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backpacking in mexico

Backpacking Mexico: What You Need To Know Before You Go

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Has Mexico always had a bad reputation? Of course not! The people are friendly and kind, the food delicious (especially if you’re into spicy), scenery awe-inspiring—what’s not to love about this incredible country??!!

Below are some of my tips for backpacking in Mexico so that visitors can enjoy their time without worrying.

You’ll be amazed by how much you can discover when backpacking and of course never forget, safety first. Read on to get the scoop.

Where is Mexico anyway?

Mexico is a must-see for any traveler in North America. With its vast size and diverse landscape, there are countless things to do here, from surfing on the Pacific Ocean beaches all the way south into Central America where you can find ruins that date back thousands of years.


backpacking in mexico

How do I Enter Mexico?

Most travelers from all over the world don’t need a visa to enter Mexico as long they are visiting for tourism, business or on an immigration transit stay.

Visitors can only spend up until 180 days in total within that time frame though so it’s important to make sure you know what paperwork is required from your country before arriving into Mexico!

Tourists are not allowed to undertake work (including human rights), or paid activity while in Mexico.

If you are looking to work in Mexico then you should visit your Mexican consulate before you travel abroad as their are strict laws which must be adhered to.

Tourist who lose their visa within Mexico will need pay a small replacement fee – however those leaving by air may encounter different costs dependent upon the airline ticket purchased; some airlines may charge more than others.

Vaccinations for Entering Mexico

Mexico is a great destination for adventurous travellers, but it’s important not to forget your vaccinations! Make sure you’re up-to date on all the shots and boosters before heading out.

A few things that are recommended by Mexican health officials include routine vaccines like MMR vaccine as well as ones specific towards traveler needs such diphtheria/tetanus shot series (which includes two doses) or typhoid.

Then there’s Hepatitis A & B – both these diseases can be serious business if they go untreated so make certain you take precautions.

You should be mindful of the risks when backpacking Mexico. You may come into contact with mosquitoes that can carry diseases such as Zika, Malaria and Dengue fever so make sure you protect yourself by using insect repellent at all times; especially around dawn or dusk where they are most active!

Mexico Altitude

High altitude should be be accounted for in your travel itinerary if you are traveling to Mexico. The symptoms of high-altitude sickness, such as headache and tiredness can occur at any time after arriving here from lower elevations – even within the city limits.

It’s important that visitors spend some extra days acclimating themselves before attempting strenuous activities or going out exploring if you don’t feel well enough. And especially if you’re not used to high mountain ranges and high altitudes.

Is Mexico Safe for Backpacking?

Despite its reputation, Mexico can be a safe country to backpack.

There are areas where drug-related gang violence is common, however, and I would highly suggest before deciding to travel in those regions that you do more research into which places are innately safer versus others. Avoid taking chances by going into unsafe areas.

However, areas like Cancun, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta are largely touristy for years now and are generally safe areas.

Backpacking around Mexico is tricky, especially if you’re a woman. Use the female-only carriages on metros and avoid overnight buses at all costs!

Pickpocketing happens frequently so watch your belongings carefully in crowded areas like tourist spots or big cities where theft may be more likely too–especially Mexico City.

Solo travellers should also keep their flashy jewellery hidden away because these bulky items might draw unwanted attention while walking down main streets during daylight hours. Generally speaking, use common sense and don’t draw attention to yourself.

Natural disasters in Mexico

When you are backpacking in Mexico, there is always the risk of earthquakes. Before travelling it’s a good idea to know how earthquakes can affect your trip and prepare for them if necessary by following emergency procedures during an earthquake.


The coast can be affected by hurricanes and tropical storms from June till December with highest risk between July and end of October. Always check before going to a destination to see if there are any threats of hurricanes and tropical storms and avoid those areas.

Why Consider Backpacking Mexico?

Mexico has captivated curious travellers for centuries, and the Mexican Riviera is a perennially popular destination.

However remember that Cancun isn’t authentic Mexico and if you want to explore beyond all-inclusive resorts and hotels and see some real culture you’ll have to go outside this area.

The Yucatan region offers one such place: Chichen Itza. This is one destination where history and culture are prevalent and the locals still live their lives as they always have for thousands of years.

Ancient ruins in this area are left behind by Mayan ancestors who knew nothing about writing down their history but left a visible history so that future generations could learn more about them.

What are the best things to do in Mexico? What to do in Mexico

1.Visit Mayan Ruins

There’s no shortage of Pre-Columbian ruins in Mexico. From the iconic Mayan site Chichen Itza to less known but stunning Tulum and Coba, each with their own unique charm; there are so many great places you can go if backpacking around this beautiful country!

backpacking mexico

2. Try Mexican Food

When you think of Mexico, what comes to mind? The sounds and smells that fill your nose are just as important for a country’s culture than anything else. For many people around the world Latin American cuisine such has been awarded UNESCO status making its food an excellent reason on its own to go backpacking in this amazing place!

The flavors, textures and smells of this diverse country are captured in every bite into a delicious meal or drink.

From seafood on the Pacific coast all across Baja California Norte (and even some parts south) to meats like chicken adobada (spicy grilled breast) served with sour cream sauce made from farmer’s market vegetables. Or try Carne Asadas – steak strips on beautifully charred wooden planks laid out flat so you can see what your eating.

3. Try Tequila or Mezcal

You’ve heard of Tequila, but have you tried Mezcal?

Mezcal is quickly becoming a favorite drink for many in Mexico and beyond. It’s made with small artisanal distilleries that offer smoky flavors not found anywhere else on earth!

Sip these responsibly though- mezcals should never be shot back like tequila slammers (that would probably upset your stomach). Instead enjoy them slowly so they can fully unfold their complexities.

If possible pair them perfectly with an orange slice or lime wedge.

4. Immerse yourself in Mexican Culture

When it comes to culture, Mexico has you covered. From beautiful colonial towns like San Miguel de Allende and Merida or the hundreds of museums in Mexico City; there are so many things for to see and do.

Take time during your trip to wander the streets and maybe catch a festival if you’re around at the right time.


For example, The Day Of The Dead festival falls around November 1st-2nd each year which marks a celebration rooted deep within ancient Aztec cultures.

5. Visit a Lucha Libre wrestling match

If you’re feeling adventurous, go out to see a Lucha Libre wrestling match. There are arenas all over the country, where masked fighters jump into spandex and hurl themselves across rings with incredible skillfulness!

Have some beers while you’re there – it’s not just men who get excited by this type of performance; even Mexican housewives swear up a storm during these events (especially if their favorite fighter wins).


6. Enjoy the Natural Wonders of Mexico

Mexico is a country of natural wonders, with its stunning beaches and tempting pink lakes. The Riviera Maya provides an opportunity for visitors to experience the beauty that it has in store; hike through jungles or take advantage when hiking down waterfalls while you’re there!

If adventure sports aren’t really what gets your blood pumping then head over to the Pacific Coast where surfing plays host against incredible scenery.

Where Should I Backpack in Mexico?

The Yucatan

The Riviera Maya is one of Mexico’s most popular destinations, but there are plenty of secret spots to find on the southern coast.

Head down south past Cancun and Playa del Carmen for all inclusive resorts that offer package deals with activities like scuba diving or yoga classes. Try to avoid high season between December and April to avoid the huge crowds.

If serenity matters more than anything else then go inland about two hours north towards Merida where colonial towns surround impressive temples built centuries ago by cultures long gone but not forgotten.

In and Around Mexico City

Mexico City has tons of things to do, from incredible museums to ancient pyramids. Don’t underestimate this city – I’d advise spending at least a few days here.


A popular trip for backpackers is to head to the state of Michoacan where you can find one-of the world’s most beautiful natural phenomenon – the Monarch butterflies. There are two sanctuaries in Michoacan where you can witness this beautiful spectacle.

Oaxaca and Southern Mexico

How can you resist the urge to explore a new country when it offers such fascinating culture and natural scenery?

The state of Chiapas and it’s city of San Cristobal de las Casas is well worth visiting with its beautiful jungle Mayan ruins. Oaxaca’s stunning coastline and amazing culture is also a fantastic draw with it’s beautiful beaches and amazing food.

The Pacific Coast and Baja California

When it comes to Mexico, Baja California is the place for Americans looking for their fix of sunshine and tequila.

But Baja isn’t just about fun in a sunburned land- there are also incredible underwater diving opportunities with great whale watching too.

The Pacific Coastline has some fantastic surf towns like Puerto Vallarta that will make you want seafood tacos all day every day. Remember to be careful, though, if traveling through certain southern areas because drug trafficking rates can be high here (I recommend avoiding Acapulco).

Northern Mexico

The colonial towns of Guanajuato, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi are a North-of Mexico City must. You can find many things to do in these beautiful destinations including visiting museums with mummies or churches that UNESCO has declared World Heritage Sites for their architecture alone!

But if you’re looking for something completely different check out Xilitla. It celebrates all things mystical- from waterfalls made out of sculptures in rainforest pools. Las Pozas garden was created by Edward James 25 years ago and is definitely worth a visit.

Backpacking Mexico: How Much Does it Cost?

Mexico is a budget-friendly destination, with hostels usually priced at $6-$8 per night. For more luxurious accommodations you can find fancy beds in Mexico City that range from around 10 dollars up to 15 dollars.

Remember though that all prices vary depending on where you’re are located and what type of establishment it may be.

If you’re a street food lover you can generally enjoy a meal for the average of about about 2 bucks each.There’s no need to spend a lot of money on food when street tacos are so good! But again, what you pay for food is determined by where you are and what you want to eat. However, rest assured cheap eats can be found on many street corners.

Where Can I Volunteer in Mexico?

Volunteering in Mexico is a great way to explore the country and meet new people while having some fun too.

You’ll find volunteering opportunities on work exchange sites like Workaway, HelpX , and WorldPackers.

Volunteering in Mexico is a great way to meet locals and become part of the community. Volunteering work varies from working on reception at hostels, teaching school children about environmentalism or building eco-projects; there’s something for everyone!


In exchange for volunteering time – usually between 8 hours per week but it can be as little or more than 16 hrs every once upon awhile – volunteers get food & lodging included during their stay here too which financially speaking .can be pretty cost-worthy.

Buses in Mexico

Bus travel in Mexico can also be cheap and convenient for short journeys, but if you want long distances it might actually cost less flying from MX city. Check prices too; flights from Cancun will probably still beat the price of a bus by quite a lot.

The Mexican bus system is one of the best in Latin America, with 1st class buses available for purchase on line. These luxury vehicles offer comfortable seats and air conditioning.

Related: What You Must Know About the ADO Buses in Mexico

Flying to Mexico

When it comes to travelling between Mexico and other countries, there are many options.

Depending on your schedule length or budget limitations you can choose from internal flights in the country or International Airlines like Aeromexico which might be more expensive but may offer better service.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding Cheap Flights to Mexico

Taking Taxis in Mexico

There are risks of kidnapping and fake taxis in Mexico, so if you do need to take a taxi use an official company.

At airports or bus stations there will be ranks with official logos where people usually pay for their ride beforehand before getting into the car.

Uber has been popular lately as well; it’s especially convenient after dark since users can track drivers’ locations on smartphones using GPS chips inside each vehicle (just make sure that driver offers wifi access).

So there you have it! What did I miss about backpacking Mexico? Let me know in the comments below.




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