Cancun Travel Guide

I have to be honest in saying that Cancun isn’t exactly my favourite destination in Mexico.  For me, it’s a little bit too busy and hope to far too many of the type of tourist that drives me crazy.  However, there is obviously a very good reason as to why so many people flock to Cancun.  The region is absolutely stunning.  White sand beaches, nearby ancient ruins, and great food and entertainment within the city itself.  Although you wont catch me spending too much time at one of the big Cancun resorts, I am a big proponent of the idea that a destination is what you make of it.  And at the end of the day, Cancun is a pretty spectacular place.

Things to Do

Obviously, a place like Cancun has plenty to do.  However, taking part in all the adventure on a constrained backpackers budget isn’t completely possible.  However, there are still heaps of activities to take part in for cheap or free. 

  • Beach: It probably goes without saying that the beach is a great way to spend a day without spending too much money.  Although you’ll likely have to rent an umbrella to lay under, the costs won’t break the bank and you’ll have a beautiful setting to enjoy as well.
  • Ruins: Both Coba and the more popular Tulum are within striking distance.  You don’t need to go on an expensive tour to visit them either.  There is plenty of public transport that rips around the main streets connection you to these destinations. Tulum especially is worth a visit as the setting is spectacular.
  • Aquarium: There is an aquarium in Cancun called “The Interactive Aquarium” that is actually really good.  Almost everything in the aquarium is hands on, and the entry fee isn’t too extreme either.
  • Cenotes: If you can go for a snorkel or dive in one of the nearby cenotes, do it.  These bits of water are some of the best places in the world for a nice swim!
  • Underwater Museum: It’s a bit strange, but near to Cancun there is actually an underwater museum.  Although it seems a bit tacky at first, it is quite interesting.  Of course, you’ll have to submerge yourself with a snorkel to see it properly.

Where to Eat for Cheap

Cancun has some of the finest dining on the planet, and much of it is expensive and not exactly authentic.  That being said, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to dive into the local flavour, and at a great value, in Cancun.  As I always say, for great food at a reasonable price, eat where the locals are eating.
  • Taco Stands: You can usually feed yourself at these places for about $7.  Portions are likely bigger than you expect, so my advice is to order a little bit and if you’re still hungry then order more later.
  • Mercado 28: If you want an exciting eating environment head to Cancun’s largest market and find the food section.  You wont find Mexican food much more authentic than here… and at a great price.
  • Stay at Hostel Quetzal: They have free breakfast AND dinner.

Where to Stay in Cancun

The truth is that Cancun actually has some of the best hostels on the planet.  If you’re on a budget, you wont find too much trouble finding a place to stay within your budget.  On my 3 visits to Cancun I’ve stayed at two different hostels.
  • Hostel Mundo Joven: This is the tops for me.  It has an amazing atmosphere, has a hot tub and free wi-fi and breakfast.  They also organize some great nightlife excursions at a really good value.  I paid $12 for a dorm room there.  I believe it was about $40 for a private double room.
  • Hostel Quetzal: The only reason I went to Hostel Mundo Joven was because Quetzal was closed.  This hostel is great, and although it doesn’t have the atmosphere that Mundo Joven has, nor the hot tub, it does offer free breakfast AND dinner for dorm rooms at just $17.

Getting Out of Cancun

Cancun is well connected both in the air and on the ground. There is a central bus terminal that connects everything from Mexico City to Belize City, Belize via Playa del Carmen.

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