Know before you go!
Region & Time Zone: See individual destinations
Passport Required: Yes
Languages Spoken: Spanish, English
Currency: Mexican Peso (USD is widely accepted)
Power: Standard US plug at 110 volts
A little background
There is so much more to Mexico just beyond its beautiful beaches in Cancun
and the Riviera Maya
. From UNESCO world heritage sites of Mayan Ruins to snow-capped volcanic mountains and warm tropical beaches, Mexico has it all. The year round temperature varies by region, but it is generally between 74 and 80 degrees. Beach destinations like Cancun enjoy warmer temperatures, with average temperatures in the mid 80's.
The history of Mexico City dates back to 1325 when it was founded as the city of Tenochtitlan. It was the political and cultural center of the Aztec empire until Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes took control of the city in 1521. After Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821, Mexico City became the nation's capital and kept growing into a modern city as it is today. Rich in the Aztec heritage, the city embraces modernity as world-class architecture, including the Soumaya Museum and the Arcos Bosques spring up around the metro area. Mexico City offers a wide array of experiences for visitors to enjoy-- from the world-famous National Museum of Art to a vibrant night life-- and everything in between.
Located on the northeastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Cancun was originally populated by ancient Mayans. Modern development ensued after the Mexican government started developing tourism in Cancun in 1970. Known for its white, sandy beaches and an array of all-inclusive resorts, Cancun is one of the world's most famous travel destinations. Yet things to do in Cancun extend beyond the beach. Activities from a cenote dive, a jungle adventure to an archaeological tour at the Mayan capital await you in Cancun.
Riviera Maya and Mayan Ruins
The Riviera Maya is an approximately 60-mile long region that runs from Puerto Morelos in the north to Tulum in the south. The region encompasses beaches, great diving opportunities, and historic sites such as Tulum and Coba. Sitting on a cliff above the Caribbean Sea, Tulum holds the distinction of being the only waterfront Mayan ruin in the world. Coba, on the other hand, is home to the highest Mayan pyramid in the state of Yucatan, Nohoch Mul. It is also known for the complex system of sacbeob (singular form: sacbe), or raised stone roadways, that connected it to other ancient cities.
Playa del Carmen
Located about an hour south of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a coastal resort town famous for its palm-lined beaches, coral reefs and scuba diving. Previously a quiet fishing village, the town today encompasses a cosmopolitan area with a laid-back yet sophisticated appeal. The town's enjoyable pedestrian-only main street, La Quinta Avenida, is full of a wide range of bars, restaurants, and shops. The quieter northern section, north of Constituyentes up to about Calle 38, is the place for chic cafes and boutique stores. The more noisy southern end, from about Calle 4 to Constituyentes, is filled with lively nightlife.
Sitting opposite Playa del Carmen just off the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula is Cozumel - a beautiful and relaxing vacation spot. Although it is Mexico's largest Caribbean island, Cozumel measures just about 30 miles at its longest and 10 miles at its widest. Aside from the obvious (great beaches and snorkeling) the island is also home to some more unique attractions. Conzumel has one of the largest underwater caves in the world as well as a mangrove forest which supports many endemic animal species.