Mexico is a beautiful country with so many places to see and explore. Because of that it’s becoming a popular tourist destination. But like with any place, to really see the real Mexico you need to go deeper than the touristy activities and resorts. In order to make the most of your time in Mexico you need to do some research before heading off. A little bit of info can really make the trip so much better. So here is our must-read guide for your next visit.
First of all don’t try to see too much. Mexico is a huge country being 7 times bigger than New Zealand. If you only have a couple of weeks, focus on one or two states and explore them more. Decide on what you want to see most whether it’s the Caribbean, the jungle, culture and handcrafts, Maya or Aztec history, mountains or beaches. Mexico has it all but trying to see it all at once means travelling long distances and just touching the surface of what Mexico has to offer.
Many places and people speak English, even if it is enough just to sell you their product. But if you can learn a couple of words in Spanish, it is always really appreciated. Just some words like ‘por favor’, ‘gracias’ and ‘buenos dias’ make a big difference and you’ll see an instant smile. Plus you’ll be able to reach the more authentic places and experience the culture more if you can communicate with the locals.
Nachos and burritos aren’t Mexican food! Expect a wide range of cuisine and traditional dishes depending on which region you are in. Each part of Mexico has their own unique food which you must try, washed down with some tequila or mezcal.
Mexicans love their spicy sauces. Restaurants will serve several different salsas that vary in colour, flavour and spiciness. You’ll see others just pouring these all over their food however, even if you’re told that a sauce isn’t spicy, try it out before pouring it all over your tacos. Your idea of chilli and a Mexican’s may be very different. P.S. the green sauce isn’t guacamole!
Make sure you pack your dancing shoes. Mass salsa dancing happens where you least it expect it. You can take some classes or just join in; there are always plenty of people willing to teach you.
Mexico does have some poor areas so tourism is vital for people to make a living. Where possible, support local businesses by buying directly from them, eating in the small, neighbourhood restaurants and taking tours with locally owned companies. Tipping is also vital for people to make a living so don’t forget to add an additional 10% for service.
Mexican people are very welcoming and friendly. Don’t be surprised if you’re invited into someone’s home and given lunch. There’s always enough food for everyone and no such thing as a language barrier.
Mexico has a huge diversity of wildlife above and below the water. There is a large variety of activities offered throughout the country to get up close and personal with turtles, whale sharks, monkeys etc. however any activities where there is interaction with wildlife should to be researched carefully, always go with licensed operators who are working towards sustainability and looking out for the animal’s welfare. Do not support any ‘swim with dolphins’ experiences! These businesses make a profit at the animal’s expense.
Lastly, be open to all the new experiences that a foreign country has to offer. Once you get a taste for Mexico I’m certain you’ll be wanting to go back to explore more.