Can we resist the stunning paradise of Cancun and the rest of the Riviera Maya?
The warm sun on your skin, the refreshing wind running through your hair and the magical blue view of the beaches we all dream about. Sounds wonderful. And it is!
I live in Cancun and trust me when I say, Cancun never ceases to amaze me.
As with any city, Cancun has its dos and don’ts. And hopefully these tips will help make this trip a lifetime memory, for good reasons!
I am going to help you avoid any type of struggles while planning and traveling Cancun, and make it a trip you will never forget.
WHEN TO TRAVEL
After speaking to a lot of my British friends, I found that they are always concerned about the time to travel and the weather here in Cancun.
Because, who wants to travel half way around the world to end up spending the majority of their time inside a hotel room?
Even if it’s a 5 star Hotel, the sun is the main reason a lot of people visit this paradise.
Cancun is sunny and hot most of the time. I could say 350/365 day of the year. Here the weather is on average around 27 degrees and the humidity makes it almost impossible to wear denim jeans or jumpers, unless you are used to it. The busiest seasons are spring break (March) and summer (June and July). These times are when most of the tourists are in their 20s-30s, looking for fun and to party.
Our rainy season is around September and October.
Although it is classed as the rainy season, we still have a lot of sunny days around this time, there’s just always the risk of a washout. These months tend to be the cheapest time to travel to Mexico. Flights and hotels are usually never fully booked.
The most expensive times to visit Cancun are around Christmas and New Year. This is the time when a lot of families come from the US and other parts of Mexico to spend their holidays close in the sun. Also the weather is a lot cooler than the hot summer months.
It is important for you to know that Cancun is divided in many zones. The main two are the Hotel Zone (Zona hotelera) which is basically the land that divides the sea from the lagoon. And Cancun Centro which is the highlighted yellow part in the map.
The rest of Cancun is also nice, but around these two zones you can find most of the amenities you might need. Like restaurants, bars, nightclubs, supermarkets, bus stations and the sightseeing points of the city.
A lot of holiday makers visit Cancun and never leave the Hotel Zone.
By doing this you are missing out on so much that the city has to offer! In downtown Cancun we have restaurants bars and outlet malls at a fraction of the price of the Hotel Zone.
From the moment you leave the airport gates, the adventure begins. It’s hard to believe some of the transport and taxi prices. I’ve witnessed it myself so don’t hesitate to negotiate for the price of transportation. Most of the time the first price you hear, may not be the real one.
The international airport of Cancun is basically in the middle of nowhere. If you don’t have a transfer included it is necessary to take a cab or the bus.
Learn and apply the basic ‘¿Cuánto me cobras a…?’ Which means, ‘How much is for a ride to…?’ Based on the zones I told you about, there are different ways to get to your finial destination.
To get to your hotel within the hotel zone
I recommend you to pay for a particular transfer with the same travel agency you booked the flights and your hotel room. It is direct and has no last minute extra charges.
Most of the time your reservation inside a resort includes your transfers. Get everything sorted before your flight. If you don’t have a ride, take a cab. It will charge you around $500 Mexican pesos.
To get to your hotel around the downtown area.
At Cancun Centro you can find different places to stay, from small and and nice hotels, to a clean and colorful hostels. You can even get a cozy apartment for a reasonable price.
These places normally don’t cover the transfer from the airport but here you have two options to make your way to Cancun as handy as possible.
One of the easiest and fastest options you have is taking a taxi or a ride. You’ll pay aproximately $300 to $400 Mexican pesos or ($20 US). Although, American dollars are accepted almost everywhere in the city. I recommend paying with the local currency when you are to pay a particular person or freelance.
$1 US dollar = $17-18 Mexican pesos.
If you are more of an independent traveler you can also find another way to Cancun Centro. The second option and the cheapest one, is to take an ADO bus. You can find them at the tiny ADO bus station just outside the airport.
As you make your way out of the airport’s door you will find people selling this bus trip to downtown, DONT FALL FOR IT! They are basically reselling you the bus tickets. Only 5 times more than it normally costs. Don’t let anyone selling tickets to persuade you. Sounds very exaggerated but it’s truth. I’ve seen it first hand on my way back home, and the guy trying to sell me the ticket looked pretty embarrassed when I told him I was a local and knew how much the real price was.
They normally try to sell you a bus ticket to Cancun at $ 400 pesos (20 US). The regular price is 70 pesos (4 US). Big difference.
You only have to walk a few meters from outside the main terminal and you will see these red buses going to the center of Cancun. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes to arrive.
TOUR THE CITY
Cancun is a young developing city. Based on tourists who fell in love for this Mayan paradise and then changed their residence, coexisting with the locals.
That’s my family’s case. My mom and dad just came for their honeymoon and instantly fell for the place. And here we are.
There are many ways to explore the city with less than a dollar. My local tip is to jump into the downtown bus. It travels different routes through the city just for $9.50 Mexican pesos. R1 buses, which you can also take at the downtown bus stops, go all the way through the Hotel Zone for as little as 12 pesos.
Here you can check your routes and where to wait for the buses. It is the official public bus website.
As I told you before, Cancun is developing very fast in favor of tourists. There is a brand new doble decker tour bus called Turibus Cancun. It takes you to 18 of the most popular points of the city. This tour is an excellent option if you want to know more about Cancun’s history. You can also take it late in the afternoon and enjoy a light show with music. A good way to start the party!
TOUR THE PENINSULA
The Riviera Maya isn’t just Cancun. But it is a beautiful and good place to start the journey. Travel around and discover amazing places. Renting a car is perfect to roam and stop wherever and whenever you want.
Day road trips are pretty common around here. All of the places are relatively close and easy to get there. The only thing you’ll need is a good playlist and a peninsula map .
Some ideas of places to visit are Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Akumla, Bacalar, or Holbox.
Also check out My list of favorite cenotes!
It doesn’t matter the place of the Riviera where you are during the weekend. It’s something you have you experience. It is the most cheerful part of the whole week. When the local people finish their long routine. Making their way to the party, get a few drinks and dance all night.
Remember, MEXICAN = PARTY
Nightclubs/bars have a cool and tropical atmosphere. Plus most places have an open bar, pay at the door, and that’s all drinks sorted for the night. It’s too easy to enjoy yourself.
Avoid drinking on the street, it is prohibited. This law is quite flexible when you are at the Hotel Zone (Cancun) or at the 5th Av (Playa del Carmen) but I recommend you to avoid it. Don’t make of yourself an easy target to the police.
THE MEXICAN POLICE
O-oh! This is the dark side of Cancun. Maybe you’ve already read this somewhere else. It’s not as bad as it sounds but is true. Be careful with the police.
Unfortunately corruption is very common in Mexico, and the police certainly know how to recognize an outsider. To save yourself any uncomfortable experiences with the law. Be aware of your behavior in public places, and always take a form of transport back to your hotel after a night out.
I find really easy to travel when you know English, is one of the most popular languages nowadays. But I really love to learn new words. In case you share the same feeling, here are a few vocabulary words.
POR FAVOR PLEASE
DISCULPE EXCUSE ME
GRACIAS THANK YOU
If you have any questions, leave your comments below and I’ll get back to you. I’ll be glad to help you with your planning.
If you know any of your friends that are planning a trip to Cancun and you think this guide could be helpful, share it with them!