mexico tips for travel

50 Best Tips for Mexico Travel in 2021 [Advice from a Local]


Need some great tips for Mexico travel? 

You’ve come to the right place because, I live in Mexico, and also because the 50 best Mexico travel tips are all right here! By the end of this article, you’ll discover all the tips for traveling to Mexico that will make your trip smoother, safer and more enjoyable.

After living in Mexico, and traveling to about half the states in the country, the 50 travel tips for Mexico in this article are ones I wish I knew before going to Mexico!

Here, you’ll find out everything from Mexico travel safety tips, to how to pick the best street food when visiting Mexico, packing tips for Mexico — and, basically, all the things to know when traveling to Mexico.

Ready to find out the Top 50 travel in Mexico tips? …Then let’s get to this Ultimate Travel Guide to Mexico, so you can have the best vacation ever!

🤔 Wondering, What do you need to travel to Mexico during Covid? Head here for tips when traveling to Mexico during coronavirus.

Table of Contents expand ⬇
50 Best Tips for Mexico

General Travel Tips in Mexico

1. Don’t drink the water in Mexico

If there are any travel tips to Mexico that you must be very clear on, it’s this one. Mexico water is not safe to drink, and you therefore can’t drink the water in Mexico that comes from the tap unless you boil it.

Put simply, the tap water in Mexico is not safe for human consumption, and no one drinks it — not locals, and not travelers. Now, if you take the time to boil it, you can then safely consume it. However, the easier option is simply to buy bottled water and purified water.

Unfortunately, not all purified and bottled water is created equal. It is because of this that one of the things you’ll want to include on your Mexico packing list is a Water-To-Go Filterable Water Bottle (seen below⤵).

water bottles

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With a Water-To-Go Bottle, you’re not only practicing sustainable and responsible tourism in Mexico by not constantly buying single-use plastic water bottles, but these bottle also filter your drinking water.

Never heard of Water-To-Go? According to the company’s website, Water-To-Go bottles filter 99.99999% of water-borne contaminants including bacteria, parasites, toxins and microplastics, which helps you in the fight of how to NOT get sick in Mexico.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

2. Double check the weather reports

Mexico is a huge country; the 14th largest country on Earth, actually. While many head to the country to visit the best beaches in Mexico, those visiting inland cities will encounter colder climates.

In fact, one of the best travel tips for Mexico City specifically, is to pack layers as temperatures can fluctuate from 80°F during the day to 45°F at night in winter. Head here for some Mexico City packing tips and outfit inspo!

While that may surprise you, it will also hopefully inspire you to check the weather where you’re headed. On a personal note, I lived in Mexico City for a year and saw many people show up unprepared, so do check the forecasts — one of the most important things to know about Mexico before you go!

3. Mexico museums are closed Mondays

By and large, all museums are closed on Mondays in Mexico. For those who will be in Mexico, they save Mondays for visiting archeological sites and ruins in Mexico, as those will be open while museums will be closed.

Besides museums, some restaurants, boutique shops and more are also closed Mondays, so double check specific places before making plans for your Mondays in Mexico.

4. Get a TELCEL Mexico SIM Card

One of the Mexico tips travelers will want to really consider before their trip is having use of your cell phone. While in many other countries, you can get by with just jumping on free WiFi in parks, cafes and public spaces, Mexico simply isn’t there (yet).

TELCEL is Mexico’s largest cell service provider, and s TELCEL SIM Card will provide you the best coverage in the most parts of Mexico.

You can buy one in whatever amount of data you think you’ll use — but just don’t skip getting one! Having data for an emergency is a key ways to safely travel in Mexico. For reference, if you’re using data often but still sparingly, 3gb will last a week or longer.

50 Best Tips for Mexico Travel

5. Buy tickets in advance

If there is something on your “Must See” Mexico bucket list, purchase tickets in advance so you don’t miss out.

While there are certain things to generally sell out each day, like the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, some tours also require a minimum number of people to go. This means the earlier you buy, the sooner the tour operator knows they are closer to hitting their quota.

6. Don’t lose your FMM Card

If you’re wondering, Do I need a visa for Mexico? No, U.S. passport holders don’t need a visa to travel to Mexico, but there is some paperwork you need to know about — namely your FMM.

🗺 If you’re not coming from the United States, check here to see if you need a Mexico travel visa.

For those who don’t need a Mexico visa, when you arrive and go through Immigration, you’ll submit your Forma Migratoria Multiple. This is abbreviated as FMM, and you’ll either get one on the plane or in the airport once you land.

As you clear Immigration, the officer will remove the bottom one-third of the form and give it back to you. This is your 180-day (6 month) FMM Tourist Card.

The FMM is an (apprrox.) five-inch by five-inch piece of paper you must have on you at all times while traveling Mexico.

It is very important you don’t lose your FMM, as you’ll need to give it back to an Immigration officer when you leave the country.

If you do lose it, you’ll have to arrive early to the airpot to fill out some paperwork and pay the $600 pesos ($30USD) fine for a new one. Without returning your FMM, you can leave the country.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

7. Get permission before taking photos

Before taking photos of people (especially children), artwork where the artist is present, items for sale in mercados (markets), etc., make sure you get permission from the person or vendor before taking a photo.

8. Mexico is loud

Mexico is a fun, festive country, which also means it can be loud! This goes for all parts of the country, and especially in big cities like Mexico City and Guadalajara.

It’s not uncommon for tamale vendors to walk up and down the streets starting at 7am screaming to anyone who’s hungry. Beyond food vendors, there’s a holiday at least once or twice a month, and with holidays, come fireworks.

You probably get the idea by now, but know that if you’re a light (or even medium) sleeper, you’ll want some good noise canceling ear plugs for Mexico.

🎧 Noise Canceling Earbuds: If you don’t have wireless headphones, traveling is the best time to upgrade. For comfort on plane rides, and to help you sleep in Mexico, you’ll want Noise Canceling, Stereo Earbuds with Bluetooth.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

9. Use your sunscreen

As Mexico is close to the Equator, make sure to wear sunscreen daily. This is one of the more useful tips for Mexico all inclusive travel, but even applies to cities in Mexico cities on cloudy days. While swimming, you’ll want to use only eco-friendly, reef-safe sunscreen, to practice sustainable tourism in Mexico.

10. Don’t stick to your resort area

This is one of the most common, though misguided, safety tips for traveling to Mexico. In reality, many experts say Mexico is a safe place for visitors. As one of the most culturally-rich countries on Earth, you won’t possibly get a real sense of Mexico at a resort.

“Millions of Americans go to Mexico on vacation every year, so if we play the numbers game, the number of incidents is very small… When I’m asked if Mexico is a safe place to go travel on vacation, my response is yes.” —Carlos Barron, 25-year veteran of the FBI (Source: Forbes)

11. Chat with locals for tips

Mexicans are, by and large, very friendly. In fact, Blue Zones says Mexicans are some of the friendliest and happiest people on Earth.

While the internet, Facebook groups, even blogs and YouTube videos can offer you info on wherever you’re travelling in Mexico — there’s nothing better than the advice and tips from a local. Mexico locals can let you know what to see, what to avoid and maybe even some fun Mexico facts.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

12. Learn basic Spanish

This is one of the more important traveling tips for Mexico — brush up on your Spanish before your Mexico trip. As a visitor, you get more respect and leeway from locals when you at least try to speak Spanish, especially everyday basics and casual niceties.

In Mexico’s cities, you’ll find the most English-speakers, but when you’re venturing off the beaten path in Mexico to smaller towns and pueblos, fewer and fewer people speak English.

Taking the time to learn a few words and phrases in Spanish is both a sign of respect to others, and will help you travel easier. In short: Knowing a little Spanish goes a long way!

By “a little,” we’re talking about 30 or so words/phrases, which you can learn over a few weeks, or you can save the handy infographic above ⤴ to your phone.

WANT TO LEARN SPANISH? Rocket Spanish will have you confident, and conversational, in just a few modules!

50 Best Mexico travel Tips

13. Get Mexico travel insurance

If there’s one thing that’s certain of all trips, it’s that something will not go according to plan! That’s not meant to scare you — just the opposite — as that’s why many people travel: for the adventure. 

Just as you insure your car, home and body, you can also insure your luggage, belongings and health while traveling. If you plan to drive in Mexico, you can also include coverage for both liability and the rental, which often ends up being cheaper than from the rental companies.

As you came to this article for travel tips, Mexico travel insurance is up there with the most important of all tips.

Get your free quote below from World Nomads, one of the biggest names in adventure travel insurance. Another great company is Safety Wing, which offers affordable, basic coverage that will cover general travel needs.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

Solo Female Travel Safety Tips

14. Solo female travel in Mexico is safe

You may be wondering about how to travel safely in Mexico — most people are! On a personal note, I have traveled to about half the states in Mexico, most of them as a solo female traveler. In an effort to add as many other voices to this conversation as possible, I sought out others for this article ⤵

In the article above, you’ll hear from 20 women about their first-hand solo travel in Mexico experiences in various sites across the country to see that the country isn’t as vicious as the media depicts. On the contrary, there are plenty of statistics out there that say Mexico is safe for solo travelers!

15. Don’t stress over Mexico travel safety

The thing with all travel is, you’re stepping into the unknown — which for many, is why you travel! Just as there’s no point in stressing over anything you can’t control, it’s unnecessary to stress yourself out over safe travel in Mexico.

“…at the end of the day, personal safety comes down to common sense,” says Carlos Barron, 25-year veteran of the FBI. “…Always think of safety and security as something that’s part of your trip.” (Source: Forbes)

Statistics show travelers are very safe in Mexico, so just be aware of your surroundings, watch your alcohol intake, stay hydrated, take an Uber home at night, and most importantly, listen to your intuition above all, and focus on enjoying your trip.

Mexico Podcast: Solo female travel in mexico

50 Best Tips for Mexico

16. Register with the STEP Program

The U.S. offers free travel safety services through the STEP Program to all U.S. citizens traveling abroad. STEP stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, and you can read all about it and register here.

In short, STEP lets the closest U.S. Consulate or Embassy to where you’re traveling know where you’ll be staying, for how long and other info about your trip. In the event of a lost passport, natural disaster or civil unrest, the U.S. government will know how to find you and get you safely back into the U.S.

17. Protect your data with a VPN

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is fast becoming a travel essential to prevent theft of your online and personal information.

What is a VPN?

VPNs basically allow you to create a secure connection over a shared connection. When you’re using free coffee shop WiFi, for example, you’re digitally connected to all the other people in that cafe on that same shared network.

💁‍♀️ Since you’re on free, shared WiFi more when traveling that at home — you’re also more prone to nefarious attacks.

Being on the same open network means others have relatively easy access to your information. In a worse case scenario, someone can steal your passwords, debit card and credit card info, travel itinerary, and other private things on the device you connect from, whether that’s your phone, laptop or tablet.

This is where the VPN comes in. The VPN disguises your connection, so your information is essentially invisible to anyone looking to do anything nefarious.

To prevent yourself from being a victim of cyber attacks, NordVPN is a trusted name in VPNs.

50 Best Mexico Travel Tips

18. Take a group tour

A common mental image and misconception about solo travel is that you have to be alone all the time. If you want to, you can 😎 However, solo travel really means you’re the solo decider about what you do on your trip.

If there’s somewhere you don’t feel comfortable going as a solo female traveler, take a group tour with Viator — and let a Mexico travel guide handle the logistics.

19. Download an offline map

Hopefully you’re planning to buy your TELCEL Mexico SIM Card — though as any WiFi signal can go in and out, you’ll want a backup option for maps so you don’t get lost. Two of the best offline maps for Mexico are Google Maps and Maps.me; both free options.

20. Join online expat groups

Online networking is one of the easiest ways of how to make friends while traveling solo. Facebook Groups, in particular, are a great way to network online. While some groups are more helpful (and friendlier) than others, consider joining a few groups for expats in the city/cities you’re headed to.

To find expat groups (expat is short for expatriate, or someone who moved from their home country to another) head to Facebook and type “expats in [city name].” For big cities like Mexico City, there are several you can join, like Foreigners & Expats in Mexico City (CDMX) and Expat Women in Mexico City.

Solo travel Podcast: Making Friends while Traveling

50 Best Tips for Mexico

Mexico Packing Tips

21. Mexico packing should be light

Anyone who’s been on a trip anywhere knows first-hand you only use about 50% of what you pack! Besides this, most places in Mexico do have warm weather year-round, and you won’t be wearing layers of clothes.

Need more reasons to pack light for Mexico?

  • Older buildings in historic areas often don’t have elevators, so you’ll have to lug your suitcase(s) up and down flights of stairs.
  • Cars in Mexico tend to be of the compact size, so you’ll also have to scrabble to cram everything into a tiny Uber or taxi trunk, to then carry it up the stairs in your elevator-less Airbnb.

If you’re considering backpacking in Mexico, check out the options above ⤴ For those not quite ready to downsize that far, this Rockland Fashion Luggage Set and these Space Saver Compression Packing Cubes are perfect for you.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

22. Mexicans dress conservatively

Mexicans tend to be modest and conservative dressers. In big cities and pueblos (small towns) alike, even when it’s hot outside, jeans and long sleeve shirts are still the norm.

If you want to blend in, skip shorts and opt for leggings instead. That’s not to say don’t wear shorts; only that if you do, you can draw unwanted attention to yourself as they are uncommon for Mexicans.

This suggestion about shorts doesn’t apply to Mexico beach towns, where shorts are the norm. However, if you’re headed to one of the beaches in Mexico, don’t be surprised to see both Mexican men and women swimming in a T-shirt and shorts.

23. Leave designer labels at home

This conservatism in dress extends to something many visitors won’t even think about: Designer labels.

While a Fendi sweater with logos all over the place might carry little weight in the U.S., in Mexico it may draw unwanted attention. This same logic also applies to everything from shoes and purses, to sunglasses and high end electronic gadgets.

To be on the safe side, leave everything flashy at home, and also check out these other great tips on What NOT to Take to Mexico.

24. Pack a reusable shopping bag

In 2020, Mexico really began cracking down in major cities and popular tourism destinations with a ban on single use plastic bags.

As more and more pueblos (small towns) follow suit, a reusable shopping bag that folds down into a tiny pouch, is ideal for Mexico travel.

Once folded down into their smallest size, you can clip the bag onto the side of your purse so it’s always ready to fill with colorful Mexico souvenirs from small craft mercados (markets).

50 Best Tips for Mexico

25. Bring a sun hat

Since Mexico is so close to the Equator, you’ll likely feel hotter even if the temperatures don’t seem elevated. One of the easiest ways to stay cool is by wearing a fashionable sun hat — which isn’t just one of the tips for traveling to Mexico all-inclusive, but a tip that comes in handy in cities also.

26. Opt for flats over heels and wedges

Mexico’s cute cobblestone streets and city sidewalks aren’t the easiest to walk on, especially in older historic areas where they aren’t always well maintained. In general, you’ll need to pay more attention to the ground when you’re walking than what you might be used to.

For your own safety, comfort and easy of walking, you’ll want to opt for flats over heels or even wedges, and even consider using massaging gel shoe inserts so you don’t get blisters. If you are going out in wedges and heels, just plan to use Uber instead of walking.

50 Best Mexico Travel Tips

Mexico Money Tips

27. Have cash and change at all times

In Mexico, cash is still king. Even though more and more places accept credit cards all the time, the safer bet is cash, as its accepted everywhere.

In upscale places where people tend to spend more, like malls, popular tourist attractions, etc. cards are generally accepted. However, at street food stands, mom and pop restaurants, in taxis, etc., you’ll need to pay in cash.

28. Hang on to small bills

As mentioned, Mexico is still a cash-dominant country, and since ATMs generally give big bills, people often need to break them. For this reason, small bills (and coin change) really come in handy in Mexico, where breaking large bills can sometimes be an issue.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

29. Pay in pesos, not dollars

Few, though some, places will accept dollars and euros, and if that’s your only option, do it. However, merchants doing this usually give a pretty low exchange rate because they then have to take the money somewhere to get it changed back to pesos, and you essentially pay that cost.

30. How to tip in Mexico

In Mexico, you’ll tip the same people you would in the U.S. — servers, bartenders, Uber/taxi drivers, manicurists, and anyone who helps you do something. This goes for tipping in Cancun, tipping in Mexico City, tipping in Cabo, tipping in Puerto Vallarta, tipping at all inclusive resorts, and anywhere else!

In professional places, like restaurants and salons, customary Mexico tip rates are 15-20%; for taquerias and street food stands, 10%. As appropriate tipping amounts can be a hotly debated topic, keep in mind that a $20 peso bill is about $1USD, so you can afford to be generous.

💸 Tipping in Mexico with Credit Cards

The procedure for tipping on a card in Mexico is one of the top things to know about traveling to Mexico that is very much unlike what you’re used to in the U.S. When paying with a card, they will add in the tip before running the card, and you have to indicate the amount you want to leave.

An easy way to do this is by saying “Más veinte por ciento, por favor,” or Add in 20%, please. You can also request to add in a specific amount, and not a percentage. To do that, you’d say “Más cien pesos, por favor,” or Add in $100 pesos, please. (Note: $100 pesos is about $5USD.)

50 Best Tips for Mexico

31. Don’t exchange money in Mexico

For the most part, the way you lose the most money to currency exchange fees is by changing dollars to pesos through a private company. Instead, just use an ATM from a reputable bank when you arrive in Mexico at the airport as a way to save money on the conversion fee.

Depending who you use, some U.S. banks will get their account holders pesos at no charge. Call your bank and see if they offer this service, but know they may need a few days to get the pesos. 

32. Use indoor bank ATMs only

Since cash is the preferred method of payment, you’ll find ATMs all over the place — and often in very random places, like just on a street corner in a main tourist area. There are also ATMs in convenience stores, but try not to use these either.

Your best bet is to look for a bank where you can go inside and use their ATM. This is good for both your safety and privacy, and because if there’s a problem using the street or convenience ATMs, it can be difficult to get in touch with the owner.

Woman happy sitting on a recliner chair having a drink and throwing money

💸 Mexico Travel Money Tip: Withdraw money only during the times the bank is actually open. This way, if there’s any issues, someone from the bank can help.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

33. Avoid ATMs on paydays and peak times

On paydays, usually the 15th and 30th of the month, you’ll see long lines of people at ATMs. If you can avoid it, don’t use ATMs on these days. You’ll also want to avoid ATMs during the busiest hours of the day, about 5-7pm, when people are getting off work.

34. Price haggling in Mexico isn’t the norm

Depending on who you ask, some will say haggling is acceptable, but most won’t — especially those (like me!) who actually live in Mexico. Where I live in Merida, Mexico, one of the largest Mayan artisanal craft stores actually had a sign indicating not to price-haggle.

Now, if you’re somewhere like a local mercado (market), and you’re looking at something but then begin to walk away, and the vendor offers it at a lower price, it’s obviously OK to negotiate with the person. However, this is not universal the way it is in much of Asia and the Middle East.

Occasionally, taxi drivers will haggle and negotiate a fare with you, particularly in touristic areas where they’re used to people doing it, but it’s not generally the norm in Mexican culture.

woman leaning on a red convertible sports car and holding her license and the key | renting a car in mexico

RELATED ARTICLE 🚗💨 Renting A Car in Mexico: Everything You Need to Know

50 TIPS FOR MEXICO VACATION

Mexico Transportation Tips

35. Rent a car with a reputable company

Not all Mexico car rental companies are created equal — and in fact, the Mexico car rental scam is one of the most well known. In short, they advertise prices as low as $10USD per day, but with fees, insurance, and whatever else, you end up paying $50USD per day.

For this reason, consider only car rentals from a well-reviewed company. Discover Cars compares all local companies in the city you want to rent from, showing you both reviews and prices. It’s the company I both recommend, and use, on any Mexico road trip.

Find Your Rental Car

36. Inter-country Mexico flights are cheap

Many underestimate the size of Mexico, but it is actually the 14th largest country on Earth! If your trip involves covering a lot of geographic distance, don’t assume a rental car or even a bus will be cheaper than flying.

In Mexico, you’ll find several low-cost Mexican airlines, like Volaris, AeroMexico and VivaAerobus with flights going all over the country. Of the three, VivaAerobus has about as good of a reputation as Spirit Airlines in the U.S., but they are often the cheapest.

✈️ Find Cheap Mexico FLIGHTS

37. Use the ADO bus

As you can see, you have rental car and flight options, but there’s also the ADO bus. ADO is Mexico’s largest bus company, and you can get from one side of the country to the other on an ADO bus. For trips of five hours or less, or trips to off the beaten path places, the bus is usually your best bet.

You can buy Mexico bus tickets online ahead of time, or just show up to the bus station about 30 minutes before departure and snag whatever seats haven’t been claimed.

Book Your ADO Bus Tickets Now!

ADO has several classes of bus, though all their buses are generally comfortable. Even with a standard bus ticket, you’ll have AC, a large comfy reclining seat, outlet for your gadgets and bathroom on board. The luxury class buses also have WiFi, and usually aren’t much more money. 

🥶 Mexico Travel Tip: Bring a sweater, as ADO buses are kept really cold. 

50 Best Tips for Mexico

38. Use Uber in Mexico over public transport

One of the top safe traveling in Mexico tips, is to skip public transportation. Now, that’s not to say it’s unsafe; rather, that Uber tends to be safer.

As in the U.S., Uber and taxi rates are comparable, but Uber cars are nicer, you don’t have to negotiate the price, or have to have cash to pay. If you have a U.S. Uber account, it will work just the same in Mexico, but you must be on WiFi or have cellular data to call one — so don’t forget to get a Mexico SIM card.

Rates of course vary, but Uber costs about 50% less in Mexico than in the U.S., on top of the great monetary exchange rate — so figure about $7USD for a 30 minute ride. As in the U.S., Mexico taxis can be a bit sketchy, so for safety, I personally only recommend using Uber in Mexico.

Woman standing in the street holding her phone waiting for an Uber

🚕💨 Mexico Travel Tip: There is no Lyft in Mexico, just Uber.

Uber isn’t everywhere in Mexico

For now, Uber is not available in all Mexico states — namely Quintana Roo state (where you’ll find Tulum, Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Riviera Maya), Oaxaca state and Chiapas state. In those states, you’ll need to use taxis, public transport, or rent a car.

39. Avoid public transport during rush hour

If you do opt for public transportation, try to avoid it from about 7am-9am and 5pm-7pm. In Mexico, especially big cities, people squish in like sardines to get to and from work. During this hectic time of say, you’re also at the highest risk of getting pickpocketed.

40. Agree on the taxi fare before getting in

In Mexico, you’ll ask the taxi driver the rate from where you are to where you’re headed, they will tell you, and if you agree, you can get in and go. The taxis in Mexico have no meters, and fares tend to have standard rates by zone.

If the driver tells you a price you’re unhappy with, you can offer a lower price, but there’s a good chance they will say no and drive off. As mentioned in Tip #34, Mexico isn’t known for price haggling, but that doesn’t mean many people don’t do it anyway.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

Mexico Food Tips

41. Sip your tequila and mezcal

Contrary to popular belief, tequila and mezcal, the most famous liquors in Mexico, are meant to be savored and sipped — not taken as shots. If you’re planning to drink a lot, one of the most important tips when traveling to Mexico is to pack these Anti-Hangover Meds!

42. Test the salsa before eating

The point of salsa is to add the “heat” element to food, so they are always spicy, to some degree. Before putting salsa all over your food, test it out by putting a small drop on your hand in the area between your thumb and pointer finger, like many locals do.

🌶 Mexico Travel Tips: Learn how to ask Is this spicy? (¿Esto pica?) and say Not spicy, please (Sin picante, por favor)… and save this infographic to your phone so you have access to other important words and phrases when off-WiFi.

Red and green salsas on tasting spoons

43. How to pick the right Mexico street food

Mexican food has been recognized by UNESCO as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” a designation it shares with just one other country, France. This basically means Mexican food is a gift to mankind — so if you go to Mexico and skip street food entirely, you’re really missing out. 

As a country with some of the best street food in the world — and a lot of stands to choose from — the key with street food in Mexico is picking the right place. To do so, use these tips:

  • Find a place that has a line: They aren’t fun to wait in, but do indicate the food is good and the place is hygienic, or else people wouldn’t wait to eat there.
  • Look for somewhere with a lot of cabs parked in front, and cab drivers eating there. They always know the best cheap eats and street food in Mexico!
  • Make sure there are at least two employees; one to cook and one to handle the money.

With these tips, you’re on your way to picking safe, delicious, cheap Mexican street food.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

44. Mexican food is regional

Mexico and tacos go together like milk and cookies, and you’ll certainly find tacos everywhere! However, depending on where you’re headed, the best food in that state or region might not be tacos, so make sure to sample the authentic Mexican food in that area too.

Here are some examples of foods from different states you’ll want to be on the lookout for:

  • Jalisco State: Try birria and tortas ahogadas in Jalisco state, home to Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, Tequila and more.
  • Oaxaca State: Try tlayudas, mole, memelas, tejate and all these Oaxaca food favorites.
  • Yucatan Peninsula: Try cochinita pibil, panuchos, sopa de lima and marquesitas in the Yucatan Peninsula, home to Tulum, Cancun, Mérida, Playa del Carmen and more.
  • Puebla State: Try mole poblano and cemitas in Puebla state, located next to Mexico City.
  • Mexico City: This is the place for tacos! If you need taco tips in Mexico City, check out this article, 50 Best Tacos in Mexico City + FREE Map.
red, black and green mole enchiladas
Enmoladas
Mexican pizza
Tlayuda
Man cooking a taco on a large circular cooking surface
Quesadilla
50 Best traveling to mexico tips

45. Ice in Mexico is safe

Though the water in Mexico is unsafe to drink, the ice is perfectly fine. There are many other blogs with Travel Mexico Tips that say skip the ice as a measure of how NOT to get sick in Mexico, however, freezing water doesn’t kill bacteria the way boiling it does, so ice is only made with purified water.

💦 Cleanest drinking water in Mexico: While everyone drinks bottled or purified water in Mexico, not all filtered water is created equal. Water-To-Go Bottles handle that by filtering out 99.99999% all of bacteria, parasites, microplastics and more.

46. Tipping at street stands & restaurants

Tipping procedures and rates are the same in Mexico as in the U.S., and you’ll want to tip anyone providing you a service, like servers, bartenders, street food vendors, etc.

💳 Tipping on Credit Card in Mexico: For more information about how to tip on a credit card, head to Tip #30 above.

In professional places, like restaurants and bars, tip rates are 15-20%; for taquerias and street food stands, 10-15% will work. Of course, do feel free to tip generously in Mexico, and only use those percentages as a guide. If someone goes above and beyond for you, they would certainly appreciate a tip for doing so.

50 Best Tips for Mexico

Mexico Bathroom Travel Tips

While not the sexiest of tips for travelling to Mexico, this bathroom knowledge will surely come in handy! As far as tips for travelers to Mexico, I saved the best for last with #50 — as I’ve seen more than one unfortunate “wrong restroom” incident.

47. Public bathrooms aren’t always free

Public bathrooms in most indoor places, like grocery stores, malls and museums will be free. However, restrooms in mercados (markets), downtown areas, and other places for locals may cost between $5-10 pesos (about 25¢), and you will need change/coins to access them.

48. Carry a pack of tissues

Inside of said restrooms, as well as at gas stations, off the beaten path pueblos (small towns), crowded tourist attractions, etc., toilet paper can often be MIA. Do yourself a favor and carry around a small pack of tissues, which do come in handy as more than just TP.

49. Don’t flush your TP

Mexico’s sewage infrastructure isn’t the same as in the U.S., so to be on the safe side — don’t flush toilet paper. There are places where it’s considered safe, so double check with your accommodation to get their say, but in public it’s better to be on the safe side and throw it away.

50. “M” bathrooms are for women

This is perhaps the most important of all travel tips Mexico visitors need to hear!

The “M” sign on a bathroom door stands for mujeres, or women. You may also see the letter “D” for damas, meaning ladies. For men, be on the lookout for an “H” or “C,” indicating hombres (men) and caballeros (gentlemen).

Going to Mexico during Covid? Head here for everything you need to know when traveling to Mexico during Coronavirus.

Final Thoughts: Mexico Travel Tips

As neighboring countries, the U.S. and Mexico aren’t too dissimilar — though there are plenty of differences — namely the language, so be sure to brush up on your Spanish. Beyond verbal communication issues, most things are easily navigable by being friendly, patient and humble.

The 50 tips for Mexico in this article are the ones that come up often, both in my DMs and in Mexico travel forums online, though this is by no means an exhaustive list. I have lived in Mexico for years, and still discover new ways I can be more integrated and culturally-appropriate.

These tips aren’t about being perfect; rather they are a guide to help you be prepared for different customs so they don’t frustrate you and throw you off. In the end, the best Mexico tips of all are to be kind, not assume things are does the same as they are in the U.S., and have fun.

Whether this will be your first trip to Mexico, you’ve been before and will be exploring Mexico a bit more in-depth this time, or you’re doing a long-term one month in Mexico trip — these are my best tips for all Mexico travelers. I hope they help you when visiting Mexico 🇲🇽

Have questions about these tips for traveling in Mexico?

Please join the conversation in the comments down below, and I’ll do my best to get your the information you need about tips on traveling to Mexico!

MEXICO podcast: 50 Mexico Travel Tips

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29 Comments

  1. That photo of the woman sick had me chuckling haha 😀 But yeah, thank you for the tips, definitely saving this for my future Mexico travels!

  2. This list is AMAZING! Had no idea ice was safe…. I’d be so prepared for Mexico if I just followed half of the items 🙂

    1. Hi Xin: Yes, the ice is safe to drink… though I have seen plenty of blogs suggesting not to drink ice. However, I always tell people if it makes you feel better to skip ice, then do that!

  3. I love these tips they are so useful and I love the way you grouped them. I especially liked that you included bathroom tips, I always want to know what to expect but can’t always find information about it so thank you for that!

    1. Hi Kitti & thanks for writing! I can see why bathroom tips are often left out by bloggers, but it’s one of those things you really do have to know!

  4. These are such good tips. It’s good to know that Mexico is cutting down on single use plastics too, and your safety tips make total sense about not drawing too much attention with flashy labels. I think that’s a good thought for many places you might travel

    1. Hi Emma: Thanks for writing… and I agree, whenever I read “Safety Tips for [Place]” blogs, I always think how universal most travel safety tips really are. Honestly, I think it just comes down to being aware of your surroundings, using common sense & trusting your intuition.

  5. This is such a helpful post! I’m definitely pinning it for later because I’ve wanted to visit Mexico for a while, and it would be good to keep these tips in mind.

  6. These are such great tips to know before visiting Mexico! Always learn something new from you!

    1. Thanks so much for saying that! After living here 3 years now, I hope I’ve learned a thing or two (or 44!) that I can share to help other travelers out 💗

  7. What a fantastic post. There was SO much I didn’t know. I never would have guessed that about the bathrooms and not exchanging money! Thanks for your expert insight.

    1. Hi Elena: Thanks for writing & you’re welcome! When I was still living in the U.S. I felt like I was always trying to get rid of change, and I have to consciously remember to hang on to it now!!

  8. I must brush up on my Spanish! Some really useful tips here! I can’t wait to visit Mexico…hopefully it’s not too far away!

    1. Hi Linda: Even a little Spanish will go a longggg way in Mexico!

  9. This is the ultimate list! This will totally help to put so many people at ease before exploring Mexico!

  10. This is an awesome list of tips, can I share it and credit you and your site?

  11. Ther are amazing tips when traveling to Mexico . I definitely agree on keeping designer labels at home . I wouldn’t pay for a bathroom when I have a free one in my hotel . I can’t wait to visit again .

  12. definitely more assured about solo travel safety in Mexico now – thank you so much for walking me through everything, I had to admit it does help calm my nerves a little!

  13. oh gosh that Unicorn Taiyaki looooks SOOOOOO good!

  14. These are awesome tips. I’d love to share your tips on my site if you’ll allow me to. I will credit you send link back to your site as well. We need to share these tips!!!

  15. These are such great tips! I really need to plan a trip to Mexico…it’s such a beautiful place. How do you like living there?

    1. Hi Diane: I can’t imagine living anywhere else 🇲🇽 I hope you do plan that Mx trip, it’s such an amazing country with great beaches & nature, cities, small pueblos, colorful buildings, amazing history… and of course, tacos!!

  16. Wow, this is such a comprehensive list! Mexico is the first country I want to visit when I go to Central America. Thank you for these useful tips.

    1. you are welcome ummi! (as this is a common mistake, i’ll just clarify that mexico is part of north america, not central!)

  17. You are quite the expert on Mexico. These tips are exceptional. I wish when I visited Mexico I had them all together like you have a packaged them together instead of picking them up piece by piece.

    1. thanks for saying that, karen! i have been in mexico for 3 years now, so hopefully i picked up a useful tip or two!!

  18. Oooh so many useful tips here! I would never have know all that about the ATMs, and knowing M is for the ladies loos sounds very important!

    I feel like a lot of these tips would be useful anywhere that you travel – it’s all great advice for having a blast and staying safe on holiday.

  19. These tips are extremely helpful, and I am excited to hear that street food there is safe because I love trying the local cuisines!

    1. hi there, mexico street food is a very important part of the culture and local life! i actually get very sad when people visit Mexico and skip the street food.