As summer is settling into my place, I had an early summer this year, as I blogged in March. I went to beautiful Cancun and it was indeed an eye-opening experience since I had never seen the Caribbean Sea!
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Bring out the coconut-smelling tanning oils, frozen margaritas, daisy dukes, and colorful pedicures; it’s time for summer!
Here’s my much helpful travel guide to beautiful Cancun.
(This is obviously for you who are not planning on renting a car.)
So the first thing is first, from the airport to your hotel, this website is the cheapest option I found. You can book it online beforehand and do not need to prepay. It’s a $65 roundtrip to Zona Hotelera, which is most likely where your hotel will be. It’s very reliable and on time. The driver will wait for you outside the airport with your name on a sign, and you will have to pay the driver the total amount then and there.
The public transportation around Zona Hotelera is on Kukulkan Blvd, the main street. These buses go to all the hotels in the area, to “The City,” where all the nightclubs and restaurants are, shopping centers, markets, and Downtown Cancun, where you can find a Walmart and more markets. The most common buses are R-1 or R-2 but there is no need to know the exact routes, just ask if they are going to your destination. The rate is MXN$ 9.50 (or approximately US$ 1).
You can use U.S. dollars to get around in Mexico. I didn’t come across one tour, nightclub, or street vendor that didn’t accept U.S. dollars.
Now, this will occur under their terms, of course. They will give you Mexican Pesos back, and the exchange rate isn’t the most accurate, but sometimes you don’t have another option or, in our case, pure laziness. For example, today’s currency exchange is US$ 7.57 for MXN$ 100, but they will change it for US$ 10. If you think about it, it adds up, but we only changed a few dollars for transportation.
Street Vendors and Negotiation
Since I have expertise in negotiating with Chilean Street vendors, I assimilated the same street vendors’ culture in Mexico and that constant persistence in selling what they are selling. So you will be followed by vendors trying to sell EVERYTHING. And everything is also negotiable, and I am talking about 200% less than the initial offer. I’ve learned to negotiate in theory (business major), but I first experienced practical training in China. I am good at it, but it requires patience and time.
Tours, Tour Guides, and Buffets
You’ll see so many tours offers around Cancun; it’s almost like a whole other marketplace of only tour offerings. You’ll see online prices, cheaper tour packages at the hotel you are staying at, little street offices offering even more affordable tours, and street vendors offering an even cheaper version of the same tours. I saw one tour online for $150, but in Cancun, I got 3 tours for about $200. But at the same time, this made it very untrustworthy; for every tour or package deal we got, we constantly felt that we were getting screwed in one way or another. After hearing so many offers and salespeople trying everything in their power to sell you a service, you start to grow that feeling of knowing there is another cheaper option elsewhere.
Other than Mexican food and Tequila, Mexico is also known for its silver production, and I wanted to buy silver rings and researched other bloggers’ websites for tips on the topic. The only thing I read that sounded legitimate was that silver jewelry should have a certain number encrusted in the silver. I also read about a trick in which you could rub the silver ring on a gold ring, and if the “silver” turned dark, it was fake.
This majestic Mayan temple is very impressive and worth taking a look at, but make sure you take a guided tour because other than the temple, there are a few more visually remarkable things around the area. In addition, the guided tour gives you much more history about the smaller ruins around Chichen Itza, even the creepy stories of the Mayan sacrifices to their gods and their bloody soccer games. A lot more fun than the history classes back in High School; let me tell you that much.
Xel-Ha / XCaret
These two parks are, for the most part, identical. We went to XEL-HA, but one of my friends had gone to XCaret; her reaction and review were the same as the last time she went to Cancun. The only difference she could think of was that XCaret has a nightlife option with stunning performances. The park is a gigantic artificial park with trekking, biking, and snorkeling paths all around the park. Everything is provided to you with the entrance fee. The food and beverage are also included in the price.
Tulum’s ruins will look very small next to Chichen Itza if you see them in that order. But what makes these ruins gorgeous is that they are right by the water, so you’ll get a killer view, which is great for beautiful pictures. And if you are lucky enough, you might even see sea turtles. An area is blocked for entrance because the sea turtles nest their eggs on that beach, but unfortunately, we did not see any sea turtles. It will take 30 minutes to walk slowly through the ruins; after that, you’ll have the whole day for yourself (if you go early, of course, which we did).
Isla de Mujeres
You know how I ended the Tulum paragraph with “all around, one of the best moments in my Cancun trip,” well, this was the other best moment of my Cancun trip. The excursion to Isla de Mujeres was the best package deal we bought. See, when you go on vacation, don’t you sometimes feel that you need a vacation from the vacation? Well, this day trip was exactly that, our last journey tour, and it was relaxing, beautiful, and very entertaining. It’s a whole day tour on the water on a breathtaking Catamaran where we just laid all day tanning and getting splashed on by the ocean’s mini waves.
Charlie & Carlos is hands down the best restaurant in Zona Hotelera. And I am not referring to the food; you can probably get better Mexican food in San Diego, but this place is all about the staff and the ambiance. It’s loud, crazy, and bizarre! The staff is entirely insane, scaring guests with fake spiders in their meals or fake rats by their legs.
Cocobongo claims to be better than Vegas, and I already said this in my Cancun Blog, but yes, as a singular club, this place offers a lot of shows, special effects, and a great variety of music in one. The ticket was about $80, and yes, as a woman, I could not believe it because we don’t pay entrance fees anywhere; maybe this as another scam? Nonetheless, you have to go to this nightclub; you need to experience Cocobongo because it’s simply amazing.