mexico travel


Playa del Carmen was one of our favourite cities in Mexico (with our absolute favourite being the dreamy island of Cozumel). After a couple of hours in the city and we could clearly see why it is one of the top Mexico vacation destinations. The central location in the Yucatan Peninsula makes it the ideal place to stay for those wanting to really experience all this area has to offer. There are so many fun things to do in Playa del Carmen, you’ll be entertained whether you’re here for a few days, or a few weeks.

In the hunt for where to stay in the Riviera Maya, many people weigh out the pros and cons of Playa del Carmen vs Cancun vs Tulum. After having stayed in all 3, we found Playa del Carmen to have a very upbeat, unique vibe that we absolutely loved. Playa del Carmen acts as the goldilocks between the big city of Cancun and the laid back beach vibes of Tulum.

One of the activities that stuck out the most on our recent trip to Mexico was visiting Chichén Itzá (chee-chen eet-sah). We love diving into the culture and history of the countries we visit and Mayan culture was one we were super excited to learn about. There are so many great Mayan ruins in Mexico you can visit, by far the most popular being Chichen Itza. Whether you are visiting Cancun or the Riviera Maya, we highly recommend you plan a day trip to Chichen Itza on your vacation.

To help you make the most of your day trip to Mayan ruins, we’ve put together a complete list of our best Chichen Itza travel tips. This is everything you need to know about visiting Chichen Itza Mexico.

chichen itza photos

Table of Contents

Quick Facts About Chichen Itza

Before we get into what to expect when visiting Chichen Itza, let’s jump into some quick facts about this historical phenomenon.

What is Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is one of the most recognizable and photographed Mayan pyramids. It’s a world recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chichén Itzá is the remains of a city that is made up of many important structures ranging from the most famous El Castilo pyramid (known as the Mexico Pyramid) to the lesser known Cenote Sagrado.

Chichen Itza was conquered during the Spanish invasion in the mid 16th century. It was then rediscovered in the 19th century only after the area was cleared of the surrounding jungle to unveil the now famous ruins. It wasn’t until 1988 that Chichén Itzá was recognized as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. This is a huge archaeological site sitting at around 10 square km (4 square miles).

Who built Chichen Itza?

There is a prominent Chichén Itzá cultural significance that is widely respected in Mexico. Chichen Itza history dates back to the fifth century and was built by the Maya, an ancient people that was native to the Yucatan region. It is believed that this site was chosen thanks to the cenote as it provided clean freshwater to the area.

Where is Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza is located inland in the Yucatan Peninsula. The drive from Cancun to Chichen Itza is around 197 km (122 miles) or about a 2.5 hour drive inland (west). The closest city to the ruins is the small town of Valladolid around 44 km (27 miles) to Chichen Itza’s east. If you’re staying in Merida, it will be a 120 km (75 miles), 1 hour 45 minute drive east from downtown Merida.

How to get to Chichen Itza?

With Chichen Itza’s inland location not being on the typical tourist path, you will need to figure out a way of getting to the ruins. Most people will come from either Cancun, Merida, or the Riviera Maya region. There are a few different ways to get to Chichen Itza based on what experience you are looking for.

Chichen Itza Day Tours

Booking a day trip to Chichen Itza is one of the best ways to see the ruins. This will take all of the planning out of your day and remove the hassle of driving the long distance. Due to the driving distance and the size of the ruins, you can expect Chichen Itza day tours to take the whole day (10-12 hours).

chichen itza photos

Day tours are one of the most common ways to see Chichen Itza and depart from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Merida. Most tours will include an air conditioned vehicle, entry to the ruins, a knowledgeable guide, a trip to cenotes, and lunch.

Chichen Itza excursions from Cancun and the Riviera Maya

When visiting Chichen Itza, many people are coming from Cancun. This full day combo tour includes round trip transportation from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. You will spend the day exploring Chichen Itza, swimming in a cenote, and visiting the town of Valladolid. A buffet style lunch and tequila tasting are included in this all inclusive tour leaving you to just sit back and enjoy your day.

If you’re staying in Playa del Carmen, this private cultural Mayan ruins excursion is one of the best tours available. You will visit the ruins at both Chichen Itza and Coba – our favourite ruins in Mexico. You will have the opportunity to cool off with a dip in Chukum cenote and round off the experience with an included lunch in the quaint colonial town of Valladolid.

If you think that sounds like too busy of a day, this private Chichen Itza tour is very similar but skips visiting the Coba ruins. Instead, you will spend longer at Chichen Itza while still enjoying lunch in Valladolid and cooling off with a visit to a cenote. This tour includes roundtrip transportation from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Tulum.

Chichen Itza excursions from Merida

If you are coming from Merida to Chichen Itza and traveling with a group, this private full day tour is a great option. Private tours are great as you will have the flexibility to go at your own pace. The tour price fluctuates based on how many people are in your group and includes round trip pickup, cold drinks and lunch at a local restaurant, a knowledgeable guide to take you around the Mayan ruins, and a stop at the popular Cenote Ik Kil to cool off at the end of the day.

ADO Bus or Colectivo

One of the most cost effective ways to get to Chichen Itza is by taking the ADO bus. These buses are safe to take in the Yucatan Peninsula and are a great way to get yourself to the ruins. You can choose to catch a bus that will take you directly to Chichen Itza or one that will take you to nearby Valladolid. There are multiple buses that leave daily from Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen.

If you’re staying in Valladolid or Merida, you can take a colectivo to Chichen Itza. From Valladolid the Colectivo station is on Calle 46 and in Merida the station is on Calle 60. It is important to note that these are not on a reliable schedule as they simply leave whenever they are full. This is considered a safe and affordable mode of transportation throughout Mexico.

When visiting Chichen Itza you will want to get there as early as possible. If you choose this method of travel, we highly recommend staying overnight in Valladolid and catching the first bus or colectivo to Chichen Itza to make sure you get there bright and early.

Car Rental

renting a car at Cancun international airport

If a tour isn’t right for you, you may consider renting a car and driving yourself to Chichen Itza. We rented a car on our road trip around the Mayan Riviera and ended up driving ourselves to Chichen Itza. While the drive is long and there are some toll roads along the way, it is quite direct and easy to get to. If you are not staying overnight in Valladolid, you will want to make sure you leave early to get to Chichen Itza before the crowds show up.

To park right at the main entrance of Chichen Itza, there is a paid monitored lot. For only 30 pesos ($2 CAD) you can have peace of mind that your car is safe as you spend your day walking through Chichen Itza. But get there early as the parking lot can fill up quickly. There are other parking lots but are maintained by locals and cost way more – with a longer walk to the entrance.

Best time to go to Chichen Itza

Mayan temple at Chichen Itza

Let us be the first to warn you: the interior of Mexico is hot. You’ll quickly realize how much the ocean cools down the coastal cities you visit when you feel the heat at Chichen Itza. We visited Chichen Itza in April and even the locals were uncomfortable in the heat. We witnessed a tourist collapse from the heat and paramedics had to come to provide care. We recommend dressing lightly and timing your visit appropriately.

Best Time of day

To beat the heat (and the crowds) we recommend visiting Chichen Itza as early in the morning as possible. Getting there at 8 am when the gates open is the best way to see this historical site.

Like any other tourist attraction, we recommend avoiding visiting on the weekend when Chichen Itza sees the most visitors. Sundays are the busiest day in Chichen Itza. Like many other ruins in Mexico, Mexican residents get free access to Chichen Itza on Sundays.

Best Time of year

If you’re at the planning stage of your Mexican vacation to see Chichen Itza, the best time of year would be November to March. Even though the crowds will be larger than the summer it’s worth avoiding the heat.

chichen itza photos

The Spring Equinox (March 20-21) is also when the Serpent of Light appears. This is when the setting sun makes a serpent appear when the Mayan pyramid is looked at at the right angle.

The shoulder season is April, May, September, and October. These months are when the crowds are going to be less. But keep in mind September and October are hurricane season in Mexico and can bring strong winds and rain.

Where to stay when visiting Chichen Itza?

If you are not booking a day tour to Chichen Itza and are instead taking either a private vehicle or a bus, you’re going to want to book a hotel near Chichen Itza. This Mayan site is a few hour’s drive from the typical tourist hotspots of Cancun and Playa del Carmen making it a lot to get yourself to just for the day.

Valladolid is the most common city to stay in near Chichen Itza. This old colonial town is rich in history itself and is a great off the beaten path place to stay in Mexico for a night or two. Being off the tourist path, the city is very affordable, and hotels, food, and souvenirs are cheap. There are even a few cenotes nearby you can visit.

view from our hotel in Valladolid
View from our room at San Clemente Hotel in Valladolid
  • If you’re looking for the best place to stay in Valladolid, Hotel San Clemente is a great option for those looking for midline accommodations. This is where we stayed and we really enjoyed it. There is a nice pool, a tasty restaurant, and the location is super central.
  • If you’ve got a bit more money to spend, Hotel Zentik Project & Saline Cave is worth the extra dough. You will feel the luxury in every corner of this hotel from the stunning rooms to the amazing salt cave.
  • Traveling on a budget is easy in Valladolid and Villa lirios is a great option to choose for the night to rest up before you visit Chichen Itza. The basic rooms are clean and comfortable and the price is right for frugal travelers!

Should I book a tour to see Chichen Itza?

Yes!! We normally like the freedom to explore ourselves but given the significance of this site, we truly believe that booking a guided tour is well worth the cost.

Booking a Chichen Itza tour is one of the best ways to see the ruins, especially if you’re wanting to stay in one of the coastal cities like Cancun or Playa del Carmen. You’ll have an early start to your day and having someone else take the hassle of driving out to the ruin is worth the price itself.

Combine that with the guide that will explain the historical significance of the site as you walk through and you will end up getting far more out of your experience than if you were to take yourself.

Visiting Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza sees millions of visitors every year. We found it incredibly interesting and loved our time here. You may be wondering how much time you need in Chichen Itza. Most people visit Chichen Itza and walk the grounds for 3-4 hours.

You’ll be happy to know there is a Chichen Itza restaurant (more like a concession) where you can fuel up on snacks and water. You cannot bring food and drinks into the site so be sure to finish up before you enter. We suggest grabbing a Chichen Itza map – the grounds are pretty big and it’s nice to know where you’re going. Once you get through the ticket booth there is a short walk to the site where you’ll go past many vendors selling trinkets and souvenirs.

inside the ticket booth at Chichen Itza
Just kidding! Inflation sucks for everyone - the price is now 614 MXN ($65 USD) for adults

Chichen Itza Cost and Hours

The Chichén Itzá’s entrance fee is $614 MXN for adults (13+). Check up to date pricing here.

This Mexican archaeological site is open Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm with the last entry at 4 pm. We strongly recommend getting there early as it gets very very hot on the grounds – we even saw people needing ambulances as they had extreme heat stroke.

ambulance helping person with heat stroke at chichen itza

What to see inside Chichen Itza?

You may not know that there is more than just the famous Mayan Pyramid to see at Chichen Itza. In fact, Chichen Itza has Old Chichen which includes 6 sites and Chichen Itza has another 20 that are connected by 75 roadways, all with their own importance.

Sacred Cenote (Cenote Sagrado)

This sacred cenote brought life to the civilization being used as a well and acting as the main fresh water source for the Chichen Itza people. There is a large opening where you can see this cenote which was thought to be the reason the civilization chose this location to build.

This has been an extensively studied cenote. Over 200 bodies have been discovered at this site – thought to be human sacrifices. Gold, jewels, and ceramics have also been found under the surface of the water.

It’s one of the larger cenotes we saw in Mexico – the Chichen Itza cenote is 200 feet in diameter and 89 feet of sheer cliff to the water.

Chichen itza photos

El Castillo Pyramid (Kukulkan Pyramid)

The main attraction at Chichen Itza is El Castillo Pyramid (aka Kukulkan Pyramid). Between the 4 sides of the Chichen Itza pyramid, there are 364 steps (91 steps x 4 sides), one for each day of the year, with the top platform acting as the 365th step.

One cool thing we learned is that when visiting if you clap near the pyramid there’s a unique echo that comes back to you. It’s said to be the sound a sacred Mayan bird makes.

One of the coolest things we learned about this site is that a serpent appears when the sun’s shadow makes what looks like a snake coming down the steps of the Chichen Itza pyramid. This happens during the Spring and Fall equinox.

The Great Ball Court (Juego de Pelota)

One of the more interesting places at Chichen Itza is The Great Ball Court. It’s where the Mayan people played a game called pok-ta-pok. It’s a similar game to modern day basketball except the hoop is turned on its side and the players can’t use their hands and feet – instead, they use their hips, upper body, and thighs.

The importance of winning a match could dictate the outcome of everything from politics to sacrifices.

The court is an architectural marvel. You can whisper at one end of the arena and people at the other end could clearly hear what was said.

The Temple of the Warriors

One of the most impressive structures at Chichen Itza is The Temple of the Warriors. Even though the stonework has seen better days you can still tell the magnitude and engineering that went into creating it.

There is a statue called Cac Mool, that is said to be used for offerings. The Mexican temple also has many stone carvings of deities and warriors.

Other important sites at Chichen Itza include:

  • Tzompantli (skull platform)
  • The Platform of the Eagles and the Jaguars
  • The Platform of Venus
  • The Temple of the Tables
  • The Steam bath
  • Sacbe Number One (White Road)
  • Group of a Thousand Columns
  • Akab Dzib (Dark Writing)

  • El Mercado
  • The Osario
  • Temple of Xtoloc (Maya word for Iguana)
  • The platform of the Tombs
  • House of the Metates
  • House of the Mestizas
  • Casa Colorada (Red House)
  • La Casa del Venado (House of the Deer)

What to pack to Chichen Itza?

Whether you are visiting Chichen Itza with a day tour or driving yourself, you can count on this being a full day excursion. You will want to pack a day bag and dress appropriately to ensure you have the best day possible. First things first, Chichen Itza is BIG so make sure you wear good walking shoes (not flip flops like we did!). It is also very hot with minimal shade so be sure to dress cool.

Regardless of how you choose to travel here, we recommend bringing a day bag with a bathing suit and towel, a change of clothes, sunscreen, a hat, sunglasses, and a water bottle. There are souvenir stalls throughout the ruins with fun trinkets at a surprisingly affordable price so be sure to bring some cash (pesos for the best conversion) along!

Thanks for stopping by!

One of the things we love most about Mexico is how diverse traveling here is. You can spend one day enjoying the best beach excursions in Cancun and the next soaking up all the culture and history in the country. Chichen Itza is one of the largest and most famous Mayan ruins in the country and receives millions of visitors a year. It was one of the core memories from our trip to Mexico and we highly recommend stopping in for a visit! We hope that this guide to visiting Chichen Itza answered all your burning questions about this historical site.

Happy exploring!

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chichen itza photos
chichen itza photos
chichen itza photos

Mexico was one of those places that completely surprised us. After receiving so much buzz and being such a tourist hotspot we were worried you wouldn’t be able to get an authentic feeling when visiting. After spending 3 weeks driving around the Yucatan Peninsula, we now understand why this stunning tropical beach destination gets all the attention it does.

Cancun, Mexico is one of those must see destinations. A great mix between the Las Vegas strip and a Hawaiian island, Cancun is one of those cities that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re wanting to catch a show and enjoy the nightlife or lay on a stunning white sand beach, Cancun has it all. Its stunning Caribbean location adds to the allure making this a top world class tourist hotspot.

You know we love giving you all the deets about our favourite places which is why after our Mexico trip we can’t wait to answer all your burning questions about tell you everything you need to know about Cancun, Mexico. Below we’ve laid down all our best Cancun travel tips to help you have the perfect vacation. Let’s jump in!

1. Where is Cancun?

Cancun is a popular tourist city located on the northeast coast of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. This coastal city sits nestled along the Caribbean Sea on the east side of Mexico. Cancun is famed for its luxurious all inclusive hotels that line the stunning turquoise waters. Cancun Mexico is in a near perfect location just north of the Riviera Maya region of Mexico where the sun is hot and the water is warm.

2. What is the weather like in Cancun?

Cancun is known for its beautiful tropical climate that receives year round warm temperatures. Similar to many tropical destinations, like Thailand, Cancun has a dry season and a rainy season.

The city receives peak tourism between December and April when it’s their dry season. While most of North America suffers through a cold winter during these months, Cancun Mexico enjoys sunshine and warm temperatures. This is one of the reasons why it’s such an ideal travel destination for North American travelers as the temperatures hover around 25-30 °C (mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit).

The months of June to November are less desirable to visit as you will find yourself in hurricane season where rain and high winds are the norm. The highest risk of hurricanes is between September and October which is when most water sports activities will be canceled in the area.

April/May and November are this area’s shoulder season and good months to travel for those looking to take advantage of off-season prices and fewer crowds but still want to enjoy nice weather.

3. How do you get to Cancun?

There are three main ways to get to Cancun: by air, by road, and by cruise ship.

Flying to Cancun

Most of the tourists visiting Cancun will enter through Cancun International Airport (CUN) which is the main airport connecting this part of Mexico to other major cities. From Cancun Airport, you can usually find direct flights to many cities around the world.

This is also the place you’ll more than likely rent your car or meet your private driver or shuttle bus to get into Cancun city. The drive is around 10km to 15 km (6 to 9 miles) depending on where you’re staying and takes around 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic and weather.

This is also the airport you’ll take if you’re looking to explore different parts of Mexico such as Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Valladolid.

Driving to Cancun

If you’re heading to Cancun by road you will be taking Mexican Highway 307 (Carretera Federal 307) from the south – Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, and Tulum. From the east, you’ll be traveling along Highway 180 (Carretera Federal 180).

Taking a cruise ship to Cancun

If you book a cruise through the Caribbean Sea and there is a stop in Cancun, you may find yourself lucky enough to explore this beautiful city for the day. This is one of the main cruise ship ports in the area and ships usually stay in Cancun for a few hours to let their guests come on land and experience the city.

4. Where to stay in Cancun?

If you’re looking for the traditional tourist all inclusive experience, Cancun Hotel Zone is a popular choice for where to stay in Cancun. This man made strip on the south end of the city is where you will find luxurious all inclusive hotels, beachfront resorts, and high end boutique accommodations. Sitting right on the stunning turquoise Caribbean coast these hotels are known for their private, clean, white sandy beaches with top tier hotel amenities.

If you’re looking for a more authentic Mexican experience and cheaper accommodations, another great area to consider is El Centro – Cancun’s downtown area. While you give up your beachfront location, that is traded for a good dose of culture. Here you will find street markets, budget friendly hotels, delicious authentic Mexican food, and have a better chance of mixing with locals.

5. Are there Mayan Ruins in Cancun?

If a quick taste of Mayan culture is all you’re looking for, you can visit El Rey Ruins in Cancun’s Hotel Zone. Zona Arueologica de El Rey are small but their location makes them a popular choice for tourists.

If you’re willing to venture out of the city, there are some more prominent ancient Mayan civilizations to explore. The most famous is Chichen Itza located just outside Valladolid. Prized for being one of the new 7 Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza was one of the highlights of our trip to Mexico.

Marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the sheer size of the ruins was impressive. You can make the 2-2.5 hour drive yourself and stay overnight in Valladolid or book a day trip to explore Chichen Itza.

Our favorite Mayan Ruins in Mexico was Coba, just outside Tulum. These ruins are spread out in the jungle leaving a shaded and more authentic off the beaten path experience. You can rent a bicycle to ride between the different temples and ruins. The Coba ruins are well worth the 2 hour (134km/83 miles) drive from Cancun.

Tulum ruins are one of the most picturesque archeological sites in this part of Mexico. The waterfront location showcases beautifully well preserved temples with unbeatable coastal views. The Tulum ruins can be reached with a 1.5 hour drive down the coast or with a popular day tour that will often combine snorkeling and cenote experiences.

6. Are there cenotes in Cancun?

Cenotes are one of the biggest attractions in this part of Mexico and one of the best ways to cool off in the hot climate. Cenotes are natural sinkholes that create freshwater pools you can swim in. Cenotes have historical significance as they were sacred to the Mayan people. Mayan villages were built near cenotes which acted as their freshwater source.

Some cenotes have cave systems that you have to walk through to enter. There are estimated to be around 6000 cenotes just in the Yucatan Peninsula. Many of them are located only a short drive south of Cancun near Playa del Carmen.

While there are no cenotes in Cancun proper, there are lots to be explored in the surrounding area. If you are willing to travel between 30 minutes to 2 hours from the city, you will have your choice of hundreds of different cenotes to explore.

If you’re wondering are cenotes worth visiting, our answer is a very prominent YES! Not only are cenotes cool to explore but thanks to being largely covered, they typically are full of cold crisp water that is the perfect way to cool down from the hot Mexican sun.

If you’re brave enough you can swim and snorkel through them. Some even have platformed areas you can dive into and rope swings you can jump in on. Cenotes range from pretty shallow to hundreds of feet deep. We went to one just outside of Playa del Carmen and there were people scuba diving in the deep water under us while we swam on the surface.

7. Does Cancun have good nightlife?

Yes! The short answer is yes, the nightlife in Cancun is epic and sure to provide a wild party.

The longer version:

Cancun features nightclubs and beach parties that attract some of the world’s biggest name DJs. There are themed parties and world renowned clubs like Mandala Beach Club, Dady’O, Coco Bongo, and The City. Coco Bongo is the most famous and is guaranteed to be a great night in Cancun. The City is the place if you’re looking to dance the night away with a famous DJ performing magic.

If pubs and bars are more your scene you’re in luck. You’ll want to head to the Hotel Zone to find everything from sports bars to beachfront pubs.

Cancun has it all. You’ll be able to find everything from beach parties and bonfires to rooftop bars and sky lounges. No matter if you’re looking for some good eats or casinos and gambling you’ll be surprised at everything offered in this tourist destination.

If you’re in Cancun during peak tourist season expect big crowds and wild parties. Be sure to stay safe while you’re partying in Cancun.

8. What are popular day trips from Cancun?

One of the best things about Cancun is the amount of things you can do. Within an hour drive of Cancun, you have nearly endless options to entertain you.

If you’re looking for all day fun you’ll want to check out some of the amusement parks around Cancun. There are a few of these parks in the area and all have their own theme. All of them have food included so you don’t even have to leave the park at all.

  • If you’re an adrenaline junkie you can fly through the air on ziplines at the Xplor Park. This is our favorite park. There is a hammock swing that ends in a water splash and ATV courses through the jungle.
  • Xcaret Eco Park is based more on a family experience. There are over 40 activities included in the price of admission including lots of great snorkeling and animal encounters.
  • You can probably guess what Xenses Park theme is: your senses. You’ll experience over 50 scenarios, two lazy rivers, and a walk through sauna among many others.
  • If you’re like us and come to Cancun Mexico for the aquatic adventures, Xel Ha Park is the park for you. This family friendly park will deliver the ultimate outdoor adventure of ziplining, snorkeling on coral reefs, jungle treks, and exploring caves and cenotes.

If you’re wanting to hangout near the water and do fun beach excursions in Cancun, you’ve got lots of options. From spending the day on a luxurious catamaran to jet skiing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and parasailing, Cancun offers a bit of everything.

For those who have always wanted to swim with turtles and stingrays, you’ll love the day trip to Akumal. We don’t usually like interacting with wild animals but this is a protected area with restrictions. You have to stay in a specified area and stay on the surface of the water – only observing the turtles and stingrays.

9. What food can I expect in Mexico?

One of the best things about visiting a new country is trying all the new foods! Cancun, Mexico is certainly no exception. If you’re like us, you can expect to eat your weight in delicious authentic Mexican food like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. Between Myles’ favorite: nachos, and Samara’s favorite: quesadillas, it’s safe to say we were in heaven here!

If you’re staying in all inclusive resorts with restaurants that cater to American tourists, you can expect a good mix of Mexican and American cuisine. The Mexican food served here will often be “Americanized” to suit the tourist palate. There will also be other themed restaurants on site for you to have different types of food during your stay. If you’re a foodie, I recommend leaving your resort to try some local cuisine, perhaps street food, in order to try a more authentic traditional Mexican meal.

If Mexican food isn’t your thing, you’ll be happy to know that the thriving tourism sector brings way to a large number of international restaurants in Cancun. From Italian, American, Indian, and even sushi restaurants, you will be able to fulfill every craving in Cancun.

10. Is Cancun safe to visit?

Safety is a common concern when traveling. It’s no wonder so many tourists have the question: is Mexico safe? Cancun is a very tourist driven area and therefore generally considered a safe destination for travelers.

As with anywhere, it is important to have street sense and be cautious of pickpocketing in crowded areas. You will want to avoid flashing valuables when out in public and I always recommend using the safe in your hotel room if there is one. If you are planning to take advantage of the nightlife, be sure you’ve organized a safe way home before you start your night.

When out and about, be sure to avoid dark alleyways and make sure you are aware of your surroundings. If you need a ride, be sure to book official taxis and rideshares. Don’t be alarmed when you see police trucks with police officers in the back – it’s just the way they do it in Mexico.

11. Should I stay in Playa del Carmen or Cancun?

The truth is, both cities are worth the visit. You’ll want to stay in Cancun if you’re looking for a party and thriving nightlife, great restaurants, big name shopping, and a bustling city feel while still having access to the best beaches in Mexico. You’ll want to choose Cancun if you plan to take a day trip to visit Isla Mujeres.

If you’re looking for more of an authentic feel to your trip to Mexico, you can head about an hour south to Playa del Carmen. While the city is notably smaller, you will still find lots to do in Playa del Carmen. In recent years this city has boomed thanks to a thriving tourism scene but prices are still cheaper than in Cancun.

If you’re wanting to visit Cozumel or take a day trip to Tulum, Playa del Carmen is where you’ll want to stay. Thanks to its central location, Playa is also a great place to stay if you want to do day trips such as swimming in sacred cenotes or zipline in Xplor.

12. Is Cancun worth visiting?

Yes! If you are looking for a tropical beach getaway filled with good food, hot weather, and delicious food, a Cancun vacation will be well worth it! Cancun is full of good vibes and stunning all inclusive resorts – all in an amazing upbeat city. Cancun tourism is thriving! It’s no wonder Cancun is a top tropical vacation destination in North America.

13. What are the best islands near Cancun?

If you are looking for more of a beach bum vacation and are interested in doing some island hopping, you’ll be pleased to know you have a few great options. If you’re looking for the perfect island paradise escape, you can choose from the many islands that sit in these Caribbean waters.

Isla Mujeres

The closest island to Cancun is the beautiful Isla Mujeres (translated to woman island). Located just 13 km (8 miles) off the coast of Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a long and skinny island known for its white sandy beaches and laid back island vibes.

Isla Mujeres is an ideal beach getaway filled with fun things to do including scuba diving and snorkeling at the MUSA Underwater Museum, renting a golf cart to tour the island, or relaxing at a lazy beach club. Between the months of May and September, you can swim with whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres.

The island’s proximity to Cancun makes it the perfect place to take a day trip from Cancun. You can also take the 20 minute ferry ride to Isla Mujeres which runs every half hour and costs 160 pesos one way or 300 pesos for a round trip pass.


Our favourite tropical island near Cancun is Cozumel. Located off the coast of Playa del Carmen, Cozumel is a must visit island for those looking world class scuba diving and snorkeling. The waters off the coast of the island are full of life being in the Mesoamerican Reef, the world’s second largest coral reef.

Your options of things to do on Cozumel are endless from spending the day relaxing at a beach club, going on a 4×4 adventure in the jungle, riding in a submarine, or exploring a Mayan ruin.

You can take an organized day tour to Cozumel or make the journey yourself. If you are wanting to get from Cancun to Cozumel yourself, you will first have to take either the ADO bus, car, or taxi to Playa del Carmen. Once there you can take the 45 minute ferry to Cozumel.

Isla Holbox

Isla Holbox, located north of Cancun, is perfect for those looking for tropical island hideaways. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, Isla Holbox is the perfect escape that will take you back to the basics. The island has no cars on it and is known more for its escape to nature.

You can expect all the best things to do on Holbox to be outdoor nature encounters. A bucket list activity is experiencing the bioluminescence on the island. If you’re on the island between June and September, you can swim with whale sharks off the coast of Holbox. You can also go island hopping between the different islands in the area. Taking a sunrise kayak tour through the mangroves will allow you to take in the natural beauty of the area including the local flamingos that live here.

To get to Holbox Island, you’ll need to drive or catch the ADO bus to Chiquila. From there you will take the 15 minute ferry to Holbox. The ferry costs 220 MXN per adult and 160 MXN per child and runs every half hour between 5 am and 8:30 pm.

14. Do they speak English in Cancun?

Yes. While Spanish is the official language of Mexico, English is widely spoken in Cancun. English is especially prevalent in more touristy areas of Mexico such as Cancun’s hotel zone. Almost all tour guides will speak English as well as hotel staff.

15. Is Cancun expensive?

By North American standards, Cancun is fairly affordable however when compared to the prices in the rest of Mexico, the tourist hotspot does come at a price. With all the amenities found in Cancun, it is one of the most expensive areas in Mexico, especially for food and shopping.

16. What currency is used in Cancun?

The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the official local currency of Mexico. You will most often see prices labeled in both pesos and US dollars. We recommend having a mix of both currencies on you. Be cautious when paying for items, particularly when shopping, as currency rates are often not in favor of US currency – they’ll be higher than if you paid in Pesos. We found it better to ask for prices in pesos and pay that way.

It’s worth noting that paying with cash is preferred, especially when shopping with locals in markets. Some vendors will have surcharges when paying with cards or do not accept card payments altogether.

Thanks for stopping by!

Cancun turned out to be way more than we could have ever expected. From the stunning beaches, the world class resorts, the interesting history, the delicious food, and rich culture, we loved visiting Cancun. We had a lot of questions before we visited Cancun and we knew we wanted to answer them all to create a list of Cancun travel tips for you. We hope that by answering these questions, we’ve convinced you to experience all this beautiful area has to offer.

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