Is Cancun Expensive? 15 Tips for Keeping Costs Down

Wondering if is Cancun expensive? This Mexican city is a popular destination for travelers looking to get away and enjoy sunny beaches, vibrant culture, and exciting nightlife.

But just like any other vacation, you might be wondering whether or not it’s in your budget. So, if you’re wondering whether or not Cancun is expensive, you’ll be glad to know that you can visit without breaking the bank.

So, let’s figure it out.

Is Cancun expensive?

Playa Delfines public beach in Cancun
Playa Delfines public beach – photo from Canva

Cancun can be both cheap and expensive, depending on the type of traveler you are. There are gorgeous 5-star resorts and inexpensive hostels.

You can have ANY kind of vacation you want in Cancun, so long as you plan it the right way.

How much does a trip to Cancun cost?

According to Budget Your Trip, the average travel costs to Cancun are:

  • 1,986 MXN (100 $US) per day
  • 13,899 MXN (700 $US) per week per person
  • 27,799 MXN (1400 $US) for two weeks per person

But as with every average number, it´s not very helpful because it doesn´t tell much about the minimum you need and what it’s included in this price.

If you are traveling to Cancun on a budget you can find some hostels or cheap hotels DownTown for 15 USD

Sometimes Expedia packages offer great deals, especially in the low season.

In fact, the price of your trip to Cancun depends on many variables including

✔️ where you are flying from (flight costs get higher if you are in a remote area with fewer flights)
✔️ What time of the year you are traveling
✔️ What type of hotel you are choosing
✔️ How do you travel? car rental, bus, or if you do many tours, etc.
✔️ Where you are planning to consume your meals.

Here below you will find some tips on how to travel on a budget to Cancun. I hope it helps.

15 Ways to travel to Cancun on a budget

Aerial view Cancun beach and hotels
Cancun aerial view – photo from Canva

1. Pay in Mexican pesos

The Mexican peso (MXN) is the official currency of Mexico, and it’s been that way since 1993. Using pesos while you’re in Cancun is the best exchange rate possible.

Chances are the places where you’ll be spending your money will have high exchange rates if you leave it up to them.

With that in mind, we recommend paying for goods and services in Mexican pesos. At the end of the day, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you use the same currency the locals do.

But this does mean that you need to get cash beforehand to make purchases. 

2. Don’t get pesos at the airport

One simple mistake that could put a serious dent in your budget is getting pesos at the airport. Next to your hotel, the Cancun airport is probably the most expensive place to get your money exchanged.

The airport often offers inflated rates and charges high fees to exchange your natural currency for pesos. Try exchanging at a bank, via an ATM machine (pending your bank has an OK rate), or at an actual private currency exchange. 

I recommend you don’t take money out using your credit card, as it’s the equivalent of getting a cash advance… which can get pretty pricey. 

3. Stay downtown

Cancun’s Hotel Zone can get REALLY pricey. It’s the city’s main strip featuring all-inclusive 5-star resorts. And while there are cheaper options within the zone (particularly if you look for lagoon-facing joints), if you want to save more, I recommend checking out downtown Cancun.

The town center has bars, restaurants, and tourist hot spots. Plus it’s only a 15-minute (inexpensive) bus ride from the white sandy beaches of the Hotel Zone.

Cancun beach and hotel
Photo from Canva

4. Stay in a hostel or a cheap hotel

If budget is a BIG consideration for you, you might want to consider a cheap hotel or hostel. While these don’t offer the same amenities as your average 5-star all-inclusive, they do give you an opportunity to save money that you can spend elsewhere along your travels.

Hostels tend to be the cheapest option if you’re willing to use shared accommodations, communal bathrooms, and kitchens.

This is NOT the type of travel that works for everyone, but it does work for some travelers.

That said, if hostels aren’t your jam there are plenty of other options. You can simply look for cheaper hotel options if you need a little more privacy, particularly if you move away from the Hotel Zone when you look to book.

5. Travel in the low season

The best time to visit Cancun is between September to November, and towards the end of April. These months tend to be slower because of hurricane season.

There are usually fewer tourists because the weather isn’t quite as nice (it’s still pretty nice!).

During these months, you’re more likely to find discounted hotel and tour packages. Of course, it’s not guaranteed that you’re going to save.

But most people that travel to Cancun during this time have a chance to spend less money and avoid crowds. 

6. Book your hotels and tours in advance

Before setting out on your vacation, it is important to plan ahead and book hotels and tours in advance. Doing so ensures that you are getting the best deals available.

Not sure where to book? Here are a few less expensive places to stay in Cancun: 

👉🏽 Selina Hotel Zone

Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone
Selina Hotel Zone – photo © Expedia

Selina is a hostel in the Hotel Zone is the perfect place for those looking for an inexpensive, convenient, and enjoyable stay.

There’s no curfew (but there is a quiet time), and you have the opportunity to participate in a range of wellness activities including morning yoga and meditation sessions.

They have both private accommodations and shared dormitories, so no matter your preference there’s something for you to enjoy.

Just keep in mind that the private rooms get pricier than the average hotel. So if you don´t like dorm rooms, you may want to check out another hotel option less trendy but cheaper.

👉🏽 Sina Suites

Suites Sina Cancún
Sina Suites – photo © Expedia

This quiet and affordable lagoon-facing property is sure to please. It offers an outdoor pool, rooftop sun deck, and private marina.

There are suites with 2 bedrooms, kitchenettes, and full kitchens, and some have balconies. It’s a great join that’s perfect for budget travelers.

👉🏽 Oasis Palm

Oasis Palm hotel
Oasis Palm – photo © Expedia

If you want the all-inclusive Cancun experience, Oasis Palm is a moderately priced choice. It’s only 20 minutes from the airport, caters perfectly to families with their kids´ club, and features amenities like complimentary non-motorized sports.

A word of warning, this isn’t as cheap as some budget picks but it’s still cheaper than many of the other choices that the area offers.

7. Find a cheap restaurant to eat at

Cancun has every type of restaurant that you’d want from floating romantic dinners on Spanish galleons to cheap taco-filled eats.

Or you can save even more by opting for street food. If you’re focused on saving money, these are my favorite cheap picks:

  • Mumma Rooftap Bar: Has beautiful rooftop seating with nice views, and a pool. You’ll find great Mexican pub food here
  • Dons Tacos & Burritos: This is a fun sports bar where you can eat cheap food on the beach with a gorgeous ocean view.
  • Casa Bea: Home to delicious Mexican seafood with good flavor.

Otherwise, you can always rent an apartment, which is usually cheaper, and go grocery shopping, which is definitely a way to save some bucks on food. }

Chedraui, Soriana, and Walmart are the cheapest supermarkets and there are different ones scattered around downtown.

If you see Chedraui Selecto or Superama, those are the fancy brands of the above-mentioned Supermarkets and are more expensive.

8. Visit the Mayan ruins on your own

Chichen Itza Mexico
Chichen Itza – photo from Canva

The Mayan ruins are a gorgeous site to see, but booking a whole tour can get kind of pricey. If you’re looking to save money, I recommend making your own way there.

You can take public transit and simply pay the entrance fee yourself. You get the historic experience without all that cost.

However, there are some tours that will help you save time and money, like this inclusive Chichen Itza tour for only 45 USD, which is really convenient, all things considered.

When you book a tour, in general, make sure you read what is included in the price and the cancellation policy, in case you have a change of plan.

Also getting travel insurance will help you get a refund in case you have to cancel your travels.

9. Go to public beaches 

You can go to Cancun and experience the beaches without paying all-inclusive resort prices (or purchasing a full-day pass).

If you’re trying to save coins, head to one of Cancun’s beautiful public beaches.

You’ll have to bring your own towel and refreshments, but it’ll be worth it.

Forum beach Cancun
Forum beach – photo from Canva

10. Do your own research or carry a guidebook

Every tour looks amazing when you’re excited to explore, so save money by doing your own research beforehand.

Carefully select tours that you actually want to do, chances are they’re not all right for you.

11. Use the ADO public bus or colectivos to move around

One of the cheapest ways to move around Cancun is by using the ADO bus and public colectivos. While private cars are luxurious and comfortable, the costs add up. 

Comparatively, public transit is a fraction of the average cost — mere pesos. But if you’re going to use them, make sure you carry small bills and coins because there isn’t a lot of opportunity to break big bills up.

For example, one of the things you want to visit near Cancun is the refreshing cenotes. However, getting there by public transportation is impossible for some of them.

If you don´t feel like driving in Cancun, you can always find affordable tours to take you there.

Among the cenotes that you can visit by public transportation, are Cenote Azul, Cenote Cristalino, and Cenote Eden, Cenote Dos Ojos, which are right on the main road near Playa del Carmen and the local colectivo can drop you off there.

12. Visit Isla Mujeres on your own

Isla Mujeres aerial view
Isla Mujeres aerial view – photo from Canva

Isla Mujeres is a gorgeous place, but tours can be pretty expensive. This island has beautiful beaches and is a great place to enjoy what Mexico has to offer.

The good news is that if you want to explore it, the ferry only costs around 130 pesos and runs every 30 minutes between 5 am and 9:30 pm.

There’s no reason why you need to pay a big tour ticket to get there.

You can get to the ferry by local bus or if you get a taxi from downtown is not going to cost you more than 50 MXN.

Once you get to Isla Mujeres you can walk around the pretty town and walk all the way to Playa Norte, the most beautiful beach and spend the day there.

Or if you have the budget you can rent a golf cart for a couple of hours (you will need your driving license) and drive all the way to Punta Sur and visit the statues of the Mayan Goddes Ixel and other beautiful artworks, and check out some beaches along the coast.

13. Book your hotel shuttle in advance

Chances are you don’t want to take public transit while you cart along your bags from the airport (though you can if you want).

If you want the convenience of the shuttle but want to cut costs a bit, book your return shuttle in advance. This will help you secure a discount.

14. Buy food at the local supermarket

Shopping at the supermarket or stands is the best way to get fresh ingredients or ready-to-eat meals without resort prices.

Remember to pay in cash to get the best deal all around.

15. Look for Cheap tours from Cancun (and book online)

You can take tours for cheap if you plan them correctly. These are the tours you should check out — book them online to save the most money:

👉 Chichen Itza with Sacred Cenote Saamal and Valladolid City

4.5⭐ 3 Reviews

San Servacio Church Valadolid Mexico
San Gervasio church in Valladolid, Mexico – photo from Canva – BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE

Explore Chichen Itza, splash around in Cenote Saamal, and explore the magical town of Valladolid.

👉 Tulum Day-Trip Mayan Ruins with Cenote Swim

5⭐ 256 Reviews

Spend time exploring the Mayan archeological site before taking a refreshing swim in the waters at Cenotes Casa Tortugas Tulum.

👉 Clearboat

5⭐ 4 Reviews

Sail in a glass-bottomed boat and see the ocean without having to get wet.

👉 Snorkeling in Puerto Morelos

5⭐ 19 Reviews

Puerto Morelos boat on the beach
Puerto Morelos – Photo from Canva – BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE

Enjoy watching the underwater marine life of the Caribbean Sea on this guided tour.

👉 Guided Kayak Experience

5⭐ 52 Reviews

Skip the crowded beaches and enjoy an eco-friendly immersion into nature.

👉 Puerto Morelos City and Taco Tour

5⭐ 27 Reviews

Explore laidback Puerto Morelos and try 3 delicious types of tacos.

Puerto Morelos city church
Puerto Morelos City – Photo from Canva – BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE

Ready to splurge in Cancun for the ultimate Cancun luxury vacation?

You can do that too…Here below are some of the top luxury hotels in Cancun, my favorites.

Top luxury hotels

👉🏽 Nizuc

Nizuc Resort and Spa
Nizuc – photo © Expedia

Nizuc is an exceptionally-rated luxury hotel. Located on a private beach, it features deluxe suites and private villas.

If you’re looking for a luxury vacation, this is where it starts. But remember, it does have a luxury hotel price.

👉🏽 Le Blanc

Le Blanc Spa hotel
Le Blanc – photo © Expedia

This adult-only resort is private with nicely decorated suites. Le Blanc is situated on the beach in the Hotel Zone.

It features 2 poolside bars and a relaxing spa where you can treat yourself.

👉🏽 Garza Blanca

Garza Blanca Cancún hotel
Garza Blanca – photo © Expedia

Located in Punta Sam, this site features 4 onsite restaurants, a beach bar, and a spa. It’s a luxury hotel that provides water park access and a real opportunity to treat yourself.

Top Restaurants

Cancun is brimming with incredible restaurants celebrating both Mexican and international cuisine. A good way to learn about world-famous cuisine is by joining some food tours where they take you around and sample the best dishes from the least popular and yet great local places.

Or you can try some of the finest restaurants on your own. Here are some examples.

Entre Fuego – a fancy steak house located on the Hotel Zone

Address – Blvd. Kukulcan km 12.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.Roo

Thai – located in the luxury Comercial Plaza La Isla, Thai offers delicious Thai dishes in overwater palapas on the nichupté lagoon, perfect for a romantic dinner or friend gatherings.

Address – Km12.5, Blvd. Kukulcan, La Isla, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R.

Mar Bella – The best place where to eat fresh seafood and fish of all sorts

Address – Carretera Porto Juarez Punta Sam Km2 Mz 2 Lote 2, San Miguel 86, Militar, 77520 Cancún, Q.R.

Carnitas tacos serving
Mexican carnitas tacos – BOOK YOUR TOUR HERE – photo from Canva

Top Private tours in Cancun

If you are up for a luxurious trip, you may want to book some private tours that will allow you to travel at your own pace with your own private guide and transportation. Here are some ideas.

👉 Chichen Itza Flash

This tour features a private flight, lunch, an engaging guide, and a cenote tour for up to 5 people. BOOK YOUR PRIVATE TOUR HERE

👉 Isla Mujeres Yacht Experience

Enjoy the Caribbean Sea while a chef cooks delicious meals and hosts serve exceptional cocktails — you can snorkel too. BOOK YOUR YACHT EXPERIENCE HERE

👉 Cancun Private Yacht Experience

Snorkel at the reef of El Meco, paddle board at Isla Mujeres, and enjoy a delicious lunch. BOOK YOUR PRIVATE YACHT EXPERIENCE

👉 Private Sunset Catamaran Tour to Isla Mujeres

Watch the sunset over the Caribbean Sea, enjoy a premium dinner, and charter a private catamaran. BOOK YOUR SUNSET TOUR HERE

Is Cancun expensive FAQ

Cancun forum beach
Forum beach views – photo from Canva

Is Cancun or Hawaii cheaper?

Between Cancun and Hawaii, generally speaking, Cancun is the cheaper destination. However, you can take a luxury trip there too, if you want to.

Is Cancun or Cabo Cheaper?

Cabo is usually considered to be a more expensive trip than Cancun — but you can save or spend more on a trip to either destination.

That said, you can save additional money in Cancun by avoiding all-inclusive resorts in the Hotel Zone.

Is Cancun or Isla Mujeres cheaper?

Isla Mujeres tends to be a more laid-back and tranquil destination. However, it has similar pricing to Cancun — which is cheaper really depending on where exactly you’re staying.

Having said that, differently from Cancun in Isla Mujeres you can find cheaper accommodation that is near the beach because it´s a small island.

So probably it could be a better choice than Cancun if you are traveling on a budget and you want to be near the water.

Is Cancun or Tulum cheaper? 

Tulum is considered to be more expensive than Cancun, but it depends on your vacation planning choices, as usual. You can always stay in Cancun and go to Tulum on a day trip.

Cancun palm trees and beach
Photo from Canva

Why is Cancun so expensive right now?

Post-pandemic people want to get out of their houses. Cancun has traditionally been known as a budget destination, which makes it an ideal place for people to go.

Why is Cancun so expensive right now?

Cancun was the ultimate budget-friendly Mexican destination prior to the pandemic. It has accessible flights, affordable hotels, great food, and all-around breathtaking beauty. Post-pandemic, people have been excited to get out and enjoy travel again — meaning traditionally affordable destinations, like Cancun, have skyrocketed in price to accommodate the influx of tourists.  

Are 3 days enough in Cancun?

If you only have 3 days in Cancun, you can make it work — but you’ll have to be selective about what you choose to do. That said, most people tend to head to Cancun for 7 to 10 days. You can check out my Cancun Itinerary to help you plan your own trip to Cancun. I am sure you can find a lot of ideas for 3 to 7 days trips.

How expensive is Cancun for spring break?

Cancun is an incredibly popular Spring Break destination, which means prices are higher and rooms fill up quickly. However, if you are planning in advance you can find amazing deals even during spring break time.

What month is the cheapest to go to Cancun?

You’ll likely find that September through November, towards the end of hurricane season, is the cheapest time to head to Cancun.

Which is cheaper, Cancun or Jamaica?

Cancun tends to be cheaper due to the budget flights and accommodations. But if you book the right trip, Jamaica can be affordable too.

How much money should I bring to Cancun?

The amount of money you bring to Cancun depends on what you plan on doing and what kind of traveler you are. Typically, I recommend $50 a day for budget trips and $100 for nicer trips.

However, it is worth pointing out that it depends on whether or not you’re going to an all-inclusive resort too.

Can you swim in the ocean in Cancun?

Technically, you swim in the Caribbean Sea when you’re in Cancun. But yes you can swim easily as there are many beaches with very accessible water. Just make sure the flag is green or yellow and pay attention to the undertow currents.

There are many beaches in Cancun where the water is very calm and there are never dangerous currents, such as Playa Ancha near Presidente Intercontinental Hotel, Playa Langosta, or by hotel Fiesta Americana, Hyatt Ziva, and Hotel Crystal Altitude. Those are my favorite spots for swimming.

Is Cancun Expensive? Final Thoughts

I hope this post helped you figure out how much vacation in Cancun can cost. As you can see there are many ways to travel, depending on your budget. If you want to save some bucks you can do that, but also, if you want to have a luxury holiday you can do that too. It´s always up to you.

About the Author

Hey there! This is Isabella, the owner, and writer of this site. I have been living in Cancun for the past 12 years and although I have been roaming around Mexico, Cancun’s spectacular turquoise waters and pristine beach draw me back to this popular Mexican beach destination. That is why I decided to start this blog, to show you all the beauty you can find in Cancun and share helpful travel tips to help you plan a fabulous vacation in Cancun!

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