city of Quintana Roo, Mexico

Cancún is a popular Caribbean tourist destination on the northeast tip of Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula, in Quintana Roo, which also is called the Mexican Caribbean. Next to 22 km (14 miles) of beaches, you'll find a wide variety of resorts, spas, clubs, and malls.

Peak season in Cancún tends to run from December to April. Airfare and hotel prices increase dramatically during these times, while dropping in the (northern hemisphere) summer and early autumn months. Late June is especially hot, so come prepared or try the off season. Hurricanes can be a major threat in late (northern hemisphere) summer and autumn.

Understand edit

 
El Mirador beach

Resting on the northeast corner of the Mexican Caribbean, Cancún, now a city of almost 900,000 inhabitants (2020), did not exist before the 1970s. It was a tourist project started at that time by the Mexican government in a sparsely inhabited, pristine area. Since then it has grown to become a big city and one of the premier beach resort destinations in the world.

It is composed of 14 mi (23 km) of pristine white beaches shaped like a number "7", home of the Mayan archaeological wonders, turquoise seas, a bountiful underwater world, and world-class vacation amenities. It is still considered the gateway to the Mayan World ("El Mundo Maya"). Mayan temples and ritual sites are everywhere, some smothered by lush jungle, others easily accessible.

Districts edit

Cancun consists of two distinct and separated areas, both part of the city of Cancun:

  • Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera in Spanish)
  • City Center (El Centro in Spanish), as referred to commonly by locals.

Most tourists know Cancun primarily by their experience in the Hotel Zone and many on all-inclusive tours will never see anything else. Whereas nationals visiting from other parts of Mexico, those visiting family members, or visitors from abroad that are on a budget, may opt to stay downtown for a less opulent, more tranquil, far more "Mexican" experience.

Hotel Zone edit

The Hotel Zone can be defined by looking at a map of Cancun, and isolating solely the harp-shaped land mass protruding from the east side of town.

As a tourist, most of the things you are likely visiting Cancun for, will be centered around the Hotel Zone.

The Hotel Zone is entirely built around the tourist industry, and features resorts, all-inclusive mega hotels, and stunning Caribbean beaches.

 
Cancun - Downtown (Upper Left) and Hotel Zone (Bottom Right). Airport at bottom left.

Stay here only if you don't mind spending your vacation with many other tourists, as well as being harassed by touts (pushy shop employees, tour salesmen, etc), sometimes even from across the street. This area is basically a Mexican clone of Florida, with not much of a difference, besides the water here being the Caribbean.

City center edit

Downtown Cancún in contrast is a pure Mexican city, laid out around the idea of supermanzana (super block), characterized as roughly 400-meter by 400-meter blocks, with larger roads and businesses on the outsides of the blocks, and residential roads, footpaths, housing and parks on the insides of the blocks, leaving it very accessible both via car and on foot. Supermanzanas consist of normal size city blocks called manzanas. The supermanzana scheme is common in cities of the Yucatan Peninsula, though it's not common in the rest of the country.

While the city center is referred to as 'El Centro', which translates literally to 'the center', there is no defined center of town. Visually, on the map, a useful reference for the center of down may be the popular location Mercado 28, which is noted below.

Given its lack of any history before the 1970s, do not expect to see very much, if any Mexican historical culture in Cancun. Instead, it is very much an example of modern Mexico, with many restaurants, North American fast food chains, shopping centers, markets and clubs.

Unfortunately, the downtown area also has no beach access. Due to this, Cancun is very much a tourist town, with tourists and the beautiful beaches completely separated from real Cancunians. If you find this setup unappealing, you should probably skip Cancun altogether and go to Playa del Carmen instead, where locals and the beaches are in the same area.

Those mostly seeking beaches and scuba diving, or who are a bit adventurous, can easily find rooms on equally beautiful and less crowded beaches along the coast just an hour or two south of Cancún. The island of Cozumel is an ideal place for serious scuba divers. Some Spanish language skills may aid in finding better deals. You can rent a car, or take the bus to Puerto Morelos (about 20 min) or Tulum (1 hr). Playa del Carmen (45 min, M$80 (pesos) is between the two. Taxis are also available.

Those looking for a base of operations who want good or luxury hotels and the advantages of urban life but prefer more local flavor may wish to stay in the Yucatan's main city of Mérida. Some international flights in to Cancún continue on to Mérida's International Airport. Merida is also easily reached by train (Tren Maya) or bus (ADO).

Climate edit

Cancún
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Source: Servicio Meteorológico Nacional [dead link]. See weather forecast at Servicio Meteorológico Nacional [dead link]
Imperial conversion
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The climate in Cancún is tropical, with consistent hot and humid weather throughout the year, and very warm sea temperatures. You can expect a gentle breeze from the ocean to keep you comfortable. Temperatures reach their peak around May, and you may notice the extreme heat as you travel inland. Prepare for trips to archeological sites: wear light clothing, stay cool, and rest often. During the "rainy season" you will typically get clouds rolling in, then showers for 10 minutes, then the clouds roll out and you have beautiful sunshine the rest of the day. Rarely does Cancun have rainstorms that last long.

Get in edit

By plane edit

Cancún International Airport (CUN IATA) is the large international airport serving Cancun and the Caribbean coast. The airport is located on federal highway MEX 307 at the southern end of Cancun, about 10 km from the hotel zone and about 15 km from downtown Cancun. See the airport article for more information.

Customs- Be sure to familiarize yourself with Mexico's Customs policies. Notably, you are only allowed one laptop duty-free. Traveling with both a personal and work laptop, or more than one computer per person in your group, will likely subject you to a duty on arrival.

By car edit

Driving in Mexico can be an experience. For more information and tips refer to driving in Mexico.

The Carretera Cancun-Tulum/Av Tulum (Fed Hwy 307) is the main north-south highway which begins at the intersection with Av Lopez Portillo (Fed Hwy 180), north of downtown. From here this highway connects Cancun to the airport, Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Tulum and eventually to Chetumal near the Belizean border. Fed Hwy 180/180D goes east and west as Av Lopez Portillo and goes across the Yucatan Peninsula to Merida and winds down towards Campeche and Villahermosa along the Gulf Coast. Fed Hwy 180D, west of town becomes a toll freeway between Cancun and Merida with limited access while Fed Hwy 180 (the older two lane highway or 'carretera libre') runs parallel to Hwy 180D, connecting various towns with the speed bumps (topes) to slow traffic going through the town. Cars rented in Mexico cannot be legally driven into Central America.

There are also car rental and travel agencies lined up along Blvd Kukulcan in the Hotel Zone and in other areas downtown. They are in free standing buildings and within the malls for travelers planning to take a day trip, shopping for tours and activities or for booking an onward journey to the next destination. The cars rented from the Hotel Zone or downtown may be less expensive than from the airport and can be had for a shorter period of time when the car is needed. See "By car" under "Get around" for links to specific car rental companies and in regards to getting around locally by car. Outside of the cities of Cancun and Merida, driving is generally easy in the Yucatan Peninsula.

By bus edit

Cancun's 1 bus station is in downtown Cancun, northwest of the roundabout at Av Uxmal and Av Tulum. The station is served by a taxi rank in front of the station along Pino. Local buses to the hotel zone pass regularly behind the station on the Tulum Avenue.

To the station goes the first class bus ADO and second class buses like Mayab and Oriente, which have around 50% lower prices than ADO. Schedules of second class buses cannot be checked online. An employee in the station's ticket booth will show you the schedule on the computer monitor. Second class buses go less frequent than ADO.

From the bus terminal there are frequent buses to:

  • the Airport (30 min)
  • Playa del Carmen (1 hr 20 min)
  • Tulum
  • Merida (4 hr)
  • Valladolid (2 hr in ADO, 3 hr 20 min in Oriente bus)
  • Campeche (6 hr 45 min) and
  • Chetumal (5-6 hr) in the Yucatan Peninsula.
  • Chichen Itza: Direct buses leave once or twice daily from Cancun; so to get there take a more frequent bus to Valladolid and transfer to another bus to Chichen Itza.

There are less frequent services (once or twice daily) to further away places such as:

The following bus lines offer services into and out of the Central Bus Terminal:

  • ADO (Autobuses Del Oriente), Calle Pino, SM23, MZ 1, Lt 1 y 2, Centro, +52 55 5133-5133, toll-free: +1800-009-9090. They operate the ADO, ADO GL, OCC (Ómnibus Cristóbal Colón), Riviera and Platino bus lines, and the ClickBus.com booking site.
  • Second class buses with AU, Oriente, Mayab and Noroeste (subsidiaries of Grupo ADO) are available for more localized travel to Tulum, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Morelos, Polponah, Kantunilkin, Chiquila (location for Holbox ferry) and other nearby towns and villages in Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche states. Second class buses typically takes longer to get across longer distances due to the multiple stops they make to pick up and drop off other passengers alongside the road.
  • Auto Centro, +52 999 923 9962. operates second class bus service between Cancun's bus station & their own terminal in Merida via Tixpeual, Tixkokob, Euan, Cacalchen, Izamal, Tunkas, Dzitas, Valladolid, Chemax, Xcan and/or Leona on three different routes. These buses stop anywhere along the road to pick up and drop off people on request.
  • 2 Playa Express, Pino 13, SM 23, Mz 1, Centro (colectivo (shared ride van) stand across the street from the front of the bus station at Pino & Av Tulum). Regularly scheduled shuttles to Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen in the Mercedes/Dodge Sprinter vans. They do not make stops at the airport. M$45 to Playa del Carmen.

By train edit

A new railway network follows a loop route through the Yucatán Peninsula with a major station at the Cancún International Airport. The Tren Maya provides fast, comfortable transportation to major cities like Merida, Campeche, and Chetumal, popular beach resort areas like Cancun and Tulum, and several Maya archaeological sites including Chichen Itza, Palenque, Calakmul, Uxmal, and Xpujil.

  • 3 Estacion Tren Maya Cancún International Airport, Cancún International Airport, state highway QR-180. Largest full-service rail station for Tren Maya with 5 platforms, on the south side of the airport.

Get around edit

 
Map of Cancun center and the Hotel Zone

Cancún is very easy to navigate. To the south is the airport, to the North is the city and in between on the stretch of land between the sea and the Nichupte lagoon are all the hotels, beaches and bars, referred to as the hotel zone or Zona Hotelera. Downtown is where most residents live and it stretches in on the mainland behind the lagoon.

By e-hailing edit

Uber, Cabify and Didi cover the city.

Didi differs from Uber in that you will be picked up exclusively by taxi's. You can think of using Didi as a way to call a taxi and see / agree on a set rate beforehand, whereas Uber and Cabify are standard rideshare services. If you can't find a driver near you on one of these apps, it may be beneficial to try another.

By bus edit

Buses are cheap and come frequently. Most bus drivers are very courteous and some will stop for you even if you are not waiting at a bus stop, though officially, they are only supposed to pick up at the designated stops. Routes R1 and R2 head up and down the main thoroughfare, Blvd Kukulcan. R1 buses will go to the ADO bus station and some go to Puerto Juarez (where you can catch the ferry to Isla Mujeres. R2 buses go into Centro and are useful if you need to visit Walmart for some perverse reason. Buses pass constantly but be prepared for possibly cramped and rough ride.

After paying the fare, which is on a per person basis, the driver will hand you a ticket/receipt which are usually printed with advertisements this does not serve as a transfer to another bus. Fares are usually M$12 (Oct 2022) for destinations within the city, while a ticket to anywhere in the Zona Hotelera costs M$12 (Jan 2022). Dollars are acceptable (bills only) but the fare is $1 per person (40% more than if you pay with pesos). The fare is per boarding, so you pay again if you have to board another bus to complete the journey. Do not expect buses to have amenities such as air conditioning and seat cushions. Many bus drivers speak enough English to help visitors get around.

When you are ready to get off, you can either push the button on top of the hand rail, or if you're not sure of your destination, tell the driver where you would like to get off or point to the destination using a bus map. Most bus drivers speak enough English to understand non-Spanish speakers.

Be careful when the bus is full as pick-pocketing is a concern.

The following companies operate buses locally:

or see:

The websites only provide of list of routes showing them on the map as to where they go. No schedules as they run quite frequently. Another great resource for finding your way around Cancún are the Can-Do Cancún maps & Guides by Perry & Laura McFarlin.

Companies serving the station include all attractions and towns along the coast: Riviera Express and Mayab for the Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Xel-Ha, etc.) and ADO for the major national destinations. For some Riviera Maya destinations, it's possible to stop the buses on the Tulum Avenue without having to go all the way to the station, however if you are unsure about where to catch the bus (or have baggage) then it's best to go to the station.

By taxi edit

Taxis are plentiful, a bit expensive for the hotel zone and airport, but cheap in the downtown area.

It is always best to ask the driver for the price upon boarding to avoid misunderstandings. Not all taxi drivers will be able to give you a receipt if you request one; If they are, it will be a handwritten receipt.

Rough guide on fares, and how they may change, situationally edit

Fares for the hotel zone depend on how far along the Blvd Kukulcan you want to go (fares available at hotel receptions and shopping centres), while downtown fares will generally be 50-100 pesos.

Taxi prices will increase at night, and will also increase if you're hailing via a taxi stand, as they must pay for usage of the stand.

A taxi from the Puerto Juarez ferry terminal to the Mercado 28 area at night will be quoted at roughly 200 pesos, and may have a driver willing to accept 150 pesos if you ask / say that you need to find a taxi for that amount (2-2024). The cab fare to the hotel zone from downtown is M$250-300 (Nov 2023).

Be careful and clear with your taxista. They have set rates on paper for how much they should charge for the trip per kilometer (no meter). If you are splitting a cab with friends, be clear on the number of services, people, number of stops, and price he will charge to your destination. If your friends need to get out or be dropped off in another location before you, the price will be different than if you are all traveling to the same location. A "service" is considered to be from start point to a requested stop point.

Price Negotiations & Disagreements edit

If you aren't able to agree on a price with a taxi driver before starting a ride, often, they will ask other taxi drivers nearby (if at a taxi stand) or call on the radio to find someone willing to provide the ride for the fare requested. There are many taxi drivers, and just because one is not able to provide a service at a given rate, does not mean that someone else would not be willing to do so, and they will be willing to help each other out and announce that you're in need of the fair at that price.

It is best to approach this situation as a mutually beneficial one, rather than an adversarial encounter. You're looking for a fare, and taxi drivers are looking for work. Not all fares will work for every driver, and the fare that a driver offers in some situations may not work for you. It's always fine to ask if there is another taxi nearby that may be willing to take the fare for that rate.

Because of this, it is acceptable, and encouraged even, to have an idea of the price you're willing to pay for a ride to a given destination, and when approaching a taxi, ask them "Can I go to (destination) for (price)?", or say "I need to go to (destionation) for (price)." In the hotel zone, you may say this in English or Spanish; Downtown, it is likely you will need to be able to articulate this in Spanish.

It is very important that you are able to describe your destination accurately. For best results, in downtown locations, you should be ready to show them on the map. This will ensure an accurate taxi fare quote, as seemingly minute differences may be significant. Most taxi drivers will be familiar with most hotel zone locations by name, but may not understand where you're going if you just give them the name of a small location downtown.

Payment & Making Change edit

Taxi's generally expect payment in cash.

Some taxi stands may pass around a card reader, but do not expect every taxi to have one, and be very clear before beginning the ride that you need to pay by card.

Taxi's also may not always be able to make change for a 500 peso note. If you only have 500 peso bills, such as from the ATM, it's important to recognize this and ask the driver, "Tienes cambio para quinentos (500)?" If they can't provide change, you need to figure this part out before you start the ride to avoid any awkward situations upon arrival where you can't properly pay.

Taxi Appearance edit

The city taxis are white with a single green horizontal stripe across each side of the vehicle. They can give rides within the city and to the airport but they cannot pick up passengers at the airport. Taxis of different color combinations are usually from other municipalities that cannot transport passengers locally. They can only drop off passengers coming from another city or town (municipality).

By car edit

Be very careful if you choose to drive in Cancún. Avoid renting a car at the airport car rental agencies; instead, find a local rental agency in town or via your hotel with good reviews. The airport rental agencies have become notorious for long lines, frustration, bad service, bait-and-switch scams, and deceptive practices (i.e., not honoring reservations, and overcharging of uninformed tourists with required extra insurance fees). Even well-known, franchised rental companies that are popular and trusted in the US or other countries, have terrible reviews locally in Cancun at the airport, as they are often franchises all owned by the same people locally.

There is a commonly reported issue of police pulling over rental cars, especially on their way towards the airport, and demanding money for a supposed infraction. There is a law in the state of Quintana Roo that requires police to give tourists a verbal warning of any non-serious driving infraction rather than ticketing them. Tourists are recommended to print out this law and carry it with them if they are driving, as this will stop you from receiving citations, and is an easy way to shut down a situation where someone is demanding money after pulling you over.

When you pick up a rental, check and document (photo/video) for any existing damage and that all equipment (spare tire, jack) and lights are present and working. Make sure both front and back car tag/license plates are present. (In Mexico, police will remove the front tag of illegally parked vehicles to be returned for a fine at the station.) Also, if you are pulled over for a light violation, do not be surprised if the police holds out an open palmed hand, while holding your driver’s license hostage in the other. Most police officers are underpaid and will for the most part demand a small bribe to let you off the hook.

See the related travel article Driving in Mexico for additional information.

Orientation edit

Addresses in the city center (downtown) are organized by Super Manzanas (SM) or 'Super Blocks' which consists of several blocks or Manzanas (Mz) contained within. The SMs are separated by wider busier roads/boulevards (usually named) at all sides while the Manzanas (Mz) are separated by narrower, smaller side streets within a SM (can be numbered or named). On the maps the main roads form different unique shapes which are usually the Super Manzanas.

On Isla Cancún (Zona Hotelera) the addresses are based on how many Kilometers (Km) along Blvd Kukulkan from Km 0 (a parking lot) at the intersection of Blvd Kukulkan and Av Bonampak. As you travel east from Av Bonampak towards Punta Cancun (Km 9), and south through Isla Cancun (Zona Hotelera) along Blvd Kukulkan the Km numbers increase culminating at Km 25.3 (Riviera Cancun Golf & Resorts) south of Punta Nizuc. Blvd Kulkakun becomes 'Carretera Punta Nizuc-Cancun' which goes east towards the airport on the mainland.

Coming from the airport the taxis and shuttles typically follow 'Carretera Punta Nizuc-Cancun' to reach the Hotel Zone via Punta Nizuc at Km 25 and work their way north. The main highways through town are Av Tulum (Hwy 307) that goes north-south and Av Portillo (Hwy 180) which go diagonally between southwest and northeast. Both roads do intersect at Parque Crucero towards the north end of town.

See edit

 
Cancún's Waters
  • 1 Interactive Aquarium, Blvd Kukulcan Km. 12.5 Hotel Zone (inside La Isla Village Mall in the Hotel Zone), +52 998 2063311. Daily 09:00-20:00; marine presentations 19:00. In the middle of the La Isla Shopping Village in the hotel zone, this small, modern aquarium lets you get up close and personal with aquatic life. You can pet rays, nurse sharks, touch starfish, etc. You can pay to swim with captive dolphins in a large pool. There's a mexican/seafood restaurant above the aquarium, where you can watch dolphin shows (or dolphins playing amongst themselves in between shows) while eating. US$15 basic admissions (2022), more to swim with dolphins and other activities.
  • 2 El Rey Archaeological Zone.
  • 3 Museo Maya de Cancún and Archaeological Zone of San Miguelito.
  • 4 Yamil Lu'um. Ruins of a small Maya temple
  • 5 Punta Cancun lighthouse. on the northern tip of the Hotel Zone
  • 6 El Meco Archaeological Site.
  • 7 Torre Escénica del Embarcadero de Cancún. 80-m tower with a rotating observation deck.
  • 8 Parque Urbano Kabah.
  • 9 Palacio Municipal. After sunset are the fountains colorful lightened.
  • 10 Cancun Wax Museum, Blvd. Kukulcan, La Isla, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 176 8249. 10:00–22:00.
  • 11 Museo del Automóvil Antiguo del Sureste.
  • 12 Ferris Wheel Cancun. 3 turns in an air-conditioned gondola. MXN $299 (Tourist), MXN $239 (Local with ID).
  • Water and sand, Cancún is possibly best known for its beautiful turquoise waters and powdery white beaches.

Do edit

 
Map of the region around Cancún

Ocean and beaches edit

To get from the center to a beach quickly, go to 1 Playa Las Perlas or 2 Playa Tortugas. Take the frequent bus line 1 from the main street Av Tulum north of Fuente del Ceviche for M$12 (Jan 2022), or a taxi/Uber.

Activities edit

  • 3 Ventura Park. Amusement and water park with many attractions.
  • 4 Captain Hook Cancun. Shows and dinner on a pirate boat.
  • 5 Xoximilco. A theme park, which is built around the culture of Mexico, food, music and customs in the Mayan jungle. It's on the highway, so easily accessible with a second-class bus or colectivos.
  • Bird watching at the airport, It may sound odd, but because the airport is basically carved out of a large block of forest, there are all kinds of birds and animals around, especially early in the morning. Look for the Mexican agoutis (large forest rodents) grazing on the lawns next to the forest.
  • 6 Columbus Romantic Dinner Cancun. Take a trip out on the calm lagoon on a beautiful boat with friends you have not met yet. The staff allow you to take part in the fun or settle back and watch the sunset. Steak and lobster is cooked on the boat and is extra tasty when eaten out on the high seas.
  • 7 Cancún Yachts Club, boulevardo kukulkan km. 5.8 (zona hotelera), +52 998 8495317. Yacht rentals in Cancún. exclusives luxury yachts for rentals tours in all the Cancún areas, snorkeling, diving, swimming the most save water activities in yacht.
  • 8 Punta Este Marina. Drive your own boat through the lagoon in the Jungle Tour and snorkel on the reef. Diving lessons and dive trips to the best dive spots in Cancún such as underwater museum.
  • 9 Marina Aquatours. Exciting water tour. Choose either a jet ski or two person jet boat for a trip through the lagoon out to snorkel on the reef. Popular tours are the Jungle Tour and the Sailing Quest (Catamarans).
  • Swim with Dolphins. Wet'n'Wild also offers dolphin experiences. (Beware: no cameras are allowed, they charge for the first photo and a bit less for each subsequent one). Other great places to swim with captive dolphins are Delphinus Dreams and Dolphin Discovery. Some operators offer it in the interactive aquarium of Cancún, others include a trip to Isla Mujeres, where the facilities are.
  • 10 Off Road Games Cancun, +52 998 294 2742. Off-road ATV adventures.
  • 11 Always Diving. Scuba dive with a wide catalog of diving programs.
  • 12 Marina Chac Chi, Boulevard Kukulcan, Km 3.2, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 849 5414, . Professional PADI certified scuba diving company provides PADI Diving certifications.

Spectator sports edit

  • 13 Estadio Olímpico Andrés Quintana Roo, Av. Rodrigue Gomez y Av. Mayapan, +52 998 433 2169. Since 2020, Cancún Fútbol Club, a team in the Expansion League has played professional soccer in this small, 18,800-seat stadium in downtown. The stadium is seldom crowded.
  • 14 Estadio Beto Avila, Av. Mayapan, +52 998 887 3108. The stadium was named after former MLB and LMB player Beto Avila (known as Bobby Avila in Cleveland, where he played 10 seasons for the Indians). Cancun has had several professional baseball teams over the years, first the Marlins, then the Langosteros, and now the Tigres, who play in the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol. The Tigres play a 114-game schedule each year from late April until early September. With just under 10,000 seats and clean sight lines, there's really not a bad seat in the house. With low gate prices and tasty concessions, it's a fun way to spend a summer afternoon or evening.

Buy edit

If there is no price tag, ask for the price first. The simple question is "¿Cuánto cuesta?" and is easily understood by Mexicans.

These ATMs have low withdrawal fees in the centro: BanCoppel, Banjercito, (city)banamex and Santander. In the Hotel Zone is a 1 Banamex ATM inside the Selecto Super Chedraui.

For buying groceries are Oxxo, 7-eleven and Circle K around. In the centro is the 2 big supermarket Chedraui and the 3 Soriana Super.

Spending the day on the beaches of Cancún is not only an opportunity to relax, but to shop as well. Many of the native people of Cancún make a living by selling different items to the tourists on the beach. There are a variety of items to be purchased from these vendors, items such as sarongs, jewelry, sea shells and more. However, as in the markets, you have to be willing to bargain to get the right prices.

When shopping in Cancún, you can either go into the downtown area or the hotel zone. Downtown is much cheaper, but the Hotel Zone has brand-name goods.

Markets: bring your haggling skills and get ready for a vast shopping experience in any of the city markets in downtown Cancun. Great buys can be found, so stick to your price resolve. The prices are fixed in the (American style) malls and in the shops selling the brand-name goods which are comparable to those in the U.S. and Europe for the similar products.

  • 4 Market 28 (Mercado 28), Xel-ha m 2 13 SM 28, 28,. Daily 09:00-20:00. This is a tourist-centered market in downtown Cancún, with very many souvenir shops, a central food court, and some larger Mexican restaurants. Cheaper than the hotel zone, but still considered to have 'tourist' prices, and many touts pushing for your attention. A great place if you are interested in shopping downtown and are short on time, but due to its popular and central location, prices have become more expensive than other small independent shops in non-tourist locations. Don't forget to bargain.
  • 5 Market 23 (Mercado 23), Ciricote 15, SM 23. Daily 07:00-19:00. This is more of a 'locals' market as most products offered are like groceries, flowers, supplies, etc. Doesn't have the same range as Market 28, but is worth a visit.
  • 6 Plaza Las Americas, Dialogo Norte-Sur, 7 (southeast of the roundabout at Av Labna/Sayil and Carr Cancun-Tulum/Av Tulum (Fed Hwy 307). Daily 10:00-22:00. The Plaza de las Americas offers Cinepolis (movie) Theaters, Sears, Chedraui, Liverpool and numerous smaller shops and restaurants in the mall itself and in the immediate surrounding areas not part of the mall.
  • 7 La Isla Cancún Shopping Village (Plaza La Isla), Blvd Kukulcan km 12.5, lt 18-10, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 883-5025. Daily 10:00-22:00. In the hotel zone. Features hundreds of stores ranging from American brands like Under Armour to Mexican brands like Senor Frogs. There are numerous restaurants including Chili's and McDonald's along with more local Mexican foods.
  • 8 Kukulcan Plaza, Blvd Kukulcan km 13, lt 410 and 411A, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 193-0160. Daily 10:00-22:00. Another mall down the street from 'La Isla' mall in the hotel zone featuring American and Mexican brand names such as Forever 21, GNC and Señor Frog's among other stores and restaurants.
  • 9 Lapis Jewelry Factory, Blvd. Kukulkan km 11.5, local 100 Int. Plaza Flamingo, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 110 87 87, . You are likely to be offered a coupon for free jewelry at this store. Their website also offers a free gift for individuals who book a shuttle through their website. However, if you do not have any evidence of this, the offer will not be honored. A free shuttle service is offered to take you to the store from your hotel. However, the prices in the store are exorbitant (even at the "discounted" rates), and much of the same jewelry is sold by street vendors and hotel gift shops, as well as online. Be sure to investigate other vendors first to get an idea of how much you should pay. One rule of thumb is to buy at 20-30% of the quoted price. The salespeople will insist that it's worth much more, but stand your ground. If a salesperson agrees to your offer too quickly, you're probably paying too much. In addition, a number of people have reported difficulty obtaining refunds.
  • 10 Ave Tulum Markets (Ave Tulum, between Ave Coba and Ave Chichen Itza. Quick reference is to go to Parque Las Palapas and move out east through the alley, and you'll be there.). There is a very large set of formal shops as well as unofficial booths that have opened up on Ave Tulum, covering a large section of the sidewalk on the west side of the road for many blocks. Souvenirs can be found for extremely cheap, and there are no aggressive shop owners hounding you to enter their store or pressuring you into buying something quickly. It would be convenient to bundle a trip here after visiting Parque Las Palapas, as part of these shops are adjacent to the park. There are restaurants and normal types of stores mixed in alongside souvenir shops and all sorts of other stores.

Eat edit

For a big variety of local food, the Mercado 28 and the Parque de las Palapas are the right address.

These US fast food (and casual dining) chains are less common worldwide, but have restaurants in Cancun:
• in the city center: Carl's Jr and Church’s Chicken
• near the city center: Little Caesars (pizza) and Dairy Queen (ice cream and cakes)
• in the Hotel Zone: Johnny Rockets and Hooters
• in the Plaza Las Americas mall: Johnny Rockets, Hooters and Chili's
• in the airport: Johnny Rockets
• on the way to the airport: Papa John's Pizza

Street food edit

City center edit

  • 1 Parque de las Palapas. There is a good variety. The eateries are open from 10:00 and the food stalls from the evening on. All of them close around 00:00. Most places have a big sign showing the food on a picture and the according low price.

At the bus station edit

  • 2 Food stall directly in front of the bus station. They have tasty tortas (sandwich) for M$25 and tacos.
  • 3 Food stall "Tacos More". Here you get well tasting tacos with fish (e.g. shrimps) for M$25 or with meat.

Budget edit

City center edit

  • 4 Restaurant Salus y Chemo's, C. Chaca 46. Their red pozole and tamales is very tasty. Excellent Guerrero style food. The restaurant looks quite old which is also it’s charme.
  • 5 Taquería el Poblano, Av Tulum 65. Very good taqueria. Authentic Mexican food. Great portion. The waiters are very friendly. Nice atmosphere.
  • 6 Restaurant Pipos (Bufette), Azucenas Rtno. 1 13. Very good buffet. The food with a homemade touch. Variety of dishes. The attention is very good.
  • 7 El Cantón Toluqueño, Av Tulum 4239. There is a Comida Corrida including a soup, main dish, tortillas and drink for M$60-70. They also serves breakfast starting at M$50.
  • 8 Fa Kee (Comida China), Av Tulum 49. You get a Chinese dish for M$65-80.
  • 9 Quesadillas & sopes – Tradición Mexicana. As the name says, here you get quesadillas for M$18 and sopes for M$21.
  • 10 Las Tortugas, Avenida Coba 51, Plaza Las Avenidas, +52 998 887 6209. Serving tortas, a kind of Mexican sandwich.

Near the city center in the Mercado 28 edit

  • 11 Atotonilco, Xel-ha 107 (right across from El Cejas). 08:00-18:09. An extremely good sampling of Mexican food from all around the country. Excellent value. Nothing fancy but a gastronomical delight. Try the "Huevos Motuleños". US$4-10.

Mid-range edit

  • 12 Los de Pescados, Avenida Tulum Mz. 7-Lt. 32 20, +52 998 884 1146. Taco restaurant specializing in seafood. Fish tacos cost M$37 (July 2021) and are a few pieces of fried fish with some tortillas. You put your own sauces and condiments.
  • 13 Pescaditos, Ave Yaxchilán 69 (close to corner of Marañón), +52 998 884 0305. Really nice and laid back seafood restaurant where everything's deep fried. Try the chiles rellenos, possibly the best ones in Cancún.
  • 14 La Habichuela, C. 10 Margaritas 25-20 (near Parque de las Palapas), +52 998 884 3158, . La Habichuela is a must-visit with its Mexican cuisine, Mayan setting and Caribbean seafood. This restaurant has been open since 1977 and is a legend in Cancún. The romantic, outside garden is a popular place to dine with the decoration of various native trees and plants that create a beautiful illusion of the Mayan ruins under the night sky. La Habicheula received the National Best Restaurant Award and has been a part of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America Organization since 2001.
  • 15 Café trova El Pabilo, Ave Yaxchilán # 31, +52 998 179 8043. Art exhibitions every 15 days. Good baguettes and wine.
  • 16 Restaurante Natura, Boulevard Kukulcan km 9.5 (Zona Hotelera), +52 998 883 0585. 07:30-23:00. Natura is the only healthy choice restaurant to be found in the hotel zone of Cancún. Fit for Vegetarians and non vegetarians. Over 20 choices of fresh made juices and salads. Service fast and friendly, very clean place and inexpensive. Highly recommended to anyone looking to eat or enjoy some drinks outside in Cancún.
  • 17 Los Tarascos, Av. Tulum 4, +52 998 884 8707. 16.30-03.00. Classic Mexican taqueria specializing in tacos al pastor. Very popular with the locals, quite tasty and at a fair price.

Splurge edit

  • 18 Cambalache, Blvd Kukulcán km 9 (at Forum by the Sea Mall), +52 998 883 0902. This Argentine steakhouse serves up one of the best menus in Cancún. The atmosphere inside the restaurant makes you feel you have travelled an extra 1,000 mi (1,600 km). The staff's attention to detail and desire to please make you feel like you're the only one they are serving that night. Great place to have a dinner with the one you love or enjoy the company of friends. The food alone could give this place a 4-star rating, the rest is just an added bonus.
  • 19 Lorenzillo's, Km 10.5, Blvd. Kukulcan, Punta Cancun, Zona Hotelera.
  • 20 RosaNegra, Blvd. Kukulcan Km 15, Zona Hotelera. Latin American cuisine.

Hotel restaurants edit

  • 21 Mikado, Blvd. Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort), +52 998 881 2000. 17:30-23:00. Japanese and Thai cuisine featuring teppanyaki tables.
  • Champions Sports Bar, Blvd Kukulcán, Retorno Chac L-41, Zona Hotelera (CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort), +52 998 881 2000. 12:00-02:00. Stepped up bar food with all the games on over 40 screens.
  • 22 Gustino, Blvd Kukulcán, km 14.5, Lote 40-A, Zona Hotelera (JW Marriott Cancún Resort & Spa), +52 998 848 9600 ext 6637. Gustino has authentic Italian cuisine using the freshest Mediterranean ingredients.

Drink edit

Cancún's nightlife is unlike any other destination on Earth. For some, a day in Cancún doesn't start until tasks like an 11:00 breakfast, nap on the beach, and siesta are arduously completed. This is your place to shine.

The legal drinking age in Mexico is 18, but it is not strongly enforced. There are restricted hours for purchasing alcohol in stores on Sundays. (Clarification needed).

Hotel Zone edit

The Hotel Zone is a huge venue and gets top entertainers and DJs. Don't be surprised to see Vegas like shows spontaneously erupt while you are sipping your piña colada. These clubs can charge large covers ranging from US$20–60 per person, though the cover can include an open bar.

You may find yourself dancing in a conga line, laughing your cares away and speaking whatever Español you managed to pickup. A must for the first timers, and always good fun for returners also. Coco Bongo's entertainment includes a show, complete with women swinging from the ceilings.

Most of the Zona Hotelera (Hotel Zone) venues listed below are in Punta Cancun, between km 9 and 10, in the area surrounding Hotel Krystal, Cancun Convention Center and the Grand Fiesta Americana.

  • 1 Señor Frogs, Blvd. Kukulkan km 9, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 883 3454. Señor Frog's is a restaurant by day and a dance club by night, and is one of the most popular spots for vacationers to visit. The restaurant opens up for lunch and serves international types of food such as pasta, chicken and pizza as well as Mexican cuisine all day until midnight. A cover charge of five dollars will get you into the party after 20:00 and includes a souvenir yard glass which you can then pay to get filled with your drink of choice. One of Señor Frog's famous attractions is the water slide that leads from the club out into the lagoon, just for a little bit of fun. As the evening progresses, Señor Frog's becomes less family friendly and more of a party establishment, waitresses will circulate, offering shots of tequila for a price. Waiters are also very "hands on", if you are not traveling in a family group, expect them to try to touch, hug, or kiss the female members of the party.
  • 2 Dady'O, Blvd Kukulkan km 9.5, Zona Hotelera (across street from Coco Bongo), +52 998 883 3333. Dady'O has been known to host some of the world's top DJs, including Red Foo (LMFAO), Apl.De.App and Tiësto, features a casual atmosphere, laser shows, pole dancing go go girls and flashing dance floor opening shows.
  • Coco Bongo, Blvd Kukulkan km 9.5 #30, Zona Hotelera (across street from Dady'O), +52 998 883 2373, toll-free: +1 800 841 4636. 22:30-05:00. A nightclub featuring a show that has been compared with Las Vegas. More than 50 professionals in scenery. Tickets can be bought online for US$75. If you don't mind waiting to get in exchangeable tickets can be bought from Oxxo for M$1000. US$75.

Avenue Yaxchilán edit

Also try the clubs in the north of Av Yaxchilan, located in downtown Cancún, where all the locals hang out.

  • 3 Los 4 Elementos, Ave Yaxchilan 31 (Hotel Xbalamque), +52 998 255 9658. Try the live music bar Los 4 Elementos. They open and play live music from 23:00 until the last customer leaves. The music is great and prices are significantly lower than those found in the hotel zone clubs.
  • 4 El Pabilo Cafe, Ave Yaxchilan.

Sleep edit

Cancún has a large range of 3- to 5-star hotels in the Hotel Zone and some more economical hotels in the city center.

Several aging resorts on and around Punta Cancún are relying upon heavily discounted vacation packages or all-inclusive deals to fill rooms. They market themselves heavily as a great bargain to a wider audience. The result is that Punta Cancún is jam-packed with the revelers who can get rowdy and obnoxious. If you prefer to spend your vacations in a quieter and calmer setting, it may be worth it to splurge on a newer resort in the central or southern part of the Hotel Zone and further away from the "partying" crowds. Then you can save Punta for a brief day (or evening) trip for shopping, dining or entertainment.

Budget edit

Most of the budget and some of the mid-range category hotels are in and around downtown on the mainland. Many are also within a reasonable walking distance or short taxi ride to the bus station on Av Uxmal and Av Tulum (Hwy 307) for those arriving late and/or leaving early. The area is reasonably safe at night.

Several budget hotels can be found for M$400-650 (April 2022) on Google Maps with the according price and on booking.com. Just sort by price.

City center edit

  • 1 Hotel Rivemar, Av Tulum 51 (next to Farmacia Similares on Av Tulum & Andandor Claves, a block up from Chedraui on Av Tulum), +52 998 884 1199. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. In the downtown area near the bus station. Front desk help is very friendly. You can keep your bags at the hotel even after checking out. You can take the Rt. 1 bus to the hotel/beaches district. When booking directly at the hotel it's M$650 for 1 person and M$750 for 2 persons. (April 2022)
  • 2 Fiesta Party Hostel - Cancun, Alcatraces #43, SM:22 Mza:10, +52 998 892 7902. This hostel does not fail to live up to its name, and if you are looking to hang out with your fellow party people, you shouldn't be disappointed here, where drinks and revelry flow freely. If you don't like noise, on the other hand, this might not be the most ideal accommodation. But the establishment does provide free breakfast and dinner plus bus trips to the beach and a happy hour every evening. M$282.
  • 3 Hostel Kankun, Yaxchilan Ave/end of MaraÑon St #26, +52 998-101-7399. The cheapest hostel in Cancun and within walking distance of the ADO bus station. Includes 24-hr reception, towels, and fans in each room. Has private rooms and dorm beds available. Does not take credit cards. It is a very basic hostel, but their nightly rate is set accordingly. US$5/person/night.

Hotel Zone edit

  • 4 Hostel Natura. A dorm is about M$400 (April 2022).
  • 5 Mayan Monkey Hostel & Bar. A dorm costs around M$600 (April 2022) including taxes.
  • 6 Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone & Cowork. A bed in a dorm is around M$460 (April 2022).

Mid-range edit

The economical way to stay in the hotels and resorts in some of the "mid range" and in the "splurge" categories is to consider an "all inclusive" on BookIt.com or another similar company which typically would include airfare (on chartered or regularly scheduled flights), airport transfers and hotel stay. Some of these all inclusive packages may also include two or three daily meals and/or an escorted tour or some other organized activity in the area. Checking in at the front desk without prebooking for a room or a pre-purchased all inclusive or packaged tour is the most expensive way to check in.

  • 7 The Yellow Capsule, Blvd Cumbres SM 310 MZ 109 LT4 (in Plaza La Roca), +52 998 415 0714. If you missed the chance to stay at a capsule hotel in Japan, you can do it right here in Cancun. The spaceship-like compartments and interiors are clean, and the complimentary breakfast includes an egg sandwich. Plus, the lodging has airport shuttles and organized tours to places such as Isla Mujeres. around M$900.
  • 8 Temptation Resort and Spa (Temptation Resort Cancún), Blvd Kukulkan Km 3.5, +52 998 848 7900, fax: +52 (998) 848 7994, . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 11:00. 2-3 star with 3 restaurants. Reservations to be made from 10:00-11:00 the previous day. Beach front is calm mainly for boat use.
  • 9 Parador Hotel, Ave Tulum N°26, SM 5, MZA 5, Lote 1, Col Centro, +52 998 884 9696. A/C, cableTV, and internet connection. Swimming pool, fitness room/gym, and a restaurant, bar, and café.
  • 10 Crown Paradise Club, Blvd Kukulkan km 18.5, +52 998 848 9000. Features a water park for the kids with a pirate ship and 8 water slides, a la carte and buffet dining, adult only areas, mini golf, disco, nightly entertainment.
  • 11 Grand Oasis Cancún, Boulevard Kukulcan Km 16.5 Lt45-47, Zona Hotelera, +52 800 016 2747. Resort with a college-aged crowd. The rooms are clean and surprisingly spacious for the price. The pool is generally crowded during peak times but is large and features several swim-up bars. The bad part is that since the Oasis is all-inclusive you basically get what you pay for, the food and drinks are not the best quality. The buffet-style restaurants are bland and the food can get quite repetitive. An exception is the sushi restaurant. All bars also stop serving alcohol at midnight, which is unfortunate, but there is a 24 hr liquor store right across from the resort with prices somewhat expensive for Mexico. They also sell absinthe. M$2785.
  • 12 RIU Cancún, Blvd Kukulcan km 8.5, Manzana 50, Lote 5, Zona Hotelera. Resort with views of the Caribbean Sea. Several restaurants and bars. Choice of activities and entertainment options, including a sports bar, night club and theatre with theme shows.
  • 13 RIU Caribe, Blvd Kukulcan, km 5.5, Lote 6-C. All inclusive resort with Mayan-style architecture overlooking the Caribbean. 506 sea view rooms with mini-bar and liquor dispenser. Several restaurants, bars and facilities including 24 hr snacks and beverages. Fun and relaxing atmosphere created by the large swimming pool and spectacular beach.
  • 14 The Royal Resorts. The Royal Resorts have been around since 1974 and include a string of 4 hotels all in close vicinity of each other. The Royal Mayan, The Royal Caribbean and The Royal Islander are side by side whereas the newest hotel, The Royal Sands, is no more than a five minute ride by bus. The Royal Resorts offer beautiful villas that overlook the Gulf of Mexico. Each villa is equipped with a kitchen, two bathrooms, two bedrooms, one with two double beds, one with a queen sized bed, a living room with two murphy beds, three televisions, one in each room, and a terrace that overlooks the other two hotels as well as the Caribbean Sea. These hotels include free activities such as snorkeling and sailing in the ocean, tennis, and free beach towels. Also on the premises are a number of different restaurants and bars at which the vacationers may dine.
  • 15 Sandos Cancun, Retorno del Rey km 14, Mz 53, Lt 37-1 (Cancun resort strip), +52 998 881-2200. The Sandos Cancun is called the jewel of the Sandos Resort chain. They are a 4 diamond AAA rated all inclusive resort. The resort is themed and offers unique entertainment called the Rhythm Experience. Sandos has a vacation club called Royal Elite that sells a timeshare-like membership. Membership affords special amenities like private access to bars including top shelf liquors, first access to restaurants and access to the private area on the beach.
  • 16 Soberanis Hotel, 5 y 7 Mz 8, Av Coba, 22 (downtown, 3 km to the beach), +52 998 883 2210. The rooms are all air-conditioned. They have cable television, a private toilet and bath, and safe. the rooms are further equipped with an IDD telephone, internet access, and a writing desk and chair. Rates include daily breakfast. Non-smoking rooms are available. M$338.
  • 17 Sotavento Hotel and Yacht Club, Blvd. Kukulcan km 4 Zona Hotelera, Calle del Pescador, Lote D-8-4, +52 998 884 1540. In front of Nichupte Laguna and is within walking distance to sandy beaches and downtown area. Internet and cable TV. Non-smoking rooms can be requested. M$816.
  • 18 GR Solaris Cancun (GR solaris), Blvd. Kukulcan Km 19.5 Zona Hotelera, toll-free: +52 800 284 7394, . M$2487.
  • 19 GR Caribe by Solaris, Blvd. Kukulcan km 20.5, lt 64 bis 2da etapa Sección A, Zona Hotelera, toll-free: +52 800 284 7394, .

Splurge edit

  • 20 CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, Retorno Chac L-41, +52 998 881 2000, fax: +52 998 881 2085. 418 rooms and 34 suites. Each room has a private balcony with a table and chairs. 3 restaurants on-site, including a steakhouse, a Japanese restaurant and a sports bar. The hotel tends to be priced on the higher side for Cancún, but that also tends to weed out the younger crowd. This resort is adjacent to the JW Marriott Cancún and is directly connected to it through a pathway. There are up-charges for almost everything here, and they will try to sell you timeshares.
  • 21 Casa Turquesa Boutique Hotel, Blvd Kukulcan km 13.5, Zona Hotelera (next to Luxury Shopping Mall), +52 998 193 2260. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 12:00. 29-suite boutique hotel has amenities including an infinity pool with swim up bar, spa, two restaurants and an onsite art gallery. Suites have 32” flat screen satellite TV, minibar and full bathrooms with separate bathtub and shower. Jacuzzi on the terrace/balcony. Airport transportation can be arranged. Rates depend upon room category/season.
  • 22 ClubMed, Punta Nizuc-Cancun, km 21.5, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 881 8200. An all inclusive resort. A short distance outside the town, at the tip of the bay. The Caribbean Sea is on one side and on the other is a lagoon. Club Med was the first to establish itself here around 30 years ago. Traditional central square, bungalow-haciendas and speciality restaurants.
  • 23 Hyatt Ziva Cancún (formerly Dreams Cancún Resort and Spa), Blvd Kukulcan Manzana 51 LT7, Zona Hotelera (at Punta Cancún), +52 998 848 7000, toll-free: +1 888 763 3901. Surrounded by the sea on 3 sides. All-inclusive resort catering to families. All rooms have private balcony views of the ocean, beaches, lagoon or gardens. Marble floors, dining area, mini-bar, satellite TV and 24 hr room service. Several have private whirlpools. A pod of 6 dolphins is held in the resorts lagoon. Swims with the captive dolphins programs are available for guests and the general public.
  • 24 All Ritmo Cancun Resort & Waterpark (Sea Adventure Resort and Waterpark), Carretera a Puerto Juárez-Punta Sam km 1.5 lt 128, +1 786 269-2043, toll-free: +1 800 090-0214, fax: +52 998 848 7994, . Check-in: 15:00, check-out: noon. Family hotel offers activities for children and events for adults.
  • 25 Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancún Resort & Spa, Blvd. Kukulcán km. 9.5, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 881 3200. AAA 5-diamond resort has 602 rooms. The hotel is outwardly hostile toward same sex couples. 5 restaurants, one of which is the Le Basilic restaurant is one of only three 5-diamond restaurants found in Mexico. 4 bars, a spa, fitness and business center, a very long swimming pool, and a sun deck.
  • 26 Paradisus Cancún, Kukulcan Blvd, km 16.5 (Zona Hotelera). Well known for its white sandy beach overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 4 pools, specialized a la carte restaurants, and activities program for children and adults. 9 hole, par three golf course, a tennis court, 2 paddle tennis courts and has received an award from The Leading Hotels of the World as a Leading Spa of the World.
  • 27 Iberostar Selection Cancún, Blvd Kukulcan, km 17, +52 998 881 8000, fax: +52 998 881 8093. The only golf & spa resort on the island is an Iberostar all-inclusive. 426 ocean-view rooms, including 82 villas with a private lounge and executive services; 5 restaurants, including a gourmet-dining beachside grill and swim up bar; 7 infinity pools and the largest beach in Cancún. If you are having trouble with the local food, try the hotel's club sandwich. M$3362.
  • 28 Grand Park Royal Cancún (formerly Hyatt Cancún Caribe Resort), Blvd Kukulkan, km 10.5, Zona Hotelera (in the hotel zone), +52 998 848 7800, . 5-star hotel with 296 rooms and views of the Caribbean. M$3104.
  • 29 Krystal Grand Cancun, Blvd Kukulcan, km 8.5, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 891 5555, . 5-star hotel with a seafront location. 295 rooms. M$1632.
  • 30 JW Marriott Cancún Resort, Blvd Kukulcan, km 14.5, Lote 14-a (Zona Hotelera), +52 998 848 9600, fax: +52 998 848 9601. Adjacent to the CasaMagna Marriott Cancún Resort and has a connected pathway. 448 rooms with private balconies and views of the Caribbean. 35,000 ft² (3,300 m2) Mayan-inspired spa., 4 world-class restaurants and over 20,000 ft² (1,900 m2) of meeting space. Caters to Mexico weddings, events and conferences.
  • 31 Live Aqua Cancún, Blvd Kukulcan km 12.5, +52 998 881 7600. 371 deluxe rooms, including 36 suites. The modern design is stunning. The service is a close second but the rooms are small. 3 restaurants, including one by celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein, 1 by chef Franco Maddalozzo, and a Mexican restaurant. There is also a wine and mescal bar. 8 pools which vary in temperature and 12 spa treatment rooms. The hotel is reserved for adults.
  • 32 Marriott Amar House, Blvd Kukulkan, km 12 (Zona Hotelera), +52 998 881 2500. Rooms offer views, custom art and furnishings by artist Yuri Zatarain, monsoon showers and Aveda bath amenities.
  • 33 Omni Cancún Hotel & Villas, Blvd Kukulcan km 16.5, L-48, Mz 55, +52 998 881 0600. 5-star resort between the Caribbean and Nichupte Lagoon on Cancún Island. 341 guest rooms and villas with full service spa.
  • 34 Now Sapphire Riviera Cancun, Mz 9, Lt 10 y 11, Zona Federal Maritima, Puerto Morelos (Accessed from approx Km 31 of Hwy 307. Follow signs.), +52 998 872 8383. All inclusive resort stretches along a lush tropical mangrove preserve on a 5,000 ft (1,500 m) long Caribbean coastline.
  • 35 Riu Palace Las Americas, Blvd Kukulcan km 8.5, Mz 50, Lt 4, Zona Hotelera (Punta Cancún of Hotel Zone), +52 998 891-4300. 372 suites, ocean views, and all-inclusive dining, beverages and entertainment.
  • 36 Zoëtry Paraiso de la Bonita Riviera Maya, Carretera Chetumal –Cancún km 328, Bahia Petempich, Benito Juárez, Pto. Morelos, +52 998 872 8300, fax: +52 998 872 8301. 90 suites, all have balcony or deck with ocean views, daily serving of champagne and fresh fruit, complimentary unlimited calls worldwide, welcome bottle of tequila and handmade beach bag. Hydrothalasoo pool and aqua gym, spa with private massage cabins and jacuzzi, and chauffeured airport transfer. This property is located in Puerto Morelos, 32-48 km (20-30) miles south of Cancun.
  • 37 Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort, Blvd Kukulcan km 12.5, Lt-18, Zona Hotelera, +52 998 891 4200. Resort features villas with washer/dryer, dishwasher, full kitchen, living room, dining room, jetted tub. The property has two infinity pools.
  • 38 Royal Solaris Cancun (Club Solaris Cancun), Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 20.5 Lote. 64 2 Etapa Sección A, Zona Hotelera, toll-free: +1 998 800 1353, .

You could also try out the growing vacation rental market as well. It's a chance to experience Cancún without having to share close spaces with thousands of tourists. They are an alternative if you are willing to go without the frills of room service or resort commodities.

Most resorts in the hotel zone have a travel agent on site during the daytime to assist you with making reservations around Cancún, including the Mayan ruins. It is often better to book activities through these travel agents as they are employed by the hotel and cannot easily cheat you. Activities are also sold at booths found in the busier areas. Prices for the same activities are cheaper in Cancún town than in the hotel zone.

Stay healthy edit

Tap water vs bottled water edit

In resorts and hotels edit

As a tourist, unless explicitly told otherwise by your hotel that they have a water purification system, it is strongly advised that you only drink bottled water and not tap water.

Most of the resorts in Cancún have purified water at all of the facilities located inside the resorts including the bars and restaurants. When in doubt, ask and find out.

In all-inclusive resorts, you will get unlimited water bottles, so you can use them instead.

In restaurants edit

The upper-scale restaurants usually have purified water as well, but water from faucets outside of these areas is not safe to drink.

You can trust that any water you are provided in a glass at a restaurant is purified water, and not from a tap, and is therefore safe to drink. Same with ice.

Restaurants universally will use large garrafones of purified water, or may have a tank that is filled periodically by truck, depending on restaurant size (There are frequently Agua Potable trucks moving around town to deliver potable, drinkable water).

Small and budget hotels, vacation rentals, motel, hostel, or home you are visiting edit

If you are in a location that does not provide purified water as part of the accommodations, you may go to the nearest OXXO or convenience store. Universally, they all sell Garrafones. A Garrafon , in this context, is a 6-liter jug of purified water. If you do not need this much, there are all sizes of smaller containers of bottled water, usually 4-5 liters, 2 liters, 1 liter, and some smaller sizes, with reasonable prices.

There are also frequently workers that roam the streets with fresh garrafones. You will typically hear someone slowly calling out "aguaaaaaaaaaaa" to announce they are in the area. You will benefit from knowing some Spanish to complete this transaction.

Sun edit

The sun's UV rays are extremely strong in Cancún, even on cloudy days.

The sun will burn any exposed skin on most persons from northern climates within a few minutes. Use a sunscreen with a high SPF and avoid being exposed to the sun around mid-day.

Because Cancún has powerful waves (see below), do not assume your sunscreen layer will remain intact. Always apply a fresh layer of sunscreen after taking a dip in the ocean.

Sunscreen can be found for reasonable prices all over the city. Do not be fooled by a resort or overpriced shop selling sunscreen for 400 pesos or more. You can find sunscreen in most OXXO stores or similar convenience stores for 100 pesos or less.

Drugs edit

Avoid taking any recreational / illegal drugs while in cancun, and try to avoid buying popular, prescription medications here as well.

There is an ongoing epidemic of both illegal and legal, prescription-grade drugs & medications containing fentanyl, which can kill you in a dose as little as 5mg (the size of the tip of a pencil), as well as methamphetamines. Counterfeit prescription drugs have been found in pharmacies in Cancun, notably in tourist-zone-located pharmacies that are frequented by people looking to purchase medications to bring home with them.

Fentanyl and methamphetamine are very cheap to manufacture, and are being increasingly found as a substitute in many illicit drugs, as well as in some counterfeited drugs found in pharmacies.

Stay safe edit

Timeshares

Expect to be inundated with offers to get free tickets, tours, or other items in exchange for viewing a timeshare presentation while in Cancún. While you will generally be given what is promised for viewing the presentation, expect a very high pressure sales pitch lasting from one to two hours during which you may be given incorrect information or promises that later turn out to be untrue. In particular, despite claims of agencies that can buyback your timeshare, most timeshares are a money-losing proposition for purchasers. As with any major purchase, take the time to research before buying - claims that you must buy something right now should always be treated with skepticism. See also Common scams.

Beaches in Cancun are for the more advanced swimmers, the edge of the open ocean can make for a challenging and fun swimming experience. For less advanced swimmers, or those with little ones, pick a resort facing Isla Mujeres for a gentle and relaxing aquatic experience. Be aware that the island becomes extremely hot during day and there are few, if any opportunities to cool off. The sand found here is ground up coral and doesn't get hot like you might expect. The beaches are absolutely gorgeous and the water is crystal clear and warm.

If planning to spend time in the ocean water around Cancun or neighboring areas, be aware of Thimble Jellyfish, also sometimes referred to as 'sea lice'. Thimble Jellyfish larvae can cause an itchy rash to erupt, and are a somewhat common traveler complaint.

Ocean currents— The ocean currents in Cancún, depending on the season you visit, can be strong. While the currents may not be strong enough to pull you under, keep your guard up at all times. Look for the colored flags that are planted on the beach as well as ask your hotel's concierge or a lifeguard (if one is available). As a rule of thumb, if you're not a strong swimmer (or a non-swimmer) it is best to stick to the hotel's pool for water fun. Remember, beaches in Mexico are Federal Zones with no lifeguards on duty, lifeguards may only be found within the beaches at the hotels.

Weather— Cancún is a place where the weather can change in a matter of minutes rather than hours. As in most tropical places, rain storms will start quickly and leave as quickly as it came. When a storm lingers, use caution in the water; especially when lightning is present.

Timeshare and condos are a big business all over Yucatan, especially Cancún. "Tourist information" is another word for sales representative. If someone is offering you an "free" tour to anyplace or at a discount this means a 90-minute or longer presentation about condos and time-shares. There are 20 reps waiting on the righthand side when you arrive at the Cancún airport. There are also promoters trying to attract tourists with free Xe-Hal and Chichen Itza tours. If you are traveling on a budget, the presentation with heavy discount on tours or hotels can end up saving you several hundreds to thousands of dollars. However, you should have a general idea of what timeshare and presentations are before you go and practice caution with everything that the sales pitch presents in order to avoid being trapped in a contract for several years.

Nothing is free Most important lesson. Someone comes up to you and says you want a shot of tequila? Come on its fun. This means you have not negotiated the price.

The Buddy System- If you plan to have a long night out in the strip, take precautions and have a friend with you at all times (even walking to the bathroom). Unsuspecting tipsy tourists can be easy targets for petty robbery.

ATMs edit

Location edit

Don't use privately owned ATMs outside of the banks.

 
Privately owned ATM in Cancun. Distinguished by 'ATM' across the top instead of a bank logo. Avoid using these unless necessary, and double check your statements afterwards. Commonly seen in tourist locations in town.

There are ATMs all over Cancún. Use only ones that are inside banks, branded by banks in a trusted location, or in your hotel.

Bank-branded ATM's in very highly trafficked locations such as the Walmart or Soriana stores are generally safe, however are regarded as less so than ATM's directly inside a bank. These are typically used out of convenience.

Unbranded ATMs on the street should be treated with the highest level of caution of all and used as a last resort.

You are at higher risk of becoming a victim of identity theft when using unbranded, public ATM's in these spaces, as they are not closely monitored for tampering by card skimmers, etc.

Private or unbranded ATMs will typically also have very significant ATM fees.

ATM currency exchange rate scam edit

It's very common when taking money out from an ATM using a foreign debit card, for the ATM to offer you an exchange rate. This is always a worse exchange rate than your bank offers.

When you see this exchange rate shown, with a 'decline' button present, you are looking at a promotional or offered exchange rate that can and should be declined. After pressing decline, the rest of the transaction will go through using your own bank's exchange rate, which will be much closer to the mid-market rate.

Connect edit

The best cellular network provider in this area is Telcel. You can acquire a SIM card for M$100 or less (Dec 2023) for example in any OXXO.

If you do not know what to say, you may tell the cashier "Necesito un chip Telcel." ("I need a Telcel SIM card") SIM cards here are commonly referred to simply as a chip.

You activate it by recharging M$50, which can be also done in any OXXO. ("Necesito recarga mi chip Telcel", I need to recharge my Telcel SIM)

Cope edit

Consulates edit

Go next edit

On the Yucatan peninsula you find several camping places with a provided tent from M$150 per night (Feb 2022, including mattress, pillow and bed cover). They are available in the nature, near or inside towns. Otherwise private rooms and hostels are available.

To the south edit

  • Playa del Carmen – 70 km.
  • Cozumel – 110 km. A very pretty island and the most inhabited in all of Mexico, it is also an important Caribbean port of call. Chankanaab National Park is located here. Well known for its watersport activities such as diving, snorkeling, sailing, boating and fishing.
  • Tulum – 130 km. The town has become a popular tourist destination. Nearby is the Tulum Archaeological Zone.
  • Bacalar – 340 km.
  • Mahahual (Costa Maya) – 350 km.
  • Chetumal – 380 km.


To the west edit

  • Valladolid – 160 km. It's a small city dating from the Spanish Colonial era with lots of period local charm, between Cancún and Chichen Itza. The selection of hotels and restaurants makes it a nice base for a night or two; it's a good deal closer to Chichen, and other impressive Maya ruins at Ek Balam are only about 15 minutes north of town.
  • Mérida – 300 km.

By air edit

There are direct low-cost flights from Cancún for example to Oaxaca, Mexico City, Puebla, Veracruz and Tuxtla in Chiapas. From the Tuxtla airport to San Cristobal de las Casas.

For going to the Cancun airport by ADO bus: Book your bus ticket in advance on the ADO app or website. So you secure your desired departure time, don't need to queue for the ticket booth and may get some discounts for booking ahead. It works to pay with a foreign credit card.

Out of town trips edit

  • 1 Chichén Itzá Archaeological Site – 200 km. The largest Maya archaeological site in Yucatan, Chichen Itza is often visited on a day trip from Cancún, but is rather distant and only a small portion of the site and attractions can be seen this way. If you find the ancient Maya of interest, spend a night at one of the hotels at Chichen so you can avoid having a rushed incomplete visit. You can take a public bus or a private vehicle, about 2½ hours from Cancún by car. Also, close to the site is a cenote, which is a fresh water sinkhole, where you can swim. The Kukulcán Pyramid, one of the most impressive Maya structures and voted one of the World's New Seven Wonders, is now closed off to climbing to preserve it from wear.
  • 2 Isla Mujeres – 15 km. A great break from the Cancún tourist traps. This small island is a 20-minute ferry ride from the hotel zone or from Terminal Maritima Puerto Juárez, located 5 minutes from downtown Cancún. On the island rent a scooter to get around fast and cheap. There is a beautiful ecological water theme park, Garrafon, with splendid vistas on land and a magical underwater world.
  • 3 Isla Contoy – 40 km. About 30 km (19 mi) north of Isla Mujeres and apart from its natural beauty it is considered to be the most important nesting place for sea birds in the Mexican Caribbean with more than 150 different species. You can only go there with a tour operator, not on your own.
  • 4 Tulum Archeologicial Zone – 130 km. The only major Maya archeological site to overlook the Caribbean Sea. Tulum is believed to be one of the most important ceremonial sites for the Maya people. It dates back more than 7 centuries and shows the remains of a huge walled city with roads, homes and businesses by the sea. The major highlight of Tulum is El Castillo which is a large pyramid that sits on a 40 ft (12 m) cliff. ADO Buses from Cancún run around 2 hr 20 min and cost M$226 (April 2022). On the ADO website and app the stop is called "Tulum zona arqueológica".
  • 5 Coba – 140 km. A beautiful site; it was one of the largest Maya cities in ancient times, but much is still hidden under lush jungle. It boasts the tallest pyramid of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nohoch Mul. Muyil boasts a lake surrounded by many Maya constructions.
  • 6 Xcaret (ecopark) (80 km (45 mi)). An eco-archaeological park less than 7 km (4 mi) south of Playa del Carmen, in the Riviera Maya. Here you can admire tropical flora and fauna typical of the region as well as different expressions of the Mayan culture. In its facilities you can find an archaeological site, snorkeling in underground rivers, beach, butterfly pavilion, orchid greenhouse, regional fauna breeding farm, Mayan village, jaguar island, among others. For additional cost visitors can swim with captive dolphins; enjoy the Temascal and Spa services. At night you can admire the unique night show “Xcaret México Espectacular” which features a variety of performances from ancient Mayan culture to traditional Mexican music and dances.
Routes through Cancún
MeridaValladolid  W   E  END
END  N   S  Playa del CarmenTulumChetumal



This city travel guide to Cancún is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.