Ask a local: Your Mexico travel questions answered

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 31.01.2024

Planning a trip is exciting, but it can be nerve-wracking, especially if it's somewhere you haven't visited before. Our local Mexico expert, Karen Quintero, answers your burning travel questions about her fabulously spirited home country. Welcome to your Mexico travel cheat sheet.

Maya woman in Chamula by Cristobal de las Casas in Mexico © Shutterstock

Maya woman in San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico © Shutterstock

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

Travelling to Mexico can be safe, but like any destination, it's essential to exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings. Mexico is a diverse country with a wide range of regions, each with its own unique safety considerations, but keep in mind that the best way to visit and discover a new region is by talking with the local people. Seek advice from locals about safe places to visit and areas to avoid. As a Rough Guides local expert, I can provide valuable insights, of course - and not always about danger! I'll share my best Mexico travel tips and secret places.


Xochimilco canals © Shutterstock

Do I need a passport or a visa? What about travel vaccinations?

If you're coming to Mexico, don't forget to bring your passport! Citizens of some countries, such as the United States, Canada, the European Union, and many Latin American countries do not need a visa for tourist visits of up to 180 days. You don't need any specific vaccinations but I usually recommend vaccinations like hepatitis B, rabies, and influenza.

When’s the best time to visit Mexico?

The best time to visit Mexico depends on your preferences, the specific regions you plan to visit, and the type of activities you want to do. Mexico is a vast country with diverse climates, so the ideal time can vary significantly. My favourite time to visit is definitely October or November for the beach. For Central Mexico, March or February is best. In those months the weather is ideal! During that time there are some incredible seasonal experiences, like spotting whales on the Oaxaca Coast during March.

Karen Quintero, your Rough Guides local expert © Shutterstock

What are your absolute must-visit places, beaches, and attractions?

Mexico is a mega-diverse country that is home to nearly 10% of the world's recorded species, many of which are endemic. The country's diversity offers something for every traveller, from history and culture enthusiasts to beach lovers and adventure seekers. We have some incredible destinations, but my favourites are probably Chichén Itzá, Oaxaca, Copper Canyon, and Bacalar

What’s the best way to get around Mexico?

Mexico is a big country and some places are really far away even if on the map they're close, so it's important to keep in mind that the distances sometimes need a domestic flight instead of a transfer. The best way to travel in Mexico depends on your itinerary, budget, and preferences! It's advisable to plan your routes and transportation options in advance, especially for long journeys. 

Our tailor-made trip service makes getting around Mexico easy. You can skip the hassle of planning and booking and let our local experts create a customisable trip for you. See our existing Mexico itineraries for inspiration.

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca, Mexico © Shutterstock

Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman in Oaxaca, Mexico © Shutterstock

Any advice on what to pack?

Packing for a trip to Mexico can vary depending on the specific regions you plan to visit, the time of year, and your planned activities. For example, if you're coming to the Pacific coast don't forget to bring your swimming suit and your best shorts, but if you're coming to Chiapas, don't forget to bring a raincoat and hiking shoes. In both destinations, you'll need repellent, and make sure the one you're bringing is biodegradable.

I’m a big foodie. Where should I go?

Oaxaca City is the best destination for foodies. Don't forget to walk in the market in the "Pasillo de humo" (smoky corridor), and of course, you need to visit Dhalia and her family, she prepares the best mole and chocolate in Oaxaca!


Tacos carnitas © Shutterstock

I'm an art lover. Where's the coolest street art?

Mexico is a vibrant hub for street art and urban creativity, with numerous cities boasting impressive street art scenes. If you're an art lover and want to explore some of the coolest street art in Mexico, I highly recommend Guanajuato or Mexico City. In Guanajuato, the city is full of art and vibrant colours. On the other hand, Mexico City has the best murals in the country, and you must visit the SEP building.

Where can I catch some Mexican wrestling?

The Lucha Libre has been one of the most characteristic aspects of Mexican culture. Keep in mind that Lucha Libre events are typically high-energy and family-friendly, with a mix of athletic prowess, theatrical performances, and colourful characters. The best place to experience this is with a Luchador as a guide and in the Arena Mexico.

Mexican wrestling masks © Shutterstock

Mexican wrestling masks © Shutterstock

What cultural customs/etiquette should I be aware of?

Mexican culture places great importance on politeness, hospitality, and social customs. My advice is to always say hola! You can't drink tap water, as this isn't too safe for your health. In restaurants, you can always ask for water in your bottle.

Where’s the best place to experience authentic Mexico, off the tourist trail?

No doubt, one of the destinations that’s far from mass tourism is Chiapas. The Chiapas jungle is a fascinating and uncommon destination in Mexico. Exploring the Chiapas jungle will give you the opportunity to admire incredible biodiversity, meet indigenous communities, and immerse yourself in the rich culture of the region. It is truly an authentic and memorable destination!

Mayan ruins in Palenque, Mexico © Shutterstock

Mayan ruins in Palenque, Chiapas © Shutterstock

What's your favourite place in Mexico and why?

Mexico has my heart forever. I love the food of Oaxaca, the wildlife in Chiapas, the beaches of the Pacific Coast, the people from the Mayan communities, the landscapes in San Luis Potosi, the art and culture in Guanajuato, and the tequila from Guadalajara! But my favourite destination is Oaxaca, as this state feels like a different country. You have the forest, the colourful city and the incredible blue beaches! I love how you can strongly you feel the Mexican culture here, and how the people are proud of Mexico and our history.

Mexican tequila in the bar © Shutterstock

Mexican tequila in a bar © Shutterstock

Go to Mexico without the hassle of planning and booking

Karen and her team of local experts are at your service to plan extraordinary trips in Mexico. Simply contact us when you're ready to travel, and we'll create a personalised itinerary that is fully customisable. Explore our existing Mexico itineraries for inspiration, and keep in mind that all can be tailored to meet your specific needs.

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 31.01.2024

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