When it comes to Mexico, there are a lot of misconceptions that get thrown around. From the news to family members, you've likely heard some pervasive -- and often scary -- things about the country. Fortunately, we're here to debunk some of the myths about the beautiful, diverse, artsy, fun, and friendly destination.
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1. It's dangerous.
The most widespread misconception about Mexico is that it’s dangerous and crime-infested. Although some areas, particularly border towns such as Juarez and Tijuana, suffer from drug-related violence, the majority of cities in Mexico are perfectly safe for tourists. Like any travel destination, visitors should exercise caution at night, when using an ATM outside of hotels, while drinking, and walking around deserted areas. But, in terms of popular destinations such as Los Cabos and Cancun, tourists will largely feel extremely safe, and the U.S. has no restrictions to these areas. Thanks to ever-present hotel security and tons of locals and tourists, visitors may even feel safer than in their hometown.
2. It's impoverished.
Many foreigners believe Mexico is a poor, third-world nation, but it’s truly a middle-income country, with a GDP just over one trillion and a GDP per capita of around $8,200. While certainly less developed than countries like the United States, its GDP per capita hovers near countries such as China and Brazil. However, many locals do live in poverty, which tourists who venture out of the resort areas will likely see. An estimated 44 percent of Mexicans live in poverty, and the number of those in extreme poverty is reportedly under eight percent.
3. Tourists will get food poisoning.
Nearly everyone who travels to Mexico knows not to drink the tap water, but many also avoid all fruits and dishes with fresh produce for fear of getting food poisoning. Montezuma’s revenge is common, as most tourists simply aren’t used to the different bacteria in Mexico, but there’s no need to cut out all cold food. Many restaurants and hotels use clean water to wash their produce and make ice. Certainly be wary of some street eats or restaurants with low turnover, but it would be a shame to miss out on delicious foods like fresh mango, ceviche, and horchata.
4. It's rowdy and packed with partiers.
Mexico has developed a reputation for attracting rowdy partiers, particularly college-age spring breakers. However, if you travel to Cancun outside of March and stay away from hot spot Coco Bongo, or visit towns such as Guanajuato and Manzanillo, you’ll have to search for the boisterous bunch. Largely, you’ll find peace-seeking honeymooners in Cancun, foodie-minded friends in Mexico City, surfing solo travelers in Sayulita, or families at kid-friendly resorts in Playa del Carmen. Don’t get us wrong, you’ll find plenty of spots to taste tequila or dance the night away, but the country is not one big Señor Frog’s.
5. All hotels are big all-inclusive resorts.
Going hand-in-hand with the party persona, people seem to believe all Mexico hotels are big all-inclusive resorts packed with pools, buffets, and crowds. Although those types of properties are not in short supply (at least in popular beach destinations like Cancun and Los Cabos), Mexico is also filled with tiny guesthouses, beautiful boutique properties, and rustic-chic hotels to make you feel at one with nature. From the luxurious, 29-room Esencia in Playa del Carmen, to the charmingly peaceful Pepes Hideaway in Manzanillo, to the historic Hotel Casa Gonzalez in Mexico City, there’s something for everyone in this country.
6. Food is largely tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
Don’t get us wrong, Mexico does have its fill of mouth-watering barbacoa tacos and mole enchiladas, but the cuisine here is varied and excellent. The country has distinct regional cuisines by state, influenced by things like local produce and Caribbean islands. Travelers can generally expect fresh seafood, wonderfully ripe fruit, and plenty of chile-laced dishes (from mild to spicy) throughout Mexico, while certain areas may serve goat stew, paella, grilled octopus, conchas (sweet bread), fried pork belly, and elote (corn topped with mayonnaise and Cotija cheese).
7. It's not safe during hurricane season.
Hurricane season in Mexico stretches from June through November, though the highest risk of storms occurs from August through October. Many people shy away from visiting during this time, but there’s no need to write off Mexico for six months out of the year. Meteorologists generally know about hurricanes a week ahead of time — allowing for early departures or canceled trips — hotels and flights are cheaper, and often, rain keeps at bay. If you’re still worried, stick to interior destinations such as Mexico City, Guanajuato, and San Miguel de Allende, or travel outside of the peak storm months.
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