When you are ready for your next vacation, you may consider an exotic beach destination such as beautiful Cancún, Mexico.
Cancún is one of the best tourist destinations in the world, so it must be worth it, right?
As you begin planning your vacation, you might be hesitant to move forward when you see the prices of a trip to Cancún (not to mention what you’ll spend while there).
How much is a margarita on the beach really worth to you?
We will cover the top 10 reasons Cancún is so expensive.
Why Is Cancún So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
Your vacation starts at your local airport, where you will board a plane to Cancún International Airport (CUN).
Prices vary greatly based on your location and a variety of other variables, but you can expect to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars for a roundtrip flight.
Some of the factors that will impact the price of your plane tickets include:
- Economy vs. First-Class
- Time of Year
- Day of Week
You also have the option to travel to Cancún via car and boat if you prefer to avoid airplanes.
If you live in the United States, traveling by car may take too long to be a realistic option.
You can find cruises that will take you to Cancún from various places in America.
Cruises naturally do cost significantly more than taking a plane or driving since it’s a vacation in and of itself, with meals and lodging included while you are traveling.
Finding Reduced Air Fare
If you like a bargain, consider these tips about how to find low plane ticket rates for your trip to Cancún:
- Go in December
- Fly out on a Tuesday
- Return on a Wednesday
- Buy your tickets 15 days in advance
Keep in mind that you absolutely must have a passport to travel to Cancún as the city is located in a foreign country.
If you don’t have your passport ready, you need to start the process immediately since it takes an average of eight to 11 weeks to receive a new passport.
The government recommends applying for your passport four to six months before travel.
You can pay extra for expedited service (five to seven weeks) if you forgot to prepare as early as you should have.
After you arrive at the airport, you need a place to keep your things and sleep at night.
Ultimately, the amount you pay will depend on luxury and amenities.
You can choose to stay at an all-inclusive luxury resort or a budget hotel.
All-Inclusive Resorts In Cancún, Mexico
All-inclusive resorts include all of your food and drinks at the location, but you can usually opt for the hotel room alone if you plan to eat and drink in town.
The facilities are pretty fancy, and you’ll have access to convenient on-site services, such as a high-end spa and pool.
Generally speaking, a luxury resort suits alcohol-friendly adults traveling together without the kids, especially if you plan to relax under the sun with a cocktail for the majority of your trip.
Expect to pay $440 to $792 per night for a preferred vacation rental for a couple.
Budget Hotels In Cancún, Mexico
A budget hotel may not offer food and drinks, and the rooms may not have the same appeal, but it makes a lot more sense for the family who plans to spend most of their time doing different activities and exploring.
This option also makes the most sense for adults traveling alone and those who won’t be at the hotel lounging by the pool very often.
Expect to pay $20 to $60 a night for a budget hotel with one bed and $32 to $96 for a budget hotel with two beds.
3. Tropical Climate
After you settle in, the first thing you will do is bask in the sun.
Cancún is a tropical weather destination, so the weather is almost always sunny and toasty.
The water stays at a warm temperature throughout the year.
Most people visit Cancún between December and April, but you can visit Cancún any time of the year and enjoy the beach.
However, you should be aware of an increased risk of rain and hurricanes in September and October, with the rainy season technically starting in June.
At the time of this writing in December 2021, it’s 81°F in Cancún and 34°F with two inches of snow on the ground in Chicago.
Since the weather is warm, you will want to prepare by packing beachwear, light clothing, and sunscreen.
You’ll also want to prepare for rain with a light parka, especially if you plan to travel during the rainy season.
Cancún borders the Caribbean Sea, proving the glamorous views you see in the pictures.
Away from the beaches, you will find a tropical jungle filled with trees and wildlife.
After Hurricane Wilma wiped away one billion gallons of white sand in 2005, restoration cost a whopping $70 million.
The entire economy also took a hit as vacationers waited to return to the area until after the beaches were back to normal.
While tourism has returned to normal, prices in the area needed to increase to make up for the years during which the economy struggled.
Once you get ready to explore, you will realize just how popular of a tourist destination Cancún is, thanks to all of the other people in the hotels and on the beaches.
More than six million tourists visited Cancún in 2017, 2018, and 2019, making Cancún the foremost tourist destination in Mexico.
While significantly fewer people visited Cancún last year due to the pandemic, the city still welcomed 2.4 million tourists in 2020.
Tourism makes up a majority of the city’s economy, but it costs a lot for the local government to accommodate the people that visit and clean up after them.
Not only do prices in the area go up to the number of people, but prices tend to go up in tourist attractions with the mentality that tourists are in vacation mode and expect to spend a lot of money anyway.
To make up for the expenses, the government recently instituted a new tax called the “Visitax” that charges all visitors about the equivalent of $10 per day to enjoy Cancún and the other tourist destinations in the state of Quintana Roo.
The tax went into place on April 1, 2021.
You’ll understand the tourist appeal of Cancún as soon as you make your way to Cancún’s picturesque beaches.
Cancún prides itself on its 14 miles of unique white sand and crystal-clear water.
Even better, you won’t burn your feet on the coral-based sand like you may have experienced at other beaches, so you’ll get to dig your toes in the sand to steady yourself as you take pictures of the scenery around you.
You can clearly see through the blue water, and you will notice soft, sandy ground underneath your feet.
You can always enjoy soaking up UV rays on a beach blanket and making sandcastles or go for a quick dip in the water for free.
However, there’s plenty more to do on the beach as well.
The Maya Barrier Reef is the second-largest barrier reef in the world and one of the largest draws.
Snorkel or scuba dive to see the beautiful reef and the fish and marine life that call it home.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also explore the underwater caves, such as Ox Bel Ha.
If you want to experience specific animals, you can find packages that allow you to swim with dolphins, stingrays, and sharks.
There’s always a small risk of a shark attack in the ocean, but they are extremely rare, so it’s best to focus on more logical tragedies, like sunburn or losing an earring in the ocean.
If you prefer to stay on top of the water, you can go out on boats, jet skis, or surfboards.
Cancún’s beaches offer great conditions for surfers of all experience levels, especially beginners.
If you don’t like the water at all, there are still plenty of outdoor activities to do, such as ziplining, horseback riding, and ATV riding.
The cost for different experiences varies based on what you want to do and which company you choose.
The influx of people takes a toll on the condition of the natural resources in the area, and we all must do our part to show respect to the land.
The main environmental concerns facing the area include the deterioration of the reef and marine wildlife.
You can do your part by picking up after yourself when you leave and contributing to local charities that work to keep the reef intact.
It’s also best to leave any wildlife you encounter alone.
You may want to interact with a turtle, but you may unintentionally disrupt the creature and cause it pain.
Just leave the animals alone unless accompanied by a professional.
6. Night Life
After an amazing day at the beach, you may want to let loose a little bit during your vacation, which you can do by experiencing the amazing Cancún nightlife.
Not only will you find bars at most resorts and hotels, but you can also go out to the various clubs that stay open until the wee hours of the morning.
Drinks may cost more than your local bar at home, but isn’t it worth it to dance with your friends all night in beautiful Cancún?
The largest expense will be the bar tab, but you’ll also need party attire, which can cost a pretty penny.
People dress to the nines when they visit the clubs in Cancún, and you want to ensure that you don’t stand out in a bad way.
It’s hard to talk about Cancún and not mention Spring Break.
During Spring Break, the entire area becomes littered with young partiers living their best life, and the entire town becomes a party haven.
Depending on your preferences, this can be just the kind of scene you’re looking for or something you would prefer to avoid.
If you want a nonstop party around you day and night, you should definitely visit Cancún during Spring Break.
However, if you prefer a more relaxed vibe with maybe only one or two nights at the club, go at a different time of the year.
7. Daily Expenses
Even if you stay at an all-inclusive resort, you will end up paying for things every day.
For starters, you will need to get around Cancún to get from your hotel to the different sites, restaurants, and clubs.
You can take the shockingly effective bus system, or you can take significantly overpriced taxis.
Who has time to wait for a bus while in Cancún?
You’ll also need cash to tip the staff at your resort and the different places you visit.
Many Cancún residents rely on these tips to support themselves and their families, and you’ll get worse service if you come across as cheap.
Naturally, you’ll tip your servers and bartenders.
You should also tip your housekeeper and the doorman.
You should also give a tip to any tour guides who take you on exciting new experiences.
8. Safety Precautions
When out at the club, you may be pleasantly surprised at how safe the area seems.
Cancún is a rather safe city.
The government ensures that people don’t feel endangered so that safety concerns don’t take away from the revenue generated by tourists.
To do this, the government does its best to prosecute criminals found in the area, keep the city well-lit, and maintain a well-funded police force.
That doesn’t mean that the city is completely crime-free, but your biggest concern is petty theft as opposed to violent crimes and terrorist attacks.
Staying Safe In Cancún
You have a significant amount of autonomy over your own safety during your travels, so you should set yourself up for success by taking the proper safety precautions under your control.
Stay in groups as much as possible and avoid walking alone in dark, quiet places at night.
Do not put yourself in compromising situations, such as getting too intoxicated or venturing off to unknown places alone or with strangers.
You should also research places before you go anywhere, especially if you venture far away from the resort.
While Cancún is safe, other parts of Mexico aren’t as safe.
You’ll need to find the delicate balance between experiencing authentic Mexico and going to an area where you could be a target for muggers.
Reduce the devastation of an incident if it does occur by dividing up your money so that you have backup funds in case you do get mugged.
Keep some money at the hotel, and you can split the money you carry between your wallet and your shoe.
You should also prepare a secondary way of communication in case your phone gets stolen.
Finally, it’s a good idea to get travel insurance since health care for tourists is notoriously high.
For the most part, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about crime as long as you stay alert, make good choices, and prepare for the worst.
9. Mementos And Souvenirs
Treat yourself with some items that will remind you of your travels.
Many tourist attractions sell photos of your most exciting experiences, and you can get a frame or a photo album to showcase your photos at home to ensure that the memories last as long as possible, as those will be the greatest return from your trip.
Your travels may also inspire you to update your wardrobe with some Mexican dresses, purses, and swimsuits.
You can find numerous vendors in the area that sell inexpensive homemade and manufactured goods, but you can also find designer stores if you prefer the finer things in life.
You can’t go to Mexico and not come back with something for your loved ones back home.
Luckily, you’ll find numerous shops and stands where you can get Cancún-themed items, such as keychains and hats.
Even a small item can show someone you were thinking of them.
Some people get so enamored with the natural beauty of Cancún that they overlook the culture surrounding them.
The first thing you’ll notice is that it can be helpful to learn some Spanish.
Cancún is in Mexico, and you will be immersed in Mexican culture during your vacation.
While many people speak English thanks to the high amount of tourism, you may still run into people who don’t speak English during your adventure.
For the most part, you will find residents to be friendly and outgoing, which resembles the colorful Mexican culture.
Be prepared to listen to music, party, and laugh a lot as part of the current culture of the area.
As part of your trip to Cancún, you can expect to eat a lot of great Mexican food.
Instead of sticking to hard shell beef tacos, explore the local cuisine.
Start by trying the more familiar delicacies, such as tamales, pastor, empanadas, and churros.
Then, you can venture out of your comfort zone a little bit.
Some of the foods you should try during your time in Cancún include:
- Sopa de lima (traditional lime soup)
- Cochinita Pibil (marinated suckling pig meat served as a taco or torta)
- Marquesita (sweet crepe filled with jam, cream, or soft cheese)
- Castacan (fried pork belly)
For the truly adventurous eaters, you may find an authentic bar that gives you a seasoned grasshopper for you to use as a chaser for your tequila.
It may seem unbelievable now, but only three coconut farmers lived in Cancún in 1970.
However, the first residents actually lived in the area much earlier.
The Mayans were one of the largest and most advanced indigenous societies in Mesoamerica, dating back to as early as 1800 BC.
You can explore Mayan ruins in the nearby city of El Rey, Mexico, and may even unknowingly encounter ruins at your hotel.
If you don’t mind taking a day trip, you can explore some other Mayan ruins in the Yucatán Peninsula a little bit further away.
As you explore the ruins, you can learn more about ancient Mayan culture and how they’ve contributed to our modern society.
(They were the first to use zero in math, and they created the 365-day calendar, for starters.)
One of the greatest expenses you won’t consider is the emotional cost of saying goodbye to Cancún.
You will need to trade in bathing suits and sunglasses for everyday attire and jackets.
However, you’ll always have the memories you made during your trip, and aren’t those memories priceless?