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Yucatán in Mexico: Practical travel tips and information for your trip

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The Yucatán Peninsula is the most popular tourist destination in Mexico. We are not surprised, because there you will find the perfect combination of Caribbean dream beaches, pretty colonial cities and exciting Mayan Culture. For three weeks we traveled all over the Yucatán Peninsula and fell in love with Mexico.

In this blog article we reveal everything, what you need to know for a trip to Mexico, including: Tips for planning and preparing for your trip to Mexico, information about the highlights on the Yucatán, interesting facts about safety on the Yucatán Peninsula and of course what to expect in expected from a culinary point of view.

1. Preparation: Before your Yucatán tour What awaits you on the Yucatán Peninsula: First impressions & overview Mexico – the land of the Mayas, the snow-white beaches, of mystical cenotes, tacos and margaritas. If you have these ideas about the Yucatán, then you are not far wrong. Because all of these things are waiting for you on a tour of Yucatán.

However: Yucatán is anything but untouched in terms of tourism. We are talking here above all about the east coast, the so-called Riviera Maya, which is a lot more touristy than we would have expected in advance . This means that you often have to search for authentic Mexico in the Yucatán. But we can reassure you: You can very well find it, because there are enough places in the Yucatán away from mass and package tourism.

When one speaks of “Yucatán”, that’s usually the way it is of the peninsula of the same name. This in turn houses the three states Yucatán, Quintana Roo and Campeche.

Yucatán is, in our opinion, the perfect combination of culture, beaches and cities.

Culture because of the abundance of Mayan ruins. You can’t help but be amazed by the ruins. There are countless Mayan ruins on the Yucatán and one is more impressive than the other.

Beaches anyway, because along the Riviera Maya and on the Mexican islands have picture-book dream beaches. We were stunned by the snow white sand and azure water.

Cities This is because the Yucatán is blessed with some beautiful, authentic colonial towns. We loved getting lost in the urban buzz of Campeche, Mérida and Valladolid.

Who is the Yucatán for? First time to Mexico? Then the Yucatán Peninsula is the ideal destination for you. There are several reasons why Yucatán is so well suited for Mexico newcomers in our opinion: 1. Yucatán is the most touristy region in Mexico, but there are also places that are still completely spared from mass tourism are. Anyone who has concerns about safety can rest easy: The Yucatán Peninsula is not only the most touristy, but also one of the safest regions in Mexico. (We will provide you with more information on safety at the end of this article.) 2. The distances on the Yucatán are comparatively short: we never sat in the car for more than 4 hours on our road trip. All in all, we had the feeling that we had found the perfect entry into Mexico with Yucatán.

We can also highly recommend the peninsula for families with children. There are plenty of great bathing resorts with beautiful beaches along the Riviera Maya (e.g. in Tulum). If you do want to do one or the other excursion, there are plenty of options – including the great cenotes or Mayan ruins.

Duration of trip: How long should I stay in Yucatán? Hard question because it depends on how much you want to experience and how how much time you want to take per stop. We ourselves were three weeks in the Yucatán and found this period perfect. We had the feeling that we had seen a lot of the peninsula without stressing ourselves out too much.

But you can also do a nice road trip in two weeks. And vice versa, of course, four weeks or more can easily be filled with experiences.

The best travel time on the Yucatán Peninsula Dry season = peak travel season Between November/December and April/May there is a dry season on the Yucatán Peninsula. This means that comparatively little precipitation falls and the temperatures are pleasantly warm (not too hot). In the evening it can also be a little chilly. Most tourists are out and about on the Yucatán Peninsula during the dry season.

Tourism experiences a peak during Christmas time and at Easter. That’s when many visitors from the USA and Europe escape the cold and travel to Mexico. Around Spring Break, when college students from America have their semester break, things get really busy along the Riviera Maya. If possible, we recommend that you avoid all of these periods.

Rainy season The rainy season begins in May and lasts until October/November pulls. In these months there is significantly more precipitation on the Yucatán. The extent of the rain is quite unpredictable: everything is possible from continuous rain for days to a few showers in two weeks. Hurricane season also falls during the rainy season. However, dramatic hurricanes are very rare in Mexico.

If it weren’t possible to do anything other than travel to Mexico during the rainy season, then we personally wouldn’t let that stop us. However, be prepared that some items on the program may literally fall through the cracks.

Our travel time including experience We traveled to the Yucatán between the end of November and mid-December. Our trip was a good example of how the weather doesn’t always stick to climate forecasts. In the actual dry season we had a few rainy days. During our time on Holbox, an unusually strong low hung over the land at all.

What we mean by that: Since you are traveling to the tropics, you have to be prepared for changeable weather at any time of the year. It’s best not to plan the trip too rigidly, so that you can still be flexible on the spot and reschedule a little if necessary.

Entering Mexico German and Austrian nationals may enter Mexico without a visa and 180 stay there for days. You don’t have to worry about anything in advance, the only important thing is that your passport is still valid for six months upon arrival.

You will receive two forms on the plane: A Immigration form and one from Customs. You must fill out both forms. (Having a pen is a good idea.) Upon immigration, show the forms then before – that’s it. Important: The entry form remains in the passport and is also the exit form. You should take good care of it, because you have to hand it in when you leave the country. If you lose it, you supposedly have to pay a fee.

Note: If you have a stopover in the USA, you have to apply for an ESTA.

Electricity/travel plug: Do I need an adapter for Mexico? Unfortunately yes – absolutely! In Mexico you use completely different sockets than in Germany or Austria. To be more precise, type A and B sockets are used there. These have flat contacts.

Another important thing: The mains voltage in Mexico is just about 120 or. 120 Volts and the line frequency 33 Hertz. In this country (Europe) the mains voltage is 170 Volts. You should therefore check all your devices to see if they are suitable for Mexico. You can find the relevant information, for example, directly on the device or on the charging cable.

An example: The MacBook Pro 17″ according to the charging cable between 90 and 300 volts and between 24 and 60 Hertz. So you don’t need to worry in Mexico, although the loading time may be longer. Devices usually run at half the power than at home – this applies to the hair dryer, for example. It will be at 90 Volt quickly unusable.

This adapter is the right one: Mexico travel plug (We had three pieces with us.)

Travel Guide to Yucatan We never travel to a new country without a printed travel guide – it was the same with Mexico. We did a lot of research beforehand and ultimately decided on the English-language Lonely Planet.

The advantage of this travel guide is that it is very compact. There’s no unnecessary weight to carry, as the guide is limited to the Yucatán Peninsula (and a few adjacent destinations). The most important goals are well described, although sometimes we would have liked the information to be a bit more detailed. Nevertheless, we can recommend it.

You can buy the guide here: Lonely Planet Cancún, Cozumel & the Yucatán (July edition )

2. Transportation on the Yucatan Option 1 (our choice & recommendation): With a rental car The fastest and most comfortable Are you traveling by rental car? Even if you might not believe it at first, but it is impossible to travel the Yucatán as a self-driver. We have summarized all our tips for driving in Mexico and booking a rental car in detail in this blog article: Roadtrip Yucatán.

We have our own rental car booked for Mexico (as on almost every trip so far) via Sunny Cars. When booking via Sunny Cars, all important insurances for Mexico are already included, which is why we would choose it again at any time.

Option 2 : By Bus It is also very popular to travel through the Yucatán by bus. The best-known, most modern and most popular bus company with tourists is called ADO. The ADO route network is very well developed. You can easily search for specific connections on the ADO website. There is no English language site, but you can easily find your way around even if you don’t speak Spanish.

Moving around If you have a rental car then you can of course also use this at the individual locations for locomotion. This works great in Bacalar, for example. The larger the city, the more impractical it is to get around with a rental car – for the simple reason that the parking situation can be annoying (e.g. in Tulum along Beach Road).

Uber & Taxi are good alternatives in this case. We drove with Uber ourselves in Mérida – worked without any problems.

Most cities (Valladolid, Campeche and mostly Mérida) are small enough to cover all distances on foot to cope with. In some places, the bicycle is the best mode of transportation (e.g. in Tulum and Holbox).

3. Highlights & Itinerary You are probably now interested in what you can experience in the Yucatán and which highlights you shouldn’t miss. Here we recommend you this blog article in which we describe our itinerary:

Detailed blog article: Our itinerary for Yucatán

In it we devote ourselves to the exact stops of our round trip. So if you are interested in what the Yucatán has to offer, you are in good hands there. Of course, there is also a detailed blog article for you with our insider tips for every Yucatán travel destination.

4. Food & Drink: Mexican cuisine To be honest: Mexican cuisine didn’t knock our socks off. Don’t get me wrong: we’ve never eaten badly, not at all. However, the Mexican dishes were too monotonous for us in the long run. This is mainly due to the fact that we, as (almost) vegetarians, were not able to choose from the entire range of Mexican cuisine. In addition, many dishes consist of tortillas and at some point we just couldn’t see them anymore.

Classics & specialties in Yucatán The absolute classic in Mexico are tacos: Soft corn tortillas are served in a wide variety of variations. They are usually filled with meat, but there are often vegetarian alternatives. The best place to go for authentic tacos is the so-called Taquería. Tacos are usually very cheap. You often only pay a few pesos per piece. You get several dips with the tacos. Attention: Some of them (mostly the green ones) are hot as hell!

In the fried form, tacos are called Salbutes. The so-called Quesadillas (corn tortillas filled and topped with cheese), Burritos (rolled corn tortillas) or Enchiladas (filled and covered with sauce) are similar corn tortillas). You can also get excellent guacamole everywhere in the Yucatán. In general, people in Mexico are never stingy with avocados – you can tell that they are grown there.

Come Let’s move on to the less well-known dishes, although these are unfortunately reserved almost exclusively for meat eaters: Sopa de Lima is a chicken and lime soup with tortilla strips. If you order Cochinita Pibil , you get stewed pork. Fish specialties are common on the coast. The Peruvian classic ceviche has also made it to the Yucatán.

The national drink of Mexico is the so-called Mezcal, probably the best-known Tequila in Mexico. As a result, tequila-based cocktails can be found across the country. The best known is the Margarita, which often comes in multiple versions. Beer (“Cerveza”) is also a popular drink, including Sol or Corona.

There are often freshly squeezed fruit juices, but you usually see the locals with soft drinks: the Mexicans have when consuming Soft drinks one of the highest rates worldwide! We found the so-called Agua de Jamaica very good – a hibiscus blossom tea that is served ice-cold. By the way: You shouldn’t drink the tap water in Mexico.

Eating vegetarian in Yucatán Let’s put it this way: There are countries where it is easier to eat a balanced vegetarian diet than Mexico. The traditional Mexican cuisine is dominated by meat.

The Yucatán Peninsula is a bit of an exception though. Since tourism is firmly established, there is an incredibly wide range of meatless dishes in many places (especially along the Riviera Maya). It is not uncommon for there to be purely vegetarian or vegan restaurants.

The further away you are from the tourism hotspots, the more difficult it becomes to find creative vegetarian cuisine. During the three weeks of travel, we ourselves never once had a problem finding something tasty to eat. We only found it a pity that we rarely ate in the really authentic shops, because tacos and the like just got boring for us.

5. Overnight stays & accommodations in Yucatán The larger a place, the more accommodation options you have in the Yucatán, of course. In hotspots such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum you can choose from a confusingly large number of accommodations: from cheap beds in dormitories to outrageously expensive luxury resorts , everything is there.

The more untouristy a place, the smaller the offer is of course. For example, to visit Calakmul, we could only choose from a handful of accommodations.

Important to know: The price level for accommodation in Mexico is higher than thought – at least if you want to have a certain standard. We ourselves mostly stayed in small hotels or B&Bs and averaged around 60 until 90 Euro per night for the room. There are also slight price fluctuations between the locations: While Holbox and Tulum are more expensive, you can find cheaper accommodation in Campeche, for example.

Exactly which hotels we stayed in, we will tell you in this blog article: Itinerary Yucatán

6. Travel expenses Mexico: How much money do you need Currency & Payment in Yucatán The currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso. It is abbreviated either as “MXN” or with the dollar sign $ – which often causes confusion. One euro is currently (as of December ) approximately 24 Pesos.

Banknotes are available for , 13, 33, 110, 150, 500 and 1000 Pesos, Coins at 1, 2 , 5, , 24, 24 and 100 Pesos – preferring the coins with smaller ones amounts. 1 peso is also divided into 90 Centavos. There are also coins for different amounts.

Withdraw at ATMs Withdrawing from ATMs is usually possible without any problems. However, we recommend that you do not rely on just one card . We always have at least one bank card (EC card) and one credit card per person with us. (Note on the debit card: Don’t forget to deactivate GeoControl, otherwise the card will not work in Mexico.)

How much fee you will ultimately incur when you withdraw. , depends on 1. how much fee your own bank charges and 2. how much foreign fees (ie foreign bank fees) apply. Experience has shown that the third-party fees in the Yucatán are usually around 3 euros. (Depending on which credit card you have, these third-party fees may be refunded upon application.)

Some ATMs on the Yucatán Peninsula only dispense dollars – there are such, for example partly on holbox. You would then have to change those dollars into pesos. We would definitely avoid that!

Changing money There are enough bureaux de change in most major towns where you can exchange euros (or any other currency) for Mexican pesos. Sometimes your passport is required when exchanging money.

The exchange rate is usually fine, although we definitely recommend that you compare. Compared to withdrawing money, you usually have a slightly worse rate when changing money, but you save the fees. (This is of course obsolete if you don’t have to pay any fees anyway.) Overall, it always depends on the individual case whether it is cheaper to change money or withdraw money.

Travel expenses on Yucatán Mexico is not an extremely cheap travel destination. Sure, the price level is lower than in Austria or Germany, but higher than in Southeast Asia, for example. Personally, we would have thought that we would need less money.

Of course, the actual costs always depend heavily on the travel style. From cheap hostel beds to expensive eco-resorts, everything is included. You can leave an incredible amount of money, especially in the tourist areas.

How much does it cost in the Yucatán…? Cocktail at a restaurant in Tulum (ie high priced): 170-200 pesosHaving breakfast in Tulum (cool cafe): 230 Pesos per person Meal in a cheap restaurant: 24-60 pesos SIM card with 6.5 GB data: 632 PesosEntrance to Chichén Itzá: 530 pesos Rental car for 3 weeks: 632 Euro (booked via Sunny Cars)Petrol: 20 Pesos per literDouble room in a nice, small hotel: average between 80 and 90 Euro 7. Internet in the Yucatán Peninsula WLAN available almost everywhere: Most hotels offer free WiFi access. The connection is mostly fine, although in isolated places (e.g. Holbox or Xpujil) it is only enough for the bare essentials.

We personally always get one as soon as we arrive local prepaid SIM card. Since we have known the luxury of being able to research things on site from anywhere on our smartphones, we no longer want to do without it. The only requirement is that your mobile phone is unlocked. We got our SIM card in Tulum from a small cell phone shop. The lady set everything up for us right away, so we didn’t have to worry about anything.

Our network operator was Telcel. The network was connected to the good in most places (4G), although we sometimes had no reception for half an hour on cross-country trips. The only thing to be desired was the reception on Holbox (but you simply can’t expect high-speed internet from an island).

Prices at Telcel (as of December ):

1GB: 90 pesos (20 days valid)3.5GB: 300 pesos (17 valid for days)6.5GB: 230 pesos (33 days valid)+ one-time fee for SIM card: 150 Pesos 8th. Security on the Yucatán in Mexico Security is always a relative Subjective and individual thing: While only good things happen to one, the other can have bad luck. One experiences a country completely safe, the other would never come back. This chapter therefore only reflects our personal experience.

We ourselves didn’t have a single negative experience in the three weeks in Mexico . Not one. We felt safe at all times – whether in a rental car during the day or on the streets of a city at night.

Nevertheless: Mexico is not exactly known for having a low crime rate to be blessed. The drug war is primarily to blame for this, although the Yucatán is largely unaffected by it. The fact is that the murder rate in Mexico is exorbitantly high and kidnappings are also the order of the day. However, this only affects tourists in the very rarest of cases.

You should be prepared for the following things and keep these tips in mind:

Be prepared to that the military and police presence is very high – this is especially true in larger cities (e.g. Playa del Carmen, Mérida). With the rental car you will pass through military checkpoints again and again. We weren’t stopped once, but it’s pretty scary at first. The military mostly looks for smuggled weapons and drugs.Avoid driving at night if possible – unless it is not otherwise possible. We didn’t always succeed, but we tried to get to our destination before dark. First, driving in the dark with lots of potholes and speed bumps (“topes”) isn’t fun. And second, there are some horror stories about night raids. We also tried to avoid small, dark side streets in the cities at night. We didn’t feel unsafe, but you never know. Incidentally, this applies in particular to women traveling alone. Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!16835

16783 Have you already been to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico and do you have any other travel tips? Or are you planning a trip there and still have questions? We look forward to your comment!16783