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first time visitors to Cancun

In cooperation with: Visit Mexico
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Madison, Wisconsin
1 post
first time visitors to Cancun

So I'm planing travel with my girlfriend to Cancun this August, and neither of us speak a tiny bit of Spanish, will there be a problem with that? And we are trying to do some sightseeing during the vacation, is it a good idea to go on a tour or we can make it on ourselves? And how much pesos should we bring? Thanks.

Sayulita, Mexico
Level Contributor
1,637 posts
80 reviews
1. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

Well how much pesos?find out what you wanna do and sum up the costs.Doing much by yourself which is doable will not require many pesos.Dont bring pesos,bring a master/visa Card and with-draw money after your situation.Its never a good idea walking around like a bank with a stash of cash.

In Mexico english is not a problem until you come to downtown,Mega and Chedraui supermarket or an authentic Yucatec restaurant.But learn a few words and start getting a new language for free.

Edited: 3:17 am, July 26, 2013
Level Contributor
3,114 posts
36 reviews
2. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

Don't worry about not speaking Spanish, almost everyone you will deal with will speak English (waiters, resort desk staff, taxi drivers, tour companies). There may be a few times there is a communication problem, but you will be ok.

Wait until you get to the resort and check out the tours they have to offer. We have been going to Cancun for 9 years and have always used the tours offered by the resort. Never rented a car, we just don't see a need to because of the bus system and price of taxi's. The tours provide transportation and it's just to easy for us to do it that way.

Pesos. We don't take pesos or a lot of cash. We use a credit card that doesn't have a transfer fee and charge pretty much every thing on it, plus we get the points on $$ charged. We do exchange USD for pesos when we arrive, but we do it in small quantities a few times during our stay. You will need them for the bus, we use pesos for the Taxi and some tips.

Truth or...
Level Contributor
219 posts
3. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

Alas, we don't speak Spanish either. We had no problems at all. We took pesos for tips. Anything else we charged.

Bucks County, PA
Level Contributor
213 posts
9 reviews
4. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

I have been to Cancun and Riviera Maya a total of six times.

Don't worry about speaking Spanish. There is a saying that more people speak English in Cancun and Riviera Maya than in Miami. I learned a while ago that I don't start speaking what I remember from my high school Spanish at first, because they will think you speak fluently and start rattling off conversational Spanish.

Excursions can be booked at the resort. That is the best choice, especially for first timers. If you want to visit the shopping malls, you can just jump on a bus for a few pesos. Be sure you hang on to the railing ASAP. The drivers take off really fast. The malls are just like the ones in the USA.

As far as pesos, I used to convert to pesos all the time but I stopped when the locals told me it didn't matter to them. I now bring dollars in singles for tips at the resorts. I brought down $300 dollars, but I only used have of that. You can buy souvenirs or pay for excursions with a credit card. Your credit card company will convert pesos to dollars on your statement. If you really want pesos you can make withdrawals at an ATM in the resort. Just remember, you have to withdraw in Pesos, it won't show dollars. A peso is equal to about 8 cents. So if you withdraw 1000 pesos; 1000 pesos X .08 cents is $80. That's the amount taken out of your account. A lot of places will show the prices in pesos and USD, but if just in pesos, just figure the dollar amount will be 80% of that number.

Bucks County, PA
Level Contributor
213 posts
9 reviews
5. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

Oh and one more thing, once you get through customs and you are exiting the terminal, you may be called to the side by people in official looking uniforms. They are just time share salespeople. Avoid them at all costs. Go straight for the exit doors. Your airport transfer driver is always outside the terminal, never inside.

Level Contributor
7,753 posts
189 reviews
6. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

"As far as pesos, I used to convert to pesos all the time but I stopped when the locals told me it didn't matter to them."

The reason they said that is they make a lot more money by you paying dollars instead of the pesos. I never use my charge or debit card when I go to Mexico. Too much fraud can happen. By sitting down and figuring how much I might need I convert all to pesos before I go. I usually take extra and if I have leftover pesos, I can return to the bank or save for another trip. There is a safe in the room so I take out what I need each day.

Now, that being said... I do take a credit and debit card for emergencies only. If you decide to do that, make sure you call your bank ahead of time and "ok" for the charges to go through. Takes about 5 minutes. They need to flag your account with your location and dates. When using your credit card, I would not let it out of your sight. Where it goes... you go. If you use your debit card to get pesos, make sure the machine is attached to a bank. No free standing machines. Call your bank. They may give you names of Mexican banks that they "have a relationship with" and you can use those. And... Definitely change your pin #'s upon return home. Sometimes people find charges on their bank statement months after they've returned!

Bucks County, PA
Level Contributor
213 posts
9 reviews
7. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

At the resort I'm not going to quibble about giving a dollar tip (about 12 pesos) for a drink, instead of ten pesos (80 cents). It's too much to worry about for 20 cents. And if I buy souvenirs with a credit card it is converted anyway. When I'm on vacation, the less I have to worry about, the more fun I have. After all, that why I go with an all-inclusive instead of worrying how much I have to pay for individual meals.

Level Contributor
48 posts
2 reviews
8. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

Just go for it , take the busses everywhere locally and the ADO to places further away ,dont do tours with a bunch of people , find a couple of places you really want to go and rent a car , then return it the next day , save your money and feel more like a local , remember ....be a traveller ,not a tourist . For example,a couple of months ago we went to cancun for a relaxing vacation we got up one morning took the local bus ( 60 cent s each, went into town to have breakfast (20 dollars) stopped at Chedraui market for some bottles of water walked over to the ADO terminal and caught a van to Playa Del Carmen ( 3 dollars each )kicked back in the air conditioning for the 2 hour ride ,walked around the town ,enjoyed the beach and lunch, caught the bus back, total trip with ice cream was about 60 dollars . with a tour that would have been double. by the way there are ATMs in town if you need cash Santander,Bancomer and large banks have armed guards if you are worried , dont use private ATMs like in the hotels , we always carry cash which we get in town at the bank ATMs.

9. Re: first time visitors to Cancun

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