​On a budget in Mexico

Mexico is relatively cheap for Europeans and Americans. (It is cheaper than Guatemala that is considered one of the cheapest countries in Central America). The value of your peso will highly depend on the region and the place you shop (touristic zone or further away). The cheapest states (as to our experience) are Chiapas and Oaxaca then Guadalajara i Ciudad de Mexico. The most expensive – Yucatan Peninsula.
Eating

All the touristic zones are double or triple the price of the standard (local prices). Speaking Spanish and a bit of haggling drops the prices significantly. (As we experienced fellow travellers that did not speak Spanish paid much more than us for the same stuff).

Your best bet for food will be Mercado Municipal (be aware that some touristic markets will be called the same – ask for: no el para turistas, el verdadero”. You will find the best prices for fruit and veggies here and for the comidas, almuerzos, desayunos y cenas. Comida corrida is a set of dishes you can pick from (menu del dia) usually including a drink (refresco).

The other good deal will be in supermercados. Unfortunately some of them will have higher prices than supposed to, especially in touristic zones. Shop here for water, bread, tins, rice, alcohols, pastas, chemicals and all luxury items.

Local shops are usually poorly stoked, but w usually found the best yogurts choice there.

Oxxo is a network of shops around Mexico. It has some basics but we found it not too helpful, apart for the cold water, beer and drinks.

Example prices*:

Water1.5l –  from 8mex

Bread roll – from 1.5mex

Beer 0.5l – from 17mex

Beer in bar – from 30mex

Tomatoes 1kg – from 6mex

Bananas 1kg – from 7mex (depends on the type of banana)

Mangoes 1kg – from 10mex

Comida corrida – from 35mex

Orden of 5 tostadas – from 5mex

Small tlayuda – from 20mex

Panuchos – from 15mex

Burritas – from 30mex

instant coffee – from 10mex

Expresso – from 22mex

 
Traveling

Mexico has reasonable long distance transport but there is ADO’s monopoly. ADO is a main transport provider and it is not cheap! They provide services of primera clase, gold and platinum. Comfort is good but no frills. The aircon makes you freeze and the loud TV makes you want to leave. They advertize that you can get discounts with advanced booking but it doesn’t always work. Some offices accept credit cards.

Example prices*:

Palenque – Merida  primera clase – 680mex

Palenque – Cancun primera clase – 700mex

Very few routes has alternatives with other transport provider from ADO terminal (which is the main terminal in all destinations)

If you want to go in second class bus (segunda clase) only few services will be available from ADO station. There is also another option but you will have to dig it up. Talk to the locals and search for terminal camionera de segunda clase or terminal de suburbanos. It is quite frequent that each provider will have it’s own terminal, or a shared one with another few.

It is a hard work, but savings are significant. And they usually don’t have that damn loud TV!

Example prices*:

Palenque – Cancun segunda clase 350mex

Public transport in towns is efficient and frequent. It is also cheap! The only trouble with it is finding a bus stop and the bus you want to take. You have to talk to the locals or your hostel/ hotel receptionist. Bus stops are unmarked. Buses usually stop near the intersections (esquinas).

Example prices*:

Most metro trains – 7mex

Most buses: 5 – 7.5mex

Trolleybus – 4mex

Colectivos and camionetas are minivans and open back pick-up trucks services that will provide transport on short distances from towns or between villages. Prices vary depending on the distance and popularity of the route from 7 to 35mex

Bargain the ones over 20 pesos
Accommodation

If picking budget accommodation be prepared for bare dirty walls and not the cleanest bathrooms. There are some exceptions though that can surprise! Towels are somtimes odd ones and torn in here in there but clean. Linens and beds are usually ok – in not – leave! Wifi is a standard even in the cheapest ones, though sometimes only near the reception. Hotel for a couple is usually cheaper than 2 bunk beds in hostels. Some prices can be bargained. Hostels not always have kitchens, so ask.

Example prices*

Bunk bed – 130-180mex pp

Doubles in hotel – 200 – 400mex

Camping – from 100mex pp

Cheapest

  • double with shared bed in Oaxaca, wifi in room. Very poor decor and cleanliness but nice staff and clean and relatively comfortable beds – 200mex

Our most expensive (and to our research cheapest in town)

  • bunk bed in 4 bed dormitory on Isla Mujeres. Ok decor and good facilities, clean – 180 mex pp

  • Another was a double with shared bathroom in Puerto Morelos – 400mex (bargained down from 500 on 2 nights basis!

Apart from Christmas, Easter and local fiestas or major touristic destinations don’t bother with booking. On the spot you get better deals. Checked and confirmed!
Entry fees* 

attractions – from mere 30mex to 240mex or crazy 450 for night light show at Chitzen Itza

toilets – 3-5mex (all paid)
Tours*

Making things on your own saves you looaaaads of money!

Cenote Ik – Kha  tour from Cancun is 800mex pp – while entrance fee is 80mex + hitchhike or walk prom Piste free!

*All example prices are based on what we’ve encoutered in March 2017

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