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Eight Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Trip to Cancun

Cancun Trip

Eight Tips for Saving Money on Your Next Trip to Cancun

Everyone should get to experience a Cancun vacation. Make the right choices and you can do it even on a tight budget.

Cancun has a reputation as one of the most luxurious vacation destinations in Mexico. But it has the reputation of being an expensive destination.

Can you visit Cancun on a budget and still experience everything it has to offer?

The answer is, yes you can!

You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a great time in Cancun, even if you stay a full week. 

It’s all about knowing where to eat, visit, stay, and what to avoid. Hopefully, the tips below will help you plan a better vacation around your budget.

Tip #1 Downtown Is Cheaper

If you want to save money in Cancun, try to steer clear of the touristy areas. 

For example, the main strip is where all hotels are. People refer to it as Cancun Island. But most locals reside in downtown Cancun. There are sufficient hotels there, too, as well as clubs, restaurants, etc.

Downtown is considerably cheaper than the main strip, whether in terms of accommodations, food, drinks, or a night out. It’s also not too far from the beach. You can easily hit Cancun’s ivory beaches by hitching on the bus for a 15-minute ride.

Tip #2 Explore Cancun Without a Guide

Booking a tour that takes you to the local Mayan ruins and other landmarks is a great way to learn about South American history. However, some of these tours can dig a hole in your wallet.

One way to save money in Cancun is to go exploring on your own. 

You don’t actually need a guide to reach, see, and explore the ruins. You’re free to do it on your own time and dime because very few areas have restricted access.

Consider investing in a detailed guidebook that can tell you where to go, how to get there, and what you’re looking at. You save money and gain a ton of freedom to explore at your leisure.

Tip #3 Pick the Right Daytrip

As with landmark tours, day trips can get expensive, too. There’s a lot to see in Cancun and many tour organizers might take advantage of that.

But some of the day trips are rather cheap and can take you to gorgeous locations. One of the cheapest you can book is one to Isla Mujeres.

The tiny island off the Yucatan Peninsula coast is easily accessible by ferry. Boats make the trip every 30 minutes during the day and every hour after 9:30 pm.

The island has lively and more rugged beaches, plus plenty of green spaces. It also offers great water conditions for kayaking and snorkeling.

Tip #4 Know Where to Exchange Your Money

There’s no shortage of ATMs in Cancun, so you might as well use them. While many venues and attractions will accept dollars, paying directly with this currency may cost you extra.

You’ll get a better price and exchange rate if you simply convert your money to pesos. But whatever you do, don’t get your money changed at the airport if you’re on a budget trip. The private currency exchanges in downtown Cancun are the best places to change your money.

It’s also a good idea to carry enough small notes to pay transportation fees, groceries at the local markets, and so on.

Tip #5 Avoid the Taxis

This is pretty much true of any popular tourist destination. Cancun receives thousands of tourists every day. So whether it’s midseason or offseason, the airport is always busy. And taxi drivers often take advantage of this. 

To save money, remember that many Cancun hotels, as well as third-party companies, offer shuttle rides from the airport. They’re much cheaper than taxis and also easy to book in advance. So while researching accommodations, make sure to add this to your to-do list.

The same applies when traveling between different locations or landmarks. Try to find the best ADO public bus route for your itinerary.

Public transportation is very cheap and convenient in Cancun, as the buses make their stops frequently. It’s also more affordable than renting a car.

Tip #6 Consider the Low Season

Always a great way to save money in Cancun, traveling between May and November will have you arriving in the low seasons or offseason.

There are many more vacancies at this time. And as a result, hoteliers slash prices. Of course, you may not experience the best weather Cancun can offer, but if you want to save every penny during your trip, it’s worth considering.

You can also escape the bustle of the city’s most popular beaches. And the trails leading to the Mayan ruins aren’t as packed with tourists, either.

Tip #7 There Are Cheap Eateries

One of the most authentic spots in Cancun is Mercado 28. It’s a market that sells a bit of everything and stays open seven days a week.

Here you can find amazing and affordable Mexican street food. It’s also a great spot to visit if you want to buy trinkets to commemorate your trip. 

Don’t be shy about haggling, either. Most sellers understand the need to try and get a bargain, so they’re open to negotiations.

Tip #8 Hostels Over Hotels

As previously mentioned, downtown Cancun is more affordable than the main strip. This gives you the liberty to stay at whatever accommodations fit your budget and look good to you.

But if you want the added convenience of staying on the strip, try to find a hostel. 

Keep in mind that there aren’t that many of them and tourists seek them out relentlessly. However, the pricing differences are substantial.

A Cheaper Paradise Than You Think

Cancun, like many other tropical locations, can get expensive if you’re going in blind. But with a bit of planning and research, you can have a memorable vacation even on a restricted budget.

Sticking to the inland for shopping, eating, and accommodations can save you lots of money. And using the bus system to go where you need to, instead of renting a car, is another way to save money in Cancun.

Make sure you exchange your money and invest in a useful local book guide, too. All that money you save for your trip will be worth it.

Trip Ideas

What Makes Cancun a Paradise Destination

Cancun Paradise

What Makes Cancun a Paradise Destination

Not sure if Cancun is worth a visit? This list may make you immediately pack your bags and book a ticket.

The year was 1970 when construction began for many Cancun hotels and resorts. But for centuries before it, the area was nothing but virgin beaches, jungles, and wetlands.

After a lot of effort, Mexico transformed Cancun into one of the world’s most popular vacation destinations. Its establishments go on for a stretch of 93 miles, all without disrupting much of the natural area’s natural beauty.

If the picturesque scenery isn’t reason enough to book a trip, here are some other things that make Cancun a paradise destination for all ages.

Beautiful Beaches

The best things to do in Cancun always include a trip to the beach. 

Its ivory beaches, white sands, and turquoise water simply make Cancun one of the most gorgeous locations on the Yucatan coast. 

Know that the period from December to April is perfect for enjoying the warm ocean water, swimming, or snorkeling. 

You can find rugged beach conditions on Chac Mool or Playa Delfines, in particular.

For crowded spots that keep the party going all day long, the northern part of the city makes more sense. Particularly noteworthy is Playa Las Perlas, long-considered one of the loveliest beaches in all of Cancun.

Despite no heavy development, there’s still a lot of undisturbed natural beauty, which is why tourists have been flocking to Cancun for decades.

Amazing Hotels and Resorts

If you want to spend time in Cancun, Mexico, you can do so in style. The city has hundreds of accommodations after all. 

There’s enough to cater to a budget traveler, but Cancun also has some of the country’s most luxurious beach resorts.

The tropical retreat offers something for everyone, whether it’s the unrivaled luxury, boutique hotels, spas, or anything else you may fancy.

Wildlife Interaction

Swimming with dolphins is one of the most popular things to do in Cancun. It’s a family-friendly activity that you even partake in against a gorgeous tropical backdrop.

But wildlife interaction in Cancun doesn’t end there. 

Between July and September, you can also book another underwater adventure – swimming with whale sharks. Isla Mujeres and Isla Contoy, in particular, offer the most shark tours.

You can also see rare sea turtles, go bird watching, and check out hundreds of amazing sea species. What’s also exciting is a trip to the Sian Ka’an UNESCO biosphere. It’s very close to Cancun and houses the rarest native land animals.

Diverse Culinary Scene

After a day of snorkeling in Cancun, you might want to rest and give your taste buds a treat. Cancun may be famous as it is for its beaches but it also shines when it comes to food.

Freshly caught seafood is always tasty. But you can also easily find oriental-inspired dishes, local treats, American burgers, Mediterranean menus. 

If you can name it, some restaurant or resort probably makes it.

Count on getting excellent service all year long. Even in the offseason, some of the best chefs in the world call Cancun their home.

Great for Water Activities

Not every tourist that goes to Cancun is an explorer. Some people want a more thrilling experience. 

Playa Chac Mool is one of the best if you want to do some traditional water activities or go windsurfing.

Cozumel Island is another hotspot for adrenaline-seeking travelers. The locals say it has some of the best water conditions. You won’t see big and scary waves, but you can rely on their consistency, which is great for practice.

Ruins Exploration

Exploring Cancun can give you a good sense of why it’s a paradise destination for many. 

The ruins surrounding the city and the ancient temples have tourists looking in awe without fail. And the lush forests and vegetation create a mesmerizing background for complexes like Chichen Itza or Tulum. 

Many tourists book day trips to go and see the thousands year old ancient ruins of Mayan architecture.

Exploring is one of the best things to do in Cancun with kids, partners, or by yourself. Along with going on guided tours that tell the story of Cancun’s history, you can also go on numerous hikes and discover the city’s past on your own.

A Never-Ending Party

There are plenty of secluded places in and around Cancun where you can relax. But, one of its unique draws is that the party never stops.

If El Centro is where most of the residents stay, Cancun Island is where everything else happens. It’s the part of Cancun designated for tourists, resorts, clubs, and fun activities.

But make no mistake. Downtown Cancun has its fair share of eye-popping laser shows, legendary parties, and chic cocktail spots too.

Wherever you go, you can find fun things to do in Cancun during the day and especially at night. And if you love dancing, spending a night at the Coco Bongo is a must.

Retail Therapy on the Yucatan

Going on vacation brings out the shopper in everyone, and Cancun has no shortage of chic fashion stores. Here you can browse through modern shopping centers or visit an array of small boutique shops.

You can also get some pretty good deals, too. Many sellers don’t have a problem with haggling, especially those who sell local crafts.

Make It a Memorable Trip

There are many gorgeous tropical locations in the world, but few also earn the paradise moniker. Cancun is one of the few as it literally provides every form of entertainment that you or those of all ages could ask for.

The combination of modern amenities, lush jungles, ivory beaches, and ancient ruins makes it a unique place to visit and explore.

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Trip Ideas

Visiting Cancun? Don’t Leave Without Doing These 10 Things

Mexico’s party capital offers plenty of activities for a memorable holiday. Discover all of the best things to do in Cancun.

From adrenaline-pumping adventures to breathtaking ancient sites, Cancun appears to have it all. The options for an active holiday are nearly endless when visiting this gem of a vacation spot. 

To give you a head start, check out this list of 10 cool things to do in Cancun. 

#1 – Go Downtown

If you want to get a feel of the authentic Cancun vibe, downtown is the place to be. 

The colorful streets are lined with stalls of local foods. There are also shops where you can buy from the local artisans, and you can even watch live wrestling Mexican-style. 

But the highlight of the area is perhaps Avenida Tulum – the best place to try tacos that are unlike any you’ve had before. 

#2 – Take Dip in the Cenotes

Cenotes are natural pools in limestone caves, part of the underground water system on the Yucatan peninsula. These cenotes are filled with clear blue waters and surrounded by beautiful cliffs and vegetation. 

They’re perfect for a refreshing swim, but you can also go snorkeling or scuba diving there if you want to explore the underwater cave system. 

Note that Ruta De Cenotes, only a half-hour drive from Cancun, has the best cenotes in the area. 

#3 – Take Part in the Temazcal Ceremony

Looking for non touristy things to do in Cancun? The Temazcal purification ceremony could be just the thing for you. 

This is a traditional Mayan ritual that takes place in a small hut. When you enter the hut in your swimsuit, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into a sauna. 

But you won’t be alone, as a shaman manages the ceremony and makes sure everything is peachy. As the shaman steams up the inside of the hut, you’ll see him chant and summon the spirits with herbs. 

The whole experience can be best described as meditative. You might just find your body and soul cleansed when you leave. 

#4 – Try the Jungle Zip Line

One of the most popular adventure activities in Cancun is to go on the jungle zip line. 

Particularly noteworthy are those offered by two theme parks: Selvatica and Xplor Adventure Park. Selvatica is closer to the city and has 10 zip lines. Meanwhile, Xplor has seven, with the highest 147ft up. 

Both parks also offer a full range of activities, including a visit to nearby cenotes and ATV rides. It’s not unusual for visitors to want to spend a whole day at either park.

#5 – Check Out Torre Escenica

Also known as the Cancun Scenic Tower, Torre Escenica overlooks the city and the Caribbean Sea. 

At the top of the 300ft-tall tower, you’ll hear exciting stories about Cancun as the tower continuously spins to ensure ever-changing views. 

The ride up takes a full 5 minutes and you have 15 minutes more to take photos and enjoy the 360° views.

#6 – Hit the Nightclubs

No list of things to do in Cancun would be complete without the nightclubs. The city is famous for its crazy nightlife after all, particularly around spring breaks.

Among the standouts are The City Nightclub, Coco Bongo, Dady’O, and Mandala Beach Club,  each with its own unique spin to draw in the crowds. For example, The City Nightclub is known for hosting some of the world’s most in-demand DJs, while Mandala Beach Club is famous for its bikini parties. 

You won’t run of options if partying is on your agenda.

#7 – Go Scuba Diving

For a long time running, Cancun is considered the mecca for scuba divers of all stripes. 

The waters around the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef are mostly calm and teeming with marine life. You’re bound to have a great time, even if it’s your first dive, and there are places where you can get a PADI license with ease. 

The main attraction for divers is the MUSA underwater museum located near Isla Mujeres. You wouldn’t want to miss the stunning array of underwater sculptures there.  

#8 – Get Yourself Down to Las Coloradas

Visiting Las Coloradas (the red ones) is undoubtedly among the best things to do in Cancun. These tiny pink lakes adjacent to a fishing village look absolutely otherworldly against the blue skies and surroundings. 

Las Coloradas is about 3 hours away from Cancun but well worth the trip. The lakes are within a nature reserve that’s home to a wide range of local wildlife. 

You can book accommodations close to the lakes, which is perfect if you want to go on a flamingo tour on the following day. 

#9 – Visit Chichen Itza

A UNESCO heritage site, the ancient pyramids of Chichen Itza could offer you the experience of a lifetime. This site is well preserved and gives you a unique insight into the ways of the Mayans. 

At 98ft tall, El Castillo, or the Temple of Kukulkan, is the site’s most impressive pyramid. Its nine terraces represent the ancient belief that heaven has nine different levels. 

Chichen Itza is 2.5 hours from Cancun by car and you’ll be hard-pressed to find any visitors of the city who haven’t at least made the trip once. 

#10 – Explore Zona Hotelera

The Hotel Zone of Cancun stretches 15 miles. Most visitors stay in this area that’s famous for its beautiful beaches, mind-blowing nightlife, and luxury resorts. By the by, this is also where you can sail on a catamaran. 

Kulkukan Boulevard runs through Zona Hotelera and is predictably filled with bars and restaurants. In fact, it’s the ideal place to hit the bars.

The Party Never Stops in Cancun

Wonder no more about what things to do in Cancun.

Start your day with a visit to the cenotes. Head downtown to enjoy the local food. And when the night falls, Zona Hotelera is the place to party until sunrise. 

Of course, this is just a suggestion. There are plenty of ways to explore the party capital of Mexico, so feel free to come up with your own plans.

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