We love to travel to Mexico, but specifically the Cancun and Riviera Maya area. Many of these tips below apply everywhere in Mexico, but obviously the airport info all about Cancun. We hope these “things to know” help you get prepared, then get on the beach – and have a fabulous vacation!
Things to Know Before Traveling To Cancun, Mexico
Cancun is Tourist Friendly
We have always found locals happy to have us visit all over the region. Also, while Cancun is known as a party town – it’s not like that at every resort. We tend to go to the Riu Palace Las Americas, which is adults-only and very calm. (But you can definitely find the party too!)
Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula can get directly hit with a hurricane, and that season is June through November – with the highest likelihood from August to October. It’s still pretty rare, but even without hurricanes, this is the region’s rainiest season. Even so, rain in Cancun is most likely an afternoon shower here and there.
Uber is still not available in Cancun and taxis can be pricey. Some hotels offer shuttles in their packages, and there are many services you can pre-book before your trip. We have used Cancun Shuttle before and have been happy.
After you get through customs and baggage claim, there will be a long hallway to the exit doors. That hallway is lined with sales people who can be pretty aggressive. None of them are your shuttle drivers, although they try and convince you they are!
When you exit the hall, you will be outside and the real shuttle drivers are out on the sidewalk. It will still be chaos, but just look for your company. They will be holding a sign with the logo with who you booked with or your name.
Also, alcohol is allowed in cars there, and there is a bar outside the airport and little push carts walking around with refreshments. You can purchase while waiting and take with you.
Keep The Immigration Slip
As you enter, the immigration officer will hand you back one part of the form. Put that into your passport and KEEP IT. You will need to turn it on as you leave, or risk a fine.
At this time, you do not need to have a negative test to enter Mexico, but you do need one to return to the United States. Most resorts have them either free or for a cost on site. You will just need to schedule the test when you arrive. Keep up with these requirements at the State Department’s site.
Mexico’s water has come a long way, but still drink bottled water. The resort will provide it in your room and everywhere. Bring those bottles to the beach or if you go off site. Also bring Pepto of some sort in case your tummy gets upset.
Usually they are marked clearly with icons and also English but remember that M = Mujeres (women) and H = Hombres (Men). Also, bathrooms with non-potable water will be marked.
Roughly, it is 20 pesos to 1 US dollar. You can get pesos at your bank before you leave (call before you go), at the currency exchange at the airport (they only take cash), and also the resort usually has an ATM that gives pesos. You can still use your credit card (tarjeta) in most places (like the gift shops), but it’s good to have cash.
Mexico runs on 127V, which is essentially 120V – so people from the United States and Canada do not need to purchase any sort of converter. If the standard voltage in your country is in the range of 220 – 240V, you need one.
Tipping at an All-Inclusive Resort
While tips are technically included, they are appreciated. Examples of tips: 20 pesos for a buffet meal, 100 pesos or more at the nicer restaurants, 20 pesos every few drinks at the bar, 20 pesos per day for housekeeping (we usually leave a lump sum at the end). Again, as you see fit. (If you are off resort, it’s normal to tip 10-20% of the bill.)
Tourist regions of Mexico are generally safe but keep a strong eye out for pickpockets if you go off resort. Don’t bring expensive jewelry or flash around pricey items like big cameras. There will usually be security on resort but many times, people can walk up and down past the resorts on the beach, so be careful of belongings there too. There will usually be in-room safes as well. Also, a ploy that thieves frequently engage in while you are in town is calling out after seeing your all-inclusive bracelet. “Hey! It’s Manuel from the Riu! Don’t you remember me?” Just politely ignore them and only speak with people working directly at stalls or shops.
English is strongly spoken all over Cancun, especially at the resorts. All the main staff will certainly speak English, but they love to have tourists speak as much as they are comfortable with! Watch some videos on YouTube for the basics. A little goes a long way!
I hope you find these tips helpful and enjoy your vacation. Check out my other posts about travel, too!