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Difference between revisions of "Mexico"

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North America : Mexico
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(delete non policy compliant listing. See wbo and xl for reasons why...)
(get rid of more of those silly footnote style links. Replace touts URL with official Mexico website Ugh! Fix quickbar, sh, times, Dates, etc.)
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'''Mexico''' [http://www.inmexico.net] (Spanish: ''México''), officially the '''United Mexican States''' (Spanish: ''Estados Unidos Mexicanos''), is a country in [[North America]], lying between the [[United States of America]] to the north, and [[Guatemala]] and [[Belize]] to the southeast. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has nice and warm weather, unique food, art and archeology, pyramids, museums, Haciendas, 6,000 miles of shoreline, superb architecture and 21st century cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, lots of golf courses throughout the country, excellent fishing, world top destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Patzcuaro. Mexico is ranked 7th major destination for foreigner visitors, according to WTO.
+
[http://www.visitmexico.com/en/ '''Mexico'''] (Spanish: ''México''), officially the '''United Mexican States''' (Spanish: ''Estados Unidos Mexicanos''), is a country in [[North America]], lying between the [[United States of America]] to the north, and [[Guatemala]] and [[Belize]] to the southeast. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has nice and warm weather, unique food, art and archeology, pyramids, museums, Haciendas, 6,000 miles of shoreline, superb architecture and 21st century cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, lots of golf courses throughout the country, excellent fishing, world top destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Patzcuaro. Mexico is ranked 7th major destination for foreigner visitors, according to WTO.
  
 
==Understand==   
 
==Understand==   
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===Landscape===
 
===Landscape===
 
 
High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desert and even more rugged mountains in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast {Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán y Quintana Roo} semiarid in places like {Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí} and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}.
 
High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desert and even more rugged mountains in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast {Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán y Quintana Roo} semiarid in places like {Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí} and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}.
  
 
===Holidays===
 
===Holidays===
 
+
* 1 Jan
* January 1st
+
* 6 Jan: The Three Wise Men day, celebrating arrival of the Three Wise Men to see and bring gifts to baby Jesus.  
* January 6th: The Three Wise Men day, celebrating arrival of the Three Wise Men to see and bring gifts to baby Jesus.  
+
* 2 Feb: The Candelaria Virgin Day, celebrated in many places around the country (not an official holiday)
* February 2nd: The Candelaria Virgin Day, celebrated in many places around the country (not an official holiday)
+
* 5 Feb: Constitution Day(1917)
* February 5th: Constitution Day(1917)
+
* 24 Feb: Flag Day (not official)
* February 24th: Flag Day (not official)
+
* First Sunday in March: Family´s day
* March first sunday: Family´s day
+
* 21 Mar: Birth of Benito Juárez (1806). 2006 was the bicentennial year.  
* March 21st: Birth of Benito Juárez (1806). 2006 was the bicentennial year.  
+
 
* May 1st: Labor Day.
 
* May 1st: Labor Day.
 
* May 5th: The Battle of Puebla against the French army, 19th century.  
 
* May 5th: The Battle of Puebla against the French army, 19th century.  
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===Time===
 
===Time===
 
* Mexico uses the 24-hour clock system for time keeping.
 
* Mexico uses the 24-hour clock system for time keeping.
Mexico observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the USA did pre-2007, from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October.  This now includes the tropical regions of southern Mexico as well. Note there will be several weeks each year when the U.S. is on DST, but Mexico is not.  The state of Sonora south of [[Arizona]], does not observe DST since Arizona doesn't have it either.
+
Mexico observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the USA did pre-2007, from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October.  This now includes the tropical regions of southern Mexico as well. Note there will be several weeks each year when the US is on DST, but Mexico is not.  The state of Sonora south of [[Arizona]], does not observe DST since Arizona doesn't have it either.
  
 
==Regions==
 
==Regions==
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==Other destinations==
 
==Other destinations==
 
<!--This section is to include only destinations that are NOT cities/towns.-->
 
<!--This section is to include only destinations that are NOT cities/towns.-->
 
 
* '''[[Copper Canyon]]''' (Barrancas del Cobre) - An exotic destination for travelers looking for a unique remote adventure! An awesome mountain rail ride --- one of the greatest in the world --- takes you upwards over 8000 feet on the CHEPE, the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway. Hiking, horseback riding, birding, and Tarahumara Indians. Copper Canyon, the Sierra Madre and the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico. This area is designed for adventurous individuals who will tolerate some rough travel to get to their point(s) of interest (although the famous train ride isn't demanding at all). Copper Canyon, a magnificent remote wilderness is not likely ever to become a mass market destination.   
 
* '''[[Copper Canyon]]''' (Barrancas del Cobre) - An exotic destination for travelers looking for a unique remote adventure! An awesome mountain rail ride --- one of the greatest in the world --- takes you upwards over 8000 feet on the CHEPE, the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway. Hiking, horseback riding, birding, and Tarahumara Indians. Copper Canyon, the Sierra Madre and the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico. This area is designed for adventurous individuals who will tolerate some rough travel to get to their point(s) of interest (although the famous train ride isn't demanding at all). Copper Canyon, a magnificent remote wilderness is not likely ever to become a mass market destination.   
  
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===Archaeological Sites===
 
===Archaeological Sites===
 
 
* '''[[Chichen Itza]]''' - Majestic Mayan city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
 
* '''[[Chichen Itza]]''' - Majestic Mayan city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
  
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===By plane===
 
===By plane===
====From the United States====
 
  
 +
====From the United States====
 
There are hundreds of daily flights linking Mexico to cities large and small throughout the United States.   
 
There are hundreds of daily flights linking Mexico to cities large and small throughout the United States.   
  
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'''Keep the FMM together with your passport at all times.'''  It is your responsibility to make sure the right side of the FMM is returned to the Mexican government at time of departure so that the bar code can be scanned, thus showing that you left the country on time.  For example, if you are flying with Aeromexico, they will ask for your passport and FMM at check-in for your flight home, then staple your FMM to your boarding pass.  You are expected to then hand the boarding pass together with your FMM to the gate agent as you board your flight.  If you lose your FMM during your visit to Mexico, you may be subject to substantial delays and fines before you can leave the country.   
 
'''Keep the FMM together with your passport at all times.'''  It is your responsibility to make sure the right side of the FMM is returned to the Mexican government at time of departure so that the bar code can be scanned, thus showing that you left the country on time.  For example, if you are flying with Aeromexico, they will ask for your passport and FMM at check-in for your flight home, then staple your FMM to your boarding pass.  You are expected to then hand the boarding pass together with your FMM to the gate agent as you board your flight.  If you lose your FMM during your visit to Mexico, you may be subject to substantial delays and fines before you can leave the country.   
  
Electronic authorization (Autorización Electrónica) [http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Inicio_Autorizacion_Electronica/en.html] for travelling to Mexico is available on the Internet for nationals from [[Ukraine]], [[Russia]] and [[Brazil]]. Nationals from [[Peru]] may use this service under restricted circumstances. Other nationalities must contact a Mexican consulate in order to find out the requirements for citizens of their country, and may have to apply for and obtain a visa in advance of travel. If you are in need of other information, Mexico has diplomatic offices in the following cities around the world: [http://portal3.sre.gob.mx/english/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=11]. The consulates in the USA are typically open for business to non-citizens (by telephone or in-person) only from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM.
+
Electronic authorization (Autorización Electrónica) [http://www.inm.gob.mx/index.php/page/Inicio_Autorizacion_Electronica/en.html] for travelling to Mexico is available on the Internet for nationals from [[Ukraine]], [[Russia]] and [[Brazil]]. Nationals from [[Peru]] may use this service under restricted circumstances. Other nationalities must contact a Mexican consulate in order to find out the requirements for citizens of their country, and may have to apply for and obtain a visa in advance of travel. If you are in need of other information, Mexico has diplomatic offices in the following cities around the world: [http://portal3.sre.gob.mx/english/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=48&Itemid=11]. The consulates in the USA are typically open for business to non-citizens (by telephone or in-person) only 08:30-12:30.
  
 
Holders of Indian passport can obtain visa on arrival when in possession of a valid tourist visa to the USA. [http://bkpk.me/mexico-visa-waiver-for-indians-with-us-tourist-visas/]
 
Holders of Indian passport can obtain visa on arrival when in possession of a valid tourist visa to the USA. [http://bkpk.me/mexico-visa-waiver-for-indians-with-us-tourist-visas/]
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The best options are to phone a taxi company, request that your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you or pick up a Taxi from an established post ("Taxi de Sitio"). Also taxis can be stopped in the middle of the street, which is OK for most of the country, but particularly unsafe in Mexico City.
 
The best options are to phone a taxi company, request that your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you or pick up a Taxi from an established post ("Taxi de Sitio"). Also taxis can be stopped in the middle of the street, which is OK for most of the country, but particularly unsafe in Mexico City.
  
As chaotic as it might be sometimes, the subway (Metro)[http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/] is the best way to move around in Mexico City: it's cheap (3 pesos for a ticket as of October, 2012), safe, has a large network covering almost anywhere you'd want to go in the city and it's extremely fast, compared to any on-street transportation, since it doesn't have to bear with the constant traffic jams. If you've never been in a crowded subway, avoid peak hours (usually from 6-9AM and 5-8PM) and do your homework: check first what line (linea) and station (estacion) you want to go to and the address of the place you're trying to reach. Your hotel can give you this information, and maps of the subway system are available on the internet and at the stations. Most stations also have maps of the vicinity.
+
As chaotic as it might be sometimes, the subway (Metro)[http://www.metro.df.gob.mx/] is the best way to move around in Mexico City: it's cheap (3 pesos for a ticket as of October, 2012), safe, has a large network covering almost anywhere you'd want to go in the city and it's extremely fast, compared to any on-street transportation, since it doesn't have to bear with the constant traffic jams. If you've never been in a crowded subway, avoid peak hours (usually from 06:00-09:00 and 17:00-20:00) and do your homework: check first what line (linea) and station (estacion) you want to go to and the address of the place you're trying to reach. Your hotel can give you this information, and maps of the subway system are available on the internet and at the stations. Most stations also have maps of the vicinity.
  
 
Avoid taking the subway at late hours of the night, but during the day many stations are patrolled by police officers and the subway is safer than taking the public bus, your major concern in the subway are pickpockets; so keep your important belongings and wallets in a safe place.  
 
Avoid taking the subway at late hours of the night, but during the day many stations are patrolled by police officers and the subway is safer than taking the public bus, your major concern in the subway are pickpockets; so keep your important belongings and wallets in a safe place.  
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* All distances on the signboards and speed limits are in kilometers.
 
* All distances on the signboards and speed limits are in kilometers.
  
* Gas is also sold by the liter, ''not'' by the gallon, and it's a little bit cheaper than in the United States.
+
* Gas is also sold by the litre, ''not'' by the gallon, and it's a little bit cheaper than in the United States.
 
+
  
 
If driving in from the [[USA]], always purchase Mexican liability insurance (legal defense coverage recommended) before crossing the border or immediately after crossing.  When you are paying for your temporary import permit (for going beyond border areas), often in the same building there are several stalls selling Mexican auto insurance.  Even if your American (or Canadian, etc.) insurance covers your vehicle in Mexico, it '''cannot''' (by Mexican law) cover liability (i.e. hitting something or injuring someone).  You will probably spend time in a Mexican jail if you have an accident without it.  And even if your own insurance does (in theory) provide liability coverage in Mexico -- you'll be filing your claim from behind bars!  Don't risk it, get Mexican auto insurance.
 
If driving in from the [[USA]], always purchase Mexican liability insurance (legal defense coverage recommended) before crossing the border or immediately after crossing.  When you are paying for your temporary import permit (for going beyond border areas), often in the same building there are several stalls selling Mexican auto insurance.  Even if your American (or Canadian, etc.) insurance covers your vehicle in Mexico, it '''cannot''' (by Mexican law) cover liability (i.e. hitting something or injuring someone).  You will probably spend time in a Mexican jail if you have an accident without it.  And even if your own insurance does (in theory) provide liability coverage in Mexico -- you'll be filing your claim from behind bars!  Don't risk it, get Mexican auto insurance.
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==Respect==
 
==Respect==
 
 
Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time so be patient. Arriving 15 minutes late is common.
 
Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time so be patient. Arriving 15 minutes late is common.
  
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Like in other countries; politics, economics and history are very delicate issues, yet in México they are also considered good conversation pieces when conversing with foreigners. Just like in Europe, Canada and the US, Mexico's democracy is vibrant and diverse, and people have a variety of opinions.  As Mexico only recently became a true viable democracy, however, there is an eagerness on behalf of Mexicans to share their opinions and political ideas with you.  Common sense applies like it does in your country: If you don't know enough about Mexico's political landscape, ask as many questions as you like but avoid making any strong statements.
 
Like in other countries; politics, economics and history are very delicate issues, yet in México they are also considered good conversation pieces when conversing with foreigners. Just like in Europe, Canada and the US, Mexico's democracy is vibrant and diverse, and people have a variety of opinions.  As Mexico only recently became a true viable democracy, however, there is an eagerness on behalf of Mexicans to share their opinions and political ideas with you.  Common sense applies like it does in your country: If you don't know enough about Mexico's political landscape, ask as many questions as you like but avoid making any strong statements.
 
  
 
Many US citizens (and to a lesser extent other foreigners) make careless mistakes in conversations with Mexicans. Mexicans, while strong and hardy people can be very sensitive people when it comes to their country. Avoid saying anything that will make it seem as if you think Mexico is inferior to your home country. Do not assume that because you are a US citizen, you are an immediate target for kidnapping, since the vast majority of victims are Mexicans. Do not be overly cautious, especially if you have hosts that are taking care of you and know where to go and not to go. It will just insult your host and they will assume you do not respect Mexico or that you do not trust them.
 
Many US citizens (and to a lesser extent other foreigners) make careless mistakes in conversations with Mexicans. Mexicans, while strong and hardy people can be very sensitive people when it comes to their country. Avoid saying anything that will make it seem as if you think Mexico is inferior to your home country. Do not assume that because you are a US citizen, you are an immediate target for kidnapping, since the vast majority of victims are Mexicans. Do not be overly cautious, especially if you have hosts that are taking care of you and know where to go and not to go. It will just insult your host and they will assume you do not respect Mexico or that you do not trust them.
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==Contact==
 
==Contact==
 
 
You can call from public phones using prepaid tel. cards ''tarjetas ladatel'', bought at magazine stalls. Cards can be purchased in 30, 50 or 100 pesos denominations. The rate to call the US is roughly equivalent to $0.50 US per minute. Beware these are different than tarjetas ''amigo, viva,'' or ''unefon'': they are for cellphones.  
 
You can call from public phones using prepaid tel. cards ''tarjetas ladatel'', bought at magazine stalls. Cards can be purchased in 30, 50 or 100 pesos denominations. The rate to call the US is roughly equivalent to $0.50 US per minute. Beware these are different than tarjetas ''amigo, viva,'' or ''unefon'': they are for cellphones.  
  
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===To Belize===
 
===To Belize===
 
 
There are bus services available from [[Chetumal]] to [[Belmopan]].
 
There are bus services available from [[Chetumal]] to [[Belmopan]].
  
 
===To Guatemala===
 
===To Guatemala===
 
 
Over Tenosique, La Palma, by boat on the river Rio San Pedro to Naranja ([[Guatemala]]).
 
Over Tenosique, La Palma, by boat on the river Rio San Pedro to Naranja ([[Guatemala]]).
 
This route is not used by many and still has a touch of adventure. Stay firm when negotiating over the price. Absolutely important! Make sure you get your passport stamped before you leave Naranja or you might catch one of the rare buses back and take a walk through the jungle as the emigrations office is part up the river between the Mexican border and the village.
 
This route is not used by many and still has a touch of adventure. Stay firm when negotiating over the price. Absolutely important! Make sure you get your passport stamped before you leave Naranja or you might catch one of the rare buses back and take a walk through the jungle as the emigrations office is part up the river between the Mexican border and the village.
  
 
===To the United States of America===
 
===To the United States of America===
 
 
The U.S. generally requires a passport for entry. A few express ID cards and trusted traveler cards are also acceptable.  U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry or reentry by land or sea may use an Enhanced Driver License in place of a passport.  U.S. permanent residents need their permanent resident card and may need the passport from their home country.  
 
The U.S. generally requires a passport for entry. A few express ID cards and trusted traveler cards are also acceptable.  U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry or reentry by land or sea may use an Enhanced Driver License in place of a passport.  U.S. permanent residents need their permanent resident card and may need the passport from their home country.  
  
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Visa Waiver participants cannot reset the 90-day counter unless they leave the Western Hemisphere, so ducking into México will not allow you another 90 days.
 
Visa Waiver participants cannot reset the 90-day counter unless they leave the Western Hemisphere, so ducking into México will not allow you another 90 days.
 +
  
 
[[Category:Countries]]
 
[[Category:Countries]]
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{{outline}}
 
{{outline}}
 
{{countryguide}}
 
{{countryguide}}
 
 
 
  
  

Revision as of 00:19, 25 March 2013

For other places with the same name, see Mexico (disambiguation).
Mexico
Location
LocationMexico.png
Flag
Mx-flag.png|108px|frameless]]
Quick Facts
Capital Mexico City (Distrito Federal)
Government Federal republic
Currency Mexican peso (MXN)
Area 1,972,550 sq km
Population 106,202,903 (July 2006 est.)
Language Spanish, various Mayan, Nahuatl, and other regional indigenous languages
Religion Roman Catholic 89%, Protestant 6%, other 5%
Electricity 127V/60Hz
Country code +52
Internet TLD .mx
Time Zone UTC −6 to UTC −8

Mexico (Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos), is a country in North America, lying between the United States of America to the north, and Guatemala and Belize to the southeast. Its extensive coastlines include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has nice and warm weather, unique food, art and archeology, pyramids, museums, Haciendas, 6,000 miles of shoreline, superb architecture and 21st century cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, lots of golf courses throughout the country, excellent fishing, world top destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Patzcuaro. Mexico is ranked 7th major destination for foreigner visitors, according to WTO.

Contents

Understand

Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on earth. Much of the tourist industry is centered around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. Visiting the northern interior allows visitors to get off the beaten path a bit. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modernized beach resorts (Cancún, Puerto Vallarta), while European tourists congregate around the smaller resort areas in the south like Playa del Carmen and colonial towns like San Cristobal de las Casas, Guanajuato.

Climate

Mexico uses the metric system for all measurements. All weather forecasts will be in Celsius (°C).

The climate varies in Mexico. In the northernmost area of the Baja Peninsula, on the Pacific coast, the climate is Mediterranean, whereas the climate is arid on the other side of the peninsula, facing the Sea of Cortez. As you go south on the Baja Peninsula, the climate changes to become a subtropical sub-arid/semi-arid climate, until ou reach La Paz and Cabo, which has a unique tropical desert climate. On the mainland, the northern area of Mexico tends to be mountainous and chilly, and the lower areas have an arid climate. A tropical climate prevails from around the Tampico area down to Cancun, as well as the adjacent side on the Pacific.

Landscape

High, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desert and even more rugged mountains in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast {Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán y Quintana Roo} semiarid in places like {Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí} and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country {Mexico City, Toluca}.

Holidays

  • 1 Jan
  • 6 Jan: The Three Wise Men day, celebrating arrival of the Three Wise Men to see and bring gifts to baby Jesus.
  • 2 Feb: The Candelaria Virgin Day, celebrated in many places around the country (not an official holiday)
  • 5 Feb: Constitution Day(1917)
  • 24 Feb: Flag Day (not official)
  • First Sunday in March: Family´s day
  • 21 Mar: Birth of Benito Juárez (1806). 2006 was the bicentennial year.
  • May 1st: Labor Day.
  • May 5th: The Battle of Puebla against the French army, 19th century.
  • May 10th: Mother´s day
  • September 1st: Dia del Informe. Although no longer official, it is still important as it is the day in which the Mexican President addresses to the Nation of the progress his administration on a yearly basis. Every President makes six Informes
  • September 15th: Grito de Dolores
  • September 16th: Independence day (celebrates the start of the fight for the independence from Spain in 1810, achieved until September 27th, 1821).
  • October 12: Discovery of America (Descubrimiento de America)(not an official holiday)
  • November 2nd: Day of the dead
  • November 20th: Revolution day (1910)
  • December 12th: Virgin Mary of Guadalupe Day. Technically not official, but is one of the most important Mexican Holidays
  • December 24th: Christmas Eve (Not an official holiday, but normally a full non-working day or only half day)
  • December 25th: Christmas
  • December 31st: New Year’s Eve (Not an official holiday, but normally a full non-working day or only half day)

Easter is widely observed nationwide, according to the yearly Catholic calendar (the first Sunday after the first full moon in Spring). Actual non-working days may shift to the Monday before the holiday, so check an up-to-date calendar.

Time

  • Mexico uses the 24-hour clock system for time keeping.

Mexico observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the USA did pre-2007, from first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October. This now includes the tropical regions of southern Mexico as well. Note there will be several weeks each year when the US is on DST, but Mexico is not. The state of Sonora south of Arizona, does not observe DST since Arizona doesn't have it either.

Regions

Mexico regions
Baja California (Baja California, Baja California Sur)
The western peninsula, which borders the U.S. state of California
Northern Mexico (Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León, Sinaloa, Sonora, Tamaulipas)
Includes the expansive deserts and mountains of the border states; mostly ignored by tourists, this is "Unknown Mexico"
The Bajio (Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, Querétaro)
Historic states in a traditional silver-mining region
Central Mexico (Hidalgo, Mexico City, Mexico State, Morelos, Puebla, Tlaxcala, Veracruz)
Center, surrounding the capital city
Pacific Coast (Chiapas, Colima, Guerrero, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, Oaxaca)
Tropical beaches on Mexico's southern coast
Yucatan Peninsula (Campeche, Quintana Roo, Tabasco, Yucatán)
Jungle and impressive Mayan archaeological sites, along with the Caribbean coast

Cities

  • Mexico City - Capital of the Republic, one of the three largest cities in the world, and a sophisticated urban hub with a 700-year history. In Mexico City, you will find everything from parks, Aztec ruins, colonial architecture, museums, to nightlife and shopping.
  • Acapulco - A sophisticated urban beach setting known for its top-notch nightlife, elegant dining, and nightmarish traffic. Many of the older (pre-1990s) concrete structures have suffered tropical decay.
  • Cancun - One of the worlds most popular and famous beaches, known for its clear Caribbean waters, its lively party atmosphere, and its wealth of recreational facilities. During Spring Break it is noted for drinking, sunburns, and debauchery.
  • Guadalajara - A traditional city, capital of Jalisco state, and the home of mariachi music and tequila. Guadalajara is blessed with perpetual spring weather and its colonial downtown is graceful and sophisticated.
  • Mazatlan - Lively Pacific coast town, Mazatlan is a shipping port, a transportation hub with ferries to Baja California, and a beach resort destination with miles of sandy shore. It is a popular Spring Break destination due to its variety of affordable lodging options.
  • Monterrey - A large modern city that is the commercial and industrial hub of Northern Mexico. Monterrey enjoys a dry, mountainous setting and is known for its high-quality educational and transportation infrastructure.
  • San Luis Potosi - Located in central Mexico, a colonial city that was once an important silver producer, but today, relies on manufacturing for its economic base.
  • Taxco - In central Mexico west of Cuernavaca, this nice steep mountain town was once a major silver producer, and now has a strong place in the trade of decorative silver, from cheap fittings to the most elegant jewelry and elaborate castings.
  • Tijuana - Mexico's busiest border crossing for pedestrians and private vehicles, and a long-time bargain Mecca for southern Californians due to its proximity with San Diego.

Other destinations

  • Copper Canyon (Barrancas del Cobre) - An exotic destination for travelers looking for a unique remote adventure! An awesome mountain rail ride --- one of the greatest in the world --- takes you upwards over 8000 feet on the CHEPE, the Chihuahua al Pacifico Railway. Hiking, horseback riding, birding, and Tarahumara Indians. Copper Canyon, the Sierra Madre and the Chihuahuan desert of Mexico. This area is designed for adventurous individuals who will tolerate some rough travel to get to their point(s) of interest (although the famous train ride isn't demanding at all). Copper Canyon, a magnificent remote wilderness is not likely ever to become a mass market destination.

NOTE: If taking the CHEPE train ride starting in Los Mochis, the real scenery starts at El Fuerte. Stand on the western side and travel uphill to Creel or Chihuahua. Hang out in the few open vestibules with your camera -- the uphill scenery is fairly splendid for at least two of the seven or nine or twelve hours of the journey. On the downhill run, put yourself in the club (bar) car, where you can stretch out in a modicum of comfort. The first-class (express) and second-class (tourist) trains are essentially the same, except that the express stops less and is twice as expensive.

  • Sea of Cortez - See whale birthings, swim with dolphins, and sea kayak in the warm waters of the Sea of Cortez, along the eastern coast of Baja California, near La Paz. And the sunsets at Puerto Peñasco and San Carlos are not to be missed.
  • Monarch Butterfly Breeding Sites - Protected natural areas in the highlands of the state of Michoacán. Millions of butterflies come to the area between November and March of each year, although numbers have declined sharply recently. See them before they're all gone.
  • Sumidero Canyon - From docks on the Rio Grivalva (the only major river within Mexico) near Tuxtla Gutiérrez in Chiapas state, tour launches take you into this steep-walled National Park. You'll likely see vast flocks of flamingos, pelicans, and other waterfowl, as well as crocodiles.

Archaeological Sites

  • Chichen Itza - Majestic Mayan city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and recently voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
  • Coba - Majestic Mayan city, located around two lagoons.
  • Ek Balam - Recently reconstructed Mayan site, famous for its unique decorated stucco and stone carved temples.
  • El Tajín - In the state of Veracruz near the town of Papantla. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Guanajuato - In the state of Guanajuato, two sites making part of the "Tradición él Bajío": Plazuelas and Peralta.
  • Monte Albán - In the state of Oaxaca, a Zapotec site dating from about 500 B.C. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • Palenque - Mayan city in the state of Chiapas, Palenque famous for its elaborate paintings. Also well known for having the largest tract of rainforest in Mexico located in the same area.
  • Teotihuacan - In the state of Mexico, near Mexico City. Enormous site with several large pyramids.
  • Tulum - Mayan coastal city with spectacular Caribbean vistas. Dates from late Mayan period.
  • Uxmal - Impressive Mayan city-state in the Puc Region, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.

Get in

By plane

From the United States

There are hundreds of daily flights linking Mexico to cities large and small throughout the United States.

Note that as with the United States, you will have to clear both immigration and customs at your first point of entry in Mexico, even though that airport may not be your final destination. (For example, many trips on Aeromexico will involve connecting through its Mexico City hub.) You will then have to re-check your bags and possibly go through security again to proceed to your next flight segment.

From Australia or New Zealand

Fly from either Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne or Auckland(NZ) direct to Los Angeles. Delta, Qantas, United, and V Australia offer non-stop air service from Australia to Los Angeles. Air New Zealand offers one-stop air service from Australia and non-stop air service from Auckland to Los Angeles. Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui offer one- or two-stop air service to Los Angeles from Australia and New Zealand.

Many airlines fly from Los Angeles to Mexico including AeroMexico, Alaska, Volaris, Horizon, Aerolitoral, and United. More options are available if connecting through another U.S. city. Also, make sure to have a good look at visas beforehand - even just for transit you will need something for USA, and if you get a visa waiver, they treat Mexico as part of USA, meaning if you stay longer than 90 days in Mexico, you will need to travel further south before returning to USA.

From Europe

Many commercial airlines link Mexico directly to Europe. It is always worthwhile to compare flight offers from air carriers who can bring you to Mexico City or Cancun via many European hubs, like Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid.....the flight duration from those cities is always approx. 11 hours (+ your connecting flight from home, if you do not board directly at the mentioned airports)

By train

There is at least one place where Mexico is accessible via rail and a short walk - south of San Diego. The San Diego Trolley can be taken from downtown San Diego (which Amtrak serves) to the California-Baja California border. (note: El Paso/Juarez is also well served by Amtrak, the station is within a stones throw of the Rio Grande)

By car

American automobile insurance is not accepted in Mexico; however it is easy to obtain short-term or long-term tourist policies that include the mandatory liability coverage, theft and accident coverage for your vehicle, and often, legal assistance coverage. Should you decide to drive to Mexico, the Transport and Communications Secretariat website [1] has free downloadable road maps.

Foreign-plated vehicles must obtain necessary permits before being allowed into the interior of Mexico. This can be done at the border checkpoints by showing your vehicle title or registration, as well as immigration documents and a valid credit card. It is now possible to apply for your vehicle import permit online. Vehicle permits will only be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle, so the papers will have to be in the name of the applicant. The Baja California peninsular and the northern part of the State of Sonora do not require a permit.

Due to the incredibly high volume of drugs and illegal immigration (into US)and drug money & weapons,(into Mexico) crossing the US-Mexico border, expect long delays and thorough searches of vehicles when crossing the border. At some of the busiest crossings, expect a queue of 1-3 hours.

By bus

The Mexican bus system is reportedly the most efficient in the world. There are many different independent companies but all use a central computerized ticketing system. Rates per mile are generally comparable to those of Greyhound in the U.S., but there are more departures and the system serves much smaller villages than its American counterpart. There are many bus companies based in Mexico with branch offices in major U.S. cities with a few such examples noted below.

  • Omnibus Mexicanos [2]
  • Autobus Americanos [3]
  • El Expresso [4]
  • Turimex Internacional [5]
  • TUFESA Bus Lines [6]
  • Crucero USA [7]

A ticket to a major Mexican city from the U.S. can be bought for as little as $60 roundtrip (San Antonio TX to Monterrey N.L.). These companies, however, do cater to mostly Hispanics or Mexican Nationals living in the U.S. and operate mostly in Spanish.

Greyhound offers tickets from the US to major Mexican cities, including Monterrey, Queretaro, Durango, Mazatlan, Torreon, Mexico City. It is best (and cheapest) to buy a round-trip Greyhound ticket since it may be more difficult and expensive to buy a ticket from Mexico to a US destination which is not a major city. When departing from Mexico, the local bus line (usually Futura) will change the Greyhound-issued ticket into its own, free of charge.

By boat

  • Border crossing from Guatemala.
  • Cruise ships from United States.

Visa and other entrance requirements

According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), certain foreign nationals who intend to stay in México fewer than 180 days for the purpose of tourism or 30 days for business can fill out a tourist card at the border or upon landing at an airport after presenting a valid passport, for $22. If arriving via air, it is included in the price of the fare. This service is available to citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Romania, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela (see official list at [8]).

The current Mexican tourist card is formally known as a Forma Migratoria Múltiple (Multiple Immigration Form), or FMM. It has a perforation that divides the card into two parts, of which the right side asks for some of the same information requested on the left side. At entry, after reviewing your passport and filled-out FMM, the immigration officer will stamp your passport and the FMM, separate the FMM along the perforation and give the right side of the FMM back to you with your passport. Keep the FMM together with your passport at all times. It is your responsibility to make sure the right side of the FMM is returned to the Mexican government at time of departure so that the bar code can be scanned, thus showing that you left the country on time. For example, if you are flying with Aeromexico, they will ask for your passport and FMM at check-in for your flight home, then staple your FMM to your boarding pass. You are expected to then hand the boarding pass together with your FMM to the gate agent as you board your flight. If you lose your FMM during your visit to Mexico, you may be subject to substantial delays and fines before you can leave the country.

Electronic authorization (Autorización Electrónica) [9] for travelling to Mexico is available on the Internet for nationals from Ukraine, Russia and Brazil. Nationals from Peru may use this service under restricted circumstances. Other nationalities must contact a Mexican consulate in order to find out the requirements for citizens of their country, and may have to apply for and obtain a visa in advance of travel. If you are in need of other information, Mexico has diplomatic offices in the following cities around the world: [10]. The consulates in the USA are typically open for business to non-citizens (by telephone or in-person) only 08:30-12:30.

Holders of Indian passport can obtain visa on arrival when in possession of a valid tourist visa to the USA. [11]

If you cross the border via road, do not expect the authorities to automatically signal you to fill out your paperwork. You will have to locate the border office yourself.

The immigration officer at your point of entry into Mexico can also request that you demonstrate that you have sufficient economic solvency and a round trip ticket.

If you do not intend to travel past the "border zone" and your stay does not exceed three days, U.S. and Canadian nationals require only a proof of citizenship. Reentry into the United States generally requires a passport, but a U.S. or Canadian Enhanced Drivers License (or Enhanced Photo ID) or U.S. passport card is acceptable for reentry by land or sea.

Get around

Travelling in Mexico is most practical by bus, car, or air. Passenger transport by train is almost nonexistent. Except the Chihuahua del Pacifico rail line which pull out every morning at both ends of the line, one from Los Mochis on the Pacific coast, across from Baja California, and the other from Chihuahua in the east (due south of El Paso, Texas). They cross each other roughly midways at Divisadero and Barrancas Copper Canyon stations at an altitude of 2100 m (7000 ft).

By car

Due to a government scheme in the early 1990s to create infrastructure, the best roads are toll roads. Toll roads can be relatively costly (400-800 pesos is common on longer trips) but are much faster and better maintained. First-class buses generally travel by toll roads (and the toll is obviously included in the ticket price).

US vehicle insurance is not valid in Mexico, and while Mexican auto insurance is not required, it is highly recommended, as any minor accident could land you in jail without it. MexiPass [12] and AAA offer Mexican auto insurance.

When traveling on Mexican roads, especially near the borders with the United States and Guatemala, one will probably encounter several checkpoints operated by the Mexican Army searching for illegal weapons and drugs. If you are coming from the United States, you may not be used to this, and it can be intimidating. However, these are rarely a problem for honest people. Simply do what the soldiers tell you to do, and treat them with respect. The best way to show respect when entering a checkpoint is to turn your music down, lift sunglasses from your face, and be prepared to roll your window down. They should treat you with respect as well, and they usually do. If you are asked to unpack any part of your vehicle, do so without complaint. It is their right to make you completely unload in order for them to inspect your cargo.

Tourists are often warned about traveling on roads at night. Although bandidos are rare in more metropolitan areas, err on the side of caution in more rural areas. The best bet is to drive during only daylight hours. Cattle, dogs, and other animals also can appear on the roadway unexpectedly, so if you do have to drive at night, be very cautious. If possible, follow a bus or truck that seems to be driving safely.

Car Rental Companies in Mexico are everywhere in the big cities and airports making it easy to get a rental car while traveling through Mexico. Some of the biggest car rental companie sin Mexico are Sixt rent a car, Avis, Hertz, and several other big brand car rental companies.

The Secretariat of Communication and Transport recently set up a new mapping tool similar to those in the U.S. like Mapquest, its name is Traza Tu Ruta [13] and is very helpful to find how to get to your destination using Mexico's roads. It is in Spanish but can be used with basic knowledge of the language.

Foreign drivers' licenses are recognized and recommended. Speeding tickets are common, and to ensure your presence at the hearing, the officer may choose to keep your license. He is within his rights to do so. Beware though, police officers are known to keep driver's licenses until they are given a bribe.

At petrol (gas) stations, make sure the pump is zeroed out before the attendant begins pumping your gas so that you don't end up paying more than you should. There is only one brand of gas station (Pemex) and prices are generally the same regardless of location, so don't bother shopping around.

Good maps are invaluable and the Mexico maps included in "North American Road Atlas" books are worse than useless. The Guia Roji maps are particularly good.

See also: Driving in Mexico

By plane

Mexico is a large country and the low-cost revolution that started in 2005 means that fares are often ridiculously cheap if you book in advance. Note that now with the increases in fuel charges the bargain days are mostly gone and the airlines have had to raise prices to survive the recent recession. But, there are bargains to be found and you can keep abreast by signing on to a reliable notification service such as Kayak.com.

The main full-service airlines, in addition to the major US carriers, are Aeromar [14], AeroMexico [15] and AeroMexico Connect (formerly Aerolitoral). The rapidly changing palette of low-cost carriers includes InterJet [16], Volaris [17], Viva Aerobus [18] and NOTE: Mexicana Airlines filed for backruptcy this fall (2010) and other carriers are in the process of picking up Mexicana's former routes. Always check the individual carrier's website to see just where they fly at this point. Things are changing somewhat rapidly now.

By bus

If traveling by bus, be sure to take the express buses, if available (they are called directo). Other buses often stop at many smaller stations along the way, making the trip a lot longer. If you have experience with Greyhound buses in the US, you're in for a pleasant surprise. First class buses are usually direct routes and are the best option for most. These buses are comfortable, have washrooms and will generally show movies, which may or may not be English with Spanish subtitles. Second class buses may be very similar to 1st class just making more stops or in rural areas they may be essentially chicken buses (polleros). Executive and Luxury lines cost about 60% more than first class, may be faster, usually have larger seats, and they have less frequent departures; they are really only a good option for elderly or business travelers. With the advent of NAFTA, some bus companies are now offering service from US cities. The major bus companies offering these kind of services are Grupo Ado [19], Estekka de Ori (Estrella de Oro) [20], Enlaces Terrestres Nacionales [21], White Star Group (Estrella Blanca) [22], Red Star [23], and Primera Plus [24].

Travellers heading east (more or less) from Mexico City (TAPO bus terminal) can find ticket information on TicketBus [25]. Other destinations can be found on individual companies' websites. The north of Mexico, for instance, is service by Omnibuses de Mexico [26] or ETN [27].

On the other hand if traveling within a city, you won't find a pleasant surprise. You will find one of the most chaotic public transport systems full of the popular "peseros". "Peseros" are small buses with varying color codes depending on the city you are. Usually the route taken is written on cardboard attached to the windshield. Unlike in many countries, bus stops are uncommon and you are expect to signal the bus to pick you up and drop you off wherever you want. You will rarely find a stop button in a pesero; just shout the word "baja" for it to stop. Fares are cheap and vary from 2 to 7 pesos approximately.

By train

Passenger trains are very limited in Mexico with only a few lines in operation in places like the Copper Canyon in the northern state of Chihuahua, that line is also known as the Chihuahua Pacific Railway [28] since its final destination is the Pacific coastal city of Tobolobampo in the state of Sinaloa. In the state of Jalisco there is also a line which travels from the state capital city Guadalajara to its final destination in the small town of Tequila, this is why this line is called the Tequila Express [29]. In the Yucatan Peninsula there is a line of passenger trains which runs from Villahermosa through Campeche, Merida, Playa del Carmen and its final destination being the city of Cancun, this train also runs through a few Mayan ruins including Chichen-Itza and this gives it its name of the Expreso Maya [30] which is Spanish for Mayan Express. Mexico City and Monterrey have subway service, and it might be possible to hop aboard freight cars in some parts of the country (if you happen to be an adventurer).

By thumb

One upside of the high petroleum prices is that hitching is beginning to be more common in Mexico again, particularly the rural areas. In areas near big cities, hitching should be more difficult, and is not really advisable due to security reasons. However, in village areas, this will be really possible and most likely a nice experience. Since villagers have always had a hard time affording gas, and nowadays many are turning to picking up paying hitchhikers as a way to afford the next trip into town. Baja, the Sierra Tarahumara and Oaxaca and Chiapas all have good possibilities for the hitchhiker. Hitchhiking possibilities vary according to region. Mexican culture is often accepting of hitchhiking and it's a common practice among Mexican youngsters going to the beach in Easter vacations, though in some cases a money contribution is expected for gas because of its relatively high prices. You should make it clear that you have no money to offer before accepting the ride, if this is the case. If you're willing to pay, trucks will often provide lifts for about half the price of a bus ticket. Of course you may be able to negotiate a better deal. Hitchhiking is considered fairly safe and easy in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Talk

Mexico has 68 official languages, Spanish being the main one. The other 67 are indigenous languages that, although officially recognized, people almost never speak. Spanish is used by virtually the whole population and all public communications (signs, documents, media, etc.) are conducted in the language. Bilingual signs in Spanish and English might be available in popular tourist destinations.

English is understood by many in Mexico City as well as by some tourist workers in popular tourist places, but nevertheless, most Mexicans don't speak English. Educated Mexicans, especially younger ones, and professional businessmen are the people most likely to speak some English. The most popular foreign languages to learn within Mexico after English are French, Italian, German and Japanese. Among clerks, policemen, and drivers (most particularly the last) there is basically no such thing as knowledge of foreign languages.

Mexico has one of the richest diversity of languages, with more of 60 indigenous languages spoken within the Mexican territory. These languages are spoken within the communities of these indigenous peoples, who are largely segregated from mainstream mestizo society. In any case, the probabilities of finding a speaker of any of these languages is small, since only half of 20% that comprises Indian population in Mexico speaks indigenous language. On the other hand, most of these communities are fluent in Spanish as well. Therefore learning any of these indigenous languages is not indispensable at all; quite the opposite, unexpected and will gain a lot of respect from these communities.

See also: Spanish phrasebook

See

  • Scuba diving, [31]. Mayan Riviera Diving:Cancun and the Mayan Riviera are simply legendary in diving circles, conjuring images of millions of technicolored reef fish, swirling school of barracudas and jacks and above all, sea turtles swimming peacefully everywhere.

Buy

  • Weights are measured in kilograms. Length is measured in centimeters and meters.
  • For clothes and shoe sizes, the "Continental" measurements are used.

The currency of Mexico is the peso (MXN), divided into 100 centavos. Coins are issued in 5 , 10 (steel), 20, 50 centavo (brass; new 50-centavo coins issued from 2011 on are steel and smaller in size) and 1, 2, 5 (steel ring, brass center), 10, 20, 50, and 100 peso (brass ring, steel or silver center) denominations, but it's extremely rare to find coins valued at more than 10 pesos. Banknotes are produced in 20 (blue), 50 (pink-red), 100 (red), 200 (green), 500 (brown), and 1000 peso (purple and pink for the latest issue, purple for older issues) denominations. The most recent 20- and 50-peso bills are made from polymer plastic, and there are several different series of all banknotes. Ten-peso notes exist, but are very rare.

Do not accept old pesos (issued before 1993): they are practically worthless.

The symbol for pesos is the same as for US dollars, which can be slightly confusing. Prices in dollars (in tourist areas) are labeled "US$" or sport an S with a double stroke. As of June 2011, the exchange rate hovers around $13 MXN to $1 USD. As this exchange rate has typically hovered around $11 MXN to $1 USD, vendors and merchants will often use this rate of exchange. Thus it is currently better to purchase with pesos. US dollars are widely accepted in the far north and in tourist locales elsewhere.

Euros are generally not accepted by merchants, and even banks headquartered in Europe may refuse to accept euros for exchange. On the other hand, most banks and exchange offices ("casas de cambio") will widely accept them.

If you have brought cash in USD or EUR, the best places to change your money are at arrival airport (such as MEX and CUN), where many money exchanges are located already in the arrival hall (where you can also compare some exchange rates and choose the most convenient) and, normally, at airports, the exchange rate is usually fair. Be sure to pass through Customs before looking for foreign exchange as inside customs zone in Cancun the rate is around $9.6 MXN to $1 USD, which is far lower than what the greediest street vendors ask for.

If you would like to wait until later to obtain Mexican currency, try not to change at your hotel, as the rates there tend to be extremely disadvantageous for tourists. Often, you can find money exchanges at strategic places in most touristic destinations and near the hotel (zones). The exchanges rates should not differ drastically from the ones at airport. If you are unfamiliar with Mexican money (bills, coins), try to stick to official foreign exchange booths. In several internationally popular beach destinations like Cancun and Los Cabos, local merchants are accustomed to U.S. dollars and will often accept them as payment (they even have dual-currency cash registers and drawers). However, do bear in mind that the convenience of such “private” money exchange usually comes with a slightly unfavorable exchange rate.

Credit and debit Cards (with Maestro or MC/VISA affiliation) are widely accepted in Mexico. You can use them at ATMs as well as in most department stores, bigger restaurants, gas stations, but be sure that outside cities you always carry sufficient cash in pesos in your pocket, and generally verify the possibility to pay with card before consumption. Smaller (often family run) businesses often accept only cash. Most of the time, an extra 5% when paying with card. is asked. Also, you cannot get lowers price if you haggle unless you pay cash. Often, you can pay half or less by acting like you are leaving.

While many Pemex stations accept credit cards, especially in locations that have heavy tourist traffic, some do not; travelers who intend to pay by credit card should always ask the attendant if the card is accepted before pumping begins.

ATMs are easy to come by. Bank of America customers can avoid ATM fees by using Santander Serfin ATMs. Other banks may have similar policies, check with your respective institution. For example, Banamex bank is owned by Citybank/Citygroup, and Bancomer is owned by BBVA, who is related to Chase in USA. Ask to your bank if they have relation with mexican banks, and the advantages that such ally can provide. Otherwise, do not be surprised to find yourself with a fee for each withdrawal. ATMs in smaller towns can run out of currency; sometimes this is a regular occurrence. Check with the bank (or locals) about the best time to use the ATM and never wait until the last minute to get cash.

Merchants can be picky about the state of your paper money and may scrutinize it and reject anything with rips. Try to keep it in as pristine condition as possible. Reputedly, this is more the case the farther south you go. In any case, you can easily enter a bank with some damaged bill to get it exchanged into another one.

Merchants are often reluctant to make change in smaller towns. Try to avoid paying with overly large denominations; the best customer has exact change. In rural areas, your 'change' may consist of chiclets or other small commodities.

  • Indigenous Art A visit to anywhere in Mexico will give one the opportunity to buy art made in the "old world" manner that reflects the diverse ethnicity of Mexico. Included in these articles would be textiles, wood carvings, paintings and carved masks that are used on sacred dances and burials.
  • Timeshares When visiting the resort cities of Mexico (e.g. Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or similar), it is more than common to be approached on the streets, in bars, in restaurants and anywhere with offers of gifts, free rental cars, free nights, free dinners, free anything that may appeal to you, just for visiting and listening to a presentation to buy a timeshare. Unless you are severely desperate for something to do, you may want to ignore those making the offer and stay away from those free offers. While the properties are very nice, great locations and plenty of amenities, this is not the place to learn about timeshares. Do your homework before even thinking about buying a timeshare, see what the values are in the resale market and understand the rights you are buying as well as the future costs. Collecting on the free offers may be difficult, if not impossible.
  • Automobiles It's certainly worth going over and importing a car back from there, although importing it to the EU/US standards is the hard part. Recommended are the Ford Fusion (like the British Ford Mondeo, but more upmarket) and the Chrysler 200 (the 2.4 model is worth it). Volkswagens can be substantially better-equipped than European or North American counterparts. The Passat sold in Mexico is NOT the same car as in Europe, and is substantially bigger, however, engines are the same as in Europe, except for the 2.5 petrol.

Do

Mayan Ruins of Tulum
  • Surfing - Baja California, Vallarta, Oaxaca
  • Sea Kayaking - Baja California
  • Snorkeling - Baja California, Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, etc.
  • Scuba diving - Baja California, Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas etc, and cave diving in the cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula.
  • Whale Watching - Baja California, Guerrero Negro
  • White Water Rafting - Veracruz
  • Visit a Volcano - Mexico, Toluca etc.
  • Take a ride on the Copper Canyon Railway
  • Enjoy the beautiful coast line and beaches of Oaxaca - Mazunte, Puerto Escondido, etc.
  • Go for a horseback ride in the Barrancas de Chihuahua
  • Visit the archaeological sites - Chichen Itza, Tulum, Coba, Monte Alban, Calakmul, Palenque, etc.
  • Volunteering - Chiapas or in Xalapa, Veracruz with Travel to Teach.
  • Visit ecological parks - Mayan Riviera
  • trekking also cave paintings in Baja California - Guerrero Negro
  • Learn Spanish by taking language classes - [[32]]

Eat

Mexican cuisine can be described better as a collection of various regional cuisines rather than a standard list of dishes for the whole country. Because of climate, geography and ethnic differences, we can classify Mexican cuisine broadly in 4 great categories according to the region:

  • Northern - Mostly meat dishes done mainly from beef and goat. This includes Cabrito, Carne Asada (Barbecue) and Arrachera. Is influenced by international cuisine (mostly from the United States and Europe), but it retains the essential Mexican flavor.
  • Central - This region is influenced by the rest of the country, but has its own well-developed local flavor in dishes such as Pozole, Menudo and Carnitas. Dishes are mostly corn-based and with different spices.
  • Southeastern - Is known for its spicy vegetable and chicken-based dishes. Caribbean cuisine have influences here because of the location.
  • Coast - Is composed heavily with seafood and fish, but corn-based recipes can be easily found as well.

Ask for the "platillo tipico" of the town, which is the local speciality that may not be found elsewhere, a variation, or the birthplace of a recipe, also consider that most of the recipes change from place to place, like tamales, in the south are made with the banana plant leaves, and in the Huasteca region tamales are very big, one is OK for a complete family.

Traditional Mexican food can often be very spicy; if you are not used to peppers, always ask if your food includes it. "(¿Esto tiene chile? Es picante?)."

There are many food carts on the streets of Mexican cities and towns. Travelers are advised to eat from these carts with caution, as hygienic preparation practices are not always reliable. In doing so, you may (or may not) find some of the most unique and genuinely Mexican dishes you've ever had. From these vendors, you may find tacos, burgers, bread, roasted field corn or elote served with mayonnaise, or a light cream, and sprinkled with fresh white cheese, roasted sweet potato called camote, and almost any kind of food and service you would imagine.

  • Chicharrón - Deep fried pork skin. Quite crunchy and if well-prepared slightly oily. Heavenly spread with guacamole. Or sometimes cooked in a mild chili sauce and served with eggs.
  • Enchiladas - Chicken or meat stuffed soft tortillas covered with green, red or mole sauce. Some may have melted cheese inside and/or on top.
  • Tacos - Soft corn tortillas filled with meat (asada (steak strips), pollo (shredded chicken), carnitas (fried shredded pork), lengua (tongue), cabeza (meat from cow skull), sesos (cow brains), tripa (cow gut), or pastor (chili pork beef). In the north sometimes flour tortillas are used. Do not expect the crispy taco shell anywhere.
  • Tamales - corn dough shell with meat or vegetable fillings. Tamales Dulces contain fruit and/or nuts.
  • Tortas - Fancy Mexican sandwich. Bread roll that is grilled lightly, meat fillings are same as tacos, lettuce, tomatoes, jalapeños, beans, onion, mayonnaise and avocado. One is beginning to find tortas with the American styled cold cuts available, as well, in urban areas.
  • Quesadillas - Cheese or other ingredients grilled in between corn tortillas. Note: heavy on cheese and and lighter on other items such as chicken, pork, beans, squash flower blossoms and such.
  • Mole - Mild to medium chili based sauce made with cocoa and a hint of peanut over meat, usually served with shredded chicken or turkey. ('Pollo en mole' and this is known as Puebla or poblano style). There are many regional moles and some are green, yellow, black and can vary greatly in flavor depending on the artistic talent or preferences involved.
  • Pozole - Chicken or pork broth with hominy corn, spiced when served with oregano, lettuce, lemon juice, radish, chopped onion, dried ground chile and other ingredients such as chicken, pork, or even seafood, usually served with a side dish of tostadas, fried potato and fresh cheese tacos. Very fortifying.
  • Gorditas - corn patty stuffed with chicharron, chicken, cheese, etc. topped with cream, cheese and hot sauce.
  • Guacamole - crushed avocado sauce with green serrano chile, chopped red tomato and onion, lime juice, salt, and served with somewhat thick (1/8 inch)fried tortilla slices or "totopos".
  • Tostadas - fried flat tortilla topped with fried beans, lettuce, cream, fresh cheese, sliced red tomato and onion, hot sauce, and chicken or other main ingredient. Think a corn chip dippers, on low dose steroids, for salsas and as above. Note that you do not usually get a plate of this automatically in many parts of Mexico as you would in the US, although they are starting to show up in resort areas that cater to US nationals automatically.
  • Huaraches - a bigger (think shoe shaped) version a gordita.
  • Sopes - corn patty topped with a wide variety of ingredients such as chicken, cheese, mashed beans, and various hot sauces.
  • Carnitas - deep fried pork meat served with a variety of salsa", to get them dry with less grease.
  • Chile en nogada - A big green Poblano chile with a beef or pork apple stuffing, covered with a white nut (usually walnut, known as nuez) sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds which happen to be red. The three colors represent the national flag and the dish is served nationwide around Mexican Independence Day 16th September.
  • Barbacoa - Sheep or goat meat cooked with maguey leaves in a oven made at a hole in the ground. Think BBQ heaven without the hickory smoke or catsup based BBQ sauce. Served with condiments and salsas in corn tortilas and sometimes in a torta bread roll.
  • Sopa de Tortilla - tortilla chips soup usually of chicken broth, plain or with a touch of tomato flavor, and usually mild and not at all hot. Commonly served with diced avocado and fresh crumbled white cheese on top.
  • Chilaquiles - tortilla chips with a green tomatillo, or red tomato, or mild chili sauce, usually served with chicken or eggs on top or within. Usually a mild dish.
  • Migas - is a typical dish in the center of the country which is a guajillo chile broth with soaked bread, which you can add the pork bones with meat or eggs.

You can measure the quality of food by popularity, do not eat on lonely places, even if they are restaurants or hotels. Consider that Mexicans eat their main meal in the middle of the afternoon (around 3 o'clock), with breakfast or "almuerzo", a mid-morning affair after a very light something, like a small plate of fruit or a roll with coffee, in the very early morning. Although, many mexicans have large breakfasts in the morning. Later, at night the meal varies from very light, such as commonly sweet rolls or breads, coffee or hot chocolate, to heavy dinner, such as pozole, tacos, tamales, etc. Schedule your meals accordingly and you will get a better perspective on the gauge of how busy (popular) a restaurant is.

Drink

Tap water is potable, but generally not recommended for drinking. Some exaggerated people even claim that tap water is not good for brushing teeth. Hotels usually give guests one (large) bottle of drinking water per room per night. Bottled water is also readily available in supermarkets and at tourist attractions.

  • Absinth is legal in Mexico.
  • Tequila, distilled from Agave (a specific type of cactus)
  • Pulque, ferment made from Maguey
  • Mezcal, similar to tequila but distilled from Maguey
  • Tepache, made from pineapple
  • Tuba, made from coconut palm tree


There are also several Mexican beers, most of which are available outside Mexico, these include:

  • Corona (popular, but not necessarily as overwhelmingly popular in Mexico as many foreigners think)
  • Dos Equis (XX), dark or lager. (both good mass-market beers)
  • Modelo Especial (medium lager)
  • Negra Modelo (darker, flavorful ale)
  • Modelo Light (typical light Mexican beer - Corona, Pacifico and Tecate also have "light" versions.
  • Pacífico (Pilsner beer, one of the better lighter beers)
  • Tecate (perhaps the most common beer, especially in the north, light with a slight hoppy taste)
  • Indio (good amber, not commonly exported)
  • Bohemia (nice malty taste)
  • Carta Blanca (mass market beer)
  • Sol (very light, similar to Corona)
  • Superior (pretty common beer)
  • Victoria (A light Vienna-style beer, usually not exported)
  • Montejo
  • León (red Vienna-style beer)
  • Estrella
  • Corona "de Barril" or Barrillito (fun to drink)
  • Chamochelas
  • Modelo Chope (Draft beer only available in select bars & restaurants, comes in Light & Negra varieties, with the latter being a Munich dunkel.)


Lighter Mexican beers are often served with lime and salt, though many Mexicans do not drink beer in this fashion. In some places you will find beer served as a prepared drink called "Michelada" or simply "Chelada". The formula varies depending on the place, but it's usually beer mixed with lime juice and various sauces and spices on ice served in a salt rim glass. Other variation called "Cubana" includes Clamato cocktail, soybean sauce, salt and a little bit of hot sauce.


Northwestern Mexico, including Baja California and Sonora, also produces wines, and Mexican wine is often quite good, but most Mexicans tend to prefer European or Chilean imports.

Non alcoholic beverages:

  • Chocolate
  • Atole
  • Horchata (rice based drink)
  • Pozol (maiz based drink)traditional drink from Chiapas
  • Tejate (maiz and chocolate based drink)traditional drink from Oaxaca
  • Agua de jamaica (hibiscus iced tea, similar to karkadai in Egypt)
  • Licuados de fruta (Fruit smoothies and milkshakes)
  • Champurrado (Thick chocolate drink)
  • Refrescos (common sodas, generally sweet and made with cane sugar, not corn syrup as in the United States).


The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but not strictly enforced. In many places, consumption of alcohol in public ("open container") is illegal and usually punishable by a day in jail. Be aware of waitresses and barmen, especially at night clubs. If you are not aware of your consumption and how much you already spent, they can add a few more drinks to your account. Some do this, not all.

Alcoholmeters are widely used in driving roads If drinking, always have a designated driver. Driving under the influence of an alcoholic beverage will result in 1 to 3 days in jail.

Mexico, especially the southern state of Chiapas, produces excellent coffee. Café con leche, usually one part coffee to one part steamed milk, is very popular. Unfortunately, many places in Mexico that are not cafés serve Nescafe or other instant coffee - you may have to search for the good coffee, but it's there.

Learn

The most important Universities in Mexico are as follows: UNAM, ranked 73° worldwide, and the best in Latin America, which leads Mexico with 50% of Mexican scientific research, many of Mexico most illustrious people attended UNAM, including:

  • 5 Mexican presidents,
  • All of the Mexican Nobel Laureates: Alfonso García Robles (Peace), Octavio Paz (Literature), and Mario Molina (Chemistry)
  • The World Wealthiest Person: Carlos Slim.

Its main campus is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Murals in the main campus were painted by some of the most recognized artists in Mexican history, such as Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros.

IPN (Instituto Politecnico Nacional), a leading institution on engineering and architecture programs, it's a Polytechnical school and Most Mexico's technological creations can be attributed to IPN Alumni.

ITESM (Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey), located in Monterrey but with branch campuses in many other Mexican cities, too, it's a Private Research University. It surpassed IPN in some Engineering areas (Most notably Computer Science) some years ago and it's on par with UNAM. It has many exchange programs with universities across the world, and even double degree programs; Some of them include:

  • Double degree with Carnegie-Mellon University in M.S. in Information Technology.
  • Partnership with John Hopkins Medicine Program.
  • Summer Programs at Georgetown University, UC Berkeley, Stanford, Cambridge and Yale.
  • Double degree with UNC-Chapel Hill in M.B.A.
  • Exchange programs with over 200 universities abroad around 30 countries.

Anahuac (Universidad Anahuac), a prestigious private institution sponsored by the Legion of Christ, which also belongs to the Anahuac University Network with campuses in Mexico, Chile, Spain, Italy and United Sates, and the Anahuac Educational Consortium, the elite elementary to high school institutions of the Semper Altius network and Oak Academies. The main Campus of the Anahuac University is located on Huixquilucan, Mexico State. Education is based in high leadership, entrepreneurism and above all, the Human Values. Alumni include some of the highest ranked executives and company presidents of Mexico and Latin America, including the Slim family. Ranks as the number one institution in Mexico on the Professional Clasification of International Universities ranking by the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris.

Ibero (Universidad Iberoamericana), is a Mexican private institution of higher education sponsored by the Society of Jesus. Its flagship campus is located in the Santa Fe district of Mexico City but there are others located in Guadalajara, León, Torreón, Puebla and Playas de Tijuana. among its alumni, is president Vicente Fox, Emilio Azcarraga Jean - President and Owner of Televisa the most important media network in Latin America, Carlos Guzmán Bofill - CEO of Hewlett-Packard México, Daniel Servitje - President and CEO of Bimbo, Guillermo Arriaga - Film screenwriter, Novelist, and Director (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel), Alejandro González Iñárritu - Filmmaker (Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel).

ITAM (Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México) is by far one of the best universities in Mexico. Founded by the businessman Raúl Baillères in 1946, it has a very specific focus in the Economics sector. With 14 programs, it has been awarded by several sources as having the best programs in Business Administration, Actuarial Science, Economics, International Relations and Public Accounting. It has the best MBA program in Latin America as well as the best Economics PhD in Mexico. Many public figures and government functionaries come from this prestigious university.

For graduate degrees and executive preparation:

The IPADE Business school currently ranks as the world's 7th best MBA programs outside the US, and the only one in Latin America, according to Forbes.

The EGADE Master Business School in Monterrey is ranked No.68 of MBA schools worldwide, the first in Latin America For many years it was considered a school exclusive for Affluent people, it aggressively seeks to open its doors to talented minds of all income levels through an amazingly rich scholarship program, funded by the periodic raffles of multi-million dollar, fully furnished mansions along with luxury cars and a big sum of money.

If one had to Compare them with American Universities:

  • UNAM would be the "Harvard" of Mexico, devoted to Humanities, Medicine and Law schools, as far as the reach of the institution but not as exclusive.
  • Anahuac would be like the "Princeton" of Mexico, home to both the wealthy and low profile elites, figuring in international rankings and with a great prestige result of its alumni, international programs and social awareness.
  • IBERO would be the "Yale" of Mexico, a private school, with amazing resources constantly ranking amongst the best in Latin America, and ranked as one of the best private universities in Mexico.
  • IPN, a school devoted to engineering and sciences, with many of its students developing patents, could be considered a school like "MIT", and in fact, they've won many competitions against them.
  • ITESM is located in a city with many industrial companies, the Alma mater of many entrepreneurs, with decent computer and engineering programs, regarded as an good private university, and with a business-oriented curriculum, somewhat similar to Stanford.
  • UDLAP The Universidad the las Americas at Puebla, would be the "Cornell-U" of Mexico.
  • ITAM The Instituto tecnológico Autonomo de Mexico would be the "Columbia" of Mexico
  • ULSA The Universidad La Salle would be the "Darthmouth College" of Mexico


Most of the government funded universities on mayor cities (state capital) have short courses on history, gastronomy and cultural subjects, most of them are almost free. Other places are the "Casa de la Cultura", (house of culture) this are historical buildings used for cultural related activities (music concerts, theater, paint and other exhibits, they also have "talleres" (workshops).

Most of them have programs for foreigners. Foreigners can take a course to learn Spanish, or even study a whole career. Also, there are some other courses where you can learn traditional Mexican activities such as handcrafts. The tuition at a public school is rarely over $200USD. Many excellent private universities exist in the larger cities (Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, etc.) and provide good education.

There are Spanish language schools throughout Mexico. The city with the most schools is Cuernavaca, with more than 50 schools. Oaxaca, San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato also offer a number of schools to choose from. Prices vary; however, most schools are very reasonably priced. Many schools can arrange homestays with local Mexican families.

Work

Working may require a work visa, which is difficult to get if you just want to freelance for a short time.

Many important headquarters are located throughout the main cities of Mexico. Mexican top corporations like Televisa, Bimbo, Cemex, Telmex, Vitro, are often willing to hire professionals who speak English as their native language as most of the business scene is developed with North American corporations.

Native English speakers can pick up work, as English teachers. The upside is that English speakers with no knowledge of Spanish are sought after, because they will force their students to practice English. The downside is that salaries are somewhat low.

Sleep

A number of hotel chains are available throughout Mexico, including Palace Resorts, Le Blanc Spa Resort, Best Western, Holiday Inn, CityExpress, Fiesta Inn, Fairmont, Hilton, Ritz, Camino Real, Starwood (Sheraton, W, Westin, Four Points) and many others. Rates have risen considerably in recent years, though most are still reasonable compared to similar U.S. or European hotels. Chain accommodations are usually clean and comfortable, good for business travelers, but not necessarily for those wanting to experience Mexico itself. Smaller hotels and motels along the roadside may not be safe or comfortable. Boutique hotels are found all over the country; price range varies but all of them are rich in Mexican traditions, elegance and charm, the perfect way to experience the cultural heritage of each state. A great source of information is Melba Levick's book Mexicasa, found in many libraries and online bookstores. There are also many all-inclusive resorts for those visiting the major beach destinations.

There is a large backpacker culture in Mexico, and there are many hostels offering dorm accommodation and private rooms. You can expect to pay between 50 and 150 pesos for a night in a dorm, often including breakfast. Hostels are a fantastic place to share information with fellow travelers, and you can often find people who have been to your future destinations. There are a number of internet sites that allow you to book hostels in advance for a small fee, and this is becoming an increasingly common practice.

The most authentic accommodation can usually be found by asking locals or gringos, especially in the smaller towns. If you are unsure about the safety or conditions of the room ask to see it before paying. This will not be considered rude.

If you are going to be in cooler areas in the winter consider bringing an electric blanket - as there is power, but no heat in the cheaper hotels. And although it may get quite hot by afternoon outside, adobe and cement are like fridges. An electric tea kettle is also a good idea, hot water might not be available when you want it.

If you're traveling with children, use a plastic case (with wheels and a handle) as luggage, and it can be used as a bathtub for the kids if necessary. Budget hotels rarely, if ever, have bathtubs.

Stay safe

Stop hand.png  Government Travel Advisory
Affected Regions: Northern Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas
A travel advisory has been issued due to more than 15,000 narcotics-related homicides that occurred in 2010. Most of those killed in narcotics-related violence since 2006 have been members of transnational criminal organizations. The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime reported in the border region and in areas along major trafficking routes. Nevertheless, crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere. Source: [33]
Advisory Issued: 22-April-2011


Mexico's emergency number is 066, call this number for any emergency service: such as police, medical, fire, etc.

In most of the cities, location is very important as security changes from place to place. Areas close to downtown (centro) are safer to walk at night, especially on the "Plaza", "Zocalo" or "Jardin" (main square) and areas nearby. Stay in populated areas, avoid poor neighborhoods, especially at night, and don't walk there at any time if you are alone. Vicious beatings have been reported at resorts by people who have travelled alone, so stay alert for any suspicious-looking individual.

Since 2006 violence related to drug cartels has become an issue; see Drug Traffic Issues below.

Political violence in Chiapas and Oaxaca has abated in recent years, and is far less of a threat than drug related crime. However, keep in mind that Mexican authorities do not look approvingly on foreigners who participate in demonstrations (even peaceful ones) or voice support for groups such as the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional and its leader, Subcomandante Marcos, even if their images and slogans are commonly sold on t-shirts and caps in markets.

As in any city, do not wave cash or credit cards around. Use them discreetly and put them away as quickly as possible.

The Mexican legal system was until recently under Napoleonic code, but if you ever find yourself in trouble with the law in Mexico, the punishments are a lot more severe than in many other countries.

Beggars are not usually a threat, but you will find lots in urban areas. Avoid being surrounded by them as some can pickpocket your goods. Giving away two pesos quickly can get you out of such troubles (but may also attract other beggars). Most poor and homeless Mexicans prefer to sell trinkets, gum, sing, or provide some meager service than beg outright.

In other cities, such as Guadalajara and Mexico City, are safer than most places in Mexico. However, caution is still recommended.

Drug Traffic Issues

Understand that the country is going through a transitionary period. Since the current president Felipe Calderon came to power in 2006, he has waged war on the drug cartels, and they have waged war in turn against the government (and more often, among each other). If you are going into Mexico, avoid bringing up this issue with your hosts or Mexican friends. They are quite aware of their country's numerous problems and do not need a foreigner to remind them.

Some Mexican northern and border cities such as Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Chihuahua, Culiacán, Durango, and Juárez can be dangerous if you are not familiar with them, especially at night. Most crime in the northern cities is related to the drug trade and/or police corruption. However, since law enforcement figures are so overwhelmed or involved in the drug business themselves, many northern border towns that were previously somewhat dangerous to begin with are now a hotbed for criminals to act with impunity. Ciudad Juárez, in particular, bears the brunt of this violence, with nearly a fourth of Mexico's overall murders, and travel there should be undertaken only for very important reasons and with extreme caution.

Away from the northern states, cartel-related violence is centered in specific areas, including the Pacific Coast states of Michoacán and Guerrero. However, exercise caution in any major city, especially at night or in high crime areas.

Note that for the most part tourists and travelers are of no interest to the drug cartels. Many popular tourist destinations like Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Los Cabos, Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, Cancún, Mérida and Guadalajara are largely unaffected by this, simply because there are no borders there. Ciudad Juárez is currently a primary battleground in the drug war, and while foreign travelers are not often targeted here, the presence of two warring cartels, many small opportunistic gangs, and armed police and soldiers has created a chaotic situation to say the least.

Although rarely surprising, the drug violence's new victim is Monterrey. The city at one point was crowned the safest city in Latin America, and the hard-working environment and entrepreneurial spirit was what defined the city for most Mexicans. Today, it has been the latest city to fall into the hands of the drug gangs, and deadly shootouts exist even in broad daylight. People have been kidnapped even in broad daylight in high-profile upscale hotels, and while the city is still not as awful as Ciudad Juarez, it is rapidly catching up.

Strangely, Mexico City is the safest city in regard to drug-related violence, and people go there to seek refuge from the border violence because many politicians and the military are there.

Consumption of drugs is not recommended while you are in Mexico because although possession of small amounts of all major narcotics has been decriminalized, consumption in public areas will get you a fine and will most likely get you in trouble with the police. The army also sets up random checkpoints throughout all major highways in search of narcotics and weapons. Drug consumption is also frowned upon by a large percentage of the population.

Since the current drug war began in 2006, there has been occasional wild speculation in the North American English-language media about the risk that Mexico could become a "failed state" controlled directly by one or more drug cartels, with the obvious corollary that U.S. citizens would have to be evacuated with U.S. military assistance (as actually occurred in Liberia in 1990, Sierra Leone in 1992, Albania in 1997, Lebanon in 2006, and Haiti in 2010). However, apart from the notorious exception of a single elite military unit that changed sides and became the Los Zetas cartel, the vast majority of Mexican military and police units continue to demonstrate their loyalty to the democratically elected government in Mexico City. As of 2012, only three state governments (out of 31 states) are thought to have been compromised by the cartels (according to the Los Angeles Times). Thus, the actual probability of an unexpected regime change occurring during your visit is extremely low and should not discourage you from visiting Mexico.

It is important to keep things in perspective. Tourists from certain developed nations may be frightened by the sight of heavily armed soldiers and police officers randomly searching vehicles on major boulevards, even in safe areas like Los Cabos and Cancun. But that is actually a common sight in most countries around the world, not just Mexico.

Advice for the Beach

Jellyfish stings: vinegar or mustard on the skin, take some to the beach with you.

Stingray stings: water as hot as you can bear - the heat deactivates the poison.

Sunburns: Bring sunscreen if going to beaches because you might not find it available in some areas.

Riptides: Very dangerous, particularly during and after storms. Try to swim parallel to the beach even as you are being dragged out; eventually the tide will let go of you and then you can swim back to shore. Do not tire yourself out by trying to swim to shore as the tide is pulling you out, as you will not have the energy to swim back to shore after the tide has let go of you.

Public transportation

When in major cities – especially Mexico City – is better to play it safe with taxis. The best options are to phone a taxi company, request that your hotel or restaurant call a taxi for you or pick up a Taxi from an established post ("Taxi de Sitio"). Also taxis can be stopped in the middle of the street, which is OK for most of the country, but particularly unsafe in Mexico City.

As chaotic as it might be sometimes, the subway (Metro)[34] is the best way to move around in Mexico City: it's cheap (3 pesos for a ticket as of October, 2012), safe, has a large network covering almost anywhere you'd want to go in the city and it's extremely fast, compared to any on-street transportation, since it doesn't have to bear with the constant traffic jams. If you've never been in a crowded subway, avoid peak hours (usually from 06:00-09:00 and 17:00-20:00) and do your homework: check first what line (linea) and station (estacion) you want to go to and the address of the place you're trying to reach. Your hotel can give you this information, and maps of the subway system are available on the internet and at the stations. Most stations also have maps of the vicinity.

Avoid taking the subway at late hours of the night, but during the day many stations are patrolled by police officers and the subway is safer than taking the public bus, your major concern in the subway are pickpockets; so keep your important belongings and wallets in a safe place.

If your are travelling by bus do not put your valuables in your big bag in the storage room of the bus. If the police or the military controls the luggage they might take out what they need. Especially in Night Buses when passengers are most likely asleep. The use of a money belt (worn underneath the clothes and out of sight) is highly recommended.

Driving

  • All distances on the signboards and speed limits are in kilometers.
  • Gas is also sold by the litre, not by the gallon, and it's a little bit cheaper than in the United States.

If driving in from the USA, always purchase Mexican liability insurance (legal defense coverage recommended) before crossing the border or immediately after crossing. When you are paying for your temporary import permit (for going beyond border areas), often in the same building there are several stalls selling Mexican auto insurance. Even if your American (or Canadian, etc.) insurance covers your vehicle in Mexico, it cannot (by Mexican law) cover liability (i.e. hitting something or injuring someone). You will probably spend time in a Mexican jail if you have an accident without it. And even if your own insurance does (in theory) provide liability coverage in Mexico -- you'll be filing your claim from behind bars! Don't risk it, get Mexican auto insurance.

Never drive above the speed limit or run stop signs/red lights as Mexican police will use any excuse to pull over tourists and give you a ticket. If pulled over by a police officer soliciting a bribe, do not pay the amount requested, but pull out USD$50 or 500 pesos, and explain that it is all you have. This technique has worked in the past (but it does not work in Mexico City), but it is corruption. Corruption also is a crime in Mexico, so make a conscious choice. The fine for speeding could be as much as US$100, depending on the city.

As of April 2011, Police across the country are cracking down on drunken driving, particularly in Mexico City, the larger cities and the beach resorts. There are random checkpoints throughout the country in which every driver has to stop and take an automated inebriation test. If you fail, you will end up in a Mexican prison. If you wouldn't drive drunk back home, don't do it in Mexico.

You will mostly find beggars and windshield cleaners in some red lights; having your windows closed at all times is especially recommendable in some areas of Mexico City. The windshield cleaners will try to clean yours: a strong and firm "NO" is suggested.

Stay healthy

Some parts of Mexico are known for traveler's diarrhea that it is often called "Montezuma's Revenge" (Venganza de Moctezuma). The reason for this is not so much the spicy food but the contamination of the water supply in some of the poorer zones in Mexico. In most of the small towns that are less industrialized, only the poorest Mexicans will drink tap water. The best policy is to only drink bottled or purified water, both of which are readily available. Be sure to specify bottled water in restaurants and avoid ice (which is often not made from purified water). Just like in the USA, in most major Mexican cities the water is purified at the cities' water company. In most restaurants in these poor zones, the only water served comes from large jugs of purified water. If you get sick, visit your local clinic as soon as possible. There is medicine available that will counter the bacteria.

Medicine in urban areas is highly developed, public hospitals are just as good as public hospitals in US, and just as the American public hospitals, they are always full. It's recommended going to private hospitals for faster service.

Before traveling to rural areas of Mexico, it might be a good idea to obtain anti-malarial medications from your health care provider.

It is strongly advised that the traveler be sure that any meats they are consuming have been thoroughly cooked due to an increasing rate of roundworm infections, particularly in the Acapulco area.

Along with the risk for malaria, mosquitoes have also been known to carry the West Nile virus. Be sure to bring an effective insect repellent, preferably one that contains the ingredient DEET.

The rate of AIDS/HIV infection in Mexico is lower than in the US, France and most Latin American nations. However, if you plan on having sex, be sure that you use a latex condom to reduce your risk of contracting or spreading the virus.

As with any western location, cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome have been reported throughout Mexico. This is an acute, rare (but often fatal) illness for which there is no known cure. The virus is believed to be present in animal feces, particularly feces from members of the rodent family. Therefore, do not wander into animal dens and be especially careful when entering enclosed spaces that are not well ventilated and lack sunlight.

Vaccination against Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid fever is recommended.

If you are bitten by an animal, assume that the animal was carrying rabies and seek medical attention immediately for treatment.

In remote areas, carry a first aid kit, aspirin, and other related items are sold without medical prescription.

Respect

Mexicans have a somewhat relaxed sense of time so be patient. Arriving 15 minutes late is common.

When anyone, even a total stranger, sneezes, you always say "¡salud!" ("bless you!" or more literally, "your health!"): otherwise, it is considered rude. In rural areas, particularly in the Mexican heartland (Jalisco, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, etc.), the even more pious "Jesús te bendiga" (May Jesus bless you) will follow a sneeze.

The great majority of the population is and traditionally has been Roman Catholic, and there is still a strong following of this faith among Mexicans from all socioeconomic backgrounds. However, missionary activity from the US made a sizable Protestant community, and even the smallest towns seem to have an Evangelical or Pentecostal church. One of the world's largest communities of Jehovah's Witnesses also resides in Mexico. Smaller communities, like Mormons and Jews also live in small concentrated areas throughout the Republic.

In many respects, Mexico is still a developing country, and attitudes towards LGBT travelers can at times be hostile. However, Mexico City legalized same-sex marriage and the supreme court ruled that these marriages must be recognized by all states in the rest of the republic, thus tacitly making same-sex marriage legal in the whole country (provided the wedding takes place in Mexico City). Just as it is not wholly accepted in the rural United States or rural Canada, it is not accepted in rural Mexico. But within cities, there is a much more relaxed atmosphere.

When entering churches, always take off any sunglasses, caps or hats. Wearing shorts is rarely a problem, but still wear a sweatshirt or sweater to your waist to avoid showing too much skin, which could be disrespectful in such places. However, away from the beaches, or northern areas, shorts are very rarely worn by Mexicans on the street and thus will attract more attention to you and make you stand out as a foreigner.

Respect Mexico's laws. Some foreigners feel that Mexico is a place where laws can be broken and the police bribed at all times. Corruption may be common among Mexican police and public figures, but since it is a problem that Mexican society has recently recognized and has been trying hard to fix, when foreign nationals behave in a manner which shows expectancy of this easy bribery, it is considered extremely disrespectful, and so it could be used as excuse for the police to give you "a respect lesson." Remember, offering a bribe to an official could get you into trouble.

Like in other countries; politics, economics and history are very delicate issues, yet in México they are also considered good conversation pieces when conversing with foreigners. Just like in Europe, Canada and the US, Mexico's democracy is vibrant and diverse, and people have a variety of opinions. As Mexico only recently became a true viable democracy, however, there is an eagerness on behalf of Mexicans to share their opinions and political ideas with you. Common sense applies like it does in your country: If you don't know enough about Mexico's political landscape, ask as many questions as you like but avoid making any strong statements.

Many US citizens (and to a lesser extent other foreigners) make careless mistakes in conversations with Mexicans. Mexicans, while strong and hardy people can be very sensitive people when it comes to their country. Avoid saying anything that will make it seem as if you think Mexico is inferior to your home country. Do not assume that because you are a US citizen, you are an immediate target for kidnapping, since the vast majority of victims are Mexicans. Do not be overly cautious, especially if you have hosts that are taking care of you and know where to go and not to go. It will just insult your host and they will assume you do not respect Mexico or that you do not trust them.

Avoid talking about Mexico's flaws. Avoid talking about illegal immigration to the US, the drug trade, or any other contentious issue; Mexicans are well aware of their country's problems and want to forget about them once a while. Instead, talk about the good things of Mexico: the food, the friendly people, the scenery. This will make you a very good friend in a country that can seem menacing to take on by yourself.

While overt racism may not be apparent, as a general rule, wealth and social status are historically tied to European ancestry and skin color. Mexican society is sharply divided by social class, with the rich, middle class, and poor often living very separate lives, and can have very distinct cultures. Social practices or tastes of one social group may not be shared by all classes. Clubs, bars, and restaurants may cater largely to one crowd or another, and a wealthier person or tourist may feel out of place or received unwanted attention in a working class cantina; a poor looking person may be blatantly refused service or get unfriendly stares at an exclusive establishment.

There are many words in the country according for ethnic background:

Do not be offended to be called a "güero(a)" (blonde) and its diminutive form "güerito(a)" (blondie), as its a common way for the average Mexican citizens to refer mostly to Caucasian people, including white Mexicans. The words "gringo" and its synonym "gabacho" are used regardless of the actual nationality of the tourists and should not they be taken as offensive nouns. Actually, they are often used as terms of affection.

If you are East Asian, you will be referred to as "Chino(a)" (Chinese) and its diminuitive form "chinito(a)" regardless of whether you are Thai, Japanese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, etc. Exceptions are in the capital, Mexicali, and in Monterrey, where a decent-sized Korean community does exist.

If you are black, "negro(a)" or "negrito(a)" may seem harsh, especially if you are from the US, but it is not a swear word. Although there are few black people in Mexico in many regions of the country (except in on the east and west coasts in the south), Mexicans, especially the younger generations, are not hateful. In fact, a revolutionary who later became the second president was a mulatto (a man of mixed European and African descent), Vicente Guerrero.

Historically, all Middle Easterners were refered to as "turcos" (even if they were from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, etc).

If you try to use your Spanish to address people be careful about the use of "tu" (informal, friendly, and called tutear; which is a verb, to call someone "tu") and "usted" (formal, respectful) forms. Using "tu" can be demeaning to people, since this is the form normally used for addressing children or close friends. For foreigners, the best way to deal with the "tu" and "usted" problem is to address people using "usted" until invited to say "tu", or until addressed by the first name. Doing so will look perhaps a shade old-fashioned but always respectful, while doing otherwise can be pretty rude and embarrassing in some situations. Always use the "usted" form to a law enforcement officer (or other person of authority), even if he may use the "tu" form to talk to you.

Use "usted" unless the person is genuinely your friend, the person is under 16, or the person tells you explicitly to use "tu".

People address each other depending on their social status, age and frienship. To refer to a woman always call her "señorita" (Miss) unless you are sure that she is married, then you call her "señora" (Mrs). When talking to an older man use "señor" irrespective of his marital status. If you want to call a waiter address him as "joven" which means "young man". You may call someone by his professional tittle ("ingeniero", "arquitecto" "doctor" "oficial", etc). Actually Mexican people will use the "tu" and the "usted", "first name" or "surname" depending on their relationship, and the code is not easy to learn.

While the word "güey" is equivalent to "dude" or "mate" among young people, it is still considered extremely vulgar among people older than you. This abrasive term of endearment is used only between people who have achieved a certain level of trust so avoid using it.

In Mexico "estúpido" means far, far worse than "stupid" in English.

Due to the highly matriarchal nature of Mexican culture, the combination of words "tu madre" (your mother) is cacophonous and taken offensively by residents, regardless of age or gender. If you must use it, remember to replace it with "su señora madre" at formal situations or the sweeter "tu mamá" at informal ones. Never ever use strong language when talking to a female.

There is a strong degree of male courteousness towards women. This is manifested in standing up when a lady enters a room, opening or holding a door, conceding preference or rights of way, giving up a seat, offering a hand when stepping down from a steep step, etc. It is generally reserved for older women, or females of great power, merit and social stature. Rejecting these types of friendly gestures is considered arrogant or rude.

Contact

You can call from public phones using prepaid tel. cards tarjetas ladatel, bought at magazine stalls. Cards can be purchased in 30, 50 or 100 pesos denominations. The rate to call the US is roughly equivalent to $0.50 US per minute. Beware these are different than tarjetas amigo, viva, or unefon: they are for cellphones.

Some areas have only a few internet cafes; in others, they are plentiful. Common fees vary from 7 pesos/hour to 20 pesos/hour. Currently, most of the internet cafes offer calls to the US for a better rate than a payphone, usually via VoIP.

If you have an unlocked GSM phone, you can buy a prepaid SIM card in Mexico and have a local mobile phone number for use in cases of emergency. Telcel provides good coverage throughout the country and you can get a SIM card for $150 pesos with $100 pesos talk time. If you have an iPhone, you should purchase a package of date with Telcel, as pay-as-you-go internet is extremely expensive. [35]

It is often far cheaper than what hotels will charge you and incoming calls may also be free under certain schemes. Mexico operates on the same GSM frequency as the United States, 1900 Mhz. There is an Internet wireless connection in almost every restaurant or hotel in the big cities.

Get out

To Belize

There are bus services available from Chetumal to Belmopan.

To Guatemala

Over Tenosique, La Palma, by boat on the river Rio San Pedro to Naranja (Guatemala). This route is not used by many and still has a touch of adventure. Stay firm when negotiating over the price. Absolutely important! Make sure you get your passport stamped before you leave Naranja or you might catch one of the rare buses back and take a walk through the jungle as the emigrations office is part up the river between the Mexican border and the village.

To the United States of America

The U.S. generally requires a passport for entry. A few express ID cards and trusted traveler cards are also acceptable. U.S. and Canadian citizens seeking entry or reentry by land or sea may use an Enhanced Driver License in place of a passport. U.S. permanent residents need their permanent resident card and may need the passport from their home country.

Foreign nationals entering the United States without a permanent resident stamp, including those on the Visa Waiver Program, typically receive an I-94 Arrival-Departure Record or I-94W Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record upon arrival in the United States. So long as the I-94 has not expired, you can use it to reenter the United States with your passport; however, if you hand it in upon exit, you will need to obtain a new card if your visa allows another entry or, if on the Visa Waiver Program, pay a fee of about $6 to reenter the United States.

Unless you are not going to return to the United States, keep your I-94 when leaving the United States of America or you will have a difficult time getting back in, and if your visa is limited to a certain number of entries, you may need to use another entry.

Visa Waiver participants cannot reset the 90-day counter unless they leave the Western Hemisphere, so ducking into México will not allow you another 90 days.




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