Everyone should get to experience a Cancun vacation. Make the right choices and you can do it even on a tight budget.
Cancun has a reputation as one of the most luxurious vacation destinations in Mexico. But it has the reputation of being an expensive destination.
Can you visit Cancun on a budget and still experience everything it has to offer?
The answer is, yes you can!
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to have a great time in Cancun, even if you stay a full week.
It’s all about knowing where to eat, visit, stay, and what to avoid. Hopefully, the tips below will help you plan a better vacation around your budget.
Tip #1 Downtown Is Cheaper
If you want to save money in Cancun, try to steer clear of the touristy areas.
For example, the main strip is where all hotels are. People refer to it as Cancun Island. But most locals reside in downtown Cancun. There are sufficient hotels there, too, as well as clubs, restaurants, etc.
Downtown is considerably cheaper than the main strip, whether in terms of accommodations, food, drinks, or a night out. It’s also not too far from the beach. You can easily hit Cancun’s ivory beaches by hitching on the bus for a 15-minute ride.
Tip #2 Explore Cancun Without a Guide
Booking a tour that takes you to the local Mayan ruins and other landmarks is a great way to learn about South American history. However, some of these tours can dig a hole in your wallet.
One way to save money in Cancun is to go exploring on your own.
You don’t actually need a guide to reach, see, and explore the ruins. You’re free to do it on your own time and dime because very few areas have restricted access.
Consider investing in a detailed guidebook that can tell you where to go, how to get there, and what you’re looking at. You save money and gain a ton of freedom to explore at your leisure.
Tip #3 Pick the Right Daytrip
As with landmark tours, day trips can get expensive, too. There’s a lot to see in Cancun and many tour organizers might take advantage of that.
But some of the day trips are rather cheap and can take you to gorgeous locations. One of the cheapest you can book is one to Isla Mujeres.
The tiny island off the Yucatan Peninsula coast is easily accessible by ferry. Boats make the trip every 30 minutes during the day and every hour after 9:30 pm.
The island has lively and more rugged beaches, plus plenty of green spaces. It also offers great water conditions for kayaking and snorkeling.
Tip #4 Know Where to Exchange Your Money
There’s no shortage of ATMs in Cancun, so you might as well use them. While many venues and attractions will accept dollars, paying directly with this currency may cost you extra.
You’ll get a better price and exchange rate if you simply convert your money to pesos. But whatever you do, don’t get your money changed at the airport if you’re on a budget trip. The private currency exchanges in downtown Cancun are the best places to change your money.
It’s also a good idea to carry enough small notes to pay transportation fees, groceries at the local markets, and so on.
Tip #5 Avoid the Taxis
This is pretty much true of any popular tourist destination. Cancun receives thousands of tourists every day. So whether it’s midseason or offseason, the airport is always busy. And taxi drivers often take advantage of this.
To save money, remember that many Cancun hotels, as well as third-party companies, offer shuttle rides from the airport. They’re much cheaper than taxis and also easy to book in advance. So while researching accommodations, make sure to add this to your to-do list.
The same applies when traveling between different locations or landmarks. Try to find the best ADO public bus route for your itinerary.
Public transportation is very cheap and convenient in Cancun, as the buses make their stops frequently. It’s also more affordable than renting a car.
Tip #6 Consider the Low Season
Always a great way to save money in Cancun, traveling between May and November will have you arriving in the low seasons or offseason.
There are many more vacancies at this time. And as a result, hoteliers slash prices. Of course, you may not experience the best weather Cancun can offer, but if you want to save every penny during your trip, it’s worth considering.
You can also escape the bustle of the city’s most popular beaches. And the trails leading to the Mayan ruins aren’t as packed with tourists, either.
Tip #7 There Are Cheap Eateries
One of the most authentic spots in Cancun is Mercado 28. It’s a market that sells a bit of everything and stays open seven days a week.
Here you can find amazing and affordable Mexican street food. It’s also a great spot to visit if you want to buy trinkets to commemorate your trip.
Don’t be shy about haggling, either. Most sellers understand the need to try and get a bargain, so they’re open to negotiations.
Tip #8 Hostels Over Hotels
As previously mentioned, downtown Cancun is more affordable than the main strip. This gives you the liberty to stay at whatever accommodations fit your budget and look good to you.
But if you want the added convenience of staying on the strip, try to find a hostel.
Keep in mind that there aren’t that many of them and tourists seek them out relentlessly. However, the pricing differences are substantial.
A Cheaper Paradise Than You Think
Cancun, like many other tropical locations, can get expensive if you’re going in blind. But with a bit of planning and research, you can have a memorable vacation even on a restricted budget.
Sticking to the inland for shopping, eating, and accommodations can save you lots of money. And using the bus system to go where you need to, instead of renting a car, is another way to save money in Cancun.
Make sure you exchange your money and invest in a useful local book guide, too. All that money you save for your trip will be worth it.