Ways to Enjoy Cancun for Less
Cancun is a hotspot on Mexico’s eastern tip located on the beautiful shores within the Gulf of Mexico. Within this diverse geographical area, you’ll find luxury hotels, ancient ruins, several bars & restaurants, and endless sunshine on immaculate beaches. The never-ending activities and opportunities to drain your wallet are everywhere. You can take a tropical vacation while staying on a budget by using cheaper and low-cost options to discover Cancun.
1. Bring Your Snorkel Gear
You can enjoy a plethora of free beaches around Cancun, all with cerulean waters and large stretches of sand perfect for a tan. Cancun is known for its waters teeming with mammals, fish, anemones, sponges, and more sea life. Snorkeling is a great way to spend an afternoon and see the fascinating world below the surface, but renting equipment is an extras expense. If you bring your own snorkeling gear, you can head into the warm waters to spot a variety of exotic fish without the worry and stress of watching the clock to return on time. Plus, you don't have to wait in lines and you can go as often and when you want.
Popular beaches in the area ideal for snorkeling include Playa Tortugas, a famous beach with calm waves, food stalls, and artisans; Playa Norte on the island of Isla Mujeres with an unspoiled coastline; and Playa Chac Mool, a beach located in the Hotel Zone with some of the bluest waters anywhere in the world.
2. Visit Local Museums and Architectural Sites
Tours may be expensive, but if you’re willing to explore on your own, you can save some serious cash and still experience culturally significant locations in the area. Stroll the Dorfman Art Gallery (free entrance) to see Maya-influenced works in a variety of art forms including sculptures, videos, paintings, and murals. Another free option is the Templo del Alacrán, or Temple of the Scorpion, offering guests a look at ruins built in 1200 A.D.
The shining star of Cancun is Chichen Itza, located in the lush tropical rainforest outside of town. Entrance costs less than $15 a person for adults and lets you browse and walk around the ancient site at your own pace. You can also visit the nearby site of Tulum, home to a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city dating back to the 13th century, for less than $5.
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3. Explore Local Markets
It costs nothing to walk around the street fairs and markets in Cancun. Browse the Marcado 28 in downtown Cancun, full of local merchants selling their wares alongside food carts, jewelers, and artisans. This market takes up an entire city block and offers visitors authentic and inexpensive Mexican food. If you’re looking for a souvenir, you can find a variety of traditional Mexican options here while supporting local businesses.
Walk through the largest shopping Center in Cancun, Plaza La Isla Cancun, where you’ll find entertainment, a theater, and a wax museum. While there are higher-end stores, the plaza regularly hosts free events including mariachi bands, musical performances, and more.
4. Explore the Outdoors
There are parks and trails around Cancun that you can walk, bike, or skate along completely free (the bike rental might cost a few dollars). Head to Parque de Las Palapas to find locals playing soccer, walking their dogs, and enjoying a Cuban coffee. Optional - bring some extra pesos to give the talented street performers.
Walk down the main street, Avenida Tulum, and find great deals on souvenirs. This main thoroughfare offers an eclectic assortment of shops, cafes, and taco stands where the delicious smells waft down the street inside the stores making it hard to resist an afternoon snack. Prices here are more reasonable than in the popular tourist destinations, but you may need to brush up on your Spanish before visiting.
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