I didn’t spend a lot of time in Mexico so I am by no means an expert on this topic. From my time here though I can say that backpacking Mexico is relatively simple and there are tons of tourists and other backpackers around. I flew into Cancun and travelled south in Quintana Roo through Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Bacalar. When travelling between cities here you can take the ADO bus. This bus is new, comfortable and straight forward. I even took their “second class bus” from Playa to Bacalar and never had any troubles. The differences between the two are first the price – the second class one is much cheaper, it also doesn’t have a washroom and stops more often on the side of the road picking up locals travelling shorter distances.
You can easily get around in Mexico without speaking Spanish – especially if you’re travelling to touristy destinations like I was. It is always helpful to learn a few phrases before you go, just in case. Wifi is also widespread here. Hostels, airbnbs and hotels will have it and there will be random hotspots around in cities. A typical (and tasty) meal will set you back around 100 pesos – sometimes that’s including a beer too. You’ll definitely want to have cash on you because a lot of places won’t accept card.
As this was an incredibly spontaneous trip I did zero prep work before I left and therefore had no idea where to stay my first couple nights. I ended up going to Playa del Carmen and to be honest, did not like it. If you want to party then you’ll have fun here. I was looking for a relaxing stay, while enjoying some good food and drinks. This for me did not want to include being woken up all night periodically as drunken backpackers stumbled in and out of my room until 6 am when two people in my hostel started going at it.
Other than more than annoying hostel roommates, this city was like tourist NYC but Mexico style. I love authentic NYC but this city was like the Time’s Square part of NYC. Tourist part aside, the beaches when I were there had so much seaweed in them that you couldn’t even swim. So all together not a great experience. I was going to head to Tulum for a few nights but decided I needed more quiet after Playa than Tulum could offer me so I went all the way to Bacalar.
Bacalar is this small town on the very South of Quintana Roo that’s home to this beautiful fresh water lake.
Yes, this is a L A K E. I know – it’s crazy.
The hostel I stayed at here was quite nice and I would recommend it. I was surprised however, at despite it being such a small town how busy it still was. It wasn’t exactly the relaxation I needed after Playa del Carmen but it was MUCH nicer. I also had some really tasty food here.
On my second day I was talking with this girl who was leaving for Belize that night, and I decided to join here in hopes of enjoying some quiet island life (and that I did). You can read more about my time in Belize h e r e.
My first experience in Mexico was not the best. I have heard people rave about backpacking this country though so I will give it another try, and will definitely do some research before I go to find authentic Mexican cities and towns to explore. Anyone have some suggests for my next trip back?