10 TIPS FOR VISITING CANCUN ON A BUDGET
By now you probably know that i’ve spent a fair amount of time in Mexico and a lot of that has been in Cancun visiting friends and enjoying everything the beautiful place has to offer. I’ve done Cancun both ways, very extravagantly splurging on everything and more recently visiting on a budget and opting to stay downtown in an air B&B instead of the expensive all inclusive hotels in the hotel zone! Here’s my advice and top tips on the best ways to visit Cancun on a budget…
1. Choose the best time of year to go
This is quite an obvious one but as you can imagine flight and hotel prices rocket during high season in Cancun, meaning if you want to get the best deal then you need to try visit either May/June time or September-November. There are far fewer tourists during this time so you can get much better deals on a lot of things!
2. Travel where you can using the bus
When you arrive at the airport you can use the ADO bus to get to the hotel zone and downtown Cancun, it costs less than £4.00 (around 100 pesos) and takes around 30-45 minutes depending on where you’re going. The buses leave the airport from outside each of the terminals and you can catch it from downtown Cancun at the ADO bus station if you’re going back to the airport.
Once you’re in Cancun you can use the R1 or R2 bus to get around most of the places you’ll need to, you can hop on and off these buses for a really cheap price (it’s literally 12 pesos, aka less than 50p and doesn’t matter whether you’re on the bus for 30 seconds or 30 minutes, the price remains the same regardless of where you’re going) We always find it handy to open up our maps app on our phones when we’re on the bus to make sure it’s going the right way and hop off when we need to change buses or walk from there! Just be sure you get on any bus with a ‘Hoteles’ or ‘Zona Hotelera’ sign on the front.
3. If you prefer to use a taxi then use the Easy Cabify App
One thing you need to know about the taxis in Cancun is that they don’t run on metres, so you need to agree on a price before you get in and if you don’t know the area well or know where you’re going then sadly the taxi drivers can easily rip you off, especially if they hear you’re a tourist! That’s why we much prefer to use the Easy Cabify app while we are there, it’s very much like Uber but for Cancun, you simply type in the address of where you want to go, it uses your current location to know where to pick you up from and gives you a price right there in the app. You still need to pay the driver in cash (and we normally add on a small tip too) but at least you know you’re getting a fair price!
4. Avoid staying/eating in the hotel zone
Cancun is basically split in to two sections: The hotel zone where you’ll find most of the hotels, clubs and more expensive restaurants. They’re all surrounded by water, one side with beautiful beaches and the other with the lagoon. Then there’s downtown where there are far more affordable and (in my opinion) better quality food, cheaper souvenir markets like Mercado 28, food supermarkets and plenty of street food too!
5. Eat where the locals do
I’m going to do a whole post soon on our favourite places to eat in Cancun in much more detail but for now a few of our fave spots are:
-Cheester: this is mostly a pasta/pizza place in downtown but their portions are HUGE, I’m talking like 3-4 portions per order of pasta so we found it perfect for eating in once then eating the leftovers for lunch/dinner for the next couple of days.
– Sirena Morena: A vegan food place downtown with so many delicious affordable options, their juices and shakes are delicious too!
-The Bowl Bar: A trendy place perfect for brunch. If you love budha bowls filled with tons of fruit, nuts and goodness then this is place for you!
You’ll also want to indulge in the street food downtown, my favourite is esquites which is like a cup full of fried sweetcorn with lime juice, chilli etc, absolutely delicious! We would love to stop and buy fresh chopped up fruit some days too with granola, the perfect brunch! There’s lots of options and you’ll find tons of street food at Mercado 28 too! Another thing we would do some days would be to just head over to Plaza Las Americas shopping mall since it was so close to where we were staying and grab a Subway or something similar in the food court there!
6. Or shop at the local supermarkets and cook in
Again we headed to Plaza Las Americas to do our food shopping since it was so close to us and they had a supermarket within the mall called Chedraui but there are plenty of other supermarkets around downtown Cancun! We found everything we needed in Chedraui from the huge bottles of water (since you shouldn’t drink from the taps) to freshly baked bread, tins of food, fresh fruit, veg, etc for us to be able to cook back at the apartment! (Side note: Have you ever seen avocados SO BIG?!
7. Spend your days at the public beaches
Most of the beautiful coastline in Cancun is taken up by hotels who own those sections of the beaches in front of their hotels, meaning you can only use those sun loungers, etc if you’re staying at that specific hotel! Fret not though, If you still want to soak up the sun and still see the crystal blue ocean water that Cancun has to offer then there are public beaches you can go to! First there is Las Perlas Public Beach. this one is closer to downtown and much better for small children since the water is a lot calmer there. The other option is Playa Delfines. The R1 bus can get you to this one. It has sun shades, lifeguards, toilets and showers. The sea is a lot stronger here though, so the waves are pretty crazy but never the less it’s absolutely beautiful!
8. Don’t be afraid to negotiate
Something I’m completely rubbish at if I’m being honest! I really hate bartering and negotiating but it is a great way to keep the cost down or you feel the price is unfairly expensive. Having said that though, don’t barter too much with the people selling souvenirs, etc on the street, that extra £2 might not seem like much to us but could be worth a lot more to them!
9. Pay in pesos not dollars
Currency accepted in Cancun is either US dollars or Mexican pesos however you’re going to want to pay in pesos as much as you possibly can! The exchange rates for dollars can be ridiculously high in shops and restaurants and you always get given change back in pesos which can be confusing to know if you’ve been given the right change or not! There are ATM machines all over the place in Cancun that will you take money our in dollars or pesos so trust me when I say opt for the pesos!
10. Try to speak a little Spanish
As I touched upon before , trying to speak a little Spanish can really help with the locals! Don’t get me wrong you will still definitely sound like a tourist (as I know I do ha!) if you’re not completely fluent in Spanish but a little bit of effort goes a long way and I find they tend to give you a fairer price on things if you’re trying hard!
Well that’s it for now, and remember going to Cancun on a budget is still going to Cancun! I actually think I got to experience so much more of the ‘real Cancun’ this way and loved the place even more because of it! So what are you waiting for? Start saving up and go go go! xx