Mexico

Mexico Flag

Sojourn to Mexico with beautiful destinations full of magic, colour and warmth. Mexico offers new experiences with a different flavour, adventure and a history that will enchant you. An exciting fusion of modern and ancient, Mexico offers its visitors a playground of diverse holiday adventures. Explore the heights of jungle-shrouded mountains, venture across cacti-spotted deserts, discover endless horizons from a sun-drenched coastline, or delve into cities that blend the modern, colonial and ancient... all the while enjoying the warm hospitality and great climate for which Mexico is justifiably famous.

Mexico sits at the southern end of North America, with the northern part being quite desert-like and the southern part mountainous jungle where you'll find Maya and Aztec ruins. Amazing sites can be found in the most populated cities of  Mexico City, Oaxaca and Merida, and the more well-known holidays hotspots of Cancun, Acapulco and Los Cabos.

History & Culture

Mexico's history spans back to around 1200BC with the first known society, the Olmecs, settling near what is now Veracruz. By 300BC villages based on agriculture and hunting were thriving, with around 10,000 Zapotec people living in Monte Alban. Between 100BC and 700AD Teotihuacan was constructed near what is now Mexico City. The Mayans civilization thrived between 250 and 900AD. The Toltecs, Aztecs and Spanish followed and so continued years of discovery, wars, traditions, invasions and growth. 

It is now a country rich in culture, with archaeological sites, museums, ancient architecture, traditions, colonial buildings and cathedrals in abundance. Mexicans celebrate their history and culture with religious fiestas, concerts, dance recitals and theatre performances. 

 

Mayan Ruins, Chichen Itza
Fotolia

Natural Wonders

With such geographical diversity and a range of climates, Mexico abounds with natural wonders. In the north of the country there are deserts, high mountain forests, and coastlines with unparalleled biodiversity. In the central part, there are large mountain ranges with volcanoes, and to the south you will find jungle areas with most of the archaeological sites.

Among the most important must-see's are the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, near Tulum in Riviera Maya, and the six national parks in the state of Chiapas. Explore the biosphere of the Sea of Cortes, off Los Cabos, in Baja California Sur; the stunning Copper Canyon near Chihuahua; Basaltic Prisms, rock formations carved by water over millions of years, located near Pichuca, an hour and a half from Mexico City; and the black turtles of Playa Maruata, Michoacan, around 4 hours from Zihuatanejo. 

Exotic Birds
Shutterstock

Outdoor Adventures

With such a diverse landscape and climate, Mexico presents so many opportunities to get out and explore these amazing landscapes. Mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing are some ways to experience the mountains and volcanoes, while kayaking, rafting or skydiving, and hot air ballooning will have you experiencing the great outdoors. Along the coast there is surfing, fishing and scuba diving. For the diver there are also underwater caves and underground rivers to discover.

Whale Shark, Cancun

Must-Do Experiences

Mexico offers so much variety and amazing experiences, the must-do list is quite long. For history and culture Chichen Itza and Palenque Ruins are just two fascinating archaeological sites that must be explored. Palacia Nacional, a grandiose colonial palace, and Museo Frida Kahlo are both must-sees if you are visiting Mexico City. Land's End in Cabo San Lucas is natural gem to explore. If you are wanting beaches, Playa Zicatela in Puerto Escondido offers 3km of beach with cafes, restaurants and great surfing, and . Party on at Coco Bongo in Cancun. The list goes on. 

Cancun Beach
Fotolia

Points of Interest

Language
Spanish is the official language of Mexico, although a further 63 Native American languages are recognised.
Currency
Mexico's official currency is the Mexican peso (MXN). The US dollar (USD) is also widely accepted.
Electricity
127V 60Hz
Time
Mexico is 16 hours behind AEST and 14 hours behind Western Standard Time (WST). Daylight Saving Time is observed from April to October.
Visas

For visa, passport, health and security advice for Australian Travellers, visit the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website: www.smartraveller.gov.au. Register your details online so you're easier to contact in case of an emergency.

Important Info
It is customary to leave a tip to thank waiters, valets, gas station employees, bellboys and other service providers. At restaurants, bars and coffee shops, it is customary to leave 10% of the total amount of the bill; if the service was very good, you may wish to leave up to 15%. Some restaurants and bars include the tip in the final bill, so be sure to check this in order not to overpay. Not tipping is frowned upon.

Useful Phrases

Hello, how are you? Hola, cómo le va?
Yes sir Si Señor
Cheers, thank you very much! Vale; muchas gracias
Where is the bathroom? ¿Dónde queda el baño?
Another beer, please Otra cerveza, por favour
I'll have scrambled eggs for breakfast, please Huevos revueltos para desayuno, por favour
Where are the Mariachis? ¿Dónde están los mariachis?
I need an ATM Necesito efectivo
When is Happy Hour? ¿Cuando empieza el happy hour?
Do I have to eat the worm? ¿Tengo que tragar el gusano?

Best Time to Visit

Mexico has two seasons, the rainy season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April), although the northern states are mostly unaffected by the rainy season. The weather in Mexico is as varied as its geography, there are tropical forests, arid deserts,fertile valleys and snow covered mountains. It is best to avoid the hurricane season from to June to October in the Yucatan Peninsula. During the spring break the beachside areas of Cancun and Puerto Vallarta draw the party crowds and are very busy. November can be a good time to travel if you want to avoid the crowds and get a good deal. The rainy season has just ended and the temperatures are getting a bit cooler.
Activity Time
Explore Mexico City Year round
Scuba Diving November to March
Snorkelling with Whale Sharks May to September
Rafting June to November
Enjoying the beach October to May
Climbing & Mountaineering November to March

Getting Around

Mexico has an efficient, comfortable and reasonably priced bus network so is a great option for moving around the country. Services are fairly frequest on the main routes. Alternatively more than 60 Mexican cities have airports and they can be good value on the longer journeys.

If you plan on spending most of your time in the one city, local transport options should cover your needs.

Dining

Tacos and guacamole! What more could you want. Beyond these classics, there are rich and various culinary traditions in Mexico. Assault your senses with the tastes, smells and textures of traditional Mexican dishes such as mole and salsas, or get adventurous with some more exotic options like maguey worms, ants and fried grasshoppers.

Sample the regional cuisines of Yacatan and Oaxaca. In Mexico City try a range of the traditional options or international gastronomy. Endless options to tempt and tantilise your tastebuds.

Shopping

In Mexico you will find everything from exclusive shopping malls with international brands, to shops selling fine crafts and even curio markets.

Find beautiful wooden, iron and silver handicrafts in the Historic Centre of Mexico City, more silver in Taxco, Guerrero where almost everyone in town is engaged in the manufacture of rings, earrings, pendants, necklaces, bracelets etc, black clay objects made in Oaxaca, musical instruments made in Paracho, Michoacan, leather goods and high quality handicrafts manufactured in Guanajuato, or the talavera work produced in Cholula, Puebla, using the same techniques from the sixteenth century and colourful handicrafts made by indigenous people like the Huichol Indians.

You may well need to pack an extra suitcase for some unique take home memories of your trip.

 

What to Pack

What you need to pack will depend on where you go and when you go. 
 
For beach towns pack your beach gear. Do take some sleeves and long pants/skirts to protect against sun, mosquitoes and for evenings. Dress more conservatively when visiting churches or if you are spending time in non-beach towns. A jumper or warm jacket is a good idea if visiting cooler inland areas and also for travelling on buses and planes. 
 

 

Mexico
The official name for Mexico is the United Mexican States and it is the 11th most populated country in the world with around 117 million people (as on Jul12).

Mexico has something for everyone, from relaxed beach breaks, spectacular natural wonders to explore, fascinating cities and a rich history.

Swim with dolphins in Cancun, explore underground rivers in Riviera Maya, visit the walled city of Tulum, emerse yourself in the magic of Chichen Itza, scuba dive in Cozumel, do some deep sea fishing in Ixtapa, tour a tequila factory in Mazatlan or visit the beautiful Arch of Cabo San Lucas at sunrise for an incredible experience.