Mexico

Mexico

Mexico has a visual appeal second to none, with its brilliant, crystal clear aquamarine Caribbean Sea, its massive Aztec pyramids, Mayan temples and baroque cathedrals, to its huge canyons and dense jungles that evoke a sense of ancient mysticism and eeriness.

It is a country that has everything for the traveller, whether you are a history buff, or simply enjoy the bustle of modern life.
Dive in the fantastic waters off theYucatan coast, or see the marine wonders of Baja California. Ride hard with the Charros, join in colourful fiestas, or sample the delicious foods of the markets. Or you can even just hang out and enjoy the highlife in Acapulco.

With 30 states and a myriad of languages, cultures and cuisines to explore, Mexico is an exhilarating destination to explore!

Cash

The Mexico unit of currency is the Mexican Peso (MEXP).

$1.00 USD = 9. MEXP
£1.00 GBP = 13 MEXP

Rate vary daily so check with your local currency exchange bureau for up to date information.

US dollars are accepted in the border towns of Mexico and the US. Most places accept travellers cheques, though beware of being short changed at all times! Credit card and ATM fraud is also rife.

Lower and middle range hotels in Mexico are inexpensive compared to America and Europe, though be aware that it is still geared towards a tourist economy. You may find it hard to get single rooms, or they may be at 80% the price of doubles. Casas de Huespedes are usually the cheapest place to stay – but they are often dirty and have poor plumbing.
For those of you on a shoestring budget, expect to pay around $30 a day. For those with more money to spend, plan around $85. Baja California, Monterrey and the Yucatán Peninsula‘s Caribbean coast are more expensive than rural areas.

People

Mexico is home to the most populous city in the world, Mexico City, and has an astounding 100 million people, 2/3 of whom are under 30.

Approximately 60% of Mexicans are Mestizos - mixed European and Amerindian descent-and 30% are descendants of ancient indigenous cultures including Maya. Catholicism, imposed by the Spanish colonizers is the country’s domininant religion, with 90% of Mexico Roman Catholic, 6% Protestant and the rest of tribal religions.

Travel

Mexico is an immense country, so plan a long trip if you want to see it all. Internal flights are frequent, economical and reliable among the larger cities and towns, though most aren’t direct and have to route through Mexico City. A MexiPlan ticket, covering 5 zones of the country, is eligible to those arriving on transatlantic flights and are valid for 3-90 days – though they must be purchased before arrival in Mexico. These are available through Mexicana and AeroMexico, Mexico’s two major carriers.

Travelling by bus is convenient, largely reliable and often very comfortable, services generally being organised and prompt. Since the train industry was privatised a few years back, travelling by rail has become nearly impossible, with literally only one or two services running.

Food

Be prepared to tantalise your tastebuds with the wonderful culinary delights Mexico has to offer the adventurous traveller. Sample staples like tortillas, beans and chili peppers - found in all shapes and sizes, and in most dishes. Delicious too are the Antojitos - literally ‘little whimsies’ – the hundreds of treats that characterise Mexican street foods. Mexico is also famous for its alcoholic beverages - mezcal and tequila in particular. Home of chocolate, vanilla and exquisitely shaped confectionery, the country is truly a sweet lover’s delight. Or you can really test your limits by ordering a snack of chapulines - fried grasshoppers to the uneducated! Be aware of the drinking water though, and stick to bottled.

Language

The official language of Mexico is Spanish and, outside of the main tourist areas, travelling without a basic knowledge of the language is a hinderance, as most locals don’t speak English. There are over 50 indigenous languages in Mexico, among them Zapotec, Nahuatal, Maya and Mixtec, spoken by over 7% of the population.

Climate

The best time to go to Mexico is between October and April when there is virtually no rain. The rainy season can last from May up until September. This is also the hurricane season in the Caribbean, so avoid the Yucatan and Gulf States then. August is holiday time for Mexicans and accommodation can be scarce, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance. Likewise, Easter and November are times when room availability may be low. December to February are generally the coolest months, with temperatures around 66F (18C), while May averages 79F (26C).

Dress

Be sure to pack light waterproofs for rain, and also sturdy shoes, a hat, sandals, sunglasses and sunblock for the beaches. Earplugs are also handy for long bus journeys! Casual clothes are adequate, though men may sometimes need to wear a tie and jacket for restaurants and women should cover their legs when entering one of Mexico’s many Catholic churches.

Health

Mexico poses risks of cholera, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria, polio, rabies, tetanus, typhoid, but if you stick to the major tourist resorts then jabs are not necessary. Air pollution in Mexico City is extremely high between December and May, often so bad it shuts down schools and workplaces.

A vaccination certificate is necessary for those coming from countries where yellow fever is present. Otherwise no vaccinations are necessary for entry into Mexico. Make sure all polio and tetanus vaccinations are up to date, and those travelling to the remote south may want to get hepatitis A/B and typhoid immunisations.

Visas

A passport is necessary, though US and Canadian citizens need only show a birth or naturalisation certificate to enter. Citizens of many countries – including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and virtually all Western European countries – do not require visas to enter Mexico as tourists. However, they must obtain a Mexican government tourist card -tarjeta de turista - available from embassies, border crossings, and usually on your flight. Beware that unless you have multiple entry marked on your visa, you won’t be able to leave and re-enter Mexico.

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