Cancun belongs to the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico – the Cradle of the Maya Civilization. The Maya civilization was present over 5,000 years ago, became powerful and brilliant development from the twelfth century to the fifteenth century. Some ruins remain to this day are a pyramid and countless temples stretching from Cancun to Tulum. Thanks to the beautiful beaches, retaining many unique Mayan architecture, Cancun tourism is extremely attractive with the preserved natural ecology; the resort paraside with hundreds of hotels and restaurants, bars of all architectural styles. So, what to do and how to plan a budget perfect trip to Cancun – One of the best destinations and beautiful coastal city in Mexico for the first-time? Let’s check out our Cancun travel blog (Cancun blog) with the fullest Cancun travel guide (Cancun guide, Cancun tourist guide, Cancun visitor guide) from how to get, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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Cancun is a famous tourist beach city in Mexico, located in Yucatán Peninsula, on the coast of the Caribbean Sea. It has a warm climate all year round, the clean sea water is an ideal resort with hundreds of resorts, high-end hotels and nightclubs. Cancun is divided into two main areas: Downtown Cancun and Zotelera de Cancun (Hotel Zone of Cancun) with beachfront resorts, restaurants, bars. Cancun is a land of peace, beautiful scenery mixed with nostalgia in each architecture. Set foot in the brilliant city of Mexico, you will fall in love with the wonderful scenery, infatuated by the peaceful rhythm of this land.
The Cancun areas are sometimes referred to as the Mexican Caribbean or the Riviera Maya. Cancun is the capital city of the Benito Juárez Municipality and world famous for its all-inclusive resorts. The city center on the mainland connects Nichuptes and lagoons to a narrow 7-shaped island where modern beach hotels are housed in tourist hubs.
Cancun travel guide: Overview of Cancun
Cancun is located on the peninsula of Yucatan surrounded by blue coast, white sand, and wild coconut trees of Quintana Roo state, Mexico. In 1967, the Mexican government saw the importance of the tourism industry to the Mexican economy, so it was looking for a place to build a tourist area, and Cancun was chosen as the ideal site for this tourism project. In the early 1980s, little was known about Cancun and only a few dozen hotels were built here. By the mid-1980s, with the large-scale constructions were built that made Cancun became an international tourist destination. The state of Quintana Roo currently generates more than 4 billion Dollars annually, accounting for about 35% of the total income in the tourism industry of Mexico.
Cancun is comprised of three distinct but intertwined areas: The city of Cancun, with about 950,000 inhabitants (2020) living entirely rely on the tourism industry; a protected natural ecoregion for tourists to visit; and a hotel zone with hundreds of hotels, resorts and restaurants.
Cancun still retains the characteristics of the ancient culture of the Mayan people. Cancun located in the Yucatan peninsula is where the Maya civilization flourished from the 12th to the 15th centuries. In 1519, Yucatan was captured and devastated by the Spanish. According to some archeological documents, the Mayans come from Asia, and most of the Mexicans today are originally from Mayan people.
Overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, Cancun is like a magnet that attracts the attention of visitors from near and far come to enjoy their wonderful vacations. The magnificent city on the Caribbean coast is the capital of the municipality of Benito Juárez and is famous worldwide for its resorts. In addition, this beautiful land is also famous for many ancient Mayan relics that attract travel lovers to explore and learn about local history and culture. The journey to Cancun is a journey to explore the new, glamorous, exciting things bearing bold Mexican style.
Today, the Mayan community in Cancun is only about 175,000 people. Since the development of tourism, they work in hotels, doing bus and taxi drivers… life becomes more comfortable. Maya children attend primary school in both Mayan and Spanish.
Approximately 10 kilometers away from Cancun, there is a long island of Isla Mujeres that prevents waves, so the sea is usually quite calm. Isla Mujeres Island is also where tourists can sit on yachts for sightseeing or go fishing, swimming, and diving. About 70 kilometers to the south of Cancun is Playa Del Carmen, a coastal town that resembles a Spanish coastal city style. This place also attracts tourists thanks to the shops specializing in selling magical and mystical items of the Indians.
Cancun travel blog: When to visit
Cancun has more than 200 sunny days a year and the average temperature is 80 Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celcius), which is what makes Cancun an ideal place to travel, resting and where to Americans, Canadians, and Europe avoid the cold winter in their country.
Mexico has tropical climate, but because of its high terrain, winter is not too cold and summer is not hot or stuffy. The climate is quite mild, making it become an ideal summer vacation and leisure destination. The North has a subtropical climate. The average temperature in January ranging 10 – 25 degrees Celsius, July ranging 15 – 30 degrees Celsius. So, visitors can visit anywhere in Mexico at any time of the year, including Cancun. However, the period from December to April next year is considered the peak tourist season of the year. Although the flow of people coming to this city is extremely crowded, but with the perfect weather is enough to make you forget all the discomfort and enjoy your wonderful winter vacation.
In winter, the northern Mexico has a cold climate with an daytime average temperature from 8 degrees Celsius to 12 degrees Celsius, at night the temperature drops to minus 5 degrees Celsius and sometimes snow fall. In the summer, the climate in the North is very hot, with occasional heavy rains in the afternoon with heavy rain and hail. This season also has storms that bring unusually heavy rain. Summer temperatures can reach up to 39 degrees Celsius. The rainy season usually occurs in the downtown waters near the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico. So, due to the weather, tourists should travel in winter to avoid storms.
Cancun travel guide: How to get and getting around Cancun?
Cancun International Airport (CUN) is the main airport in Cancun, about a 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel zone. The best way to get to Cancun is to book a package tour (combo tour) that includes hotel, airline tickets and airport transfer service. This combo will be safe, convenient and easy for tourists as you don’t have to think much about airport transfers.
Visitors can fly directly to the International Airport of Cancun or transit in the capital of Mexico City before taking another flight or taking a train or bus to Cancun. Tourists from Vietnam have many choices of airlines to fly to Mexico such as Vietnam Airlines, Asiana Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada … with different prices to suit every budget.
Traveling in the city of Cancun, visitors can choose from trains, buses, taxis, Colectivos (small bus) and car rental if you want to explore freely. Every street in Cancun will definitely be on your mind forever.
Cancun blog: What to do and where to go?
The first place not to be missed is the Chichen Itza, which is a complex of Mayan ruins. Only here you can see from thousands of years ago how the Mayan civilization developed. When entering the Mayan’s arena, you can hear an echo. That is, standing in one spot, you let out a sound, you will hear your echo 7 times. Or when you standing in front of a pyramid (El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan) and clapping your hands, you will hear the echo as of a local bird. Until now, scientists also cannot explain why it is like that. But many predictions are due to the way the Mayans built this castle.
The complex of Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza dating back over 1,500 years old with the most ancient and unique ruins in Mexico. Here, you can admire firsthand El Castillo Pyramid built by the Maya as a bridge between Gods and human, learn about the famous Mayan tribe. You will visit the Temple of the Warriors and learn about history with many fascinating mysteries at the Great Ball Court (a rectangular plan of 168m long by 70m wide), the “fight or die” pitching stadium, where the losing team’s captain will be beheading after finishing the match and along with many other unique ancient structures.
Address: Yucatan, Mexico
The second spot you must-visit is Cenote Ik kil which is located not far from the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza. Cenote means deep well. This is a very big well, very deep, but you can still swim. Since the well is very deep, it is not recommended for those who cannot swim. After swimming, you can go up where there is a restaurant to eat and drink.
The sacred well to pray for rain, Canote Ik Kil, where virgin girls were pushed down to sacrifice to the rain God. The well is located about 20 meters below the ground. This used to be the relaxing place of the ancient Mayans as well as a water supply for sacrifices.
This can be seen as an amusement area. Cancun has a lot of Cenotes, so they make the most of these Cenotes to turn them into great recreation spots. The admission to enter Xplor is $100 including buffet lunch or dinner. This amusement park is like Vinpearl in Vietnam, which means you buy tickets to enter and play games or rides freely, if you play bored, change rides. The XPlor rides include: Zipline (the last zip line will drop you into the water), Jeep riding into forests and caves, swimming in the Cenote area, hammock splash (ie there is a hammock, you sit on it then it is released along a rope, you slide and then splash into the water). Xplor makes me feel like Phong Nha cave in Vietnam, but they let me be more free, do what I want freely, if I want to swim, let’s swim…
Address: Carretera Chetumal, Puerto Juarez Km 282, 77710 Playa del Carmen, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: 9AM–5PM/Sunday: Closed
Another interesting experience you should try is: Dinner on a pirate ship Captain Hook on the Caribbean Sea. You can book in advance and order dishes online. Depending on dishes you choose, the prices vary from $70 – $95 per person. Joining this tour you will have dinner on the ship, the boat will sailing out to the sea and they performe pirate scenes for you to watch. I think this price is a bit expensive, but if you go with your children they will like it. The price for children is as cheap as 1/2.
Almost of the tours I took, I was not book in advance at home but book at the resort when I arrived in Cancun, only Captain Hook tour I booked online. You do not have to worry about being ripped off in Cancun because most travel agencies in Cancun run by locals, so they also do not rip you off, but also free-offer a pick-up service from your hotel.
Cozumel coral reef
The next place that we want to recommend to you when traveling in Cancun is Cozumel Island, where there are many of the top famous coral reefs in the world.
Thanks to a light flowing water, calm sea water, this has become a place to attract many tourists who want to dive into the water to see the corals as well as look for strange creatures, large and strange fish which only appears in Cozumel Island’s waters along with countless rare fishes swimming around you.
The large lobsters will make a delicious dinner for those who love to hunt and enjoy wild meals caught by themselves.
In addition, on the island of Cozumel there is the largest underwater museum in the world built in 2010 to raise awareness of locals and tourists, to restore the marine ecosystem that is gradually being destroyed around Isla Mujeres island. There are up to 400 works of art with all different themes. Each style of artwork is also a highlight to make a difference to help visitors feel that each work will have different meanings like a longstanding architecture existed under the sea and was found after years of being lost.
Visitors who want to visit are required to wear diving suits, these equipment are sold and rented everywhere on the island to serve the needs of visitors.
Address: Cerrada Las Golondrinas Lote #24, Zona Hotelera, 77560 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
As a coastal city of the Caribbean Region, Cancun will definitely bring many outstanding features of the most beautiful and breathtaking beaches with clear blue water. Most beachclubs near the coast in Cancun are open from dawn to dusk serving beach lovers. The smooth white sand band embraces the crystal-clear water like a jewel, the rows of green palm trees whispering in the wind and the rows of chairs dragging visitors lying to enjoy warm sunshine while sipping a cool cocktail. What a wonderful world!
El Rey Mayan Ruins
Located just off the calm beach, the ancient El Rey Ruins (El Rey Archaeological Zone) are made up of 47 ancient stone structures consisting of several platforms and sacred temples that used to hold many religious rituals. A tour of the spectacular ruins of the city of Cancun will take you on a journey back in time, admiring the skillful hands that create a magnificent architectural complex, scale for the future people like us to have a chance to learn about a longstanding civilization.
Address: Hotel Zone, 77500 Cancún, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Mayan Museum of Cancun
Opened to visitors in 2012, the Maya Cancun Museum is a place to keep many long-standing historical relics and artifacts, hiding mysterious stories. The hugh area 409m2 of museum space displays countless wealth of valuable artifacts in the flooded caves of Tulum. In addition, it also owns a 10,000-year-old bone fragment gallery of La Mujer de las Palmas (The Woman of the Palms) which is very interested in archeologists. Visitors note that the museum is closed every Monday.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan km 16.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Hours: 9AM–5:30PM/Monday: Closed
Admission: Adult/child under 13yr M$75/free
One thing visitors must definitely try in Cancun is to go up the Scenic Tower to see the whole beautiful city of Cancun. It owns a height of 110m with the body is as slender as a giant pencil and the observatory on the top is eye-catching with shimmering lights. You can take the opportunity to climb the steep steps to the top of the tower or more leisurely, take the big elevator to go up the Scenic Tower. With its beautiful modern architecture opening up a sparkling colorful landscape at night, you will never forget the city of Cancun.
Address: Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 4.5, Kukulcan Boulevard, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
Isla Mujeres Island
Isla Mujeres Island is about 70 km to the south of the city center of Cancun, this is also the destination that many tourists choose to visiting, fishing and swimming because it is clear blue water, gentle waves, very suitable to enjoy a peaceful setting. In addition, the souvenir shops here also sell unique items designed and made from natural materials such as shells, shellfish, …
There are also many famous luxury hotels and resorts here, visitors can completely enjoy an ideal holiday here and take part in recreational games, freshwater pools, amusement parks and other interesting adventure rides. Isla Mujere Island is sure to be a perfect choice for you and your family on your upcoming trip.
Cancun travel blog: What to eat?
Mexico is a land of many unique delicacies and the city of Cancun is also full of irresistible flavors. Cancun cuisine is rich, fragrant but also brings many healthy nutrients, diners can eat forever and not be bored with Cancun food.
Do not miss the famous stewed chicken or beef dish of Enchilada Casserole, Mexican Lasagna, the perfect combination of stir-frying and baking which is loaded with juicy beef, tomatoes, beans, corn, olives and green chilies. The popular cake of Quesadillas is a Mexican dish and type of taco, consisting of a tortilla with melted cheese inside, and sometimes meats and spices, and then cooked on a griddle. The traditional and national dish of tacos, and the charming Micheladas cocktail is a Mexican cocktail made from tomato juice, beer and spices… All of them become unforgettable memories on your trip to Cancun.
Cancun travel guide: Where to stay?
The resorts in Cancun are mostly all-inclusive resorts which including all: Stay, dining, transfer, other services… Drinking here means drinking spirits, all kinds of cocktails, not just bottled water or regular refreshments. I stayed in the resort of Hotel Riu Palace Peninsula (Agoda.com or Booking.com). The Riu hotel brand in Cancun has 4 resorts that stretching across the Hotel Zone of Cancun, and you can comfortably go in and out of any resort you want, dining at any restaurant in the Riu system. The resort i stayed has up to 4, 5 different restaurants serving European and Asian cuisine. As I said above, the resort is all-inclusive, so you can eat and drink at any time you want.
Below we recommend more best cheap, budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun All Inclusive, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $398/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $735/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- The Grand At Moon Palace, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $749/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Hyatt Ziva Cancun, a top rated 4-star hotel with room rates from $405/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $336/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Beach Palace, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $571/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Cancun you can refer to
- Go Cancun – All Inclusive Pass
- Cancun Street Food and Local Markets Small Group Tour
- Isla Mujeres Catamaran and Snorkeling Tour from Cancun
- Cancun International Airport (CUN) Shared Transfers
- Aromas of Mexico: Cancun Cooking Class and Local Market Tour
Are you looking for more top things to do in Cancun: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here.