Cancun, Mexico is in a league of its own when it comes to things to do and great food. This once small fishing village is now a tourist mecca. I’m usually not a fan of tourist towns but, Cancun left me pleasantly surprised and hankering for more. However, don’t be fooled. Cancun is made for tourist and there are plenty of people ready to take advantage of tourists with bright eyes, excitement, and a wallet full of cash.
Here are my Cancun tips and tricks for saving coin.
1. Pesos Are Your Friend
Pay in Pesos, Pay in Pesos, Pay in Pesos. I cannot say it enough. U.S. Dollars are accepted almost everywhere but don’t take the bait. The exchange rate is always fluctuating and if you’re pegged as a tourist vendors will charge you more to pay in US dollars. They do this because of inconvenience and frankly the extra work it takes to do the conversion. Not to mention, making change in pesos is a pain! Save yourself a headache and the potential to get played and get yourself some pesos.
2. Banks over Street ATMs
ATMs are all over Cancun. Seriously, I think I saw an ATM squeezed in between two abandoned buildings. The street ATMs tend to charge a crazy amount for a withdrawal. I saw as much as $6! Nah, not today. Head over to a local bank like Santander or CIBanco where withdrawal fees are as low as $2. Yah, I can deal with that.
3. Haggle Haggle Haggle
Most local outdoor vendors will give you an upset look after you cut the price of their “one of kind” Mexican blankets in half. It’s only because they realized you know the game. Haggle anywhere it feels appropriate. Street vendors are where you get the most bang for your buck but, don’t be afraid to haggle on tour prices. There is always someone who has what you need for the price you want. Learned this lesson the hard way.
I bought a one-day sailing tour to Isla Mujeres, an island off the coast of Cancun, including food and drinks for $60 per person. Great deal right? I thought so too, until I spoke to a couple on the same tour who only paid $30! I’d be lying if I didn’t say I felt some type a way about it. Live and learn right?! It will take some persistence, savvy haggling, and a big smile but haggling is well worth it.
4. Watch Card Fees
The biggest hidden expense will likely come from your home bank or credit card company. Major credit cards charge anywhere from 1% – 3% on all foreign transactions. Watch how much you are charging for small purchases. As the old saying goes, cash is king.
5. Eat Local
If splurging on meals isn’t your thing eat at local taquerias. Four tacos topped with everything, a chicken quesadilla, and two beers for $8 bucks. Yeh, I can do that. An added bonus of eating local is getting to experience more authentic Mexican culture and people. You might have to venture out of the tourist zone but, the savings and quality make it worth it. If you are nervous about leaving the tourist zone just be sure to be a smart traveler and stay safe.
What are your tips and tricks to save in coin in Cancun?
Want to learn how I save money on flights? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Flight Deals.