If you’re going to Cancun, chances are you’re staying in the ‘hotel zone’, which is a narrow piece of land separated from the mainland by the freshwater Laguna Nichupte and shaped like the number 7. Construction here began in 1970 and the first hotels opened in 1974. There are now over 27,000 hotel rooms along the 27-kilometre stretch of beaches. Here’s some other orientation tips for when you land in Cancun.
Australian citizens looking to holiday in Mexico do not require a tourist visa, although if you are travelling here via the US you are required to meet US entry and transit requirements. To enter Mexico from the US border, you will need to obtain a tourist card and have your passport stamped. When travelling internationally always ensure you have at least 6 months’ validity on your passport. Please be aware that these requirements and travel conditions can change at any time. For up-to-the-minute visa information, refer to the Embassy of Mexico in the ACT.
The official currency in Mexico is the Mexican Peso but US Dollars are also widely accepted. The exchange rate between the Australian Dollar and the Mexican Peso and US Dollar changes constantly, so keep an eye on the exchange rate and purchase your cash when the rate is at its best. For safe spending while overseas, consider using a credit or debit card.
Mexican food has reached the far corners of the world – Australians have been chowing down on Old El Paso for years – but salsa that comes in a packet and tacos you heat in the microwave are a far cry from the real deal. Mexican food is fresh, spicy and wonderfully messy to eat. With a focus on handmade, you’ll get the best, freshest and cheapest tacos you can imagine – so much so, you’ll want to eat them hourly. Step out of your Tex-Mex, Baja California Mexican haze and embrace the spices and flavours of the real Mexico. Try pozole, a traditional tangy soup, and mole negro, a popular dark spicy sauce made from chilli peppers, tomatoes, cumin, chipotle peppers and chocolate (!) to accompany meat. Cancun’s seaside location means fresh seafood features big on the menu. You must try ceviche, a tropical Mexican specialty where fresh, raw fish, prawns or octopus are essentially cured in fresh lemon juice then topped with finely chopped onion, cilantro and tomato – it’s a taste sensation. Inexpensive, safe to eat, and delicious, street food stands and restaurants are all over downtown Cancun.
Cancun is Mexico's hedonistic capital. You can hear the “Spring Break, woohoo!” chants the moment you land. In March, American students descend upon the party town to let loose and catch a tan – among other things. At Senor Frogs bar, happy hour is combined with water sliding (booze and watersports – a classic combo). For all-out clubbing fun though, Coco Bongos is a must. The legendary club has a whopping capacity of 1,800 people and a full-on approach to partying with everything from acrobats to conga lines, live bands, DJs impersonators, confetti and more. For something a little off the beaten clubbing trail, Cat’s is a cool reggae/hip-hop joint that will satisfy a thirst for some soul-driven dance. With beach parties aplenty, Cancun is one of the few places where it’s acceptable to wear a just bikini or boardies from dawn to dusk – embrace dancing in your second skin.