During my recent travel to US, I made a short detour to Yucatan peninsula of Mexico. The main motive was to see the Mayan ruins. In this post, I will try to put in some information about travelling to Mexico based on my expeience. Note that I only travelled to Yucatan peninsula which is a very small part of Mexico. Also, it is the most touristy place in Mexico. Hence, the points I make may not always apply to other parts of Mexico.
I was always intrigued by the ancient civilisations of Americas. Mayan civilisation in Central America was an important one which lasted from 2000BC and ended with the conquest of Spanish. They built great structures which today attracts millions of people. That was my main motive of the visit. The movie “Apocalypto” also played a great role!!
People with US visa can enter Mexico without any issue. Else, a visa needs to be obtained beforehand. It is required to fill immigration and custom form before entering. It seemed like Indian visitors are rare in Mexico as the immigration officer looked at each and every page of our passports!! But she did not ask any question and stamped on our passport. One part of immigration card (FMM card) is given back to us which needs to be carefully kept. Losing it can cause lot of issues while flying back. Note that there is no immigration while exiting out of Mexico. Airline crew takes the card before we board the flight.
Flying to Mexico
Travelling from India to Mexico is very expensive. Most likely, you need to fly via US or Europe. Unless you have a solid plan of spending at least 2 weeks, you will not be justifying the cost to fly to that country. In my case, I was in US for a visit and I just had to pay the price of US-Mexico ticket.
Driving in Mexico
We were two of us and it made sense to rent a vehicle. It was very convenient as it saved time. We rented from Hertz from Cancun airport. Unlike US, renting was bit cumbersome due to queues at the rental location. But being a gold member helped a lot. Indian driving license is good enough as long as it is in English. Driving is on the right side of the road.
The road conditions were generally good. Maximum speed on highways varies from 80 to 110km/hr. Many forums indicated about Police stopping the vehicle and harassing people but we never faced any issue though police checkpoints are common.
Route between Cancun to Valladolid and Merida is tolled. The toll charges are very heavy (Around Rs 8 per km). NHAI will be very happy to know that there is another country that uses manual toll system!! (Read my experience about Fastag) But the waiting times are very minimal as the traffic on toll road is very less. There are no fuel stations, restaurants or towns on the toll road. For example, we did not find anything for 160km apart from forest between Cancun and Valladolid. Most of the time, ours was the only vehicle on the road!!
But the coastal road between Cancun and Tulum is a complete contrast as it is filled with beach resorts and towns.
In general, driving in Mexico is quite easy. Much organised compared to India.
It is not at all a problem for vegetarians as Mexican food has lot of vegetarian options. For the first time in my abroad visit, I did not crave for Indian food as I am fond of Mexican cuisine.
Spanish is the official language. But unlike Argentina, I found many people talking English. It may be due to the touristy nature of Yucatan peninsula.
Many warned about the drugs and mafias in Mexico. But I think they are limited to specific areas which normal travellers would not visit. In general, I felt Mexico was very safe. In fact, I am scared to walk in US (I always see crazy looking people around) cities than in other parts of the world!!
Mexican peso is the currency. 1 MXN = 3.7 INR. Cash is preferred at many locations and use of credit card results in additional charge. Getting money through ATM was quick and simple.
Places to see
Mexico has lot of places to see. I had only 3 full days and I concentrated only on Yucatan peninsula. Yucatan peninsula is known for Mayan ruins, Cenote and beaches. We concentrated on visiting Mayan ruins and Cenote. One can easily spend a week or two in Yucatan peninsula itself.