Mexico is an intoxicating land of archaeological treasures, vibrant cities, vivacious culture and welcoming locals. With jungles, mountains, beaches, reefs and caves to explore – and museums, cafés, bars and markets to visit – any time spent in Mexico will never be long enough.
Mexico Tours & Travel
All our Mexico trips
Articles on Mexico
From cowboy to hipster – the rise of Mexico’s mezcalerias
Posted on Tue, 25 Mar 2014 by Jacqueline Donaldson
Mexico is known for its exquisite food, friendly people and shots of tequila. And now it’s also becoming famous for tequila’s smoky cousin – mezcal. It’s only in the last [...]Read more
9 reasons why you must visit Mexico
Posted on Thu, 27 Feb 2014 by Joe Diaz
We asked Joe Diaz, AFAR Magazine Founder, what it was that he loved most about traveling in Mexico. Obviously he couldn’t narrow it down to one highlight, so here are [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Mexico, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Mexico you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Mexico City (population 8.7 million)
- 113.7 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT-06:00) Guadalajara, Mexico City, Monterrey - New
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Mexico
Mexico is generally most pleasant in the cool, dry season between September and June. July and August can be very hot and humid, but perfect for swimming, snorkelling and lazing on the beach. It is, however, the busiest months for travel as this is the time of the North American school holidays. Highland areas such as Chiapas and Oaxaca tend to be cooler year round, with cold nights.
Culture and customs
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
From the diverse fare on offer in Oaxaca and the regional Yucatecan cuisine of Merida, to the sizzling street food of Mexico City, there’s a wealth of culinary options to choose from.
Things to try in Mexico
The origins of the tamale date back centuries to the Mesoamerican period. This simple dish of corn dough wrapped in a plantain leaf and steamed or boiled is often dressed up with the addition of meat and mole (sauce). Don’t forget to remove the leaf before eating.
Although not originally native to Mexico, ceviche has been served in Mexico for centuries. Best tried in coastal areas where the seafood is freshest, this light dish features shrimp, octopus or squid along with lime, onion, chilli and avocado.
3. Huevos Motulenos
This hearty breakfast favourite hails from the Yucatan area and consists of eggs, cheese, beans, tortillas and salsa.
4. Tostada de Pata
This melange of pork, beans, cheese, salsa and onions served on a toasted tortilla is a quick, tasty and cheap snack and is easily found around Mexico.
Geography and environment
History and government
People have been living in Mexico for more than 13,000 years. Mesoamericans occupied the area early on, with archaeological evidence pointing towards Mesoamericans leading a hunter-gatherer existence. Maize farming is thought to have become commonplace by 1500 BC, which led to the farming of other commodities as well. A variety of cultures contributed to the early history of Mexico, with the Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Teotihuacan and Aztecs all bringing unique cultural, religious and artistic styles to the region, with the Mayan and Aztec Empires having the greatest (and most enduring) impact on the region.
Mayan society can be traced back to 300 BC, while the Aztecs enjoyed prosperity from 1325 to around 1521 AD. Many ancient ruins and constructions from these periods are still standing all throughout Mexico, and can be visited and viewed today. By the 16th century, the Spanish had arrived in Mexico and what followed was a period of colonialism that lasted nearly 300 years.
During this time, Mexico was seen as a part of ‘New Spain’ along with Cuba and Puerto Rico. This was not a particularly good time for Mexicans who (under colonial law) were generally not allowed to travel outside of Mexico and were denied access to education. Mexico achieved independence from the Spaniards after the War of Independence (1810-1821) but peace was short lived as two decades later the Mexican-American War brought more confrontation and armed conflict to parts of Mexico.
Mexico’s Revolution of 1910 - 1921 was a period of instability, marked by political turmoil and bloodshed. More recently, Mexico has enjoyed an economic resurgence after decades of economic hardship, which lasted from the 1970s to the mid 1990s. The earthquake of 1985 didn’t help matters, with wide-scale damage and loss of life compounding the economic problems and political uncertainty of Mexico. Currently, Mexico is benefiting from a period of improved economic conditions, although the gap between the wages earned by Mexicans and their northern neighbours continues to widen. Mexico is now operating in a free market economy and the growth of tourism, agriculture and industry has ensured an improved economy for the country, although financial inequality still exists within.
Top 10 Memorable Moments of Mexico
1. Ramble Among the Ruins
A visit to the famed ruins of Chichen Itza reveals history, ancient architecture and wildlife in equal measures. Walk through the complex and hear jungle animal calls as colourful birds fly among the canopy. This is a stirring experience to treasure.
2. Bittersweet Bites
The cult of chocolate is well and truly alive in Oaxaca! The flavours here are simply phenomenal and unlike mass-produced chocolate in the Western world. Spiced with chilli, cinnamon and cloves, you won’t soon forget the taste of Oaxacan chocolate.
3. Sunshine and Snorkelling
Mexico’s Caribbean coastline showcases expanses of clear blue water, white sand beaches, vibrant reefs and plenty of sunshine. Snorkelling over colourful fish and sun-lit coral is simply unforgettable.
4. Mountain Majesty
The cooler climate and fresh mountain air of San Cristobal de las Casas provides some respite from the city heat. Chilling out in this relaxed and visually stunning area is a magical Mexican moment.
5. Bus Buddies
Catching a local bus in Mexico is a never-ending source of amusement. Overcome the language barrier and make friends with local commuters to pass the time.
No visit to Mexico is complete without downing a little bit of the national drink. While you may not remember every detail the morning after, good times and memorable holiday snapshots are guaranteed when tequila’s involved.
7. Volcanic Splendour
Mexico’s volcanic landscapes are photo-worthy and awe-inspiring. Hiking past rocky escarpments and surreal scenery is a rewarding travel experience to remember.
8. Village People
Sharing smiles and laughs with locals while strolling through the rural villages of Mexico is a life affirming and touching experience to cherish.
9. Mariachi Melodies
Sway to the unique sounds of Mexico’s mariachi music in the streets and cafes of Mexico. The rhythms and beats will live in your heart for years to come.
10. To Market, To Market
Witness Latin America’s time honoured commercial traditions unfold at Mexico’s well-patronised markets. Hear the banter of stallholders, smell the fragrant scent of sizzling meat and admire the colourful array of wares on offer.
Travellers will be delighted with the range of good quality shopping available in Mexico. As usual, the markets offer some of the most cost-effective and fun ways to shop, although Mexico’s cities also showcase some excellent boutiques and galleries for more costly purchases.
It's a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Mexico
1. Tiles, Ceramics and Earthenware
Mexico has a longstanding tradition in creating good quality pottery. Hit the artisan markets for colourful pots, vases and jugs. Don’t forget to pack carefully.
2. Bright Textiles
Woven textiles can be found almost everywhere in Mexico. Hand-woven rugs, blankets, scarves and ponchos are a great reminder of your time in Mexico.
The silver in Mexico is among the world's best. Rings, necklaces and bracelets featuring bold Aztec designs are popular choices.
4. Lucha Libre Masks
This Mexican wrestling phenomenon is growing in popularity worldwide, so grab a colourful wrestling mask - it’s a great souvenir for kids (and big kids) at home.
Festivals and Events in Mexico
Day of the Dead
This annual festival may seem morbid to some, but think of the Day of the Dead as a celebration of life and ancestry. Mexico stops for two days of street fiestas, graveyard picnics, papier-mache skeletons, candlelit vigils and rituals in honour of deceased relatives and ancestors. This moving and atmospheric festival with ancient roots reveals much about Mexico's culture and religion – don’t miss it!
Festivities for Mexico’s Independence Day usually kick off the night before, with large, spirited crowds gathering in the streets. The next day, patriotism hits a yearly high with street parades, marching bands, military displays and concerts.
Equinoxes were highly significant to the Mayan people, and today crowds still gather at Chichen Itza to witness the sunlight and shadows play tricks on this ancient relic. During the autumn (and spring) equinox, the sun moves across Chichen Itza, illuminating parts of the temple to reveal the moving body of a snake. Not seen on any other days, this natural spectacle draws thousands of pilgrims.
FAQs on Mexico
Street food snack = 10-15 pesos
Bottle of beer = 20-25 pesos
Meal in mid-range restaurant = 50-100 pesos
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Feb 4 Constitution Day
Mar 19 Birthday of Benito Juarez
Mar 28 Maunday Thursday
Mar 29 Good Friday
May 1 Labour Day
May 5 Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla
Sep 16 Independence Day
Oct 12 Dia de la Raza (Columbus Day)
Nov 2 Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead)
Nov 18 Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution of 1910
Dec 12 Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. In addition to these holidays, there are many local holidays also observed regionally throughout Mexico. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Mexico/public-holidays
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Mexico Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Mexico
1. Be considerate of Mexico’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
8. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
9. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|Like Water for Chocolate||Laura Esquivel|
|Oh Mexico!||Lucy Neville|
|Mexico: Biography of Power||Enrique Krauze|
|First Stop in the New World||David Lida|
|Rain of Gold||Victor E Villasenor|