cancun backpacking

Cancun Backpacking

Welcome to the captivating world of Cancun backpacking! If you’re an adventurous soul seeking an exhilarating journey that combines pristine beaches, rich history, vibrant culture, and awe-inspiring natural wonders, then Cancun is the perfect destination for you. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll dive deep into the heart of Cancun, uncovering its hidden gems and sharing invaluable insights to ensure you have an unforgettable backpacking experience.

Cancun Backpacking


Embarking on a Cancun backpacking adventure allows you to escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in the extraordinary. From turquoise waters and white sandy beaches to ancient ruins and bustling markets, this Mexican paradise offers a myriad of experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature enthusiast, or a food lover, Cancun has something extraordinary in store for you.

The Ultimate Cancun Backpacking Guide

In this section, we’ll take you on a virtual journey through Cancun, providing you with all the essential information to plan your backpacking adventure effectively. From the best time to visit to the must-visit attractions, we’ve got you covered.

Best Time to Visit Cancun

Choosing the right time to visit Cancun is crucial for a memorable experience. The dry season, spanning from December to April, offers pleasant weather with minimal rainfall, making it the peak tourist season. However, if you prefer fewer crowds and cheaper accommodations, the shoulder seasons of May-June and September-November are ideal.

Must-Visit Attractions in Cancun

Chichen Itza

  1. Chichen Itza: A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is an ancient Mayan city that will transport you back in time. Marvel at the majestic El Castillo pyramid, known as the Temple of Kukulcan, and learn about the Mayan civilization’s fascinating history.
  2. Isla Mujeres: Just a short ferry ride from Cancun, Isla Mujeres is a paradise island with pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back atmosphere. Snorkel with colorful marine life, rent a golf cart to explore the island, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun.
  3. Tulum: Nestled on the coast, Tulum is renowned for its picturesque ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Explore the well-preserved temples and enjoy breathtaking views while learning about the ancient Maya civilization.
  4. Cenotes: These natural sinkholes, formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock, are scattered throughout the Yucatan Peninsula. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters of the cenotes and admire the unique geological formations surrounding you.
  5. Isla Contoy: For nature lovers, Isla Contoy is a must-visit. This protected island is a haven for birdwatching, with over 150 species of birds inhabiting its lush landscape. Explore the pristine beaches, observe sea turtles nesting, and snorkel alongside vibrant coral reefs.

What to Pack for Cancun Backpacking

Packing the right essentials ensures a smooth and enjoyable backpacking experience in Cancun. Here’s a checklist to help you pack smartly:


  • Lightweight and breathable clothing
  • Swimwear and beach cover-ups
  • Comfortable walking shoes or sandals
  • Hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection
  • Light jacket or sweater for cooler evenings

Essential Items

  • Valid passport and copies of important documents
  • Money belt or travel pouch for secure storage
  • Portable charger and adapters for electronics
  • Insect repellent and first aid kit
  • Reusable water bottle and water purification tablets

Cancun Backpacking Tips and Tricks


To make the most of your Cancun backpacking adventure, keep these insider tips in mind:

  1. Explore Beyond the Hotel Zone: While the Hotel Zone is known for its luxurious resorts, venturing beyond it unveils the true beauty of Cancun. Explore the local markets, interact with the friendly locals, and savor authentic Mexican cuisine.
  2. Learn Basic Spanish Phrases: Although many locals speak English, learning a few basic Spanish phrases will go a long way in enhancing your interactions and immersing yourself in the local culture.
  3. Stay Hydrated: The tropical climate of Cancun can be unforgiving. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated, especially if you’re engaging in outdoor activities.
  4. Sample Street Food: Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in Cancun’s vibrant street food scene. From mouthwatering tacos and tamales to refreshing aguas frescas, the local street vendors offer a culinary adventure like no other.

Exploring the Mayan Ruins


Cancun is a gateway to the ancient Mayan civilization, and no backpacking trip would be complete without a visit to the spectacular ruins scattered across the region. Here are some must-visit Mayan ruins near Cancun:

  1. Tulum: Perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, Tulum is home to some of the most picturesque Mayan ruins in Mexico. Explore the ancient temples, walk along the fortified walls, and bask in the breathtaking views.
  2. Coba: Located deep in the Yucatan jungle, Coba offers a unique opportunity to traverse ancient Mayan roads on a bicycle. Climb the towering Nohoch Mul pyramid for a panoramic view of the lush surroundings.
  3. Ek Balam: Less crowded than other popular ruins, Ek Balam boasts remarkably well-preserved structures, including the imposing Acropolis pyramid. Marvel at the intricate stucco artwork and reliefs that adorn the ancient buildings.

The Enchanting Underwater World

One of Cancun’s most captivating attractions lies beneath the surface of the turquoise waters—the Great Mesoamerican Reef. Snorkeling and diving enthusiasts will find themselves in an underwater paradise, teeming with colorful coral formations and diverse marine life.

Exquisite Local Cuisine

No backpacking adventure is complete without savoring the local flavors, and Cancun offers a gastronomic delight for every palate. From sizzling street tacos to fresh ceviche, here are some must-try dishes:

  1. Cochinita Pibil: A traditional Yucatecan dish, Cochinita Pibil features slow-roasted pork marinated in achiote paste and citrus juices. Served with tortillas and pickled onions, it’s a burst of flavor in every bite.
  2. Pescado Tikin Xic: This mouthwatering Mayan-style grilled fish is marinated in achiote and sour orange juice, giving it a tangy and smoky flavor. Enjoy it with a side of rice, beans, and fresh tortillas.
  3. Tacos al Pastor: Inspired by Lebanese shawarma, Tacos al Pastor features marinated pork cooked on a vertical spit and topped with pineapple, onions, and cilantro. It’s a true explosion of flavors.

Accommodation Options for Backpackers

cancun backpacking

Cancun offers a range of accommodation options to suit every budget. Whether you prefer the convenience of hostels, the comfort of budget hotels, or the luxury of all-inclusive resorts, you’ll find something that meets your needs. Some popular backpacker-friendly areas to consider are Downtown Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.

Transportation in Cancun

Getting around Cancun and its surrounding areas is relatively easy. Here are some transportation options available:

  • Buses: The local buses, known as “colectivos,” are an affordable and convenient way to travel within Cancun and neighboring towns. They operate on set routes and are easily identifiable.
  • Taxis: Taxis are readily available throughout Cancun, but it’s essential to agree on the fare before starting your journey. Opt for authorized taxis or use ride-sharing apps for added safety.
  • Rental Cars: If you prefer more flexibility and independence, renting a car is a viable option. However, keep in mind that parking can be limited in popular tourist areas.

Safety Tips for Backpackers

While Cancun is generally a safe destination for travelers, it’s always wise to take precautions. Here are some essential safety tips:

  1. Stay in Well-Lit and Crowded Areas: Stick to well-populated areas, especially at night. Avoid secluded or poorly lit streets, and trust your instincts if something feels off.
  2. Keep Valuables Secure: Use a money belt or travel pouch to keep your passport, cash, and important documents safe. Be cautious with your belongings, especially in crowded places.
  3. Drink Responsibly: If you choose to indulge in Cancun’s vibrant nightlife, do so responsibly. Be aware of your alcohol intake and avoid accepting drinks from strangers.

FAQs about Cancun Backpacking

  1. Is Cancun safe for backpackers?Cancun is generally considered safe for backpackers. However, it’s essential to take basic precautions, such as staying in well-populated areas and keeping valuables secure.
  2. What is the legal drinking age in Cancun?The legal drinking age in Cancun is 18 years old.
  3. Can I drink the tap water in Cancun?It’s advisable to drink bottled water in Cancun to avoid any potential stomach discomfort. Most hotels and restaurants provide bottled water for guests.
  4. What are the best beaches in Cancun?Cancun boasts several stunning beaches, including Playa Delfines, Playa Tortugas, and Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres. Each offers its unique charm and beauty.
  5. Are there any visa requirements for visiting Cancun?Visitors from many countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, do not require a visa for tourist stays of up to 180 days. However, it’s crucial to check the specific requirements based on your nationality.
  6. What is the currency in Cancun?The official currency in Cancun is the Mexican Peso (MXN). Most establishments also accept major credit cards.


Congratulations! You’re now equipped with all the essential knowledge to embark on an unforgettable Cancun backpacking adventure. From exploring ancient Mayan ruins to diving into the vibrant underwater world and indulging in mouthwatering cuisine, Cancun offers an incredible blend of natural beauty, rich history, and cultural experiences. So pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime in this Mexican paradise.


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