The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures. There’s more to Mexico than spring break, tequila, and beaches. And while tourist areas like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas are popular for a reason, all-inclusive resorts and overcrowded beach areas don’t always make for an authentic experience. The good news is, you can still make
The One Bag Traveler recommends Gear, Destinations and Adventures.
There’s more to Mexico than spring break, tequila, and beaches. And while tourist areas like Cancun and Cabo San Lucas are popular for a reason, all-inclusive resorts and overcrowded beach areas don’t always make for an authentic experience. The good news is, you can still make your trip to Mexico a non-touristy one. From Maya museums to historic festivals, the country offers a lot more than just palm trees and swim-up pool bars.
Tips for an Authentic Trip to Mexico
Read on for 10 insider tips that will lead to a more authentic trip to Mexico, even if you’re headed to a busy city or resort area.
Go for a Festival
Whether it’s for Day of the Dead or Mexican Independence Day, you’ll have a more culturally rich trip to Mexico if you visit during a celebration or festival. These events are an outlet to learn more about the country’s history and traditions, and are packed with exciting experiences.
Here are some popular holidays to plan a trip to Mexico around:
Diez y Seis: Mexican Independence Day, September 16
Dia de la Raza: Day of the Race (date Christopher Columbus arrived in North America), October 12
Dia de Los Muertos: Day of the Dead, October 31 to November 2
Dia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe: Our Lady of Guadalupe (patron saint of Mexico), December 12
Las Posadas: Christmas Season kickoff, December 16
Dia de Los Santos Reyes: Three Kings Day, January 6
Semana Santa: Holy Week, Lent and Easter
Carnaval: Mardi Gras, dates vary with the Easter calendar
There are plenty of quiet beach towns left in Mexico, and some aren’t far from popular tourist areas. Sayulita in Riviera Nayarit is just north of Puerto Vallarta and known for its laid back surfing vibe, even though it attracts tourists. Or head to car-free Yelapa, accessible by water taxi from Puerto Vallarta.
If you’re looking for a trip to Mexico’s Riviera Maya, head to nearby Punta Allen, located in the Sian Ka’an Bioshperhe Reserve. Also in Quintana Roo, you’ll find Puerto Morelos in between Cancun and Playa del Carmen—it’s much quieter than its resort neighbors.
Shop at Markets
While it might be hard to skip out on the touristy gimmicks, your best bet for authentic Mexican markets are in Guadalajara and Mexico City.
In Guadalajara, Mercado Libertad can’t be missed—literally: The massive market is home to more than 2,800 vendors. For something smaller, head just outside the city to Tlaquepaque or Tonala, which are known for handicrafts and authentic Mexican art.
In Mexico City, you’ll find spectacular food and clothing markets, like Bazaar Sabado, Mercado de la Merced, and Mercado Artesanal de Coyoacan (located in Frida Kahlo’s home town).
If you’re an experienced traveler who speaks some Spanish, taking the bus in most of Mexico’s tourist-frequented areas is safe and affordable. In Cancun, many buses are brand new and will get you to popular spots, as well as sights outside the main strip. Head to the local bus station ahead of time and ask for information on your desired route. In Yucatan for example, there are local buses, long-distance buses, and a mini-bus line. Depending on your trip, you can chose from first-class, second-class, plus class, and luxury buses. Find more specific information on Mexico buses here.
If you’re really looking for an authentic trip to Mexico, you can volunteer through a variety of programs. International…