Mexico: The home of tequila, tacos, incredibly delicious street corn (no seriously, how do they make it taste so good?), stunning beaches and ancient ruins. With a bounty to offer international tourists, it's no wonder people are flocking to Mexico's shores for their next vacation.
Nestled under the USA, travellers to Mexico are greeted by an incredibly cheap way of living, with food, transport and accommodation costs all far under what we would otherwise pay in Australia. The AUD to MXN exchange rate can leave people stumped though, especially when it comes to organising the dreaded travel budget. Luckily for you, the team at Travel Money Oz have put together a nifty travel budget calculator that combines Numbeo data with the latest exchange rates to give you the most up to date idea of how much you'll be spending (and how much you need to save) for your trip to Mexico.
Before we dive into the calculator though, let's take a squiz at what you should include in your Mexican travel budget.
What goes into a budget for Mexico?
Your flight to Mexico will often be your most significant expense, and you can expect to pay anywhere between $800 (the equivalent of a Taco Tuesday rate) and $2000 (spicy spicy chilli rate) for your air tickets. Once you arrive, there are a few different transport options.
When travelling between towns and cities, you can catch a long-distance bus or an express bus called a 'directo'. We recommend the directo which leaves from the central bus terminal. They are faster than other long-distance buses and stop less.
With this in mind, flying is often a more affordable and quicker option. For example, the trip from Mexico City to Cancun takes 15 hours by bus and costs around 1500 pesos. The same journey only takes 2.5 hours and costs around 700 pesos by plane. Kinda a no brainer. Aim to book tickets in advance to secure the best deal and ensure you get a seat.
Car hire is an affordable option if you are keen to travel to different places at your own pace. Just ensure you use common sense and have reputable insurance.
In cities and towns, public buses called Caminos are the best way to get around. Charging only a few pesos for a journey, they are super cheap and easy enough to use. Bigger cities like Mexico and Guadalajara also have subway systems where a one-way ticket will set you back around 5pesos. Mexico City is renowned for having terrible traffic too, so be sure to account for that when planning journeys.
You'll find taxis in most cities that are an affordable option, and Uber is in over 30 Mexican cities. A great choice after one too many tequilas on taco night.
In bigger cities, you'll find the usual accommodation suspects: hotels, motels, hostels and Airbnb's. Prices are generally cheaper than what you would pay in Australia, so accommodation would take a huge dent out of your travel budget.
As you get closer to the coastline in resort towns like Cancun and Talum, you can expect to pay a little more for your room. These places are very popular, so be sure to book in advance to secure a room that suits your travel style and budget.
Prices will vary with seasonality and location; however, you can expect to budget the following for your accommodation:
Hostels - 125MXN - 300 MXN per night. Most will offer free wifi and breakfast
Budget hotels - 380MXN - 500 MXN per night
Airbnb - 200MXN - 900MXN + per night
Beachside resort room - 1000MXN - 3000MXN+ per night
If Mexico is famous for one thing, it is its food. The cuisine is characterised by beans, rice, corn, plenty of avo, peppers, fruits and a delicious blend of chilli and spice. While you will find a heap of delicious restaurants serving up your favourite Mexican dishes, make sure you indulge in some street food. Not only is it incredibly delicious, but it is also very cheap. Local markets also provide groceries, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat.
When travelling, you can budget the following:
Street food: less than 10MXN a piece
Restaurant: 90 - 150 MXN per meal. Restaurants near the beach will be more expensive.
Beer: 15 - 30 MXN
Regardless of where you eat, you MUST try the following:
- Tacos: duh. If you don't know what a taco is you're about to have your mind blown.
- Elote: Mexican corn on the cob, boiled and served on a stick. From there you can add salt, chilli powder, lime, butter, cheese, mayo and sour cream. Served in restaurants and from street vendors, you won't meet corn cob you don’t like. Not to mention the fact they are super cheap.
- Mole: A delectably rich sauce served with meats, beans and rice. Mole is often packed full of fresh ingredients and spices, with each person having their own special recipe.
- Salsa: both the dance and the dipping sauce. Ole.
- Enchiladas: Soft tortillas bursting with cheese, beans and your choice of meat that is covered in salsa, chilli and sour cream. Is your mouth watering, or is that just me?
- Guacamole: Holy Guacamole I love a bit of guac. The perfect accompaniment to any meal or corn chip.
- Chilaquiles: These are a breakfast dish of lightly fried corn tortillas served with salsa, fried eggs, chicken, cheese and cream.
- Tamales: Hot Tamale! These little corn dough pockets are stuffed with a sweet or savoury filling before being wrapped in banana leaves or corn husks and steamed.
There is plenty to see and do during your holiday to Mexico. Day tours will range in price, so we recommend doing some research to see where you want to go, what you want to do and what the associated costs are. To get you started, here are some of our favourite things to do in Mexico:
- Go to the beach. It's free and often needed to cool off from the spicy Mexican sun
- Swim in the stunning cenotes, which are vast sun-lit caverns filled with crystal clear water.
- Drink Tequila!
- Drive along Highway 1, from the US border to the southern tip of Baja California. You'll see isolated mountain ranges, relaxed beach towns and plenty of epic desert.
- Attend a Lucha libre competition, where masked heroes and villains wrestle it out.
- Go whale watching. Between December and April, thousands of grey whales come to Guerrero Negro and San Ignacio to mate in the lagoons. It makes for a whaley amazing sight!
- Trek through many of the incredible landscapes and ancient ruins.
- Relax on the beach, in your resort, near a cenote. Anywhere really.
- Dress up and take part in Day of the Dead celebrations countrywide.
- Explore ancient Aztec ruins.
- Go diving and explore Mexico's vibrant and diverse marine life and coral reefs.
- Eat. That's a given though.
- Visit the local market to pick up a bargain, sample local food or grab a souvenir. The most popular are Mercado Ciudadela in Mexico City and Oaxaca's Mercado Benito Juarez.
- Visit Mexico City's Chapultepec Park, which is one of the largest city parks in the world. It holds the Mexico City zoo, La Feria amusement park and the Museum of Anthropology.
Aussie's don't need a visa when visiting Mexico as a tourist for stays less than 180 days. We do, however, recommend chatting with your doctor to ensure you're up to date with any of the relevant vaccinations.
Finally, regardless of where you are travelling, we always recommend you invest in a comprehensive travel insurance policy.