Essential Tips for Backpacking Mexico
Travelling to Mexico might sound intimidating, however with some planning this could turn out to be one of the most amazing experiences of your life.
Check out our guide to backpacking Mexico with everything you need to know before you go.
Mexico is a very cheap country to go backpacking especially if you are arriving from North America or Europe. Eating out, sightseeing, transport and accommodation are very competitively priced meaning you will get to do and see a lot for a fraction of the price of going to travel in the USA for example.
2. Getting Around is Easy
There are a few different ways to get around and although the country is large you can visit most regions by public transport.
Travelling by bus is by far the most popular and cheapest way to get around Mexico whilst backpacking. Long distance bus services are good quality and run efficiently most often on time.
There are also chicken buses that travel to more remote towns and villages or local short distances. They are usually packed with passengers and their luggage and usually caged chickens which gives them their name. It is easy to book bus tickets at the central bus station in most towns or at a ticket booth. You can also book Mexico tours which offer a hassle free way to get around.
Driving is another option, and toll roads are more expensive but are the best roads to take. As long as you follow the rules, listen to the soldiers and do what they say at the many checkpoints you will be just fine.
Or perhaps you are short of time? Then a plane journey might be better to cover long distances quickly. There are low-cost airlines that if you book far enough in advance you might get a good price.
If you are going to travel independently then we highly recommend learning Spanish in Mexico - this will make the whole experience easier.
3. Incredible Places to Visit
From bustling cities to visiting historical sites to lazing on beautiful beaches there are plenty of amazing places to visit in Mexico. If you are interested in the history of Mexico there’s the amazing Chichen Itza which is home to the Kukulkan pyramid, Coba’s ancient ruins and Tulum, the Mayan ruins by the sea.
There are also some amazing natural phenomenon’s called cenotes. These secret underground caves are formed when limestone falls in, leaving a hole in the earth that leads to a pool of magical turquoise water.
These pools were of great importance to the Mayans, Human sacrifices and objects were often left in the cenotes. Today you can dive and swim in some of these unique pools which are said to have healing powers.
Of course, the coast has much to offer too and if you want to relax and enjoy the sunshine there’s an abundance of that here.
4. Amazing Things to Do
Mexico has so many options for travellers with all budgets, from sightseeing adventures, to learning to dive, you can do it all here.
There are lots of yoga retreats and overland tours available to book most months. For partying we recommend heading to Playa del Carmen or Cancun where there are world famous nightclubs.
Some more popular ideas include seeking out the best beach or going to volunteer in Mexico - there are lots of community development and conservation programs where you can help people, the environment and wildlife.
If the idea of staying a little longer appeals to you then you might want to work in Mexico, there are lots of jobs available for internationals. Some people take TEFL courses in Mexico then work as language teachers. Teaching English in Mexico is a great way to earn money for future travels and a lot of schools provide free accommodation.
5. Street Food is Cheap and Delicious
You probably already know great Mexican food. Tacos, Tlacoyos, Tamales and Atole and Enchiladas, they are easy to pick up and tasty too. So, when you are backpacking in Mexico, you’ll want to check out these cheap and delicious street food treats.
For breakfast you will find juices, Licuados or fruits served from street carts all across the country. Tacos are a favourite when it comes to lunch time.
A variety of fillings include stewed, barbecued or roasted meats accompanied by beans, cheese, rice, spring onions and nopales or cactus. You will also have the choice between green or red salsa. Dinner is very similar to lunch, you might want to try Enchiladas, Flautas which are rolled deep fried tacos or camotes which are plantains or sweet potato with strawberry jam and condensed milk.
Late night snacks from street carts are based on sweet corn called elotes and esquites. Elotes are a corn on the cob on a stick covered with mayonnaise, cheese, and chili. Esquites is corn cooked in a broth then served with the same accompaniments as elotes.
6. Fun Events Throughout the Year
There are a few times of the year when Mexico really comes to life, here are a few of the most notable dates to look out for when planning an itinerary.
September 16th: Independence Day
The whole of Mexico City turns into a party mode with lights and decorations on all buildings, Mexican flags flying and stick on moustaches, whistles and sombreros seen everywhere. Visit during this time and enjoy a real Mexican fiesta!
November 2nd: Day of the Dead
This interesting and ever popular global tradition is for families to honour and celebrate the lives of their loved ones.In Mexico celebrations take place at the relatives’ grave where family put on feasts for the deceased and they also decorate their houses and altars with skulls and skeletons. It’s interesting to know that the ritual dates back to the time of the Aztecs.
December 12th: Virgin Mary of Guadalupe Day
One of the most important Mexican celebrations, people from all over Mexico travel to the chapel Tepayac Hill in Mexico City. Mother Mary is said to have appeared before a peasant named Juan Diego in this chapel. Festivals are held all over Mexico to honour this day and many people leave small silver or tin Milagros in the shape of hearts, arms, or legs to symbolise the giver’s appreciation for a cure. Small children enjoy cakes and sweets and bring paper roses that they have made specially for their fiesta.
7. Cheap Accommodation
Mexico is not all about all-inclusive resorts, there are lots of options for budget backpackers to stay in too. The cheapest option is to try beach camping. Although it is one of the most unusual accommodation, if you are on a very tight budget it is an option.
Next perhaps you could stay in a hostel? A dorm stay can be a cheap way to stay in villages and towns in Mexico and you’ll get to meet like-minded backpackers too, sharing tips and advice.
Budget hotels are the next step from hostels, which if you have the funds are a comfortable way to spend your time in towns. You might spend around 300 MXN in smaller towns but expect to pay upwards of 600 MXN in the more popular resort towns.
If you do your research, book ahead and travel at the right time, you can get some great deals on budget accommodation in Mexico.
Plan Your Backpacking Trip to Mexico
Mexico reallly is a backpacker’s heaven and you should consider it as your next destination. As you can see with planning and preparation its easy to backpack and explore the wonderful country that is Mexico.