What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip To Cancun

Welcoming thousands upon thousands of visitors each year, Cancun is a tropical paradise of sandy beaches, stunningly clear blue waters, and ancient archaeological sites. Before visiting this lively city, there are some things to be aware of that can make or break your trip. Check out these things I wish I knew before my trip to Cancun! 

1. Book Excursions Through A Reliable Source

Chichen Itza, Mexico
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There are so many fun adventures awaiting in Cancun, from an all-inclusive tour of Chichen Itza with a zesty side of tequila and lunch to reef snorkeling the beautiful blue waters that have made this area a popular travel destination. 

Before you book your excursions, ensure you reserve with a reliable source. If you’re staying at a resort, I recommend booking through them as they will be a trustworthy option. If not, research to pick a credible source to avoid being scammed. 

2. Visit The Local Markets

Latin woman backpacker shopping in a tourist market in Mexico City
Image Credit: Depositphotos.

Are you interested in unique and cultural finds? Then you need to visit the local markets! 

Compared to the airport gift shops, the local flea markets and shops will provide more authentic and diverse goods to ponder over. Many of these goods are handmade, providing plenty of options for fun souvenirs to take home. Plus, purchasing from these shops will also help support local business owners! 

3. Pre-Book A Ride

Taxi driver
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Before you get to Cancun, it’s vital that you pre-book a ride to get from the airport to your stay in Cancun. Initially, Uber was not legal in Cancun. After a lengthy legal battle, Uber is now legal in Cancun, but there are certain limitations to be aware of. 

The most limiting is that Uber is prohibited at the airport and the hotel zone. This means you must pre-book transportation from the airport to your stay and back for your return flight. Hailing a taxi can be tricky at the airport, so scheduling ahead of time can save you a big hassle.

You may want to read: How to Rent a Car in Mexico in 2024 (and Driving Etiquette!)

4. Extend Your Adventure To Other Locations

Tulum - Archeological Site - The house of Columns
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While staying in Cancun for the whole trip may be tempting, stretching your wings and taking advantage of nearby locations such as Tulum and Playa del Carmen. Tulum is a hot spot travel destination just as much as Cancun, where people flock for yoga retreats and workouts at the world-famous outdoor Tulum Jungle Gym.

Only about an hour from Cancun, Playa del Carmen features the ancient Xaman-Ha Mayan ruins, natural pools for snorkeling, and plenty of upscale shopping for the ultimate day trip adventure. 

5. Ensure Your Passport Is Up To Date

Happy woman traveler with passport
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For those unaware, your passport must be valid for six months beyond the date the traveler leaves the United States. Those attempting to travel out of the country in less than six months from the expiry date will not be allowed to board the plane for their flight. 

6. Experience Local History & Culture

CANCUN, MEXICO -15 JUL 2017- View of the Museo Maya de Cancun (Cancun Mayan Museum) located in the Hotel Zone in Cancun, Mexico.
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

If you’re looking to experience the tourist traps and nightlife of Cancun, that’s fine, but I also recommend experiencing the local history and culture of the area

Schedule a day trip to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Chichen Itza, once a reigning city of the ancient Mayan Empire. Take a tour through the Museo Maya de Cancun, a world-class museum, to peer over ancient Mayan artifacts and learn more about the civilization that once ruled the land.

7. Include Hidden Gems In Your Itinerary

Las Pozas, Mexico
Image Credit: Deposit Photos.

Though the tourist traps in Cancun can be an equally entertaining experience, including some of the local hidden gems in your itinerary can enrich your trip. There are a range of hidden treasures and activities to consider. For example, Las Pozas is an expansive sculpture garden established in the 1940s by English poet Edward James.

8. Be Careful What You Eat/Drink

Traveler woman eating greek salad
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Don’t underestimate food and water contamination when visiting another country. Our stomachs may not be accustomed to the bacteria locals have built immunity to, resulting in an unfortunate case of traveler’s diarrhea. Some tips to avoid this are only drinking bottled water and asking for no ice in your drinks when eating out at restaurants. 

9. Carry Pesos Just In Case

Happy smiling man with pesos
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Not all shops or vendors in town accept credit cards, so it’s best to carry pesos in your wallet just in case. Also, if you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort, it’s important to tip employees as they often work hard and don’t get tipped as they should for their service. 

10. Keep Your Immigration Form 

Immigration form
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Before passing through customs at the airport, Mexico requires all international travelers to fill out an Official Entry Immigration Form, also known as a Tourist Card. This form can be filled out online or received in person by the airline at the airport. Keep the exit part of the form. You will be fined if you do not present the exit form before boarding your return flight.

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