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Budget Vacations in Cancún and The Riviera Maya

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Last update: Apr 9, 2021

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Budget Vacations in Cancún and The Riviera Maya

When Cancun and Riviera Maya are brought up to any conversation, it’s impossible not to talk about the huge and amazing resorts and hotel developments, the theme and water parks, the stunning turquoise water of the Caribbean Sea where catamarans, yachts and other boats sail every day. Of course, there are other attractions like cenotes (sinkholes), the jungle and the Mayan ruins. Therefore, the belief that to have access to these tourist destinations requires a big budget is very popular.

Another important factor in the perception of Cancun and Riviera Maya as expensive destinations, especially for Latin tourists, is that the economy in this region is dollar based. Most tourist services and products in the Mexican Caribbean are paid in dollars. Although, while on site, it is always possible to pay in national currency (Mexican peso). The large flow of foreign tourists, especially from the United States, since the first day of its foundation is one of the main reasons for Cancun’s economy to be dollar based. Even for travelers from the USA or other countries, this is also an important factor. Many other destinations in Mexico are cheaper because of more favorable currency rates. Paying in Mexican pesos helps a lot in that regard.

Despite this situation, you still can make a trip to the Mexican Caribbean without asking for a second mortgage. This is possible if you pay attention to some important factors we’ll talk about next.

First of all, the season when you are traveling is one of the main factors to have an impact on the prices of products and services in a beach destination such as Cancun and Riviera Maya. Usually, the months of September and October are those when you can find the best prices in the year. On the other hand, summer (May to August) and holidays (November to December) are the most expensive.

Some other important recommendations when booking accommodation and flights in order to get the lowest prices are:

  • When looking for special offers, check both the websites of each airline and the specialized travel sites (flight sales and hotel reservations) also known as metasearch engines.
  • Booking in advance is one of the most important factors to find the lowest prices. According to data in the tourism industry, an accommodation or flight reservation should be made 56 days before the departure date.
  • Cheap flights usually depart in the afternoon. Morning Flights tend to be more expensive.
  • The cheapest day to get on a plane is Tuesday, while Saturday is usually the most expensive day
  • Airlines and hotels tend to offer cheaper flights and rooms during the weekend, just when there is less traffic on their websites.

Following this recommendation will certainly be helpful to find a lower price.

Some other alternatives to achieve low-cost vacations in these destinations are the following:

  • Staying in hotels close to downtown. There are several hotels in Cancun and Playa del Carmen that are not located close to the beach or in the main tourist areas. However, they still have nice facilities, swimming pools and access to all tourist services.
  • Airport transportation. The cheapest transportation from and to the airport are ADO buses. In each airport terminal, you’ll find an ADO ticket office (or at least a desk) when you can buy your ticket to the main bus stations of any town and city in the Mexican Caribbean. Once on the bus station, taxis are the best option to get to your hotel or wherever you are staying.
  • Restaurants and bars. Like accommodation services, food and entertainment venues are much cheaper in areas populated by local people.
  • Travel in a group. On the matter of activities and tours, if you’re traveling with a large group of people, it’s easier to negotiate with the providers the prices of activities, tours, transportation, etc.
  • Public beaches. They are free and you can stay as long as you want.
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