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KimDDD Apr 15, 19 10:27 am

10 Weeks In Mexico – Itinerary, Top Tips & Budget
Dear FT friends,

As part of a 1 year trip through Latin America and Asia, my boyfriend and I just spent an incredible 10 weeks in Mexico. Since we absolutely LOVED Mexico, we thought we’d make a post here about our itinerary and top tips for each place we visited as well as an overview of the cost of travel in Mexico!

We hope it will inspire some of you to visit this beautiful country… Or help you discover some cool gems if you’re already in the process of planning your own trip 😊 Mexico really surprised us with its diversity, from the Caribbean coast to the Pacific Ocean, deserts, mountains, small villages, a megacity with 22 million people, with food ranging from simple tacos to fine cuisine and eating beetles and grasshoppers (yes, we did!). The country is huge and with 10 weeks of travel it still feels like we have only scratched the surface. We are eager to return.

A question that we get asked a lot is: ‘Is Mexico safe?’. If you’ve been reading the news and travel advisories, you might even reconsider going there at all. Statistically it is less safe than let’s say Switzerland or Japan, but most of the violence is related to the drug cartels and gang wars, which are just that, wars between gangs. In our experience, if you keep your wits about you, don’t go out buying drugs and don’t go wandering off into unknown neighborhoods, you will be fine. Don’t let sensationalist news stories deter you from visiting this beautiful country. There are some real dangers in Mexico though: friendly locals offering you yummy cookies and other food, gaining weight from eating too much tacos because they are soooo delicious (we estimate we each gained 10.5 tacos in weight by the time we were crossing the border into Guatemala) and quite a few hangovers from indulging in too much tequila and mezcal.

Mexico is all about food and our favorite part is the food culture. Mexicans are very serious when it comes to food and you would be amazed at the diversity of food that is on offer. Most people are familiar with tacos, burritos and ‘texmex’, but the food on offer is exponentially more diverse than this. There’s tlayudas (biiiiig pancakes with all kinds of toppings), stuffed peppers, the famous 7 moles (7 traditional kind of sauces) in Oaxaca, freshly grilled fish on the coast, spicy chicken stews, lime soup, 12 hour + underground oven baked marinated pork and so much more.

1. Itinerary & top tips

We first spent 4 weeks in the Yucatan peninsula:

- Cancun (beach resort city)

o Where we stayed: at the Mezcal hostel, a party hostel in the downtown area of Cancun. We’d definitely recommend this place to anyone visiting Cancun and looking to make some friends. The atmosphere was fantastic – there was a cool common space featuring a bar, pool table, a pool and lots more. There are optional activities all day every day and in the evening everyone heads to the bar area for some drinking games. Around 11 PM, usually quite a large group of people gathers to go clubbing together on Cancun’s ‘strip’, where all the main dance clubs are located.

o Best food: 1 EUR ceviche tostadas at Tostadillas Del Mar, located less than a 100 meters from Mezcal hostel. We went there every day; sometimes twice 😊 if you love good, cheap food – avoid the Zona Hotellera and go to local eateries or street food stalls downtown. Authentic Mexican food for a fraction of the price that you’d pay at a (near) beachfront venue!

o Our favourite activity: chilling on Playa Chac Mool, our number 1 beach in the area! We didn’t do too many tours whilst in Cancun since prices were usually very, very high.

Since Cancun is a very popular tourist destination, prices can be high and it can easily break the bank. This is why we have collected our top tips for keeping your costs low and travelling on a budget:

- Cozumel (tropical, Caribbean island)

o Where we stayed: 2 Tank Dive Hostel. We stayed here because – you guessed it – we were on Cozumel mainly to do scuba diving 😊 our accommodation at the hostel was free if we dived with them, which was a very good deal. It’s a good hostel, but there isn’t much of a community vibe compared to other places we’ve been. The common area doubles as a waiting room for people visiting the dive center and (maybe because of that?) didn’t really have that much of a relaxed vibe.

o Best food: we LOVED Los Otates, which is a short walk away from the main square / main tourist area of the island. They do great, affordable Mexican food AND have a bar right next door which makes some of the best cocktails we’ve had in all of Mexico for a very affordable price. Also really recommended: the veggie burritos at Burritos Chorditos. Best burritos we had in all of Mexico, hands down.

o Our favourite activity: you guessed it – SCUBA DIVING! The current-swept waters around Cozumel ensure a variety of marine life (including bigger stuff like rays and sharks!!), but are still very manageable for even less experienced divers.

- Tulum (beach resort town; has become very hyped over the past few years)

o Where we stayed: Indajani hostel. We picked this spot because it was the cheapest hostel left in Tulum when we were looking (which was the day before arriving). It was perfect for just that – cheap, clean rooms. But if we could have picked another

o Best food: for cheap Mexican food, visit Antojitos La Chiapaneca. One of the cheapest and best local eateries around. Open 24/7 (ish), this place almost always has a queue of people lining up outside. And for good reason – the food is awesome and super affordable! Looking for a fancy dinner? Then head to NÜ restaurant, near the beach strip. At 150 EUR for a 3-course dinner for 2 people (+ many cocktails), this place is not cheap, but you will LOVE it. It’s more fusion cuisine; the food is incredible and service and drinks are great as well.

o Our favourite activity: scuba diving cenotes. Probably my favourite activity in all of Mexico, we did 2 dives in the glorious Dos Ojos cenote, which also happened to be some of our most awesome dives we’ve ever done. If you are a certified diver, do not miss this. Visiting the cenotes is unique, but diving them is beyond incredible! If you’re not certified / interested in diving, you can still go snorkeling there (both in the main cavern area which is right at the cenote’s entrance as well as in some other very cool, deeper parts of the cenote). There are many other beautiful cenotes in the area as well.

- Merida (best colonial town in all of Yucatan and foodie haven)

o Where we stayed: Nomadas hostel. One of the best hostels we visited in Merida. Has a nice courtyard, very relaxed pool area, free salsa lessons every night, very cheap cooking classes. Both dorms and private rooms available. Highly recommended.

o Best food: just about anything at Manjar Blanco. This restaurant is well-known very good classic Yucatecan food. The queso relleno especially was incredible, as well as the sopa de lima (lime soup).

o Our favourite activity: a daytrip to the Ruta Puuc & Uxmal. See the area’s main Mayan ruins in a single daytrip. Especially Uxmal was incredible – one of the best Mayan sites we visited on this trip.

- Mexico City (capital of Mexico and our favourite city in the world, so far…)

o Where we stayed: Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral. Conveniently located right on the city’s main square (the Zocalo), this hostel stole our heart for its INCREDIBLE rooftop bar, Terraza. It’s one of the city’s most famous rooftop bars, and with a gorgeous view of the dramatic cathedral, great cocktails and a serious party vibe, there’s no wondering why. Seriously – the terrace alone is reason enough to stay here. But the hostel is pretty nice itself, too 😉

o Best food: we’re really torn here. Mexico City has so much great and affordable food options… So we’ll give you some options, depending on what you’re after.
* Looking for the best tacos in town and you’re a meat lover? Head to Mama Chonchas, right off the Zocalo. Best meat tacos in town and the staff makes you feel right at home. We were in Mexico City for 2,5 weeks and went there for lunch almost every day during that time.
* Love tacos but prefer fish? Then head to El Pescadito. These tacos were my personal favourite tacos in ALL of Mexico. I know, that’s a big promise – but judging from the huge line usually waiting outside around lunch time, others seem to agree with that assessment.
* Want something a bit more exotic? Try your hand at fancy insect appetizers at Limosneros restaurant! And then maybe drink them down with one of their delicious cocktails 😉

o Our favourite activity: watching sunset with the best view of the Palacio de Bellas Artes – and a chocolate-chili frappé in hand. Located on top of the department store that sits directly opposite the Palacio, rooftop bar Café Don Porfirio boasts what is easily our favourite view in all of this crazy city. As well as incredible chocolate and coffee drinks. DO NOT MISS THIS, it’s incredible! And won’t cost you a dime, aside from the drink… Looking for some night time entertainment after that? Head to a Mexico wrestling or lucha libre game. It’s one of the most entertaining events we’ve ever been to on holiday.

Mexico City turned out to be our favourite city in the world so far. We have a YouTube channel where we make travel videos throughout our trip so if you’re interested in Mexico City, feel free to check out our video ‘Why You’ll Love Mexico City’ – and love it you will! With so much on offer in this megalopolis, we’re quite sure of that… Most of the activities referred to above are featured in this video too, by the way!

- Oaxaca City (colonial city where people tend to linger for good vibes & Spanish classes)

o Where we stayed: Hostal Mixteco Naba Nandoo. A good hostel, offering some of the more affordable double rooms we’ve encountered across Mexico. About 1 km from the city’s Zocalo.

o Best food: Boulenc Pan Artesano. Adjacent to what’s known as the city’s best bakery, this place has a great menu featuring both Mexican dishes and healthier international cuisine. From a REALLY GOOD pizza (which for us was surprisingly hard to find in Mexico) to an incredible salad (yes, Mexico does have vegetables, we saw them ourselves!) and incredible cold brew coffees… Just go there, the place has a nice, relaxed vibe and the food is very worthwhile as well.

o Our favourite activity: touring a mezcal farm in Matatlan, 40 min outside town. Mezcal is Mexico’s famous, smokey liquor. Think you’ve never had this drink before? Well, guess again, because tequila is also mezcal. And almost everyone’s had tequila at some point (and now probably has a matching horror hangover story – yes, we are looking at you). We visited mezcal farm La Venia, which is a family-run distillery. Not like the bigger factories that are usually frequented on organized tours. DIY this tour – just take a taxi to Matatlan and ask them to wait for you there. Have a tour across the farm grounds, see the mezcal making process in action and sample a few (too many) glasses… It’s the perfect afternoon out. Ok, maybe even better when supplemented by a small nap afterwards 😊

- Zipolite (beach resort town on the wild Pacific coast)

o Where we stayed: Posada Brisa Marina. Rooms are outdated and could use a paint job, but it’s RIGHT on the beach and features many hammocks on a relaxed stretch of sand. We’d stay there again in a heartbeat. There’s a restaurant (Nice Place On The Beach) right next door where we had breakfast every day.

o Best food: Mestizzo restaurant. The tuna steak there is to die for. But not to worry, the tasty cocktails will revive you!

o Our favourite activity: Zipolite is not about doing stuff. This place is a bit of a hippie town, home to the only beaches in Mexico that allow for full nudity and perfect for beach bumming or nude meditation sessions in the breaking surf – you wouldn’t even find yourself alone at that either! So we’d recommend swinging a hammock here for as long as you’d like. Delve into that book you’ve been meaning to read. Take a dip in the ocean. Body board if you feel like you really MUST do something useful for a change (surfing is also great here due to the awesome breaks). Then enjoy some of the most beautiful sunsets you can see in Mexico. If you’re looking to relax, you’ve come to the right place – and you won’t want to leave.

- Puerto Escondido (Pacific coast town)

o Where we stayed: Osa Mariposa hostel. Quite a bit out of town, but a friendly and relaxed place. You’ll stay there in cabin-style private double rooms. We’d recommend it if you’re up for a small walk to facilities.

o Best food: Pepe’s fish tacos. We love tacos and Pepe’s came in a very close second to our favourite fish tacos ever in Mexico City. Very close to Osa Mariposa (they could literally throw the tacos over the hostel wall if they’d want), this is a friendly place where you’ll find yourself surrounded with locals. And the cutest puppies in all of Mexico.

o Our favourite activity: if you’re there during the right season (roughly December through April), this is the perfect spot to go humpback whale spotting. We were lucky enough to spot 10-15 of these gentle giants from our boat. The visibility was too poor to snorkel with them, but it’s still one of our favourite animal encounters so far. Alternatively, release some cute baby turtles into the ocean. You’ll feel like a proud parent sending them off as they make their way towards the giant ocean. Aside from these great animal encounters, we didn’t really feel much for Puerto Escondido. But that could just be us, of course.

- San Cristobal De Las Casas (colonial town in the lesser visited state of Chiapas; very popular amongst Mexicans)

o Where we stayed: Hostel Mirador. Beautiful rooms, super friendly new owner just bought the place. Highly recommended.

o Best bar: La Viña De Bacco. Great vibes, 1 EUR cuba libres and free snacks. Live music right out front and the terrace will likely be jam packed with locals and tourists alike, all looking to have a good time and chill out with friends and family.

o Our favourite activity: daytripping down to the 1.000+ meters deep Sumidero Canyon. Take a 2,5 hour boat ride of the river that runs through the canyon and then visit the surrounding miradores (viewpoints) for a view from above. One of our favourite daytrips in Mexico.

- Palenque (home to the famous Mayan ruins of Palenque)

o Where we stayed: Hotel Naj Kin. Cheapest place we could find for the 2 nights that we were there. Clean enough and located right in town, but nothing special.

o Best food: El Caracol De Jade. Very cheap and good quality local eatery located on the main square. Don’t go if you’re pressed for time though 😊

o Our favourite activity: visiting the Palenque ruins, of course. These were our absolute favourite Mayan ruins in all of Mexico, because of their incredible jungle setting. Do not miss these – in our opinion, they’re better than Chichen Itza and don’t have nearly the same crowds! We combined the ruins with a visit to the turquoise waterfalls of Agua Azul, leaving San Cristobal early in the morning and heading to Palenque town at the end of the day. Probably our favourite daytrip in all of Mexico. Incredibly beautiful, as you can see in our video below if you’d like!

2. Budget:

Our daily budget for 2 people averaged 66 EUR per day, excluding big ticket items like scuba diving and excluding our flight to Mexico City. If you’re interested in seeing a break down per category so that you know how much to budget for accommodation and other essentials, as well as seeing some sample costs, check out our Mexico travel budget video:

If you want to better experience the feel of all these places we’ve visited, please feel free to check out our travel vlogs on our YouTube channel ‘Naick & Kim’ – they showcase almost all of the top tips referred to above:

We hope this trip review helps you plan your own trip to Mexico. The country will definitely steal your heart, as it has ours as well. If you have ANY questions on our top tips, budget, etc. feel free to ask and we’ll be happy to help!

Right now, we’re continuing our trip into Guatemala, after which we’ll be flying to Colombia where we’ll be travelling onwards to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. After this we’ll head home for a few weeks during summer in order to see our friends and family, followed by an overland adventure to Asia and another 6 months there. Maybe a little longer even, we’ll see…

Wishing you many happy and safe travels,

Kim & Naick

lamphs Apr 16, 19 6:30 pm

Thanks for posting. You've posted a lot of good information. And Merida is a favorite place in Mexico!

Bretteee Apr 16, 19 7:38 pm

An American recently was murdered in the Canyon area near Mochis. I wanted to take the Chepe train.

How do you get to Palenque the easiest way?

theshaun Apr 16, 19 10:56 pm

Thanks for sharing your adventure.

I'm looking forward to SFO777's next trip report where he stays and reviews a hostel! :D

opsbudda Apr 22, 19 7:20 am

Originally Posted by theshaun (Post 31008773)
Thanks for sharing your adventure.

I'm looking forward to SFO777's next trip report where he stays and reviews a hostel! :D


anyludes Apr 23, 19 10:04 pm

Originally Posted by Bretteee (Post 31008302)
An American recently was murdered in the Canyon area near Mochis. I wanted to take the Chepe train.

How do you get to Palenque the easiest way?

Fly from DF to Palenque on Aeromexico if you want miles or Interjet for way cheaper. Both are daily IIRC. Taxi stand past luggage claim, on the left, will get you the short distance to the town. Ask anyone in town & you will find transportation to the best ruins I have seen in latin America (on site museum is great, which is not normal in Mexico because everything is usually in DF Museo Anthro.). We just took a collectivo to the ruins. They run up & down the road to the ruins & will stop for anyone if they have room. You cant miss them. They're the only vehicle not a taxi or a bus.

Bretteee May 16, 19 4:12 pm

Wow I had no idea there was an airport in Palenque. Thanks.

mad_atta May 19, 19 1:50 am

Thanks for sharing! I'm so envious that you had 10 weeks in Mexico. We recently visited, and had 4 days in Mexico City and 5 days in the Yucatan - really loved both and could happily have stayed much longer. Already wondering when I can make it back to Mexico to see more of the place...

I also recommend visiting Merida, which was an unexpected highlight of our trip, with its gorgeous colonial centre and wealth of culture and great restaurants. Two tips for Merida from us:
  • Hotel Luz en Yucatan was very reasonably priced, super friendly and had a lovely pool for whiling away the steamy part of the afternoon. Oh and a trolley of tequila and mezcal in the common area from which you could help yourself for free!
  • If you're a coffee lover, definitely check out Manifesto Casa Tostadora Calabrese - by far the best coffee we had anywhere in the country. They roast only Mexican beans and are utterly passionate about it.

KimDDD Jul 3, 19 8:22 am

Yes, 10 weeks was really amazing. Originally we were planning on doing 6-7 weeks, but ended up extending our stay a lot haha. Even the 10 weeks in Mexico felt like it was still on the short side to really see it all. We still have everything to the north of Mexico City and Baja California to explore. We would love to return to Mexico, what a country. The tourism infrastructure is quite well developed and travelling there is very affordable.

Thanks for those great tips for Merida.

cookiess Jul 17, 19 7:15 am

This is a good advise. Thank you very much and will keep this in mind.

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