The food you will find in Mexico is a far cry from what passes for Mexican food north of the border. Mexican food encompasses a rich, diverse culinary culture. It is a fusion of indigenous Mesoamerican cooking with European, particularly Spanish, elements. Although some ingredients are common throughout the country, such as corn, beans and chilies, it is extremely varied: each region has its own special ingredients and flavors. The UNESCO included Mexican cuisine on its list of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity, recognizing the rich culture and history surrounding Mexican food. Many people travel to Mexico to experience its unique flavors, and whether you eat in gourmet restaurants or street-side food stands, you'll encounter plenty of wonderful culinary experiences.
Archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier discovered the tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal, ruler of the ancient Mayan city of Palenque, in 1952 after three years of excavations inside the Temple of the Inscriptions. This is considered one of the greatest finds in 20th century archaeology in Mesoamerica. The large engraved stone lid of the sarcophagus is quite remarkable. Some have called the carving "the Mayan Astronaut" and suggest that it shows Pakal in a rocket ascending to the heavens, but archaeologists believe that the scene on the sarcophagus lid shows Pakal represented as the Maya corn god K'awiil moving between the three planes (sky, earth and underworld) along the Tree of Life. According to Maya cosmology, he must descend to the underworld to defeat the lords of death, then be reborn as the corn god, after which he will ascend to the celestial plane, thus ensuring the balance of the universe.
Although it's not possible to enter Pakal's tomb in the Temple of the Inscriptions without special permission from the INAH (Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History), you can see a very good replica of the tomb and sarcophagus in the Palenque museum. The museum is open daily except for Mondays, and entrance is included with the ticket to the archaeological site. There is another replica of the tomb in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, where you can also see Pakal's jade funerary mask.
Another option is to visit Pakal's tomb virtually, through the INAH website: Palenque Virtual Tour
An important part of planning any trip involves thinking about how you're going to pay for expenses. While traveler's checks used to be the manner of choice to access funds while on the road, nowadays, ATM and credit cards are the most popular ways to access money on the road. You may also bring cash with you to exchange into the local currency.
Even if you're staying at an all-inclusive resort, you won't be completely exempt from these concerns. You'll still want to consider tipping, and you'll need to pay for excursions to attractions outside the resort, and of course, buying souvenirs. Follow the links below to learn more about managing your money on a trip to Mexico:
If you're planning a short getaway you may just go to one destination and stay there the whole time, but if you have a bit more time and are hoping to see more of Mexico, you'll have to deal with transportation. Getting around Mexico can be a challenge, but it's worth it to experience more of what the country has to offer. Read about modes of transportation in Mexico, or explore some of the options below.
Bus Travel in Mexico
Bus travel has long been the favorite way to travel within Mexico. It's a cheap and efficient way to get around, however, bus service can vary greatly - from sleek modern coaches to retired school buses.
Air Travel in Mexico
For years Mexico's two major airlines dominated the country's air travel industry, but in recent years several discount airlines have come on the scene. Mexican airlines offer flexibility at competitive prices for travelers, but purchasing tickets can be rather complicated as there's no centralized system to help you find routes and fares. You'll have to visit each airline's website to search for the information you need. Click through the links below for more information about Mexico air travel.
Besides Mexico's gorgeous beaches, beautiful colonial cities and fascinating archaeological sites, a great reason (or excuse, if you need one) to visit Mexico is to learn Spanish. There's no better way to learn than being completely immersed in the language, and while you're there you can enjoy all those other attractions that Mexico has to offer.
If you're planning a trip to Mexico in the summer months, you may want to time your trip to coincide with one of the many festivals that will be taking place in Mexico's delightful colonial cities. These destinations offer plenty to see and do throughout the year, but when you visit during a festival, you're guaranteed to see them at their most vibrant.
July is a great time to visit Oaxaca. A traditional dance festival called the Guelaguetza takes place every year in mid-summer in this beautiful and colorful city. This year's Guelaguetza will be held on July 21st and 28th. The traditions behind the festival date back to ancient times, but this will be the 82st edition of the festival in its present form. Read more about Oaxaca's Guelaguetza festival.
If you enjoy classical music, you won't be disappointed by a visit to San Miguel de Allende during the International Chamber Music Festival, from July 21st to August 23rd. Now in its 36th year, the festival's line-up includes the Claremont Piano Trio, the Calder String Quartet and the Gryphon Piano Trio. Concerts will take place in the Teatro Ángela Peralta, as well as in other venues.
Guadalajara's annual Mariachi Festival takes place from August 29th to September 7th. The festival kicks off with a parade of the mariachis in their finery. Other events include gala dinners, rodeo shows, concerts, music workshops and art exhibits. This is an opportunity to enjoy some of the best mariachis in the world in the city that is considered the birthplace of mariachi music.
More ideas for summer travel:
Photo © Suzanne Barbezat
For many years Acapulco, located on Mexico's Pacific coast in the state of Guerrero, was Mexico's most popular beach destination. With the development of Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, Acapulco lost it ranking, but remains a favorite holiday destination, and with its golden beaches, gourmet restaurants, and explosive nightlife, it's easy to understand why.
Whether it's your first trip to Acapulco, or your tenth, you'll find there's always something new to discover. From seeing the cliff divers, to taking a ride in a glass-bottom boat, or enjoying Acapulco's notorious nightlife, you'll find plenty to see and do. Explore some of the best ways to spend your time in Acapulco: Top Things To Do in Acapulco and also find some activities that you might not expect: Things You Didn't Know You Could Do in Acapulco.
Merida is the capital city of the state of Yucatan. The city's nickname is "White City," both because of its white buildings and the city's cleanliness. Merida has a thriving cultural scene, as well as a fascinating history. Merida is a great destination in its own right, but it also makes and ideal base from which to explore other attractions in the Yucatan Peninsula. On this virtual walking tour of Merida you can see and learn about some of its beautiful historical buildings and monuments.
You may not have considered Mexico for your summer travel plans, but it's an excellent time to visit. From learning to surf, to diving the Yucatan Peninsula's freshwater cenotes, or volunteering with sea turtles, summer is a great time to take an active vacation in Mexico. And if you'd rather just kick back in a hammock and take it easy, it's a fine time to do that too! Read our 5 Summer Vacation in Mexico Ideas for some inspiration for your summer vacation.
Summertime is low season in Mexico, and tourist destinations and attractions aren't as crowded as they may be at other times of the year, and there are some great deals offered to entice visitors to visit during this slower season. Many resorts offer kids stay free promotions so families can take full advantage of the little ones' school holidays.
Just keep in mind that it is hurricane season and you should plan accordingly. Read our tips for travel to Mexico during hurricane season.
Photo of cenote diving by Becky Lai licensed under Creative Commons
Travelers to Mexico are often concerned about safety, but they're generally only thinking about violence from the drug war. One danger that people often disregard is the power of the ocean. If you're heading to the beach, you should keep in mind that most Mexican beaches do not have lifeguards, and swimmers are expected to be responsible for their own safety. Before entering the water, you should see if there are any flags on the beach and take note of the color, which tells you the safety condition of the water on that day. Find out the meaning of the different colors of beach warning flags.