Picture Mayan pyramids, relaxing on beautiful beaches and experiencing Spanish colonial architecture. And then combine it with tacos, burritos, tortillas and shots of tequila. Who doesn’t want this? Anyone can have a luxury Mexico vacation and experience the best of what this country has to offer. There’s so much diversity, places to visit and things to keep tourists busy that Mexico is quickly becoming one of the hottest travel destinations. Here are a few essential tips before you take your trip of a lifetime.
Explore the Ruins
Mexico is famous around the world for Mayan ruins and pyramids. Some of the more famous ones are in Chichen Itza, and others are a stone’s throw away from the city centre. Ancient ruins litter the landscape in all parts of the country with several more being hidden. If it’s your first time to Mexico, take the time to read up and learn a little bit about the Mayan culture to help you appreciate what you’re seeing. So many tourists just want to take a selfie or think that it’s ‘just another ruin’. Don’t be like them and make sure you understand the importance of the ancient civilisation, which once ruled in the place you’re standing.
Learn a Few Phrases of Spanish
Spanish is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and the main one throughout Latin America. If English is your mother tongue, picking up a few phrases of Spanish (assuming you don’t know some already) is much easier than you think. When you speak a little, it unlocks doors to interact more with the locals, especially when you leave the touristy areas. Mexicans tend to be a very hospitable and welcoming bunch and will appreciate the effort you make.
There’s also a practical element to this tip too. Away from the all-inclusive resorts in Los Cabos and Cancun, you’re going to struggle without a basic knowledge of Spanish. Just think about ordering food at a restaurant or trying to find out what time the chicken bus leaves the next day. A few phrases will go a long way in Mexico.
Enjoy the Mexican Hospitality
Mexicans often have large families and tend to be close to one another. By nature, many are sociable and grateful for the tourism in their country that boosts their economy. Tourists find it’s often easy to make friends with the locals. Some are happy to practice their English whereas others are curious why a foreigner is in their town. And don’t be surprised if you’re invited to their home or for a shot of tequila. Mexicans are warm and friendly, and you should make the most of the experience.
Remember to Haggle
As with many countries around the world, vendors often view tourists as wealthy and bump up the price accordingly, especially in areas near the tourist resorts. When it comes to buying souvenirs or something from the market without a fixed price, be ready to haggle. Make sure you know what the going rates are beforehand and give your offer at that price. Haggling is a regular part of life in Mexico, and you should enjoy yourself while trying to find a bargain.
On a Budget? Head Inland
Most of the tourists travelling to Mexico tend to visit the resorts along the coasts. You can expect the price at these destinations to be similar to those in the United States or major European cities. However, if you hop on the chicken bus and head to one of the towns in the interior, the cost of travel will reduce significantly. There are plenty of towns and cities to choose from including some with beautiful colonial architecture and others surrounded by ruins. Everything from food and drink to shopping will be much more affordable. And the further you go from the tourist areas, the better your Mexican experience will be.
Choose Your Tours Carefully
Regardless of where you travel in Mexico, you’re sure to find a selection of tours and excursions. This may be from whale-watching to exploring the deserts or visiting forgotten Mayan or Aztec ruins. And you’ll find that many have affordable prices. But be careful not to jump at the first one you see as the quality tends to vary considerably. Choose the tour operator and read online reviews to find the most reliable and suitable one for you.
Mexico does have a poor reputation for crime and safety. But, like Colombia, the country is nowhere near as dangerous as it once was. In fact, quite a few of the towns and cities have better safety records than the United States. The best way to reduce the risk of crime is to be as low key as possible and to use common sense. If you try to blend in and don’t flash expensive phones or cameras, you’re less likely to be a target. Withdraw money from the ATM inside banks away from watching eyes and then keep it inside a money belt. And because situations change quickly, it’s always best to ask a trusted person, such as the hotel manager, for the latest places to avoid.
A Dream Trip
A trip to Mexico will be one that satisfies the travel desires of all visitors from the seasoned traveller to the first-time backpacker. There’s so much to see and experience, and if you learn a bit of the language and get away from the coastal areas, you’re certain to fall in love with the country and have a fantastic time.