Adventuring in Mexico can be fairly affordable, but there can also be significant differences in how much things cost based on where you go. Depending on whether you want access to pristine beaches versus architectural ruins or excellent dining versus street tacos, the necessary budget can range considerably.
But part of heading to unknown destinations is being prepared, which is why you need to know how much cash to bring. Whether in pesos or dollars, here's how much you can expect to spend on one vacation day in Mexico, depending on where you stay.
Tulum's Reputation Fetches Local Spots Higher Prices
Plenty of travelers claim that Tulum is one of the most expensive places to explore in Mexico. That might have something to do with the fact that it's a huge tourist draw, thanks to the Mayan ruins and perfect turquoise water. From IG-worthy snaps of cenotes to dining on excellent seafood, expect to pay a pretty penny in Tulum. Well, at least relatively speaking.
According to Numbeo, the average meal (per person) at a cheap restaurant will cost you an average of $80 MXN. Based on the current exchange rate, that's $3.66 USD. But a three-course meal for two people only costs $500 MXN, or under $23 in US dollars. A coffee will run you just over $2 USD, a soft drink is under a dollar, and a 5-mile taxi trip will be under $8 USD.
All told, for three meals for two people, a 10-mile roundtrip taxi trip, two coffees, two beers, and a few bottles of water, you can expect to pay just under 2,000 pesos to eat and get around. That amounts to $92.
Add in the cost of touring Cenote Dos Ojos (tickets are about 200 pesos per person, says CenotesMexico), plus the Mayan ruins (at 35-40 pesos, plus extra 30 pesos if you have a video camera, says CancunAdventure), and your grand total for a day of eating and exploring in Tulum, MX equals about $115 for two people.
And if you book a nice hotel like Elements Tulum Boutique Hotel, Lychee Tulum Hotel, or Xscapetulum, you'll still pay under $60 per night for accommodations.
Bottom line: One day of eating, exploring, and sleeping in Tulum will cost two people about $175.
Heading To Oaxaca Might Trim Your Budget A Bit
Oaxaca is another touristy town, but its appeal is about more than just colonial buildings and pre-Columbian archaeological sites. The prices here are up to 53 percent lower than in Tulum, says Numbeo, which is nothing to scoff at when you're on a strict vacay budget.
Per Numbeo's figures, which are reported by travelers themselves, your meals, coffee, soft drinks, water, and transportation for one day will average under 1530 pesos, or $70, for two people.
The transportation allowance of ten miles should get you to the archaeological sites and back from the city of Oaxaca de Juarez (the capital). Once you arrive there, expect to pay about 75 pesos per person for admission, says TripSavvy. Kids under 13 are free, but you'll pay extra if you bring a video camera.
Free attractions like the Jardín Etnobotánico de Oaxaca (a botanical garden) can bolster your budget, and you can tour Zócalo Oaxaca, the public square, without paying a peso. All told, you'll spend around 1700 pesos or approximately $78 USD per day to explore Oaxaca de Juarez.
For accommodations, you can choose from spots like Eco-hotel Las Mariposas, Casa Rua Hotel Boutique, Hotel Misión de Los Ángeles, or Hotel Victoria Oaxaca for under $45 per night. Of course, hostels—if you prefer that style—start at just under $10 per night, too.
Bottom line: Oaxaca will cost you around $125 per day if you choose a nicer hotel; just over $90 if you stay at a hostel for a night.
Puerto Escondido Has A Reputation For Being Supremely Affordable
Trips to Discover claims that Puerto Escondido (also in the state of Oaxaca) is one of the cheapest vacation spots in the country. That might be true, given Numbeo's statistics on the subject. Users on the site report that Puerto Escondido is in fact cheaper than Tulum and Oaxaca in terms of food and transportation costs.
It's not unheard of in Puerto Escondido to pay around 1700 pesos (or about $73) for food, water, a couple of beers and coffee, and taxi service. Plus, there aren't really any touristy attractions here that cost a lot of cash. You won't pay pesos to access Playa Puerto Angelito, an excellent beach for both fishing and relaxing, or heading to Playa Carrizalillo, where the sand is white and the bay is supremely beautiful.
Plus, you'll find affordable hotels like Hotel Paraiso Escondido, Aldea del Bazar Hotel and Spa, and Casa Losodelli (all highly rated on Google) for under $40 per night.
Bottom line: Puerto Escondido will cost you under $115 per day, with a nice hotel to lay your head at night.
Anywhere In Mexico Can Be More Affordable Than Other Countries
The truth is that heading to Mexico can be much more affordable than, say, touring Europe. And while the difference between Puerto Escondido's affordable amenities and Tulum's pricier options isn't much per day, consider that you'll save an average of $420 on a weeklong trip. That could make or break your vacation plans—so spend carefully!