How to plan a trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya

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How to plan a trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya
How to plan a trip to Cancun and the Riviera Maya

The stage of the journey in which you organize a series of steps to successfully reach your chosen destination is known as planning. Cancun and the Riviera Maya register one of the largest influx of tourists in the world due to their cultural richness and scenic beauty. In this article you will find some tips so that you arrive at this wonderful destination the best prepared and so that you begin to enjoy such an exciting trip from the moment of planning.


Part 1 of 4: Decide on the date and duration of your trip

Scuba Dive in Cancun Step 1
Scuba Dive in Cancun Step 1

Step 1. Take a virtual tour to see the extension and characteristics of the destination

Use Google Maps or Google Earth to explore the area and give you an idea of what the places you would like to visit are like. If you navigate on Google Maps, activate the Satellite option so that you can see the places in greater detail. If you have never used Google Earth, see the article using Google Earth to know how to do the tour.

  • Cancun and the Riviera Maya are located on the Yucatan Peninsula, in southern Mexico. It is known as Rivera Maya to the tourist area located on the coast of the Mexican Caribbean Sea, it is approximately 130 km long.
  • To give you an idea of the diversity of activities that you can do, it is enough to know that you can visit mangroves, jungles, beaches and one of the largest reefs in the world.
  • In the destination you want to visit, you will find the towns of Puerto Morelos, Akumal, Playa del Carmen, the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve and the communities of Boca Paila, Punta Allen, Tulum, Xel-Há, Xcaret and Cobá.
Scuba Dive in Cancun Step 4
Scuba Dive in Cancun Step 4

Step 2. Determine how long your trip will last

This decision should not only be based on the time you have available to vacation but also on the amount of experiences you would like to do. To be worth the cost of the trip and you can visit the must-sees, it is recommended that your trip be at least one week.

  • Among those must-sees are visiting Isla Mujeres where you can swim in the reef, tour the archaeological sites of Tulum and Coba, take a tour of the islands of Playa del Carmen and Cozumel where you can dive with sharks, do the Cenotes Route and enjoy some of the parks that Experiencias Xcaret offers (they include the ecotourism parks Xcaret, Xel-Há, Xplor, Xoximilco).
  • Transportation is varied, diverse and efficient so you will not have problems in that sense, but take into account Cancun and the Riviera Maya are extensive so the distances are also variable.
  • Don't worry about which arrival and departure date you select, it is an international destination so there are many flights throughout the year.
Buy Cheap Airline Tickets Step 2
Buy Cheap Airline Tickets Step 2

Step 3. Decide on the date of the trip

Once you determine the date you want to start the trip, you can take other steps that the sooner you do, the more money you can save. For example: the more you anticipate booking flights and accommodation, the more offers and discounts you can find.

  • This decision depends on your preferences in terms of conviviality and fun. If you go in high season, you are sure to find lines for attractions, nightclubs too crowded or you simply have to wait before a table is vacated. But it may also be that you meet a lot more people or have more fun in the crowd.
  • The best dates to travel based on cost is during low seasons, the first is before or after Easter, that is, in the months of January, February and May. The second is before Christmas, in the months of September to November. In these seasons you can find offers on flights and even accommodation
  • Depending on the climate, the most pleasant time is from April to July because they are the hottest months and it is when the windy season from November to March has already dissipated and the rainy and hurricane season has not yet begun. from July to November.
  • That said, the best month to travel to Cancun is May because in addition to saving you will find very pleasant weather.

Part 2 of 4: Choosing the Places You Want to Visit

Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 2
Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 2

Step 1. Consider personal and online recommendations

There are many people who have already visited the same destination and they are surely willing to share with you many tips and advice so start getting as much information as possible from the people you know and also browse the web through traveler forums and blogs to learn more about experiences..

  • Visit only the most relevant and trustworthy websites, forums and blogs such as the What to do section on Tripadvisor or the Travelers blog. Do not limit yourself to reading, also ask as many questions and ask for tips as you consider necessary until the moment you leave.
  • If yours are social networks, follow travel groups on Facebook because there you will surely find many useful tips and information as well.
  • From this moment your journey begins because reading your imagination will fly and the fantastic visualizations will help you to achieve this goal.
Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 3
Plan a Beach Vacation Online Step 3

Step 2. Make an itinerary

Prepare a program that includes the places to visit and the time you want to stay in them, this will be a guide that will help you plan transfers and check the viability of your trip based on time and cost.

  • Take a pen and paper and make a table where you indicate the place to visit and the days you would like to stay there, write the arrival and departure dates.
  • It may be easier to do it in some software such as Excel, this is highly recommended as this way you can add more columns in other stages of planning.
Do Business in Mexico Step 2
Do Business in Mexico Step 2

Step 3. Estimate the time and cost of the transfers

It is easier than you imagine because you have a great ally that is Google Maps. See the article "How to add multiple destinations on Google Maps" to see that it is a simple step. Whenever possible, try different modes of transportation such as a car, bus, or bicycle.

  • In Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, the US dollar and the Mexican peso are common currency. You loved currencies are accepted as tips, also in many shops and even in museums.
  • Regarding costs, the ferry that leaves from the Cancun Hotel Zone to Isla Mujeres costs you $ 19 dollars and from Playa del Carme to Cozumel it costs you $ 15 dollars.
  • Public transportation in Cancun is clean, air-conditioned, and frequent. Moving from the hotel zone to downtown Cancun costs $ 10.50 Mexican pesos or you can pay with $ 1 US dollar but they do not give you change.
  • It is cheaper to stay near the Cancun bus station than in the Hotel Zone. A taxi from the Cancun airport to the bus station costs approximately $ 13. But there are also buses that leave from the airport to the central one and they charge you $ 3 dollars.
  • Record all that information in your Excel table. Add two more columns, one for type of transportation and one for costs.
  • You may find that it is better for you to rent a car. In that case, check some service comparators like Bestday or Rentalcars or Despegar or Kayak or Expedia or Skyscanner.

Part 3 of 4: Choosing and booking your flight and accommodation

Amuse Yourself on a Plane Step 15
Amuse Yourself on a Plane Step 15

Step 1. Compare the flights

You can save up to 45% on the purchase of your flight if you follow the advice of the experts. They recommend booking the flight at least 32 days in advance if your flight is domestic and 171 days if it is an international flight. Check in the service comparators mentioned above the flight you need to go to Cancun as many times as necessary.

  • Experts also say that Tuesday is the best day for you to track deals and of course to buy the flight.
  • One suggestion so that you always find the best offers and promotions is that you delete the cookies in your browser or use two different devices, one to track the flight and the other to buy the plane ticket.
Buy Airline Tickets with Credit Card Reward Miles Step 8
Buy Airline Tickets with Credit Card Reward Miles Step 8

Step 2. Buy the plane ticket

Don't wait until it's too late and buy it on the airline's website or directly at the airport. Just make sure you fill out the form correctly with the personal details of all the people who will be traveling.

  • If the airline with whom you want to buy the ticket has a mileage or points plan, sign up as a member to obtain the benefits.
  • Check well the specifications on the amount of weight you can carry as luggage.
  • Write down in your agenda the day you can print your boarding pass to speed up procedures upon arrival at the airport.
Exchange Your Home for Free Vacation Accommodation Step 6
Exchange Your Home for Free Vacation Accommodation Step 6

Step 3. Find out about the different accommodation options

Price comparators for travel are becoming more and more specialized. Use them to compare prices and types of accommodation. This decision depends entirely on the style and budget you want to travel with.

  • Cancun and the Riviera Maya have accommodations to suit almost any need. You can find everything from hostels, bungalows, 3-star hotels to luxurious international-class hotels. Check recommendations and accommodation also on Tripadvisor or Booking.
  • Take into account other types of accommodation such as Airbnb and Couchsourfing where you can exchange accommodation or obtain accommodation at a really affordable price.
Exchange Your Home for Free Vacation Accommodation Step 9
Exchange Your Home for Free Vacation Accommodation Step 9

Step 4. Make the lodging reservations

Contact directly the hotel, hostel or any other form of accommodation you have chosen to ensure you have a place to go. Take this into account especially if you want to go in high season.

Check well the entry and exit times where you stay to schedule your transfers in the best way

Part 4 of 4: Prepare the Final Details for the Trip

Order Food Step 11
Order Food Step 11

Step 1. Reserve the money for food expenses, transfers to the destination and fun

It is really difficult to calculate how much you will spend on each of these items, but you can also check some restaurant prices on Tripadvisor or on specialized blogs and forums.

  • Museum tickets on Sundays are free for national tourists and foreign residents, but not for foreigners. Most museums accept debit and credit cards.
  • For example, the Mayan Museum in Cancun charges around $ 3. Consider that the museum is only open from Tuesday to Sunday.
  • In the archaeological zones the cost is also around $ 3 dollars, and they open from Monday to Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • The entrance to ecotourism parks such as Xel-Há and Xcaret costs you around $ 75 dollars and you can make the reservation online. You can book transportation with the same company that is Experiencias Xcaret.
Enjoy Your Seychelles Beach Vacation Step 3
Enjoy Your Seychelles Beach Vacation Step 3

Step 2. Expand your knowledge of the place

You will enjoy the trip more if you know something more about the culture and history of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, because of its age it is interesting and of great value. In your spare time, consult websites, books, magazines and blogs.

  • You can start by reading something about the history of the Mayans. Also read something about the geography of the place, especially the reefs and the Caribbean Sea.
  • Downtown Cancun and Isla Mujeres are towns where many traditions are celebrated as in other parts of Mexico. Also get closer to some of those stories.
Avoid Checking Your Bag on a Plane Step 3
Avoid Checking Your Bag on a Plane Step 3

Step 3. Prepare the documentation and luggage

Ask in your country about the documents you need to travel to Mexico and make sure you have a valid passport.

  • See the article "How to pack a suitcase or suitcase efficiently" to make this process much more efficient.
  • If you want to use credit cards, don't forget to report to your bank before going on a trip.
  • You're ready! Your attitude and enthusiasm are the most important to make this trip one of the most unforgettable.


  • If you want to stay in the Hotel Zone, consider the spring breaker season (visitors who arrive for spring break), it is when young college tourists from the United States travel at Easter. They like to relax very much. If this is what you are looking for, it is the best time. But if you want peace of mind, ask your accommodation about this point.
  • Cancun is located on one of the largest protected reefs in the world. Be a responsible tourist with the environment and make sure to carry out activities that are endorsed by the Mexican government in terms of ecosystem protection.
  • Sargassum is a type of seaweed that has appeared during the last two years on the coasts of some places in the Caribbean Sea, do not be discouraged as it is not something to worry about and there are no excess amounts.
  • Save extra money for emergencies. Contemplate incidentals such as lost tickets, medicine for seasickness during boat trips or the loss of a bus trip.


The prices mentioned here are updated to October 2016, they may vary and are only approximate

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