Safety in Mexico has been a major concern of all times. In the last few months especially, the concerns have increased further due to the warning from the US government. So you must be thinking, “Is it safe to travel to Riviera Maya Mexico?”
I am Italian and I have lived in Mexico, Cancun for the past 7 years. I love this country so much. Its multifaceted culture, its natural beauties, the people, I love everything about it. Of course, it’s undeniable that there are issues in the country. The drug cartels are true. BUT you need to consider that Mexico is a huge country. There are regions where I would never step in, but there are many other places you can travel and explore without any worries. The Riviera Maya, Cancun and all the Yucatan peninsula belong to the categories, where you can travel on your own, rent a car or hop on buses to explore the wonders.
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Having said that, things can happen. You just need to know where you are going and pay a little extra attention, just like how you would have done in any other unfamiliar places.
The Yucatan Peninsula is divided into 3 states – Yucatan state, Quintana Roo and Campeche. Yucatan state is known for its’ colonial cities, the cenotes and Haciendas and archaeological sites; Quintana Roo is known for the dreamlike white sand beaches and the turquoise sea; while Campeche is famous for the biosphere of Calakmul, the multicoloured colonial city and other natural beauties. As you can see it is an amazing region with tons of things to see and do. There is no mountain though. Yucatan Peninsula is a flat region. So if you are a climber or hiker, you should choose other regions instead. Mexico is full of diversity. You could live here all your life and still have something new to discover.
So please do yourself a favour. Rent a car, go out and explore the country. To help make your trip better and smoother, I’ve come up with a few tips that can be useful for your Mexican adventure.
From May to October, it’s the wet season. That doesn’t mean that it will rain all the time, but it’s extremely humid and hot. So make sure you walk around with sun protector, mosquito repellent and a bottle of water. You need to stay hydrated. I am sorry to disappoint you but that fancy coloured super alcoholic cocktail served at the pool bar doesn’t keep you hydrated. If you cannot do without it, just wait until the night falls. 😉 Temperature in winter is milder in the evening, but it’s still really hot during the day.
Humidity brings mosquitos and there have been cases of mosquitoes related diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya. I didn’t have any issue with that but we can’t exclude the possibility. If you are a pregnant lady, you need to be more aware of Zika, as the disease is dangerous for your baby.
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You might be laughing now, but trust me the sauce is so hot that you can barely breathe. The “chilito” as they call it, comes in many different levels of spice. HABANERO is what you need to avoid if you don’t want to faint with just one bite! I am not kidding. I need to warn you when you ask the waiters if a food is spicy and if they tell you “just a little bit”, that means it is impossible to eat at all, if you are not a fan of spice.
I am an adventurer and when I travel I love to try everything but I would suggest you be a little cautious here. Lollipops and those inviting cups of sliced fruit are prepared at home and you don’t know about their hygienic conditions. I would rather avoid them in order to prevent unpleasant disease like salmonella or stomach disorders.
Water is not drinkable at all in Mexico. Never. I use it to brush my teeth but since you are not living here, I would suggest you use bottled water, just to make sure. Almost all the hotels leave a couple of bottles in the bathroom for that purpose. Use it and stay safe from unusual bacteria.
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You will be required to put toilet papers in the bin after use. I know it seems a little gross, but it is necessary because the pipes are small and they can get stuck easily.
The local currency is Mexican Pesos. About 20 pesos for $1 USD. I highly recommend you to carry some cash with you as many gas stations don’t accept cards. Neither do so many restaurants or small hotels in the countryside.
I love to drive around the peninsula and discover secret corners. Renting a car is easy and you have plenty of choices. There are a few tips that you’ll need to know about driving. Firstly, make sure you ask for full insurance and what it includes. While you are driving, pay attention to the “TOPES “speed bump. And…. last but not least… police.. they will stop you and try to get a tip. Don’t give them a reason to do that. Always buckle up and respect the speed limit. But in case they find an excuse, I’ll never give up as I don’t like to support corruption. But sometimes it makes life much easier. So, it is really up to you. They are not dangerous though. I am just warning you that it is something that can happen, especially in the Riviera Maya.
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If you don’t feel like moving around by car, you can always hop on a bus. There are 2 ways, one is by the big bus from ADO, comfortable and safe, except for the freezing cold. They run all around the peninsula and the whole Mexico. Otherwise, you can get the “collectivos” minivans. But they drive like crazy…
There is no compulsory vaccine required to come to Mexico, although there are suggested ones. Here is an interesting site to check for vaccination requirement in any country. I don’t like vaccination, I don’t take any and I avoid places where it is compulsory, but that’s me. You should consult your doctor or your local health institution if you are unable to decide.
You will need to apply for a visa if your passport is from the country listed on this page. If your original country is not on this list, you can enter Mexico with a tourist permit of 3 or 6 months.
Phew! I think I have covered a lot of the “basics”. Thanks for reading and I hope you find them helpful. If you have any questions please write in by commenting below. I’ll be happy to share my knowledge with you. Happy traveling! 🙂
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Isabella is Italian by birth, Caribbean by heart and wanderer by inner soul. She left Italy 15 years ago when she was 30 years old. In the past 7 years, she spent her time in Mexico, discovering its different beauty every day. To inspire people to visit Mexico, she started her travel blog Boundless Roads. Over there, you can find all the information you need about this beautiful country.