Where, what, how, when… Shopping, visas, water, medicine, culture, history, customs, buses, taxies, how to get around and more…
Reasons to go to Cancun
Cancun attracts more visitors than any other region in Mexico. More than three million people visit annually for the fantastic climate and amenities.
In the 1960’s, the Mexican government saw the potential for the mother of all resort regions on the white-sand beaches off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula. Now Cancun is synonymous with Spring Break, but it is much more than a party town. The main beach at Cancun is really a barrier island shaped like a number 7. Running down the east side of this magnificent beach are shops, restaurants, malls, clubs, and huge Maya-inspired hotels.
For a quieter holiday, try the Mexican Riviera, which extends south of Cancun to more traditional, historical, and natural areas like Isla Mujeres, the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and the island of Cozumel.
Just about every kind of water sport is available in Cancun – parasailing, water skiing, scuba diving and snorkeling. Or make like Ernest Hemingway and go sport fishing in the outer Caribbean for sailfish, marlin, dorado, wahoo, grouper and blue fin tuna.
The average temperature in Cancun is 80°F with more than 240 days of sunshine. Rain is rare, with late August through November being the rainy season.
Cancun Peak season:
The best time to take a flight to Cancun is between December to April.
Late April and May are good times to snap up a bargain. Temperatures are in the upper 80’s and Cancun gets humid, but the breezes off the Caribbean should keep it manageable.
Cancun Off season:
Between June and November the weather in Cancun is hot and humid, while the fall is hurricane season.
Getting Around Cancun
In Cancun it is easy to walk, and if you don’t want to hire a car, you could get around town by taxi. Prices are set by zone, but be warned that locals pay about half of what tourists pay and prices for guests at more expensive hotels are approximately double those for guests of budget hotels. Taxis can be rented for $20 per hour for travel around the city and hotel zone.
Bus travel is popular within Cancun. Ruta 1 and 2 city buses travel frequently from the mainland to the beaches along Avenida Tulum (the main street) and all the way to Punta Nizuc at the far end of the hotel zone on Isla Cancun. Ruta 8 buses go to Puerto Juarez/Punta Sam for ferries to Isla Mujeres. They stop on the east side of Avenida Tulum. City buses operate between 6am and 10pm daily. Beware of private buses along the same route; they charge more than the public ones – about 6 pesos (60¢). An alternative is to rent a moped from about $30 for a day. Don’t forget your crash helmet.
US dollars are accepted everywhere in the main hotel zone of Cancun, but exchange rates vary widely. Also, as you venture further into Mexico, using dollars becomes more difficult. Exchange your currency for local tender and pay for everything in pesos.
In Cancun you’ll find many familiar shops, restaurants, and services, and you don’t need to be unusually concerned about contracting tropical illnesses. However, outside Cancun, be careful with food and water. Read up on avoiding Montezuma’s Revenge.
Be prepared to haggle, but do some price comparison first. Unless you are certain that the item is exclusive to a particular vendor, shop around and find the vendor with the best initial quote, and then haggle.
The biggest event is Carnival, held in February just before Lent. In keeping with Mexico’s strong religious tradition, Inmaculada Concepcion is held on Isla Mujeres in December. For lovers of physical exercise, Cancun’s International Marathon takes place just before the Christmas tourist rush.
Here are a few things that everyone should know for their next vacation in Cancun.
Taxis in Cancun
Cancun downtown taxi prices vary, but the average fare is 15 pesos, but they will try to charge tourist more(around 20 pesos). Taxis from downtown Cancun to the hotel zone are a minimum of 50 pesos. You can get a taxi cab anywhere in Cancun, the cost is variable depending on the zone, fares to or from the hotel zone are the most expensive, we suggest you to arrange the price with the driver first. In most of the hotels you can find at the lobby area or by the bell boy counter a sign with the current prices for local taxis. The picture on the right shows the average size of the taxis, all of them are white and green stripped, it must have a number too. Capacity: up to 4 people without luggage or 3 with luggage. Local taxis are not allowed to transport passengers from the airport, they can take you over there for your departure only. To go to your hotel from the airport you can use any transportation line located on the two terminals but be aware with the unauthorized persons working at the airport, they are commonly called pirates and you could end paying much more than the regular rate. We suggest to pre-book your airport transportation service, it is more convenient, safe and easy.
Cancun Buses cost $7 pesos (NO American coins) per person / 1 way. You get a ticket, but, it is for their control. There are 4 buses R-1, R-2, R-15 & R 27. If you are traveling within the hotel zone then it really does not matter what bus you take (Wet’n Wild is the exception. It is in the hotel zone but only half the buses go there so ask before you get on). R-2 & R-15 go to Wal-mart & Mercado 28. R-1 you ask! Well, it now goes almost everywhere. You have to read the front right window of the bus as it lists where it ends up. R-1’s will go to Puerto Juarez, Wal-mart, Plaza 2000, Mercado 23, the bus station & places I have never been. The R 27 turns left on Tulum Ave & goes to Plaza Las Americas (the local’s mall).
Cancun Bus Tips
a) Last man standing does not win anything. It means you will be flying soon. If you are the last person to pay the driver then before you can think about where you want to sit he will be going 78 miles per hour.
b) Telling the bus driver where to get off is a good start but not always will it work. Most do not speak English well enough to understand you. Have an idea of where you are going before you get on. Look for landmarks.
c) They will not stop to let you off unless you ask them to. Don’t assume they stop at all the stops.
d) To flag a bus down you need to wave one of your body parts.
e) Cheapest tour in Cancun so enjoy it.
f) Get on in the front and off from the back door whenever possible.
g) Don’t bring drinks on the bus as they will most likely end up on someone else.
f) When getting off NO ONE moves for you so if the bus is packed, put your head down and push.
All stores, restaurants will take US dollars and travelers checks. Odds are however that the exchange will be in their favor. It is best to exchange your money first in either the bank (best options), exchange places (casa de cambio) or in the hotel (check to rate as most do not give you a good rate). NO ONE takes US coins, bills that are ripped, written on, taped up or glued back together. See Money Exchange Tips
Salsa: Shrimp Bucket, Batacha, Azucar, Mambo Cafe Rock’n Roll: Hard Rock Cafe, Carlos’n Charlie’s, La Ruina Jazz: Blue Bayou (Fri/Sat), Roots Mariachi: OK Maguey, Perico’s
Shopping tour : We recommend you this great Cancun City Tour, the transportation company is very professional and reliable.
Don’t drink the water even if the hotel has a purified water system, it tastes funny and you really don’t know the cleaning and maintenance on the water purification system, often they are not well maintained. Mexican bottled water is 1/3 the price. Avoid people on the street say ” YO VIVO A KEY” means, I live here. Set taxi fares before getting in. If you have a problem, take his number off the car & report it to your hotel. Use environmentally friendly sunscreen when in national water parks. DON’T let people change your mind about a restaurant. ‘Oh that restaurant is closed’ or ‘My uncle owns a better one.’ My favorite is ‘Are you sure you want to eat there?’ Every restaurant pays a commission to concierges, taxis, travel agents reps, bellboys, front desk clerks, maids, salesclerks, iguanas, sharks, monkeys etc. The commission could be as high as 15% of your bill and of course that fee is added to the menu price. 97% of restaurants pays. Most people speak ‘JOB English’ meaning they get by when you ask them questions that they answer daily. Speak slowly & clearly. Don’t use uncommon words. Don’t expect everyone to understand your accent.
Ocean temperature year round is 80F so, jump in! Crossing the street is not a right; it’s a challenge. YOU DO NOT have the right of way even in a cross walk or at a red light. Be on the defensive. Taxi & bus drivers do not have any education and think that the road holds 3 things;
1) Their vehicle, 2) Their garbage & 3) Their right of way. So RUN when crossing the street. Use sunscreen even on an overcast day.
If you where 2 hours from the pyramids in Egypt would you go? If yes, go to Chichen-Itza.
Ice is safe in the drinks. All restaurants wash the vegetables in purified water. Even the taco guy on my corner. Always carry change! 5, 10, 20 pesos. Amazing how many stores don’t have change and it will be your fault. ATM machines, credit card slips are in pesos so DON’T PANIC when you see all those zeros Watch out for hot salsa! It’s the next day that bites. Well, bites… How to speak better Spanish? Drink more tequila! Best thing to do? Get up at 6:30 am & walk on the beach. THE BEST! If someone says ‘I understand’, they don’t. It is that simple.
Tip your maid daily; a buck or 2. Exchange your dollars in exchanges houses, maybe your hotel or banks. You will get a better rate than the stores & restaurants. E T call home Dial 001 – area code – #. Buy Ladatel phone cards (50 cents a minute). The phones are everywhere and the cards are sold in most stores & money exchange booths. DO NOT call collect. Minimum charge is US$40! You will find these phones in 50% of the hotel rooms, lobbies and on the street.
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