Is it safe to travel alone as a woman?
Yes! I never once felt scared in Mexico. I was a bit apprehensive about Mexico City as I’d heard some bad things about it (especially picking up taxis off the street, where there is a risk of kidnapping and assault), but I made sure to research the safest areas to stay in and downloaded a crime map of the tourist centre-yes they do exist. I visited around ten different cities in Mexico besides MXC and I felt so safe in all of them and felt free to walk around in the evenings. I felt safer here than I did in New York and a lot of areas of London.
What’s the transport like?
Mexico is very well-connected and their infrastructure is brilliant, a lot better than anything I’ve seen in Italy or Spain. The buses are cheap and go everywhere in Mexico. International flights can be cheap, I flew from Cuba for £95 and I flew from MXC to Guatemala for £110.
What about the hostels?
Mexico’s hostel scene is one of the best I’ve ever seen (think we’ve got a bit of an overachiever here), all the hostels I stayed in were clean, well-located and cheap, with lots of great amenities, free breakfasts, great chill out areas, free drinkable water and a lot had computers. Some even had pools and free salsa lessons!
Is it cheap?
You bet your bottom dollar. Street food can be had for pennies, buy the tiny tacos (“taquitos“) or try anything else from a street food stall, the canteens and the outdoor markets. Hostels start from £8 per night. Flights leaving Mexico can be quite expensive though, this is because a tax is levied on all foreigners who leave Mexico and sometimes this is included in the ticket or you may have to pay this upfront. The closer you are staying to Cancun, the more expensive travelling gets, but the cheaper flying gets, since Cancun airport is a hub. Cancun is very touristy and expensive and Tulum is more beautiful and less touristy, with more to do, so feel free to skip Cancun and use it for cheap flights to and from London with Thomas Cook or TUI, starting from around £250 one way, this is slightly more expensive than a return and I booked it at very short notice (three weeks before). You can usually a return from London to Cancun for £300-400 if you book in advance.
Where should I go?
Tulum is the only place in Mexico with Mayan ruins by the sea and they’re beautiful! The Caribbean beaches are stunning and this place will keep you busy for ages. You can go snorkelling with sea turtles in Akumal, which is a half-hour from Tulum in colectivo. In the whole of the Yucatan region, you can travel by coach or private minivans called colectivos, which will stop wherever you ask them to. You are charged according to distance and ask the driver to point out where you can pick up the return colectivo, as it may not always be on the opposite side of the road. This form of transportation is very cheap. Tulum is well-known for its cenotes (sink-holes) which are wonderful; it’s like swimming in a lake, in a cave! A lot of people rent bikes to cycle to the ruins (Tulum town is a bit far from the ruins) and the cenotes. I cycled on the motorway and the main roads of Tulum and Akumal, following the massive green road signs to the ruins. I skipped Cancun and Playa del Carmen was so meh.
Valladolid is a very cute town and arriving in early February, I managed to catch a festival here. There is only one good hostel to stay at (La Candelaria) and the town is tiny. The city is full of pastel-coloured houses and can be visited in one day. It’s also really close to Chichén Itzá, so once you’ve stayed the night, you can bring your luggage with you and store it at the ruins while you walk around the ruins and then take a bus to another destination. I went straight to Mérida afterwards.
Mérida was so cool! It was one of the least touristy places I visited but was a perfect example of an amazing Mexican city with plenty of art, good food, live music and fantastic services. The free walking tour from the central plaza was great and included a lot of beautiful art in the townhall and suggests places in the city you wouldn’t have thought (or known) to visit. In Mérida there’s was always something going on in the evenings.
San Cristobal de las Casas
Very cool, beautiful town in the mountains and it feels quite hippy. Make sure to take a day trip to see the funky pagan Catholic church in San Juan Chamala where they sacrifice chickens, do shots and burp fizzy drinks whilst sitting on discarded pine leaves on the floor. Yep. You can travel here in colectivo. They also have really beautiful churches scattered around the city, like the one above.
Full of excellent food, beautiful churches, Aztec ruins and an abundance of art. Mexico City (or DF as it’s colloquially known) was the highlight of my trip. Visit Frida Kahlo’s house, the Palacio Bellas Artes, Teotihuacan and the National Museum of Anthropology.
There was a festival on every day I was here, Oaxaqueños know how throw a parade! Oaxaca is the food capital of Mexico and the special dish is mole. I wouldn’t know what it’s like, as I found out-holy guacamole- I’m allergic to mole (moh-leh).
This place is called the lake of seven colours and is so beautiful it looks like a screensaver! It’s quite a tranquil town with not much going on, but it’s a good stop off point for those going to Belize. From Bacalar, you have to get a colectivo to Chetumal and then connect to Belize City to go to Caye Caulker.
That’s everywhere I visited 🙂 I wish I had made it down to the Pacific coast to places like Puerto Vallarta, so I guess I’ll just have to go back 😉