Tripexpert’s Experts’ Choice Awards are given to the best of the best hotels, restaurants and attractions in 126 countries, and are based on professional travel reviews. We also give awards to the destinations we think should be top of your travel bucket lists. This year, our award for Best Budget Destination goes to Mexico.
Travelers to Mexico are now seeing better deals than ever before. Whether you want to explore on a shoestring, or are looking for a luxury experience for less, Mexico should be your go-to budget destination this year. Here are three options to consider.
Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya
First-time visitors to Mexico might be inclined to book a trip to Cancún, the glittery Caribbean city known for its white sand beaches and nightlife. Cancún offers endless options of places to stay, both in the Hotel Zone and beyond, but neighboring Playa del Carmen is a more budget-friendly alternative. Hostels and guest houses are nestled between restaurants, shops and bars lining Playa’s iconic Quinta Avenida 77, with five-star resorts dotted along the coastline.
Centrally located restaurants like Quinta de Piedra provide you with huge portions of food at reasonable prices. If you’re going to hit the beach, a way to save money is to take a cooler full of drinks, and buy snacks from nearby convenience stores.
Spending the day at a cenote is a must, and cheap to do on your own. Group excursions can cost anywhere from $20 to $60 per person, but the cenote entry fees only tend to be around a few dollars. If you’re in a group, hailing a cab or renting a car for the day, especially when split between a few people, can end up being a lot cheaper than hiring a tour company to transport you.
Mexico’s capital is a fascinating and beautiful place to visit, with daily costs coming in at a fraction of similar metropolises.
The historic city center is a great base as it’s close to many of the best sites and has more reasonably priced accommodation than other neighborhoods. Downtown Beds 70 is an affordable hostel in one of El Centro’s coolest buildings — a 17th-century palace. Boutique sister property Hotel Downtown Mexico 85 is just an elevator ride away and has shared amenities including a rooftop pool and terrace. Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral 72 is home to Terraza Catedral, a low-key rooftop bar with incredible views of the city’s famed gothic cathedral.
The street food in Mexico City is legendary. Hire a tour guide to take you to the markets and best taquerias. The Traditional Markets Street Food Tour employs some of the best guides in the city. For a more traditional meal, visit Nicos Mexico 77An amazing three-course lunch complete with a handcrafted cocktail costs less than $30.
There are several museums demanding a visit that won’t break the bank. The National Museum of Anthropology 90 costs 70 pesos (around $3.50 USD) to enter and has “one of the finest archaeological collections in the world,” according to Fodor’s. Palacio de Bellas Artes 93 where you can view powerful murals by Mexican artists like Diego Rivera, costs the same — apart from on Sundays, when admission is free.
Los Cabos, Baja California Sur
Cabo has always been a luxury destination. Although many of the resorts along the Los Cabos Corridor (the waterfront area between San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas) can cost upwards of several hundred dollars per night, small boutique properties like Los Milagros Hotel 79 now offer rates starting at $70 per night.
There are big discounts and price drops on luxury properties too. Mexico Grand Hotels is currently offering 60% off their resorts, bringing the nightly rate for the gorgeous Marina Fiesta Resort & Spa 78 down to around $100 or less.
Also in San José del Cabo is the city’s weekly art walk, a free event hosted every Thursday evening November through June. Street traffic shuts down and the art galleries open their doors, pour wine, and welcome visitors interested in learning about the local art scene.
No one visits Los Cabos without seeing nature’s masterpiece, El Arco, the iconic rock formation sitting out in the Sea of Cortez. It’s best viewed by boat, which can also be done on a budget; a boat taxi will take you up close for around $10, a fraction of the price many tour companies charge for their sunset sails.