Hola amigos, I’m back from the wedding and subsequent honeymoon in beautiful Cancún, Mexico. This being my second time traveling outside the continental US (the first being a trip to Europe), I was excited to get outside of the resort area and try and experience some authentic Mexican food and culture. I learned a few things on the way, so I decided to impart some of the things my wife and I discovered about Cancún.
Before I lay it out, I would first recommend going to Cancún because it’s flipping awesome. There’s tons of all-inclusive resorts and the city is simply beautiful. I found that the people of Mexico were extremely friendly and all the staff who assisted us were incredible. The resort even sent us a plate of chocolate strawberries to congratulate us on our honeymoon! Everyone in Mexico very enthusiastically congratulated us on our marriage; it was really cool. Contrary to popular belief, Mexico is not just an “extension” of America. It is its own separate cultural identity and it’s pretty cool. So now, 3 things to know about going to Cancún.
#3. Take a bunch of tip money
In Mexico, you tip almost literally tip EVERYONE. You tip your drivers and bartenders (and at an all-inclusive resort where everything is already paid for, that can be a lot), your servers, your receptionists at the front desk, your tour guides, etc. The cool thing is that we took the advice of some friends and brought a ton of $1 bills so that every time we tipped for something, we just gave a $1. That way, you can tip on a budget and still feel like you’re not being a tightwad. We found that many of the people we tipped did not give off an aura of expecting a tip, which made tipping really rewarding. At the end of our stay, we gave our favorite server a $10 tip because he was so awesome. It feels great to be able to do that, so don’t forget to bring tipping money everywhere you go!
#2. Go to Market 28. And ignore the guys asking if you would like a song.
Market 28 is the flea market in the center of Cancun, where a ton of merchants hawk their wares and you can haggle for a good price. Inside Market 28, there is a kind of Mexican food court with a bunch of family style restaurants. All these restaurants offer the same lunch deal: 55 pesos for a drink, soup, and the main meal. That’s like $3.50 American dollars, and it’s about as much food as you’d get at a nice restaurant here for $15-20. And it was incredibly delicious. Also, ignore the musicians, because they charge a fat tip, to the tune of $5 for a single song. Still not happy about that…
#1. Check the prices at the Mexican Bazaar at La Isla Shopping Mall before heading to Market 28
La Isla is the touristy shopping center in the center of the hotel zone. It’s super cool and it has an aquarium at the center (which we didn’t visit due to our budget, but it’s still cool that it’s there). There’s a Mexican Bazaar store in there that has really great prices. We saw a couple items there in the $8-10 range and when we saw those products at Market 28, the merchant tried to sell it to us for $62! So know a baseline price for comparison for what you want to get before trying to haggle a merchant to ensure you’re actually getting a deal. In general, a merchant at Market 28 is going to quote you a price 3 to 4 times higher than what you should actually pay.