Cancun

Travel Guide North America Mexico Yucatan Peninsula Quintana Roo Cancun

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Introduction

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© susancon

Cancun is a popular vacation city on Mexico's Caribbean coast. If you like parties and beaches, this is the perfect place to go. As soon as you get to the beach there you'll be amazed by the color of the sea and sand. The night life there is crazy, everywhere you go you'll have a great time. But there is much more in Cancun and its surroudings. It is also easy to take a bus to Mérida, Chichen Itza, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum.

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

Other Events and Festivals

Grito de la Independencia - September 15th is Mexican Independence Day! A massive celebration involving plenty of singing, dancing and fireworks takes place in the Zócalo. Everyone here awaits an appearance from Mexico's president who rings a bell from a central balcony of the Palacio Nacional overlooking the Zócalo. The president then shouts out the Grito de Dolores, or the Cry of Dolores which was Father Hidalgo's famous call to arms against Spanish rule in 1810.

  • Dia de la Candelaria. Candlemas is held February 2nd and commemorates Jesus being introduced into the temple 40 days after his birth. This nationwide celebration sees many different ways of celebrating and many towns hold processions, bullfights and dances. Of course, plenty of delicious, traditional foods are served during Dia de la Candelaria as well.
  • Carnaval is held in late February or early March throughout all of Mexico. This big party is meant to celebrate the 40 day penance of Lent. Carnaval always takes place during the week or so prior to Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter Sunday. Mexicans celebrate this holiday with fireworks, food, dancing, parades, dancing and drinking.
  • Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is a huge celebration which starts on Palm Sunday. This is a very popular time for Mexicans to take a short break; as a result, it seems most of the country is on the move, with buses and hotels often booked out. As for the celebration of Semana Santa, expect colorful processions and many masses at churches everywhere.
  • Día de Nuestra Seňora de Guadalupe, or Day of our Lady of Guadalupe, is held December 12th. There is a week-long build up to this religious celebration in honour of the Virgin who appeared to the indigenous Juan Diego in the year 1531. Since then, the Lady of Guadalupe has been Mexico's religious patron and her veneration is very significant. It is traditional for young boys to be dressed as a Juan Diego and for young girls to be dressed in indigenous garb and brought to a special mass, held at many churches throughout the country.

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Weather

Cancun has a tropical climate with generally hot and humid weather. June to November is the rainy season when there is a chance of hurricanes as well. This is also the hottest season. December to April is slightly cooler and is the dry and sunny season. There are more crowds however during these months. Probably May and November are good months for a visit, with mostly fine weather and less people. Generally temperatures are around 30 °C during the day and well above 20 °C during the night for most of the year.

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Getting There

By Plane

Cancun International Airport (CUN) is Mexico's second busiest airport and has numerous flights from other cities in Mexico, and cities in mostly North America and Europe. Destinations include Cozumel, Havana, Guadalajara, Mexico City, Belize City, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Monterrey, Tijuana, Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Quebec City, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Saskatoon, Amsterdam, Bogota, Milan, Rome, Frankfurt, Panama City, Paris, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Helsinki, Brussels, Barcelona, Madrid, Boston, Orlando, Washington, D.C., Tampa, Santiago de Chile, London, Lima, Oslo, Bologna, Regina, Victoria, Flores, Guatemala City, Belfast, Glasgow, Manchester, Düsseldorf, Munich, Atlanta, Baltimore, Seattle, Cleveland, Salt Lake City, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Memphis, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Bristol, Fort Lauderdale, San Francisco, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. There are even more destinations, some of them seasonal.

There are two companies officially licensed by Cancun Airport to provide the transfer service to the hotels in Cancun or the Riviera Maya. One is Gray Line and the other one is T.T.A. Both have a selling booth right after the Customs Service. Prices are fixed by the airport and are not negotiable. The two companies offer shuttle service and also private transfer. There are other transportation firms that provide service to and from the airport for a reasonable price as well. Beware of touts who will surround you when you come out of customs clearance. If you proceed straight, you will find the official information center where they can help you with the ground transportation options. If you bought an online shuttle service reservation and you don't find your driver, call customer service yourself; do not trust local people who claim to be airport employees trying to help you (usually airport employees wait for you to come to them, and not the other way round).

By Car

Cancun can easily be reached by well maintained tarred roads from all over Yucatan. Be careful when driving though, especially at night. Also watch the numerous speed bumps and watch speed as police enforces this heavily.

By Bus

Buses regulalry connect Cancun with places in Quintana Roo and other places in the Yucatan Peninsula, like Tulum and south towards the border with Belize.

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Getting Around

By Car

Taxis are plentiful, a bit expensive for the hotel zone and airport, but cheap in the downtown area. 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 within the downtown there is a general fixed fare of about $20 per trip, it is best to just ask the driver upon boarding to avoid misunderstandings. By far, the best mode of transportation for the hotel zone is by bus. The bus fare is cheap and getting from Point A to Point B doesn't take very long.
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).

By Public Transport

Bus is the preferred way of getting around. Buses are cheap and come frequently. Most bus drivers are very courteous and will stop for you even if you are not waiting at a bus stop. 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. Buses head up and down the main thoroughfare, Blvd Kukulcan. Buses pass constantly but be prepared for a cramped and rough ride. Companies serving the station include all attractions and towns along the coast: the Riviera Express 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 then it's best to go to the station.

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Nightlife

If you want to experience Cancun at night, the world famous Cocobongo is worth a try. This night club is one of the best of the world, with a mixture between presentations with famous charactors from movies, cartoons, as well as singers. Definetely something you can't miss.

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Money

In Cancun the official currency is the Mexican Peso. But along the Mexican Caribbean coastline you can use US$ as well. Bills of US$100 are difficult to change though.

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Sleep

Upscale

You can use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 21.165668
  • Longitude: -86.830908

Accommodation in Cancun

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Cancun searchable right here on Travellerspoint.

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This is version 45. Last edited at 9:38 on Apr 24, 19 by Utrecht. 94 articles link to this page.

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