Backpacking Mexico

Hello to all seasoned and aspiring backpackers!



Mexico is usually known for its cacti, tequila, sombreros and tacos. However, did you also know that chocolate, corn and chilli peppers originated in Mexico? Or that there are no mandatory driving schools in the country? You can just buy a driver's license without becoming exasperated with all the costly driving exams and theory! What’s more, they have the highest amount of Spanish speakers worldwide, which provides you with the perfect opportunity to improve your language skills.



Mexico is often flatteringly referred to as the ‘fattest country in the world’. This is very much a testament to the country’s delicious cuisine. You’ll be on cloud nine more than once after you've realised that burritos, quesadillas, tortillas, and nachos are available at low prices pretty much anywhere. Even though Mexico belongs to North America geographically, culturally it’s undeniably part of Latin America. But what exactly is it that makes Mexico one of the most enticing backpacking destinations in the world? Simply put, it’s the real land of unlimited possibilities: relishing in the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean? Mayan ruins of Aztec temples? Nightlife or museum visits? Tropical rainforest or white sand beach? Metropolis or charming mountain village? Salsa dancing or cave diving? It’s all up to you! With thorough planning and our itinerary, you can enjoy all of it!



Even though Mexico is not among the cheapest countries for backpackers, you will still find brilliant hostels and fantastic food at reasonable prices. Additionally, the modern, efficient bus system makes travelling around the vast country a comfortable and relaxed experience.



To sum it all up: Aztecs, Mayans, thrilling culture and history, deserts, canyons, jungles, mountains, waterfalls, underground rivers, more than 10,000 kilometres of coast, paradisical beaches, plenty of water sports activities, a semitropical climate, fantastic food, hospitable and lively people, and last but not least – tequila!



Sound too good to be true? Feel free to find out for yourself and follow the Backpacker trail through Mexico.



See below for the perfect Mexico itinerary for an unforgettable journey:


Important Basics

Official Language

Spanish (although there are actually 62 indigenous languages recognised as national languages)

Basic Vocabulary
EnglishSpanish
HelloHola
GoodbyeCiao
ThanksGracias
Yes
NoNo
Capital City

Mexico City

Form of Government

Presidential Republic

Currency

Mexican Peso

Phone Country Code

+52

Climate

Highest temperature by day: 19 to 25 degrees Celsius

Highest temperature at night: 8 to 10 degrees Celsius

There is a rainy season from May to October, so the best time to travel is January to April

Fun Fact

Around 81% of Mexicans are members of the Catholic Church.

Cities

Cancún

Your journey begins in Cancún on the Yucatán Peninsula. On this Caribbean sunny side of the country, you can enjoy beach life and really get into the holiday mood.

On Yucatán, there is also a lot of cultures to discover. The temple complex of Chichén Itzá is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mayan civilisation.

Throughout a day tour, you will explore the site of the Kukulcan ruins (El Castillo), which includes a magnificent and imposing stepped pyramid.

Another highlight of the tour is the visit to the underwater cave Ik Kil. Here you will be able to swim in sacred underground rivers and strolling through the historic colonial city of Valladolid. The entire experience amounts to only 60€ per person and includes round-trip transportation, lunch and a guide.

Back in Cancún, you can stay at Mezcal Hostel in a six-bed dorm for only 15€, where you can sunbathe by the pool and enjoy free breakfast and dinner.

Tulum

For about 5€, a bus will take you to your next stop: Tulum.

Here you will once again discover a lot of well-preserved Mayan architecture, with buildings located directly on the coast – a breath-taking sight.

Besides the incredibly beautiful snow-white sand beaches, diving in the Cenotes will be another memorable highlight of your trip and a golden opportunity for those who have always wanted to try cave diving. The fascinatingly colourful underwater world of the Cenotes can also be admired through snorkelling.

Do not miss out on the historic harbour too, where you can enjoy the countless culinary hotspots and the beats provided by sensational Mexican live music in the many bars.

For 13€, you can spend the night in Tulum at Mama's Home in an eight-bed dorm.

Mérida

Next stop: Mérida. For about 15€, a bus will take you to ‘The White City’.

Mérida owes its nickname to its white limestone houses and the traditional clothing of its inhabitants. At the centre of the former colonial city are the city hall (Palacio Municipal) and Plaza Grande with its twin-towered Saint Ildefonso Cathedral, which was made of stones of an old Maya temple.

If you happen to be in Mérida on a Sunday, you may want to visit the cultural street festival 'Mérida en Domingo'. This festival has numerous musical and artistic performances and street food stalls, which offer delicious local specialities. It’s also worth taking a trip to nearby Celestún National Park, famous for its mangrove forests and flamingo colonies.

You can spend the night at Hostal Catedral in an eight-bed dorm for only 7€.

Palenque

For about 25€, a bus will take you to the next stop: Palenque.

Amid a tropical rainforest, one of the most beautiful and intriguing Mayan sites in the world is located in a clearing.

Palenque is a good starting point for your personal visit to the ruined city, which was built sometime between 600 and 800 BC. The amount of perfection evident in the beautiful architecture of the buildings with their large structures and detailed reliefs and sculptures is more than impressive.

The most famous building of Palenque is the Temple of the Inscriptions – a 20-meter-high stepped pyramid adorned with hieroglyphs. Other popular destinations in the region include the Agua Azul and Misol-Há waterfalls, where you can refresh yourself after a visit to the Mayan temples.

You can spend the night at At Kin Balam Hostel in an eight-bed dorm for as little as 7€.

San Cristóbal

On to San Cristóbal de las Casas! The bus ride into the Mexican mountains is about 10€.

With its gorgeous colonial architecture, San Cristóbal impresses its visitors from the very first moment. The old city is littered with colourful houses, magnificent churches, green parks and charming cafés. Colourful street markets offer everything from textiles to ceramics to fruit, vegetables and spices.

The best view of San Cristóbal is from the Cerro de Guadalupe, where you can ascend the hundreds of steps of Guadalupe Church: the breathtaking panoramic view is definitely worth the climb!

Not far from the city, Cañón del Sumidero offers countless viewpoints which allow you to stare down the rocky gorge of the massive canyon from a height of more than 1,000 meters and marvel at the fascinating landscape.

Posada del Abuelito Hostel offers a cheap overnight stay in a ten-bed dorm for as little as 7€.

Mexico City

The last stop on the trip to Mexico City. The bus ride to the megacity is about 35€. Here, you will get to know a completely different side of Mexico.

With more than 20 million inhabitants, Mexico's capital is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. The heart of the city is its Centro Histórico, where you will encounter cultural remnants of Aztec, colonial and pre-revolutionary times. Also located there is Templo Mayor, the excavation site of the largest temple of the Aztec Empire.

Just outside Mexico City, you can explore the Aztec city of Teotihuacán with its well-known Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park and the Xochimilco canals are also well worth a visit. This is a good opportunity to escape the urban jungle and relish the floating gardens of the Aztecs on a boat trip.

In the central Suites DF Hostel, you can stay in a six-bedroom for 11€.


Cancún

Cancún

Your journey begins in Cancún on the Yucatán Peninsula. On this Caribbean sunny side of the country, you can enjoy beach life and really get into the holiday mood.

On Yucatán, there is also a lot of cultures to discover. The temple complex of Chichén Itzá is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of the Mayan civilisation.

Throughout a day tour, you will explore the site of the Kukulcan ruins (El Castillo), which includes a magnificent and imposing stepped pyramid.

Another highlight of the tour is the visit to the underwater cave Ik Kil. Here you will be able to swim in sacred underground rivers and strolling through the historic colonial city of Valladolid. The entire experience amounts to only 60€ per person and includes round-trip transportation, lunch and a guide.

Back in Cancún, you can stay at Mezcal Hostel in a six-bed dorm for only 15€, where you can sunbathe by the pool and enjoy free breakfast and dinner.

Tulum

Tulum

For about 5€, a bus will take you to your next stop: Tulum.

Here you will once again discover a lot of well-preserved Mayan architecture, with buildings located directly on the coast – a breath-taking sight.

Besides the incredibly beautiful snow-white sand beaches, diving in the Cenotes will be another memorable highlight of your trip and a golden opportunity for those who have always wanted to try cave diving. The fascinatingly colourful underwater world of the Cenotes can also be admired through snorkelling.

Do not miss out on the historic harbour too, where you can enjoy the countless culinary hotspots and the beats provided by sensational Mexican live music in the many bars.

For 13€, you can spend the night in Tulum at Mama's Home in an eight-bed dorm.

Mérida

Mérida

Next stop: Mérida. For about 15€, a bus will take you to ‘The White City’.

Mérida owes its nickname to its white limestone houses and the traditional clothing of its inhabitants. At the centre of the former colonial city are the city hall (Palacio Municipal) and Plaza Grande with its twin-towered Saint Ildefonso Cathedral, which was made of stones of an old Maya temple.

If you happen to be in Mérida on a Sunday, you may want to visit the cultural street festival 'Mérida en Domingo'. This festival has numerous musical and artistic performances and street food stalls, which offer delicious local specialities. It’s also worth taking a trip to nearby Celestún National Park, famous for its mangrove forests and flamingo colonies.

You can spend the night at Hostal Catedral in an eight-bed dorm for only 7€.

Palenque

Palenque

For about 25€, a bus will take you to the next stop: Palenque.

Amid a tropical rainforest, one of the most beautiful and intriguing Mayan sites in the world is located in a clearing.

Palenque is a good starting point for your personal visit to the ruined city, which was built sometime between 600 and 800 BC. The amount of perfection evident in the beautiful architecture of the buildings with their large structures and detailed reliefs and sculptures is more than impressive.

The most famous building of Palenque is the Temple of the Inscriptions – a 20-meter-high stepped pyramid adorned with hieroglyphs. Other popular destinations in the region include the Agua Azul and Misol-Há waterfalls, where you can refresh yourself after a visit to the Mayan temples.

You can spend the night at At Kin Balam Hostel in an eight-bed dorm for as little as 7€.

San Cristóbal

San Cristóbal

On to San Cristóbal de las Casas! The bus ride into the Mexican mountains is about 10€.

With its gorgeous colonial architecture, San Cristóbal impresses its visitors from the very first moment. The old city is littered with colourful houses, magnificent churches, green parks and charming cafés. Colourful street markets offer everything from textiles to ceramics to fruit, vegetables and spices.

The best view of San Cristóbal is from the Cerro de Guadalupe, where you can ascend the hundreds of steps of Guadalupe Church: the breathtaking panoramic view is definitely worth the climb!

Not far from the city, Cañón del Sumidero offers countless viewpoints which allow you to stare down the rocky gorge of the massive canyon from a height of more than 1,000 meters and marvel at the fascinating landscape.

Posada del Abuelito Hostel offers a cheap overnight stay in a ten-bed dorm for as little as 7€.

Mexico City

Mexico City

The last stop on the trip to Mexico City. The bus ride to the megacity is about 35€. Here, you will get to know a completely different side of Mexico.

With more than 20 million inhabitants, Mexico's capital is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world. The heart of the city is its Centro Histórico, where you will encounter cultural remnants of Aztec, colonial and pre-revolutionary times. Also located there is Templo Mayor, the excavation site of the largest temple of the Aztec Empire.

Just outside Mexico City, you can explore the Aztec city of Teotihuacán with its well-known Pyramids of the Sun and Moon. The National Museum of Anthropology in Chapultepec Park and the Xochimilco canals are also well worth a visit. This is a good opportunity to escape the urban jungle and relish the floating gardens of the Aztecs on a boat trip.

In the central Suites DF Hostel, you can stay in a six-bedroom for 11€.

Mexico Route Map

Itinerary and Stops.

Tag
Route/Station
Transport
Unterkunft
1. Home - Cancun
Home - Cancun
Flight
300
six-bed dorm
15
2. Cancun
Cancun
-
six-bed dorm
15
3. Cancun
Cancun
-
six-bed dorm
15
4. Cancun – Tulum
Cancun – Tulum
Bus
5
eight-bed dorm
13
5. Tulum
Tulum
-
eight-bed dorm
13
6. Tulum
Tulum
-
eight-bed dorm
13
7. Tulum- Merida
Tulum- Merida
Bus
15
eight-bed dorm
7
8. Merida
Merida
-
eight-bed dorm
7
9. Merida- Palenque
Merida- Palenque
Bus
25
eight-bed dorm
7
10. Palenque
Palenque
-
eight-bed dorm
7
11. Palenque- San Cristobal
Palenque- San Cristobal
Bus
10
ten-bed dorm
7
12. San Cristobal
San Cristobal
-
ten-bed dorm
7
13. San Cristobal- Mexico City
San Cristobal- Mexico City
Night bus
35
Night bus
14. Mexico City
Mexico City
-
six-bed dorm
11
15. Mexico City
Mexico City
-
six-bed dorm
11
16. Mexico City- Home
Mexico City- Home
Flight
350

Total price.

Flights 650,00
Transportation 90,00
Tours 60,00
Accommodations 148,00
Total948,00

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Dos and Donts, Food & Drinks, Costs.

Breakfast

Tostadas: The pancakes are fried and usually served simply without any side dish.However, one can combine them with different toppings, for example, guacamole. You can also add meat or fruit if you want.

Soups

Pozole: This soup is usually made of pork, but you can also order it with fish or for vegetarians. Other ingredients include beans and local condiments for just the right kind of spiciness.

Main Courses

Tacos Arabes: The tacos are filled with pork and caraway and served with salsa – anauthentic taste of Mexico!

Enchiladas: These are corn pancakes which are filled with meat or seafood, usually covered with some beans and vegetables as well. 

Cochinita Pibil: Slow-roasted pork dish baked in banana leaves and served with onions and tortillas. 

Drinks & Snacks

Churros: Fried sticks of dough and probably the most famous Mexican dessert. It tastes twice as good in Mexico, too!

Tequila: Obviously a classic, but have you ever tried it in Mexico?

Agave syrup: This sweet drink is trendy among the locals and also a must for visitors.

Mexico

The exchange rate for 10 Mexican Pesos is around 0.40€ (as of February 2020). You can see the prices for certain products as well as the cost of living below.

Cost of Living

Food

Free Time

Personal Hygiene

Dos

Immerse yourself in Mayan culture: You’re really eager to get to know the country? Then it's time to familiarise yourself with its culture and explore the treasures left by the Mayan civilisation.

Eat as much as you can: Mexican cuisine is among the best in the entire world, don’t miss out on anything!

Spend time at the beach: Mexico is a real paradise for backpackers who love to relax on the beach. Also, venture into more quiet areas where some real hidden treasures await you as well.

Don'ts

Do not take a photo without permission: Mexicans might be very photogenic, but you should still ask for permission before taking a picture.

Don’t forget to tip: In Mexico, it’s common practice to leave a small tip. It’s only about the gesture itself, so even a few cents will do.

Visa, Visa, Passport & Vaccinations

Passport

Yes

Temporary passport

Yes

National ID

No

Temporary national ID

No

Child’s pass

Yes

Visa

(Not necessary)

Vaccine

Robert-Koch-Instituts

Additional Remarks.

Travel documents must be in good condition and still valid for at least six months at time of entry.

The team at Backpacker Trail wishes you lots of fun and an unforgettable trip!

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