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Mexico Travel Tips : The Yucatan Peninsula

According to Wiki:
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on earth. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modernized beach resorts (CancĂșn, Puerto Vallarta)...
Visiting Mexico has been on my Bucket List for quite some time, and as soon as I got my new passport, I decided to make this dream come true !

For the last two years, there has been a lot of negative talk about traveling to Mexico. This spring, U.S. issued widest travel warning to Mexico since 2006. The U.S. State Department advised that United States citizens should avoid all "non essential" travel to 14 of 31 Mexican states.

Though the General Consul of Mexico, Roberto Rodriguez Hernandez, called the new U.S. warning an exaggeration, traveling to Mexico ( even it's traditional tourist destinations along the Mayan Riviera ) should not be taken lightly.

Here are a few tips I'd like to share that, hopefully, will make your trip safer and more enjoyable:

1 - Go All Inclusive.

Personally, it's not my style of traveling. I can hardly spend a few hours on the beach doing nothing. But if you're traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula, staying at one of those all inclusive resorts might be one of your best options. Here is why : Though "Mexican law" says that nobody can own a beach in this country, this is just a bunch of BS.

The whole Zona Hotelera in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen is dotted with resorts which closely guard their territory against "intruders". They don't have visitor parking, you can't buy shit at their bars and restaurants, and God forbids if you use one of their lounge chairs ( there are guards every 100 feet which makes you feel like you're in a very luxury prison ).

When you're staying at an all inclusive resort, all ( or most ) drinks, food, activities, rentals are included in the price. Resort staff speaks decent English, can get you a cab, or recommend a restaurant or an activity ( just remember, they DO get paid commission, so it's in THEIR best interest to recommend you that restaurant, club or a company ).

2- Don't even think about renting a car

I'll write another post about my misadventure with renting and driving in Mexico, but in short, renting a car in the Yucatan Peninsula is just a waste of money.


If you do decide to rent a car, you'd better be comfortable with bribing a government official. Believe me, it's quite an experience !

3 - Agree on the price before getting into a taxi

Set taxi fares before getting in. If you have a problem, take his number off the car & report it to your hotel. Have smaller bills ( pesos, of course ! ).

4 - Find best deals on tours and activities online

There are so many things to do and to see in the Yucatan Peninsula, that when I was planning me trip I was overwhelmed with the choices. But keep in mind that many of the same trips are "advertised" by many different "local independent travel reps". You'll see a lot of "travel tour booths" everywhere, and some of those "agents" are very annoying. They deliver no value, quite useless, and speak poor English. Usually, the prices are about 10-30% more than what you'd normally pay. One of the sites I found useful is Cancun Discounts.

5 - Using pesos is your best bet

I was advised against exchanging money at banks, yet I found banks that pay the most pesos for your buck. The only disadvantage is that you have to produce your passport ( unlike exchange houses ). Most ATMs at resorts give you American dollars, BUT ! I withdrew $200 , and the "commission' was ...$36 ! Street ATMs give you pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted, with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express being the most popular.

6 - Crossing a street in Mexico is not a privilege, it's a challenge.

YOU DO NOT have the right of way even in a cross walk or at a red light. Be on the defensive. Taxi & bus drivers do not have any education and think that the road holds 3 things; 1) Their vehicle, 2) Their garbage & 3) Their right of way. So RUN when crossing the street.

7- Don't worry, they "speak" English

Honestly, I didn't try to "communicate" with locals, but whenever I needed to buy something, or to be exact, whenever they tried to sell me some crap or to scam a few lousy pesos out of me, they spoke decent English.


You know the rule of thumbs - not to drink in Mexico, but I'd also avoid eating "authentic/street food". Not because it gives you monster diarrhea, but simply because you're not used to this type of food. Elote ( or Esquites ) at Mexico street stands is one of those things you must eat in Mexico ( I almost gagged the first time I saw it, but it turned out to be quit delicious ! )

9 - No free WI-FI for you, amigo

Seriously McDonald's, WTF is my free WI-FI ? You brought your shitty corporation to this country, but too cheap to give this poor people free internet ? Shame on you !

10 - Use sunscreen even on an overcast day.

I came back from my trip looking like a fried chicken, with my skin peeling from all that Cancun sun tanning. If you plan to spend an extensive period in the sun, ease your way into it over a week, use plenty of sunscreen, and avoid using any lotions or creams that contain alcohol.

The final and the most important tip that I'd like to share - remember, you are going to another country. Don't expect the world to fall at your feet. You can have an amazing cultural experience if you give a little, and in return you'll get a lot! Smile!

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