From the rocky beaches of the Pacific coast to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, plus all the quaint pueblos in between, Mexico is a large and diverse country that offers something of interest to nearly every visitor. If you're considering taking a trip to Mexico, you might have several reasons for doing so. Whether you're looking to spend a few peaceful days in a large beachfront resort, or travel through small towns, visiting ancient ruins and sampling the piquant local fare, Mexico is ready to welcome you.
Here are our 11 suggestions:
1. Variety of things to see&do
There is only one country that I have visited and that I think could ever compete with Mexico in this matter: India. In both countries there is such a variety of places, people, culture, landscapes, and even climates!
In Mexico, we started by the beach (Riviera Maya), passed by some big cities (Merida, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Oaxaca and, obviously, Mexico City); spent days at the jungle around Palenque and the woods and lakes in the south of Chiapas. In one month’s time we went from laying under the golden sun in our swimming suits to having to seek refugee from the rain in Chiapas and even wore our thickest jackets around the DF. All in one month!
The level of friendliness of the Mexican people is among the highest in the world. Everywhere you go someone will be willing to lend a helping hand. Here is one of my favorite highlights, which captures the friendly spirit of the Mexican people.
Mexican cuisine isn't just about tacos and tamales. Visit the inland cities of Puebla and Oaxaca to sample different varieties of mole, a sauce made with toasted chilies and chocolate. In the coastal regions, sample local seafood dishes, such as snapper Veracruz style, a meal made with whole snapper prepared with tomatoes, chilies and olives. Head down to Baja California to sample Mexico's finest wines and visit the home of the fish taco.
4. Escape from it all
Mexico has always had a reputation as one of the world's best hideouts. From the beaches of Tulum and Oaxaca to the haciendas in the Yucatan, you won't have to search long and hard to find your perfect escape. La Casa Que Canta was one of my hideaways this year. And for our Editor in Chief, Julia Cosgrove, her "go to" is Amansala in Tulum.
History buffs can step back to the days when the Mayans ruled Mexico. Visit the ruins of two Mayan cities in the Yucatan Peninsula at Tulum and Chichen Itza, and walk among the stone pyramids that once housed some of Mexico's earliest residents.
6. The music
From mariachi to modern rock, Mexico knows how to play infectious tunes. Head to Guadalajara to spend time in the place that calls mariachi home. Or when you’re in Mexico City, take a trip to Plaza Garibaldi. If modern is more your style, download some of Mana’s best tracks.
7. Tequila and Mescal
I’m a huge fan of these truly Mexican spirits. And it takes a trip to Jalisco and Oaxaca to begin to understand the depth and variety of flavors tequila and mescal affords. Shake off your awful memories of getting drunk on Cuervo as a teenager and begin to explore the quality of real 100% agave-made tequila. You’ll leave the hangover at home.
8. Colors all around!
Mexico is one colorful country, no doubt about that! Just picture London in the Winter, for example: grey sky, grey buildings, people wearing grey clothes. Well, this is the total opposite! Houses are painted with bright tones, people proudly drive shiny cars, restaurants and cafes display different colors in their walls, tables, chairs, table cloths… everywhere! Even people’s clothes tend to be happy!
While the majority of Mexican citizens speak Spanish, they all have varying degrees of knowledge in speaking English. This makes it easy for many tourists, most of whom visit from the United States and Canada, to communicate with the locals to get directions or ask for help. It also makes laughing and joking with the local children memorable.
You can negotiate easier when buying your goods because you can banter back and forth with the vendors.
Most of the Mexican people are also very friendly to tourists. They understand that tourism helps to boost the Mexican economy. When tourists are happy and traveling to Mexico everyone benefits.
If you can afford to fly during the major holiday seasons in Mexico, you’re in for a treat.
The most famous holiday and biggest cultural experience in Mexico is the two days following Halloween, Day of the Dead – Da de los Muertos. It is in connection with the Catholic holiday All Saints Day (November 1) and All Souls Day (November 2). These days are in recognition of those who have passed on before them. All Saints is a celebration of those who were unmarried and under 18, while All Souls Day recognizes the married and over 18 relatives who are deceased.
It is a time of bright colors, unique artwork, and incredible tradition.
11. Find artistic inspiration
What do you make of a city that covers its most important government buildings with the work of one of its most outspoken anti-establishment artists? Take in Diego Rivera’s murals at the National Palace right in the Zócalo—the D.F.’s main square. For another glimpse into the local art legacy, stroll the residential neighbourhood of Coyoacán until you come upon the cobalt blue home Frida Kahlo once occupied. Aptly named La Casa Azul, it’s now a museum that houses many of the artist’s works.