Hi everyone, I'm planning to backpack around Mexico for three months from June to August this year. At this stage, I'm just after general advice about the country, where to go, places to see etc.
I'm reading my fair share of guide books and articles online, but I thought it would be a good idea to also hear some suggestions from fellow travellers who have been there, done that etc.
Any advice/tips/or just plain stories would be appreciated!
I travelled extensively around Mexico in three visits a dozen years ago but would not do it nowadays. It has become a very dangerous country with shoot outs between rival drug cartels, and with the military. Some SIXTY THOUSAND dead so far and rising.
One church in Monterrey put traffic lights inside. If the light is green then the congregation knows it's safe outside. If red, they know that there are shootings outside.
Tip: Read newspapers, not travel books and consider going elsewhere.
I don't know about how dangerous it is nowadays. I lived in Mexico for 2 years and never really believed all the hype on the news. Of course, that being said, always be aware of your surroundings, use your smarts, just as you would in large cities.
I recommend visiting the city of Guanajuato, it's absolutely charming! There is a mummy museum and they have underground roads which make me dizzy yet never cease to bring a smile to my face. Also, Queretaro and San Miguel de Allende, these are small cities worth stopping in. I lived in Mexico City and there is lots to see there, notably the pyramids of Teotihuacan and the "floating gardens" of Xochimilco. Also, the Archeological Museum is amazing.
I also completely adore Cancun, not because of the party life, which I don't really care about, but just the blue blue waters. Rent a bike or a golf cart and go around Isla Mujeres. It's breathtaking. Also, Tulum. There is lots to see out there, I'd also recommend swimming in a sink hole called a cinote. Seeing Chichen Itza is worth it. Just one of those things you have to check mark off your bucket list. I also hear Oaxaca is fabulous. What has caught your fancy so far in your own research?
Personally speaking, I've always thought the most dangerous parts of Mexico were near the border. I'd simply stay away from this area. I've never been to Monterrey, so I can't really say.
If you feel safer knowing some people to say hi to, let me know in a private message. I still have friends down there. Oh, and learn some spanish from now til you leave. Seriously. Take it from someone who has lived there
I travelled around Mexico City and south from there a year and a half ago... Found it pretty safe...
You will see a lot of news front with dead bodies from drug shootings, and that can be frightening.. It is northern Mexico that's hardest hit, so I'd recommend staying away from there...
Pick up newspapers to get the most current news (get someone to translate if you don't speak Spanish) and when you get there, ask around at your hostel and bus station (locals in general) about your next few destinations... If they consider them unsafe, change your itinerary...
That said the shootings are not related to you and the cartels will generally not target tourists (unless you accidentally walk into their production facility)... You're still way more likely to get robbed or mugged than caught in a cross fire
But try to stay updated and avoid trouble areas.. Trust me when I say, that travelling is less fun when you are confined to your hostels common room because of shootings outside...
I travelled there for two months last year by public transport and never had any trouble.
I wrote it up in a travel blog. If you have time, you may find it useful to read ( 500 others did!).
[ Edit: Sorry, no personal details please. ]