Currency: Mexican Peso
Time Zone: CDT/MST/GMT-6/GMT-7
An introduction to Mexico
From tropical rainforests and Mayan marvels to jungle-clad temples and sugar-white beaches, Mexico's scenery and sights stack up to be more heady than the most potent shot of tequila.
Mexico is vast and as key sights are dotted across the country, escorted tours are an ideal way of exploring. On an touring holiday of this vibrant place, visit the sprawling metropolis of Mexico City (the largest city in North America), then juxtaposing Oaxaca, one of Mexico's most beautiful colonial cities. The delightful market town of San Cristobel, the jungle-buried temples of Palenque and the palm tree clad beaches of Cancun are other touring highlights.
No escorted tour to Mexico would be complete without a trip to Chichen Itza, which is easily accessible from Cancun. Karl Pilkington (the Idiot Abroad) called it "just a pyramid with four sides, with stairs on each side leading to some kind of bungalow on the top," but don't listen to him. This spiritual Mayan ruin is over 1500 years old, attracting around 1.2 million tourists every year. Such is its awe that it recently gained a spot in 2007's New Seven Wonders of the World.
All escorted tours to Mexico include scheduled return flights from the UK plus internal flights, a full touring itinerary covering the must-see destinations, accommodation with porterage and breakfast and a tour manager and local guide to help you get the most from your trip.
Things to do
Mexico is home to a multitude of historic sights and ancient ruins to admire combined with fascinating resorts to explore. Here are a variety of places to whet your appetite:
No visit to Mexico is complete without exploring its awesome capital, Mexico City which happens to be the second largest in the world. Its vibrancy attracts people of all ages and therefore has something for everyone particularly culture vultures. The main attractions centre around the Centro Historico and Chapultepec Park. Head to the outskirts of the city and you'll find the fantastic ruins of Teotihuacan.
Playa del Carmen
A beautiful coastal resort town found on the Yucatan Peninsula. The most popular place to visit here is the Quinta Avenida, 5th Avenue, and here you'll find all manner of boutique shops, bars, clubs and restaurants. There are some fantastic scuba-diving and snorkelling opportunities but the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef is located a distance from the coast, requiring a boat.
For an awe-inspiring treat, you must visit Palenque to see the magnificent Mayan architecture rising from the steaming jungles below. There isn't much available in the town and many tourists tend to use this as a drop-off before continuing their journey to the Mayan Ruins. Here you can see the Templo de las Inscripciones and the El Palacio before taking a short hike to the Mishol-Ha Waterfall – you can only swim here during the low flows of water so bring your swim stuff just in case!
Reserva Mariposa Monarca
If you love butterflies, you will want to visit this wonderful reserve. This is where, every November, millions upon millions of butterflies migrate for their winter hibernation. These butterflies travel from the Great Lakes region of the US and Canada. It is an amazing sight to see as the swarm gets close to the final destination, they gather on tree branches and as the sun rises, they collectively fly into the sky in a mass of colour - something you will not want to miss!
Thinking of travelling to Mexico? Check out the average temperatures for when you plan to visit courtesy of BBC Weather
Tips & Advice
The beauty of an escorted tour is that you'll be in the best and safest hands when it comes to holidaying in foreign lands. However, to help you have an enjoyable holiday in Mexico, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
It is always wise to check with your GP before travelling to Mexico to find out whether you need any vaccinations or medication to take with you.
As with any destination, when travelling to Mexico you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance to cover you in case of an emergency for the cost of any treatment abroad. It is wise to have access to additional money as some Mexican hospitals do not like dealing with insurance companies and will expect payment for treatment outright.
To avoid any unwanted illnesses during your trip, only drink bottled or boiled water and always avoid ice in drinks.
Some areas of Mexico are at a higher altitude which can cause tiredness, breathlessness and headaches. Time to adjust should be catered for within itineraries, but allow for additional time to adjust when travelling to places like Mexico City and if you are somewhere high altitude, try to slow down and adopt a more wound down pace.
If you need to call for an ambulance dial 060, 065 or 068, and then contact your insurance company at the earliest opportunity if you get transferred to a facility for treatment.
In Mexico, the popular tourist resorts such as Cancun and Plays Del Carmen are protected from the problems experienced by the rest of the country. While you'll be in a group, be particularly alert if you are using public transport, keep hold of your luggage and stay with your party.
Only use licensed taxis from authorised cab ranks.
Women should be particularly careful about travelling alone. Attacks tend to occur late at night or early in the morning and so women are advised not to walk/or go out alone.
Never leave food or drink unattended in restaurants and bars as they could be spiked.
As with most cities pick-pocketing is a problem, especially in tourist resorts and on Mexico City's Metro system. Dress down where possible, avoid carrying valuables or wearing expensive jewellery. We recommend buying a money wallet (a flat, zipped money wallet that can be worn concealed underneath clothing) before you travel to carry your valuables in.
Be very wary of people pretending to be police officers who attempt to arrest you for no reason. Ask for an name and identification number and if possible a patrol car number.
Local Laws and Customs
Sometimes police will ask to see identification at random. To appease them, carry a photocopy of your passport and if possible leave the original in your hotel safe.
Being involved with drug related crime can lead to severe penalties, and can carry sentences of up to 25 years.
When entering Mexico you do not need a visa, however you do need a tourist card which is available on arrival having completed an immigration form.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date you enter into Mexico.
ETD (UK Emergency Travel Documents) can be used for entry and exit from Mexico, as well as for airside transit.
Any other nationality looking to visit Mexico must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
To find out more information about visiting Mexico you can go to the Tourist Board website at visitmexico.com/