Snorkeling off the beaches of Baja California and Cancun, exploring Mayan ruins in the jungles of the Yucatan peninsula, or just chilling in metropolitan Mexico City, there's almost too much to do in Mexico. Nonetheless, it's still an affordable holiday destination for budget-minded travelers. Murals, museums, and chic restaurants are everywhere in the capital, and so are cheap accommodations in trendy neighborhoods like La Condesa and La Roma.
Also, street food will get you through the day and save you money for a fancy restaurant in the evening, and you'll have plenty left over if you skip the tacky souvenirs. Getting around Mexico City is easy, and escaping to the countryside is even easier on one of Mexico's many budget airlines. Don't trip: Ahead are 5 ways we at GET.com reckon will help you pinch your pesos in Mexico.
1. Eat Street Food
Mexico boasts some of the best, most delicious street food in the world, but as with so many of Mexico's draws, it sometimes gets a bad reputation. Don't believe the hype: If you pick your street eats carefully, you'll save money and savor some really world-class flavor. You'll be glad you didn't turn your nose up at Mexico's street cuisine.
Of course, not all street food is created equal, but there's an easy way to tell the good, the bad and the ugly apart: If a hole in the wall, a cart or truck is favored by locals, it's probably delicious and affordable. If you're the only customer, your stomach is cruising for a bruising.
2. Skip The Souvenirs
Lots of visitors to Mexico like to load up on souvenirs because the handicrafts are often cheap, chintzy and cute. Even if you have enough space in your luggage to haul back all those tchotchkes, your wallet may not have enough left over to buy the things you really want.
It's tempting to go on a shopping spree, especially if you think you're getting a deal, but you'll likely end up regretting some of your impulse buys.
Instead of loading up on lots of cheap things, save your money for a few high-quality souvenirs you simply cannot live without. I shunned the tchotchkes in favor of a hand-carved soapstone and marble chess set; those weren't cheap, but they were definitely worth it.
3. What To Do? Modern Museums And Mayan Ruins
Mexico City is home to more museums than any other city in the world, from the Palacio de Bellas Artes to the Palacio Nacional, adorned with a gigantic mural by Diego Rivera recounting the entire history of Mexico and reminiscent of Raphael's frescos in the Vatican.
Just a short walk from the Zócalo, the main city square, you can visit the recently excavated Mayan ruins of the Great Temple. Further south in the Yucatan Peninsula is Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's also probably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico and an unquestionable must-see.
Entry to most museums and archaeological sites usually costs only a few dollars, but you'll have to take transportation and accommodation into account when you visit the more remote attractions. Most museums are free on Sundays, but you should expect a crowd at popular sites like the Great Temple in downtown Mexico City off the Zócalo.
4. Getting Around: Bike, Subway, or Uber
Getting around Mexico City is pretty easy. Founded in the Valley of Mexico in 1325 as Tenochtitlan, the city is almost completely flat, so getting around by bicycle is a breeze.
EcoBici is one of the world's largest public bicycle-sharing services with lots of docking stations around the city and plenty of ciclovias, or dedicated bicycle-only lanes. Tourists can get a 7-day pass to use the EcoBici system for 300 pesos, or about $15, but you'll have to hand over a form of ID as an insurance policy.
The city's subway system, the Metro, can be confusing at first, but it'll get you within walking distance of nearly every corner of the metropolis with a couple of transfers for less than $0.50. Check out a map of this underground labyrinth to get a sense of scale. To get to southern parts of the city, you'll have to transfer to the Tren Ligero, the light rail system.
Uber is pretty popular in Mexico City and other major urban areas, although it's attracted scores of protests from traditional cab drivers who say the service skirts the law and amounts to unfair competition. Still, like in many other Latin American countries, Uber is often preferred because it's seen as safer than regular cabs.
If you do take a regular cab, you should only hail them from an official stand called a sitio. Make sure the driver turns on the meter so you know you're not getting ripped off. Say "Usa el taximetro, por favor" before you get in the cab. If the driver tells you the meter's not working, either negotiate a fair price or look for another taxi.
5. Flying On A Dime
Budget airlines have taken off in Mexico in the past few years, and you're almost always better off booking a flight and bagging the miles than suffering a long bus ride to your next destination on less-than-ideal roads.
Volaris is very affordable and operates direct flights from Miami, Houston and New York to Mexico City. Interjet is another budget airline with lots of flights all over Mexico.
The cheapest option is probably VivaAerobus, a partner of Ryanair, Europe's largest budget carrier. A flight from Cancun to Mexico City costs only 588 pesos, or about $32. VivaAerobus flights don't always show up in travel search engine results, so you'll be better off using their website directly to book a flight.
The only trouble with Mexico's budget airlines is that they are not yet affiliated with any of the Big 4 carriers' frequent flyer programs, so you'll have to use a travel rewards credit card in order to bag miles or cash back from your trip.
Case in point, Aeromexico is part of SkyTeam, which gets you miles from the Delta SkyMiles frequent flyer program, but its flights are usually more expensive.
|Credit Card||Features||Intro APR||Regular APR||Annual Fee||Why we like it||We least like||Credit Required||Related links|
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
$0 Intro for the First Year, then $95
|Related Links Read our review of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or view more details of Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. See more Chase credit cards.|
Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer
0% Introductory APR for 12 billing cycles for purchases
17.24% - 25.24% Variable APR
|Related Links Read our review of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer or view more details of Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card - 25,000 Bonus Points Offer. See more Bank of America credit cards.|
Discover it® Miles
0% on purchases and 10.99% on balance transfers for 14 months
14.24% - 25.24% Variable
|Related Links Read our review of Discover it® Miles or view more details of Discover it® Miles. See more Discover credit cards.|
Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card
15.24% - 25.24% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
|Related Links Read our review of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card or view more details of Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card. See more Capital One credit cards.|