The majority of hotels in Cancun are located in the Zona Hotelera (the Hotel Zone), which is set on a narrow strip of land that is connected to the mainland by two bridges. Most properties are right on the Boulevard Kukulcan. Budget accommodation here ranges from the small and charming Mía Cancún to big hotel chain complexes such as the Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas.
Other good value options in this area include the Aloft Cancun, Beachscape Kin Ha Villas and Suites, and The Royal Caribbean. You can find cheaper hotels in downtown Cancun, but they are away from the beach. The Gran City Hotel, La Quinta Inn & Suites Cancun, and Hotel y Suites Nader all offer excellent value. Also, if you need to stay close to the airport, the Comfort Inn Cancun Aeropuerto has reasonable rates.
The Westin Resorts & Spa Cancun, a luxurious but affordable resort, offers all you need for a relaxing vacation. Located at the far end of the Hotel Zone, it is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway or a pampering holiday with the family. With its modern decor, myriad dining options on-site, and superb spa services, it is hard to beat luxury at this prices. Another deluxe alternative is the InterContinental Presidente Cancun Resort, an award-winning property that scores high marks with travelers. Among the many amenities it offers are a fitness center, spa facilities and a variety of activities for children. Also, the hotel's restaurants are well-known in Cancun for their superior quality. If you feel like splurging, try the Sun Palace Couples Only All Inclusive. This oasis of peace is one of the few adults-only venues in the Riviera Maya. At this resort you will find everything you need for the ultimate romantic getaway.
Private rentals are another great option for budget travelers. With almost 1,000 listed properties on Airbnb in Cancun, you can surely find something that fits your budget. For less than $30 per night, you can rent a private bedroom in downtown Cancun. If you prefer to stay in the Hotel Zone, you can lease an entire apartment or condo for as little as $100-150 per night. Granted, you won't have all the services that you get in hotels, but in most places you'll find all the comforts of home, plus some extra perks like a swimming pool or a hot tub.
Besides all the big chain hotels in Cancun, you will also find many top-quality independent and boutique hotels. The Fiesta Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun Resort & Spa, an all-inclusive hotel set on the best strip of beach on the Hotel Zone, offers one of the best deals in town. With its excellent service, beautiful modern rooms and superb food; this resort offers more to guests than other similarly priced hotels in the area. If you want a more intimate atmosphere, head over to the Casa Turquesa Boutique Hotel. Set on a pristine stretch of beach, this elegant hotel features only 30 carefully decorated suites. Another top option is the stylish Secrets The Vine Cancun Resort & Spa. Featuring exceptional service, a full-service spa and seven restaurants, this luxurious resort rarely fails to impress guests.
For travelers who need to stay close to the airport, the two best options are the Comfort Inn Cancun Aeropuerto and the Courtyard by Marriott Cancun Airport. Both hotels are less than two miles away from the airport and offer free shuttle service. While the Comfort Inn is more basic, its rates are more affordable. The Courtyard by Marriott has additional features like an outdoor pool, a fitness center and free shuttle service to the beach.
While the winter months are among the most popular times to visit Cancun, keep in mind that temperatures are at their lowest from December to February. This means that it can be too cold to swim in the sea. However, some hotels offer heated pools. March is one of the busiest months because of Spring Break, so you can expect to pay higher rates at that time. The best time to visit Cancun is from April to June, when the temperatures are warmer. Also, during that time fewer visitors are in Cancun, so you can find some good deals for flights and hotels. Since children are out of school, July and August are popular months for family travel. September to November is rainy season in Cancun.
Most of Cancun's one million residents live in the downtown area. There you will find some of the city's best restaurants, bars and shopping centers. A rich arts and cultural scene also is growing, mostly around Parque Las Palapas. If you are venturing out to this area, you should not miss visiting the local markets to taste the local flavors and buy souvenirs to bring back home. If you are staying in the Hotel Zone, you can easily get to downtown Cancun by hopping on a city bus or by taking a taxi for a five- to 10- minute drive.
With its famous white-sand beaches, world-class restaurants, and all-inclusive resorts; the Zona Hotelera is where most tourists spend all their vacation time when they visit Cancun. However, you can hardly blame them, if you take into account that you can find everything you need and more there. The Hotel Zone is a narrow strip of land that separates the Nichupté Lagoon from the Caribbean Sea. It is home to Cancun's fanciest resorts, stylish condos and luxurious spas.
Taxis can be expensive when travelling to or from the Zona Hotelera and the airport. A taxi from the airport to the Hotel Zone can cost between $50 and $60. Also, keep in mind that taxis are generally small cars; if you are traveling in a group you might have to hire a van or SUV, which is more expensive. If you want to save money on airport transfers, check with your hotel to see if it offers complimentary shuttle service. Another cheaper alternative are the "shared vans," which can bring you to your hotel for $10-$15.
The standard fare for a cab ride between downtown Cancun and the resort area is about $20. If you are traveling within the downtown area or the Zona Hotelera, the fares are cheaper. It is always advisable to negotiate the fare with the driver before getting in the cab to avoid unpleasant surprises. Also, a list of fares is available at most hotels' reception desks and shopping centres.
The easiest way to get around Cancun is by bus. Drivers are friendly, and most of them speak enough English to help foreign visitors. The local transport system is reliable and cheap. Fares are less than a dollar per person per ride. Keep in mind that you can only pay your fare with Mexican pesos; dollars are not accepted on buses, so be ready. Most buses run between 6 in the morning and midnight.
It is possible to rent a car in Cancun; but if you're just staying in the city area, it might not be necessary. However, renting a car can be a good idea if you want to explore the area beyond the city on your own. If you decide to drive in Cancun, be aware of local regulations and have all your documents in order.
A good start to exploring the local Mayan culture is the Museo Maya de Cancun, located in the middle of the Hotel Zone. This newly opened museum houses a collection of Mayan artifacts and ancient ruins set in a modern and beautiful building. However, if you wish to experience the Mayan culture in all its glory, you will have to leave the city. Without doubt, the most important Mayan archeological site in the area is Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located 117 miles (188 kilometers) west of Cancun, near the colonial city of Valladolid, a visit to this magnificent Mayan city is a must for anyone visiting Cancun. A trip to Chichen Itza can be done from Cancun as a day tour, but if you want to explore the whole site, it is better to stay overnight in one of the nearby hotels. Tulum, 82 (132 kilometers) miles south of Cancun, is one of the most visited Mayan ruins in Mexico. The site sits on the edge of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. It is a fascinating sight.
To visit, you can easily book a tour from Cancun or arrange to explore it on your own. Finally, if you have time to venture further, you can head to Coba, a beautiful Mayan site that is hidden in the lush jungle. Located 104 miles (167 kilometers) away from Cancun, Coba used to be one of the largest Mayan cities, with an estimated population of 50,000. It boasts the highest pyramid in the Yucatán peninsula.
If you want to escape busy Cancun for a day, you can visit Isla Mujeres, a small island located just a half-hour boat ride from Cancun. To get around the island, it is fun to rent a scooter or a golf cart and explore the private beaches and towns on your own. One of the island's main attractions is the Turtle Farm, a sanctuary that releases more than 100,000 turtles every year. Other interesting places you can visit include Garrafon Marine Park, where you can snorkel and see the reef's rich marine life, and Dolphin Discovery, a place to swim and play with dolphins and interact with other marine animals.
Another site worth visiting is the Museo Subacuático de Arte (MUSA), an amazing underwater contemporary art museum. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience where visitors can see more than 400 sculptures submerged off the coasts of Cancun, Isla Mujeres, and Punta Nizuc. The museum aims to create an artificial reef structure for marine life to colonize and to help local natural reefs to recover by drawing visitors away from them. You can visit the MUSA in different ways: join a scuba diving tour, snorkel over the site, or go on a glass bottom boat tour. It is truly a unique experience.
For travelers visiting the area from mid-May to mid-September, they have the rare opportunity to swim with whale sharks. These gentle giants gather in the waters near Isla Mujeres and other nearby islands to feed on plankton. Whale sharks are the biggest fish on earth, measuring up to 40 feet. Swimming alongside this amazing animals is an experience that you will never forget.
Smart Map Cancun is the official Cancun app. With this free travel app you can get access to information about local services and attractions right on your smart phone or tablet. Other features available include local news and weather information, an offline map, currency conversion, a telephone directory, and discount coupons. You can download the app for both iOS and Android devices.
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© 2017 Hipmunk and Concur Hipmunk™ are trademarks of Hipmunk, Inc. and Concur Technologies, Inc.