Mexico Regions: Southern Mexico
🗣 Mexico Language
Spanish — Though you’ll hear indigenous languages in some places
💰 Mexico Currency
Mexican Peso — Exchange rates vary, but hover around $18 pesos to $1USD
📍 Southern Mexico States
There are 4 states in this region: Oaxaca, Chiapas, Veracruz, Tabasco
📍Top South Mexico Destinations
Oaxaca City, Puerto Escondido, San Cristobal de las Casas, Huatulco
Southern Mexico Map
South Mexico travel
For lovers of culture, food and nature, this area is a great option. Oaxaca City, the capital of Oaxaca State is known as the Foodie Capital of Mexico, and hosts large annual festivals, like Day of the Dead, from Nov. 1-2.
Many also head to Chiapas State to San Cristobal de las Casas and Palenque, two pueblos magicos (magic towns), before doing a land crossing into Guatemala.
Southern Mexico Travel FAQ
Is Southern Mexico safe for travel?
According to experts, you are statistically quite safe while visiting Mexico; but here is a rundown of all the states in Southern Mexico.
• Oaxaca consistently ranks among the safest states in Mexico. Oaxaca City, the most popular place for tourism in Oaxaca, has a small town feel — and is known to be safe. The beaches of Oaxaca are known to be safe for the most part, but do exercise caution at night in Puerto Escondido.
• Chiapas State is also known to be quite safe, and is very popular with backpackers and those looking to experience Mexican culture. San Cristobal da las Casas is a truly unique place, unlike many other cities in Mexico, in that it provides an authentic cultural experience, but also has very posh resorts, spas and restaurants.
• Tabasco is rarely visited by tourists, and for that reason, you won’t find much information on tourist safety. However, overall, it’s known to be a safe state and doesn’t come up on any U.S. State Department “no go” lists.
• The last state on the list, Veracruz, is safe for the most part, but also has unsafe parts. If you stick to the main tourist sites and cities — like El Tajín, a UNESCO World Heritage Site pre-hispanic Mayan city, Xalapa and La Antigua, Veracruz is a great Mexico hidden gem.
Check out these podcast episodes with solo female travel tips, and tips on how to stay safe during Mexico solo travel.
Is Mexico safe for solo female travel?
As this question doesn’t have a yes/no answer (I wish it did!), I do my best to answer it in depth in this blog, Safe Travel in Mexico: 20 Tips for Solo Female Travelers. However, for the most part, Mexico is actually statistically quite safe for travelers.
Mexico is a big country, and it has plenty of amazing solo female travel destinations — from the beautiful beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula and culturally-rich Southern Mexico, to the charming colonial cities in Central Mexico and laid-back Baja California — there’s a perfect place for every solo traveler in Mexico.
Top 20 Solo Female Travel Destinations: Head to this article to discover the 20 best places for solo travel in Mexico, recommended by solo female travelers who have actually visited them.
🎧 Click the links below to listen to podcast episodes with solo female travel tips.
What's the best time to visit Southern Mexico?
Weather-wise, the best time to visit this region is from October-April, during the dry season. The weather tends to be quite hot from May-September, which is also the rainy season — and it can rain quite a bit in South Mexico.
There are a few climates here, spread out over the various states, so you’d really want to get into the specifics of the weather where you’re headed.
As a general rule, the beaches of Oaxaca and coastal cities have a tropical climate, meaning hot/humid summers and pleasant winters. Common of the tropics, it can rain a lot from April-October.
If you’re headed to San Cristobal da las Casas, located way up in the mountains of Chiapas, you’ll want to pack warmer clothing. Given it’s high altitude, you can expect cooler temperatures than what many associate with Mexico.
What airports do I use for Southern Mexico?
• Oaxaca City, Oaxaca: Oaxaca International (code: OAX)
• San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas: Tuxtla Gutierrez International (code: TGZ)
• Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca: Puerto Escondido International (code: PXM)
• Huatulco, Mazunte, Zipolite and San Agustinillo, Oaxaca: Huatulco International (code: HUX)
• Palenque, Chiapas: Palenque International (code: PQM)
• Xalapa and El Tajin, Veracruz: El Lencero Airport (code: JAL) or Veracruz International (code: VER)
• Villahermosa, Tabasco: Villahermosa International (code: VSA)
Is it safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico?
As the country is quite large, road trips are a great way to see a lot in a little time. To answer the question, Is it safe to drive in Mexico — YES, it’s safe to rent a car and drive in Mexico.
The one caveat to that is that you’ll obviously be driving in a foreign country, and won’t be familiar with local road customs and driving laws. Head to this article for 12 Useful Mexico Driving Tips to get a better understanding of driving in Mexico.
🚙💨 Looking to rent a car? Discover Cars works with several agencies in Mexico to get you the best price.
Do I need a visa to visit Mexico?
No — U.S. passport holders do not need a visa to travel to Mexico. This is just one of the 5 Reasons Mexico is the Perfect Travel Destination for U.S. visitors.
When you go through Immigration at the airport, cruise port or land border, you’ll receive your FMM 180-Day (6 month) Tourist Card at no charge. Keep in mind that though it’s called a “card,” it’s actually just a small piece of paper.
Be sure to keep track of your FMM, as you’ll have to give it back to an Immigration officer when you’re leaving the country. If you lose your FMM, there is a $600 peso ($30USD) cost to replace it, and some paperwork you’ll need to fill out at the airport before you can leave the country.
In short: Don’t lose your FMM!
Do I need to speak Spanish to visit Mexico?
As a general rule, you’ll want to know at least a few words of Spanish when visiting anywhere in Mexico. This is both a sign of respect, and will also help you have a better trip.
If you’re wondering what constitutes “basic Spanish,” check out the infographic below — you’ll be surprised at how much you know already!
If you stick to the more touristic places where you’re headed, you should be fine with very basic Spanish. If you want to venture off the beaten path, be advised most people in the pueblos (small towns) speak little to no English.
🗣 Pro Tip: Download the Spanish Words & Phrases list below and save it on your phone as an image. This way, you have access to these most common words even if you’re off-WiFi.
Mexico Travel Podcast