Summer is right around the corner, so it’s about time to plan your next vacation (if you haven’t already). With international travel picking up, many travelers are thinking of going abroad, and traveling to Mexico is an excellent choice. It has so much to offer that it’s easy to spend months there without getting bored or homesick.
In a little over a month, students will get past their finals, know their grades, and hire online paper writing services to help them with term papers. Employees will close most of their projects and prepare for the vacation season. If Mexico is your destination of choice this year, here’s everything you need to know before going.
#1 Traveling To Mexico is so much more than its popular resorts
One of the biggest mistakes tourists make when planning their Mexico vacation is forgoing everything the country offers in favor of popular seaside resorts like Cancun or Cabo. While gorgeous, they are overcrowded and overpriced. You won’t see the real Mexico by going there.
Instead, start your vacation with Mexico’s vibrant and beautiful capital, Mexico City. Then, include Puebla and Guanajuato in your itinerary (among other unfairly underrated destinations). Finally, visit the seaside, but opt for something less basic than Cancun, for example, La Paz.
#2 Mexico City is a gem
It’s devastating to see how many tourists from the U.S. and Europe miss out on the opportunity to see Mexico City. It’s the heart of the country. No matter how much you want to spend time by the sea, leaving Mexico before visiting its capital is a crime. Mexico City is one of the most gorgeous cities in the world. Spend a day or two when traveling to Mexico to visit the city known as Distrito Federal or the federal district. It is the country’s economic and cultural hub and home to the offices of the federal government.
Some of the things worth anyone’s time that Mexico City has to offer are:
- The Floating Gardens of Xochimilco
- Gran Hotel Ciudad de México
- Museo Frida Kahlo
- The Juarez neighborhood
- Palacio Nacional
- Lucha Libre wrestling matches at the Arena Coliseo
- Out-of-this-world street food throughout the city, and so, so much more.
Skipping Mexico City when traveling to Mexico is like visiting Italy without seeing Rome. Unforgivable.
#3 Learn at least some Spanish
Please don’t be one of those tourists who expect all locals to speak English in every country they visit. English is your language, not theirs. And it’s you who are just visiting. So it’s your responsibility to make sure that you can get around even if no one in the neighborhood happens to speak English (this is rarely the case, though).
If nothing else, learn at least a bit of Spanish because it’s polite, and Mexican people appreciate it. Even basics like hola and gracias can make locals smile in less touristy places. But you’ll need a bit more to be able to communicate.
#4 Safety concerns are hugely overestimated When Traveling To Mexico
Mexico is nowhere near as dangerous as some news channels in the U.S. suggest. Sure, crime is a problem here. But only in some areas (that you’ll hardly visit as a tourist) and not more so than in New York and other major American cities. Stay vigilant, don’t walk around looking for trouble, and read up on popular scams. But otherwise, don’t stress too much.
#5 Don’t think that it’s hot everywhere in Mexico year-round
Mexico is enormous. And unlike the idea a lot of people have of Mexican weather, it’s not hot and sunny in all parts of the country all the time. So if your itinerary includes a few destinations in different parts of Mexico, make sure to check the weather during your stay there before you pack.
#6 Hold on to the Multiple Immigration Form you get when entering the country
Tourists get the so-called Multiple Immigration Form (FMM). It’s small and can easily slip from the passport. But please try not to lose it while traveling. Foreign visitors need the FMM when leaving the country, or they may have to pay a fine.
#7 Don’t expect to be able to buy all tickets online
In most places, Mexican intercity transport is great. In particular, ADO buses are a total gem. They are comfortable, have convenient routes, and allow visitors to see the country much better than taking domestic flights instead.
But the problem is that tickets for ADO buses (and flights) might be tricky to buy online for someone with a foreign credit card. You’ll have to go to the station to buy a ticket there or book it online and pay later.
#8 Stay away from tap water
It’s not safe to drink tap water in Mexico. It’s a common mistake that many travelers make, especially New Yorkers, the lucky drinkers of tap water that tastes like Evian. But the quality of tap water is bad pretty much all over Mexico. You’ll need to get a filter or buy bottled water throughout your stay in the country.
#9 No upscale restaurant comes even close to how amazing Mexican street food is
Besides only visiting Cancun or Cabo, the worst thing a tourist can possibly do in Mexico is missing out on Mexican street food. It’s true that Mexico, especially Mexico City, is home to some of the best restaurants in the world. But they have nothing on Mexican street food. The very, very brief list of the foods you have to try includes:
- Tacos (you’ll never be able to eat in most taco places in the U.S. again)
- Tlayudas (Mexican take on pizza)
- Gorditas and sopes
- Quesadillas, and basically whatever you see street food vendors offering.
#10 Pay attention when going to a public bathroom
Finally, don’t think that the “M” you see on the restroom door stands for “men.” It’s quite the opposite. “M” means mujeres (“women” in Spanish), so male bathroom goers aren’t allowed there. To avoid awkward situations, remember this rule once and for all. You’ll need it throughout your stay in Mexico.
Final Thoughts On Traveling to Mexico
Mexico deserves any traveler’s attention, and it has so much more to offer than the overcrowded beaches of Cancun and Cabo. Don’t neglect Mexico city; opt for local street food instead of fine dining, and check the weather when planning your vacation. Also, don’t drink tap water, and try not to lose your FMM. Otherwise, it’s one of the most beautiful, culturally diverse countries globally. So go book that flight and head to the airport near you.