Each year, thousands of visitors from the US head to Mexico, as it’s one of the nearest destinations for an exciting escape from reality. While there are certain stereotypes that visitors often have about visiting Mexico, today we’re going to share with you some of the key things to keep in mind on your next trip to this vibrant country.
Spanish is the main language that’s spoken in Mexico, with the government opting to use Spanish for the majority of its proceedings. However, there are 68 national languages used throughout the country, with 63 of these being indigenous languages. The most widely used indigenous languages are Nahuatl and Maya.
The rainy season in Mexico is the summer, which stretches from June to October. The rain is mainly focused on the center of the country, and you’ll find quick and heavy downpours take place each day. It rarely rains in the northern part of Mexico, and the south and coastal areas are known for their humidity. In the summer, expect temperatures of around 79-90°F (26-32°C), with September and October being the hurricane season in Mexico.
The most popular time of year for visitors is winter, which is from December until the end of April. The temperatures are hot, but the coastal areas are a little cooler. This is the dry season, so you shouldn’t experience too much rain during a visit. The crowds are much higher in Cancun and Puerto Vallarta, with an average daily temperature of 82°F (28°C). If you are visiting the mountain regions of Mexico during this time, expect it to get much colder at night, so pack plenty of layers.
Mexico has a wide range of accommodation options for visitors. Hotels range from budget guest houses to luxury resorts, and you’ll find anything you need for your upcoming trip. Free Wi-Fi is common throughout the country, and you’ll find most rooms have an ensuite bathroom. Not all hotel rooms have air conditioning, so always double-check for this when staying in more basic accommodation options.
Mexico has some issues with gang activity and drug-related crimes, which are the biggest safety threats for anyone visiting the country. While the tourist areas, such as Playa del Carmen, are generally pretty safe to walk around, there are still plenty of tourist scams to be aware of. We recommend avoiding certain cities in Mexico due to their high number of homicides each year, including Tijuana, Acapulco, and Irapuato. If you do visit these areas, exercise caution at all times when walking around at night or alone. Tourists usually aren’t the target of gangs but stick to the safer areas in the country where possible.
The American media in particular likes to paint a picture of the country as being unsafe. Petty theft is quite common, but the main issues are between the authorities and Mexican drug cartels. For the safest experience, stick to the Yucatan and Oaxaca, but avoid the states near the US border.
Don’t show off your money when you are walking around, and avoid wearing flashy accessories that might attract too much attention. Make sure you take copies of your documents, such as your passport, and just use common sense when walking around. 911 is the emergency services number in Mexico, but try 066 if that doesn’t work in the region you are in.
Mexico’s dress code is generally similar to that in the US, but you’ll find that in the cities, people rarely wear shorts, especially men. For women, we advise avoiding short skirts and shorts or revealing clothing, as you might attract unwanted attention when walking around.
Drinking on the streets is actually illegal in Mexico, but you will regularly see this happening on your visit. The punishments can be very severe for this, so avoid doing this at all costs. Drug use and selling drugs are also illegal, and bail doesn’t exist if you are arrested for this. Jail time can be up to 25 years for drug trafficking, so make sure you aren’t involved in anything during your trip.
Throughout the country, you’ll find rice, beans, fruit, and vegetables are the staple foods used in each meal. Street stalls and markets are a great way to enjoy authentic food at a low price on your next trip, but local Mexican restaurants are also a good option. Tap water isn’t safe to drink in Mexico, so either buy bottled water or use a water purifier.
Traffic in Mexico is dependent on where you are traveling, but expect the cities to have heavy traffic, especially during rush hours. Public transport is the best way to get around, and areas with a subway system, such as Mexico City and Guadalajara, make it quick and easy to get between destinations.
Taxis aren’t always a safe or cheap option, and you’ll want to avoid hailing them on the streets. If you need to use a taxi, call one from a hotel and only use one with a meter. Public buses are a great way to get around towns and cities, and each journey will only cost a few pesos. For longer journeys, you’ll also find buses on offer, but make sure you always find an express bus for the quickest journey.
Car rentals are now becoming more popular in Mexico, and you’ll find them to be quite affordable. You need to be at least 21 years of age to hire a car here, and you also need to have your driver’s license for two years. Some companies may even require you to be 25, so you’ll need to look at their terms and conditions before paying for a rental.
We recommend that you avoid driving at night, as more crime occurs during this time, and never leave anything valuable in your vehicle when you are packing it up for the night. Make sure you have the right paperwork at all times when driving in Mexico, and never drink and drive. If you have an accident and don’t have the correct insurance paperwork, you’ll be arrested, and the car will be impounded.
Mexico is known for its rich and vibrant culture, and it’s influenced by the Aztec, Maya, and European cultures. They have a wide range of traditions and unique holidays that aren’t celebrated elsewhere in the world. These include Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which celebrates Hispanic spirituality in November. Even in the resort areas, you’ll find beautiful temples and locations to visit within a short distance, which can teach you more about the local culture.
Mexico City is a very densely populated area, which also has a high altitude. It’s a good spot to learn more about the country’s culture and way of living, but it might not be the relaxing vacation you are after. Many of the resort areas cater to US tourists, so you can expect typical US food and drink on offer.
A trip to Mexico is a fantastic experience for visitors of all ages. While Mexico has a reputation for being unsafe in the media, you’ll find that by exercising caution at night and keeping your wits about you, you’ll have a wonderful time exploring the rich culture of this country.