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Exploring Mexico's Tourist Attractions | Cancun and More

A favorite holiday destination of travel enthusiasts from across the world, Mexico recorded over 50 million tourists in 2020. The country is also seeing a steady increase in tourist influx in the past few years. 

The Latin American country has been a sought-after vacation destination for North Americans. It is becoming increasingly popular among travelers from Europe and Asia. 

The country’s stunning beaches, heritage sites like Mayal temples and colonial cities and unique culture are a big draw for international tourists.

Mexico’s culinary art, music, dance and rich flora and fauna that ranges from deserts to tropical rainforests ensure unique travel experiences. 

The main tourist destinations in Mexico are Chichén Itzá, Playa del Carmen, Cancún, Uxmal, Puerto Vallarta and Guanajuato.  

Tourism in Mexico 

At present, Mexico is the sixth most loved travel destination in the world. The tourism industry accounts for over 8% of Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product. 

To boost the tourism industry in the state, the government of Mexico grants visa-free entry to travelers from over 60 foreign countries. Citizens of these foreign nations can cross Mexican borders without a visa.

However, they have to carry a Mexican FMM (Multiple Immigration Form) also known as a Mexican tourist card. The application process for the FMM is completely online and the entire process will be completed within a couple of days.

Travelers from another three foreign nations – Russia, Ukraine and Turkey – can get an electronic travel authorization to enter the country. 

Foreign tourists can explore the wonders of Mexico for up to 180 days provided they have all the required travel documents and funds to support their stay as they cannot engage in paid employment in the country. 

Who Travels to Mexico?

A culturally rich country with sandy beaches, ancient ruins, delicious cuisine and lush green rainforests, Mexico is highly sought after by tourists from all over the world. 

However, travelers from North American countries constitute the majority of foreign tourists in Mexico. 

Citizens of most North American nations including the United States of America and Canada do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. 

Their entry is visa-free. However, if they want to stay in the country for a few days, they need to apply for a FMM.

Even permanent residents of the US and Canada are eligible for visa-free entry to Mexico via air and land.

They need to carry documents to prove their identity like a passport and PR/Green card.

Immigration officials at the port of entry will ask for the FMM. Americans and Canadians need to get a new FMM for each entry to Mexico. They also cannot work or do business in the country. 

The maximum duration of the stay is 180 days. If they want to extend their stay, they need to leave the country and apply for a new FMM. They can also request for a temporary resident visa. 

On an average over seven million Americans travel to Mexico in a year on holiday whereas the number of Canadians visiting the country is over two million.  

Tourist Attractions in Mexico

Mexico has many tourist attractions. Following is a few of them. 

Cancun and Playa del Carmen

Beautiful sandy beaches of the Gulf of Mexico attract about five million tourists every year. The enchanting coastline covers Cancun and Playa del Carmen.   

The coastline collectively known as the Riviera Maya offers many fun-filled activities to foreign tourists like dolphin and stingray swims. They can also snorkel among tropical fishes and colorful coral reefs in the crystal-clear water.

The area also boasts of a plethora of luxury resorts. Visitors can try scuba diving in one of the world’s largest underwater museums here.  

The riviera also has many ancient ruins from the Mayan era. One of the largest ruins can be found in Tulum and Chichén Itzá.  

See Arriving in Cancun Guide

Morelia City

A colonial-era city founded in 1541, Morelia is an exemplary example of Mexico’s great heritage. The heritage city has more than 200 buildings that date back hundreds of years and the entire city has received the UNESCO World Heritage Site tag.

The buildings are well-preserved and one of the most majestic buildings is the Plaza de Armas.  

Constructed about 500 years ago, this public square attracts many tourists.

The city also has many resorts, cafes and shopping avenues. It is dotted with many gardens for the visitors to spend time in the evening. 

The Morelia cathedral is worth paying a visit.   

The Island of Cozumel 

Located about 20 kilometers from Yucatán Peninsula, the Island of Cozumel is a tropical paradise. The island gets its name from the Mayan word Ah-cuzamil that means the land of swallows.  

Earlier visitors to this island were Mayan pilgrims. As years passed European sailors found their way into the island. The most preferred beaches in the island are Playa San Francisco, Playa Santa Rosa and Playa San Juan   

Palancar Reef in the island offers sea diving opportunities. The reef has many man-made underwater sculptures and bronze statues. The capital of the island is worth paying a visit. Its Island Museum has many displays about the history of the island. There are many avenues for shopping aficionados.  

Mérida City  

Merida is the capital city of Yucatan. The city is well-connected to various Mayan ruins in the region, Mayan Riviera and Chichén Itzá and Tulum.

Merida is one of the oldest colonial cities in Mexico and visitors can explore the remnants of Spanish invasion.  

Established in 1542, the city is laid out in a grid pattern dotted with gardens and ancient buildings.   

The citizens take pride in keeping their city clean and green and prefer to dress in white giving Merida its nickname – the White City.  

Chichén Itzá 

Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most visited Mayan heritage sites.

The site is a well restored archeological site. Important tourist attractions of the region include the Pyramid of Kukulkán. At 30 meters, this is the UNESCO World Heritage Sites' tallest structure.

Caracol, a 1,000-year-old observatory, is another example of Mayan greatness.  

Mexico is a wonderful place to visit. However, the country requires international travelers to abide by its immigration laws.

Travelers should carry the required identity and travel documents.

They are encouraged to register their trips with their respective embassies. The embassy staff will be able to assist them in case of an emergency. 

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