Value Times are April, May, September through December.
Excludes Holidays and Special Events
Mexico offers unique travel experiences—vibrant desert landscapes, magical jungles, amazing archeological sites beautiful beaches and exquisite natural beauty. Approximately 440 beaches line the Mexican coast where one can enjoy the sea and sand amid fabulous surroundings.
With water that clear and sun that bright, it's no wonder the shoreline gets top billing in Cancun.
Developers created this comfortable resort area on the Mexican Caribbean from the sand up to take advantage of the gorgeous aquamarine water and temperate climate.
The city's whitewashed walls and terra-cotta-tiled roofs are nestled along Banderas Bay, with the ornate crown of the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe serving as a focal point.
The lush, green foothills of the Sierra Madre Mountains make for a beautiful and dramatic backdrop.
Mexican cuisine is much more than just tacos and burritos. Depending on the region, it can have similarities to Caribbean, Spanish and even East Indian cooking. In the coastal states—Yucatan, Campeche and Veracruz, for example—the emphasis is on fresh seafood (shrimp, crab, squid, octopus, redfish and snapper). The Yucatan also boasts wonderful sopa de lima (soup with tortilla strips, chicken and limes) and pollo pibil (chicken marinated in sour orange juice and cooked in a pit in banana leaves).
In the Riviera Maya, there is something to please every palate. Yucatecan specialties include cochinita pibil—an outstanding dish of chicken or pork in a rich achiote sauce, baked in banana leaves in a clay oven. Vegetarians will appreciate the wide variety of tropical fruits and vegetables available, as well as regional dishes such as papadzules, tacos stuffed with boiled eggs and covered in pumpkin-seed mole (its antecedents go all the way back to the Mayan Age).
Be sure to try chilies rellenos (poblano peppers stuffed with cheese or meat, then fried in egg batter and topped with walnuts, pomegranate seeds and cream); crepas de huitlacochle (corn fungus); chicharrones (fried pork skin); and the different kinds of tamales (wrapped in corn husks, banana leaves or even Swiss chard).
The operative law for shopping in Mexico is caveat emptor—let the buyer beware. With that in mind, shop for almost anything you fancy. Mexico has everything from stuffed frogs (in various poses and costumes) to high-quality silver work. Handicrafts, clothing and folk art vary regionally in style: Pottery, woven fabrics, hammocks and baskets are often good buys. Folk art from Oaxaca and Michoacan remains our favorite. Don't ignore the highly popular hand-painted wooden animal figures, called alebrijes. The motifs in their designs usually represent a mixture of myths.
Typical Mayan crafts to look for throughout the Riviera Maya include colorful hand-woven rugs and shawls, panama hats, hammocks, wood carvings and traditional embroidered dresses known as huipiles. Prices tend to be fairly high, but there are a wide variety of shops selling Cuban cigars, silver jewelry and semiprecious stones, Mexican crafts (of varying quality), decorative home products, and much more. Puerto Morelos has some nice silver shops and craft boutiques, plus a large Maya-handicraft market called Mercado Hunab-Ku.
Copper, onyx, straw, lacquer and leather goods are also available throughout Mexico, but inspect an item closely if quality is what you want. High-grade silver is stamped ".925" (by law)—but learn how to double-check for plated silver anyway. It's fun to shop for locally made toys, but safety regulations are not particularly strict—make sure there are no loose pieces or sharp edges if the toys are intended as gifts for children.
Use caution if buying designer-name items at very low prices—some are made without the permission of the manufacturer. If that's the case, the items may be confiscated by customs agents when you return home. Turtle, tortoise, alligator and jaguar products will also be confiscated upon arrival in many countries. Products containing quetzal feathers, tortoise shells or any derivative from turtles, such as oil, are illegal in Mexico as is any type of archaeological artifact. Penalties can include stiff jail terms.
Liquor is cheap, but be aware of your country's duty restrictions before you buy.
Green or brown glaze on pottery often contains lead—don't use any of these ceramics for storing food or drink.
Shopping hours are generally Monday-Saturday 9 am-8 pm. Many smaller stores, especially those in the provinces, close for a few hours in the afternoon.
Don't wear T-shirts and shorts in the big cities unless you want to advertise that you are a foreigner.
If you are a woman, expect to encounter quite a bit of machismo. It can be extremely frustrating, but try to minimize it by ignoring the perpetrator (any attention at all may be misinterpreted). Men will also insist on such old-fashioned behavior as opening doors, paying the bill at a restaurant and walking on the outside, near the curb.
The easiest way to get local currency is at an ATM, using a bank, debit or credit card and a PIN. You'll find ATMs at most banks, especially those in the Centro. You can also exchange money inside banks, but the lines may be long. Most establishments catering to tourists accept major credit cards, and many welcome U.S. dollars (although their exchange rate may not be favorable).
Be careful using the ATM machines. ATM customers are inviting targets for thieves, though muggings are infrequent in Cancun. If you need to change foreign currency or traveler's checks, the best exchange rates are found at banks in Ciudad Cancun; the worst rates are at the airport or at hotels. Try to spend all your pesos before leaving the country because exchanging them for U.S. dollars or other currency is difficult if not impossible.
The standard tip at bars and restaurants is 15%-20% of the bill. Some restaurants add 15% themselves, so be sure to check the menu or your bill. Taxi drivers are generally not tipped unless they perform some extra service for you (e.g., carrying bags, making multiple stops or acting as a translator).
Passport/Visa Requirements:U.S. citizens and Canadians need a passport to travel to and from Mexico. Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departing.
Voltage Requirements:110 volts.
The best time to visit Mexico is mid September-mid May, though some parts still have a fair amount of rain in October and November. (It rains most during the summer, but usually not often enough to spoil a vacation.)
Mexico City is chilly in the early morning and at night during the winter. Be prepared for higher humidity in coastal areas and at the inland archaeological sites in the Yucatan Peninsula. Summer temperatures there can hover around 100 F/38 C with near-100% humidity. The average coastal day temperatures year-round are in the 70s-80s F/23-32 C, with nights in the 60s-70s F/15-27 C. Take a sweater and an umbrella any time of year.
Most major airlines fly to Mexico. Contact a travel agent for details.
GETTING AROUND THE AREA
Taxis are plentiful and are usually moderately priced, but exercise caution in obtaining a cab. In Mexico City, you should never hail a taxi in the street. Always use a radio taxi. Your hotel can provide the phone numbers of reliable companies. In smaller towns, taxis don't use meters. Agree on the fare with the driver prior to getting into the cab. If it's metered, make sure the previous fare has been cleared. For traveling between nearby towns, shared taxis are often a good option. These will usually await fares beside the town's main plaza.
Getting around Mexico by car isn't as dubious an undertaking as it used to be. Rental cars are available in most major cities and tourist destinations, and about 1.5 million North American visitors drive into Mexico each year.
If you're considering driving beyond the 12.5-mi/20-km border zone, be aware of the following requirements: A visitor driving his or her own car to Mexico must have proof of ownership (title or registration), a valid driver's license and a Temporary Vehicle Import Permit. If your car is financed, you must also have a notarized letter from the financing institution giving you permission to drive it into Mexico. Under no circumstances may you take someone else's car. You'll also have to provide assurance that you won't be leaving the car in Mexico, which can be done in one of three ways: with a credit-card imprint, with a nonrefundable bond (up to 2% of the vehicle's value) or with a refundable security deposit equal to the car's total value.
Note: If you've opted for the credit-card imprint, make sure to get your Temporary Vehicle Import Permit stamped when you leave the country or fines will start mounting up.
Some U.S. bus companies have permission to operate within Mexico, and they now take visitors from several U.S. border towns into the interior. In addition, Mexican bus companies offer efficient first-class bus service between major cities. Some buses—usually those designated de lujo, ejecutivo or primera—are air-conditioned, have toilets and might even have movies and food/beverage service. Second-class (segunda) service connects smaller towns, makes lots of stops and is generally less prompt and less luxurious.
The information contained here and within the Time Out Vacations website is believed to be correct. Every effort has been made to assure accuracy. Time Out Vacations and Global Connections, Inc. assumes no responsibility for errors, inaccuracies or omissions.
The destinations listed are subject to change without notice or may no longer be available under this vacation certificate.