Are You Planning a Trip to Mexico?
Traveling to somewhere new can be an emotional challenge, especially when it’s your first time abroad. With more and more citizens of the U.S. making their way south of the Rio Grande to visit many wonderful attractions of Mexico, knowing what to expect will make things go much smoother for you.
We’ve put together some of the best tips for first-time travelers to visit Mexico. These tips feature some practical information about visiting Mexico that you may not find elsewhere. So, without further ado, let’s get started with the first and foremost tip of the bunch-
Keep Your Mexico Tourist Card!
Once you enter Mexico, you’ll be asked to fill out a customs and immigration form (FMM Tourist Card). Then, an official will stamp the form, allowing you to enter the country. You’ll find two sections to this form (above and below a perforation), both of which must be filled out.
The immigration officials will retain the top part of the form when you enter the country. The bottom part will be stamped with your entry date and the number of days you’re permitted to stay in the country, which is usually 180 days, and then handed back to you. You need to keep this bottom part of your tourist card somewhere safe as you’re required to turn it in before boarding your plane home. Luckily, if you do end up losing the form, it isn’t hard to replace. However, it’s quite a time-consuming task, and you’ll need to pay a fee of 533 Pesos (MXN). So, better be safe than sorry.
Let Your Guard Down
Mexicans are generally nice to tourists and known for their warmth and sense of humor. Maybe it’s your first time out of the country, or maybe it’s your first time visiting Mexico, whatever the case is, allow yourself to let your guard down a bit. You’ll fall in love with pleasant nature and the hospitality of the culture and people. However, be smart and stay in the tourist areas and try not to put yourself in a bad situation by drinking too much or buying drugs.
From the desert plains and tropical rain forests to the stunning seascapes and land, from ancient ruins like the ones in Chicken Itza to the magnificent beaches of Akumal and Tulum, the natural attractions in Mexico are as beautiful as they’re diverse.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a foodie or an adventurer, a beach bum or an explorer, you’ll always find something astonishing to see, do, feel, or savor in Mexico, unlike anything you’d otherwise experience at home.
Try to Speak Some Spanish
You can try and throw in a few words in Spanish. Gracias = Thank You. If someone says Gracias to you, respond: De Nada = It’s nothing. Buenas Dias = Good Day. Buenas Tardes = Good Afternoon. Most important of all: Donde Es El Banos = Where is the bathroom! Como Se Dice En Espanol = How do you say in Spanish?
It’s always fun learning a new language to engage with people. It’s all about challenging your inhibitions and fears and trying to communicate with people that speak a different language.
Native speakers will always appreciate your attempts to try and communicate with them in their own tongue despite your struggles. Instead of making fun of you, the vast majority of Mexicans will be grateful, not to mention their kind an understanding demeanor.
Try the Food
Mexican Food can be found in almost every major city in the world. However, it is much more genuine in Mexico, naturally. Mexican cuisine is very different and complex than what you’d expect. Mexican food is a breed and a league of its own. Taste the mixture of indigenous, Spanish, and modern spices and flavors that lusciously make up the delightful kaleidoscope of colorful Mexican dishes.
While walking down the streets, you’ll inhale the tantalizing aromas and scents of dozens of Mexican dishes being prepared. From delicious street food made with fresh, vibrant ingredients, to mouthwatering renditions of classic Mexican comfort dishes, you’ll want to avail yourself of these scrumptious delights while traveling in Mexico. Here are some of the popular foods you should try out:
Tacos al pastor
This particular taco dish is not the tacos you might have tried in your country. It features sliced pork, slow-roasted over a spit along with coriander leaves, pineapple, and onions; all served on a corn tortilla.
This is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in Mexico, featuring lightly-fried tortillas cut into little pieces, topped with salsa and a bevy of cream, eggs, chicken, or cheeses, and served with frijoles- a generous side of refried beans.
Stale tortillas are used to make tostadas, served with meats, vegetables, cheese, and a number of garnishes.
Chiles en nogada
This is quite a patriotic dish. It represents the colors of the Mexican flag and features an appetizing mixture of spices, fruits, and chopped meat. The mixture is then stuffed into Poblano chiles, then sprinkled with a walnut-based cream sauce and pomegranate seeds atop the dish.
This is another great Mexican street food that features steamed pockets of dough made from corn and stuffed with fillings like chiles, meats, vegetables, fruits, and cheeses.
Go Beyond the Beach Resorts
This is an important tip for traveling to Mexico. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the beautiful Mexico Beach Resorts. However, many visitors stick to the tourist-filled coastal areas while missing out on a lot of what the country has to offer!
This is why you should get off the travel lemming path and explore the towns, mountains, quiet fishing villages, and countryside. Mexico is huge, and there’s a lot more to see there than just the beaches.
Pay in Pesos
While most places accept U.S. dollars, it’s not recommended to pay with them. It is one thing when you’re tipping, but when buying something that costs more than 100 pesos, consider doing it in the local currency as you’ll get a bad exchange rate otherwise.
There are places where prices are fixed. However, there are certain places where you can bargain while purchasing something. Ask the vendor about their lowest price before accepting any final price — just a small tip for you.
No Museums on Mondays
This is a pretty straightforward tip. Museums throughout Mexico are often closed on Mondays. The weekends are basically when they get the most visitors, and so they must remain open. Instead of giving a day off to their employees on Sundays, they close on Monday as it’s usually a slower day. Therefore, plan your museum visits for other days of the week.
Don’t Flaunt Your Valuables
Be smart. As a tourist, you need to remain relatively inconspicuous as you can be an easy target for theft. This is very important in cities and crowded areas. While this isn’t a very common thing in Mexico, you should still be cautious and keep your belongings safe, especially in big cities.
See a Doctor If You Become Ill
If you think you need to see a doctor for some reason during your visit, don’t hesitate. Major pharmacies like Farmacia de Guadalajara or Farmacia del Ahorro have their own walk-in clinics called “Consultorios.” Just head over there, take a seat and wait for the doctor to check in on you.
Getting out and interacting with people from different cultures is always an inspiring aspect of life. There’s so much to see and enjoy in Mexico. It has mountains, cities, beaches, plains, deserts, canyons, jungles, and every sort of landscape you can think of. The hospitality you’ll receive is as authentic as it is endearing.
If you’ve already reached this point, we can hope that you’ve gathered some of the important tips mentioned above in the article. Feel free to do more research before you visit Mexico for the first time.
Did you find this helpful? Share your thoughts and experiences with us regarding traveling to different countries in the comments below.