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Cancun: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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Cancun is a city that was built for tourists and is one of the most popular destinations in Mexico for Americans. The city has built up the infrastructure to support and cater to the millions of tourists it hosts each year. It is easily accessible, affordable, and a great place to relax during the day and party at night.

But before setting off to Cancun, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Cancun, including:

Cancun Hotel Zone Pictured During Sunrise, Mexico
  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Cancún:

Colorful Cancun sign

Did you know… Every year, tons of smelly sargassum seaweed was ashore on local beaches, which can ruin a travelers dream of pristine beaches and crystal clear water. The sargassum seaweed is typically present between April and October, but this year it has been washing ashore much earlier.

1) Cancun Affordability

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The currency in Cancun is the Mexican Peso, or MXN. The current exchange rate is MXN$100 = $5.55 USD and $100 USD = MXN$1,800.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

Accommodation

Accommodations in Cancún range from ultra-affordable hostels to fancy 5-star all-inclusives and everything in between. Prices fluctuate with the seasons – with the most expensive times to visit being December – April.

  • Average hotel price: One night at a 3-star hotel costs around $75, while a room at a 4-star hotel is around $200/night.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: Luxury all-inclusive 5-star resorts typically cost at least $500 per night but can run into the thousands depending on which property you stay at.  
  • If you're on a budget: There are lots of affordable hostels to choose from in Cancún. While there are cheaper options, a bed in a well-rated hostel will cost around $25, while private ensuite rooms start at around $55 per night.

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Resort swimming pool in Cancun, Mexico

Food

Visitors to Cancún will find everything under the sun when it comes to dining. How much you spend is up to you.

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $45.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay less than $10.
  • A bottle of beer costs between $2 – $4, while a cappuccino is about $2.50.

Transportation

While many visitors to Cancún

  • Traveling by city bus is a popular way to get around Cancún. Fares within the city are set at a flat rate of $0.67 per journey.
  • Taxis are plentiful in Cancún and typically cost less than $3 for a short journey in Cancún Centro and between $9 – $22 in the Hotel Zone. Trips between Centro and the Hotel Zone average about $16. Be sure to negotiate your price with the driver before getting in the cab.
  • Uber is now available in Cancún and typically has better prices than taxis. However, Uber is not allowed to operate at hotels, so you’ll have to meet your driver on the street. Similarly, Ubers are not currently able to take passengers to or from the airport.
Sign for airport taxis in cancun

2) Culture And Etiquette In Cancun

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Cancún.

  • DON’T stress about clothing: As a tourist resort town, Cancún is very casual.
  • DO learn some Spanish: While you’ll have no trouble getting by with English in Cancún, it is always a good idea to learn some Spanish words and phrases before arriving.
  • DON’T forget to tip: 10% – 15% tips are the norm in Cancún
Young Female Tourist Walking The Beach In Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

3) Top Attractions in Cancun

Cancún is full of incredible attractions. Here are a few of the top things to check out while exploring the city:

  • Chichén Itzá – An incredible Mayan Ruin and UNESCO Heritage Site, 2 hours from Cancún
  • Explore the cenotes – The Yucatan Peninsula is home to some of the world’s best cenotes. Many tours will bring you to Chichén Itzá and nearby cenotes in one trip
  • Day trip to Isla Mujeres – Isla Mujeres is a beautiful island off of the Cancun coast and is accessible by a 30-minute ferry ride
Female Tourist In Chichen Itza, Yucatan State, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Mexico is no stranger to travel warnings, but violence and crime against tourists is not very common in the resort areas of Canún. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe and healthy:

  • Stay updated with travel warnings: Cancun is typically under a level 2 warning from the U.S. State Department, meaning tourists should “exercise increased caution.”
  • Beware of pickpockets: Be especially vigilant in crowded areas and on the beach.
  • Know the emergency number: Tourists can access emergency services by dialing 911 or 066.
  • Be aware: Avoid walking alone at night, and don’t leave drinks unattended.
  • Watch out for tourist scams: Although they are not very common in Cancún, it is always wise to remember that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Cancún trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
  • Be smart when leaving the airport: in an area known as the ‘Shark Tank', travelers are often tricked into taking the wrong ground transportation and then being required to attend a timeshare presentation. For more detailed information, check out this TikTok.
Crowded beach in Cancun

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine, and Mexican cuisine is known for being especially delicious. Don't let yourself leave Cancún without trying at least one of the following:

Food

  • Marquesitas – crispy rolled crepes filled with melted cheese and a sweet filling like jam, peanut butter, or chocolate
  • Panuchos – Corn tortillasfilled with refried beans and topped with veggies and beef chicken or turkey
  • Habanero Salsa – Spice lovers will be at home in Cancún, as it is known for this rich salsa made with local habanero chiles

Drink

  • Pozol – A thirst-quenching traditional drink made with corn and cocoa
  • Agua de Jamaica – A refreshing hibiscus flower tea served cold
  • Mezcal – A liquor made from agave plants used to make cocktails or served straight up
Drinks at cancun restaurant

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Cancún for January 2023 were 30.93mbps download and 13.92mbps upload.

Young Male Tourist Walking The Beach In Cancun, Mexico

7) How Long Can I Stay?

Americans traveling to Mexico can stay for up to 180 days on a tourist visa. Visitors should be aware that the length of validity stamped in your passport is at the discretion of the immigration officer. It is wise to have handy proof of a ticket to exit Mexico, as many immigration officers will ask to see it.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.