Mexico, officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America. It is bordered to the north by the United States; to the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; to the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and to the east by the Gulf of Mexico.
Are you looking for endless kilometres of beaches, rich colonial cities and magnificent Mayan or Aztec archaeological site; or maybe gastronomical pleasures and a multitude of art and handicrafts? Then look no further because Mexico has something to please every taste and let you discover a few more.
There are six major touristic regions of Mexico for you to explore, each one offers unique travel experiences.
- North of Mexico has vibrant desert landscapes - Central Mexico contains a blend of colonial splendour - Golf and South of Mexico includes exotic vegetation and magic jungles - Yucatan Peninsula offers amazing archealogical sites - Pacific Coast has beautiful beaches - Baja Peninsula presents natural beauty wealth
Mexico City Currency : Mexican peso Driver's License : International license required. Must be 21 years old and have credit card Electricity : 110 volts, 60Hz Entry Requirements : A valis passport and an ongoing or return ticket are required. A tourist card is usually provided by the airline, or at customs. It is the traveller's responsibility to check with the country’s Embassy for up-to-date information. GMT Time : -6h and -7h,-8h to the northwest. Daylight savings time is applied Government : Federal democratic republic Land size : 1,972,550km2 Language : Spanish, basic English in resort areas National Airlines : Aeromexico, Mexicana Population : 111,211,789 approx Religion : Majority roman catholic Required Vaccines : none Tourist Season : Year round but October through May best
Real Mexican cuisine is not the standard fare we are accustomed too. In fact it is much more refined, diverse and bold in flavour. It is a multicultural mix of a pre-Columbian heritage with added Spanish, French and North American influences. Specialties vary greatly between regions as well.
Some staple ingredients are chocolate, chiles, beans, corn, squash, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocado, papaya, guava and vanilla.
A hearty breakfast is preferred followed by a light lunch in the early afternoon. Dinner is usually served around 9pm. Traditional dishes include delicious seafood platters and fish, tamales, pozole (a moniny and pork soup), mole sauce, homemade breads and rolls and wonderful desserts such as flan, pastel de queso (Mexican cheese cake) and helado (ice cream).
To complete your culinary voyage one must enjoy a glass of the national spirit: Tequila!
Culture The Mayans dominated the land for a long time and its influences are still present, as well as other groups such as the Toltecs. With the arrival of the Spanish, the colonial culture was blended in with the Native American traditions. Religion is very present in everyday life and Mexican art can be found in the multitude of churches.
Today's handicrafts are identical to those of the indigenous people but now include subtle European touches. Mexican furniture is quite distinctive in design. Other forms of art include music, painting, poets and writers, folk art and sculptures. Many Mexican artist are internationally renown such as the Tijuana Brass band, the scientist Octavio Paz, the actor Salma Hayek, Carlos Fuentes the writer and Frida Kahlo the painter.
Geography Mexico is bordered by Guatemala and Belize to the south and the United States to the north. The bodies of water surrounding Mexico are: the Sea of Cortes, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the country's landmass is the 'mesa central' or central plateau. Two main mountain chains are found: the Sierra Madre Oriental and the Sierra Madre Occidental. In the south one can find several volcanoes. Situated atop three of the large tectonic plates that constitute the earth's surface, Mexico is one of the most seismologically active regions on earth. The motion of these plates causes earthquakes and volcanic activity.
History Human presence in Mexico has been shown to date back 40,000 years based upon ancient human footprints discovered in the Valley of Mexico. Previously hunter-gatherers, ancient Mexicans domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution around 8,000 BC. Between 1800 and 300 BC, complex cultures began to form, such as the: Olmec, Izapa, Teotihuacan, Maya, Zapotec, Mixtec, Huastec, Tarascan, Toltec and Aztec.
Two of these cultures particularly stand out amongst common history facts. Around 300 B.C. the very well known Mayas populated the Yucatan peninsula and the Aztecs roamed central Mexico between the 14th and 16th centuries. It was during the strong Aztec rule that, in 1519, the Spanish discovered this land and soon invaded and conquered it.
This colonization gave birth to a Mestizo culture and to the colonial era mostly visible today in the splendid architecture. Three hundred years later the colony cried for independence in 1810. After years of battles over power struggles Mexico enjoyed a peaceful time from 1884 to 1910. But the 20th century brought a revolution. The second half of the century saw the beginning of modernization and industrialization of the country.
Nature One of the great pleasures of this country is the geographical diversity. You can find virgin forests in the mountains, canyons, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, sinkholes, volcanoes, deserts and 9,000km of coastline dotted at times with spectacular mangroves. The deserts include 6,000 species of desert plant and cacti. In contrast you will find lush tropical rainforests with broadleaf vegetation, thick grasses and palms. About 30,000 species of flowering plants exist including 1,000 species of orchids.
Over 1,500 species of mammals, reptiles and amphibians are found. Bird species number in the thousand. Endangered sea turtles, dolphins, whales and monkeys breed and nest in Mexico. Every year you can witness the Monarch butterfly migration, they come in the millions.
Sports Mexico counts many diving venues such as the Sea of Cortes and the Yucatan peninsula's east coast. There are over 50 public or resort golf courses, many of them in Los Cabos; in the vicinity of Manzanillo; in Cancun and the Mayan Riviera; and in and around Guadalajara and Acapulco. Tennis centers are popular as well. Water sports abound, especially in resorts. Even hunters and fishers will find something to their liking.
Mexican favourites include baseball, soccer, Jai Alai and bullfighting.
Banks & Money
Although american dollars are preferred it is recommended that you use pesos. There are bank branches all over the country and ATMs can be found in many places.
To exchange you money look also for the 'Casa de Cambio'. Hotels usually exchange money but you may get a better rate at the money exchange office. All major credit cards are accepted.
Climate Mexico has a varied climate depending on the regions. The rainy season runs from May through October with the west coast vulnerable to hurricanes in September and October. While the north western region of Mexico is arid, the climate of the south eastern coast is tropical due to surrounding warm waters. Higher elevations (the central plateau) enjoy spring like weather almost year round.
For average temperatures please refer to your destination of choice.
Communication The country code for Mexico is 52.
Since the privatization of the telephone industry in 1992, great strides have been made to modernize the systems but much is still left to be done.
Here is the rule of thumb: from the number you have only dial the last 7 digits. Let's say your number is 74-123456 then you should dial 412-3456. The exception is Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara where local number contain 8 digits. Most resorts provide internet access and many internet cafes can be found.
Health There are no required vaccines to enter Mexico however precautions do need to be enforced. The most common illness is the traveler's diarrhea (turista), usually showing up on the third day. Drink bottled water and wash your hands often. Make sure your food is thoroughly cooked and avoid open-air stands.
The following vaccines are recommended for any tropical destination: hepatitis A and B, rabies, typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever.
Official Holidays January 1 - New Year's Day February 5 - Constitution Day March 21 - Anniversary of Benito Juarez's birth March/April - Holy Thursday and Good Friday May 1 - Labor Day May 5 - Battle of Puebla September 16 - Dia de la Independencia November 20 - Dia de la Revolucion December 25 - Dia de Navidad
Safety Although one must be very careful in metropolitan areas such as Mexico City, the rest of the country is safer than one would expect. Nonetheless tourists are more likely targets in resort areas. Use common sense, take advantage of hotel safety deposit boxes and make sure to lock your hotel room and rental car.
Shopping Mexicans are wonderful artists and craftsmen. Market day is always a treat. Some of the best handicrafts can be found in the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas and in and around the cities of San Miguel de Allende, Taxco, Mexico City and Guadalajara. Best buys include ceramic, leather, textile, weaving and woodwork goods. Silver is worked extensively also. Other purchases include spices and of course Tequila.
Taxes & Tips A 10 to 15% tax (VAT), depending on the locality, is charged on all goods. The departure tax of around US$40, per person, is usually included on your plane ticket, please verify.
Tipping is customary for bellmen, doormen, porters, tour guides and washroom assistant. Tipping your maid daily or all in advance assures special attention. Also the 15% rule applies to restaurants.
Transportation Mexico counts several international airports, around 70 domestic airports and five ferry routes. You can explore the 48,000km of highways with a car rental or ride buses available to major destinations.
Most cities have excellent inner-city bus systems and taxi transportation. Mexico City also has an extensive subway system. Except for a few tourist oriented runs, train travel is not reliable.
Healing Through Travel
It's time for us all to come together ... and what better way than through travel? Despite nature's best efforts, the Caribbean is still proud and strong, and we have the destinations and offers to prove it. Plus, Flex Groups and a spotlight this month on groups in general make it easier to "Gather" in support of those islands, Florida, Mexico, and other beloved places.
You will visit the following 4 places:
Puerto Vallarta is a Mexican beach resort city situated on the Pacific Ocean's Bahía de Banderas. The 2010 census reported Puerto Vallarta's population as 255,725 making it the fifth largest city in the state of Jalisco, and the second largest urban agglomeration in the state after the Guadalajara Metropolitan Area. The City of Puerto Vallarta is the government seat of the Municipality of Puerto Vallarta which comprises the city as well as population centers outside of the city extending from Boca de Tomatlán to the Nayarit border (the Ameca River). Around the Bay, marvellous beaches, lush jungles and sparkling waterfalls offer many opportunities for the adventurous while five star resorts, world-class shopping and gourmet restaurants satisfy even the most sophisticated traveller. Stretching from the south end of Old Town to central downtown, a newly extended and refurbished boardwalk along the ocean, called the Malecon, passes by any number of shops, restaurants, and hotels, and often plays host to mimes, break-dancers, clowns and artists.
Acapulco de Juárez
Acapulco (officially known as Acapulco de Juárez) is a resort city in the state of Guerrero on the Pacific coast of Mexico. It is located on a deep, semi-circular bay and has been a port since the early colonial period of Mexico's history. It is a port of call for shipping and cruising lines running between Panama and San Francisco, California, United States. The city of Acapulco is the largest in the state, far larger than the state capital Chilpancingo. Acapulco is also Mexico's largest beach and balneario resorted city. The city is best known as one of Mexico's oldest and most well-known beach resorts, which came into prominence in the 1950s as a getaway for Hollywood stars and millionaires. Acapulco is still famous for its nightlife and still attracts many vacationers, although most are now from Mexico itself. The resort area is divided into two: The north end of the bay is the "traditional" area, where the famous in the mid-20th century vacationed; and the south end is dominated by newer luxury high-rise hotels.