Mexico has a reputation for being a cheap travel destination and is a favourite spot for both budget travellers and backpackers alike. A strong dollar combined with very inexpensive places to eat, drink and stay makes a luxury Mexico vacation at an affordable price very achievable. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Mexico on a budget and still having the time of your life.
Most travellers find they can comfortably travel to Mexico on less than $50 per day. But, it all depends on where you visit and the type of trip you’re planning. For example, coastal regions such as Cancun are always going to be more expensive than the interior spots. And whenever there’s tourists, prices skyrockets. If you do want to spend a few weeks at the beach, instead of going to Los Cabos, head to the less touristy places like Tulum. This is sure to save you a lot of money compared to the more popular areas, and you’re still going to have a great time.
The easiest way to blow your budget and make an affordable trip into something on par with the United States is to visit the tourist hotspots in peak season. Instead, head to the towns and city in the interior away from the coast. There are several colonial towns including Izamal, the ‘Yellow City’ named because all the buildings are yellow. Or you could visit Oaxaca, a city classified as a UNESCO World Heritage in Central Mexico, with green buildings and a vibrant indigenous culture. Mexico City, the country’s capital, is also worth visiting to explore the historical centre and nearby Aztec ruins.
You’ll find everything is considerably less expensive in these parts of the country while at the same time they give visitors more of an authentic experience. The smaller towns are the best places to buy local handicraft and souvenirs too. You’ll find better prices and will be contributing to the local economy.
Mexico has all types of places to stay from a bed in a hostel for less than $10 to the luxurious all-inclusive resorts with a corresponding price tag. Essentially, an affordable place to stay is easy to come by regardless of what part of the country you’re in. If you’re in a more expensive area, look for your accommodation in the suburbs. A hotel on the outskirts may be significantly cheaper than those in central regions. It’s also a good idea to try to plan your trip outside of peak season, which is between December and April. Airbnb and Couchsurfing are also other ways to get a cheap night in and around Mexico.
Some people prefer to have more of an adventure and want to camp on the beach. This is perfectly acceptable in Mexico on most stretches of sand. However, you should always ask the locals if it’s private property and to make sure you’re not trespassing or breaking any laws. It’s also a good idea to check the places isn’t in an area with a high crime rate to avoid any unwanted incidents.
Public transport is relatively reliable in most parts of the country, especially in coastal areas. Buses take locals around all major cities and towns costing just a few cents for a one-way ticket. The fleet tends to be older and more dilapidated than the ones you’re familiar with back at home. Some have air-conditioning; others don’t. But despite this, they’re a cheap and convenient way to get around.
Taxis tend to be affordable too with most local journeys often coming to no more than $10 to $15. But, always make sure the driver uses the meter and use reputable companies to avoid being ripped off, scammed or worse.
If you want to travel longer distances in Mexico, use the chicken bus. A chicken bus is a minibus or coach taking mostly locals from one town or city to the next. Tickets are inexpensive, and the journeys are tolerable. But, as the name suggests, you may occasionally be sharing your space with passengers of another species, especially in rural areas. A top tip when relying on the chicken bus is always to make sure you check the schedules and double check with a local. The further you get from the major cities, the harder it is to get around. Learn a few phrases of Spanish to help you communicate with the locals.
Domestic flights are often the only option when you’re travelling from one side of the country to the other. Remember, Mexico is a big place covering vast regions of emptiness.
If you want to save money in Mexico, the same principles apply for when you visit other destinations around the world. You may find it cheap to eat out at the restaurants, but costs will inevitably build up. Instead, consider checking out the supermarkets and buy snacks or get local produce and fresh fruit at the markets. Street food is also available around Mexico where you can snack on tacos or burritos for next to nothing.
Despite parts of the country being on par with North American prices, it’s easy to have a luxurious vacation to Mexico on a budget. All you need to do is avoid the touristy coastal regions and spend your time in the more charismatic interior towns and cities. Follow our suggestions, and you’re certain to have a great and unforgettable trip at very affordable prices in Mexico.