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Top 10 Things To Know Before Visiting Cancun

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

With its turquoise sea, powdery white beaches, swanky resorts, and ancient Mayan ruins, Cancun is a dream destination for many. There is so much to do when visiting this much-sought-after Mexican city - from taking a refreshing plunge in its famous cenotes to enjoying its balmy weather while sipping cocktail drinks. But Cancun is so much more...While planning your vacation there are some important points to take into consideration to ensure that everything goes smoothly. To avoid any stressful situation, here is a list of the top 10 things to know before visiting Cancun.

What To Get Before Traveling

Like any destination, it is important to have a checklist so as not to miss any important steps before visiting the destination. Before visiting Cancun, you should make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Besides, travelers will have to complete the ‘Forma Migratoria Multiple’, which is the Mexican Tourist Card. This is normally issued at any Mexican consulate or can be obtained directly from the airline. It is also advisable to carry a photocopy of the Mexican Tourist Card all the time when you travel across Mexico. Depending on nationality, some travelers will have to apply for a visa. In addition to this, some of the documents you should include in your checklist are:

  • A return flight ticket

  • Hotel bookings

  • Proof of sufficient funds

Visa Requirement for Visiting Cancun

It is crucial to check whether you need to apply for a tourist visa before visiting Cancun. If you are from countries like the United States, Canada, and European Union, then there is no need to apply for a visa. Citizens from these countries will have about 180 days to stay in Cancun. While those from certain countries are unfortunately not exempted from visa applications. These countries include the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and India. Though, it is important to note that all visitors are subjected to apply for the Mexico Tourist Card.

Choosing Accommodation in Cancun

The most popular spot to choose accommodation in Cancun is hands down the 13-mile-long Hotel Zone (Zone Hotelera). This area is located about a 20-minute drive from downtown Cancun, making it very convenient, especially for those looking for easy access to facilities such as nightclubs, shopping malls, restaurants, and fun outdoor activities. Whether you’re looking for affordable accommodation or a luxurious hotel with all-inclusive packages, the choice is endless. But you should also be aware not to fall for tourist traps with promotions and special events. It is recommended to always check with the locals and do your own research before booking any place or even activities. Make sure to check online reviews about the place you’re planning to book. The Hotel Zone is divided into three distinct areas, notably:

  • North Hotel Zone: This area has many options to dine and surf.

  • Middle Hotel Zone: Those looking for family-friendly areas can opt for this hotel zone.

  • South Hotel Zone: This area is ideal for those looking for less crowded beaches.

Avoid ATM Scams

Just like in any city around the world, Cancun is not different when it comes to visitor-targeted scams. Therefore, it is always important to consider the possibility of scams when going out, especially when retrieving money from ATMs. In Cancun, there are two types of ATMs, notably those owned by the banks and the others owned by private individuals. To avoid being scammed, it is recommended to use those which are owned by the banks as they offer the lowest fees. As a rule of thumb, tourists are advised to always check the ATM machine and to cover their pins when retrieving the money.

Saving Money in Cancun

There are so many ways to save money while staying in Cancun. For example, the best way to travel around the city is by bus. There are many advantages to traveling in this mode of transport. Firstly, the cost of the bus ticket is very affordable (which is less than a dollar), and then there is a high chance to mingle with the locals and see the authentic side of the place - all by traveling on a bus. Note that buses make occasional stops along the Boulevard Kukulcan and the downtown area.

In addition, you can save a lot by booking an all-inclusive hotel package, which normally includes meals, complimentary access such as a fitness center, sometimes a spa, drinks, and free water sports.

Tip: It is advisable to do transactions in pesos instead of foreign currency.

Use Pesos

Another thing to know before visiting Cancun is to use the local currency, which is the Mexican peso to save money. Instead of choosing third-party machines to retrieve the money, use credit cards and get the money from the bank ATMs. The most used credit cards are MasterCard and Visa cards.

Tip: For better exchange rates, try Downtown Cancun instead of the airport’s currency exchange booths.

Skip Mainstream Attractions

Of course, Cancun has stunning white beaches and turquoise waters, but there is more to explore when it comes to this beautiful city. For instance, its ancient ruins such as the Chichén Itzá which is 1200 years old. You can get an insight into the history of the place and the ancient culture that once thrived here. Other ancient sites include El Rey Maya ruins and the Cancun Underwater Museum.

Safety in Cancun

To ensure the safety of tourists in Cancun, local authorities are always on guard. Thanks to this effort the crime rates in the city are far lower than in other areas in Mexico. Yet, it is always important to stay alert while strolling in crowded places and avoid notorious places, where there are high chances of illicit activities occurring.

While there are many places to swim and relax, tourists should be aware of the beach flags. For example, green flag beaches are known for being good spots to swim. Beaches with red and yellow flags have potential dangers. And the black flag beaches should be avoided.

Avoid Drinking Tap Water in Cancun

Finally, another important point to remember before visiting Cancun is to avoid its tap water since the water quality might not be good for drinking. To avoid visiting the hospital due to nausea or diarrhea known as the ‘turista’, opt for filtered bottled water instead of tap water. Note that most of the hotels do offer complimentary bottled water, which is purified and safe to drink.

Find the Authentic Side of Cancun

Looking for the authentic side of Cancun? Then, check out the downtown area, where you can experience a more authentic feel of the city. Shop local artisanal products, while strolling the streets, eat typical dishes such as Sopa de Lima, or Tacos al pastor, and meet the friendly locals.

Whether you wish to laze on the white beach or learn more about the local culture, there is so much to do when it comes to Cancun. To enjoy a perfect getaway, it is crucial to plan and get the right information. You can start planning your vacation in Cancun with these ten points in this article.

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