Mexico Travel Guide
When in doubt – visit Mexico because the country has it all and often exceeds above and beyond the tourists’ expectations. From the vast and attractive cactus-strewn deserts, through the luxurious and laid-back resorts, endless palm-fringed beaches, and tropical jungled dotted with bright examples of the intelligence and craftsmanship of past generations, to some of the most important cultural heritage in the world, romantic and colourful colonial cities, the mesmerising coastlines of the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Mexico is certainly a home to a richly varied natural, historical, and cultural scene where everyone can find something for themselves and bring back home as a treasured memory. A colourful blend of local and regional traditions and culture and the Spanish influence, the American country is far from the boredom and simplicity of the rest of the world. Because Mexico is extra and over-the-top in all aspects of its existence – the emotional and very friendly locals, the vibrant markets supplying the most colourful and eye-catching crafts in the world, the tastiest spicy food, the most atmospheric tequila bars, and so much more!
Today we share with you a comprehensive guide to Mexico and we would like to help you plan your next summer holiday in the country. There is too much to be seen, experienced, and enjoyed in the country to fit into a single article, but we will focus on the highlights and most popular landmarks and spots part of the country’s wonderful natural, cultural, and historical heritage – from the tribal Oaxacan highlands, the Bonampak murals, to admiring the cave art in Baja California, the awe-inspiring dance of the whales who can be spotted from some of the best beaches in the world, the capital Mexico City, the vibrant Caribbean coastline and the Riviera Maya.
A home of some of the well-recognised stereotypical yet very distinctive tourist symbols, Mexico manages to fall into the category of a stereotypical holiday destination while reserving its individuality and uniqueness in a very distinctive and exciting way. While tacos, Aztecs, sombreros, and tequila are certainly recognised as some of the most popular symbols of the country, Mexico succeeds at turning them into a successful business while still not destroying the historical and cultural journey all these have been through thousands and thousands of years. In fact, everyone on the planet knows something about Mexico which make the country certainly an outstanding place to visit, yet there is so much beyond the Mexican stereotypes. Mexicans and their country are a product of one of the world’s greatest civilisation mixed into a blend of Mesoamerican cultures, Spanish influence, contemporary trends and arts.
The dynamic of the Mexican landscapes is exciting, to say the least, ranging from the sparkling blue waters of Baja California, the emblematic cacti deserts in the north, the Maya villages and the magical palm-fringed beaches and popular resorts in the south. Are you up to some unforgettable adventure, Mexico offers a plethora for you to experience – from hiking a volcano, through watching the wales, to touring agave farms, and probably so much more you can hardly fit into a short holiday visit. Just to top up the whole mixture of colours, scents, and flavours, you will find plenty of colonial churches, giant pyramids, and one of the best and most popular cuisines in the world around every corner you turn.
The crowded with 122 million people land of Mexico is a bright example of how different cultures, histories, and backgrounds can live in a perfect harmony… or more like a vibrant and buzzing magic. Around 10% of the population of Mexico consists of communities of full-blooded indigenas including the groups of Nahua, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Otomi, Totonas, and more. Thrown to the mix are the Mexicans, who are of a pure Spanish and European descent, the multitude of distinct regional identities such as the cowboy culture of the northern deserts, the Mesoamerican traditions of the south, and so much more. However, the majority of the Mexican population consists of mestizo that combines European and indigenous traditions to a different extent.
The majority of the first-time visitors are often surprised by the fact that Mexico has a robust economy with the fifteenth largest in the world and very efficient internal transport system and a very developed infrastructure, a vibrant contemporary art scene, and an overall status of not developing but a developed country. The last 20 years made Mexico a middle-class society with the highest GDP in Latin America right after Brazil, a significantly reduced inflation, very low interest rates, and an increased income per capita. Well, it is certainly not all luxury all around, that is for sure, however, Mexico is successfully recovering from economic crises. Mixed with the major economic progress, you can still witness some of the quirks of Mexico – the village fiesta, the muddy bullfight, the rowdy dancing, the rural old buses, the farmers carrying machetes half their size, and all other sorts of charming everyday life of the simple people.
There is no doubt that Mexico is not necessarily the place where you can travel from one corner of the country to other and expect to be welcomed with hospitability everywhere you go. It is not that easy to travel all across the country and you can expect some rural places where the power goes off constantly and the water is not even drinkable. And although Mexico is all aimed toward a major progress, there are still areas of the country where the manana lifestyle and where timetables are not exactly trusted. To top up this sometimes hard to handle a mixture of contrasts, the difference between extreme wealth and extreme poverty still exist, mostly noticeable in the big cities. While violence is the reality in many regions of the country, there is no doubt that Mexico is a safe place to visit as a tourist with minimal danger in this charming, friendly, and enjoyable country.
When planning the places you would like to visit in Mexico, Mexico City is definitely a must. It is a fascinating city in every aspect of it – political, historical, cultural, artistic. Just around the capital is where the pre-Hispanic culture of Mexico chief relics can be seen – the marvellous pyramids of Teotihuacan, the main Toltec site at Tula. Head west where you will reach to Guadalajara that, despite being a big and popular Mexican city, is still a city of a more human scale compared to the capital. Guadalajara is the capital of the state of Jalisco and within an easy reach of Michoacan. Both states share a beautiful land of the most gentle scenery of Mexico, where forested hilltops change with crystal clear lakes and ancient villages.
Heading south of the capital and you will reach to the states Oaxaca and Chiapas, both homes to the largest population of indigenous groups. Make sure you won’t miss the magical city of Oaxaca where you will experience a unique mix of colonial and indigenous culture and style, vibrant markets, interesting archaeological sites, and more. The market town San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas is one more place where you can explore the indigenous culture and inspiration, this is why it remains a big travellers’ centre. The town is normally the last stop before one of the main attractions of Mexico – the picturesque Maya ruins of Palenque. If you want to follow the trail of indigenous culture and lifestyle for a bit longer, make sure to head east into Yucatan where some of the most spectacular Maya cities are dotted around – Chichen Itza, Uxmal, and, of course, the most famous Mexican Caribbean resort of Cancun.
However, if you do not fancy the luxurious resorts and the simple life of laying around the pool, you are probably more of an adventurous type and the best place for you is the Pacific coast where surfers feel their best in this wilder and more rugged scenery compared to the Caribbean coast. Of course, Acapulco is the ultimate idea of a holiday resort and it is located right on this side of the country. Head along the ocean to the north and you will discover that hundreds of kilometres of the endless beachline is interrupted only by a few notable resorts such as Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta.
If the starting point of your journey through Mexico is Bajio that is the heart of the country, you have plenty to explore too. As a first stop of your trip, you will pass the beautiful silver-mining towns of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, then the historic centre of San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro along with many small towns representing the beauty of the colonial style and architecture. Finally, you will reach to the Mexican-US border where a vast land of the desserts lie along with some beautiful mountain ranges. There is plenty to experience in this area too, starting from the enchanting Copper Canyon, the mysterious ruins of Paquime, the dynamic and exciting city of Monterrey. Baja California is located in the far northwest of Mexico and it totally worth visiting with world-class whale-watching spots, tranquil beaches, and plenty of mysterious Spanish ruins.