Cancun

Back to Quintana Roo

May, 2014 | Sep, 2015

Bienvenidos Mexico. In the airport, we encountered thousands of apparently volunteering and helpful travel agents, who would like to give you a steal of a deal for travel packages to different tourist destinations around Cancun. We, like all naive tourists, listened to them initially, but fortunately got deterred by the too-good-to-be-true deals. TIP: Do not buy travel packages from the airport or volunteer agents. Hotel concierge would most likely be the best bet in getting the best packages, which would go easy on the wallet too.

Transportation to the hotel:

Most of the hotels are located in an area Avenida Kukulkan, 2 miles long stretch along the Caribbean sea, called Zona Hotelera. If not in a hurry, taking the airport shuttles (listed below) are cheaper and convenient. While the cabs may range from $40 to $50, the shuttles to the hotel zone costs less than $15 per person.

Tried and tested shuttle services: 1. Cancun Shuttle2. Super Shuttle Renting a car was on the cards, but the general consent from the hotel concierge was to refrain from it during the first visit. Although renting from the US rental agencies like Hertz could be cheap, the comprehensive coverage insurance, hassles with local cops, and troubles in the road including gas stations made us to rely on public transport. TIP: Rental car license plates are red in color, and easy to spot, therefore attracts undue attention. Unless one hables espanol, it is better to avoid rental cars in Cancun.

The Westin, Lagunamar

Westin Lagunamar Resort
Displaying the loyalty for Starwood brands, and lavish amenities, we chose the Westin Lagunamar resort for our brief vacation in Cancun. Apart from the unparalleled customer services, the resort sported a huge infinite pool, four multi-cuisine restaurants, and spacious rooms with breathtaking views of the ocean.

Since we reached before noon on day 1, we had a chance to enjoy the two beautiful pools, the warm surf, and the sand on a fantastic day. Poolside lunch, and plentiful tropical drinks ordered from the bar, sitting on the underwater bar-stools were heavenly. The apparently endless amenities of the resort included a relaxing hammock garden, splash zones, travel desk, and to top it off, in-room jetted-hot-tubs. The warm welcome from the hotel staff were so over-the-top, that we managed to buy ourselves a 2 bedroom villa as a vacation ownership. TIP: There are hotels in the Cancun downtown area, but invariably are away from the action. Choose a hotel in the Hotel Zone, and if needed take bus R1 or R2 to visit the downtown. Bus fare – 9.5 Pesos per person, one way.

La Isla mall

Well, after the day spent soaking in the sun and surf, we ventured out to check out the local shops and restaurants. The La Isla shopping complex was just across the street, and we managed to find a decent looking lagoon-side cafe that was sporting live music and salsa. We tried our hand in placing the food/drinks order in espanol, but failed miserably. Yet, the food, and the local Tequilla and Mezcals along with the experience were enough to top-off the day’s adventure.
Food: Pibil Chicken, Mixed Molcajetes
Drinks: Mezcals – Mezcal Amores Reposado and Milagrito del Corazon Joven

Food Scene and Nightlife

If you are staying in the Zona Hotelera, there are numerous places to eat, drink and party without having to get your rental car out of the parking. The buses run across the length of the Zona Hotelera (Avenida Kukulcan) and any restaurant or bar are within 15 – 30 minutes away. Here are some of our choices that we never regretted:

1. La Distillera – About half a mile away, we found the best Mexican food/drinks for the trip, at La DistilleraThe jalapeno, habanero, and other tree pepper sauces made our night, alongside the Mezcals and real chalupas!! Happy Memories! We actually went back here on our second trip and sat beside the water. Check out reviews here.
2. Carlos’ and Charlie’s – Super fun if you go on a weekend dinner and drinks. Make sure you get a seat facing Coco Bongo and be prepared to stay late until like 10pm. Food and drinks are not the 5 Star kind, but it is fun; the experience you should not pass on. Check out my review here.
3. Pubs and dance clubs – Near Coco Bongo, on the strip, there are multiple dance clubs which gets pretty busy on the weekend nights. Sometimes you may think the fun is more than it is in Vegas. We checked out several bars/clubs, all have pretty dressy crowd so be prepared to show off.
Our favorite though was Monkey Business which had live music but wasn’t loud, may be because we are not in the 20’s anymore. It’s a tad north of the most happening area of the strip, but check it out. They did not have any covers when we went. Check out the reviews here.
Other places to check out if you are in the real clubbing mode – Daddy O’s, La Vaquita

TIPS:

Visa Requirements: No visa required for current US visa holders makes things a lot easier too.


Money: Most US banks have affiliation with one or two Mexican Banks. Bank of America has ties with Banco Santandor. If possible, get Pesos from one of the local ATMs. You will get a much higher rate compared to airports or US banks. Make sure the ATM you are withdrawing money from does not charge fees. Also, most places accept Dollars, albeit at an extremely high exchange rate.

Transportation: If you happen to rent a car, and do not speak Espanol, drive as cautiously as possible. Rental cars have a Red license plate, and the Policia can easily distinguish them if they intend to give you trouble. If not renting a car, check with the hotel if they can call taxis or Collectivos (basically shuttle/car pools). Otherwise if staying within the downtown or Zona Hotelera, R1 and R2 buses run all day and pretty frequently. Bus map and routes here.

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