Mexico is a vibrant and surprisingly diverse country just waiting to be explored. From the arid deserts and cerulean seas of the Baja Peninsula to Oaxaca’s mountainous terrain and unexplored ruins, you’ll leave hungry and craving more of this startlingly beautiful nation. Roam the flamboyantly colorful artisan markets in San Cristobal de las Casas or explore the endless sprawl of Mexico City’s neverending skyline; seeing the entire country would take a lifetime. Epicureans are in for a big revelation as Mexico is one of the most culinarily diverse countries in the world. You’ll be spoiled for taste, from Mayan-inspired dishes like cochinita pibil to rich mole and exotic fruits.What’s even more surprising than the delectable cuisine and vast array of natural wonders is Mexico’s dedication to becoming a superior wellness destination. The largest hubs are Tulum, Oaxaca, and Cabo, although hidden gems like Careyes and Sayulita are incredible locations for a more off-the-beaten-path wellness adventure. With offerings like Temazcal ceremonies led by local shamans and luxuriously rustic retreats without electricity, those seeking sustainable travel will be pleasantly surprised at the vast array of unique wellness experiences you can have in Mexico.
Best Time To visit
Mexico’s climate varies greatly depending on what region you plan to visit. You can find cool, mountainous environments in summer and steamy jungles in winter. The country’s capital, Mexico City, can be chilly in December, January, and February, while the Yucatan Peninsula stays warm and muggy year-round. The best time to visit will truly depend on what each traveler is looking for regarding crowds and weather. December to April is the best time to visit Baja as the weather is relatively dry and wildlife is plentiful, including humpback whales!
December to April is the best time to visit Baja as the weather is relatively dry and wildlife is plentiful, including humpback whales! Mexico City is an excellent destination from October to January when days are warm and sunny while nights are cool and refreshing. The Oaxaca region varies in temperature and weather depending on whether you’re on the coast or in the mountains. Coastal areas will be humid and hot year-round, while Oaxaca City experiences cool evenings and dry, arid days from October to February. The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the hottest places in Mexico as it has more of a jungle climate. If you research before deciding which state and area you want to visit, your vacation can have virtually any weather you desire.
What to expect
Mexico is a colorful, mouth-watering celebration of culture and tradition deeply rooted in its past. Every corner of the country reveals a quilt of indigenous influence from the ancient Mexica ruins in the capital to Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, on the Yucatán Peninsula.
Over 72% of people in Mexico are Roman Catholic. Catholicism is reflected in the stunning cathedrals and religious celebrations that take place throughout the country.
Despite an overwhelming Catholic influence, many festivals, including Dia de los Muertos, were Aztec or Mayan in origin and date back thousands of years.
Mexico’s government has set in motion several sustainable initiatives in recent years, including a ban on all single-use plastics in the capital, Mexico City. As a result, sustainable tourism is becoming a booming industry, and an important one as the country aims to protect its abundant natural resources and intoxicating countryside. Mexico is also the home of endangered species and rare phenomena like the annual monarch butterfly migration. Every dollar that goes towards sustainable tourism protects Mexico’s flora, fauna, and people.
Things to know
- Language: The official language of Mexico is Spanish, although there are 64 indigenous languages spoken throughout the country. The most widely spoken language aside from Spanish is Nahuatl.
- Time Zone: There are four different time zones in Mexico depending on where you are in the country, including EST in the far eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula, CST, MT, and PT on the Baja Peninsula.
- Currency: The currency in Mexico is the colorful Mexican peso. Withdraw money from ATMs inside banks for the best exchange rate!
- Credit Cards: Credit cards are popular in Mexico, but not all places accept them, and you’ll want to carry some cash for street vendors and cash-only businesses as a backup. When you think a restaurant or bar will accept credit cards, they are surprisingly strictly cash only.
- Plugs + Voltage: Mexico takes Type A, and B plugs with 127V voltage and 60Hz. These are the same plugs as the U.S. and Canada.
- Airports: Mexico has several major airports, including Mexico City International and Cancun International. Both airports serve smaller cities like Oaxaca, San Cristóbal de las Casas, Merida, Cabo San Lucas, Guadalajara, Tulum, Mexicali, and more.
- Common Sayings: Here are a few of the most common phrases in Spanish that you’ll want to remember or have on hand for more accessible communication.
- Hola : Hello
- Adiós : Bye
- Buenos Días : Good day
- Buenos Noches : Goodnight
- ¡Mucho Gusto! : Nice to meet you!
- ¿Cómo estás? : How are you?
- Me llamo/Me llama : My name is (feminine or masculine dependent)
- Me gustaría… : I would like…
- Organic Groceries: Unfortunately, much of Mexico’s organic produce is sold to other countries, including the United States. Still, the government has implemented several laws in recent years to help protect its organic farming infrastructure and provide more organic produce to Mexico’s local population. Most organic produce can be found in traditional markets.
- Vegan/Vegetarian: Vegan and vegetarian restaurants are scattered across Mexico, especially in popular tourist spots. Many traditional Mexican dishes can be made vegan or vegetarian so that visitors won’t miss out on classic cuisine.
- Safety: Safety can be something of a concern in Mexico. Avoid certain states and regions at all costs, and always check government warnings ahead of travel. Most crime in Mexico is petty, although violent crimes occasionally occur, typically in areas listed as “Do Not Travel” zones. Most heavily touristy regions of the country are considered safe and a joy to visit.
- Opening Hours: Typical opening hours in Mexico are 10 am to 8 pm. Most businesses are closed on Sundays.
- Popular Sites: Ancient ruins like Chichén Itzá, Tulum, Teotihuacan, and Monte Albán are some of the best in the country. Be sure not to miss the country’s natural highlights, like the annual monarch butterfly migration, cenotes, and bountiful Pacific wildlife. In Mexico City, visitors can’t miss Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul, Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Zócalo, and Palacio de Bellas Artes, among countless other sites.
- Culture & Etiquette: Mexican culture is a hotbed for friendliness and endless hospitality. Give a smile, and you’ll receive dozens in return. There is high respect for elders in Mexico, and politeness goes a long way. Tipping is expected in restaurants and bars. 10% is sufficient, although 15% indicates a job well done. The country tends to run on a slightly slower timeline. Don’t be surprised if public transportation runs late or if guests arrive late.
- Typical Dishes (specific to regions): Mexican cuisine is as diverse as the country’s vast landscapes. From rich mole to tangy cochinita pibil, Mexican fare may be some of the best and most varied in the world.
- Baja Peninsula: Baja is surrounded by the bountiful Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, meaning seafood is fresh and the cuisine classic. Try ceviche with fresh lime or shrimp tacos.
- Oaxaca: Oaxaca is one of the culinary capitals of Mexico and a must-visit destination for intrepid epicureans! The city is the birthplace of the iconic mole, a sauce made from over 20 different spices and ingredients, tlayudas, also known as Mexican pizza, and savory Queso de Oaxaca, a cheese similar to mozzarella.
- Yucatán: The Yucatán Peninsula is culturally unique to the rest of Mexico and heavily influenced by its rich indigenous roots. Must-try foods include cochinita pibil, a traditional Mayan pork dish, and pozole, a spicy soup.
- Mexico City & Puebla: As the beating heart of Mexico and the center of the country, Mexico City and nearby Puebla have their own signature dishes, although you can find food from every corner of the country in CDMX. Try chiles en nogada, a poblano chile stuffed with meat and topped with walnut sauce and pomegranate seeds. The colors are meant to represent the Mexican flag.
- Others: Mexico has over 32 states, each with traditional dishes. Exploring every corner of Mexico through your taste buds would take a lifetime!
how to get around
Getting around Mexico can be a breeze or arduous, depending on what cities and regions you plan to visit. Small villages, especially in mountainous areas, are typically not well connected and require long bus rides or pricey flights to reach. Most major cities and popular tourist hubs have airports with short connections to smaller cities. The bus system in Mexico is extensive, although usually, there are more comfortable options. Private transfers and Uber are common and inexpensive transportation options in large cities.
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