!The ultimate guide to traveling to Cancun Mexico!
CANCUN TRAVEL GUIDE CONTENT ⤵️
This Cancun Travel Guide is both your site map and your bible when it comes to everything Cancun. It’s a summary of all the information included in this Cancun Travel Blog and a go-to resource for the most updated information about traveling to Cancun.
Cancun is one of the most popular Mexican beach vacation destinations together with Los Cabos. Renowned mostly as a spring-breakers destination, Cancun is much more than that, and here below I will show you all the amazing natural attractions tours Cancun has to offer.
I have been living in Cancun for over a decade now and although I am always traveling around Mexico I still consider Cancun my home which is why I suggest you stick around if you want to get fresh insider news about Cancun. 😎
I suggest you browse this site where I will continuously pour information about Cancun, or if you want to save time, check out this Cancun City Guide which is a sort of summary of the site content.
CANCUN AT A GLANCE | THE BASICS
Where is Cancun Located?
Cancun is located on the north tip of the Mexican Caribbean Coast in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, which is one of the three states that altogether make the Yucatan Peninsula region.
It borders Yucatan state on the northwest side, the state of Campeche on the southwest side, and with Belize on the southern side.
Distances to the main destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula
Cancun to Playa del Carmen – 68 km / 42 miles
Cancun to Tulum – 131 km / 81 miles
Cancun to Valladolid – 156 km / 96 miles
Cancun to Holbox – 139 km / 86
Cancun to Merida – 303 km / 188
Know before you go
Currency: Mexican Pesos 1 USD = 19 MXN (approx)
Where to exchange money in Cancun – Avoid exchanging your currency at the airport or in your hotel. The best place to do it is a bank or an exchange bureau. There are many commercial plazas in the Zona Hotelera.
Main Airport: Cancun International Airport (CUN)
Electric socket – the most commonly used is the plug that has two flat parallel pins, just like in the US. However, if you are coming from another country you will need a universal travel adaptor.
Mexico Visa – If your country is not listed on this page, you can enter Mexico without a visa as a tourist, otherwise, you will need to apply for a visa. Since every country is different you should consult the Mexican consulate or embassy in your country.
Mexican Sim Card– I would recommend buying a Mexican SIM CARD for many reasons. Primarily because staying connected it’s a way to stay safe, and also because you can be reachable by your family and friends all the time (unless you don’t want to 😜) and you can share your beautiful vacation on your social)
Language Spoken – Although the official language is Spanish and some prehispanic dialects are still spoken in some communities, English is widely spoken among those who are in the tourism business.
COMPARING CANCUN TO OTHER DESTINATIONS
One of the most frequently asked questions is “Is it better to travel to Cancun or…?” In this section, you will find some interesting posts on how Cancun compares to many popular beach vacation destinations. Please bear with me as I add more and more places.
GETTING TO CANCUN
Cancun International Airport is the second most trafficked airport in Mexico after Mexico City with 22.3 million passengers flying through it in 2021.
From the US you have a connection with the major airline from the most popular hubs while from Europe you also have the option of charter flights from Spain, Italy, Germany, and Belgium.
I always recommend checking on Expedia for flights only or, even more conveniently, packages with flights+hotels.
MOVING AROUND CANCUN
Unfortunately, there is no Uber in Cancun for many reasons which I will explain in a dedicated post. Therefore if you want to move around there are different options which I am going to list here below.
Getting from Cancun Airport to your Hotel
↳ Private Shuttle | best option is booking a private shuttle with a recommended company such as Cancun Airport transportation service from 39 USD/65 USD round trip (up to 3 people).
CANCUN AIRPORT TRANSPORTATION
✔️ ENGLISH-SPEAKING STAFF
✔️ CLEAN AND SANITIZED VAN
✔️ PRIVATE SERVICE
✔️ NO WAITING
↳ Shared Shuttle | best budget option the downside is that you will have to wait for other passengers and for the drop off, especially if your hotel is the last one on the route. But for only 10 USD it may be worth it. Book it here!
↳ Car Rental | This is my favorite option as you can pick up your car at the airport and drop it off at the end of your vacation so you will be free to explore Cancun and its surroundings at your own pace. Check rates on DiscoverCars
↳ ADO public bus | If you travel on a budget you can always rely on the ADO bus company (5USD) which may imply a long waiting time and it will take you to Cancun Downtown. From there you will necessarily need a taxi.
↳ Taxi | A taxi from the Airport may cost something like 50 USD. I would not recommend this option because taxi drivers will always try to inflate the rates, especially at the airport.
Quick peek into Cancun-to-Hotel transportation options
Related posts about getting around in Cancun
► How to get from Cancun to the Hotel Zone
► Can I take an Uber from Cancun Airport?
► How to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
► Driving in Cancun
► How to get From Cancun to Holbox
► How to get from Cancun to Merida
► How to get from Cancun to Tulum
► How to get from Cancun to Bacalar
► How to get from Cancun to Cozumel
Getting from Cancun to Anywhere
As I mentioned before Cancun is a huge city with the Hotel Zone separated from downtown by the Nichupte’ lagoon. With the exception of a nice sidewalk along the hotel zone, the city is not walkable at all and you need transportation to move around. So let’s see what is the best way.
✔️ Renting a Car – again, the best way to move around in Cancun and to reach the best attractions and nearby cities such as Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, and more, having your own car is the best option. DiscoverCars is the platform I recommend where to look for the cheapest car rentals.
If you are concerned about renting a Car and driving in Cancun I have got you covered. It’s very easy and worry-free, especially after reading my guide 😉
✔️ Local city buses – From the Cancun hotel area to downtown, you can easily hop on the R1 and R2 buses that run along the strip, but once you get to Cancun Downtown using local transportation is kind of a mess and I would not recommend it.
✔️ ADO bus service – It’s a very efficient and cost-effective way to get from Cancun to almost anywhere and although is not as comfortable as driving your own car, the buses are brand new and clean. The service is also relatively cheap and connects you with all the major cities in the Yucatan peninsula and the entire of Mexico.
✔️ Colectivo (minivan) – if you want to try the local way and the cheapest one, you can use the colectivos (minivans) to get to either Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Chiquila’ (Holbox). They leave from Tulum Av. opposite the ADO Bus station.
To get to Tulum you will need to get off in Playa and then hop on another colectivo to Tulum.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO CANCUN
In Cancun, you have mainly two main seasons that is called the wet season ( summer) and the dry season (winter). There are some transition weeks between the two mains season that are called shoulder seasons. Let’s see what each of them looks like.
💦 Cancun wet season (summer) -The wet season starts approximately in June and until October. In this time of the year when the temperature is higher and there is a higher chance of rain, and even hurricanes (that is why it’s also called hurricane season).
But also the sea water is warmer and prices go slightly down. It is also called the Low season although it’s not entirely so because there is still good affluence of tourists, especially family, due to school closure.
This is also when usually the sargasso is most likely to show up.
☀️ December through April (winter) – This is the dry season, characterized by mild temperatures, sunny days, and blue skies. The water temperature is cooler. Although there is less chance of rain, you can still find a few showers. This is the high season, because of the beautiful weather. Prices are at their highest, especially in December and Holy Week.
😎 After Easter – beginning of June (shoulder season) – This is generally the best time to travel to Cancun in my opinion because the prices are at their lowest, there are fewer crowds, and the water starts getting warmer.
We are still in the dry season slowly sliding into the wet season but the weather should be still nice for the most part. I say “should” because you can never be sure about the weather.
⛈ Mid-October – November (shoulder season) – This is another so-called shoulder season when the weather is the worst. The temperatures are at their highest, it’s most likely to rain, and even more risk of hurricane. But it can also be sunny and nice.
This time of the year is really unpredictable. The only thing you can be sure of is that it’s hot and humid. Sea temperatures are the warmest of the year and water temperatures are pleasant. Sargasso is going away (🥳) and the beach is cleaning up for the dry season!
The lower rates and fewer crowds make this season still an interesting time to travel to Cancun.
When is the best time to travel to Cancun? As you can see there is no best or worst time to travel to Cancun. It all depends on what you are looking for.
I will talk about Cancun Weather, events, and things to do for each month in specific posts.
WHERE TO STAY IN CANCUN
Cancun is renowned mainly for its gorgeous all-inclusive resorts but in truth, you can find all sorts of accommodations from Luxury to budget, from beachfront to local areas, Adult only resorts (even clothing optional if it’s your thing) to family-focused resorts.
Here I am going to share a few options for each category and below you will find the related articles.
Best Cancun All Inclusive luxury hotel in the Hotel Zone – Live Aqua Beach Resort All Inclusive Adult only
Best Cancun All-Inclusive mid-range hotel in the Hotel Zone – Riu Cancun Caribe
Best Cancun All-Inclusive budget hotel in the Hotel Zone – Mayafair Design Hotel
Best Cancun Vacation Rental Property – Luxury – Ocean View Three Bedroom, Three Story Penthouse by the Beach
Best Cancun Vacation Rental Property – Midrange – (downtown) – Stay Tropical Downtown Studios
Best Cancun Vacation Rental Property – Budget (downtown) – Villa Sofia
Best hotel for Solo travelers – Breathless Cancun Soul Resort & Spa – Adults Only – All Inclusive
Best hotel for Families – Hyatt Ziva Cancun All Inclusive
Best hotel for couples – Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun – Adults Only – All Inclusive
Best Luxury Hotel in Cancun – Nizuc Resort and Spa
WHERE TO EAT IN CANCUN
The Culinary scene in Cancun is very eclectic although I believe there are still too feel real Mexican restaurants, compared to other parts of Mexico.
However, there are some that are worth mentioning, besides the incredible international cuisine, fine dining, and healthy spots.
As a Cancun resident, I have tried quite a lot of restaurants and although I continue to try new ones every time I go back, it’s really difficult to keep up with all the new spots.
I have published a full article on the best restaurants in Cancun that I invite you to read. Here below I am including my top three spots!
✔️ La Habichuela
La Habichuela is a high-end restaurant Mexican Gourmet in the Downtown area close to Parque de las Palapas located in a beautiful setting.
Address — Calle Margaritas #25, Downtown Cancun, Quintana Roo.
Contact Number — +52 (998) 884 31 58
✔️ Frontoni Pizzeria
Here you will find the best Italian pizza in Mexico!
✔️ Che Che
The best place in Cancun where enjoying a healthy meal while working from your laptop in a cozy ambiance and cool vibes.
Address —Calle Av Chilam Balam 50, Riviera, 50, 77533 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Contact Number — +52 (998) 372 5612
THINGS TO DO IN CANCUN
Cancun is brimming with things to do within the city and in the near surrounding and I will talk more extensively about it in the post. However, on this page, I would like to highlight the top things to do in Cancun that you can include in your Cancun Itinerary.
EXPLORE THE CANCUN ARCHEOLOGICAL SITES
ADMIRE THE EXTENSIVE NICHUPTE LAGOON
TAKE A DAY TRIP TO PUERTO MORELOS
TAKE A WALK TO LA ISLA COMERCIAL CENTER
VISIT THE MUSEO MAYA OF CANCUN
TOP TOURS IN CANCUN
There are so many activities and tours to join from Cancun that it’s almost difficult to choose. Here I am including the most popular tours from Cancun with the highest review rate. I hope it helps you narrow down your choice. More articles will follow! 🙂
Click on the image or text below to check rates and info of the tour ⤵️
Get your GoCity Cancun Pass
✔️ Save individual fees and get multiple adventures
✔️ Makes your trip easier to plan
✔️ Offers something for everyone
Or read the Gocity Cancun Pass Review to learn more about the City pass!
WHAT TO PACK FOR CANCUN
Packing for Cancun is easy and straightforward, especially if you plan a beach-focused vacation, in which case it’s easy to pack light. Things may change if you want to venture out exploring which is something I always recommend.
Here below find what you MUST include in your suitcase I will write separate posts with more detailed packing list suggestions, with some cute dresses, especially for the ladies.
Keep in mind that although you are going to a beach destination where the dress code is usually relaxed, it’s not the case if you are going to a luxury resort where you are required to dress up in many restaurants at night and in fact, the ambiance calls for it as well. No worries because I will also cover that too, just bear with me.
Click on the image to go to the Amazon page!
SAFETY IN CANCUN
When traveling to the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun is located, the US Travel Advisory site suggests “Exercise Increased Caution”. It also says:
“There are no restrictions on travel for U.S. government employees in Quintana Roo state, which includes tourist areas in Cancun, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya. However, personnel is advised to exercise increased situational awareness after dark in downtown areas of Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and to remain in well-lit pedestrian streets and tourist zones. “
Also, considering the 22.5 million passengers that flew into Cancun International Airport in 2021, as I mentioned above, I would say that Cancun is indeed a safe place to travel.
Bad things have happened before and I cannot promise they will never happen again, but they are usually drug and cartel-related so if you keep out of that circle you should be fine.
Then there is the usual small crime ad petty theft issue which you will find anywhere. So make sure you use some common sense and you should be fine.
Also, you need to consider the following in order to avoid getting sick or robbed
► Don’t drink tap water
► Use mosquito spray to protect yourself from bites (even the dangerous ones, see below)
► Always stay hydrated, especially in the summer but, really, always!
► Use sun protector except for when you are in a cenote or in the sea because they damage the environment (use a rough guard in that case, instead)
► Don’t swim in the water when the flag is red – Cancun sea is beautiful but it can be dangerous as there are a lot of undertows and rip tides, which is why is also a great place for surfing in Mexico
► Don’t pay in US dollars even if they are accepted because the exchange rate would be a rip-off.
► Don’t stay in your hotel all the time, go out and explore (but only after reading this Cancun Travel Blog blog and learning your way around:)
► Don’t buy tours from street vendors. Some of them may be ok but you never know and if you have an issue you may not find them again to report it.
► Don’t get wasted, especially if you are out alone.
► Get travel insurance before traveling.
Do I need travel insurance to travel to Cancun?
Yes, you do! I always recommend getting travel insurance before starting a trip for many reasons but mainly for peace of mind.
Of course, we hope that nothing happens but no matter how cautious we can be, there are many circumstances that don’t depend on us and we can fall victim, such as a flight delay a missing bag, or even a sudden flue that makes us miss the flight and lose loads of money that we have been saving for a year for our lifetime trip.
I am just giving examples. In Mexico, there are good hospitals in case something happens but they are pricey. Good travel insurance will cover all of it.
Travel insurance is the only thing that I buy with the hope that I never have to use it. 😂 And it’s the only purchase for which I am happy to say that I have “thrown away the money” but for the peace of mind it gives me it’s all worth it.
If you ask me I have two recommended sites, one is SafetyWings, which I find relatively affordable and quite comprehensive.
However, there is also a Travel Insurance master site that will help you find the perfect insurance for you.
You fill out the form with the information about your profile and requirements and they select the insurance company that is a good fit.
CANCUN TRAVEL GUIDE FAQ
Can you brush your teeth with tap water?
Yes, you can, but I would advise against it, to prevent any unpleasant bathroom situation.
Can you drink the water in Cancun?
No. Use bottled water or buy a water bottle to refill.
How many days in Cancun is enough?
It really depends on what kind of vacation you are looking for. If you just want to relax on the beach in your hotel, 4 or 5 days are more than enough.
If you love to explore, 1 to 2 weeks, depending on how much time you have. There are so many things you can do in Cancun and the surrounding that you will find plenty of things to keep you entertained.
Is it ok to travel to Cancun right now?
Yes of course it is more than ok. Just check the weather and the hotel rates and our guide on when is the best time to travel to Cancun to make sure the weather conditions fit your needs.
What month is the best to go to Cancun?
Check out the WHEN TO VISIT session of this post where I talk about it extensively.
What you should know before traveling to Cancun?
Cancun International Airport is a mess. So if when you get out you find your guy with your name on a board, it will make you feel relieved and at home, trust me.
I always recommend Cancun airport transport because they are reliable and you will be sure somebody is right there waiting for you.
You won’t have to negotiate the rate or struggle to understand each other because they speak English. Their fleet is impeccably clean and they have insurance.
The transfer is private so once you arrive you are off to your hotel with no waiting. This is how I love to travel.
✔️ Pay in pesos whenever possible, tip in pesos too
US is generally accepted anywhere (except for gas stations and toll roads) but it’s always better to exchange the money in a bank or a Casa de Cambio (not at the airport) and pay in pesos otherwise you will end up paying way more.
✔️ Choose the right hotel for your budget
I have listed my top hotels in this Cancun Travel Guide but I am going to write more about the best Cancun hotels, so stay tuned.
✔️ Don’t spend all your time on the beach
As I mentioned before there is so much to do in Cancun that it’s a shame to spend all your time on the beach, try to make at least one or two tours during your stay. You won’t regret is.
✔️ And take it easy with the sun
Remember we are in the Caribbean, where the sun is strong, even behind the clouds. So whether you go to the beach or out exploring remember to use good sun screen.
✔️ Sign up for tours to nearby destinations
Unless you are renting a car, which I recommend, there are so many amazing tours to choose from. Do not miss them.
How much money should I bring to Cancun Mexico?
Well, that depends on what you are planning on spending. Keep in mind that for major expenses you can use credit cards, visa and MasterCard are widely accepted.
For souvenirs, toll roads, snacks, and tips it’s advisable to have cash.
Why is Cancun considered so dangerous
Cancun is not considered dangerous. Check my session on safety in Cancun to read more about the topic.
Is it safe to drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen at night
I never recommend driving at night. You never know what can happen. Even a simple flat tire can become an issue it if happens at night in the middle of nowhere.
For what kind of traveler is Cancun?
Cancun is the perfect destination for all sorts of travelers, for any budget, and for any type of Vacation you are planning to have. With its spectacular beach, it can also be a great base for more adventurous travelers as well.
Honeymooners and spring breakers alike, families, and solo travelers will love what Cancun has to offer, especially after you have read this guide.