Mexican Tourist Cards and How to Get One
A tourist card, also called an FMM (“Forma Migratoria Múltiple,” previously referred to as an FMT), is a tourist permit that is required for all foreign citizen travelers to Mexico who will not be engaged in any type of remunerated work. Tourist cards may be valid for up to 180 days and allow the holder to remain in Mexico as a tourist for the allotted time. Be sure to hold on to your tourist card and keep it in a safe place, as you will need to hand it in when you are departing the country. Foreign nationals who will be working in Mexico are required to obtain a work visa from the National Immigration Institute (INM).
In the past, travelers who were remaining within the United States border zone for up to 72 hours did not need a tourist card. (The border zone, comprised of an area roughly 20 km into Mexico from the U.S. border and also included most of Baja California and the Sonora “free zone.”) However, now the tourist card is required for all non-Mexican visitors to the country who will remain for fewer than six months.
There is a fee of about $24 USD for a tourist card. If you are traveling by air or on a cruise, the fee for your tourist card is included in the cost of your trip, and you will be given the card to fill out. If you are traveling over land you can pick up a tourist card at your point of entry or from a Mexican consulate before your departure. In this case, you will need to make the payment for your tourist card at a bank after your arrival in Mexico.
Mexico's National Immigration Institute (INM) now allows travelers to apply for a tourist card online up to 7 days before entering Mexico. You can fill in the form and, if traveling by land, pay for the tourist card online. If you'll be traveling by air, the fee is included in your airplane ticket, so no need to pay again. Just remember that the tourist card must be stamped by an immigration official when you enter Mexico, otherwise, it is not valid. Apply for a tourist card online on the website of Mexico's National Immigration Institute: online FMM application.
Upon arrival in Mexico, you will present the filled-in tourist card to the immigration official who will stamp it and write in the number of days that you are allowed to stay in the country. The maximum is 180 days or 6 months, but the time actually given is at the discretion of the immigration official (often only 30 to 60 days are granted initially), for longer stays, the tourist card would need to be extended.
You should keep your tourist card in a safe place, for example, tucked into the pages of your passport. Upon leaving the country you must surrender your tourist card to immigration officials. If you do not have your tourist card, or if your tourist card is expired, you may be fined.
If You Lose Your Card
If your tourist card is lost or stolen, you will need to pay a fee to get a replacement tourist card at an immigration office, or you may be fined when you're leaving the country.
Find out what to do if you've lost your tourist card.
Extending Your Tourist Card
If you wish to stay in Mexico for longer than the time allotted on your tourist card, you will need to extend it. Under no circumstances is a tourist allowed to stay longer than 180 days; if you want to stay longer you will have to leave and re-enter the country, or apply for a different type of visa.
Find out how to extend your tourist card.
More About Travel Documents
- Do I need a passport to travel to Mexico?
- Does my child need a passport?
- What are the entry requirements for Canadians?
- What is a passport card and how do I get one?
Tijuana, Mexico Visitor’s Guide
01 of 08
What You Need to Know About Tijuana
Deciding whether to visit Tijuana, the Mexican border town near San Diego can be confusing.
Some people say they had a lot of fun visiting it and others think you should just stay away. Here's the lowdown on today's Tijuana, with some tips and insights that might help you decide whether it's right for you.
In the late 2000s, Tijuana was super-touristy. Within a few steps from the border crossing, you could find a dozen places selling cheap tourist trinkets. Everything was decked out in a way that felt calculated to please the gringo tourists.
Today's Tijuana has a Mexican flair but is also distinctively different from cities further inland. That makes it a unique place to visit. You can still find the cheap souvenirs and tourist traps of yesteryear, but you can also find world-class cuisine and exciting local art – if you know where to look.
Is It Worth My Time?
Some people can't resist the idea of crossing an international border if they're close. If you're one of them, then it's easy enough to do that.
Whether it's worth the time for everyone else depends on what you expect and what you enjoy. If all you want is the tired old tourist stereotypes, go right ahead. Buy a giant sombrero, a colorful pinata and take a few selfies. It will be fun.
If you're a curious traveler who wants to find out more about what other places are really like, you can do that in Tijuana. Skip down to the list of things you didn't know you could do in Tijuana to find out more.
Everyone has their level of tolerance. Many visitors enjoy Tijuana and never feel unsafe. Look for Baja California when you read the State Department's most recent travel alert and decide for yourself whether you want to go.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
Do It Yourself Day Trip to Tijuana
This easy day trip starts at the U. S./Mexico border and assumes that you will walk from there into town. Options for getting there are listed below.
Getting Into Tijuana: Take a look at the pictorial, step-by-step guide that shows you how to reach Avenida de la Revolucion, Tijuana's main tourist street.
What to Do: On Revolucion Avenue, you'll find ample opportunities to get your photograph taken with a cart hooked up to a Tijuana zebra (a donkey with black stripes painted on it), a tradition for more than 100 years. You can also do some shopping, and it's a great place for people-watching.
Just pay attention or take photos at your major turns and stops and you can retrace your steps to get back to the border.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do in Tijuana
Best Way to Really Get to Know Tijuana: Guided tours can be the absolute worst way to get to know a city, but the super-interesting tours given by Turista Libre are the exception. Run by a friendly Americal expatriate who lives in Tijuana, the company offers a wide variety of exciting things to do that could keep you coming back for more.
With Turista Libre, you'll get a look at the unique and fascinating place that Tijuana has become. You may go to a local market where people buy sugar, cheese, chocolate, and candles – or out to the beach to see the border wall plunging into the ocean. They offer lots of specialty tours that may include food tours, “Lucha Libre” Mexican wrestling, a brewery tour or an artists' tour. Find out what they've got coming up.
Things You Can Do On Your Own
Dine Fine. Foodies flock to Tijuana these days to try “Baja Med” cuisine, which combines traditional Mexican recipes with ingredients like olive oil, abalone, and arugula that flourish in the coastal, Mediterranean-like climate. Chefs like Javier Plascencia of Mision 19 (who you may have seen on ABC TV's The Taste) and Miguel Angel Guerrero of La Querencia are just a few of the many serving up innovative and delicious food.
Catch Some Culture: Centro Cultural Tijuana (Tijuana Cultural Center) is a fine museum that chronicles Baja peninsula history from ancient cave paintings to modern times. Exhibits are explained in English. It's in the Zona Rio area at Paseo de Los Heroes and Mina.
Shop for Art at PRAD: Short for Pasaje Rodriguez Arte y Diseño (Rodríguez Passage Art and Design), it's a narrow alleyway between Avenida Revolucion and Avenida Constitucion, with its entrance between Third and Fourth streets. Once filled with shops selling tourist souvenirs, it's now occupied by more than 20 small artists' spaces.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
Ways to Get to Tijuana from San Diego
Most San Diego visitors use the San Ysidro border crossing to Tijuana. Here's how to get there:
The Easy Way: Use San Diego Trolley: The San Diego Trolley (which is also sometimes called the Tijuana Trolley), takes you directly to the border crossing.
Don't Drive Yourself: Driving to Tijuana from San Diego is possibly the absolute worst way to go there. In theory, it's easy. Just drive south on Interstate Highway 5, and you'll be at the border crossing.
You can find parking lots on the U. S. side of the border from Tijuana. To get into them, take the “Last U.S. Exit, Camino de la Plaza” off-ramp, paying close attention, so you don't end up driving across the border when you didn't intend to. However, many visitors report break-ins and thefts in these lots.
You could also drive across the border, but then you'd end up with parking hassles on the other side and stuck in a long line of traffic trying to get back across. And if you rented a car in San Diego, rental agencies prohibit taking it into Mexico.
Taking a Bus to Tijuana: Bus tours also leave San Diego daily. They aren't as much fun as the Turista Libre tours mentioned above, but they do offer an easy way to get across the border. However, you can't go home early or stay late.
The Go San Diego Card also offers Tijuana tours along with a lot of attractions at a very reasonable price. Use this handy guide to find out all you need to know about it.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Crossing the Border and Getting Back Into the U.S. from Tijuana
Crossing the Border into Tijuana is easy. Use the pictorial, step-by-step guide. It shows you what to do every step of the way.
Getting Back to San Diego from Tijuana: To get back to the border from Avenida Revolucion on foot, just look for the big arch. Walk to it, turn right, go across the bridge and through the small shopping plaza. Take the pedestrian bridge over the highway and get in the line.
Once inside the building, have your documentation ready. U.S. and Canadian citizens must present either a passport or a government-issued photo ID plus proof of citizenship. Visit the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website for more details. If you don't have a passport, Rushmypassport.com can help you get or renew your passport without having to run around and stand in line to get it done.
You can bring back up to $800 in purchases duty-free from Tijuana, including up to one liter of alcohol per adult more than 21 years old, 100 cigars and 200 cigarettes. You may also be able to bring back medicines purchased for your personal use.
Once you're back on the United States side, the San Diego Trolley station will be straight ahead.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
06 of 08
Getting Around Tijuana, Mexico by Bus, Taxi, and On Foot
Don't wait until you're standing in Tijuana beset by confusion and choices to decided how you're going to get around. Read up now, and you can move around like a pro.
Tijuana taxis come in three kinds, and you need to know which one you're working with before you get in. Tipping is not expected but is appreciated if someone is extra helpful.
- Taxi Libre: These taxis are easy to recognize. Most are white with a big, orange stripe and “Taxi Libre” written on the door. They have meters. The downside is that the drivers may speak little English. If you don't speak Spanish and are going somewhere other than the standard destinations, you'll have better luck if you bring a map or written address with you. To avoid any trouble, check to be sure the driver starts the meter when he takes off.
- Taxi Vans: You may also see mini-van-sized vehicles in Tijuana that are marked as taxis. They cover defined routes from the city center to the suburbs and are not for the casual visitor.
- Uber: The app-based ride service operates in Tijuana – but beware that you might have to pay international data roaming fees to use it. However, uber passengers have been attacked for using the service. Do a quick search for “uber in Tijuana” to find out the current situation before you decide to go this route.
- Yellow Taxis: These taxis are best avoided. They do not have meters, so you have to negotiate your price before you get in. They charge more than other services, and the drivers can be very aggressive when trying to get your business.
Tijuana City Buses
Local buses are the least expensive option other than walking. The fare is less than a dollar. If you decide to try them, you should know that bus numbers are meaningless here. Instead, look for the destination written on the front of the bus instead. Downtown is “Centro.” To get to Cultural Center, look for “Zona Rio.”Continue to 7 of 8 below.
07 of 08
Tips for Getting the Most Out of Tijuana
These tips will help you have the most fun in Tijuana with the least trouble. If you were going somewhere else, they might sound like the things your mother tells you that you mostly ignore – but for Tijuana, listen up and pay attention.
Before You Go to Tijuana
- Bring documentation
- U. S. citizens can visit Mexico for 72 hours or less without visas, but they need proof of citizenship when they return, A passport or government-issued photo ID and birth certificate are most common.
- Permanent Residents should bring their green cards and passports.
- Citizens of other countries need valid passports and a valid I-94, multi-entry visa or visa waiver. Visit the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative website for more details.
- Take cash: You'll get better prices in the shops. For most places, U. S. dollars are fine. Use ATMs only for emergencies; they'll give pesos that you'll have to figure out what to do with if you don't spend them all – and may incur foreign transaction fees.
- Know how you're going to get around Tijuana: Read the Tijuana transportation page of this guide to know what color of taxi to avoid.
- Time your trip: It can take hours to get back into the U. S. from Tijuana on Saturday evening. Leave town by mid-afternoon, or go on a less-busy day.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. Walking is the best way to see Tijuana. But if you're exploring a lot you could walk quite a few miles.
While You're in Tijuana
Continue to 8 of 8 below.
- Cell Phone Roaming: As soon as you get to the border crossing, put your phone on Airplane mode to avoid international roaming charge.
- Beggars: Baja Mexico's tourism department says giving beggars money won't help the problem. They suggest that you contribute to a charity that helps needy people instead.
- Young Girls Selling Flowers. Pickpockets may try to distract you by trying to sell you something while at the same time lifting your wallet. Cute kids are even easier to give in to but stay alert.
- Say No: Tijuana shopkeepers want your attention, and they all have a way of getting it. Some resort to stereotypes (serape and sombrero), others to politeness (“just let me show you something”) and yet others to humor: “Give me a chance to rip you off.” A firm “no” works with all but the most persistent.
- When you've gotta “go”: Some Tijuana shops have restrooms and so do some shopping complexes. There may be a small charge to use them.
Food and drink. It's still true that you need to be careful about eating and drinking in Tijuana. Stick to bottled water and beverages, avoid drinks with ice, skip the street snacks and eat only well-cooked food, just to be safe.
- Bring documentation
08 of 08
Shopping in Tijuana: How to Bargain With a Tijuana Shopkeeper
You can find much merchandise in Tijuana: leather goods, cigars, fine Mexican handicrafts and cheap souvenirs. However, designer clothing and perfumes can actually cost more in Tijuana than in the U.S.
If you don't like to haggle, shop in a store that has fixed prices. They're fair, and you don't have to negotiate.
Bargaining for a better price is a way of life in Tijuana. If you're unsure how to do it, follow these steps to save some money. Or if one of your companions likes to bargain, let them make your purchase for you.
- Know the price of the item. If you haven't shopped for it at home, look around at several shops to get an idea of the going price.
- Bring cash. You will pay more if you use a credit card.
- Don’t carry an expensive purse or wear high-end designer clothing or jewelry. You might look cute in it, but shopkeepers will notice and aren't likely to give you the best bargains. Keep expensive jewelry out of sight, too. If you have a fancy diamond, turn your ring inside your palm, so only the band shows. Keep expensive watches pushed up your sleeve out of sight.
- Compare quality and price at several shops before making a purchase. Pay attention to the location of a shop you like, or you may not be able to find it again!
- Shops that actively solicit your presence are most open to bargaining.
- When you're ready to buy, try not to appear too interested. It weakens your negotiating position.
- Ask the price, but unless it's marked firm don't settle for it. Currency marked with a $ sign can be pesos or dollars. If it doesn't say, ask.
- Wait until the shopkeeper makes several rounds of reductions before you counter with a lower price than their last quote.
- When the shopkeeper reaches a price close to what you want to pay, counter with your price and be firm.
- If you're unsure about the item, or can't get the price you want, turn away and start to leave the shop. The shopkeeper will either come down further, or you'll know where the rock-bottom price lies.
10 Delicious Reasons Not to Skip Breakfast in Mexico
01 of 10
What’s for breakfast in Mexico?
It's the most important meal of the day and you want to be sure to eat enough to tide you over for a full day of sightseeing or adventure. Since in Mexico the main meal of the day is taken around 3 or 4 pm, it's a good idea to take advantage and have a hearty breakfast to get you through until then.
In Mexico breakfast is called “desayuno,” but this usually refers to a light meal that you eat shortly after waking up, whereas a heartier meal served mid-morning (or until around 1 pm) is usually called “almuerzo”, basically what we would call brunch in English. Breakfast dishes, like other foods in Mexico, vary a great deal regionally, but eggs and corn dishes feature prominently on breakfast menus, though meat and vegetable dishes may also be eaten at breakfast-time.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Hot Drinks and Pan Dulce
A full Mexican breakfast may be comprised of a few different courses. You will usually start with “pan dulce” (sweet bread), and a hot drink. Coffee or hot chocolate are standard, or you can try atole, a drink that's thickened with corn masa, rice (atole de arroz), or alternatively oats (atole de avena). Atole with chocolate mixed in is called champurrado.
You may also be offered fresh fruit or freshly squeezed juice before the main breakfast course. Since there's such a profusion of delicious fresh tropical fruit in Mexico, it's a good opportunity to try these fruits at their best. Pineapple, papaya, cantaloupe, bananas and watermelon are popular, but you can also try other regional fruits like mango and guava when they're in season.Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Street Food for Breakfast
There are many delicious street food options for breakfast. Across various regions of Mexico, thick, round tortillas are topped with beans, cheese and other ingredients and referred to as memelas, sopes or picaditas. Huaraches are also very similar, though usually larger and more oblong so that the shape resembles a huarache (sandal). Other similar street food options that are good for breakfast the tortilla is made into a pocket and stuffed with different fillings, such as gorditas and tlacoyos.
Budget travelers should take note that breakfast is generally the cheapest meal of the day so eating a big meal early in the day and smaller meals later will help you save some pesos. You can find great breakfasts for low prices at “cocinas economicas” or “fondas” – small family-owned restaurants, or in market stalls, but the coffee is often less than stellar. If starting your day with good coffee is important to you, buy a cup of coffee at a coffee shop and take it with you.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Huevos Rancheros are fried eggs served on top of a lightly fried tortilla and smothered in a sometimes spicy tomato sauce. This is possibly the most famous Mexican breakfast dish north of the border, but it's not as popular in Mexico as you might expect. You will still find them, though, along with a wide variety of other egg dishes.
On a breakfast menu when you see “Huevos al Gusto” that means eggs as you like them, so you can ask for “revueltos” (scrambled) or “estrellados” (fried) or other specialties such as Huevos a la Mexicana, pictured further on in this gallery,Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Chilaquiles are a hugely popular Mexican breakfast dish. These fried corn tortillas are smothered in sauce and sprinkled with cheese and a dollop of cream and topped with some finely sliced onion and parsley. When chilaquiles are done just right they are neither too soggy nor too crispy, but the perfect intermediary point. Basic choices are chilaquiles verdes or rojos (green or red), but you may also find other sauces. They're often served with refried beans and a choice of eggs or meat.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Huevos a la Mexicana
Mexican-style eggs, “Huevos a la Mexicana” are scrambled eggs cooked with onion, tomato and chile pepper – most often jalapeño, but sometimes serrano chile, which tends to be spicier. The name comes from the fact that the added veggies give the dish the colors of the Mexican flag. If you don't want it too spicy you can specify “con poco chile” (with just a little chile), but if you do like it spicy, you may want to specify that too: “con bastante chile,” as there may be an assumption that foreigners prefer milder foods.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
The Swiss would probably not recognize this dish, but “Swiss enchiladas” are a popular dish in Mexico, for breakfast or any time of day. Lightly fried tortillas stuffed with chicken and covered in a green tomatillo sauce that usually also has cream in it, and covered with cheese. The Swiss get the credit because of the cream and cheese additions, though the dish is said to have originated at Sanborn's restaurant in Mexico City.
Besides enchiladas suizas, there are many other types of enchiladas. These vary quite a lot regionally. Sometimes stuffed with chicken or cheese, sometimes the tortilla is just drenched in a sauce.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Tacos make a great meal any time of day. You may choose to fill your tacos with meat, but for the morning meal, there is a wide range of fillings available. Options often include a selection of guisados (prepared dishes or stews often with eggs, chorizo, potatoes, other meats and vegetables) presented DIY-style in clay pots that are called cazuelas. Plop your favorite in a tortilla with a bit of cheese and salsa, maybe a little guacamole, and you have a perfect breakfast option.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Tamales are another traditional Mexican food that can be eaten for breakfast or any other time of day. These are made of corn masa dough with different fillings. They're most often wrapped in corn husk but sometimes in banana leaves.
The guajalota or torta de tamal is popular among workers in Mexico City for a quick breakfast on the go. This is basically a tamal (sometimes deep fried!) stuffed inside a bolillo roll making a tamal sandwich (carbs and more carbs!). You'll find street vendors selling them in the mornings on street corners.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Choose whatever fillings you like: meat, veggies, cheese and enjoy it all wrapped up in an egg envelope. Great way to start the day!
Hurricane Season in Mexico
When planning a trip to Mexico, you should be aware of the usual climate conditions of the season you're going to be traveling and the weather forecasted for your stay. Hurricanes can be a concern during several months of the year in many (but not all!) tourist destinations, Hurricane season in Mexico officially lasts from the beginning of June through the end of November, but you're at most risk of encountering a hurricane between August and October. Hurricanes and tropical storms can affect weather on the Caribbean coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Gulf Coast, and the Pacific coast.
Inland destinations may get substantial rain during a hurricane's passage, which in extreme cases can cause flooding and mudslides, but in general, they're much less affected than areas along the coastlines.
Before you rule out travel to Mexico during hurricane season entirely, consider this: there are some advantages to traveling to Mexico during hurricane season. There are fewer crowds this time of year, and hotel rates and airfares may be much lower. If you look carefully, you can find some great travel deals. This season also coincides with the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere, and it may be tempting for families to take advantage of lower prices to enjoy a family get-away. There are, of course, risks involved in traveling during hurricane season that you should keep in mind.
The likelihood that a hurricane will hit while you are on vacation may be low, but if one does strike, it can completely ruin your vacation. If you do decide to travel to a beach destination during hurricane season, there are some precautions you can take that will minimize the risk of your vacation being entirely spoiled.
Before you go:
- Purchase travel insurance and make sure you're covered in the case that you must cancel or cut your trip short due to a hurricane. Shop around for a policy that meets your needs and know what is and isn't covered in case of a hurricane.
- Find out if the hotel or resort where you will be staying has a hurricane policy or hurricane guarantee, and what the terms are.
- Register your trip with your country's embassy. Here's how to register your trip with the US Department of State.
- Monitor the weather. During the time leading up to your trip, you should check the National Hurricane Center Web Site for current tropical storm and hurricane conditions as well as forecasts of the weather to come.
- Leave a detailed itinerary of your trip with a friend or family member at home, and scan and email copies of your important documents (passport, drivers license, flight tickets and hotel reservations) to yourself so you can access them online in case you lose the physical copies.
There are also some choices you can make that will help ensure your vacation is hurricane-free:
Take a cruise. A cruise ship can change its course and itinerary to avoid hurricanes and tropical storms. You may end up skipping a destination you had hoped to visit, but at least you will give a pass on bad weather.
Choose an inland destination. Mexico has much more to offer besides beaches. Consider one of its beautiful colonial cities as an alternative. You can still experience warm weather and as a bonus you can learn about Mexico's fascinating history as well.
Travel at a different time of year. Go in the winter or early spring to avoid hurricane season (though on rare occasions, a hurricane can strike out of season).
If a Hurricane Strikes During Your Trip
It is very rare for a hurricane to strike completely by surprise. You'll have advance warning and time to prepare if a hurricane is approaching. Although its exact trajectory may be unknown, there will be forecasts and a warning for the general area the hurricane is expected to hit. Keep up on weather reports and if you're in an area that may be affected, consider evacuating beforehand. If you do get caught in a hurricane while you're in Mexico, remember that there are protocols in place to keep you safe, so follow the instructions of safety personnel.
Carry your personal documents in a resealable bag to keep them dry. Charge your cell phone when you can and when you can't, try to conserve its power by only using it for essential communication.
Top 10 Things to Do in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
01 of 11
Something for Everyone in Puerto Vallarta
Puerto Vallarta is one of the most popular destinations on Mexico's Pacific coast. Located on the lovely Banderas Bay, the city has both modern and historical elements, and a romantic charm. It's a gay-friendly destination, but is also popular with families. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to activities in Puerto Vallarta. Whether you’re a foodie, an adventure-seeker, an art enthusiast or a beach bum, this city has something tailored just for you.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
02 of 11
Take a Stroll on the Malecón
Puerto Vallarta’s beautiful Malecón, the beachfront boardwalk, is a mile-long stretch that doubles as an open-air museum. Start at the northern end of the route and make your way towards the Plaza Principal, admiring the impressive collection of sculptures and sandcastle art along the way. Take a virtual walking tour of Puerto Vallarta's Malecón.Continue to 3 of 11 below.
03 of 11
Hit the Beach
Playa Los Muertos in the Romantic Zone is a beautiful beach and is perfect for swimming – and for a day of fun in the sun, Mantamar Beach Club is a great choice. If you'd like to go farther afield, you'll find that several stunning and secluded beaches can be found in the southern part of Banderas Bay, accessible only by boat. Las Caletas beach was once Hollywood director John Huston's private hideaway, but is now a beach getaway spot for families and couples. Playa de Las Animas, a protected cove flanked by rocky promontories with a scattering of palapas and seafood restaurants; Playa Quimixto, a sweet fishing village backed by jungle whose beach features warm water and white sand, and Majahuitas, an unspoiled tropical paradise of palm trees and crystal clear water, are three of the highlights. Water taxis depart from Los Muertos Beach.Continue to 4 of 11 below.
04 of 11
Get Out on the Water
On the water, there are numerous opportunities for snorkeling, diving, dolphin, sea lion and whale-watching, or sailing and touring to remote beaches and islands, like the picturesque Islas Marietas. Take a snorkeling excursion to Los Arcos, two small islands with arches that shelter a variety of sea life.
From November to March, Banderas Bay is home to humpback whales, migrating from their polar feeding grounds to breed and play in these safe warm waters. Go in search of these magnificent creatures, with their distinctive fluked tails, on a day trip with one of Puerto Vallarta’s many tour companies. Vallarta Adventures employs a light plane to spot the creatures from the air and radio to the ship’s captain, so visitors have a high chance of spotting whales in season.Continue to 5 of 11 below.
05 of 11
Appreciate Local Art
From the sculptures along the Malecón to several fine art galleries in the Romantic Zone, you'll find art pretty much everywhere you look in Puerto Vallarta. And no matter your budget, you can take some art home with you as a souvenir of your trip: there are stands along the boardwalk selling art by local artists, and you'll find more upscale choices in the nearby galleries.
Every Wednesday evening between October and May you can take part in the Historic Center Art Walk, a program in which 14 of Puerto Vallarta’s art galleries – all located within roughly a 12-block stretch of the centro histórico — open their doors to the public from 6 to 10 pm. There are complimentary cocktails and plenty of opportunities to add an up-and-coming Mexican contemporary artist to your collection.Continue to 6 of 11 below.
06 of 11
Go Out to Eat
Take advantage of Puerto Vallarta’s excellent dining scene, one of the most sophisticated in Mexico. Eating spots range from rustic and charming – like the River Café, with its praiseworthy brunches and relaxed ambience by the Rio Cuale – to high-end tables like the acclaimed Café des Artistes and Mediterranean hotspot Trio. Further south, the European-inspired menu at Blanca Blue, the restaurant of luxury resort Garza Blanca, is the equal of any top-end restaurant in New York or Mexico City. See our picks for Puerto Vallarta's best restaurants.
If you want to try the street food, book a tour with Vallarta Food Tours for a taco tour that will introduce you to some fabulous tacos and other traditional Mexican foods served up by local businesses.
If you visit in mid-November, be sure to take part in the annual Gourmet Festival, during which the city’s best restaurants pull out all the stops to produce fabulously inventive set menus.Continue to 7 of 11 below.
07 of 11
Explore the Marina
Aside from the Malecón, there's another spot where you can take a stroll and enjoy the sights of Puerto Vallarta: the Marina. If you're heading off on a sailing excursion, you'll likely start here, but it's a fun place to visit just to wander around and see the boats. There are a variety of restaurants and shops, but the best time to come is on Thursday evenings when there's a farmer's market and you'll also find local artisans selling jewelry, clothing, and a variety of souvenirs.Continue to 8 of 11 below.
08 of 11
Have an Adventure
Whether your idea of adventure is zip-lining upside down through the rainforest, or more tame activities like hiking and birdwatching, the unspoiled tropical rainforest of the Sierra Madre mountains just outside Puerto Vallarta provides the ideal setting. A host of eco-adventures are on offer: zip-lining, rapelling, hiking, canopy tours, horseback riding, mountain biking, village tours, off-road adventures, and more. If you love nature, be sure to plan a day trip to the Vallarta Botanical Garden, where besides seeing a wide variety of plants, you can also take a hike or swim in a river and have lunch overlooking a scenic view of the surrounding mountains.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
09 of 11
Take a Walk on Isla Cuale
The island in the Rio Cuale feels like a world apart from the rest of Puerto Vallarta. It's a shady, green oasis with handicraft shops,a community center and a small archaeology museum, Museo Cuale. Cat lovers will notice a surprising number of cats roaming around the island, many of them friendly,
Director John Huston is honored with a statue on the island. He directed the film Night of the Iguana starring Richard Burton, who brought along Liz Taylor with him for the making of the picture, bringing the world's attention to this then-unheard-of town on Mexico's Pacific coast. Near the statue you'll find steps leading up to the neighborhood where Taylor and Burton lived. Liz Taylor's home is now a boutique hotel, Casa Kimberly.Continue to 10 of 11 below.
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Enjoy the Sunset
Puerto Vallarta is famous for its sunsets. Some people plan their day around enjoying the evening celestial spectacle. A few good places to see the view include the Muertos pier, Vista Grill restaurant, or from a yacht on the bay.Continue to 11 of 11 below.
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Party the night away
After the sun goes down, there's still plenty to do. Puerto Vallarta's thrilling nightlife includes a variety of nightclubs along the Malecón, as well as several more laid back options with live music nearby. To experience the nightlife with local flair, join a bar hopping tour with Gay Vallarta Bar Hopping.
Mexico’s Pacific vs. Caribbean Coast: Which is Right for You?
01 of 08
Caribbean vs. Pacific
Both coasts of Mexico offer visitors world-class scenery, hotels and activities, but west and east aren’t created equal. The Pacific coast boasts striking cliffs and a laid-back feel, while the Caribbean side is well known for white sand, aqua waters and a spring break vibe. Each offers a unique twist to a Mexican vacation, but how do you know which is best for you? Here are some ideas to help plan your next south of the border sojourn.Continue to 2 of 8 below.
02 of 08
If You Like Tequila
Tequila is readily found in every corner of Mexico, but if you’re looking for more than your standard bottle of Jose Cuervo, consider a visit to Casa Kimberly in Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast.
Set in the former hideaway of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, the Iguana Tequila Bar features some of the country’s swankiest spirits. A resident tequila and mezcal expert is on hand to guide both tequila lovers and neophytes through the top-flight offerings, most locally made in the nearby Jalisco region.Continue to 3 of 8 below.
03 of 08
If You Like Spas
Whether you prefer a cheap rubdown in a beachfront bungalow or a luxury experience complete with fluffy robes and champagne, Mexico has got you covered.
For the latter, head east to the opulent Gem Spa at the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Resort and Spa in Cancun, where Thailand-trained masseurs work out stubborn kinks using precious jewels such as jade and obsidian, and even gold powder and diamond dust. There’s also a luxurious water circuit complete with steamy saunas and cold showers set amidst the sleek 40,000 square-foot space.Continue to 4 of 8 below.
04 of 08
If You Like Golf
At the northern end of the Pacific’s Riviera Nayarit is the peaceful locale of Punta Mita, where dramatic rocky cliffs plunge into white sand beaches below. Long known by surfers as a destination rife with perfect waves, it’s also a top tier destination for golf lovers.
But the Caribbean side's got you covered, too. There are two Jack Nicklaus-designed courses at the Fairmont Mayakoba, one with a hole set on its very own volcanic islet—the world’s only green placed on a naturally occurring island.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
If You Like Gourmet Food
There’s definitely a time and place for 50-cent carnitas tacos from one of Mexico’s ubiquitous street stalls, but the country also offers gourmet fare worthy of Paris or New York’s finest tables.
Overlooking the aqua coastline of the Caribbean along the Riviera Maya, the restaurants at the Fairmont Mayakoba are one such option. Offering Mexican, Asian and Latin fusion-inspired menus created by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval, bon vivants will find that seafood reigns on the carte du jour, which features dishes like Yucatan grilled octopus or San Blas jumbo shrimp.
Further south along Tulum's boho-chic beach road at Hartwood, NYC transplant and chef Eric Warner turns local Mayan ingredients into culinary masterpieces with little more than a wood-burning grill.Continue to 6 of 8 below.
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If You Like Design
Move over Luis Barragán—as evidenced by Fernando Romero’s glittering, space-age Museo Soumaya in Mexico City, a new age of modernist architects is changing the contemporary Mexican landscape.
A great example is the Miguel Ángel Aragonés-designed hotel Mar Adentro in San José del Cabo at the southern tip of the Baja Peninsula. The ultra-minimalist complex features sleek, whitewashed cubes meant to resemble islands floating over glittering lagoons, and there’s a cool sunken restaurant covered with a woven, cocoon-like structure.Continue to 7 of 8 below.
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If You Like Beaches
With nearly 6,000 miles of coastline to its name, Mexico is a beach lover’s dream.
Although both coasts have spectacular sandy stretches, it’s the Caribbean side of Mexico that features the Instagram-perfect palm tree, white sand and turquoise water combination.
Often paired with rugged backdrops, Pacific coast beaches range from white to gold to black, and while tranquility can be found in some places, this coast is often known wilder waves, making the western shoreline a true surfers’ paradise.Continue to 8 of 8 below.
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If You Like All-Inclusive Resorts
The highest concentration of all-inclusive resorts in Mexico can be found in the state of Quintana Roo lining the Caribbean. It’s here you’ll find such famed locales as Cancun, Cozumel and Playa del Carmen, all packed with resorts offering a stream of never ending margaritas.
Choices range from budget to high-end, it’s not uncommon to have a resort offering dozens of restaurants and bars ranging from simple poolside snack shacks to lavish dining spectacles featuring Michelin starred chefs.
What to Do in Mexico’s Tequila Country
01 of 07
Admire the Land of the Blue Agave
Fields of blue agave spread out over a vast landscape in the western central plains of Mexico, creating a unique vista. By law, tequila can only be produced in this region, which besides the state of Jalisco also includes parts of the Mexican states of Guanajuato, Michoacan, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. This area was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2006 due to its unique features of the natural landscape and cultural traditions. The designated area encompasses 85,650-acres of land between the Tequila volcano and the Rio Grande River. This region contains a living, working landscape of agave fields, including distilleries, factories, and haciendas.Continue to 2 of 7 below.
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Experience the Magical Town of Tequila
The town of Santiago de Tequila is located about 60 miles west of Guadalajara. Your visit to tequila country will not be complete without a stroll around this charming town, which has a fascinating history. You can visit the church on the main square and wander the town's cobblestone streets. This town is among the places that the Mexican government has dubbed “Pueblos Mágicos” because of its cultural elements and historical interest.
The town's main parish church, Our Lady of the Purísima Concepción, dates to the 18th century. The church has a stone facade, a bell tower and an inverted truncated pyramid (estipite) pilasters that flank the main portal. Inside there is a statue of Our Lady of the Conception which dates from 1865.
Besides visiting distilleries in the town of Tequila, you can also visit the Tequila Museum, located at Ramon Corona #34. This museum contains over 300 artifacts in five exhibit rooms and gives insight into the history of tequila production.Continue to 3 of 7 below.
03 of 07
See Agave Harvested in the Traditional Way
The cultivation of agave dates back to ancient times. It was cultivated for a wide variety of uses—the fibre, the flower, the spines, leaves, and sap were all put to some practical purpose. A fermented drink known as pulque was made by fermenting the sap from the agave plant. Although there is some question about whether the people of Mesoamerica were familiar with the distillation process before the arrival of the Spaniards, it is likely that the distilled spirit was not produced until after 15th century.
You can see how tequila is produced, from the agave field to the finished bottled product. La Jima is the term that refers to the harvesting of the agave plant. Agave is harvested in the traditional way in a very labor intensive manner. The worker, called a jimador, uses a special tool, like a sharp, pointed shovel to remove the spikes from the agave and extract the heart of the plant. The heart of the plant, with the spines removed, resembles a pineapple and is called a piña.
Tequila has a similar origin to mezcal, both spirits are made from the agave, but tequila is made only with the blue agave and in this specific area. The separation between the two began with the regulation of tequila in the 1940s. The law “de calidad para el tequila” was passed on June 14, 1949, and has been upgraded and revised ever since. It wasn't until 1974 that the Mexican government passed the “denomination of origin” that specified that tequila could only be produced in a few specific places in Mexico.Continue to 4 of 7 below.
04 of 07
Learn How Tequila Is Produced
The oldest distillery is the Jose Cuervo one, called La Rojeña. This was the first tequila distillery and still produces the Jose Cuervo brand range of tequilas. Tours are offered periodically throughout the day. Don the proffered hair net and witness how this area's signature drink is made.
You'll see the agave hearts being chopped up and taken to the ovens, the labs where the tequila is tested to be sure that it meets the factory's strict standards, and the barrels where the spirit is aged; up to one year for reposado tequila, up to five years for añejo, and up to eight years for the special product.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Enjoy Mariachis and Mexican Culture
Charreria is Mexico's national sport. It consists of Mexican cowboys who dress in the clothing that you've seen on mariachis (the musicians took their costume from the charros). They do a variety of different tricks and manoeuvers, some on horseback, leading their horses through fancy step work and also doing ropework called “floreo de soga” intricate moves with a lasso. Jalisco state is considered the cradle of charreria and mariachi music, and visitors to Tequila can witness some of these cultural manifestations.Continue to 6 of 7 below.
06 of 07
Take a Train Through Tequila Country
If you want to make your visit to tequila country a memorable day-long excursion, take the tequila train. The Jose Cuervo Express departs the Ferrovia station in Guadalajara on Saturdays (and some Fridays and Sundays),
Alternatively, the Tequila Express departs Guadalajara and visits the Herradura distillery but doesn't actually visit the town of Tequila.Continue to 7 of 7 below.
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Spend the Night in Tequila
For a longer stay in the town of Tequila, a good option is the boutique Hotel Solar de las Animas.
Those looking for an event space need look no further than the Hacienda El Centenario, a lovely spot for a wedding or any other large event. The hacienda has meeting spaces as well as lovely grounds that can accommodate a few hundred guests.
The 4 Best Taco Joints in Cancun
Los de Pescado
MZA 17 LTE 90, Av. Labná, SM 20, Benito Juárez, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
+52 998 884 8386
Los de Pescado has many locations in Cancun, both downtown and in the Hotel Zone. There are only six items on the menu, so everything is done very well, but the fish tacos in particular are out of this world. Note that one order is actually two tacos, so if you want four tacos, order two. You won’t believe the price. Be sure to add the shredded cabbage and spicy chipotle-mayo salsa. Los de Pescado also serves shrimp tacos, ceviche, burritos, shrimp soup and fried fish tacos. A cold agua de Jamaica (hibiscus flower tea) is the perfect way to wash it all down.
The 10 Best Restaurants in Tulum
Av. Boca Paila, Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
Arca is giving well-known Hartwood a run for its money, and it is right next door. This rustic, open-air restaurant in the jungle, lit with candles and twinkling lights, serves Mexican cuisine using fresh local ingredients. If you’re dining with children, they are happy to create something kid-friendly. On the adult end, one of Arca's specialties is creative, unique cocktails.
What’s that smell you ask? Copal, a natural tree resin burned to keep away mosquitoes and used ceremonially by the ancient Maya civilization. Arca is open Tuesday through Sunday from 6 p.m. They only take reservations for parties of 8 or more. Pay attention to your bill, the gratuity is added automatically.
The 5 Best Places to Eat Seafood in Cancun
Boulevard Kukulcan Km 10.5, Zona Hotelera, 77500 Cancún, Q.R., Mexico
+52 998 883 1254
Lorenzillos is located in Cancun’s Hotel Zone at kilometer 10.5 and is one of Cancun’s oldest fine dining restaurants. The specialty here is lobster. Customers can choose their own from the live lobster tank and have it prepared however they choose. The setting is gorgeous, with a palapa roof and a nautical feel, and it’s the perfect setting to celebrate a special occasion. The restaurant sits over the water and offers a front-row view of Cancun’s spectacular sunsets and downtown skyline. Sit on the terrace and help feed the resident crocodiles. Lorenzillo’s is a little pricey, but it’s worth every penny.