Frequently asked questions about Mexico

  1. Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?
  2. Are there opportunities to swim?
  3. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?
  4. Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?
  5. Do I need a visa?
  6. Do I need to take a mosquito net?
  7. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
  8. Do they cater for vegetarians in Mexico?
  9. How are communications?
  10. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?
  11. How is the electricity situation?
  12. Is Mexico dangerous?
  13. What about my passport?
  14. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?
  15. What is the accommodation like?
  16. What is the best time to travel?
  17. What is the recommended currency for Mexico?
  18. What is the time difference?
  19. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?
  20. What kind of luggage should I take?
  21. What kind of transportation is used?
  22. What local customs do I need to bear in mind?
  23. What other activities and sports could I do?
  24. Which travel guides and maps?
  25. Are there guidelines for interactions with tribes?

1. Are there opportunities to snorkel or dive?
There are various possibilities for watersports. At Playa del Carmen you can go snorkelling and scuba diving.
2. Are there opportunities to swim?
In Playa del Carmen, Xcaret and Xel-Ha (located in neighbouring Playa Car) you will have the opportunity to swim.
3. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?

Yes you can pre book transfers (arrival only) and extra nights with Shoestring.You can add these to your booking form.

4. Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?
It is not necessary to bring a sleeping bag with you on our Mexico trips.
5. Do I need a visa?

You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. Please check the embassy if you need a visa for Mexico and check here for the current situation. At present, UK and other EU nationals do not need a visa but you do need a tourist card which can be obtained by completing immigration forms on arrival or during your flight into Mexico. Make sure you inquire at least a month before departure so that in the event that you do need a visa, you do not run into time problems.

6. Do I need to take a mosquito net?
A mosquito net is not needed in your luggage.
7. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
Please click here for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and then contact your GP or a specialised health clinic and make an appointment to get your injections and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program of injections. Two weeks should suffice for people who have already had a few vaccinations. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.
8. Do they cater for vegetarians in Mexico?
There are many restaurants serving delicious vegetarian dishes in Mexico.
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22. How are communications?

Making telephone calls from Mexico is not a problem. You can make calls easily and internet cafes are everywhere.

23. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?

If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveller (same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room.

24. How is the electricity situation?

Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.

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26. Is Mexico dangerous?

There is no need to be worried but you should exercise caution, particularly in the big cities. Keep money and other valuables close to you or safely stowed away at all times.

27. What about my passport?
You need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months from the date of your departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.
28. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?

Mexico is renowned for its colourful celebrations and festivals. Virtually every month of the year features a national holiday or fiesta, and each city celebrates the day of its patron saint. Mexicans celebrate Christmas (Navidàd), Epiphany (January 6) and Easter. The macabre Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, celebrated on November 2 (All Soul’s Day), is one of Mexico’s most distinctive national holidays. It is the believer’s conviction that on this day the souls of their beloved deceased return to earth. In the week preceding Día de los Muertos, markets bulge with essential items such as candy skulls and papier-mâché skeletons. All over the country, people gather at cemeteries to picnic on the graves of their ancestors and departed loved ones. December 12 is another important day in the Mexican National Holiday calendar. It is the Dia de Virgen de Guadalupe, the country’s most popular religious icon. 

29. What is the accommodation like?

You will sleep mainly in comfortable mid-range hotels 

30. What is the best time to travel?
Mexico enjoys a tropical climate so temperatures depend more on sea level than the time of year. The temperature varies from twenty degrees Celsius in the highlands to about thirty degrees on the coasts. There are only two seasons: rainy and dry. The dry period runs from mid November to mid May, the rainy season runs from mid May to mid November. In the rainy season, plants blossom and the foliage looks emerald green. Normally the sun shines in the morning followed by cooling showers in the afternoon.
31. What is the recommended currency for Mexico?

Mexican currency is the New Peso (MXN) divided into 100 centavos. Credit cards are widely accepted, particularly Visa, MasterCard and American Express.  ATMs are available in most cities and towns and are the most convenient way to get money, but for safety reasons they should only be used during business hours. Although most businesses will accept foreign currency, it is best to use pesos. Foreign currency can be exchanged at one of many casas de cambio (exchange houses), which have longer hours and offer quicker service than the banks.

32. What is the time difference?

Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference 

33. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?

In Mexico you will travel through tropical lowland as well as through mountainous areas. The latter have a moderate climate which may include cold nights. For this reason, you should bring thin, cotton clothes but also a closed neck long-sleeved T-shirt or a thin cotton roll neck sweater. This will also protect you against mosquitoes. In addition, bring along a jersey or sweater and a waterproof jacket. Nights in San Cristóbal can be quite cold! Do not forget an umbrella as protection against rain and too much sun. With regards to footwear, bring a pair of good quality, worn-in walking shoes and flip-flops or sandals. You should also consider bringing the following: sunglasses, sun cream, toiletries, a travellers’ health kit, a hat/scarf, a (video)camera, spare batteries, and a pocket knife.

34. What kind of luggage should I take?
We prefer it if you bring everything in a weekend bag or backpack, rather than a solid suitcase, which takes up too much space and can be hard to carry sometimes. A small backpack or shoulder bag comes in handy for hand luggage. Valuable documents are best kept in a thin cotton money belt, to be carried underneath your clothes. Make sure that you have an extra set of clean clothes in your hand luggage so that you can do without the rest of your luggage for 48 hours if it is delayed. For example, make sure you put a supply of important medication and a toothbrush in your hand luggage. Also make sure that your luggage is not too heavy - we recommend a maximum of 12 kg per person.
35. What kind of transportation is used?

Transportation will be in 1st class public buses with reserved seats or in private minibuses. Taxis will take you to/from hotels and bus terminals. 

36. What local customs do I need to bear in mind?
Politeness plays an important role in communication all over Central America. When addressing somebody in a shop or on the bus, say hello first. A simple buenos días or buenas tardes accompanied by a smile works miracles. Your greeting will be returned and, from that moment, the actual interaction begins. Upon entering a communal space, such as a restaurant, bus or waiting room, it is also very polite to say hello to everybody present. A simple buenos días or buenas tardes will do.
37. What other activities and sports could I do?
Mexico is a fascinating country and there is a lot to see and do there. You can explore the jungle ruins of Palenque, visit the stunning waterfalls of Misol-Ha and Agua Azul or the ancient Maya Toltek town of Chichén Itzá, one of the peninsula Yucatán’s most splendid archaeological sites.
38. Which travel guides and maps?

If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.

39. Are there guidelines for interactions with tribes?
Many tribes live in remote areas and have little contact with Western travellers. If you are going to visit such an "exotic" region, prepare yourself well. This will be beneficial both for yourself and for the people you will meet. Here are some do's & don'ts that you can use as a guideline.

• Read up beforehand about the traditions and customs of the tribe(s) you will visit. Then you know what to expect when you are there. Your tour leader can often provide you with information as well.
• First make contact with the chief of the tribe and do not instantly begin photographing. You are dealing with people, not with objects.
• Always ask permission first if you want to take a picture of someone. Put yourself in the position of the person you want to photograph. How would you feel if a person unknown to you suddenly started taking photos of you? In some cases, the tour leader or local guide will ask for permission for you.
• Involve the local people in what you are doing. Make time for a conversation (with hands and feet) and show the photo that you have taken. You may like to bring a few photos from home, and then you can show how things are where you come from.
• Do not hand out things like candy (there are often few/no accessible dentists), balloons (plastic contaminates the area), money or Western trinkets. These types of donations can lead to disagreement, jealousy or quarrels between the various tribes-people.
• Do not purchase authentic, irreplaceable items (and do not accept them when given as a gift). Some examples include jewellery that belonged to ancestors, tools for work such as a sickle or hammer or weapons like a bow and arrow. The tribesmen often only realise afterwards, once the tourists are gone, that they have lost their irreplaceable object(s).