Having spent half of this year in this enigma of a country, there is so much I have to say. I would say that I was surprised by how good it was. Mexico is a fantastic country that you have to visit at least once and here are some good reasons why.
The biggest country in the Hispanic world is a popular destination with British and American tourists alike. However they only really go to Cancún, expecting tacos and safety. I’d argue that going here isn’t properly going to Mexico as it feels completely inauthentic. Cancún in reality pails in comparison to other fantastic places.
Although a return flight to anywhere in Mexico is quite expensive. It’s very easy to travel on a budget once you’re in Mexico. As long as you avoid Cancún and Tulum where everything is 3 times more expensive than everywhere else. You can go backpacking in Mexico on a budget of about £25 per day. For example, tacos at the right place won’t cost you more than £2. Using public transport in the cities won’t cost more than £3 a day. Visiting museums can sometimes even be free or at least a very good price.
2. Fantastic Food You’ve Never Seen Before
When I first arrived in Mexico, I was surprised at how vastly different real Mexico food is. Compared to what I’ve had in Mexican restaurants in Scotland, it’s very different. One of my favourites is Mexico City’s very own taco al pastor. Which is tacos with pork straight off a spit like you see in kebab shops. Moreover, another of my favourites is a breakfast dish known as molletes which is bread with melted cheese and tomatoes on top. Something which does not come to mind when you think of Mexican gastronomy.
3. It’s the Home of Tequila
It may sound stereotypical, but tequila is truly ubiquitous in Mexico. However Mexicans don’t drink it with salt and lime. At parties, seeing people drink it out the bottle is something you will have to get used to seeing. If you really love tequila, you must make a pilgrimage to the town of Tequila outside of Guadalajara. I took a tour of the Jose Cuervo factory which was a interesting experience. It was fascinating to see how the magic stuff is made.
4. Mexicans Know how to Party
If you’re ever invited to party with some Mexicans, you should definitely take them up on such an opportunity. A Mexican party is like a competition to see who can get the drunkest. As previously mentioned Mexicans love to drink tequila out of the bottle. Even more, if you head into a convenience store, you can buy a case of beer for less than £3. A litre bottle of rum for roughly a tenner and possibly cheaper.
5. Fantastic Beaches
While the beaches in Acapulco and Cancún feel a little overwhelming with tourists. Mexico has much more coast on both of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. A place that my dad had talked about for as long as I can remember was Puerto Escondido in Oaxaca. This place is a small town on the Pacific coast and its beaches are absolutely stunning.
When I’ve been to places known for beaches such as Phuket, I was largely disappointed for it being too crowded. However, Puerto Escondido did not feel like that. I was genuinely impressed by some of the beaches I went to during my week there.
6. Coaches That Make you Feel Like a King
When you travel by Flixbus in Europe, it doesn’t feel too remarkable. You get a seat and after a few hours you’ll go from one city to another. Although the traffic in some of the cities may mean that taking a coach can be frustrating, this experience of travel feels completely different. Although tickets are at least £11, being one of the bigger expensives while travelling in Mexico, you do get what you paid for. A lot of coaches have TV screens in which you can watch movies (albeit in Spanish) and insanely comfortable leather seats which recline.
7. You Can Stay for a Long Time
A big plus for travelling in Mexico is that you can stay as a tourist for up to 180 days, most non-European countries will tend to allow visa free stays for tourism for only up to 30 days like Thailand. However, when you arrive, make sure that you are specific about how long you will stay when speaking with the immigration officers. You may be asked by them to show a flight ticket out of Mexico and they will write on a piece of paper the number of days which you are entitled to stay.
8. Swimming in Cenotes
Something which I can’t ever forget is swimming in cenotes with two friends during my stay in Tulum. Cenotes are only within this coastal area of Mexico and they are natural holes of water. Swimming in them against the hot climate is a refreshing experience, what’s interesting is that some of them are 100 meters deep and have fish swimming amongst your legs. One of the most memorable of them was one which was completely underground and I built up the courage to jump seven meters into it.
9. Charming Cities and Towns
Mexico City is a sprawling metropolis being the biggest city in North America with snazzy neighbourhoods like Polanco and less flattering places like Xochimilco. There are countless places which feel like something out of a film, when I first arrived at Puebla which was the first place I visited outside of Mexico I was blown away by how colourful it was.
10. People are Down to Earth and Genuine
I first became friends with a Mexican during my trip to Budapest two years back, we stayed in touch and we even caught up when he came to Mexico City one weekend. He even offered to show me around his home state, but due to the fact I had to leave earlier than I wanted to, it couldn’t happen.
During my time in classes, everyone wanted to make themselves friends with me and the other exchange student from South Korea. We were taken for some pizza with two of the regular students from that class and we were greeted with unforgettable warmth every time we entered that class.
If you are a tourist, you will definitely be made to feel welcome, I had a few people help me out during times I needed it. Although there will be a lot of people trying to sell stuff to make a living, there aren’t a lot of people trying to scam tourists, something that can’t be said for places like Rome.
11. You can Experience Adventure
I have to say that it’s never a dull moment in Mexico and there’s all sorts of adventurous things you can do in the country. I will always remember ziplining into the sunset during my time in Tulum and riding ATVs around with my friends outside of Teotihuacan. I really wish I had more time to find some great surf spots on the Pacific coast and one day I hope to do more adventurous things like climbing volcanoes and exploring deserts.
12. The Nature is Diverse and Phenomenal
Although I didn’t get to see many natural sites, Mexico is so much more than those ugly desert landscapes which is the way that Mexico is always depicted in Hollywood films. I was surprised when I visited a park called Los Dinamos in Mexico City which had pine trees. The southern parts of Mexico feel humid and surrounded by jungle.
One of the most rural places I had been in was in Michoacán which is a place where seeing people in cowboy gear is a common sight. This place made me feel like I was back home in Scotland as there were pine trees as far as the eye could see.
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