all levels on this country’s various beaches. The entire Pacific Ocean coast is uncrowded and full of top-notch spots with year-round surf.
Puerto Escondido is known as one of the best breaks in the world. In fact, all the waves in the Oaxaca region are something that experienced surfers should be keen on checking out. Vallarta has long been known to Mexican surfers, and the word is just beginning to get out about how excellent its waves are. The southern tip of the Baja California peninsula is known for its uncrowded swells, and it features waves for surfers of all levels.
Make sure you are up-to-date on routine vaccines before every trip. These vaccines include the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. The following vaccination recommendations are taken from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) webpage.
Mexico is a country where you can have some qualified help. However, in some remote areas it will take a while to get proper treatment. Sometimes, not you but some of your traveling buddies might need help. Make sure you have something in advance against the following symptoms:
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