Horseback riding in Mexico

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Equestrian tours in Mexico

Mexico Mini Guide
   Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

As spicy as salsa, intoxicating as tequila, and surreal as a Frida Kahlo canvas, Mexico fills the senses, energizes the intellect, and nourishes the soul. This huge country encompasses epic landscapes; from northern deserts and snowy peaks of the central sierra, to the jungle highlands of southern Chiapas and the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Pre-Colombian civilizations made their mark with the vast pyramids of Teotihuacan, stunning temples of Chichen Itza, and countless other archeological wonders. The Spanish heritage has also been well preserved, with charming towns built around shady plazas and whitewashed churches; San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, and Dolores Hidalgo are treasures of the central Colonial Heartland.

Mexico today is a booming modern economy, led by its gargantuan capital, Mexico City. Once you adjust to the relentless pace of life in this metropolis, you can indulge in world-class museums, dine in exquisite restaurants, cut shapes in clubs, and barter at sprawling markets. Beyond the modern cities, lie sleepy villages where age-old customs and ancient beliefs endure. San Cristobal de las Casas is a major hub, ringed by indigenous villages, with churches combining pagan beliefs with Roman Catholicism. Across the country, lively festivals reflect this blending of faiths, most famously at the Day of the Dead ceremony.

For visitors seeking outdoor adventure, Mexico delivers. Nature lovers can go whale watching in Baja California, reed diving off the Yucatan Peninsula, and trekking through the jungle to flowing blue lagoons bordering Guatemala. Adrenaline activities are in ample supply too, from canyoning in Veracruz and hang-gliding in Hidalgo to volcano climbing, caving, and river rafting.

One of the great joys of a visit to Mexico is its cuisine. Emulated around the world, its crispy tacos, mole sauces, and burritos are amongst the mouth-watering specialties on offer. They are best washed down with one of Mexico's many beers or a shot of mescal if you're in the party mood, which everyone else here seems to be.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

A valid passport is required by nationals referred to in the chart above; however, it is highly advisable that your passport is valid for at least six months after the date of entry to Mexico as immigration officials and airlines may apply different criteria than those stated by official sources.

Visas

Visas are not required by nationals referred to in the chart above travelling for touristic or business purposes. You should obtain a landing card valid for 180 days from your airline on direct flights or at any port of entry. You may be asked to show a return/onward ticket and proof of financial means. You must keep your landing card throughout your stay as you will have to present it when you leave.

Cruise ship passengers of all nationalities are exempted from a visa when staying within the boundaries that were agreed upon between the government of Mexico and the cruise ship company.

Visa Note

Nationals not referred to in the chart are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements for Mexico.

Tourist visa: £27.85.
Validity: Up to six months.

Money

Currency

Mexican Peso (MXN; symbol M$) = 100 centavos. Notes are in denominations of M$1,000, 500, 200, 100, 50 and 20. Coins are in denominations of M$10, 5, 2 and 1, and 50 and 20 centavos. 

Note: The M$1,000  and M$500 notes are difficult to change and often not accepted.

Currency Exchange

The US dollar is widely accepted; indeed in some instances it can be difficult to pay in pesos. Currency exchange houses give a preferable rate of exchange to hotels and a much quicker service than banks. Not all banks in Mexico exchange money.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

MasterCard, Via, and American Express cards are generally accepted by businesses catering to tourists, such as car rental agencies, airlines, some bus lines, and higher-end hotels, shops, and restaurants. (Credit companies add a surcharge oh around 5% for foreign transactions). At humbler establishments, you'll need pesos to makes purchases. ATMs on the Cirrus and Plus networks are easily found in cities and towns throughout Mexico, dispensing pesos for holders of both debit and credit cards.

Traveller's Cheques

ATMs and credit cards mean traveller's cheques are less necessary as a means of carrying money. However, traveller's cheques issued by well-known brands can be cashed in exchange houses, which again give a better rate than hotels and a quicker service than banks. Traveller's cheques in Pounds Sterling and Euros are now as readily accepted as those in US Dollars.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1600; some banks are open longer hours and others are open on Saturday afternoon.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

March 2018 

£1.00=

M$25.98

$1.00=

M$18.34

€1.00=

M$22.76

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes*

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

No

Rabies

Sometimes*

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Yes

Yellow Fever

No

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

 

* Potentially required if travelling for extended periods or in certain rural areas.

Food and Drink

Water supplied in bottles and from taps marked ‘drinking/sterilised water' in hotels can be drunk without precautions. All other water used for drinking, brushing teeth or making ice should have first been boiled or otherwise sterilised. Milk in major cities, hotels and resorts is pasteurised. Otherwise, milk is unpasteurised and should first be boiled. Powdered or tinned milk is available and is advised. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.

Other Risks

Diarrhoea affects some travellers. Outbreaks of Dengue fever have occurred, chiefly in the southeast states of Chiapas and Veracruz and the northern border states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas. Rabies is present. If bitten, seek medical advice without delay. Owing to the high altitude and level of smog in Mexico City, visitors may take some time to acclimatise.

Health Care

Comprehensive health insurance is recommended. Medical facilities are both private and state-organised and generally good. Medicines are often available without prescriptions, and pharmacists can diagnose and treat minor ailments.

Getting There

Getting There by Air

Mexico's national carrier is Aeromexico (www.aeromexico.com). Some of Mexico's domestic airlines serve US destinations, including VivaAerobus (www.vivaerobus.com) and Volaris (www.volaris.mx). Aeromexico and British Airways (www.ba.com) both operate direct flights to Mexico City from the UK. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) offer non-stop flights from London to Cancun.

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Mexico City is 11 hours 20 minutes; from New York is 5 hours 15 minutes.
From London to Cancun is 11 hours; from New York is 4 hours 30 minutes.

Main Airports

Guadalajara Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport Airport Code: GDL

Mexico City Benito Juárez International Airport Airport Code: MEX

Monterrey General Mariano Escobedo International Airport  Airport Code: MTY

Cancún International Airport  Airport Code: CUN

Acapulco International Airport Airport Code: ACA

Mexico's national carrier is Aeroméxico (www.aeromexico.com). Some of Mexico's domestic airlines serve US destinations, including VivaAerobus (www.vivaerobus.com) and Volaris (www.volaris.mx). Aeroméxico and British Airways (www.ba.com) both operate direct flights to Mexico City from the UK. British Airways and Virgin Atlantic (www.virgin-atlantic.com) offer non-stop flights from London to Cancun.

Departure Tax

Around US$48 depending on the exchange rate. Usually included in the air fare, otherwise payable at the airport.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Acapulco, Cabo San Lucas (website: www.bajaport.com), Cozumel (website: www.apiqroo.com.mx), Manzanillo (website: www.apimanzanillo.com.mx), Mazatlán (website: www.apimazatlan.com.mx), Puerto Vallarta (website: www.apivta.com), Tampico (website: www.puertodetampico.com.mx) and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.


Getting There by Rail

Amtrak provides railway connections to various points along the Mexican border from cities in the USA or Canada (tel: +1 800 872 7245, in the USA; website: www.amtrak.com).

To get into Mexico by train, the only option is on luxurious private services like the Sierra Madre Express (tel: +1 520 747 0346 or 800 666 0346, in the USA; website: www.sierramadreexpress.com) operating between Tuscon, Arizona and Mexico's Copper Canyon. Mexlist (website: www.mexlist.com) maintains a list of similar luxury services, most of which have pullman sleepers, restaurant cars, lounge observation and club cars.

Getting There by Road


Drivers crossing the border in private cars or US hire cars must present originals and photocopies of current car registration and a valid driving licence to obtain a 180-day automobile permit. The cost of this should be charged to a credit card to avoid leaving a large cash deposit.

Mexican car insurance is also compulsory - extensions to US policies are not valid. Insurance can be purchased at the border but better deals are available through online brokers.

 Climate

Mexico is a great destination to visit throughout the year. Altitude is a determining factor with regards to the weather, with cooler temperatures at higher elevations (Mexico City, Puebla, San Cristobal de la Casas) and warmer, tropical weather as you descend to sea level *Guadalajara, Cuernavaca, Cancun).

Along the Pacific and Caribbean coasts, the winter months (November- February) are warm and sunny. Many Europeans visit during this time to escape winter in their homelands. The summer months (June- August), meanwhile, are very hot and humid with heavy rain showers and the occasional hurricane.

October and November are perhaps the best months to visit the interior, after the rains have ended and everything is still green.

Required Clothing

This varies from area to area. Natural fibres are best in the heat, but have a sweater on hand as the nights are generally cooler. A sun hat will help to avoid dehydration. In the mountains, heavier clothing will be required.

 Contacts

Embassies and tourist offices

Mexican Embassy in the USA
Address: 1911 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone:
(202) 728 1600.

Website:
http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0900-1800.

Mexican Embassy in the UK
Address: 16 St George Street, London, W1S 1LX
Telephone:
(020) 7499 8586.

Website:
http://embamex.sre.gob.mx/reinounido

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0900-1300.

British Embassy in Mexico
Address: Col. Cuauthemoc, Rio Lerma 71, Mexico City, CP. 06500
Telephone:
(55) 1670 3200.

Website:
http://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-mexico-city
Opening times: Mon-Thurs 0800-1630; Fri 0800-1400.

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