While most visitors simply travel to Mexico for its beautiful beaches, there is much more to this exotic country than just sunbathing and swimming. The varied landscape of Mexico has more than most countries can offer - sprawling metropoles, small mountain villages, jungle-like rainforests, sandy deserts, and even snowy mountains and volcanoes. You can enjoy the famous Mexican cuisine, which people try to replicate all over the world. Moreover, there are tons of both man-made and natural wonders sprinkled all over the country, making for lots of sightseeing sites. To educate you a bit on the unobvious beauties of Mexico, we have prepared a list of the Hidden Secrets about the Culture of Mexico.
Culture of Mexico
While the television always portrays Mexico as a country in which everybody is wearing a sombrero, eating chili and drinking tequila, you may spend weeks in Mexico and not see a single one of those things, as those stereotypes are more accurate to the northern part of Mexico, around the border with the United States. In reality, there is a very large dose of variety when it comes to the culture of Mexico. Mexico has dozens of various indigenous languages, all with their own culture which can be foreign even to other Mexicans, who happen to live in a different area of the country. Seeing everything Mexico has to offer in one go is almost impossible, so we recommend choosing a single part of the country to explore. If you wish to get a taste of all the different cultures Mexico has, doing so on multiple trips will allow you to get the most of each one of them.
Popular tourist areas
A vast majority of tourists flock to the same areas every year. Mexico City is flooding with tourists all-year-round, similarly to the resorts of Cancun, which attracts way more tourists than it does locals. Thought about visiting the ancient Mayan cities of Palenque or Chichen Itza? Chances are, those will be pretty overcrowded too. The same usually goes for Teotihuacan with its pyramids, as well as Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, Acapulco, and other popular tourist areas. However, if you just leave the places which attract tourists, you are going to find Mexico as it is unknown to most tourists. Instead, take a trip to Guadalajara, which, despite being the second-largest city in Mexico, still retained some of its small-town atmosphere. Moreover, Guadalajara is known as a melting pot of various Mexican cuisines, creating a truly unique gastronomic experience for any visitor, with its abundance of amazing street food and fancy restaurants, such as BRUNA, which serves some of the best of what Mexican cuisine has to offer! But don't get put off just because the popular areas are crowded. It's worth seeing them at least once in a lifetime. After that, you can finally relax in a cozy cafe and be grateful for the beautiful memories you've just made.
Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Veracruz is very rarely visited by tourists, except for the ruins in El Tajin. However, if you just venture a bit further into the land, you may find the picturesque town of Tlacotalpan, which itself is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city used to be a major trade city during the 19th century; however, due to travel routes having changed, the city fell into decline. Today, the town features a well-preserved image of a colonial town with elaborate mansions, beautiful churches, and magnificent plazas with lush greenery surrounding them. The best part of visiting Tlacotalpan, however, is that it is still relatively undiscovered by foreign tourists, which means that not only will you not have to wait in lines and push your way through crowds, but the prices are considerably smaller than elsewhere. You can easily find a room in a nice hotel for under $40 per day. When in Tlacotalpan, make sure to see Rio Papaloapan and its amazing painted houses, and try the cooked fish freshly caught in the nearby river.
You may have heard that Northern Mexico is dangerous and not worth the risk to visit. While it is true that the northern states are struggling with drug violence, even creating restricted areas in some border cities, they still have a lot to offer in terms of tourism. For example, you can take a ride on the Copper Canyon Railway, which many believe to be the most gorgeous railroad route on Earth. The railway runs from the mines of Chihuahua all the way to the Pacific coast, spanning over 400 miles in length and crossing over 35 bridges along the way. You can skip the most dangerous areas of the northern states by taking this train and you’re sure to see many breathtaking sights along the way.
If you wish to, you can travel through the whole route in one day, but we recommend taking a few stops along the way to experience everything the culture of Mexico has to offer. For those who stay a bit longer, it's better to visit just one place a day. This way you can get the full experience and come home fully satisfied.
Visit San Pancho
San Pancho is becoming the go-to place for Mexican yoga enthusiasts, making it a perfect spot if you’re looking to escape the bustling cities and spend your vacation in peace and tranquility. San Pancho features an extremely wide array of various yoga classes, some of them even held in the open for free so you can participate and get to know something about yoga without having to strain your budget. We highly recommend taking a couple of yoga classes while on your trip to San Pancho, as not only is it very beneficial to your health, but it also creates a unique community which includes the locals of San Pancho as well as tourists. This can be a perfect opportunity to make some friendships among the locals and discover some tips and unobvious trivia about Mexaico. The richness of attractions may make you feel overwhelmed, so it would be a good idea to hire a guide. Thanks to that, you won't miss anything.
City of Merida
The Yucatan is just becoming more open to tourists, which creates a perfect opportunity to be among the first wave of its visitors. We especially recommend seeing the beautiful city of Merida, the capital city of Yucatan. You can see with your own eyes the transformation that the town is going through, as luxurious resorts and spas are being built and opened on every corner. The culture of Mexico can be seen quite vividly in this picturesque town, as it is sprinkled with gorgeous cathedrals and museums, which showcase the history of the region.
If you happen to visit Merida, make sure to see the Plaza de la Independencia. The plaza features evening events on almost every day and night of the week, and the events vary so you will never know what you’ll get to see. We also advise visiting the plaza on any Friday when the “pok ta pok” shows are hosted, recreating the favorite sport of Mayans.
Island of Mujeres
If you just have to visit Cancun and see its turquoise waters and sandy beaches, don’t just go to the most tourist-attended spot and lie in the sun, sunbathing within the premises of a luxurious resort. Instead, take a trip to the island of Mujeres, which is situated about eight miles from the shore of Cancun and can be visited by boat. Instead of a sprawling metropole of beach resorts, you will be greeted by a small settlement, which used to be a fishing village. While you won’t see luxurious resorts on this island, you will definitely see some of the most gorgeous beaches in all of Mexico. And while beaches in Cancun are sure to be crowded, these ones rarely see someone other than the locals relaxing.
Already had your fill of beaches? There is still plenty of things to do on the Isla Mujeres besides sunbathing and swimming in the sea. For example, we recommend visiting the underwater sculpture museum, which is a very unusual attraction to see. Moreover, there are plenty of archeological sites located on the island. If you feel brave enough, you can swim side by side with whale sharks - enormous creatures which even though look and sound scary, are actually quite harmless.
Mexico is inhabited by a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which you won’t be able to see if you only visit the most popular places. To get a good look at the local wildlife, we recommend visiting the remote island of Isla Holbox. Unlike the Isla Mujeres, you will not find any villages or any other signs of civilization on Isla Holbox. The whole island is a stretch of terrain which spans for over 20 miles. The thing that makes it special, however, is the vibrant wildlife which attracts animal enthusiasts from all over the world. While visiting the island, make sure to see the rest of Yum Balam, Mexico’s largest ecological reserve, which boasts gorgeous lagoons, picturesque reefs, flamingos, and even pink dolphins, which are quite rare!