Mexico Travel Information
When to Go
Mexico's climate varies according to its topography. It's hot and humid along the coastal plains on both sides of the country, but inland, at higher elevations such as Guadalajara or Mexico City, the climate is much drier and more temperate. The hot, wet season is May to October, with the hottest and wettest months falling between June and September over most of the country. The low-lying coastal areas receive more rainfall than elevated inland regions. December to February are generally the coolest months, when north winds can make inland northern Mexico decidedly chilly, with temperatures sometimes approaching freezing.
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Around 30 Mexican cities receive direct flights from North America and Canada, and there are relatively cheap connections to the Caribbean and the rest of Latin America. From Europe you can fly to Mexico City and Cancún. Aeroméxico is the largest Mexican airline.
Travelers can cross into Mexico by road from the US at one of the 40 official crossing points. Most cross-border bus services travel from Texas. There are about 10 border crossings between Mexico and Guatemala, and fairly frequent bus services between border points and Guatemalan towns. Frequent buses also run between Belize City and Chetumal.
You may travel between the Mayan ruins at Palenque and Tikal (Guatemala) via riverboat and back-country bus. The busiest and easiest route is via a short boat ride on the Río Usumacinta between Frontera Corozal (Chiapas) and Bethel (Guatemala). Other routes link Benemérito de las Américas (Chiapas) and Sayaxché (Guatemala), and La Palma (Tabasco) and El Naranjo (Guatemala). Check the security situation in Chiapas with your embassy before attempting these crossings.
Depending on the fare you get, flying can be good value on longer journeys in Mexico, especially considering the long bus trip that is probably the alternative. The majority of domestic air connections go through Mexico City.
Buses are the most common mode of public transport and bus routes are extensive. Long-distance buses are fairly comfortable, air-conditioned and acceptably fast. Local rural buses tend to be ancient, decaying, suspensionless models grinding out their dying years on dirt tracks. Combis, colectivos and peseros are minibuses used for local transport. Note that highway robbery is a real risk in Mexico, especially at night on isolated stretches of highway.
If driving in Mexico, you should know some Spanish, have basic mechanical aptitude, large reserves of patience and access to cash for emergencies.
Vehicle and passenger ferries connect Baja California with the Mexican mainland; ferries also run between the mainland and the Caribbean islands of Isla Mujeres and Isla Cozumel.
Passenger train services are rare. The exceptions are special tourist-oriented lines such as the Copper Canyon line from Chihuahua to Los Mochis and the Tequila Express from Guadalajara to Tequila
Citizens of many countries - including the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Chile and virtually all western European countries - do not require visas to enter Mexico as tourists. This list occasionally changes, so it's always wise to check current regulations with your nearest Mexican embassy or consulate.
Health and Safety
Some Mexican cities, especially in the north and particularly border towns such as Ciudad Juárez and Tijuana, suffer frightening levels of drug-related violence. But tourists have not been targets of the drug gangs and the violence usually (if not always) takes place away from city centers and areas frequented by foreigners. For the latest information, consult your government travel advisory service.
Bandits occasionally hold up buses and cars on intercity routes, especially at night. Deluxe and first-class buses use toll highways, which are less prone to hold-ups. Mexico City taxis are notorious for (sometimes violent) robberies. Don't take a cruising cab; phone a radio taxi service instead.
Pick-pocketing and bag-snatching are risks in large cities and crowded areas frequented by large numbers of tourists - wear valuables underneath your clothing.
Mugging is less common than bag-snatching but resistance may be met with violence, so give them what they want.
Leave valuables in a sealed, signed envelope in your hotel's safe. Stash money about your body and only carry a small amount of ready money in a pocket.
Use ATMs only in secure locations and try to use them during working hours.
Don't accept food or drinks from strangers, as there have been cases of drugging followed by robbery and assault.
Be wary of attempts at credit card fraud. One method is when the cashier swipes your card twice (once for the transaction and once for fraudulent purposes). Keep your card in sight at all times.
In beach resorts be aware of ocean riptides and undertows. As in any country, lone women should exercise caution in desolate places, including beaches.