Travel Guide

Visiting Cancun

Planning a trip to mexico? This Cancun travel guide is your one-stop-shop for everything you need to know before visiting! With endless white-sand beaches, a turquoise sea, ancient ruins, a buzzing nightlife, and more, Cancun truly offers something for everyone! In fact, since its development started in the 1970s, Cancun has become the biggest resort area in the country, with more than six million visitors annually. To make things even better, this dynamic region is one of the easiest places to get to from America and a very affordable destination. In this Cancun travel guide we have included our top recommendations for restaurants, nightlife, accommodations, things to do and more!

Quick Tips


The Mexican Peso (MXN) is the official currency of Mexcio. 1 USD = 20 MXN (approx)


The best time to visit Cancun is during the high season, December – April.


The time zone is Eastern Standard time.

Getting There

Cancun International Airport has flights connecting from all over the world, making it rather easy and affordable to get to. Once there, you can take a taxi or shuttle to the hotel zone of Cancun, which takes about 25 minutes. However, we HIGHLY recommend setting up your transfer in advance, as the airport transportation scene can be extremely overwhelming! This can be booked through your hotel, through your vacation package, or through an independent company. One company we recommend checking out is Van Travel by Cancun Transfers. 

What To Expect



Cancun has a rainy season from August through November, which is considered the low season and as a result, the cheapest time to visit. During this time you can expect temperatures  between 75-90°F (24-32°C), along with heavy rainfall daily (but the downpours are usually short). The high season, on the other hand, is December – April. During this time there is a much lower risk of rain and average daily temperatures around 82°F (28°C). Prices will also be higher during this time, especially in the hotel zone.


Cancun is a relatively safe place, with minimal serious crimes against tourists. But like many tourism hot spots, the most common crimes here are pickpocketing and bag snatching. As always, be vigilant with your valuables, especially in crowded areas like beaches and nightclubs. Additionally, always be aware of your surroundings and never leave your drinks unattended.


The official language of Mexico is Spanish. Being an American tourist hot spot, you can definitely get away with speaking English. However, we always recommend knowing the basics of the local language, even for safety purposes.


Yes!! Cancun is located in the tropics and has a high UV index at all times of the year. In fact, from March through September the UV Index is usually 11 (on a scale of 0-11). Therefore, packing sun protection with a high SPF, along with hats and sunglasses, is absolutely essential. Additionally, the only type of sunscreen that you can use in Cancun is biodegradable sunscreen, free from oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate. This rule is in place to help protect the coral reefs.


 Cancun is pretty easy to get around, as most of the tourist infrastructure is concentrated in the hotel zone. Depending on what hotel you stay in, you may even be within walking distance to the shops, restaurants, and nightlife scene. However, if you stay a bit farther down the sandbar you can get around by the bus, taxi, or rental car.

Personally, we think the easiest and most affordable route of transportation is the bus system! The local buses run all along the hotel zone, 24 hours a day, with tickets costing around 8.50 MXN per ticket (~ $0.41 USD). The buses are very safe and accessible at street side bus stops all along the main road. Taxis are also scattered around, but be prepared to pay a hefty price if catching a cab in the hotel zone. In regards to renting a car, this is a great option if you plan to spend a lot of your trip exploring areas around Cancun. Rental cars tend to be affordable, but be aware that your credit card insurance is not valid when you rent a car in Mexico.


Beach wear, coverups, and flip flops will be your staples on this vacation! Don’t forget your sun protection, as well as a few dressier clothing options if you choose to participate in the lively nightlife scene.


The rules are similar to those in the United States so be sure to leave a 15%-20% tip for servers, bartenders, and tour guides. It is also expected to tip bellhops for helping you with your luggage (about $1 USD per bag), and housekeepers (~ $1 – $2 USD per day). Taxi drivers do not expect to be tipped in Mexico. Be sure to tip in the local currency whenever possible.


Due to the huge influx of American visitors, a lot of places in Cancun and its surrounding areas accept USD, however we recommend paying in pesos to avoid getting scammed. When deciding where to exchange your currency, we recommend doing so at a bank or exchange bureau rather than at the airport or hotel.

Neighborhood Guide

Cancun is divided into two distinct areas: Downtown Cancun and Cancun Island. Downtown is a more of a typical Mexican town on the mainland, where the majority of Cancun residents live. Cancun Island, known as the hotel zone, is the more touristy area and likely where you will want to stay. The area is located on a 15-mile-long sandbar off the mainland, and connected by causeways on either end. You can expect miles of beaches, and heavy concentrations of tourist infrastructure such as restaurants, upscale shopping, and nightlife.


Cancun boasts over 32,000 hotel rooms, offering everything from a romantic couples getaway to all-inclusive family resorts, and from high end luxury to budget hostels. Picking where to stay in Cancun ultimately comes down to what you want to prioritize for your trip. Downtown Cancun is a great bet if you want to focus on the ruins and the cultural activities. However, if your ideal Mexico vacation is about enjoying the beaches and nightlife, then the hotel zone is the place for you! Our favorite area of the hotel zone to stay in is the north end, Punta Cancun. This area offers spectacular waters and views, and is closest to the nightlife scene. Another great option to check out, if you are after more culture and charm, is Puerto Morelos.

Selina Downtown

Selina, one of our all time favorite hostel brands, is a haven for nomads, travelers, and explorers redefining what it means to travel, work, and explore. Between its affordable rooms, beautiful pool, restaurant, and bar, it is the perfect place to connect with like minded travelers.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Located on the widest stretch of beach in the heart of Cancun’s Hotel Zone, Hyatt Zilara Cancun is an adults-only, all-suite, all inclusive resort where guests experience traditional Mexican warmth in an intimate yet casual setting.

NIZUC Resort & Spa

For years, Nizuc Resort & Spa has been awarded one of the best Cancun resorts in the world! Offering subdued extravagance and an unsurpassed level of service, this luxurious resort is the ultimate place to take in the sun, sand, sea, and tranquility of one of the world’s most coveted destinations.

Hard Rock Cancun

Located in the heart of Cancun’s hotel zone, Hard Rock Hotel Cancun boasts unmatched, all-inclusive luxury accommodations including in-room hydro spa tub, fine dining at, top-shelf drinks, 24-hour room service, live entertainment and more. This is the place to stay if you are here to party!

Oh! Cancun – The Urban Oasis

This elegant hotel has an outdoor pool and sun terrace. With WiFi throughout the property and an on-site restaurant, they have everything you need for your stay in Cancun! Rooms have a view of the pool or the city, and transport is available near the property.

Things To Do



These ancient ruins date back to the 7th century and are one of the most visited archeological sites in Mexico today. Its popularity grew further after being named one of the New Seven Wonders of the Word in 2007, and now welcomes over 2,500,000 visitors each year. The UNESCO World Heritage site occupies 4 square miles and is a must-not-miss on your trip to Cancun!


The Yucatan cenotes are a type of cave or sinkhole, filled with gorgeous emerald blue water. They are unique to this area and were believed to be sacred by the Mayans many years ago. Today, you can visit thousands of cenotes around the area, each one completely different from the next. Be prepared to swim, snorkel, dive, and soak in breathtaking nature! 


Prepare yourself to be mind blown after your first bite into an $0.80 USD street taco! Trust us, street tacos are one of the best, most authentic, and most affordable things about traveling in Mexico! So much so that we recommend partaking in a full-blown street food tour! Check out Cancun Food Tours, as well as Airbnb Experiences for a few options.


Take a quick day trip over to this peaceful paradise, just off the coast of Cancun. The small, friendly island has absolutely gorgeous beaches, lots of shopping, and a completely different vibe than Cancun. The best part is renting scooters or golf carts and exploring the island!


Cancun lies along the Great Mesoamerican Reef, the largest reef in the western hemisphere. The area has over 100 types of coral and more than 160 types of reef-inhabiting fish, meaning the snorkeling and diving is out of this world! Head to the beach town of Akumal to snorkel with sea turtles, or book a diving tour at MUSA, an underwater sculpture park! As avid scuba divers, trust us when we say that Cancun has some of the best diving in the world! 


Unlike many places in the Caribbean, Cancun has some of the best deep sea fishing! In fact, this year-round fishing destination is actually considered one of the top 10 sail fishing destinations in the world! Book your reservations in advance and get ready for an exhilarating and gorgeous day on the water.


Put on your heels and get ready to party like never before at one of Cancun’s top nightclubs! This famous nightlife scene is frequented by many of the world’s biggest DJs and performers, drawing massive crowds into the area known as the ‘Party Zone’. We have included some of our favorite nightlife spots in our Cancun travel guide below!


Once a vital Mayan port city, Tulum is located 85 mi from Cancun and is a must-not-miss! Known for its Mayan ruins, beautiful beaches, surfing, markets, culture and cheap eats, it is truly a one-of-a-kind place. Head over to our full Tulum travel guide for more information!


 This stunning coastal resort town lies 45 minutes down the coast from Cancun and is one of the Riviera Maya’s trendiest spots! Hop on a bus or grab a taxi and get ready for a day full of shopping and exploring. For more information head over to our blog on all things Playa del Carmen!


The restaurant scene in Cancun is second to none. But be aware that the spots in the hotel zone cater mainly to tourists and are quite expensive. You can expect to pay 500 MXN or more for a meal in these restaurants. Closer to downtown, you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants, with more affordable dishes between 100-300 MXN. We have included a few of our favorite restaurant recommendations in our Cancun travel guide below:

Taboo Cancun

Our favorite entertaining dinner experience in Cancun! You can expect delicious Mediterranean cuisine, a party atmosphere, and an all around over the top experience!

Rosa Negra Cancun

A stylish waterfront venue serving refined Latin American dishes and cocktails. Similar to Taboo, this spot is complete with music and a buzzing party scene! 


This upscale, hotel zone restaurant transforms classic Mexican flavors into modern, haute cuisine.

Casita’s Cancun

Located at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the hotel zone, this delicious spot offers both terrace dining and private cabana dining! 

Captain’s Cove

This steak and seafood staple is another one of our favorites! Located in the hotel zone, this waterfront restaurant is as much about the ambiance as it is the food.


A must-not-miss for our lobster lovers out there! This fine-dining, hotel zone spot has an exclusive lobster farm run by biologists, aka the freshest seafood you can get!

The Party Scene

 After spending all day on the beach, it’s time to head out and enjoy one of the best nightlife scenes in all of Latin America! Cancun offers outstanding, and often outrageous nightlife, located right in the hotel zone. The nightclubs, which we will list in our Cancun travel guide below, are some of the best places to meet new friends and dance your butt off well into the morning. To get into the clubs we highly recommend buying open-bar wristbands in advance, many of which can be purchased directly at your hotel. Be sure to bargain when buying wristbands, as you can usually get a pretty good deal. Another great option is reserving VIP tables and purchasing bottles of liquor, but this is substantially more expensive. Here is a list of our top Cancun nightlife recommendations:

Coco Bongo

Easily Cancun’s most famous club and an absolute must-not-miss! Imagine a massive club, a pumping soundtrack, and a live, Vegas-like show like no other. On any given night, Beetlejuice makes an appearance, Spiderman flies through the air, acrobats perform high above the crowd, and more! The club is buzzing every night of the week and doors open at 10:30pm. 


The City

This massive, 8000 square foot club is the largest club in Cancun, hosting over 5,000 people on any given night! With an incredible sound and lighting system, as well as three full stories, this is the place to be for a wild night out! The City plays all genres of music and is well-known for its performance calendar, featuring top international names and celebrity DJs weekly! 

Mandala Cancun

Another one of Cancun’s hippest and hottest nightclubs, located right in the Party Zone near Coco Bongo. You can expect Indian-inspired décor with rich, vibrant colors & lush fabrics, bumping club music, bright lights, and to top it off, the front of the club is entirely open to the street!

Mandala Beach Club

 Located adjacent to Mandala Cancun is the entrance to the beach party aspect of Mandala! This outdoor house music club is located right on the beach and is complete with a pool, live DJs, bikini contests and more! In addition to being a nightclub, Mandala Beach Club is also our favorite day party in Cancun!

La Vaquita

One of Cancun’s newest nightclubs that sits smack in the middle of Cancun’s Party Center! This club, which translates to Little Cow in English, is decorated in red, black, and cow print, and complete with gorgeous go-go dancers. The spot is a bit more casual and tends to be one of our favorite places to grab a few drinks before hitting one of the bigger clubs!

Monkey Business

Another perfect spot for pre-drinks or a more casual night out in Cancun’s Party Zone. You can expect a massive food menu and a full bar, as well as a different rock band and karaoke every night!  To Top it off, there’s no cover charge and they open early, around 3pm.

Additional Recommendations

Cancun is so accessible, affordable, and diverse that we visit almost every single year! In fact, last February we booked a 5 day Cancun vacation package through Expedia for a whopping $700 each, including round trip flights, all-inclusive hotel, and round trip transportation from the Cancun airport! In addition, it’s a very safe and convenient destination with endless things to do. We hope our Cancan travel guide has inspired you to start planning your next trip! Be sure to check out our other Mexico travel guides, such as this Tulum travel guide!   

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