We’ve got 9 dos and don’ts for tourists traveling to the beautiful Mexico destination of Cancun.
9 Essential Tips for Traveling to Cancun
Make the most out of your vacation with these traveler dos and don’ts for visiting Cancun.
What to Do (And What Not to Do) in Cancun: Follow these basic tips to ensure your trip is relaxing, safe, and stress-free.
Dazzling, powdery white-sand beaches. Elegant, world-class resorts. Turquoise blue waters begging you to swim, kayak, snorkel, or kite-board them.
With its unparalleled beaches, one-of-a-kind activities, and outstanding hospitality, Cancun promises a memorable visit. But while it may seem impossible not to have fun in Cancun, there are secrets to a great trip you should be aware of to ensure your Cancun vacation is relaxing, safe, and stress-free. Make sure you make the most out of your Cancun vacation with these tourist dos and don’ts:
Do: Choose the right accommodation in the right area
While Cancun may be famous for world-class resorts, the town is home to virtually every caliber of accommodation imaginable – from lively hostels to sleek, private Airbnbs. The most popular place to stay in Cancun is the Zona Hotelera, a lively tourist strip packed with beach-side resorts and luxury hotels overlooking the water.
If it is a more varied, authentic experience you seek, you may want to try downtown. In Cancun’s downtown, you’ll find a mix of traveling families, backpackers, and locals, in addition to luxury hotels, hostels, markets, and exceptional dining options. To escape the hustle-and-bustle, try Puerto Morelos – a sleepy Mexican fishing village with boutique hotels.
Don’t: Exchange money at the airport
Airports are notoriously famous for charging high exchange rates, and the Cancun International Airport is no different. Hotels and banks around town may also charge high exchange rates. Your best bet for obtaining pesos may be to simply withdraw cash at an airport ATM when you arrive. During your trip, you’ll have no problem finding ATMs across the island. While you are likely to be charged a small fee for withdrawing cash by the ATM and your bank if you do not have an international account, ATM withdrawals represent the best deal for getting pesos.
If you do have dollars to exchange into pesos, your most convenient option may be Cancun’s many casas de cambio (exchange bureaus). These businesses are often open later than banks and offer competitive exchange rates. Make sure you do a bit of footwork to see who offers the best rate – most casas de cambio post their exchange rate prominently outside their doors.
Do: Bring sunscreen
Sunblock is surprisingly expensive in Cancun. Pack strong, quality sunscreen before you visit Cancun to avoid having to splurge on a bottle in an over-priced tourist shop. The sun in Cancun can be harsher than the sun you feel in North America, so be sure to apply sunscreen often. Biodegradable is strongly recommended for eco-friendliness.
Cancun Mexico Weather – some tips on the weather conditions in Cancun per season.
Do: Purchase travel insurance early
As with any major trip, it’s worth purchasing travel insurance to prevent you from losing thousands in non-refundable expenses in the event of an unforeseen accident. The best travel insurance packages cover lost bags, missed connections, medical emergencies, and other medical costs. To be eligible for full coverage, you are typically required to purchase travel insurance at least 15 days within booking your trip.
Don’t: Drink the water
In Cancun and across Mexico, the water is not considered potable. Stick to bottled water to avoid an upset tummy. However, you should feel free to drink ice (including frozen margaritas, of course) served at hotels and restaurants.
Do: Learn basic Spanish
While most hotel, restaurant, and tourism industry employees speak English, a little basic Spanish can go a long way. Greeting or thanking a person in their local language earns respect and separates you from other tourists making rude demands in English — which is definitely an example of things not to do in Cancun.
Don’t: Use taxis
Most resorts and luxury hotels offer shuttles around town and to major tourist sites, including rides from the airport. Once you’re in Cancun, the local bus is easy and cheap – a fraction of the cost of an overpriced taxi.
Do: Book reputable excursions
From exploring majestic Mayan temples to snorkeling coral reefs through crystal blue waters, tours in Cancun are not to be missed. Make sure you choose a tour with a reputable company by doing plenty of research online to avoid a disappointing trip.
Don’t: Lose your tourist card
When you arrive in Mexico, you will receive a tourist card known as a Migratory Tourist Form (FMT) valid for six months after you arrive. Tuck this form safely in your passport and do not lose it – you will need it to exit the country without paying a fine.
If you follow these tourism dos and don’ts, Cancun should offer you nothing but good times. Do you have any advice to add? Share your own tips for traveling to Cancun in the comments below!
Bob Hornal is the founder and President of Best Quote Travel Insurance in Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada. With over 15 years of experience as a financial advisor, Bob has traveled to more than 30 incredible countries and has dealt with a multitude of difficult situations including flight delays, medical emergencies, and weather damage, making Bob an expert at traveling.
His dream is to inspire and inform those who wish to travel by including his personal experiences and professional knowledge in each piece he writes.