Where To Visit In The East Of Mexico – A Backpackers Guide To Mexico

Mexico is a beautiful country with so much to offer. With an amazing culture, delicious food, beautiful beaches, and insane adventure, Mexico is a travel destination you do not want to miss. On a last minute decision, we decided to move onward from Xela, Guatemala, to San Cristobal, Mexico, and explore what the east of the country had to offer. Read on about our experience before you head off on yours!

Our route is perfect for any travellers coming to Mexico from Guatemala, or going to Guatemala from Mexico.


Visit San Cristobal De Las Casas, Mexico

First off, we’re not sure if you can avoid a stop in San Cristobal because of the distances you need to travel between destinations but luckily for us travelers, San Cristobal is an unforgettable destination. With gorgeous streets, great food options, and offering access to fun adventures, you won’t regret visiting San Cristobal. Highlights include a visit to Sumidero Canyon and Arcotete Ecotourism Park. Depending on your direction of travel, this could be your first or last stop in Mexico, or in the middle if you continue onward through the rest of Mexico.

Check out our blog: A Trip to Sumidero Canyon (Canon del Sumidero) near San Cristobal, Mexico

Visit Merida, Mexico

Merida is a super lively city in the Mexican state of Yucatan. You’re guaranteed to enjoy a walk through the main square, especially in the evening, or Friday nights to watch a Pok-Ta-Pok match. With beautiful cenotes just a collectivo ride away, tons of places to hangout, eat, drink, and even shopping if that’s your thing, you won’t be bored in Merida.

Check out out blog: A Visit To Cenote’s near Merida, Mexico (Cuzama Cenotes)

Visit Valladoli, Mexico

Valladolid was the least touristic place we visited in but in our opinion, an essential stop for your Mexico adventure because you will be able to get to Chichen Itza before all the other tourists, which truly makes the experience much better. Valladolid also has amazing local eats, and some pretty cool cenotes!

Check out out blogs: A Guide To Valladolid, Mexico and The Best Way To Visit Chichen Itza

Visit Tulum, Mexico

Tulum offers an amazing relaxed vibe in the Mayan Riviera, which is what separates its from its neighbor Playa Del Carmen. Riding a bike around Tulum is a must. Don’t miss the most beautiful cenote’s we saw in Mexico located biking distance from the town center. Check out our Tulum Cenote Guide!

Check out out blog: Tulum Cenote Guide (including Grand Cenote and Cenote Calavera)

Visit Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

The main strip in Playa Del Carmen is always busy with all travellers from resort goes to backpackers. This was definitely the most touristic place we visited in Mexico. With easy beach access, you can relax all day, and party at night (which we don’t do much of, but you definitely can in Playa Del Carmen). Also, this is where the ferry terminal to Cozumel is located.

Visit Cozumel, Mexico

A beautiful island off the coast of Playa Del Carmen, most popular with cruisers as it is a common stop from cruise ships, but in our opinion, a great stop for all travellers. Once you get away from the main strip, you truly feel the beautiful local vibe of the island, and get to see the beauty it has to offer. We definitely recommend getting a scooter or a car and taking a lap around the island to get off the beaten path! There are also snorkeling options, from tours, to hoping in on your own and exploring the ocean.

Check out our blog: A Guide to Cozumel

Visit Cancun, Mexico

Mostly known as the spring break destination, but anyone who stays away from the hotel zone will see the local feel the city has to offer. Although it does not have the most access to the adventure you may seek, it is (in our opinion) worth a short stop to experience the local markets and food!

Check out our blog: Cancun Local Food and Market Guide

Transportation Around Mexico; How To Get Around Mexico Locally

Transportation around Mexico is relatively straightforward. When you want to go to a new city/town, you can get there by heading to the ADO bus station and hopping on a coach bus for a relatively cheap price. This is generally the best way to get from place to place. Within a city, collectivo’s are always a great option and are less than a dollar. Collectivo’s are basically vans that squish in as many people as possible and are a form of local transit. Sometimes you have to do a little research as to which you want, or just ask a local which one is heading in your direction. They are all usually labeled with their final destination, and some stops along the way. Bigger cities will also have local buses for a similar cost. Taxi’s are also fairly cheap, but more than a collectivo, if you prefer that.

Safety In Mexico; Is Mexico Safe To Travel And Backpack?

Mexico has a bad reputation, but in three weeks of backpacking Mexico, we never once felt unsafe. Many people become fearful of Mexico because things they hear on the news, however, similar events occur in countries that are deemed safe countries. Always take normal caution; don’t be flashing around money or jewelry, don’t wander on side streets and avoid being alone at night, don’t drink excessively, use common sense, etc. These are some things we keep in mind regardless of the country we are in.

The Best Local Food In Mexico

  • Torta

Basically, a torta is a sandwich, but it is so good! This was our personal favourite. Don’t leave Mexico without having a torta.

  • Burrito

Absolute deliciousness! If your used to North American burritos, this might be a slight change up as they aren’t as stuffed, and generally don’t have rice in them, but none the less, they are great!

  • Taco

Could you go to Mexico and not have a taco (or 10)? Or would that be a sin?

  • Mole

Mole isn’t a food but rather a sauce typically served on chicken. If you’re a vegetarian, you might not get to try this, but if your not, don’t leave without trying it.

  • Al Pastor

This refers to pork that is cooked on a spit with pineapple that you can basically get with anything if the restaurant serves it. It is a ten on the deliciousness scale.

  • Churro

Cinnamon and sugar fried dough. It is nothing less than great. Often you can find this stuffed through the center with things like chocolate or caramel.

  • Marquesitas

Cooked like a crepe, but then the maker quickly puts on the toppings and wraps it up for you before it hardens into a crunchy dessert. You can but things like banana, strawberry, caramel, nutella, etc, inside!

Alcoholic Drinks In Mexico; Liquor and Beer 

Anybody who has been to Mexico will quickly realize that Tequila is the go to liquor. One thing you may be surprised by is that the Corona is not flowing as widely as expected. More popular beers include Dos Equis, Sol, Modelo, Indio, and Tecate. The cheapest liquor can be found at the grocery stores like Walmart, however, beer can be found also in the local convenience stores such as OXXO.

Money In Mexico; Withdrawing from ATM machines and What Currency To Use 

Mexico uses the Peso. You can withdraw cash at ATM’s. We recommend holding onto your smaller bank notes when you can because people often have trouble making change for you. We recommend going into the bank to change your big bank notes for smaller ones. In the Mayan Riviera, the American Dollar is widely accepted, however, not always for a good exchange rate. Depending on the store/restaurant you can get between 15-19 pesos per USD.


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