Backpacking in Mexico is the dream journey for backpackers from all around the world who are looking to explore the enchanting beauty and adventure of the country. Mexico is a beautiful country with a rich history, awesome landscapes, waterfalls, and culture. According to the latest statistics, Mexico has a population of more than 129 million, and all the people are very hospitable. They welcome everyone who comes to visit their gorgeous country and entertain them with their traditional cultural food.
Whether you are looking to explore the jaw-dropping beaches in Cancun, the old remains of Chichen Itza, a nice jungle in Oaxaca, beautiful, colorful streets in Guanajuato, or many other stunning places, Mexico is waiting for you. In this detailed Mexico travel guide, we will provide you with comprehensive knowledge about top backpacking destinations, necessary equipment to carry, and tips that will help you while backpacking in Mexico and make your journey an incredible one.
Mexico Travel Guide for Backpackers
Mexico welcomes backpackers from all over the world to explore the beauty of this beautiful country. All you need is a potential itinerary, and you can explore numerous hidden gems. Mexico is a large country but smaller than its northern neighbor, the USA, and you can travel for months while backpacking in Mexico and still find that you have missed a lot.
Mexico offers diverse entry points for travelers from all over the world, and one of the most popular is Mexico City International Airport. One of the easiest entry points for American backpackers is to enter Mexico by crossing the border on foot. This Mexico travel guide will show you how, when, and where to travel, and here are some tips that will help you while backpacking in Mexico:
· Is Mexico Safe to Travel?
Mexico is a safe country for traveling, but you must be careful in crowded areas. It is recommended not to travel at night because you don’t know about those areas. Make sure to use a reputable taxi or cab and keep your valuable belongings safe.
· Best Time for Backpacking in Mexico
The climate of Mexico normally remains the same in most of the regions of the country, but the best time for backpacking in Mexico is during the dry season (December to April). In these months, the temperature remains normal, and therefore it is the best time for outdoor adventure.
Mexico has an advanced transport system, and you can easily backpack to any area of the country using buses or taxis. Busses are a reliable and cost-effective way of transportation in cities. You can expect to pay $5–$20 per bus ride. Also, several rideshare apps facilitate travelers while backpacking in Mexico. It is good to travel in groups and use shared vehicles for short distances.
· Accommodation Options
There are diverse hotels and guesthouses available to live in while backpacking in Mexico, and it will cost you around $5–$15 per night. For solo travelers and small families, hotels are a good option, while for a group of friends or families, guesthouses will be the best option. You can book your accommodations easily through online websites. During the tourism season, the prices are very high, so make sure to book your hotel as early as possible and travel in budget-friendly transportation.
· Cost-Saving Tips
- Try to use budget-friendly local street food and avoid eating at expensive restaurants.
- Use public transportation, like buses, instead of private cars.
- Stay in low-cost hotels or guesthouses.
- Negotiate prices when shopping at local markets and avoid going to expensive supermarkets.
- Travel in the shoulder fall season when there are fewer tourists.
- If you are traveling in groups, consider sharing expenses for activities, tours, and transportation.
Mexico Backpacking Guide
Mexico is the ideal destination for most backpackers because of its diverse landscapes, rich culture and history, and many other hidden gems. If you have a plan to visit this amazing country, then this Mexico backpacking guide will help you a lot.
First of all, you have to research and plan your trip, including what places you are going to visit. You have to consider different things while planning your backpacking trip in Mexico, mainly the time of your travel. It is good to create a flexible itinerary, that covers a wide range of areas and leaves space for some exploration.
If we talk about the essential items to take with you, then it is good to pick lightweight clothes that are comfortable and can help in any sort of weather condition. If you are a swimmer, then pack a swimsuit and a towel, as well as sunglasses for warm weather. Have a pair of quality shoes with you, as they will help you while walking. You must also have a bottle of water, a cap, a raincoat, and an umbrella with you.
To add to your travels and communicate with locals, you should learn some Spanish phrases. Always follow the laws of the country and its local customs and traditions. So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags, and an incredible journey is knocking at your door.
Must Visit Places while Backpacking in Mexico
Cancun: A Beach Lover's Paradise
Cancun is situated on the coast of Mexico and is a paradise for adventure and nature lovers. You can do a lot of things in Cancun, like jet-skiing, enjoying the beautiful beach, snorkeling, and much more. Due to its crystal-clear waters, beaches, and awesome nightlife, Cancun is one of the most popular places to visit while backpacking in Mexico. This beautiful city has ancient Mayan ruins, great places for outdoor activities, and a rich history and cultural heritage.
There are a lot of places that are worth visiting, like the Mayan ruins of Tulum, the Caribbean Sea, Cenote Ik Kil, the Yucatan Peninsula, and Mercado 28. For outdoor activities, you can dive in the Great Mesoamerican Reef, go zip-lining in the jungle, or take a day trip to Isla Mujeres. Once you visit these awesome places, you will discover the beauty of ancient Mayan civilization, crystal-clear waters, culture, and craftsmanship. Cancun is not only limited to beaches and coastlines; you can also explore amazing glimpses of nature while backpacking in Mexico.
Chichen Itza: Unveiling Mexico's Ancient Past
Chichen Itza is one of the most famous backpacking destinations in Mexico, and this city is known as the seventh wonder of the world. The El Castillo pyramid is one of the best-known Mayan pyramids, and people love visiting it, so this place is always busy. A lot of travelers visit this place while going to Yucatan, but if you specifically travel to visit this place, then you can enjoy and explore it more.
This world heritage site offers diverse glimpses of ancient Mayan civilization and their jaw-dropping architectural achievements. You must see the Kukulkan Pyramid while backpacking in Mexico, as it is the tallest in that region and showcases the quality artifacts of the genius people of that region. Also visit the Sacred Cenote, which is considered a sacred place among Mayan people.
Copper Canyon: Trekking Through Natural Beauty
Copper Canyon is located in the north of Mexico and is a stunning place for backpackers. The beauty of this place attracts nature fans and culture enthusiasts. You must travel on the Copper Canyon train, which is also known as "El Chepe," and you will enjoy jaw-dropping scenes of nature. Urique is a beautiful place located at the bottom of the Canyon, is the perfect place to hike, and you can also visit beautiful Tarahumara villages, meet with locals, and get an idea of their culture and traditions.
According to a visitor, the people of Tarahumara villages are shy and therefore avoid meeting travelers. However, if you visit when there is a Christmas festival, you can enjoy a lot and immerse yourself in these people and their culture. There is a town named Creel, which is best for hiking and mountain biking and welcomes hiking lover travelers. An international cycling event is also held there, and it's not for newbies, but you need to learn a lot before you head on to these tracks.
Guanajuato: A Journey through Time
Guanajuato is another stunning colonial town situated in central Mexico and is famous for its hilly terrain, underground tunnels, and colorful houses. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a cultural center. There are many beautiful places that you can explore while backpacking in Mexico, like the Alhondiga de Granaditas (the historic museum), the Basilica of Our Lady of Guanajuato, and the Juarez Theater.
Also, you can visit the Mummy Museum and the Callejon del Beso. If you want to enjoy your trip to Guanajuato, then visit this place in October, as there is a cultural festival known as the "Cervantino Festival," which attracts artists, performers, and enthusiasts from all over the world.
Merida: The White City's Cultural Charms
Merida is the capital of Yucatan State in southeastern Mexico, known for its colonial architecture, Mayan heritage, and friendly people. This place provides a blend of old-world charm as well as local culture for visitors. The atmosphere of this city is very cool; it offers vibrant colors of nature and diverse activities for backpackers. It is also a great base to explore the surrounding attractions, such as Uxmal (a Mayan ruin), Celestun (a biosphere reserve with flamingos), Progreso (a port city), and Cenotes (natural sinkholes with crystal clear water).
The local food of this place is awesome, so indulge your taste buds in the mouthwatering delights of Yucatecan cuisine, known for its unique blend of Mayan, Spanish, and Caribbean influences. To beat the Yucatan heat, savor a refreshing glass of Horchata, a traditional drink made from rice, cinnamon, and sugar.
Mexico City: Where History and Modernity Converge
Immerse yourself in the bustling and vibrant metropolis of Mexico City, the capital and largest city of Mexico, and one of the most fascinating and diverse cities in the world. It has a rich history, culture, and art scene, as well as modern skyscrapers, shopping malls, and restaurants. Explore the historic heart of Mexico City at Zocalo, the main square surrounded by historic landmarks. Here, you'll find the Metropolitan Cathedral, a masterpiece of colonial architecture.
The National Museum of Anthropology is a must-visit for history enthusiasts. This world-class museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from Mexico's indigenous cultures, spanning thousands of years. Also, you can visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, Chapultepec Park, and many other attractions.
Oaxaca: A Tapestry of Traditions
Oaxaca is a charming colonial city in southern Mexico, known for its colorful architecture, indigenous culture, traditions, and delectable cuisine. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a hub for art and crafts. There are colorful markets like Mercado Benito Juárez and Mercado 20 de Noviembre where you will find fresh food and handcrafted items.
You can wander around the historic center, and visit the Santo Domingo Church and Museum, the Monte Alban ruins, the Ethnobotanical Garden, and the many markets and galleries. Throughout your journey in Oaxaca, while backpacking in Mexico, you'll encounter the essence of its cultural traditions, from vibrant festivals to intricate artistry, all of which contribute to the captivating tapestry of this beautiful city.
Puerto Vallarta: Sun, Sand, and Serenity
Puerto Vallarta is a beautiful coastal city on the Pacific coast of Mexico, famous for its beaches, resorts, and nightlife. It is also a popular destination for adventure seekers, as it offers activities such as zip-lining, whale watching, snorkeling, sailing, and more. Unwind and soak up the sun on the golden sands of Playa Los Muertos, one of Puerto Vallarta's most popular beaches.
For nature lovers and hikers, a trek to Colomitos Beach is a must. This hidden gem is one of the smallest and most secluded beaches in the area, accessible through a scenic hiking trail. Go on board for a delightful boat tour to Yelapa, which is a beautiful coastal village. You can also enjoy the Malecon (the boardwalk), the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Los Arcos Marine Park, and the nearby towns of Sayulita and San Pancho.
San Miguel de Allende: A Haven for Artists
Step into the captivating world of San Miguel de Allende, a picturesque city renowned for its artistic allure, cobblestone streets, colorful buildings, and vibrant arts and crafts scene. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a magnet for expats and retirees. Explore the plethora of local art galleries that line the streets, showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions.
There are film and cultural festivals all over the year, and these celebrations add an extra layer of excitement to your artistic journey. You can explore the town's landmarks, such as the Parroquia (the main church), El Jardin (the main plaza), the Casa de Allende Museum, and the many galleries and cafes.
Taxco: A Silver Town's Sparkle
Taxco is a charming colonial town in southern Mexico that is famous for its silver production and trade. It has a unique style of architecture that blends Spanish and Moorish influences. Immerse yourself in the town's rich silver heritage by exploring the shops and markets that showcase unique silver pieces. For those seeking outdoor adventures, hike to the Christ of the Overhangs statue, an iconic landmark perched dramatically on a cliff.
You can visit the Santa Prisca Church (one of the most ornate churches in Mexico), the Silver Museum, the Borda House (a former mansion of a silver tycoon), and shop for silver jewelry and handicrafts. Immerse yourself in the beauty of this silver town and make your backpacking in Mexico memorable.
Tulum: Paradise on the Caribbean Coast
Tulum is a coastal town nestled along Mexico's Caribbean coast and is renowned for its stunning ancient Mayan ruins perched above the turquoise sea and its picturesque beaches that exude a sense of paradise. Step back in time as you explore the Tulum Ruins, an ancient archaeological site overlooking the breathtaking Caribbean Sea.
Immerse yourself in the natural wonders of the region by swimming in the cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with freshwater. Venture into the protected beauty of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Engage in eco-friendly tours and activities that allow you to explore this pristine environment while supporting sustainable tourism initiatives.
Uxmal: Uncovering Mayan Marvels
Uxmal is an ancient Mayan city that boasts well-preserved and impressive structures. Located on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Uxmal offers a fascinating glimpse into the achievements of the ancient Mayan civilization. You can visit the Pyramid of the Magician, also known as the Pyramid of the Dwarf, as this iconic structure stands tall, showcasing the advanced engineering and architectural skills of the Mayans.
Also, you can visit the Governor's Palace and Nunnery Quadrangle in Uxmal. Completing your adventure with the mesmerizing Uxmal light and sound show ensures that your exploration of this ancient city is both educational and magical, leaving you with a profound appreciation for the wonders of Uxmal.
Valladolid: Colonial Beauty and Natural Wonders
Valladolid is a quaint colonial town in eastern Yucatan that is known for its relaxed atmosphere, colorful buildings, and cenotes. It is also close to some of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico, such as Chichen Itza (one of the new seven wonders of the world), Ek Balam (a lesser-known but impressive site), and Coba (a jungle-covered complex with a tall pyramid).
Whether you're exploring the Convent of San Bernardino, swimming in the stunning cenotes, or uncovering the mysteries of Ek Balam, Valladolid promises an enriching and memorable experience. Don't forget to savor the traditional Yucatecan cuisine, adding a delicious touch to your exploration of this captivating city.
Other Backpacking Destinations For Thrill-Seekers
Mexico offers an unparalleled experience for backpackers seeking diverse beautiful landscapes, a rich cultural heritage, and thrilling adventures. Whether you choose to explore ancient ruins, relax on breathtaking beaches, or immerse yourself in local traditions, backpacking in Mexico promises an unforgettable journey.
Embrace the spirit of adventure, respect the culture, and savor every moment of your backpacking expedition in this captivating country. Whether you are looking for culture, nature, adventure, or relaxation, Mexico has it all.
We hope this Mexico travel guide has given you some inspiration and tips to plan your trip. Happy Backpacking!