mexico cheat sheet

Want to know some of the basics before you travel in Mexico? We've got you covered!


125.5 million

main cities

Mexico City (capital), Guadalajara, Monterrey, Puebla

bordering countries

USA, Belize and Guatemala.

Mexico's top tourist destinations

Outside the capital, the beach resorts scattered around the Yucatan Pensinsula (Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum) are extremely popular. Tourists also want to visit a number of Mayan ruins in the country such as Chichen Itza, Palenque and Teotihuacan. 


Local languages spoken

Spanish is official language. A number of indigenous languages are also spoken in pockets throughout the country. 


Local currency and 2017 exchange rates

The Mexican peso (MXN) is the official currency

$1 USD = $19 MXN|  £1 = $25.5   |  €1 = $22.5


Essential reading


Whilst we now do most of our planning online, we still never head off an adventure without a guidebook buried in our backpack. If your Spanish is a bit rusty, this little phrase book may well prove indispensable!


Our route Through Mexico

Mexico is a vast country to navigate. Over our two visits, encompassing almost three months, we covered a lot of ground and still hardly scratched the surface. On the east, you'll find the concentration of the most touristy destinations (Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum) whilst there are some absolute gems on the southern coast where mezcal country and pristine beaches come together with delicious regional food offerings. 

North Mexico? We didn't make it that far...this time.

Mexico's must-try foods

ALL OF IT! Seriously, we adore Mexican food and it was an amazing experience to taste the authentic stuff. Mole sauces, hot sauces to burn your tongue, fresh-made corn tortillas, bundles of limes and coriander - excellent flavours and dishes bursting with colour. 

There are a number of regional variations on dishes and some are unique to certain states (such as tlayudas in Oaxaca), so make sure to keep our eyes open and try as much as you can. Tex-mex cuisine is a million miles away from the stuff we found and sampled on our trip (a Mexican friend tells us that burritos and fajitas are more common in Mexico's north), so you may be a little surprised at the options on offer at first. However, you'll quickly learn to love 'em!


Is Mexico good for vegetarians?

In comparison to elsewhere in Latin America, street stalls in Mexico offer quite a number of vegetarian options including tlayudas, flautas, tacos (often on request), quesadillas and sopas.

Whilst there is still an abundance of meat everywhere, vegetarian food really can be found in almost all restaurants, as long as you're happy to only have a couple of options.

Additionally, in the large towns and cities, it's not uncommon to come across entirely vegetarian and even vegan restaurants.


The transport options

Between some towns and cities, there will be collectivo mini-vans. Across the country, Mexico has a very developed and established bus network with good to excellent buses on the main routes, meaning you really don't have to bother with expensive shuttle buses services. 

Given the huge distances between one state and another, if you have a number of places you want to visit, it's definitely worth considering a few inter-city flights. Click here to search for specific routes.


The accommodation options

Despite problems in some states, tourism throughout Mexico remains strong and accommodation options have flourished. Whilst we opted for hostels during our stay in the country, hotels, airbnbs, apartments and home-stays are a possibility.

Airbnb | | Hostelworld


Can I see it all in a month?

In a word, no. This is a huge country to navigate and, if you try and do too much too quickly, then you're going to spend a lot of your time on buses or planes. We'd recommend you to focus on a small section of the county and really get under its skin. 


Is it safe to drink the water?

No. That's why we always recommend travelling with a water bottle that has an in-built filter, carrying a glass bottle that you can fill up from free filtered water at your accommodation or using a steripen.


is malaria present? 

Yes. If you're travelling to the states of Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Nayarit, and Sinaloa then anti-malarials are recommended. See your local travel clinic for further advice and be sure to pack some good mosquito repellent!

But while you're here, take a look at this post and this post.


Recommended vaccinations

In addition to the normal immunisations you would have received as a child, it is also recommended to have Typhoid and Hepatitis A prior to a trip to Mexico. Additionally, if you are going to be in the country for a significant period of time or undertaking other risky activities, please consider a course of rabies vaccines (a travel nurse will be able to provide more information).

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