Mexico

Mexico 

Barriga llena, corazón contento. 

Full stomach, happy heart.

Olmec head stone carving

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Getting In

  • Nationals of 65 countries in possession of normal passports do not require a visa to enter Mexico. Tourists and business visitors can stay in Mexico for up to 180 days.
  • Mexico is serviced by numerous airports throughout the country. Major hubs are in Mexico City, Monterrey, and Cancun. Regional airports also service many smaller towns.
  • Many cities along the coast are visited by cruise ships from various lines, and some ferries.
  • There are multiple border crossings at the northern border with the United States, and in the south with Guatemala and Belize.

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Money

  • Mexico is an inexpensive country to travel in. Outside of tourist hotspots such as Cancun and Cozumel, you can find affordable accommodations, food, and transport.
  • Mexico uses the Peso, denoted by the use of the “$” sign. This is important to note, as $100 Pesos is significantly less than $100 USD.
  • ATMs are easily accessible in all major cities and tourist locations. Visa and Mastercard are widely in use, though other credit cards are less so. It is advisable to carry some cash on you to pay for small items and tips.
  • Mexico is a tipping culture – you should pay 10% – 15% for meals and drinks, and a few pesos for other services.
  • Be aware that prices can vary widely between city centers, tourist hotspots, and rural areas.

$17.5 Peso = $1 USD

$8 Pesos for a Taco al Pastor in Mexico city

$90 Pesos for an inexpensive meal in the city

$ 272 USD for a 1 bed apartment in the city center.

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Climate

  • Mexico is a very large country, with a vast range of climates and geographies. Be mindful of your destinations, as you should prepare differently for different regions such as deserts, mountain plateaus, and tropical rainforest.
  • Mountains dominate the the nation between the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. In this region, temperatures can get low enough for snow and can stay chilly year round. Mexico city resides here at over 7,000 feet above sea level.
  • The Yucatan, a popular tourist destination is scrubby jungle, dominated by underground river and cave systems, with openings to the surface called cenotes.
  • The north is dominated by vast deserts – as is Baja California in the west.

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History

Mexico has several distinct historical periods. Early settlements began with the Olmec cultures. Little is known about the Olmec. But they did lay down the foundations for the Toltec, Maya, Mixtec, Aztec, and other groups later on.

In central Mexico, the Teotihuacans settled a massive city about 25 miles north of present day Mexico city. Their influence stretched south and bordered with the Maya who primarily inhabited the Yucatan. Their influence would dominate the region for nearly 1500 years.

The Aztec came to power after the fall of the Maya and Teotihuacan – though not due to Aztec conquest. The Aztecs founded their city of Tenochtitlan on a lake in present day Mexico city in the 1300s. The Aztec Empire reigned for a relatively short time.

When the Spanish landed in 1519, led by Hernan Cortez, the Aztec fell quickly due to the introduction of European diseases and technology, and civil-war. A war-like culture, they did put up a tough and bloody fight though.

The Spanish would dominate Mexico until 1821, under a brutal campaign of resource extraction, Missionary conversion, and suppression of native culture. A war for independence was fought against the Spanish by Miguel Hidalgo from 1810 – 1821.

Mexico would undergo numerous Mexican empires and revolutions until 1910. In 1929, the National Revolutionary Party won election, and remained in power until 2000. The PRI lost the vote in 2000, but regained it 2012 with election of current president Enrique Peña Nieto.

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Need to Know

  • Mexico is a Spanish speaking nation. While English may be spoken in some tourist areas, it is a good idea to brush up on your Español. You may also encounter some speakers of indigenous Nahuatl, Mayan, and Mixtec.
  • Mexico is a very large country, with a vast range of climates and geographies. Be mindful of your destinations, as you should prepare differently for different regions such as deserts, mountain plateaus, and tropical rainforest.

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Warnings

  • Mexico is a vast country with a range of dangers. While safe in most places frequented by visitors, always be mindful of your surroundings and check current conditions.
  • States bordering other nations – particularly in the north near the US – have high levels of danger due to Cartel and gang presence.
  • Never travel highways and roads at night outside of main cities. Get accommodation and wait until morning. Road robberies are a real thing.
  • Hurricanes can cause devastating damage to coastal regions throughout the nation – be mindful of the weather from summer heading into winter.
  • Pregnant women should be wary and take proper precautions against the Zika virus.

We recommend reviewing safety guidelines by various state departments: – we make no guarantees to your safety!

US State Department – Moderate to High bias, with moderate levels of broad information. We advise checking against other sources to confirm veracity of statements.

British State Department – Low bias, and very thorough information. We recommend checking with the FCO for tourist warnings.

Canada State Department – Low bias, with thorough information. We advise using as an additional resource for tourist warnings.

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Explore

Mexico City

General

Activities

Teotihuacan

Templo Mayor

National Anthropology Museum

 

Riviera Maya

Rio Secreto