Do you want to get some travel tips for Cancun?
Perfect! We just went and we learned so much! I want to share all the things that I think will be helpful for you as you visit one of the best beaches in the World!
Cancun is a great vacation spot. You are going to have so much fun! I want to help you know what to expect before you get there.
Let’s explore some Cancun vacation tips that will get you prepared for your trip.
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Arriving In Cancun
One of the best travel tips for Cancun happens right when you exit the plane. You will head to customs and go through the check point. They will check your passport and ask you a few questions.
You will also fill out a customs and immigration form. There is a top and bottom section. They will keep the top section and hand you the bottom section. This form is called the FMM tourist card and states how long you are allowed in the country.
Please note that there is an online option that allows you to fill out the form beforehand. You can enter in all your information and have it in the system ready to go.
You still need the physical form but it will save you time because customs will already have your information. We did not fill out the online form and did not have to wait very long to enter the country.
If you have done the online version, please let us know your experience by leaving a comment!
Do not lose this bottom form. You need it to board the plane for your return trip home. If you lose it, it will cost $40 to replace plus a lot of stress.
Renting a Car in Cancun
We rented a car in Cancun and it was something I will never do again. I have rented cars all over the world and I am here to tell you that it was not worth it for me.
There are shuttles everywhere in Cancun. If you want to do excursions they provide transportation. The main reason we wanted to rent a car was because we wanted to go to Chichen Itza and the city of Izamal.
- The cars they distribute in Mexico have high mileage, bad air conditioning, and barely work.
- Even if you buy insurance before your trip they make you pay additional insurance to rent the car. It is expensive, double the price you rent the actual car for.
- Well known American companies do the same thing.
I encourage you to read my “should I rent a car in Mexico” post, so that you can learn from our experience.
Is it Safe to Travel in Cancun?
We felt very safe in Cancun. One thing that makes the hotel zone safe is that there is only one road that has access to the resorts from the north and south.
If you stay in the resort areas you should be just fine. Cancun does have crime but it is mostly on the edge of the city.
Here are some important travel tips for Cancun to consider:
Avoid isolated roads and use toll roads when possible. Just a heads up the toll roads are very expensive.
We drove from Cancun to Chichen Itza and it cost about $30 each way. Credit Cards or US dollars are not accepted at the toll booths, only pesos. You should also have pesos handy for gas as your credit card could get skimmed (ours did). Watch the pump to make sure it starts at zero and that you are getting the amount requested. This is probably on the most important Cancun travel tip that we can give you!
Leaving the the Hotel Zone
Areas to avoid in Cancun normally include those outside of well occupied tourist zones.
Stay in well lit tourist areas at night. Tourists tend to stay out late and the restaurants are open for service. Try to stay in groups and use common sense.
If you want to use the ATM, do so in your hotel. There are service charges but it is safer than using them elsewhere.
Don’t wear fancy jewelry out. It is better to blend in than stand out!
Let the hotel order you a taxi or call one yourself from a reputable taxi service. The concierges are a great resource. There are taxis in Cancun that are not legit.
Do not give your passport or money to a police officer. Police officers do not have a great reputation in Mexico. They have been known to extort money from tourists.
If you do encounter a police office, ask for the officers name, badge and patrol car number, as well as a copy of the written fine which is payable at a later date.
With that said, we had no bad experiences with police officers, and the ones we saw out in Cancun were courteous.
Use Common Sense
I felt safe in Cancun but you should always use common sense. I wouldn’t worry too much. Just be on alert.
Do I Need To Speak Spanish
Do you need to speak Spanish to get around in Cancun? I would say no. Almost everyone in the tourism industry can speak at least some English. At the hotels you can easily find someone that speaks both English and Spanish.
If you get out and about on your own, Spanish is helpful (gas stations, towns, etc.).
I was so glad that my husband speaks Spanish. It made it so much easier to communicate and get around.
Do I Need to Exchange Dollars Before my Trip?
It is not necessary to exchange money at the airport before you leave.
The exchange rate at most hotels is really good. (I compared it with the Google currency exchange rate online)
I would bring a lot of dollar bills for tips and $100-$200 dollars to exchange while onsite.
Should I Tip?
Yes, tips are greatly appreciated in Mexico. A few dollars go a long way.
Who to Tip
- Shuttle Drivers
- Bag Carriers
How Much Should I Tip?
I thought the people who you typically tip are the same in both the US and Mexico. However, I normally tip more in the US but I read what was standard in Mexico which was about $1-2 for the services provided. That equated to about 10-20 pesos when I was there.
I have read that workers prefer tips in pesos so that they don’t have to exchange dollars, but when we asked while we were down there, those whom we asked told us it was appreciated either way.
When you use the spa services at any resort tipping is about the same amount as you would in the USA. So 10%-20% of your bill.
All Inclusive Resorts
When we checked into our all-inclusive resort they told us that tipping was not necessary and was included in the price that we paid to stay there. This was hard for me to digest and I honestly felt bad about it. We went ahead and tipped bag carriers and maids. It felt really awkward not tipping at dinner and lunch for the services but at this particular resort we stayed at, it was not expected.
With that said, one day we saw some dollars left at the crepe station that someone apparently left, and we have read that some people like to tip waiters for exceptional service.
We stayed at two resorts on our last trip and at the hotel we tipped like we normally would. (When you ask for the check at the onsite restaurant, there is a line for a tip.)
More Thoughts on Money
Maybe it is just Cancun but I did not feel like the dollar was getting me more than a Mexican Peco would. Maybe the prices are just really high in the Cancun area.
When I went to Canada I shopped at Costco and bought a pair of pants for $13 Canadian dollars. On my credit card statement it was like $10 US Dollars I felt like I was getting a great deal.
This is not how I felt in Mexico. I wanted to buy a shirt that cost $500 pesos which was like $20. I can buy a shirt in the US for $20? It didn’t feel like I saved any money at all.
Everything in Cancun is priced at $200 or $500 pesos not 2 Pesos or 5 Pesos. It was just really weird to me. It might be where I shopped.
Be Careful with your Credit Card
I have traveled all over the world and I haven’t felt nervous to use a credit card. However, in Mexico I was nervous to hand it over.
The gas attendant charged us $457 US Dollars to our card, and on top of that charged us $30 US Dollars for half a tank of gas. Luckily, our Credit Card company caught the $457 charge immediately.
Be aware!!!! The minute you arrive you will find people offering to have breakfast with you and they will offer you all sorts of things like free tickets, free night stays, and whatever they think will get you to hear their presentation. They will look legit. As you get out of baggage, there will be individuals looking official in polos. Keep walking outside. Enjoy your time in Mexico. A one hour breakfast will easily turn into four as they continually try to sell you on some package. If you go to breakfast, you will likely be exposed to high pressure sales tactics.
Do your homework before you attend these presentations. Most timeshares have a 1 out 5 on the Better Business Bureau. They will start by offering the world and if you turn them down they keep offering until something sounds good to you. Honestly, it sounds great but if it is too good to be true, it probably is.
This happened to us at both the car rental location and at our all-inclusive resort. I wish I would have been better prepared to know how to handle these situations. It is good to know exactly what a time share is before meeting the sales people. I will be honest these people are really good at their jobs. Just say NO! (unless you want to purchase one)
Should I Stay at an All-Inclusive Resort
The JW Marriott did include breakfast as an incentive at the time we went and offered a lot of fun activities that were included in the resort fee. I really liked it. It felt like I could relax but also not feel bad if I wanted to go out on the town and to eat and explore.
I highly recommend booking the JW Check Current Prices
Secrets Maroma Beach
Secrets Maroma beach is very nice. There are fancy dinners every night. You can choose from 5 different restaurants. There are shows and plenty of activities located right on property.
I just don’t think I am an “all-inclusive type of person.” We do not drink alcohol and I really don’t like eating heavy meals day after day.
All-Inclusive VS. Standard Hotel
So which one is better? It really depends on what you like. We met some people that had a drink in their hand and hung out at the pool the entire vacation. If that is your style then an all- inclusive is probably a great choice.
If you like to explore and leave the hotel then I recommend a traditional hotel.
Both are great options in Cancun.
Covid Testing in Mexico
A negative Covid test was required for us to return to the United States. This made me a little nervous. I was worried how I was going to find a testing facility in Mexico.
What I found was that it is super easy. Many, if not all resorts in Cancun have a testing site on the hotel property. 3 days before your departure you schedule a time and get the test. It was painless and super convenient.
Plus, most resorts will provide accommodations for your quarantine if you do test positive. Hopefully, this restriction will go away soon once vaccines have been administered.
Top Items to Pack for Cancun
Travel Tips for Cancun
Hopefully, these travel tips for Cancun will help you be prepared and ready for your trip. It is always interesting going to a new country and learning the customs. I love learning and sharing everything I learn with you.
Do you have any more questions about Cancun? Join my Travel Community on Facebook. This is a great group that can help answer any travel question you might have. I also try to add any deals that companies send me as well.