Cancun, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is hands-down a whole lotta fun!
This is the perfect place to let your hair down, try every margarita available under the sun, party and even swim with whale sharks. There are countless reasons why Cancun is an amazing holiday destination (and of course, why you should head there for your next holiday) so we’ll skip right past that and jump straight into all the stuff you need to know to visit Cancun (though if you need some hints as to why you need to visit Cancun, check this post out here).
Cancun has largely been popular with American travellers for quite some time but for us across the pond in Europe, it’s relatively new (I use the term ‘new’ lightly as we’re talking slightly over a decade here). Thankfully, travel is opening up more and more and offering new and exciting destinations that perhaps would have been unaffordable several years ago.
Anyway, enough pre-amble! Let’s jump right into this guide on what you need to know if you wanna visit Cancun.
How To Get There
Fairly easy one. There are a fair few options these days but Thomson has one of the best on the market. Why? The prices are a big deal here – they’re affordable and very realistic. You get inflight entertainment, meals, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and all the extra conveniences you would expect on your usual long haul flight.
You also get to travel on the Dreamliner, which is amazing – especially so if you get the extra leg room spaces like we did – that extra space is BRILLIANT on a long haul flight like this. Then there’s the mood lighting which is apparently great for your body clock but I was already a fan, even if for the aesthetics alone!
Plus, lets not forget with Thomson Scene you can pretty much book everything through them (flights, excursions, accommodation…etc) which I find so convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I love the excitement that comes with planning your own travel but sometimes, for a holiday, I just really want someone else to do all the heavy lifting.
Where To Stay
We stayed at the Breathless Riviera Cancun and honestly, I genuinely can’t recommend it enough! Of course if you book with Thomson you get a LOT of choice but this one gets extra props as it’s only about 30 minutes or so from the airport (#win – some are like 2 hours away which is quite a trek), no wristbands and it pretty much caters to everything you need!
And I’m not saying that last point lightly either. You get 24 hour room service (you don’t even need to call anyone, just order whatever you want from the tablet in your room – even margaritas!), free minibars (not that you need it with the 24 hour room service) and if you stay in the Xhale club, you also get your own private breakfast restaurant (soooooooo good) and a more secluded area.
You actually have 3 areas here. The Xhale club suites (which is the top luxury bit), the Allure Suites (which is a more sociable part and pretty much where most people hang out) and the Xcelerate party zone (this is where the party’s at –music and partying pretty much all day long).
We like a good party but I wouldn’t want to party all week long. (I don’t even know if I could physically do this – Lloyd and our friend, Alex both tried once at Uni and pretty much fell ill by day 7).
I like balance, so the Xhale club suites suited me best (*pardon my weak pun) as you could dip into the party at the Xcelerate zone and relax when you wanted to back at Xhale. Plus there’s a champagne bar for Xhale club so…
Things To Do And See
Well, we’ve already covered this one in a lot of detail over in this post here so click here for all the things you should do and see in Cancun!
Things To Pack
Typically you can pack most of the stuff you would normally (you know, clothes, toiletries, medication…etc.) but there are a few extra bits you will definitely want to take with you:
1.) A GoPro or any other underwater camera. Your regular camera or iPhone won’t be an option if you do water sports or even decide to go swimming with turtles. You could always get a waterproof iPhone case but the GoPro has time and time again proven to be the best underwater photography camera.
2.) Insect repellent. You won’t need this in the resorts as they spray the area and have no mosquitos but you will need this when you go to see the sights in places like Chichen Itza and Coba.
3.) A hat. The sun has no mercy here… but then again, that’s what you came for, right? 😉
4.) Walking shoes. I didn’t take proper shoes with me and took flip flops instead (I was fine with these) but it’s recommended you take proper walking shoes when you go, especially when you go to places like Coba where you can climb the ruins.
5.) Swimming shirt. If you do things like swimming with whale sharks or turtles, you’ll find that your sunscreen will wash off (in fact, you’re recommended to rinse it off before you get into the water so as not to affect the turtles’ ecosystem) and a quick swim session could end up leaving you with a ‘zebra tan’ like Lloyd did when we visited (the stripes were from the life jacket). Hilarious for your friends and everyone else around you, not so much for yourself! See example swim shirts for women here and men here.
Other Things You Should Know
1.) The weather is pretty brilliant all year round.
2.) Ask your tour guide about buying souvenirs (especially the wooden ones). Some of the wooden ones you get here are fine in Mexico but absolutely terrible if you live anywhere cold as it takes just a few weeks before they start to expand and flake away so be careful when choosing souvenirs.
3.) Mexico is also know for silver so this is a great place to get some but again, ask your guide. Some places sell fake silver which will look horrendous almost as soon as you get back home.
4.) There are mosquitos in Mexico (like I mentioned above), not at the resorts usually but when you venture out so venture out with a good cover of mosquito repellent.
5.) You have to pay a specific type of tax when you leave Mexico. It’s approximately around 975 pesos £40 or $60 per person. You can only pay in cash so make sure you have the right amount when you’re at the airport.
6.) If you want to venture out of your resort to party, Playa del Carmen is where you need to be. 🙂
7.) You can actually spend US dollars in Mexico. Due to the huge influx of American visitors, a lot of places in Cancun and its surrounding areas accept dollars.
8.) The cheapest time to travel to Mexico is around May until November (September and October are the rainiest but cheapest months to visit). Christmas and New Year’s are particularly expensive times to visit, as these are popular times for other travellers.