There are two ways to get a cheap Mexico vacation. One is to plan it for October, November or June . the off season . when you can expect to save about 25 percent over published rates. The other way is to stray a little off the beaten path and explore some of Mexico's less well known destinations. You know . the places most tourists haven't discovered yet and the towns that haven't raised their prices accordingly.
In Northern Mexico, ignore Monterrey. Instead, consider Bajio, Zacatecas or Guanajuato where you'll find spectacular silver mines to visit. You can also see superb colonial architecture in Queretaro and San Miguel de Allende. Baja California offers beautiful shores and exceptional wilderness, and Copper Canyon is another exciting destination.
And avoid Mexico City for the smaller cities that lie around its perimeter where you can see the remains of the pre-Hispanic cultures that once lived in central Mexico. At Teotihuacan, you can explore the huge pyramids, or you can visit Tula to see the main site of the Toltec civilization. However, the heart of the Aztec empire is found at Tenochtitlan . a site that's well worth a visit.
In addition, some of the most beautiful scenery in Mexico can be found between the cities of Guadalajara and Michoacan. Guadalajara is a city that's less well known than Mexico City, so it's smaller and less expensive as a travel destination. And in a country known for its handcrafts, you'll find some of the best examples in this region.
Next up, the beautiful mountains of Oaxaca and Chiapas are home to large groups of people from indigenous populations. Oaxaca has some fascinating archaeological destinations, along with excellent markets and wonderful examples of colonial, as well as indigenous, life. The beaches in Oaxaca are also quite enticing. And, as a side note, the Zapatistia uprising in the 1990s took place in Chiapas, although visitors today are little affected by that bit of history.
If you're interested in Mayan ruins, consider a visit to San Cristobal de las Casas, then on to Palenque. While Chichen Itza and Uxmal are very popular destinations for exploring Mayan history of the pre-Colombian period, you'll find smaller crowds at Merida, which manages at once to be both old fashioned and cosmopolitan.
Skip the hotel zone in Puerto Vallarta and head over to Viejo Vallarta, or Old Town. Here you'll find fine dining and plenty of opportunities to experience real Mexican culture without the usual tourist trappings. This doesn't mean, however, that you'll be roughing it. There are a number of terrific places to stay in Viejo Vallarta, and you'll pay less to stay on this side of the bridge than you would in the more touristy parts of Puerto Vallarta.
But wherever you plan to travel in Mexico, remember that modern amenities may not be up to the standards you expect. Never drink the tap water and don't eat raw fruits and vegetables. Use bottled water for drinking, brushing your teeth and rinsing fresh produce that can't be peeled. Even though you're on a budget, bottled water is one expense that's well worth paying for.
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