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Traveller in front of Mayan temples in Chichen Itza, Mexico

Mexico Travel Guide

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Key Facts

Time Zone

GMT-6

Money

Mexican Pesos (MXN)

Dialing Code

+52

  • See ancient Mayan temples for a cultural sensation in Mexico, including the world-famous Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World!
  • Chill out at amazing beachside getaways, such as the famous resort of Cancun
  • Explore off the beaten track and discover stunning landscapes on the Yucatan peninsula.
  • Tuck into some burritos and don’t bust the budget as you enjoy delicious cuisine at low prices!
  • Try a tequila or two and enjoy the vibrant nightlife!
  • Soak up the charm of colonial cities such as Oaxaca.
  • Head off to explore other areas of Central and South America! 
  • Hop over the border to discover the sight of the good ol’ USA.

Sitting 2240m above sea level, Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is a curious, cultural whirl of cosmopolitan chaos, full of weird and wonderful experiences. Spend some time soaking up its year-round spring weather and strange sensations before heading out to explore the rest of Mexico.

  • Explore the beautiful colonial city of Oaxaca and explore amazing architectural sights in the home of exotic Mexican arts and crafts.
  • Visit one of the Seven Wonders of the World at the unforgettable Chichen Itza and see the sound and light show, or visit during an equinox when shadows create the illusion that a serpent descends the staircase at this famous monument.
  • Head to Northern Mexico and take the stunning scenic rail ride through the unbelievable Copper Canyon – the canyons at Barranca Del Cobre cover an area even greater than the Grand Canyon!
  • Marvel at the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán and be inspired by the vast pyramids that dominate one of Mexico’s top tourist attractions.
  • Laze on beautiful beaches and enjoy the laid-back resort lifestyle at picturesque Puerto Vallarta.
  • Sip Tequila and hit the vibrant nightlife in upmarket Guadalajara
  • Head deep into the jungle to see the 1300-year-old Mayan palace at Palenque and soak up the charms of mystical Mexico.
  • Spot magical marine life and explore the wonders of the unspoilt natural landscape on the Baja California Peninsula.
  • Head to The Yucatan Peninsula and experience the two extremes of Mexican life – from languid colonial cities to the buzz of beach resorts at famous holiday spots such as Cancun.
  • Enjoy one of Mexico’s many year-round festivals for a flamboyant and fun experience you’ll never forget! 

Mexican food is famous and popular the world over and is well-known for its spicy flavours and wrapped tortillas in various shapes and sizes. Spanish in origin, Mexican food is based on a diet of corn, beans and chilli peppers. Stuffed tortillas with a variety of meat, refried beans and vegetables come as burritos, quesadillas, tacos, enchiladas and more!  Meat, cheese and fresh fruit are widely eaten and available across Mexico. Different regions have their own specialities. Salsa and sour cream are often served as accompaniments to Mexican meals. A well-known Mexican breakfast dish is Huevos Rancheros, made up of fried corn tortillas topped with fried eggs and a spicy tomato sauce.  You can drink beer and tequila, delicious hot chocolate, or try the hot corn drink atole.

The weather in Mexico is generally good most of the year, although coastal and low-lying regions can get very hot and humid between the months of May-September. The North and centre of the country can get cold from November-February. Peak tourist times are July-August, December and around Easter.

Visa

Visas may be required in order to enter or transit through certain countries depending on your passport nationality, your reason for travel and how long you intend to stay.

Visa, passport and entry rules are subject to change and you should check the most up-to-date information from the relevant embassy or visa specialist.

To make things easier we have teamed up with The Travel Visa Company who are one of the UK’s leading travel visa specialists. You can use their website, alongside embassy websites,  to find out the specific entry requirements for the countries you intend to travel to.

For a fee, their dedicated team of experts can also apply for visas on your behalf, taking away the hassle and streamlining the process for you if you wish. For more details on the services they provide please click here – The Travel Visa Company

Passport

Passports must be kept in good condition. Travellers with damaged passports may be refused entry at immigration. It is the responsibility of the traveller to ensure that all travel documents are in good condition before they travel. Most countries will also require at least 6 months of validity on your passport from the time you finish your trip. 

Further Entry Requirements

Some countries will require proof of certain vaccines, such as yellow fever or covid, in order to gain entry. Please check with the relevant embassy or a visa specialist before travelling.

The official language of Mexico is Spanish. 

Plug sockets in Mexico are usually the same as US sockets, so British visitors will need to take a universal adaptor. 

Police may stop travellers and ask you for a form of identification, so you should always carry a photocopy of your passport and leave the original somewhere safe.

Avoid any involvement with drugs while in Mexico, as drug penalties are severe and convictions can be for up to 25 years.

Same-sex civil unions are legal in Mexico City and the state of Coahuila, but homosexuality is tolerated rather than accepted and public displays of affection may be frowned upon.

It is illegal to bring meat or dairy products into Mexico from the EU through customs.

We have selected what we believe to be the key points that you should be aware of when travelling in Mexico.

Gap 360 follows advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and we recommend that you frequently check the FCDO for updated travel advice. You can find the website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/foreign-commonwealth-development-office

Crime

Mexico is a relatively safe destination, but it does have a problem with crime and so travellers should stay alert and only travel during daylight hours. In major tourist destinations like Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta levels of crime are lower.

Pickpocketing is common in major cities and tourist resort areas, especially on the Mexico City metro. You should dress down and avoid carrying or wearing expensive items and limit the amount of cash and cards you carry. Keep your luggage in sight at all times.

We advise that you only use ATMs during daylight hours and in commercial areas.

Take particular care in the Parque Nacional de las Cumbres del Ajusco in the south of Mexico City, as coordinated muggings have taken place here in the past, with some assaults reportedly carried out by masked men posing as police officers.

If you drive in Mexico, avoid isolated roads and use cuotas (toll roads) when possible. Car doors should be kept locked and windows closed, especially at traffic lights. Take care if you are driving the Pacific Highway as robberies and car-jackings have been reported on this route. Campers vans and SUVs can be a particular target.

The risk of theft is greater on public transport, at airports and in bus stations, so keep an eye on your belongings at all times. There have been some reported bus hijackings, especially in the border states of Tamaulipas and Nuevo Leon. It is safest to travel on first-class buses using toll roads.

Unlicensed taxi drivers are a problem, particularly in the Ixtapalapa area of Mexico City, where thefts by taxi drivers have been reported. When in Mexico City, only use regulated ‘sitio’ taxis from authorised cab ranks. At airports, use only authorised pre-paid airport taxi services.

Bogus immigration officers may operate at international airports, and you should ignore unsolicited offers of help and only deal directly with the official immigration office.

Some incidents of rape have been reported on urban buses (known as ‘micros’) on routes in the south of Mexico City, and in tourist areas in Cancun, usually occurring during the early morning or late at night, so female travellers should take care and stay vigilant.

Some short-term opportunistic kidnappings, known as ‘express kidnapping’ has been a problem in Mexico, mostly in urban areas. The kidnappers force their victims to withdraw funds from an ATM before they are released, or local friends or relatives may be asked to pay a ransom. If you are targeted by kidnappers you should comply with their requests and not attempt to resist. There have been occasional incidents of longer-term kidnapping for financial gain, with allegations that police officers may be involved.

Never leave food or drinks unattended in case of drink or food spiking.

Typical Scams

There have been reports of bogus police officers operating scams. If a person presenting themselves as a police officer tries to fine or arrest you for no apparent reason, ask for identification and try to note down the officer’s name, badge number, and patrol car number. If a stranger approaches you or contacts you by phone asking for personal information or financial help, or if you, your relatives or friends are asked to transfer money to Mexico then check out the legitimacy of this claim as it may be a scam.

Drug-related Violence

Mexico has a problem with drug-related violence, mostly concentrated in specific areas such as Baja California (Norte), Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacán, Nayarit, Nuevo Leon, Sinaloa, Sonora, Veracruz and Tamaulipas. If visiting Acapulco, keep to the main tourist areas. Drug traffickers have been known to set up temporary vehicle checkpoints and roadblocks in Monterrey and other major cities in Nuevo Leon, carrying out car and bus jackings. Avoid travel to the area of San Juan Copala in Oaxaca. Border crossings into the USA at Nogales and Agua Prieta in Sonora are known drug routes so take particular care in these areas.

Drug groups frequently clash with security forces and these attacks can come at any time without warning.

Demonstrations

Political demonstrations can take place throughout Mexico and can be tense and confrontational. Monitor local media and avoid all demonstrations. Political activity by foreigners is illegal and participation in demonstrations may result in arrest. Occasional outbreaks of politically-motivated violence have been reported, particularly in the southern states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

Transport/Travel

Driving standards and road safety are poor in Mexico, and some restrictions are in place in Mexico City and other areas, in order to reduce air pollution. Based on number plates, cars may be banned from entering certain areas on particular days, and these regulations are strictly enforced. Unofficial local roadblocks may be set up by groups seeking money so stay vigilant.

We do not recommend hiring motorbikes, scooters, ATV vehicles, quad bikes or other types of motorised vehicles whilst abroad. Safety and quality of vehicles vary considerably and the traffic conditions can be much more dangerous than what UK travellers are used to. Should you wish to go against this advice, you should ensure you are hiring from a reputable company and that your travel insurance covers you for such activities.

Swimming and Water Sports

Take care when scuba diving, parasailing or jet-skiing as water sports equipment may not meet safety standards meaning your insurance may not cover you. There are sharks in the water around Mexico, but shark attacks are relatively rare. However do be cautious of the sea, particularly when surfing.

Hotel Safety

Please note that in some hotels in Mexico, the balcony balustrades may not be as high as you are used to, and can pose a danger, so take extra care.

Natural Disasters

The Popocatepetl and Colima volcanoes are still active, with specified danger zones, and therefore these areas are closed to the public. Earthquakes and tremors regularly occur, particularly in Oaxaca. Mexico’s hurricane season is typically between June and November and affects the Pacific and Atlantic coasts.

Health

Visit your GP around 8 weeks before you travel to check if you require any vaccinations. You should not drink tap water in Mexico, use only bottled or boiled water and avoid ice in drinks.

In Mexico City or other areas of high altitude, you may experience short periods of breathlessness, dizziness or headaches, but your body will soon adjust to the altitude, so allow for a couple of days to get used to the change in environment.

If you require medical treatment when in Mexico, you should come prepared to pay for treatment upfront and then seek a refund, so make sure you have travel insurance which can cover medical costs.

Mexico’s Ministry of Health has recently reported a cholera outbreak in central Mexico so take extra precautions when in this area.

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