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A Budget Traveler’s Guide For A Cancun Trip That Won’t Break The Bank

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Cancun is no longer a budget traveler destination, but it can still be done on a budget. If you want to experience the beauty of Cancun but don’t have a lot of extra cash to play around with, this is your guide to an amazing Cancun trip that won’t break the bank.

Cancun beach at sunrise.

Take Public Transportation

One of the best ways to keep a low(ish) budget on your Cancun vacation is to forfeit all the private rides and taxis for the bus. 

Meaning, don’t splurge on lots of private van rides, whether it be to get from downtown Cancun to the Hotel Zone or the 1.5-hour drive it takes to get to the Tulum Ruins. While many will say that it’s super cheap to get around Cancun using private transport, all of this moving around can really mess with your travel budget.

If you do need to take a taxi at certain times, it’s best to be aware of the local rates and ask the taxi driver beforehand what they plan on charging you so that you can avoid any misunderstandings. From the busy Kukulkan Boulevard, you can find the R-1, R-2, and R-27 buses that take people to Cancun’s biggest tourist spots, like the ferry to Isla Mujeres and the Parque de las Palapas. 

colectivos parked on the side of a main street in Quintana Roo, Mexico.

And if you want to spend the day at Isla Blanca, for instance, a local colectivo will get you there for less than 30 MX pesos.

When traveling around the Riviera Maya, I always keep lots of pesos handy to give to colectivo drivers when I’m out adventuring for the day. And I’m not gonna lie, those extra pesos also come in handy when there’s a taco stand that I just have to visit. 

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Cancun beach lifeguard shack with beach tourists in the background

Enjoy All The Street Food

On that note, planning your food budget can be a tough one when planning your Cancun trip. It can be tempting to eat at a Michelin-star restaurant or go out for steak, but it’s still no surprise that some of the best food to be had is often the cheapest, local food. Anthony Bourdain would certainly agree. 

Esquites, marquesitas, salbutes, oh my. If you want a lot of options, your best bet is to check out Parque de las Palapas in the downtown area. When the sun sets, and your tummy is starting to rumble, head here to indulge in all kinds of snacks or full-on meals on the cheap. 

Outdoor tacos

Think In Pesos, Not USD

This budget travel tip applies to just about every destination and not just Cancun. When you think of paying in your home country’s currency, the price usually goes up. Once, I was quoted a taxi ride for $20 USD, but when I asked how much in pesos, they charged 300 pesos, which is a savings of about four U.S. dollars. These things add up. Thinking in the local currency will also help you adjust a bit to the local mindset and how much things cost the average person in Cancun. 

Cancun Delfines Beach at Hotel Zone of Mexico

Yes, There Are Hostels In Cancun

While Cancun is, of course, notorious for its fantastic all-inclusive, there are also budget options in town. There are a few hostels on Booking in downtown Cancun that have a rating of 8+, like the new Caleta Hostel, Nomads Party Hostel and Hotel, and Moloch Hostel and Suites. For less than 400 pesos a night, you can relax in clean facilities, swim in the rooftop pool, and meet fellow travelers.

hammock in a bamboo bungalow.

Make The Most Of The Free Things To Do In Cancun

From free public beaches for swimming and watersports to outdoor markets, there are lots of free things to do in Cancun to keep you busy throughout the day. If you’re traveling to Cancun on a budget, take advantage of free beaches like Playa Tortugas in the Hotel Zone or Playa Langosta in the northern end of town. 

Traveling on a budget means thinking a little differently, but that’s all part of the fun. Keep these travel tips for your next trip to Cancun so that you can live it up in paradise without it having to break your bank account. 

cancun hotel zone from airplane window

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