With the summer's end within reach, I spent a few days last week in Cancún exploring the city sights, beaches, a day trip to the neighboring state of Yucatán to see one of the glorious world wonders, and of course, eating.
I haven't traveled much outside of the States, so an international trip was in order. I've heard great things about Cancún and I wanted to explore it for myself.
Traveling to a foreign country can be tricky, so here are a few tips for first time travelers, like myself, because these things will affect your stay if you haven't planned for them:
There's no Lyft in Cancún.
Uber is illegal (not widely accepted in the city), so there are many issues between them and the local cab companies.
The lagoon is not for swimming. I saw many crocodile warning signs. Pay more and spring for a hotel by the beach.
Some hotels in downtown have sister hotels on the beach and provide shuttle service, like Smart Cancún by Oasis.
Competitive pricing for tours: you'll be upsold on a ton of tours so make sure you're paying the best price available.
Clubs: the clubs on the beach have a hefty price tag for admission but it includes an open bar.
Currency: get the most bang for your buck! It usually costs less to pay with your debit/credit card.
Enjoying a coconut cocktail at Alebri's.
Now for my favorite part: the food.
Whenever I travel, I like to explore spots that are geared towards locals. That's how I experience the culture of a city. Cancún's Zona Playera is filled with many popular American chain restaurants and I was not about to dine in one. I mostly dined à la street food (tacos and esquites) and went to local favorites: Chuchito Pérez, El Muellecito, Cheester and El Rincón de Los Antojos.
Huitlacoche quesadilla from El Rincón de Los Antojos.
Frida Kahlo cocktail from Cheester.
Earlier I mentioned tours and there are plenty for neighboring attractions and day trips to Tulum, Cozumel, Isla Mujeres, you name it. I purchased a day trip in the opposite direction to the Yucatán. It included a round trip bus ride to a Mayan co-op that included a buffet lunch, a guided tour of Chichen Itza and a quick stop in colonial Valladolid before returning back to Cancún. The best $39 USD I've ever spent!
Yucatán feast at the Mayan co-op: black beans, rice, veggies and my favorite of regional dishes, cochinita pibil. Delicious shredded pork tacos topped habanero salsa and pickled red onions. The absolute best!
Yes, another coconut picture. There are so many coconut trees! I love coconut water so I got these at every chance. I had a few sips before heading down to a cenote: a natural, cavernous watering hole. There was a also a Mayan shaman onsite performing blessings.
Templo de Kukulkan AKA Chichen Itza
Kukulkan: plumed serpent
After a dip in the cenote and eating my weight in cochinita pibil tacos, we continued on our ride to Chichen Itza. It was truly marvelous! These ruins have been here since the thriving Mayan civilization and they're (mostly) still intact. Their architecture and history is what makes them one of the Seven World Wonders. It's such a great experience to be at a historical site and it was the perfect ending to this trip.
I hope my unofficial short guide and tips for Cancún is helpful for any first time visitor! I truly enjoyed my trip and feel more prepared for my next visit.