The thing that makes Cancun unique from other worldwide cities is its ability to be unabashedly glamorous. Similar to famous party cities like Las Vegas, Ibiza or Dubai, Cancun is a city that remains awake all night and parties all day and basks in its extrovert charm. Home to one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in the world, and offset by the blue azure sea and the world's second largest barrier reef, there's plenty to do here with a mojito mix in your hand.
Staying in Cancun
Cancun is divided into two distinct areas. The hotel area is on an island joined to the mainland through only two bridges. A lagoon separates this area and the modern city on the coast. It's worth knowing that several aging resorts on the hotel island are now relying on heavily discounted prices, vacation packages or all-inclusive deals to fill rooms, providing a great bargain which also means most rooms go to students, or people who are looking for an extremely cheap holiday. If you're after the party experience but with a little more peace and quiet, or to be surrounded by people that can actually handle their drink, it might be more sensible to book a newer resort which advertises at higher prices.
Hostels are available for around $9 (£5.30) a night but rooms are usually mixed dorms which can get pretty rowdy when everyone is drinking and coming back at different times. Or, you could use the mixed dorm experience to socialise with other travellers and get to know the area better with.
Hotels are more expensive, at around $17 (£10) a night, but they come with added little luxuries like air-conditioning and TV, a private bathroom and can be a lot safer. Resorts, villas and more exclusive hotels go from anything between $239 (£140) a night to $1752 (£1029) for the ultimate stay in luxury.
How do I get around in Cancun?
Cancun is really easy to navigate. The airport is located in the South, the North is the city and the hotel zone is outstretched offshore.
Bus: Generally the preferred way of getting around, Cancun buses are very different from the UK. Cheap and frequent, most drivers are courteous and will stop for you even if you're not waiting at a bus stop. However- one difference is that buses in Mexico don't have air-conditioning or cushions on the seats, and frequently locals will get on with instruments and busk on-board.
Car: if you're planning on driving in Cancun, especially during the Spring Break period, beware that the police pull over tourists at the drop of a hat. If you're renting - check that everything works when you receive the car. If you get pulled over for a small violation, don't be surprised if the police holds out an open-palmed hand, whilst holding your driver's licence hostage in the other. Most officers are underpaid and will demand a small bribe to let you off the hook. Be wary of French laws and customs with driving!
Where is the best place to eat?
As a bustling city the majority of the time, Cancun can offer tourists a whole variety of gastronomical treats. 'Pescado a la Tikin-Xic' is a fish dish, prepared with annatto, sour orange, peppers, tomatoes, red onions and spices, with the fish grilled over charcoal, wrapped in banana leaf and bathed in beer and olive oil. Another local delight are the famous Kibis, wheat balls stuffed with cheese or meat with chopped onion and habanero chilli or sour orange slices, great to try if you're looking for cheap snacks.
For traditional Mexican food: Peter's Restaurante/The Surfin' Burrito
Peter's Restaurante is a small place with a large varied menu. The owner greets you at the door and prepares your meal, giving the place a more personal touch. The décor is retro but most previous visitors have said that you get a lot more for your money here than you would elsewhere - a three course meal is likely to set you back the equivalent of £30, which isn't bad at all.
The Surfin' Burrito serves all things Mexican. Customise your own burrito and wash it down with some cool, cheap Mexican beer - the whole thing costs around $12. Three tacos are around $5, which is a great deal if you're coming in after a long day on the beach. Another good thing about this restaurant is their 24-hour availability, meaning those burgers, fried, ceviche and other Mexican goodies are available all day long.
For Italian: La Dolce Vita
La Dolce Vita has two restaurants - one downtown and one in the hotel zone, but the downtown on is often said to be preferable. With a first-class menu and prices that are affordable, both sites are extremely popular - so book first. The pasta arrabiatta is a customer favourite. Each course is around £7, which is about right.
For cocktails: Carlos 'n' Charlie's
A family-friendly Mexican restaurant that serves authentic and original food, Carlos'n'Charlie's also offers a great range of cocktails with things like the classic Mojito, Mai Tais, Daiquiris, tequila shots and a whole variety of margaritas, this place is the best place to be for socialising and enjoying a solid meal before you head out.
What can I do?
Living up to its glamorous reputation, there's plenty to do in Cancun. Water sports are huge here, so even walking along the beach front will lead you to something you can enjoy with a big adrenaline rush to boot. Scuba diving, snorkeling and sport-fishing are busy because of the world's second biggest coral reef lying on Cancun's doorstep. You can even charter your own boat for the day and enjoy an adventure of your own on the open sea.
Cancun adventure tours are pretty popular too, with some of the longest zip lines in Latin America, long mountain bike tracks, or the opportunity to drive through jungle in open top Jeeps. The main attraction for tourists to Cancun is the fantastic nightlife. The hotel zone boasts some of the best, and busiest nightclubs in the world playing everything from salsa, disco to R&B and live music. There's something for every age and taste.
Spring Break is a great reason to travel to Cancun, especially if you're a fan of partying. The city's beautifully tropical destination with the beaches, open water and nightclubs make it a favourite with lively students after a great party. Events include light shows, energetic dance shows, theme nights, parties on the beach and clubs open well into the early hours of the morning. World-class DJs visit the resort during this time to do sets and entertain the huge crowds.
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