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If you're flying into Cancun, then you'll be arriving at the Cancun International Airport (CUN), which is the city's only airport.
There are 64 airlines, including both major players and budget airlines, that operate flights at the Cancun International Airport. In terms of international passengers, it's Mexico's busiest airport, with over 10 million international passengers each year. With all that competition, prices to and from Cancun tend to be quite affordable.
If you're flying to Cancun from the US, seat sales and competition make it well worth checking prices on bigger airlines like American Airlines, United Airlines or Delta Airlines, though many other US-based airlines fly into Cancun. Major hubs like Dallas, New York and Fort Lauderdale usually offer the best deals for cheap non-stop flights to Cancun.
Discount airline JetBlue Airways is consistently one of the cheapest airlines with direct flights to Cancun from JFK, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Boston. Southwest flights to Cancun offer some of the best deals from Chicago (MDW), Austin, Denver, and Baltimore (BWI).
If you're traveling to or from somewhere else in Mexico, the biggest airlines are Aeromexico, Interjet and Volaris, but there are many arlines that offer flights from Cancun to elsewhere in Mexico.
Canadians will probably find their cheapest flights to Cancun through Westjet, Air Canada, Delta or United.
Cancun is a busy place most of the year, but it's absolutely packed during Spring Break and the peak Christmas rush. The good news is that even during peak season, there's so much competition between airlines that you should be able to snag an affordable ticket. That said, try to book at least a month or two early during peak season to get the best deal.
The summer months from May to October are the quietest time of year in Cancun. These are the wettest months in Cancun, with temperatures hovering in the 90s during June and July. If you love the heat, low season can be great time to snag a cheap ticket.
Cancun International Airport is open 24 hours, 365 days a year.
If you have a long layover, or you're craving a bit of luxury, the pickings for airport lounges in Cancun Airport are limited. Aeromexico and Mexicana share a modest lounge, but if you're with another airline, or want more amenities, the airport has an independent VIP lounge with an impressive array of perks that will cost around $27 per adult.
The airport doesn't offer free Wi-Fi, but you should be able to use the Wi-Fi with a purchase (ask first) in restaurants like Johnny Rockets, Bubba Gump or Air Margaritaville in the departure terminals.
Cancun International Airport has three terminals, with a fourth in the planning stages.
The Cancun International Airport charges a departure tax of approximately $48.00 USD per person. This is usually included in the cost of your ticket.
There are ATMs in the international arrival terminals, which dispense both USD and Mexican Pesos.
Cancun is a glitzy, fast-paced party destination that can be a world of fun.
You'll most likely be staying in the Hotel Zone (Zona Hotelera), a miles-long stretch of mostly all-inclusive resorts between the beach and lagoon. The downtown part of the city (El Centro) is where most Cancun residents live, and where you'll find many shopping malls and restaurants.
You can get around just fine in the Hotel Zone with only US Dollars, but exchange rates do vary a lot. You'll usually save a bit on meals and taxis if you pay using Mexican Pesos instead.
Cancun International airport (CUN) is about 20 to 30 minutes away from the Hotel Zone.
Regular taxis are not allowed to pick up passengers at the airport (though you can have a driver drop you off). Only authorized transportation companies are allowed to pick up airport passengers. You can pre-order your ride before you depart.
The cheapest way to get to the Hotel Zone is to take an ADO bus from the airport to the ADO terminal downtown for $4 a person, and then transfer to a taxi for the ride to the Hotel Zone for another $3 USD.
A private car to the Hotel Zone is your fastest option, taking about 30 minutes, and will cost you around $70 USD roundtrip for the vehicle. Taking a shared car is a bit cheaper (around $55 USD an adult). A shared shuttle is an affordable option, at $20 a person roundtrip, but it'll take a bit longer, depending on how many other passengers are along for the ride.
If you're heading South to Playa del Carmen, your cheapest option is to catch an ADO bus for around $10 USD an adult, or take a shared shuttle for around $20 USD.
The most affordable way to travel around Cancun is by bus. Buses run regularly along the Hotel Zone and between the Hotel Zone and downtown, and fare is an affordable 75 cents. Bus One (a white bus) is the only bus with air conditioning in the Hotel Zone, and costs about 85 cents.
You can get a taxi almost anywhere in Cancun, but they aren't allowed to pick you up at the airport. Taxi rates are based on how many zones you travel through. Your driver and your hotel front desk should both have a zone rate card. A taxi you hail on the street will be cheaper than the taxis waiting outside your hotel.
You can rent a moped for about $30 a day, or a car for about the same amount, if you'd like to travel more independently.
There's so much to do and see in Cancun that all of the choices can be a bit overwhelming. There are tours for almost every activity from snorkeling to ATV riding to horseback tours and zip-lining. Many of the organized activities can be a bit expensive, but fortunately, Cancun also offers a wealth of fun budget activities, ranging from hanging out by the beach to visiting local Mayan ruins.
Cancun is justifiably famous for its almost impossibly sugar-fine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise water. The good news? Beach access is free. Grab drinks and snacks from a local OXO convenience store, bring your beach towels and sunscreen, and head on down to the beach for an inexpensive day by the water.
If you're faced with a rainy day, or you've had your share of sun, consider heading indoors for some shopping and air conditioning at the Plaza Las Americas mall. There's a massive food court, a movie theater (many movies are shown in English with Spanish subtitles), an arcade, and enough stores to keep most shoppers happy for hours.
The Interactive Aquarium, packed with colorful tropical fish, is well worth a visit. It's in the Hotel Zone, and admission only costs around $10 USD.
The nearby island of Isla Mujeres (Spanish for Island of Women) is well worth a visit as well. It's a little quieter than buzzing Cozumel Island, and the crystal clear water is perfect for snorkelers. There's not a lot to do or see here, but that's most of the island's charm.
Most visitors to Isla Mujeres rent a golf cart and explore the island in an afternoon, including stops for lunch and a splash on the beach. A ferry ride to Isla Mujeres from Cancun costs about $15 USD roundtrip, and a golf cart rental (which can hold four people) for the day runs around $50 USD.
If you're looking to take in a little local Mayan culture, a visit to the El Rey Mayan ruins is a great place to start. The ruins are located right in the Hotel Zone, and cost only around $3 USD to visit. If you have kids, they'll love watching the local iguanas dart around the ruins.
If you're looking to pick up souvenirs for friends and family back home, swing by the local Walmart or any large supermarket. They carry virtually the same selection as more expensive souvenir shops in the tourist areas, and you'll save a good amount of money.
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© 2016 Hipmunk, Inc. Hipmunk is a trademark of Hipmunk, Inc.