5 Reasons to Visit Mexico: Why Mexico is Perfect for U.S. Travelers

Jul 11, 2020 | 0 comments

Wondering, Why visit Mexico?!

It’s a fair question — and this article actually has 5 reasons to visit Mexico that make a great case for this amazing country… including why it’s the obvious and best choice for U.S. travelers!

👋 Hi, I’m Shelley, and I have been on my solo Mexico travel adventure since April 2018. As a longtime expat in Mexico, I’ll admit I’m clearly biased. However, by the end of this article, you too will see why traveling to Mexico from the U.S. is easy, fast, inexpensive, and perfect for all kinds of travelers.


🎧 Prefer podcasts: This article is available as a mexico podcast!


Whether this is a Mexico weekend getaway, a spontaneous or last minute trip to Mexico, or a month-long Mexico road trip, you’ll see why all travelers need some Mexico in their life. If you’re looking for colorful colonial cities, amazing Mexico beaches, or even just tacos (it’s a valid reason 🌮), Mexico is the place.

Ready to find out the Top 5 reasons why Mexico is a popular tourist destination, why Mexico is worth visiting… and in general, why Mexico is great?! Let’s get to it!

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woman in a white dress on a beach in mexico
Why visit mexico? 5 Reasons to visit Mexico

1. Mexico Is A Short Flight Away

Now, I know those picturesque places on Instagram, like the Maldives, are gorgeous eye candy. However, do you have any idea how far away the Maldives Islands are?! I’m going to tell you…

Depending on where you’re coming from in the U.S., you’re looking at about 24 hours of air time — that’s air time — which doesn’t include how much time you’re sitting bored in an airport during your layover. For many people in the U.S., there is some part of Mexico that’s just a 1-2 hour direct flight away.


🧜‍♀️💦 The Maldives of Mexico

Did you know there is a gorgeous destination in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula called Bacalar Lagoon?!

It is home to the second largest freshwater lake on Earth, with its incredibly crystal clear blue waters that have earned it the nickname — the Maldives of Mexico!

There’s also all kinds of amazing Mexico hidden gems, just like Bacalar. Depending on where you live in the U.S., you can catch a short (often direct) flight to somewhere just to the south in Mexico.

RELATED ARTICLE 💙 How to Visit Bacalar Lagoon Mexico: The ULTIMATE Travel Guide

a sail boat in the middle of the blue waters of bacalar lagoon mexico
Bacalar Lake, in Bacalar, Mexico

Best Mexico travel destinations near the U.S.

west coast of mexico (Baja)

If you’re in California or on the West Coast of the U.S., you’ll want to check out Baja California, including the beautiful beaches and natural areas around La Paz, the iconic Cabo San Lucas Arch, Mexico Wine Country in Valle de Guadalupe. The Baja California Peninsula is also a great place for a Baja road trip.

central mexico

For people who live in the Central United States, you’re just north of Central Mexico, where most big cities are located. This is great because you’re more likely to find direct and cheap Mexico flights into Mexico City or Guadalajara International Airports.

Central Mexico is one of the most culturally-rich areas of the country, with amazing big cities, like Mexico City and Guadalajara, historic smaller cities, like San Miguel de Allende and Taxco, and beautiful beaches on the Pacific Coast, like Puerto Vallarta and Ixtapa.

east COAST OF MEXICO (Yucatan)

Those on the East Coast of the U.S., are. just north of the Yucatan Peninsula. This part of Mexico is home to the most popular beach town in Mexico, Cancun, but also places like Playa del Carmen, Instagram worthy Tulum, and amazing colonial cities like Merida and Valladolid.


WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

2. There is NO Mexico Visa Required

If you’re wondering, Do I need a visa for Mexico?

The answer is no, U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. You will receive a 180 day (6 month) FMM Tourist Card on arrival, so you can legally stay in Mexico for up to six months.

If you’re wondering, What do you need to visit Mexico? The answer is, a valid U.S. passport.

Basically, not only is Mexico close to the U.S., but you can just jump on a plane and go with just a plane ticket and a passport in hand — and basically no plan at all!

Now, the U.S. passport comes with a hefty amount of privilege, and there are many countries you won’t need a visa for.

However, there are many popular travel destinations you will need one for. These include Australia, China, Cuba, Egypt, India, Jordan (Petra), Maldives, New Zealand, Russia, Turkey (Cappadocia), Vietnam and more.

There are other countries, including most Caribbean Islands, Indonesia (where Bali is located), Philippines and Thailand, that do require a visa if you’re staying past 30 days.

The bottom one-third of the Immigration form is your FMM.

FMM Mexico Tourist Card

As with going to another country, you’ll fill out an Immigration form, which in Mexico has two parts. The top two-thirds of the form will remain with the Immigration agent in Mexico, and the bottom one-third will be given back to you, and this is your Forma Migratoria Múltiple, or FMM Tourist Card.

This is also sometimes called the Forma Migratoria de Turista, or FMT, but both refer to the same form.

Though called a “card,” it is really just a small piece of paper that you must hold on to so you can return it to an Immigration agent when you’re leaving the country.

🗣 Don’t lose your FMM

If you lose your FMM, there is a $600 peso ($30USD) fine and some paperwork you must fill out in order to get a new one so you can leave the country. To do this, you’ll have to arrive at the airport about one hour earlier than normal for the paperwork and have the payment in cash/pesos.

While there is no charge for the FMM when you fly in or come via cruise ship, there is a $500 peso ($25USD) charge for your FMM when you drive in.

woman laying in the Caribbean Sea on a hammock in Holbox Island, Mexico
underwater sinkhole called a cenote to swim in with blue water and vines going into the water - day trips from Merida
chichen itza, a mayan pyramid and wonder of the world - day trips from Merida

RELATED ARTICLE ✈️ 25 Best Places in the Yucatan Peninsula: Ruins, Beaches, Cenotes


WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

3. You “Make” Money Exchanging Dollars to Pesos

When you convert dollars to pesos, the exchange rate is very much in your favor. This number will fluctuate, but as of May 2021, the exchange is $1 to $19.88 pesos. As a general rule, you can plan for a 20:1 exchange.

Meaning this: For every $1USD you exchange, you receive about $20 pesos.

WHAT DO ALL THESE NUMBERS MEAN?

To give some perspective, the current exchange rate to European currency is $1 to €0.83 (euros/most of Europe) & $1 to £0.72 (pounds/UK/London). While you don’t exactly “make” money by changing dollars to pesos, you will “lose,” or be at a deficit, when changing dollars to euros or British pounds.

Basically you lose 10%-20% of your money simply by making the exchange when you visit Europe. In Mexico, you essentially “gain” money by just exchanging dollars for pesos.

Is Mexico expensive?

Prices will of course vary, with cities like Mexico City and big name destinations, like Tulum and Cabo San Lucas, being more pricey than smaller pueblos and off the beaten path Mexico destinations. On average, however, you can expect nearly everything to cost about 30-50% less than they would cost in the U.S.

🤑 Tulum on a Budget: Even more expensive destinations, like Tulum, Mexico, can be done on a budget! Head to this article to see how, Tulum On A Budget: 10 Ways to Make Your Trip Affordable.

While there are plenty of other countries, like Mexico, that are in close proximity to the country, that you also won’t need a visa to visit, they have prices comparable to that of the U.S. As a general statement, it would cost just as much to visit Canada and the Caribbean Islands than anywhere in the U.S.

The Southern Mexico states of Oaxaca and Chiapas are both culturally-rich destinations that make for cheap Mexico trips.

WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

4. There are Sooo Many Mexico Travel Destinations

You know how the East Coast and West Coast of the U.S. could almost be different countries entirely? Or how visiting New Orleans and visiting Wyoming are two very different U.S. travel experiences, well Mexico is just like that.

Mexico is a huge country — the 14th largest on Earth, actually — and almost feels like there’s a few countries wrapped up in this one. Whether you’re looking for beaches in Mexico, historic colonial cities, or even unique places to visit in Mexico you’ve probably never heard of, you can find it all.

What if I don’t like the place I traveled to?

For those who have never been to Mexico, you might pick a travel destination you’ve heard of, or maybe somewhere recommended by a friend or somewhere — but what if you don’t resonate with that place?

Easy! You can leave one part of Mexico for another, and feel like you’ve changed countries. If you’re someone who will be packing light for Mexico or are backpacking Mexico, that only makes inter-country travel that much easier.

Travel Plan B and your Exit Strategy

Mexico, being a big country, gives a lot of opportunity for convenient Plan B travel! A Mexico Plan B, or Exit Strategy, is convenient because you’re staying in Mexico and retaining all of the previously-mentioned perks: No visa needed, short flight time and great exchange rate.

For example, if you picked Mexico City as your travel destination, and it was the wrong choice for you, there are many Mexico City day trips you can take to find another nearby destination you could even relocate to.

If you’re heading to the Yucatan Peninsula, there are about 30 popular Mexico travel destinations within five hours or less via car or bus. Even if you’re headed to the Mexican Caribbean beaches of the Yucatan, and then change your mind, there are amazing cities like Merida and Valladolid, you can reroute to.

Inexpensive bus travel and cheap Mexico flights

In general, Mexico inter-country travel is inexpensive overall. Besides renting a car in Mexico, inter-country Mexico flight travel is inexpensive, and bus travel, even less so.

If you’re in a big city, like Mexico City or Guadalajara, you can often book a $50USD flight to one of Mexico’s 100 or so other airports, or $20USD bus ride to most other parts of the country. Some of Mexico’s low-cost national carriers include AeroMexico, Volaris and VivaAerobus, which you can book online.

For busses, the country’s largest companies are ADO, Primera Plus and ETN. The ADO bus offers the most luxury or first class seating options, which cost a bit more than the regular class buses, but are worth the added cost for their big, comfy recliner seats, electric outlets at all seats, AC and more.

Woman on her phone
WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

5. Your Phone (Likely*) Works in Mexico

Most of the large cell phone companies in the U.S. include free Mexico and Canada service with contract service plans. Since these are the two most-visited countries for Americans, this makes sense.

Of course, this will depend on your cell company and your plan, so double check with them. However, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon do usually offer complimentary Mexico service to their customers who have contracts.

If your company does offer cell service in Mexico — great! Uninterrupted phone service means you’ll have your existing data plan, so you can check Google Maps off-WiFi and call an Uber from anywhere, you’ll have your same number, and you’ll basically use your phone the same as you would in the U.S.

…but what if you don’t have cell service in Mexico?


*If not: Get a TELCEL Mexico SIM Card

For many, the answer to What do I need to travel to Mexico? is your cell phone, so you’ll want to purchase a SIM card before traveling.

As TELCEL is Mexico’s largest cell service provider, a TELCEL SIM Card will provide you the most coverage throughout the country.

You can buy your SIM in 4gb, 8gb and 12gb sizes.

📲 Mexico Travel Tip: You need an unlocked phone to use your SIM card. Nowadays, most phones come unlocked. If yours isn’t, call your cell company, and in most cases, it will be as simple as them clicking a button to unlock it.


Request your carrier turn international service on

If you don’t want to buy a SIM Card, the next best option is to call your carrier and request international service be turned on. You’ll want to double check that the rates are reasonable, as some carriers charge a lot for this convenience.

If you’re OK with the rates, simply let them know your travel dates, and they will activate the service for you. This is the most convenient option, but usually costs more than buying a SIM card, which is why most people opt for the SIM.

Merida is known as the safest city in Mexico, and it happens to be where I live! Check out The Ultimate Merida, Mexico Travel Guide [Written by a Local] for info on this Yucatan Peninsula travel destination.
WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

Mexico Travel Guide & FAQ

Is Mexico safe for travel?

If you’re wondering about Mexico travel safety, or even Is Mexico safe for solo travel? the short answer is Yes — for the most part. As travel safety is a complex question, head to Safe Travel in Mexico: 20 Tips for Solo Female Travelers for a much more in-depth explanation.

While Mexico is generally quite safe for visitors, do keep in mind that no place on Earth is 100% safe. For this reason, you’ll want to follow the 10 General Safety Guidelines and other travel safety suggestions below. These are the same ones you’d follow when traveling anywhere, and they will suffice in Mexico.

Register for the STEP Program

Make sure you enroll in the free STEP Program before your trip. The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, or STEP, allows U.S. citizens traveling to Mexico to document your trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

After you’ve registered, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City can contact you in the event of an emergency, including natural disasters, civil unrest, etc. STEP can also put you in touch with your family and friends back home in the event of an emergency while abroad.

10 General travel safety tips
  1. Always listen to your intuition — because your intuition is always right.
  2. If you get a sketchy or uneasy feeling about a person or place, get away from that person or place asap. Don’t worry about making a kind, nice or politically correct exit from a creepy person or bad situation — Just get away fast.
  3. Don’t walk home alone at night.
  4. Don’t keep your phone, keys, wallet, passport, or anything valuable in your back pocket.
  5. Learn some basic Spanish. If you can’t learn it, save this infographic as an image on your phone so you have something to use even if you’re off-WiFi.
  6. Take all of your belongings into the bathroom with you, rather than asking a cafe/bar neighbor to watch your things. This is annoying, for sure, but it works to not get your stuff stolen.
  7. Speaking of bar neighbors… don’t take drinks from strangers and/or leave your drink unattended.
  8. Don’t wear flashy clothes, expensive jewelry, designer sunglasses, etc.
  9. Keep some cash in your pocket so you don’t have to pull your whole wallet out every time you need to pay.
  10. This should be a no brainer, especially in the current travel climate — but get Travel Insurance from World Nomads, one of the biggest names in Mexico travel insurance. Get your free travel insurance quote below.

WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

Learn basic Spanish before your trip

It is commonly known among travelers that you get more respect and leeway from locals when you at least try to speak their language.

Locals in Mexico seem to especially appreciate when you make an effort to know the everyday basics and casual niceties.

Basically: Knowing a little Spanish in Mexico goes a long way!

By some, we’re talking about 30 or so words/phrases, which you can learn over a few weeks on the free Duolingo app.

However, if learning Spanish just isn’t in the cards for you — #NoJudgement.

In fact, here’s a pretty infographic you can pin on Pinterest for later, and also save to your phone as an image, so you can access it even if you’re off-WiFi.

List of useful spanish words and phrases

WHY VISIT MEXICO? 5 REASONS TO VISIT MEXICO

Purchase Mexico Travel Insurance

Want an added level of security and peace of mind, especially during these strange travel times? Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling.

I’ll be honest, when I first started with solo female travel, I wasn’t insured. However, after years of solo travel, I wised up… Now, I even have a whole page of this website dedicated to travel insurance, because it’s just that important!

If Mexico travel safety is on your mind, get your free quote below from World Nomads, one of the biggest names and best travel insurance companies!


unique PLACES TO VISIT IN MEXICO

What do I include on my Mexico packing list?

Mexico is a big country and has varied climates. While most Mexico beaches and beach towns have warm (even hot!) temperatures year-round, you’ll want to double check the weather in the specific place you’re headed, as there’s more temperature fluctuations than most people realize.

As a general rule, Mexican tend to dress on the conservative side. Even in hotter places and pueblos (small towns), jeans and long sleeves are the norm. While on beaches it’s normal to see shorts and sandals, in cities you’ll definitely stand out.

🧳 For a detailed guide on packing for Mexico, head to The Ultimate Packing List for Mexico.

FREE Printable Packing List for Mexico

Need a more detailed Mexico packing guide? Download your FREE printable packing list for Mexico below — it covers both Mexico beach packing and Mexico city packing. This multi-page Mexico packing checklist covers everything you’ll want to bring, and more importantly, what not to bring to Mexico.


Need Even More Reasons to Visit Mexico?

I’d love to answer your specific questions in the comments below, to help you see if Mexico is the right country for your trip!


Enjoy these related Mexico blogs!


Please join me on my Solo Travel & Mexico Travel adventures


¡Hola Chicas!

I’m Shelley, a former Miami travel magazine editor who ditched the office for the world!

I started this Blog and Podcast to help women like you cross Solo travel and Mexico travel off your bucket list… Read more

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