Cancun Travel Guide

A Comprehensive Guide for Families Travelling to Cancun Mexico

Cancun is one of Mexico's most visited tourist destinations. Located along the Yucatan Peninsula, the city is right at the heart of the Mayan Empire, home to ancient ruins and cenotes (swimmable deep-water wells). It's also famous for its pristine beaches sitting on the Caribbean Sea and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Here's an ultimate guide to visiting Cancun, including the top places to visit, best dining places, and more.

About Cancun and the People

It's worth knowing a bit about the local culture and traditions when travelling to Cancun. As you explore Cancun and visit historical sites and museums, you will discover that the local culture is quite intriguing. Mexican cultures and traditions are mainly influenced by ancient civilizations, mainly the Mayans, and some of these traditions still exist today.

About Mexico and Cancun 

Home to more than 128 million people, Mexico is one of the most populous countries in the world. The country has several ethnic groups, and mestizo accounts for about 60% of the population. Mestizos refer to those with mixed indigenous European and Central American heritage. Meanwhile, about 20% of the Mexicans are indigenous Central American People, while about 10% of the population has European background. These different ethnic groups form a culture that is unique to Mexico.

Home to more than 800,000 people, Cancun was established in 1970 but was only officially recognized in 1974 as Quintana Roo became a Mexican state. Cancun is a planned city developed to foster tourism in Mexico. Only three people were living in the area when it was first established. They are all caretakers of a coconut plantation nearby. Because of the reluctance of foreign investors to gamble in the area, the Mexican government financed the first nine hotels in Cancun.

Nowadays, Cancun is one of Mexico's most popular destinations for foreign visitors, receiving about six million tourists each year. The crystal-clear Caribbean waters of Cancun are home to an abundance of underwater wildlife, making it a popular spot for divers and snorkelers.

The Mexican People

What most tourists love about the Mexican culture is its people. The locals' warm and welcoming nature always makes tourists feel at home. They make sure to adhere to this famous Mexican phrase - "mi casa es su casa", which means my house is your house. They are good-hearted and courteous and are always ready to mingle with foreign people despite the language barrier.

The customs and traditions of the Mexican people are diverse and varied. Locals are proud of their native heritage, and each region has its own cultural celebrations and practices. Many of their ancestors' ancient traditions are still practised today, and you could experience this during your visit to Cancun, especially if you explore areas outside of the tourist zone.

Mexico has several indigenous groups, which include the Mayans, Nahuas, Otomis, Zapotecs, Tzotzil, and Tzeltal. They all have influenced Mexican culture, especially in terms of the language, cuisine, and rituals.

Religions in Mexico

Much of the culture of Mexico is influenced by religion, and Mexican values often revolve around the church, especially on the concept of inclusiveness. About 78% of Mexicans are Catholic, although some have incorporated pre-Hispanic Mayan rituals as part of their faith. Their religion dates back to the first colonists who aim to introduce Christianity to the region.

Public rituals have always been essential to Spanish Catholicism. During the colonization, priests introduced religious music, plays, and festivals to the aboriginal parishioners, especially Easter and Corpus Christi.

Mexican Traditions

Even though Mexican traditions vary from region to region, festivals and celebrations are a significant part of the local tradition, including in Cancun. Every neighbourhood in Mexico has its own patron saint who is honoured with processions, feasts, and celebrations on a certain day each year. From the most sophisticated neighbourhoods to the remote villages - Mexicans devote at least one day each year to honouring their patron saint. If you want to experience the vitality of a Mexican festival, then try to plan your visit during this time of the year.

One of the most popular local festivals is the Day of the Dead, known locally as "Dia de Muertos." It is the Mexican's way of celebrating Halloween, which takes place on the first two days of November. Like the other cities in Mexico, Cancun celebrates the festival by organizing large parades, painting their faces and bodies, and wearing colourful costumes.

Locals will honour their dearly departed by offering food and drinks and gathering around their graves. Despite being a local tradition, many foreign tourists would come to Mexico during this time of the year to join in the celebration.

Folk dance and rituals are also some of the most important aspects of the Mexican tradition. For instance, the Mexican hat dance, or Jarabe Tapatío, is a popular Mexican dance that has been around since the 18th Century. It's a courtship dance where men would dress up like Mexican horsemen and women wear china poblano as they dance to the local music.

Music in Mexico

Music plays a significant role in Mexican culture and tradition. You will find a variety of regional music genres all over the country, but Banda or Ranchera is famous in most regions. In the north, norteño music is more popular. Ranchera is performed with just a guitar or a Mariachi, a local band composed of five people. The band will play the violin, guitar, trumpet, trombone, etc.

During your holiday to Cancun, there will be nights when you will wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of a mariachi band. As you peek at the window, you will find men hiding under the windows of their beloved while performing a song for her, usually along with some musicians. Mariachi is significant to Mexican celebrations. In fact, locals would often say that if a wedding does not have a Mariachi, it's not a real wedding.

Food Culture in Mexico

Many countries have one thing they are famous for - food. And in Mexico, food is a big part of their culture. Tacos are the most popular Mexican dish you'll ever come across, and you'll find taquerias all over Cancun. But there's more to Mexican cuisines than the tacos. The other popular Mexican dishes are enchiladas, tamales, burritos, chilaquiles, pozole, and more.

What's interesting about Mexican cuisines is that each region has its own versions. Mexican recipes are usually passed down from generation to another. If you travel to several different areas of Mexico, you'll find a distinct taste of the cuisines from each region.

Many foods originating in Mexico can now be found worldwide, especially tacos. In fact, Mexican food is one of the most popular cultural exports of the United States.

Mexico is also famous for its tequila, an alcoholic beverage made from agave cactus, and is well suited to the climate of Mexico, especially the central region. You can order tequila from almost every bar and restaurant in Cancun. Soda is also a popular drink in Mexico since the country has a thriving beverage industry.

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