Cancun on a budget – 7 tips for saving money

Who doesn’t love traveling and discovering new destinations? I know I do!… Sadly, my bank account doesn’t always feel the same way. If yours doesn’t either, check out the 7 things I learned from visiting Cancun on a budget.

How to save money during your trip to Cancun

These tried and true tips are sure to shave at least a few bucks off your travel budget. Keep reading to know how you can party in the Caribbean paradise of Cancun for cheaper!

1. Travel during the off-peak seasons

Cancun is most crowded during  March, June, July, August and December. That means if you want to access great deals on plane tickets, hotel rooms and even tours schedule your trip within the following months: January, February, April, May, September, October and November. 

I went from mid-October to the beginning of November and it was such a great experience! I happened to be there during Día de Muertos which is an amazing Mexican tradition filled with colors, music, and incredible food. The Cancun weather was nice, it only rained a couple days and the temperature was always around 80°F (27°C).

2. Visit downtown

Cancun is basically divided in two zones: There’s the hotel zone where most of the hotels and clubs are located. They’re all surrounded by water, one side has an incredible view to the lagoon and the other side has the most beautiful beaches.

And there is downtown where you’ll find picturesque markets like Mercado 28. There you can buy authentic Mexican souvenirs and they’re way cheaper than those in the airport or in boutiques of the hotel zone!

3. Take the Bus

There are two main routes in Cancun: R1 and R2, you can take either one to go anywhere in the hotel zone. R2 takes you to Market 28 downtown and R1 takes you to the Tulum Avenue which is the main street of the city. There you can walk to many popular spots among the locals and backpackers.

Each bus ride costs 12 pesos (1 USD) and will save you hundreds if not thousands of pesos. This is because cabs can be very expensive, especially when going from the hotel zone to the main part of the city. However, when riding downtown they’re usually less than 50 pesos and a great way to avoid walking underneath the sun.

4. Eat like the locals

It’s no secret that Mexican food tastes great – and it tastes even better in Mexico! A great place to eat snacks is El Parque de las Palapas because the food is incredibly cheap! You can get all kinds of food like the famous elotes (corn cob), marquesitas which are like rolled-crepes, churros and more delicious treats for 2 or 3 USD.

If you’re looking for a more consistent dinner stroll around Tulum Avenue and enter one of the local restaurants, most of them don’t need reservations. There you can taste the most amazing food for less than 20 USD. Tip: Order from their national beer section!

5. Travel with friends

Friends make everything better… and cheaper! Many places like beach clubs, night clubs, and tour agencies will make discounts on big groups of 5 to 10 people.  And if your friends can’t travel with you – make new ones! Cancun has a relaxed environment that makes socializing easier.

6. Book with anticipation

This tip applies for hotel reservations, plane tickets and even tours and activities. While it is common knowledge that plane tickets and hotel rooms are pricier when purchased from one day to another, I had no idea it applied for tours too!

There are very expensive tours out there like diving or fishing but thankfully, when visiting Cancun on a budget, there’s always the option to try less flamboyant but equally memorable experiences, for a fraction of the price. I did 3 different tours with the water sports center Aquaworld and I paid less than 100 USD for everything:

Pro tip: Buy your activities together in a combo instead of one by one + book before your arrival to get discounts!

Flowrider

The Flowrider is a platform where you can surf an endless wave.The point is to stand on a long board and sway but I couldn’t find enough balance to stay up and ended up falling countless times, it was hilarious. However, I did have fun in the bodyboard where you go on your tummy or on your knees. Tip: Use a one piece bathing suit when doing  this activity!

Hydrobounce

The Hydrobounce obstacle course is quite fun once you channel your inner child. And you can be in there all day from 9 to 5 if you want. I left after only one hour but that was because I started getting super hungry.

Snorkel in Punta Nizuc

The snorkel in Cancun one was my favourite tour – first a boat takes you to a platform in Punta Nizuc. Then, you put on the snorkel gear and jump into the water which is incredibly clear. A guide will take you to the reef which is stunning – fishes of all colors and shapes swimming inches from you, some statues from the MUSA gallery, and even turtles!

7. Have a good attitude

This nugget of wisdom applies to Mexico and every other destination in the world: be nice! It might not help you save a lot but it’ll make your overall experience better. I must say being nice did once get me a free taco! In Mexico they call it el pilón which means one more and my relaxed disposition and smile proved me worthy of the taquero‘s grace.


Remember that going to Cancun on a budget is still going to Cancun! Therefore, it’s an extraordinary experience so don’t think too much about it, start saving up and go go go!