MEXICO - The Pocket Guide

Mexico – The Pocket Guide

Discover the amazing peninsula of Yucatan. The region separates the Gulf of Mexico from the Caribbean and offers incredible turquoise waters, magnificent beaches, dramatic landscapes, ancient Mayan cities and unique Cenotes. Here is everything you need to know for your trip to Mexico…

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Population: 68,8 Million
Language: Spanish
Mexicans have a very low level of English if not none. They actually very appreciate when you speak Spanish and won’t consider you like a tourist. 
Currency: 
Mexican Pesos (MXN) // $50 MXN = 2,20€ = 2,70$
Getting around: The best way to get from one city to another is by Bus (ADO bus, you can download the ADO app to check the bus schedules) and usually taxi in the cities.
Internet: Wifi is very average. I recommend getting a local sim card.
Best time to go: The best season runs from December to April. That is when the region experiences the least amount of rain with an amazing sunshine.
Safety: The Yucatan region is one of the safest places in the country. Being very touristic, it is very protected from theft, racket or aggression.
Places Visited: Cancun – Isla Holbox – Bacalar – Tulum – Isla Mujeres.
Length of the stay: 17 days.



Places visited

Cancun – Isla Holbox – Bacalar – Tulum – Isla Mujeres

 

Cancun
Cancun
Chac Mool Beach, Cancun

Famous for its Spring Break season that took place every year around mid-February until end of March, Cancun is very touristic and overpriced.
The beaches are beautiful but surrounded by buildings and resorts. Cancun is mostly a prime destination for nightlife and all-inclusive resorts.

Stay:
I recommend spending less than a day.

Getting around:
Buses are a very cheap and efficient way to get around. Otherwise, taxis are very convenient (you can expect to pay around $70 pesos for a 15min ride).

Tips:
– Speak Spanish as much as you can if you don’t want to be priced like a tourist.
 There is an ADO bus going from Cancun Airport to Cancun Center which takes about 30min and costs around $70 pesos (3€ / USD $3,70). A taxi will charge you at least $500 pesos.
– From the Cancun center ADO bus station will you find buses to go everywhere in the Yucatan.

 

Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox
Isla Holbox

By far my favourite spot in the peninsula of Yucatan. Isla Holbox is a magical hidden paradise!!
Preserved from mass tourism, the island is very authentic, incredibly colourful and super chilled.
You’ll see people getting around with golf carts as there are no cars around here, biking or simply walking around.

Stay:
I recommend spending 3-4 days.

Getting There:
From Cancun, you can take the ADO bus at the Cancun center ADO bus Station to Chiquila.
The bus ride takes around 3H30 and costs about $244 pesos (10,60€ / USD $13).
Once in Chiquila, you’ll be dropped off at the pier and you will take the ferry to Isla Holbox. The ferry takes around 30min and costs $140 pesos (6€ / USD $7,50).

My Favourites:
– LUUMA Holbox:
Amazing cocktail bar & restaurant.
Awesome concept of elaborated tapas and shareable platters tuned by a live Dj set.
The rumour says it’s the best restaurant on the island, for sure it’s the hypest!
Check out their Instagram 😉
Hostel Che Holbox:
Fantastic hostel with swimming pool, barbecue dinners, bar & events.
Super social and great staff.
Price around $230 pesos per night (10€ / USD $12), including breakfast.
– Beaches:
The beaches are really nice. I would recommend going far North or South on the West coast of the island to find some very isolated spot.
– Hot Corner:
The main spot for a drink in the evening. Live music and great cocktails.

Tips:
– Get a bicycle and explore the island.
– You can walk your way around easily so from the pier check how far is your hostel/hotel, you may not require a taxi.
– It is a very small island and it gets really full in high season so make sure to book in advance.

Bacalar
Lagoon of Bacalar
Lagoon of Bacalar

Incredible pearl of the Yucatan, the lagoon of Bacalar will blow your eyes.
Located on the South East coast of the peninsula, far away from the tourist crowd, the village will transport you in another world.
If you want to see turquoise, crystal clear water, that’s the place!

Stay:
I recommend spending 3/4 days and I highly recommend picking an accommodation on the lagoon.
There are not much of access besides entering from a property and you definitely want to wake up with such a view.

Getting There:
If you are on Isla Holbox, you’ll have to go through Cancun.
From Cancun ADO bus Station, the ride takes 5H10 and costs about $380-424 pesos (16,50 – 18€ / USD $20 – 22).
Then from the bus station in Bacalar to your accommodation, you’ll have to grab a taxi.

My Favourites:
– Kayaking on the lagoon:

You can rent out a kayak (or get one for free from your hostel) and cruise around the lagoon.
– La Playita:
Very nice restaurant on the lagoon to enjoy some delicious cocktails con guacamole.
– El Fogon del Sur:
Fantastic and cheap local Mexican food.
– El Centro:
The city center is very nice to walk around in the evening and full of restaurants.
– Casa China: 
Very nice hostel on the lagoon, incredible view and amazing staff.
Price around $230 pesos per night (10€ / USD $12), including breakfast and free kayak.

Tips:
– Most of the hostels are on the lagoon but make sure your accommodation does have an access. The morning view is an absolute must.
– Accommodations are a bit far from the center if walking so grab a taxi along the way, it’ll cost you $30 pesos for 5-10 min ride.

 

Tulum
Chichen Itza, Ancient Mayan City. One of the new 7 wonders.
Chichen Itza, Ancient Mayan City. One of the new 7 wonders.

Hippy chic and trendy, Tulum is an amazing and exclusive spot on the Riviera Maya.
Prices are going way up compared to Isla Holbox and Bacalar as the village attracts the new wave running away from the touristic Cancun.
Tulum is beautiful, there is a super chilled vibe, it is more animated and there is a lot to do in and around.

Stay:
I recommend spending around 5 days in Tulum.
There is a lot to do in the village and many day trips from there.

Getting There:
From Bacalar, the ride takes 2H40-3H and costs $222 pesos (9,60€ / USD $11,70).
From Cancun, the ride takes 2H20 and costs $162 pesos (7€ / USD $8,50).

My Favourites:

Must-do / Sites

– Chichen Itza:
Discover one of the 7 new wonders, the Mayan City of Chichen Itza.
It is located 2 hours drive from Tulum. There are many day tours but if you are a 2 or a small group, I’d recommend renting a car, it will be faster and cheaper.
Entrance fee is $232 pesos (10€ / USD $12).
You’ll spend around 2-3 hours on site.
– Cenotes:
Tulum has a lot of cenotes to explore. I recommend the Gran Cenote, Cenote Azul and Cenote Ik Kil. Be aware that they usually close entrance around 4pm and it can get really crowded during the day so you might want to be early.
Entrance fee varies from $80 to $166 pesos (3,50-7€ / USD $4-8).
– Diving in Cenotes:
I went diving in the incredible Cenote Dos Ojos, which is the biggest underwater system in the world. 
This was my first diving experience in caves and I absolutely loved it.
I first started with a dive at Casa Cenote, where we met the local crocodile. And then went for the second dive to Dos Ojos (note that you need to be certified to dive Dos Ojos).
Check out the video, it speaks for itself.
I did the whole experience with Agua Clara Tulum, a highly reputed diving center and amazing staff. I highly recommend them, you can look them up for more info and contact.
– Coba:
Coba is another wonderful Mayan City, located about 45min from Tulum. Definitely worth it.
Entrance fee is $55 pesos (2,40€ / USD $3).
You’ll spend around 2 hours on site.
– Akumal:
This is the spot for snorkelling with Sea Turtles!
Be aware of the scams at the entrance that will tell you that renting and wearing a lifejacket is mandatory. It is absolutely not, so don’t get fooled and keep going.
Also, to avoid paying the entrance and be with the tourist crowd, you can keep going a bit farther down the road, there is a diving center in which you can go through to access the beach (for free).
Don’t go too far down the road (like me), you certainly enter the beach for free but there are no turtles.
– Valladolid: 
Nice and authentic city between Chichen Itza and Tulum. It is nice to make a stop on the way back from the temple. There is not much to do but just walking around and enjoy the nice colours of the houses.
Spending 30min to an hour is enough.
– Tulum Ruins:
The ancient Mayan city of Tulum used to be the main point for all commercial activities for the entire peninsula of the Yucatan.
Be there early is it gets super crowded.
Entrance fee is 40 pesos.

Bars and restaurants

– Tropi Tacos: Amazing and cheap Mexican food. The best tacos in Tulum.
– Burrito Amor: 
Fantastic burrito specialized restaurant. 
– Casa Jaguar: 
Excellent and trendy cocktail bar with live Dj.
– Papaya Playa Project: 
Every month, the Papaya through a big Full Moon party!
Incredible setups, magical vibe and by the beach to chill in front of the Caribbean.

Tips:
– Rent a car or bicycle 
to get around, taxis are much more expensive in Tulum (up to $200-300 pesos in the evening for a 10-15 min ride).
– Renting a car: You will see that online rates are very low (can be like 5€ / USD $7 a day). You see it coming right? No way you’ll pay that cheap! They’ll sell you an insurance on spot that is mandatory. A “normal” final rate should be around 25-30€ a day (USD 30-35).
– Be early in the morning 
for Chichen Itza, Coba or even Cenotes of you want to avoid the crowd.
– Hostel Che Tulum: 
awesome hostel, great location and fantastic vibe.
Price around $230 pesos per night (10€ / USD $12), including breakfast.
– Shopping: You will find a lot of typical vendors on the road to Coba (around 15-20min from Tulum). It is cheaper than in Tulum and there is plenty of choices.

 

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres

Isla Mujeres is a Mexican island in the Caribbean Sea, 13 kilometres off the coast from Cancún. It’s a vacation destination, very popular for North Americans and Mexicans, and known for beaches such as northern Playa Norte.
Beautiful beaches, amazing turquoise water, no seaweeds but also lots of resorts and very crowded.
Isla Mujeres is very vibrant and there is much more of a nightlife than in Holbox or Bacalar.

Stay:
I recommend spending 2/3 days.
Isla Mujeres is mainly beach focus and is also more expensive.
I recommend staying at Poc-Na Hostel, ideally located in the North of the island (the most vibrant part), 10min walk from Playa del Norte.
Price around $230 pesos per night (10€ / USD $12), including breakfast.

Getting There:
From Cancun, get to Puerto Juarez to take the ferry. The crossing takes about 30min and costs $160 pesos for one-way (7€ / USD $8,50) / $300 pesos (13€ / USD $16) for round-trip with an open return. The ferry company is called Ultramar, there is a departure every half an hour and boats are very comfortable.

My Favourites:
– Playa del Norte:
located in the North of the island, this gorgeous beach is very protected from the wind and offers an amazing scenery. It is also very crowded and full of boats, but well, that’s the part of the game right?!
– Renting a golf cart and drive around the island. I highly recommend doing that!! The island is really nice, there are nice spots to see and that’s the only/best way to do it.
Drive all the way south to the island, on both side and make some stops on the way.
– Pita Amore: fantastic pita with high-quality products and top-notch cook.
– North Garden: very nice restaurant by Playa del Norte.
– Ruben’s Restaurant: Authentic Mexican food.

Tips:
– The vibrant part of the island is the North, so you might want to book an accommodation around there.

 


 

Have you travelled to Mexico? Are you planning to travel there?
Share your experience and your best tips in the comment 😉

 

Follow my adventures on Instagram!
Check out the Mexican Vlogs I made during the trip on Youtube!

 

3 comments on “Mexico – The Pocket Guide”

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