During our long journey on the American continent, we crossed Mexico from Mexico City to Belize, further south. It is an incredible country on which we are asked many questions, especially about security and the budget. Here is a summary of our tips for travelling to Mexico and enjoying this country with its amazing culture and landscapes.
Why go to Mexico
Mexico is one of the most visited countries in Central America, and for good reason. It has a very rich culture, magnificent beaches and one of the best cuisines in Latin America.
The country is very big but if you leave for 3 weeks or more, you will have time to immerse yourself in its incredible culture and discover really different places. How can we compare the bubbling and oppressive Mexico City with the nonchalant San Cristobal de Las Casas or the tourist Playa del Carmen?
And then Mexico probably has the highest concentration of Mayan ruins. There are temples all over the country (special mention for Teotihuacan, Monte Alban and Palenque), so to play Indiana Jones and discover the fascinating pre-Columbian culture, this is the place to come.
And when you get too hot, you can even dive into the famous cenotaphs, those superb freshwater wells found all over the Yucatan Peninsula.
Before leaving: formalities to go to Mexico
As in all Central American countries, it is not necessary to have a visa for French citizens for stays of less than 3 months.
On the other hand, we prefer to prevent, know that some Mexicans are gamblers… so beware of scams (of which we have also been a little victim). For example, there is no tax to pay when leaving the country by land and yet some border officials will tell you the opposite (what happened to us when we went to Belize).
Do not hesitate to consult the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to find out about the general state of the country, and check the regions to avoid.
When to leave
Like all Central American countries, the most favourable season is the opposite of Europe, during the dry season. For Mexico the most pleasant would be between October and April. We personally left in November and had a great time all over the country for the 3 weeks.
On the other hand, the country is large and very tall. So, not all regions are subject to the same climate. So by visiting Mexico City, you will have a completely different weather on the Chiapas side, much wetter…
How to go to Mexico
Either you are more of a solo traveller and like to manage on your own or you prefer to be accompanied.
For those who prefer to organize themselves alone, the airlines Air France and Aero Mexico offer flights from France and fly directly to Mexico City (12 hours flight) and Cancun (11 hours flight). Other cities such as Acapulco, Oaxaca or Merida are accessible with a stopover.
The budget, price and cost of living in Mexico
During our stay in Mexico, we spent 28€ per day per person. To get money, know that there are many ATMs that take Visa and MasterCard so there is no problem to withdraw money. And incidentally, very few credit card payments in the country, so don’t hesitate to always have money with you. And since there are many distributors, there is no need to take large denominations.
Transport and transport
Mexico has a very good bus network, quite dense and widely used by the Mexicans themselves. We have often borrowed the ADO Company not necessarily the cheapest but the equipment is in good condition and there are many connections throughout the country.
Don’t forget to take a sweater on the bus! And yes, don’t rely on the overwhelming external heat because here they thwart with an air conditioning at 10°, literally.
And a small detail that you will find everywhere in Latin America, buses are often equipped with TV to lighten your long hours of bus… and work on your Spanish!
Safety and security
Security is quite uneven depending on the part of the country you are travelling to. We avoided the north of the country on the US border because it is rather famous for being the theatre of guerrillas.
Mexico City is not the safest city in the country. As everywhere in capitals and major cities, there is a concentration of theft and aggression.
Our feeling: we didn’t feel particularly in danger but at night we were a little careful about the neighbourhoods we were going to and our equipment. We have also heard many stories about tourist bus attacks towards Teotihuacan, but we have not encountered any concerns on our part.
The rest of the country is very touristy and therefore a little less dangerous.
The country is very well supplied with youth hostels and small posadas. No problem finding accommodation, even at the last minute.
Be careful perhaps in El Panchan, a small village lost in the middle of the jungle, towards Palenque, and in the Yucatan region where the majority of tourists are concentrated and therefore where reservations can be recommended.
To finish up: we loved Mexico!
Not always easy to grasp, especially with the small daily scams attempted by taxis and salesmen, the country turns out to be one of our most beautiful memories of Central America. Finally, there are few countries that concentrate so much Latin American culture in its territory. And whether you are a fan of beaches or jungle walks, the country is likely to show you all kinds of things.