Are you thinking of traveling to Cancun in Mexico?
As one of the most popular destinations in all of Latin America and by far one of the liveliest party hubs in the country, Cancun needs no real introduction.
This Mexican hotspot is known globally for its white-sand beaches, and for its proximity to some truly incredible mayan sites such as Chichen Itza.
With so many landmarks and the opportunity for endless adventure in the Yucatan Peninsula, where do you begin when it comes to deciding what to do?
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Traveling to Cancun travel guide
In this all-inclusive guide, we’ll explore at everything you need to know about Cancun as a first time visitor to Mexico and/or the Yucatan Peninsular.
We’ll cover travel tips and advice on things such as how to get there, where to stay, how to stay safe, the best things to do, when to visit and much more!
Where is Cancun?
Cancun is situated in the extreme south-east of Mexico, along the coast of the Riviera Maya region. See the map of Cancun below for more context:
As a result Cancun has a tropical climate, and is surrounded by the blue waters of the Caribbean as well as the nearby jungle further south.
Is Cancun safe for tourists?
We’ve covered some of the most dangerous places in Mexico on this blog and in our opinion, Cancun can be a double edged sword when it comes to safety.
The Hotel Zone of Cancun is the safest part for tourists to stay in. Here is where all the best hotels and top restaurants are located, and has a lot of police presence.
Downtown Cancun can be quite seedy, so we recommend avoiding the area especially at night. In and around the bus station is okay, however we still recommend taking taxis and not heading there alone at night.
How to get to Cancun?
Cancun is by far the easiest city in Mexico to arrive to (even more so than Mexico City, with flights tending to be cheaper here than to the capital).
It’s international airport is one of the best connected in Latin America, and you’ll find plenty of direct flights arriving here from all corners of the globe daily.
If in Mexico already, most major cities fly to Cancun direct (or you can connect in Mexico City). Then on arrival get a direct shuttle to your hotel to save time.
When in the regions of Chiapas or Oaxaca, you can take a bus to Cancun with many companies such as ADO and AU serving the route multiples times a day.
Many travelers to Mexico, especially the Yucatan region prefer to hire a car at the airport and then from there get in and around the region at their own leisure.
Where to Stay in Cancun
Although many prefer to head south towards Playa del Carmen and Tulum, Cancun definitely has some worthwhile areas to spend your time in.
The Hotel Zone, which wraps around Cancun’s Caribbean coast, is the most notable. We recommend staying in Flamingo by Andini Travel, which is right on the beach where you’ll have your own all-inclusive penthouse and pool.
If you’re looking to explore the whole Riviera Maya region during your trip, then Cancun’s centre (near the bus station) is a great area to stay in. Suites Cancun Center is our recommended hotel for a stay within this area of Cancun.
Best things to do in Cancun
Now let’s explore the very best things to do in Cancun, the surrounding region, as well as the top places to eat and to party.
The Hotel Zone
Also known as Cancun Island, this area is mostly known for its hotel and restaurant elegance. However simply walking around Kulkukan Boulevard, you’ll see many top beaches and areas perfect for hanging out in the Mexican Sun.
Ruta de Cenotes
Just outside of Cancun you’ll find this stretch of cenotes – which are open caves filled with bright blue or green water. There’s tons to choose from, where you can rope swing into the pools and also swim with tropical fish.
For the experienced scuba divers who wish to explore (the cenote route), you’ll be able to dive deep into the complex, underwater cave systems.
MUSA Underwater Museum
This one of a kind museum can only be explored whilst snorkeling! With over 500 sculptures ranging from humans to retro cars, it’s a cool way to spend the day.
You’ll need to get up early for this one and if you want make your own where there you can, just purchase your ticket here and turn up on the day and your guide will take you to the site. You’ll also want to pack some snacks to carry with you too.
Best day trips from Cancun
There are many day trips to choose from Cancun. The ones we’ve listed below are the best from our experience, with each offering a different day to the other.
Perhaps the most iconic ruins in the world, Chichén Itzá is the unmissable of our list and what better place to visit it from than Cancun?
Once the heart of the Mayan epoch, there are many sprawling temples and ancient sites to be discovered here. It’s easy to book a tour from Cancun to Chichén Itzá and you can combine the attaction with a visit to a Cenote as well.
If possible, try to head around March or September to witness the incredible equinox effects.
Whilst Cancun has many nearby islands (Cozumel and Isla Mujeres to name a few), Isla Holbox takes the crown here. Home to some of the most stunning beaches along the Mexican Caribbean, it’s a great place to wind down and chill.
To get here you’ll first need to take the two-hour bus to Chiquila, and then the ferry over to Holbox.
This is the best town along the coast to spot turtles, which is a very popular activity to do in the Riviera Maya. Head here and rent some snorkeling equipment, and start exploring in either Akumal Beach or Half Moon Bay.
There’s even a unique chance to visit the monkey Sanctuary where you can learn all about the animals and the stories of why they ended up there.
There’s lots of restaurants and bars here for refreshments. Akumal is around 2.5 hours south of Cancun, and you could even explore some of Tulum as it’s quite close to Akumal (Tulum Ruins being the main highlight).
Where to eat in Cancun?
Cancun is known for its range of Mexican dishes and international cuisines, however perhaps the top foods here are its seafood.
Places to eat in Cancun such as Kiosco Verde Marisquería is a great option for marisco-lovers, which is located within the Puerto Juárez district, whilst El Paisano del 23 (located within Mercado 23) is the best for its different meat dishes.
Cancun’s nightlife is legendary. Even if you don’t head here during Spring Break, it will be one of the most unforgettable experiences of your life. Cocobongo is the absolute must-visit when in Cancun.
With opera-style performances, pumping music and an endless options of cocktails and drinks, you’re guaranteed a good time here.
What you need to know about Cancun
Know you know what to do and where to eat, below are some important things to know about Cancun that may help you plan and prepare for a better trip overall.
Is Cancun Expensive?
Of all the top cities to visit in Mexico, Cancun tends to be among the more pricey. Within the hotel zone you can expect higher prices, however within town and near the bus station it’ll be a lot cheaper buying food, paying for local tours etc.
When you go will also have a big impact on costs. The touristy periods in Cancun are around Christmas, and also from March until April. Prices will be much higher during these times compared with the rest of the year.
Try brushing up on your Spanish to help you out when using taxis or negotiating with street vendors. Why not carry this Spanish Phrase book with you on your travels? Because being able to communicate in Spanish goes a long way here.
Events in Cancun
Spring Break is arguably the biggest event of all that takes place in Cancun. Held within March or April, the city descends into a festive chaos with parties every day and night. If you’re looking to party, this is the best time to visit Cancun.
For those looking for an extraordinary phenomenon, head to Cancun in and around the 21st March (or 21st September). These dates are known as the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes.
Go to the legendary ruins of Chichén Itzá, where the position of the sun will cast a large shadow of a snake along the pyramid (known as Kukulkan by the Mayans).
In November, Cancun hosts its annual Jazz Festival, with the genre having deep historical roots in Mexico. Here you can see many artists and varieties from all over the world, however the genre of Mexican Jazz is the most popular.
Cancun Travel Tips
The Best Time to Visit Cancun
Cancun has a tropical climate with both a dry and wet season, with each varying quite substantially from the other.
The dry season runs from December until April. During these months, average temperatures range from 74-79°F, with highs of up to 85°F and lows of 67°F. Rainfall throughout each of these months range from 1-2 inches, with March the overall driest for a visit.
The wet season starts in early May, and lasts up until November. Average daily temperatures during these months increase to between 77-83°F, with highs of up to 90°F, and lows of down to 71°F. Rainfall peaks this time of year, with between 3-5.5 inches falling within each month (September is usually the wettest).
Be sure to carry sunscreen as the heat can be enough to burn your skin here.
Got travel insurance for Cancun?
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Traveling to Cancun travel guide
That is all for our guide on traveling to Cancun.
As one of the most famous destinations in Latin America, Cancun never fails to impress even the most seasoned traveler. With its array of beaches, tropical weather and endless entertainment options, you’ll have a hard time leaving!
In this guide we’ve explored Cancun, including the best areas to visit. We’ve covered tips such as how to get there, where to stay, what to do and how to stay safe. We’ve also added some suggestions based on our own time spent here.
Enjoy your time in Cancun and be sure to take a look at some of our best sustainable travel tips to see how your trip can have a more positive impact.
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