8 Fantastic Reasons to Visit Mexico

With all the negative news coverage lately I feel compelled to share with you our own personal experiences traveling in Mexico.

We traveled overland through Mexico for nearly 6 months (which happened to be the maximum stay on our tourist visas).  During this time we fell in love so many aspects of this beautiful country.  In fact, if you were to ask us now which country is our favorite to visit, it would be Mexico.

Let that sink in for a bit.  Mexico is our favorite country to visit.

Our favorite out of the 19 countries that we visited on our PanAm trip and out of about 50 countries that we have visited so far in this world.

Do you find this surprising?  It definitely came as a surprise to us!

Before our arrival in Mexico we really didn’t know what to expect.  We were even a little fearful for our safety.  After all, the press is not exactly complimentary in its coverage of this part of the world.

Like most people (perhaps), we knew of the shanty border towns and the luxurious beach resorts, but not much else. Fortunately these are the extreme caricatures and not the reality for the vast majority of Mexico.

Here are the reasons that we fell in love with Mexico:

The friendliness of the people

wonderful, friendly people
Everywhere we went — without exception —  the people that we met were friendly and welcoming to us.  People and relationships are culturally very important to Mexicans and to us this was consistently evident. The people we met wanted to make a genuine connection with us and they often succeeded in doing so.

The Mexican culture

Mexican culture in plazas

Mexico has a rich cultural spectrum that runs both deep and wide.

There are archeological structures here that date back as far as 1000 B.C. (3,000 years ago!) and there are many others still standing that were built in the span of time leading up to the arrival of Cortés.

Add to these marvels the beauty of the Spanish colonial architecture and the multitude of indigenous cultures that still thrive here and Mexico has one amazing cultural mélange.

The food

Delicious food -- Mexican cuisine
Ahh… where to begin? There is such an immense variety here, all made fresh, and incredibly delicious.

Some of our favorites include the fish tacos, the shrimp in mojo de ajo (garlic) sauce, fresh salsas, mole sauces, tortillas, chilaquiles, rellenos, tamales, tortas, nieves (fruit ices), aguas frutas, coffee (especially Café de Olla — which is coffee that is flavored with chocolate and cinnamon), chocolate, mangos, papayas, limes, avocados, and more.

Yum!

A thriving middle class

beautiful scenery in Mexico
This is a pretty big deal to us. Of all of the countries that we’ve visited (over 50 or so) we’ve noticed that the happiest societies tend to be in those places that have a thriving middle class. Not only do people tend to be happy, but many are also gainfully employed and the crime rates tend to be low. All in all that makes for a nice place to be.

We found many local families enjoying fancy restaurants and visiting museums, pyramids and other attractions as tourists.

Many of the middle-class kids have really nice toys — bikes, remote-controlled cars, and even game tablets.

Yes, there is still poverty here (as there is in the U.S. and other countries), but because of the size of the middle class here, we felt like we fit in.  We were treated like human beings and not just tourists.

Zero hassles

Mexican beaches and sunsets

While other travelers might have a different experience, we encountered none of the hassles that often go along with traveling in foreign countries.

The touts (people selling stuff on the streets) were respectful of us when we opted not to buy from them.  The police were always professional and courteous to us.  We were never asked to pay a single bribe.

While we took the same precautions against theft as we normally do, we did not have anything stolen in Mexico nor did we worry much about it.

Plus the border paperwork to get in and out of Mexico (which we did twice each in different locations) was very straightforward and quick to complete.

Reasonable prices

Mexican churches

Compared to our experiences in Canada, the US, and even Belize, the prices in Mexico are quite reasonable. Due to the lower prices we were able to afford to stay in Mexico longer and to splurge more often. We ate out at restaurants quite frequently and sometimes at rather upscale kinds of places.

The medical care is very good and affordable — it cost us US$40 each to get our teeth cleaned, for example.

The lower cost of living is undoubtedly a factor in why so many Canadians and Americans choose to retire here.

Climate

stunning vistas in Mexico
Before entering Mexico, I envisioned the climate here to be mostly like that in Southern Arizona — a dry, desert environment with searing heat in the summer and cool days in winter.

What I didn’t appreciate then is just how varied the climate is in Mexico. While most of the coastal areas can be hot and humid, the vast majority of the country is at a relatively high elevation — either in the mountains or on a high plateau. This provides for a much more varied temperature range. It can get below freezing in the coldest months in some areas and be quite warm in other areas.

Also, unlike in regions further north, the warmest months are not in June, July and August. Instead, the warmest months are in March, April and the early part of May before the rainy season arrives. Even during those warm months, it can still be cool enough at night in the high elevation areas to warrant wearing a jacket and some long pants (and sometimes hats and gloves are needed too!)

Kid-friendly

Family fun in Mexican plazas
Kids are welcome everywhere — even in the nicest restaurants!  The employees in restaurants actually seem to smile when they see children and the waitstaff we encountered never seemed to mind if we asked for a special order for our son (he has food allergies so this happened quite often).  Many restaurants even have children’s play areas.

Overall there are so many activities on offer for kids, including numerous water parks and playgrounds. On weekends there are bouncy castles, trampolines, and even little electric cars available for kids to use in the town plazas.

Having Quinn with us opened many doors than would’ve been otherwise. People were genuinely curious about him and would often approach us to ask his name and how old he is.

Teenage girls in particular were enamored with him, but even grown men couldn’t resist asking us about Quinn and gently patting him on the head. That might sound a little creepy out of context, but it was all done respectfully and in good humor.

Whale watching in Mexico

Probably the biggest compliment that we could give to Mexico is that we believe that we could actually live here. That designation does not come easily to us — while we have visited many wonderful places over the years, there are very, very few places where we believe that we would be comfortable and happy living for some period of time. After all, there can a world of difference between what makes a place great for a vacation versus a place to live contentedly for months or even years.

For us, for the reasons above (and more) Mexico meets our criteria and is truly a special country. We will be back! 🙂

12 Comments

  • Kate Hart

    Reply Reply November 27, 2016

    Beautifully written. Often, overlander campers who stay here are in a great hurry to get wherever they are going to countries south of Mexico. They miss many amazing sights, meals and unusual places, like Hierve el Agua, one of the worlds natural wonders (by the way, great photo!). I hope your blog inspires folks to slow down and enjoy.

    • Jen Sparks

      Reply Reply November 27, 2016

      Thank you, Kate, for reading our blog and for sharing your thoughtful comments! We really enjoyed Hierve el Agua (and so many other places). We can hardly wait to go back!

  • Will

    Reply Reply December 2, 2016

    Great write-up about this wonderful country! We’re definitely going to be bummed to have to eventually leave 🙁

    • Jen Sparks

      Reply Reply December 2, 2016

      Thanks, Will! It’s great to hear from you and we’re psyched to hear that you are enjoying your time in Mexico. We’re eager to go back and are planning our next visit already!

  • All what you written is so true. The country ,culture is fantastic. The people are friendly and so warm. We had only planned to stay for five weeks but after three weeks we decided to stay longer. We ended up to stay allmost one year in Mexico.
    We emigrated from The Netherlands to New Zealand 32 years ago and we love our country. But as second favourite country it is Mexico.
    http://Www.facebook.com/ClassicStrider

    • Jen Sparks

      Reply Reply December 2, 2016

      Fred and Elisabeth — Wow! Thank you for sharing your wonderful travel experiences in Mexico! Where do you live in New Zealand? We visited there many years ago and loved it too. We look forward to returning again someday.

  • Kamala

    Reply Reply December 2, 2016

    Thank you for sharing. It is great to read all the positive experiences you have had in travels through Mexico. We drove through much of Baja and really enjoyed it. This winter we are planning to head into mainland Mexico and travel through Northern Mexico (Potrero Chico for climbing and further South towards Guanjuato just exploring). Are there places you’d recommend, both as not to miss sites and those you’d avoid? We’d love to hear your perspective. Thanks.

    • Jen Sparks

      Reply Reply December 2, 2016

      Hi Kamala! Thanks for reaching out to us and congratulations on your upcoming Mexico trip! We really enjoyed Sayulita, Guanajuato, San Miguel de Allende, Guadalajara, Mexico City, visiting the Monarch Butterflies in Michoacán, Oaxaca, Puebla, San Cristobal de la Casa’s, and Palenque. There are so many wonderful places to go!

      • Anonymous

        Reply Reply December 2, 2016

        Thank you for the great information- we hope to get to some of those places this time around.
        On your travels did you cross through mainland Mexico? If yes, could you please share where and how easy it was to go into Mexico? We have heard that certain border crossings are less safe than others and would like to get a feel for current opinions. Thanks again.

        • Jen Sparks

          Reply Reply December 2, 2016

          Thank you for your question. We entered through Tecate on our way to Baja. The Tecate border was super easy and quiet. After Baja, we crossed on the ferry to Los Mochis so we could explore the mainland. My husband’s parents as well as our close friends have had good experiences crossing at Nogales (AZ) to the mainland. You can also post a question in the PanAm travelers FB group to get recent information about crossing into Mexico at other locations.

  • This is so true week explained and written about a great Country. The Culture,History and the country side is amazing. But most off all the people ,friendly,helpful sharing and caring.
    We had only planned to stay fie weeks but we stayed all most a year in the Mexico.
    We are original from Netherlands but emigrated 32 years ago to New Zealand what is a beautiful country. But as second choice is for us Mexico.
    Happy travel.
    You can read about us
    http://Www.facebook.com/Classicstrider

  • Pamela

    Reply Reply December 2, 2016

    Hi Kate,
    Thanks for your inspiring comments. We’re heading down to Lake Chapala on 12/12 and plan on staying a month there. Did you visit the lake when you were in Guadalajara? If so, any feedback you could give us would be really appreciated!
    Thanks,
    Pam

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