For a lot of travelers, Mexico is peak #vacationgoals. There are plenty of beaches, the locals are friendly, things are cheap, and for many folks, it's easy to get to. All-inclusive resorts make things cozy and accessible, but you can also find plenty of culture if you travel just outside the pearly resort gates.

Still, there's a lot more to know about this exotic destination than just how to order una cerveza or ask where the bathroom is. Here are 11 things to know about Mexico while planning your trip.


What To Do And See Throughout Mexico

First of all, the beaches. But that's for another entry. Beyond the luxurious Pacific Ocean and its tropical waters, there is so much more to see and do in Mexico. There are ancient Mayan ruins throughout Mexico—archeological sites like Chichén Itzá, Tulum, and Coba—where you can learn about the history of the region.

Cenotes—natural sinkholes turned underground pools—are another enticing adventure throughout Mexico (but specifically in the Yucatán region). Tequila tasting (in a city called Tequila, no less), taste-testing street tacos, exploring art museums, and listening to live banda (regional music) are all worthwhile pastimes, too. BTW, Jalisco is the home of mariachi, so don't miss that, either.

Checking out Mexico City is also recommended, as it's the literal center of Mexico, being the capital and all. It's actually a state, too, and boasts things like bustling plazas and parks, museums, and historic centers.

The Best Time Of Year To Visit Mexico

While the climate in Mexico tends to be humid and hot year-round, there are also seasonal storms, and by seasonal, we mean in every season. While beachside destinations like Puerto Vallarta receive an influx of tourists in the winter months, other spots stay bustling all year.

The most temperate months tend to be from December through April, but advice varies based on where you're headed. Because Mexico's geography is so diverse, it could be blistering hot on the sandy beaches while people a few miles away are shivering with their sweaters on.

Best Areas To Stay In Mexico

Where you should stay in Mexico depends on what you plan to do, and there are plenty of locations to choose from. There are 32 states in Mexico. If beaches are your thing, you might consider Baja California (which spans two states, North and South Baja CA), the peninsula on the western side of the country. There's tons of sand, miles of beaches, and not much else.

For many travelers, the state of Jalisco is an ideal location in which to zero in their search for accommodations. On the western coast is Puerto Vallarta, but in the middle is Guadalajara, the international airport you'll likely be flying into. Also in Jalisco is Lake Chapala, an expat-heavy spot where people speak English and live in gated communities (if that's your thing).

Jalisco ranges from beachside abodes to mountain peaks over 14,000 feet high. In fact, Jalisco is home to all five of Mexico's ecosystems, notes Mexconnect: Tropical evergreen, temperate forest, grassland, arid scrub, and tropical deciduous. In short, anything you want to see, you can see here—including amazing biodiversity.

Guadalajara is a much-recommended spot for travelers since you can take day trips to plenty of attractions, says Mexconnect. 

Excellent Hotels In Mexico

If you do decide to stay in Guadalajara as your home base to explore Mexico, a hotel like Hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara is affordable (around $100 per night) and located in the heart of the city. Want something a little more colonial? Try Alcázar Suites, which is further from the city center but close enough to the zoo and other attractions. Plus, rates are as low as $50 per night.

Local Food To Satisfy Your Taste Buds

Mexico is known for its street tacos, and those are well worth checking out. They're cheap, they're filling, and there are all sorts of fillings at a range of price points.

But what you really need to know about are the panaderías (sometimes called pastelerías). By whatever name they're known, these Mexican bakeries are filled with sweet treats like conchas (shell-shaped pastries), pan dulce (sweet bread that's usually baked up for the Día de Los Muertos celebrations), and even sugary tamales.

Make sure to try the fresh fruit from street vendors, too. You'll get juicy fruits like watermelon, rambutan, berries, and more (PS—it's most delicious with lime and chile powder!).

Transportation Throughout Mexico

While flying is a necessity if you're traversing between Baja California, Jalisco, and Yucatán, local transport is much easier to manage. Even the tiniest towns have bus service (though you might have to wait a while), making it the best way to get around. You can also get Ubers in places like Guadalajara, and the subway is a cheap and easy way to see the city, too.

Top Attractions In Mexico That You Must See

If you're hunkering down in Guadalajara, some of these spots will require another flight. But it will totally be worth it!

First, in Guadalajara, there's the Guadalajara Cathedral. Then, there are Tequila tastings about a 45-minute drive away in Tequila. A bit farther, says Mexconnect, is Ceboruco Volcano, which has "hissing fumaroles" and picturesque meadows. There are Las Piedras Bola (rock balls) that can rival Stonehenge, Santa Rosalia's circular pyramids that are centuries old, and Las Siete Cascadas—literally seven waterfalls and natural pools all lined up perfectly.

Puerto Vallarta's photogenic beaches and thriving Malecón (a mile-long esplanade) are an excellent attraction, too. Plus, you can even spot wild crocodiles in the nearby marina!

On the farthest south peninsula of Mexico, you'll find the state of Yucatán, which is where the clearest and most photogenic cenotes exist—like Ik Kil. Well worth the travel time, right? And you can also visit El Castillo (a Maya temple), Chichén Itzá, and see the pink lakes of Las Coloradas. Hello, epic Instagram memories!

Oh, and anywhere you go, there are letras—city signs—to take pics with!

Cash, Currency, And Tipping

The good news is that things are usually cheap in Mexico compared to most other countries (like the US). But Mexico uses pesos, which can be tough to wrap your mind around, especially because 100 pesos only equal about $5 USD.

And, as TripSavvy confirms, tipping is expected and typical in Mexico. Tips—propinas—can vary by the location and service rendered, however.

Best Time For MX Flight Deals

Basically, you should avoid the winter months and holidays, as Mexicans tend to celebrate far longer than their northern neighbors. August is a great time for deals, says SkyScanner, but that also means hot and muggy weather. September might be a good compromise, however.

History Of Mexico

Mexico is a proud country, despite its rough past. Spanish conquistadors are the reason Mexicans speak Spanish rather than the dozens of indigenous dialects (Nahuatl is the one that's most prevalent these days). But by 1810, Mexico earned its independence (Día de la Independencia is September 16th—not Cinco de Mayo), though its colonial roots still shine through in many places today.

Too Many Beaches To Visit In Mexico

Honestly, there are so many beaches it's hard to give any advice on which to visit. Mexico has two coastlines, plus all of the peninsula of Baja California, and anywhere you go the weather will be perfect for basking in the sun. Just make sure to sunscreen up before you lie out; the rays are super strong south of the border.