top of page

Travel Tips for Mérida, Mexico

Frau mit Koffer
General Info
Health & Hygiene
Ein Koch garniert ein Gericht
Eating & Drinking
Payment & Tech
Klassische VW Bug


Logo Casa Loltún

What to pack for Mérida?

Apart from the usual things like light clothing, you should take the following things with you (or think about it): Biodegradable sunscreen (as no normal sunscreen is often not allowed), mosquito repellent and anti-itch cream (especially for visiting nature reserves), and a baseball cap or similar (because of the sun).

A general travel tip for visiting cenotes is water shoes. Most cenotes have slippery rocks and wet wooden stairs. Also, a snorkeling equipment and a waterproof cell phone holder is no bad idea if you plan to take photos and want to take your smartphone into the water. 

If you want to go on boat trips or visit beaches, cenotes, nature parks etc. more often, dry bags are ideal. Further tips would be a waterproof shoulder bag or fanny pack, a next wallet, and quick-dry towels.

If necessary, take a travel plug adapter with you, a portable charger, hand sanitizer, and - especially during the rainy season - a small windproof travel umbrella. Noise-canceling in-ear headphones are not only a pleasant option on the plane. If you rent a car, take a portable cell phone holder with you, it's small but immensely helpful for a safe ride.

Maintaining the sidewalks in Mérida is the responsibility of the homeowners. Apart from the few sidewalks that have been completely renovated by the city, they are in very poor condition. As a woman, you should prefer flat heels. 

By the way: there are fewer and fewer disposable plastic bags in Mexico (previously these were used excessively, especially in supermarkets). Therefore, a small reusable shopping bag that can be folded into a tiny bag and that you can always have with you is also very helpful.

Logo Casa Loltún

ETSA visa for USA stopover

If you are stopping over in the USA, you need an ESTA visa (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). It is an extended security check for travelers to the USA from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and is also required for transit purposes. 

This means you must apply for an ESTA even if you are only traveling through the USA to another country. The Visa Waiver Program enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States. You can find out which countries it applies to and further information on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

The travel authorization is valid for two years from the date of approval or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You can request the ESTA visa online via the website of the Department of Homeland Security and should print it out to be on the safe side. 

However, a printout is generally not required for entry into the United States, as it can be retrieved electronically by the officials. The ESTA authorization does not entitle you to stay in the USA for two years, but only to enter the USA (a maximum stay of 90 days is permitted).

Logo Casa Loltún

Passport and Mexican Tourist Visa

Mexico has a liberal visa policy offering visa exemption to many nationalities. US citizens and people from almost all countries in North America and Europe do not need a special visa for Mexico. If in doubt, you can check it for example at Visa Traveller

Tourist visa

You will receive a free tourist visa (usually for 180 days), when you enter Mexico at the airport. The former FMM form no longer exists. 

Passport holders from the USA, Canada, Japan and the Schengen countries (which most Europeans belong to) now receive the following information directly in the passport: the entry date (format DD/MM/YYYY), the date indicating the last day of the permitted Stay and the total number of days you are allowed to be in the country. 

At the airport, immigration officials may ask you how many days you exactly want to stay. If you definitely want to make sure you get the full time (180 days), it is best to bring proof of your accommodation, confirmation that you have enough money for a six-month stay in Mexico (e.g. bank statement) and confirmation of your return flight.

Passport and customs form

Your Passport must be valid for at least six months from the day of arrival. In practice, residual validity for the duration of the planned stay is sufficient, even if I wouldn't necessarily rely on it. 

Technically, in Mexico you’re supposed to always have your passport on hand. At least I take a photo that I have with me on my cell phone. A customs form is still required at the Mérida airport (this varies depending on the airport).

Logo Casa Loltún

Customs in Mexico

A customs form is still required at the Mérida airport (this varies depending on the airport). You will usually receive the customs form on the plane before landing, otherwise they are also available at the airport. Alternatively, you can fill out the custom form online. As a family, you only need to fill out one form. Further information can be found on the websites of Mexican customs.

Permitted import goods

Passengers are allowed to bring, free of duty, merchandise in their personal luggage when entering the country. These include for example (among other things) items for personal use (such as clothing), 2 cameras, 3 mobile phones, 1 laptop, up to 10 cigarette packs, 25 cigars or 200 grams of tobacco (if you are over 18 years of age). 

Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. For the complete and updated list of goods, please consult the Mexican customs website (in Spanish). If the limit is exceeded, it's up to the Customs officers on duty whether or not they take any action. If you are traveling with a pet, please also inform yourself on the customs website.

Logo Casa Loltún

Species Protection

Before you start your trip, please find out what is not allowed to be imported or exported for species protection reasons in order to avoid travel souvenirs being confiscated by customs and potentially severe penalties.

It's best to avoid any souvenirs made from animals or plants. Basically, you should exercise caution when buying animal and plant products if you do not know their origin and, if in doubt, do not trust statements made by sellers. 

This is not only against the backdrop of import and export regulations, but of course also to protect the flora and fauna in Mexico. Instead, you can purchase typical souvenirs made from textiles, ceramics, metal and glass works or paintings.

In particular, you should note that Mexico generally prohibits the export of native cactus and orchid species if they have been collected from the wild. If you want to buy shoes or boots, please be careful and make sure that they are not made from the leather of endangered species. 

You may also need permits if you want to export leather products. The trade in products made from sea turtles (e.g. combs or sunglasses) is also strictly prohibited. If in doubt, always stay away.

Responsible authorities in Mexico

The responsible authorities in Mexico are the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Dirección General de Vida Silvestre, Av. Revolución 1425, Col. San Angel Tlacopac, Del. Alvaro Obregón, 01040 México, D.F. Phone number: 0052 / 55 / 56243306 to 09, Fax number: 0052 / 55 / 56243624 and e-mail:

Logo Casa Loltún

Public Holidays

You should pay particular attention to the most important major Mexican holidays when planning your trip. There are 8 national holidays in Mexico: 

  • New Year's Day (January 1), 

  • Mexican Constitution Day (February 5), 

  • Benito Juárez's birthday (March 21), 

  • Easter Sunday (March)

  • Labor Day (May 1), 

  • Mexican Independence Day (September 16), 

  • Mexican Revolution Day (November 20) and 

  • Christmas Day (December 25). 

For Mexico, which is strongly Catholic, Easter is the most important festival of the year besides Christmas. Semana Santa (Holy Week, one week before Easter) runs from Palm Sunday to the following Saturday and, together with Easter week, is the main holiday period in Mexico. Schools and often stores close during this time and many Mexicans go on vacation during Easter. On Easter Sunday, Mexicans celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the highest Catholic holiday.

Other public holidays in Mexico that are non-working, depending on the region, include the world-famous Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the Day of the Battle of Puebla, Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Logo Casa Loltún

Time Zones in Mexico

Since 2022, there have been four time zones (UTC is the coordinated universal time) in Mexico, which refer to the geographical longitude of the country. The borders between the zones largely follow the borders of the states:

  • Zona Sureste (state of Quintana Roo in the south-east, UTC -5)

  • Zona Centro (most of Mexico including Mexico City, UTC -6)

  • Zona Pacífico (northwestern Pacific coast with the states of Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Sonora and Nayarit, UTC -7)

  • Zona Noroeste (state of Baja California in the far northwest of Mexico, UTC -8)

Mexican summer time was largely abolished in 2022. Depending on where you come from and how big the time difference is, you should allow 1-3 days after your return home to get used to your home time again. 

Central Europeans

For Central Europeans, the following applies on the Yucatan Peninsula: The states of Yucatán and Campeche belong to the Zona Centro (including Mérida) and it is seven hours earlier than Central European Time (CET) or eight hours earlier than Central European Summer Time (CEST). In the state of Quintana Roo in the Zona Sureste (e.g. Cancun and Chichén Itzá) it is -6 hours CET and -7 hours CEST.

Logo Casa Loltún


One of the big plus points of Mérida is its comparatively high security. In fact, Mérida is considered one of the safest cities. An article in CEOWorld Magazine in 2019 came out declaring Mérida the "Safest City in Mexico" and the second safest city in all of the Americas.

The violence of drug cartels that often dominates the news is nevertheless real and so also safety in Mexico is is primarily based on where you go. Incidentally, the south of Mérida is known as the least safe part of the city - although the district has nothing special to offer.

You should generally avoid the areas on the American border and get further safety advice from your foreign office. The U.S. State Department Travel Advisories, for example, offers detailed, up-to-date information on almost all countries.

Otherwise, follow the typical safety instructions that also apply in other countries: do not attract attention, do not wear expensive watches or expensive jewelry, do not wear flashy brand-name clothing and do not rent expensive cars. 

Use toll highways wherever possible and plan your trips so that you reach your destination before dark. If you are attacked, do not resist under any circumstances, not even verbally. 


ATMs are of course a popular target for crooks, so take extra care. It is generally best to only use the machines during the day and inside secured buildings.


Pickpocketing can happen in any city, but Mérida is not known for a particularly high risk. However, pickpocketing is unfortunately not uncommon at the city's largest market, Mercado Lucas de Galvez, so you should take extra care of your valuables here.

Always carry your valuables protected with you. Money, credit cards and ID cards, for example in a breast pocket (and it is best to take photos of important documents). 

Mérida at night

Mérida is also considered safe at night and the proactive police presence is increased. However, I would stay in the lively city center or on the Paseo de Montejo late at night.

Since Uber is easily available and inexpensive, it is also a good idea to take an Uber if you are out on foot and want to get home at night.

Logo Casa Loltún


You will find many shopping tips on the corresponding page. At this point, I would like to give you a general tip along the way. Occasionally, you may strike up a conversation with a nice guy in town. He might ask you what you're interested in and if it's something you can buy in stores, he has a great tip for you - and because it's not far, he quickly accompany you. 

Don't do this. These are usually street vendors who work on commission and you'll usually be charged higher prices if you're being hauled in by a tourist catcher.

Logo Casa Loltún


The official language in Mexico is Spanish (98% of the Mexican population speak Spanish as their mother tongue). In addition to Spanish, 62 indigenous languages (the most important are Náhuatl, Maya and Mixteco) are also recognized as official national languages in Mexico. This makes Mexico one of the countries with the largest number of indigenous languages.

The Spanish spoken in Mexico is very easy to understand and it is always appreciated if you can speak some Spanish. English language skills are often rudimentary. It is usually only spoken in the large cities along the American border and in tourist centers. In Mérida, English is also not widely spoken and some basic knowledge of Spanish is an advantage.

Logo Casa Loltún

Drug Consumption

According to a study, drug cartels are the fifth largest employer in Mexico. Everyone is probably familiar with the problems with the drug cartels. But of course there is also the other side: those who consume drugs.

It shouldn't surprise that drugs are relatively easily available in Mexico. In 2009, Mexico decriminalized the possession of up to 5 grams of cannabis and half a gram of cocaine (and small amounts of other drugs), but you can still be arrested with these amounts. Anything beyond this can result in up to a year in prison. 

I don't imagine being in prison in the US or in Europe would be very pleasant, and anyone who cannot or does not want to give up drugs should be aware that a prison stay in a Latin American country is probably even less desirable.

Logo Casa Loltún

Pharmacies, Doctors and Hospitals

Mérida has an excellent healthcare system. So if you have any health problems, you are in good hands. If you are looking for a pharmacy, need a doctor, are looking for a hospital or even have an emergency, you will find all the important contacts on this page. At Casa Loltún you will also find a first aid kit in the main building and in every apartment for minor problems.

Logo Casa Loltún

Vaccinations for Mexico

There are no mandatory vaccinations for entering Mexico, but you should check your vaccinations before every trip and update them if necessary. You can find out what is recommended from your foreign office or the World Health Organization. And if in doubt, of course, consult your doctor.

Hepatitis A is usually recommended as a travel vaccination. For long-term stays or special exposure, vaccinations against dengue fever, hepatitis B, typhoid and rabies are also recommended. Cases of dengue fever are on the rise, so protect yourself consistently against mosquito bites. Depending on the time of year and the regions you wish to travel to, malaria prophylaxis may also be advisable.

Logo Casa Loltún

Protection against Mosquitoes

Mosquitoes are particularly common during the rainy season, which lasts from around June to October. But they can also annoy you at any other time. OFF and Cutter are the two popular brands of mosquito sprays that you can buy anywhere in Mérida. 

But there are also other brands with natural ingredients. Especially if you want to go on excursions into nature (e.g. to the mangrove forests), you should have a spray with you.

Logo Casa Loltún


Mexico is close to the Equator, so make sure to use sunscreen. Maybe bring your sunscreen directly from home. While you can of course find sunscreen in Mexico, the options are somewhat limited and expensive. You will also have the opportunity to apply sunscreen on the first day if you need to and won't have to go shopping first.

Environmental protection

Especially if you want to visit cenotes or nature parks, you will need biodegradable sunscreen (as no normal sunscreen is often not allowed). Several thousand tons of sunscreen end up in the oceans every year. As the chemicals used in conventional sunscreen can harm corals and marine life, biodegradable sunscreen is always recommended.

Unfortunately, there are no international standards for environmental compatibility. If in doubt, make sure that the following ingredients, which are harmful to corals and marine animals, are not contained in the sunscreen: PABA, octinoxate, oxybenzone, 4-methylbenzylidene camphor and butylparaben.

Sunscreen should be applied at least one hour before swimming so that the sunscreen does not wash off in the water. Don't forget, the best protection for both swimming and the environment is simply a T-shirt (preferably appropriate UV clothing) and a wide-brimmed hat.

Logo Casa Loltún

Travel Insurance

Mérida is the healthcare center of the Yucatán Peninsula and medical care in Mérida ist very good, even by high international standards. You do not need health insurance for medical care in Mérida, but you will of course have to pay for the services. 

Whether you should take out travel insurance depends on the nature of your trip and your individual situation, but in general, a international health insurance is highly recommended. This is all the more true if you are traveling with small children. In a nutshell: Do we really need travel insurance? Yes, you do.


If you are US-American: Medicare, the government national health insurance program in the United States, is generally not valid in Mexico, however, there are a few very specific circumstances in which Medicare may cover you while visiting Mexico.

Logo Casa Loltún


In Mexico, it is customary to pay for the use of public toilets. There is usually a cleaning person at the entrance who you give a few pesos to. And there is often no toilet paper in the toilets. You can also get this from the service staff.

Men or Women?

As a man, you may be used to looking for an "M" (for men) on the door of a restroom. However, an "M" on the door in Mexico stands for Mujeres (women). If you are a man, you should look for an "H" for hombres or occasionally a "C" for caballeros. The toilets for women are either marked with an "M" for mujeres or a "D" for damas. 

Hot and cold water?

The Spanish abbreviations for hot and cold may also mislead you at the sink. A "C" on the water tap stands for Caliente (hot) and an "F" stands for Frio, which means "cold". Public restrooms in Mexico are typically not free. There is a modest charge, usually ranging from $2-$5 pesos.

Toilet paper

One more tip: please do not flush toilet paper down the toilet, as the pipe systems in Mexico are not designed for toilet paper and can become blocked. There is always a small waste garbage can next to the toilet for toilet paper.

Logo Casa Loltún


There are several laundromats (lavanderias in Spanish) in each neighborhood of Mérida where you can drop off your laundry for washing. Typically, you can expect a 1-3 day turnaround time (or even the same day if express cleaning is offered).

The service is usually quite cheap, you should expect to pay around 15 to 25 pesos per kilo, although there is a minimum amount (around 3 kilos). For larger items, such as towels and sheets, which take a little longer to wash and dry, there may be a surcharge. 

More rarely, there are also coin-operated laundromats (auto lavanderias in Spanish), but these are more likely to be found on the outskirts of the city center or in the smaller districts. 

There are also dry cleaners (tintoreria in Spanish), but these are less common in Mérida and you may have to search a little longer. The cost of dry cleaning will depend on the garment and the type of cleaning you would like to do.

Logo Casa Loltún

Electricity and Sockets

In Mexico, the sockets are of type A (two flat parallel pins) and B (two flat parallel pins and one round pin for ground). This is the same as is used throughout the US and Canada. 

The mains voltage is 127V and the frequency is 60Hz. You may need a travel plug adapter in Mexico if you are coming from Europe, for example. Depending on the device, you may also need a voltage converter. 

To be sure, check the label on the appliance. Electrical appliances with an input of 100-240V and 50/60 Hz are universally suitable for all countries. This is often the case with chargers for cell phones, tablets, cameras, etc.

Logo Casa Loltún

Cell phone

Mérida has many public WiFi hotspots (e.g. at every park), but always being connected to the internet makes your life much easier. To avoid high fees if you are not coming from the USA or Canada (then you usually have free data roaming) and if your cell phone is eSIM compatible, then the easiest (and least expensive way) is to get an eSIM plan online.  

If you travel frequently, an eSIM can also save you money and hassle in the long run. Otherweise I recommend buying a local prepaid SIM card. A portable WiFi device may also be an option.

Buying a local SIM card

Prepaid SIM cards are called chips in Mexico. It's easy to buy a SIM card online (even before your trip) or on site. One disadvantage is of course that you will temporarily have a different phone number (also e.g. for Whatsapp).

Telcel is the largest mobile operator in Mexico and has the best network coverage (and 5g data) in Mexico. You can buy a SIM card at a Telcel store at the airport (if there is one) or, for example, in one of the OXXO stores that can be found on every corner. 

Some of the stores in the airports also offer SIM cards, but these are usually heavily overpriced. A SIM card starts at around 80 pesos (telephony and data). You you might be asked to show your passport and tourist visa if you want to buy a SIM card, but it depends on the store. 

Activation und telephone tariffs

The SIM card must first be activated after purchase. This is quite quick, but you can also ask the sales clerk to do this for you if in doubt. To activate the service yourself, you will need the purchase receipt (recibo in Spanish). Also if you have any problems with your account, the receipt is helpful, so you should always ask for it.

After the activation you can expand the capacity online (or via an app) or book a specific plan. For around 100 additional pesos, you should be covered for 2 weeks (or 200 pesos for a month). The plans are called "paquetes amigo sin limite" (see Telcel website). 

One last tip

If you want to buy and use a SIM card in Mexico, your smartphone must be unlocked. If you are not sure, you can simply check in advance whether a SIM card from another provider will work in your cell phone. If it doesn't work, you can usually have the cell phone unlocked by your provider for a fee.

Logo Casa Loltún

VPN for Data Security

Especially if you want to work remotely or transfer sensitive data from your device (e.g. for banking transactions), you should consider using a VPN to achieve a higher level of data security.

This applies all the more if you are using a public Wi-Fi network. There is a risk that the Wi-Fi network may have a trustworthy name (SSID), e.g. from a hotel or public institution, but in reality you are connecting to a hotspot operated by a fraudster who can read your data. 

There is a wide range of VPN services on offer, they are not expensive and a trial period is usually offered. One of the market leaders is NordVPN. Setting up a VPN is not difficult and you can of course do it before you leave home. If you haven't checked it out yet: There are other interesting advantages to a VPN, just google it!

Logo Casa Loltún

Useful Apps

There are some useful apps that you might want to install before your trip. If you don't speak Spanish, I recommend Google Translator (iPhone, Android). For example, you can point your cell phone camera at a text and it will be translated directly. And there is a conversation mode where a conversation is translated live into the other language. 

Google Maps (iPhone, Android) helps you find your way (every corner of Mérida is included in Google Streetview).

Uber (iPhone, Android) is widely used in Mérida. The Uber app allows you to book private drivers with their own cars. And the UberEats app (iPhone, Android) enables food to be delivered from restaurants to your doorstep. 

A few pizzas have already been delivered to Casa Loltún this way :-) Alternatively, Didi (iPhone, Android) is also widely used. If you want to learn Spanish, you can try Babbel (iPhone, Android). 

WhatsApp (iPhone, Android) is widely used for both personal and professional communication. Whether tour agencies, car rental companies or cab drivers - everyone in Mexico likes to communicate via WhatsApp.

Offline use

As you cannot always rely on mobile data (especially when driving in more remote areas), it is advisable to also use the offline function of an app if this is available. 

With Google Translate, for example, you can download the desired languages via Wi-Fi onto your device. This lets you translate them later even without an internet connection. To do this, open the Translate app and at the bottom, select the language you want to download. 

You can also save an area from Google Maps to your phone or tablet and use it when you're offline. To do this, open Google Maps and search for a desired place. At the bottom, tap the name or address of the place and tap <More> and then <Download offline map>.

Logo Casa Loltún

Money and ATMs

The currency is the Mexican peso. 20 Mexican pesos are roughly equivalent to one euro/US dollar. You can see the current exchange rate with a currency converter. Rarely, if ever, is USD or other currencies accepted. And even if you can pay with US dollars, you should only do so in an emergency, because the exchange rate of the dealer will always be very unfavorable for you.

Money exchange

You should only exchange money at regulated offices ("Casa de Cambio" in Spanish) or bank branches. You can already see at the entrance the exchange rate for example of the dollar or euro against the Mexican peso. 

But you can also simply withdraw cash from an ATM and this is actually your best option. If you arrive at the airport in Mérida, there are several ATMs right in the airport, for example in the airport lobby near the stairs leading to the second level. 


You’ll find ATMs all over the place, but if possible, you should only use ATMs from the better-known major banks such as Santander, Scotia Bank or HSBC to avoid problems. The fees can vary and should be at least less than 5 US dollars per withdrawal. Santander Bank, for example, is rather inexpensive. 

Also avoid ATMs that are sometimes built into the walls of buildings. Fraudsters sometimes install skimming devices to steal financial data from debit and credit cards. It is best to use an ATM in a bank building. This is good for both your safety and privacy and you may also have someone to contact if problems arise.

As a general tip, most ATMs will ask if you want to use the exchange rate of the provider. Decline if asked, as the rate is usually about 5% worse than the exchange rate from your bank. If you refuse the exchange rate of the provider, you will of course still get your money (but based on the exchange rate of your bank). So, decline the local bank's ATM rate as your bank will give you a better rate.

Incidentally, Mexicans are paid every 15 days, on the 15st and 30th of each month (día de nomina in Spanish). You should therefore expect longer queues at ATMs on the following two or three days - especially during afternoons when everyone gets off work. So if possible, avoid this time.

ATMs are of course a popular target for crooks, so take extra care. It is generally best to only use the machines during the day and inside secured buildings.


If you pay in cash (especially at petrol stations), you should be a little careful, as unfortunately there are occasionally scammers. For example, if you pay with a 500 peso bill, your counterpart will quickly exchange it for a 50 peso bill and show you that you have made a mistake and have to pay more. You should therefore always be careful when dealing with money.

Logo Casa Loltún

Payment by card

The major credit cards like Visa, MasterCard, and American Express are widely accepted in Mexico (especially of course in the big cities and tourist hotspots). In smaller stores or from street vendors, only cash is usually accepted. Debit cards will typically only work with ATMs (to withdraw cash), as most Mexican businesses don't have a PIN machine.

As everywhere else, however, a credit card terminal can sometimes not work (I once stood in an ice cream parlor for half an hour because of this), so it's always advisable to have enough cash with you. Also because you can't pay everywhere with a card. Smaller stores often don't accept cards, in remote areas there is sometimes no (or no stable) online connection and you can only pay fees on the highway in cash.

When making a card payment, if you might be asked whether you want to be charged in pesos or USD, always have it charged in pesos because otherwise you'll get a much worse exchange rate. As a precaution, you should always briefly check that the amount in pesos is correct.

Logo Casa Loltún

Transfer Money to Mexico

If you want to transfer money to Mexico, you should avoid normal bank transfers, as the exchange rate is usually poor and the fees are usually very high. There are various online payment providers available. 

One recommendation is Wise (ex TransferWise), one of the leading providers. With Wise you can send money to 70+ countries, including Mexico. Wise also offers a debit card to pay or withdraw money in more than 200 countries.

Logo Casa Loltún


And it may come as a surprise, but shopping in Mexico is not usually haggling. It may be okay for obviously inflated prices for tourist souvenirs, but you shouldn't do it in stores and local markets. Even for larger orders of several thousand US dollars, they are reluctant to negotiate and even then typically only grant a few percent discount.

Logo Casa Loltún

Tap Water

You should not drink tap water in Mérida. In all Mexico is not safe to drink for anyone. You can get large water bottles (a "garrafón" - a five gallon water jug) in every supermarket, which you can use for coffee, tea or even for brushing your teeth etc.. 

Alternatively, you can boil the tap water or use a filterable water bottle. All restaurants use filtered water (also for ice cubes), but you should not necessarily buy water ice from the nearest street vendor, for example, if you have a nervous stomach.

Logo Casa Loltún


Mexican cuisine is a combination of pre-Columbian and Spanish cuisine, with influences from French, Arabic and Caribbean traditions. 

The north of Mexico is more strongly influenced by Spanish cuisine, while indigenous cuisine has been more strongly preserved in the south. Beans, corn, chilies, fruit and vegetables are central components of Mexican cuisine.

Meal Times 

The typical meal times in Mexico are later than in most other countries.  It is not unusual for breakfast places to open after 9:00 am. Especially on weekends, Mexicans like to eat a late brunch. 

Lunch usually starts between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm and dinner usually starts at 8:00 pm. In more touristy places such as Cancun or Playa del Carmen, however, meal times are often geared towards international guests. 

Seating and menues

In Mexico - as in other parts of America - it is unusual for you to choose your own table in a restaurant. Usually, a waitress will be at the entrance to show you to a table. Otherwise, you should simply wait until someone comes. 

Away from tourist hotspots, little English is spoken, which means that menus are often only available in Spanish. A translation program on your cell phone that automatically translates the words captured by the camera can be of great help here (see the section on useful apps).

Service and Payment

As an American or European, you are probably used to the waiter occasionally asking you if you have any requests. In Mexican restaurants, however, it is up to you to speak up if you want something. 

Eye contact or a polite hand gesture is best, although Mexicans like to wave clearly to get the waiter's attention. This also applies to the bill. In some countries, you automatically receive the bill at the end of your meal. Or the waiter will ask if he can bring you anything else and if you don't want anything else, the bill will follow. 

This is also due to the fact that in other countries tables are sometimes reserved one after the other. That doesn't happen in Mexico. You can stay as long as you like and if you want the bill, you have to actively ask for it. In Spanish, you say "la cuenta, por favor", which means "the bill, please".

Logo Casa Loltún

Fruit and Vegetables

In Mexico, you should not eat fresh fruit and vegetables without washing them properly. In the vegetable sections of Mexican supermarkets you will often find disinfectants such as Microdyn and BacDyn. These preparations are added to water, then the fruit or vegetables are placed in the water for a few minutes and this is supposed to kill various microorganisms.

You should leave the fruit or vegetables in the water for at least three to five minutes. For foods that are more soiled, such as lettuce, up to 10 minutes. The water solution should get into all folds and crevices. You can generally use tap water with Microdyne or BycDyn, but I personally would not.

Logo Casa Loltún


People in Mexico are often relying on tips and tipping is seen as an "unspoken duty" - similar to the USA - even if it is of course voluntary and should depend on the quality of service. 

The tip is called "propina" in Mexico and is best given in Mexican pesos. It's best to get yourself some 10 peso coins and a bundle of 20 pesos bills right at the start of your trip so that you always have a suitable tip ready.

Luggage porter and housekeeping

A luggage porter gets 20-50 pesos per piece of luggage (depending on the hotel and service). For housekeeping you should give 20-40 pesos per day.  In most hotels, there is also a tip box at reception where tips are collected and then distributed to the staff.

Cab ride and petrol stations

For a cab ride, it is sufficient to round out the metered fare to the nearest 10 peso. If the fare was negotiated, no tip is necessary, but for an extra service - such as help with luggage - you can give 20-30 pesos.  Colectivo drivers do not usually receive a tip. 

At the (generally state-run) petrol stations there are always service staff who will refuel your car as required and usually also wash the windows. Depending on the level of service, you can tip 10-30 pesos. 

Tour guides

A tour guide gets 50-100 pesos per person for a half-day tour and double that for a full-day tour. It is also not uncommon for tour guides to receive no salary and live only from tips. 

If you know this, you should be more generous (also depending on the size of the tour group). The drivers of tours or coaches expect a tip of 40 to 60 pesos. They also need this to make a living and often have a small tip box at the door.

Restaurants, bars, or cafes

In Mexico, a tip of around 10-15% is expected in restaurants, bars, or cafes. In budget locations it is more likely to be 10% and in upscale places or with very good service 15%. 

It is unusual for restaurants to add the tip to the bill themselves, but you should still make sure that the tip is not already included. If there is a tip directly on the bill, it is usually 15%. So if you see an item like servicio incluido (service included) or propina incluido (tip included) on the bill, you don't need to give another tip.

Logo Casa Loltún

Buying and Drinking Alcohol

Don't skip over this too quickly. It's not just a question of whether you are of legal age, Mexico has a few more laws about this. But to answer this question quickly: the legal minimum age for alcohol consumption in Mexico is 18. 

As in most countries, young adults must show a photo ID to buy alcohol, although this is often less strict in Mexico. Since the minimum drinking age in the United States is 21, many young Americans between the ages of 18 and 21 are particularly interested in traveling to Mexico.

Usually, you can buy alcohol in stores and supermarkets around the clock in Mexico. However, there are states where the sale of alcohol is restricted to certain times of the day. 

The state of Quintana Roo (with Cancún, Playa del Carmen, etc.) is one of these. In Quintana Roo, the sale of alcohol in stores is restricted from Monday to Saturday from 9:00 am to midnight and on Sundays from 9:00 am to 5:00 am. In the state of Yucatán (with Mérida, Valladolid, etc.), alcohol may only be sold in stores until 5:00 am on Sundays. 

However, the restrictions only apply to the sale of alcohol in stores and not to restaurants or bars. Furthermore, Mexican states and municipalities can also issue a so-called "ley seca" (drought law), in which case the sale of alcohol in stores is completely prohibited. This can happen, for example, when elections are due.

Finally, perhaps another surprise: drinking alcohol in public (in an open container) is not permitted in any state of Mexico. However, it is actually tolerated everywhere and most tourists are probably not even aware of this fact. So don't be surprised if you can also buy alcoholic drinks to take away.

Logo Casa Loltún

Mérida International Airport

Mérida International Airport (respectively official the Manuel Crescencio Rejón International Airport, code: MID) is located on the southern edge of the city, about 4.5 miles or 7.5 km southwest of the central plaza in the city. 

The airport is mostly used as a domestic flight hub. There are multiple flights daily to México City. But there are also direct flights to and from USA (Miami, Dallas and Houston), Canada (Toronto), Guatemala (Guatemala City and Flores) or Cuba (Havana and Camagüey). 

The airport building

The airport is pretty small and there is only one passenger terminal with two floors. Downstairs is the main entrance, the check-in and the arrivals area with baggage reclaim. There are also car rental agencies, cab ranks, snack bars and souvenir stores. 

On the upper floor is the departure area with the security checkpoints. This area also contains restaurants and food stands, duty-free stores, some VIP lounges and the eleven boarding gates (from C1 to C11).

How long before departure should you be at the airport?

From the city center, the trip to the airport by car takes about 20 minutes, depending on where you are driving from and, of course, the traffic situation. 

If you can check in online (or already have your boarding pass) and do not need to check in any baggage, it is sufficient to be at the airport a good hour before departure. If you have to check in with baggage, you should plan 1.5 to 2 hours.

Va y Ven Mérida Airport Buses

Va y Ven means "come and go" in English. An airport bus from Va y Ven runs approximately every 30 minutes and stops at the TAME bus station in the city center (near Santa Lucía Park) as well as at Paseo 60 mall or the Hotel Fiesta Americana (at the northern end of Paseo de Montejo). If your destination is close to one of the bus stops, this can be a inexpensive option, otherwise I would take a cab.

Cabs at the airport

There are official airport cabs and only these are allowed to pick up passengers directly at the airport. However, there are no restrictions on the outward journey to the airport. The airport cab service has a fixed price for a ride to the city center. You can get your ticket at one of the ticket counters in the airport lobby. 

Uber drivers (and others) are not allowed to enter the airport's property and can only pick up passengers on the road adjacent to the airport. If you absolutely want to use Uber or a similar service, you will have to walk about 10 minutes (with your luggage) until you reach the airport exit and are completely off airport property. And then you also have to be prepared for a longer wait. Since the airport is a bit outside, there are usually few Uber drivers around.

Other transfer options from the airport to the city

You can of course also hire a car directly at the airport and get to your destination straight away. Local providers in Mérida also offer a pick-up service from the airport. Another option is to book a private shuttle transfer in advance. 

For the sake of completeness, there are also public buses (bus line 125, SITUR) and minibuses (collectivos) that will take you to the city center (a couple of times per hour). These leave from the main road outside the airport and are the cheapest travel options, but also the least comfortable.

Cancun airport

Cancun International Airport is the closest airport with a wider choice of international flights. ADO offers a direct bus connection between Cancun and Mérida (2 to 4 times a day). 

Logo Casa Loltún

ADO and Autobuses de Noreste

ADO (Autobuses de Oriente) is the most important bus company. All states and almost all cities south of Mexico City can be reached with ADO. There are busses to or from Mérida from early morning to late in the evening in all directions (e.g. Bacalar, Campeche, Cancun, Chetumal, Chichén Itzá, Playa del Carmen, Tulum or Valladolid). 

For example there are almost 50 buses every day from Cancun to Mérida (also directly from the Cancun airport, in front of the arrivals doors). Different classes are available and a ride from Cancun to Mérida (one way) starts for example about $30. 

ADO Bus stations and tickets

The ADO main bus station in Mérida is "Terminal de Autobuses Mérida" (TAME), Calle 69 No. 554, between Calle 68 and 70. It is a few blocks west of the city centre. On the website and app, the main bus station is referred to as "Mérida Centro Historico." 

There are also many other ADO terminals in Mérida. If you want to buy a bus ticket online as a foreigner, there is a trick: you have to use the app. The official phone apps for bus companies do accept foreign credit cards even though the websites do not.

Different ADO classes

ADO offers three different vehicle classes: ADO / ADO OCC, ADO GL and ADO Platino. ADO / ADO OCC are comparable to normal tour buses. For a longer journey or at night, the higher class buses with the designation GL or Platino (if available) are recommended. They are a more expensive, but worth it. 

GL stands for Gran Lujo (Great Luxury) and is about 20% more expensive, has an additionally entertainment system, electrical connections and complimentary beverages. The highest standard is Platino with a surcharge of approx. 50% compared to ADO / ADO OCC. 

You get more comfort and additionally a tray table, your own 12″ touch screen TV, wifi and electrical outlet + USB. The seats here can be fully reclined. There are also differences in journey times. Buses in the higher class often travel non-stop between larger cities, usually via highways or expressways. In the lower class, detours and stops in small towns are possible.

Autobuses del Noreste

There is also Autobuses del Noreste in Mérida with the terminal at Calle 67, No. 529 (Calle 67 x 50), a few blocks east of the centre.

Logo Casa Loltún

Public Transportation System

Mérida has a public transportation system that uses buses and vans. If you want to travel within the city of Mérida, you can do so with the municipal buses, but it's not really recommendable. The ticket for adults costs 7,5 pesos, children, students, the elderly and the disabled are discounted. 

There are many bus staging areas in the city. The main one in the heart of the centro is on Calle 59 between Calle 56 and 58. Usually, buses stop only at fixed bus stops. However, in some places, you can hold your hand out to stop one. 

When you want to exit a bus, press the buzzer to alert the driver. And please note, you’ll find some street numbers repeated in different neighborhoods in Mérida.

Logo Casa Loltún


Other alternative means of transport in Mexico are so-called collectivos. A colectivo is a large van or a small bus which can accommodate about 15 people. Collectivos are always cash only and by far the cheapest form of public transportation available. They are typically only used by the locals, as a tourist you should feel a certain sense of adventure if you want to use them. 

They are usually privately owned and might not have a strict schedule. This is also due to the fact that they only set off when the bus is full, which can sometimes take longer. They will usually pack as many people in them as possible. 

Compared to the buses, shorter distances are travelled. The advantage of a colectivo is they usually run in one direction (the destination is written on the windshields) but you can get off anywhere if you tell the driver beforehand. But you should better pay attention along the way, so you don’t miss your stop.

If you want to take a collectivo (or public transportation in general), try to avoid the time between 7:00 am and 9:00 am and between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. This is when people crowd together like sardines in a can on the way to and from work and also when the risk of pickpocketing is greatest.

Logo Casa Loltún

Public and private Taxis

Taxis are plentiful in Mérida. Taxis mostly do not have meters (otherwise they are marked with "taximetro") but charge a fixed amount, depending upon where you want to go - so make sure you agree on the fare before getting in. If you want to be picked up, you should only pay one way. 

Short cab rides often cost no more than 3 to 5 US dollars. The base rate is about 20 pesos and the first mile charged is about 25 pesos - but - as written before - it's best to agree on a fare before getting in. 

Cabs with a taximeter have a day rate and a night rate. Make sure that the night rate is not set during the day. Another method of fraud in Mexico is unregistered cabs, which are sometimes operated by professional criminals. 

For this reason, and also because of the more transparent (and somewhat cheaper) prices, many people prefer to use ride-sharing services such as Uber (see below). Opposite Parque Santa Lucia, on the corner of 55 x 60, for example, there is a cab rank where you will usually find a cab.

Uber, Cabify and others

There is also Uber in Mérida. An Uber ride (make sure you have a México SIM card with data) is usually cheaper than a taxi, especially if you're going long distances. The Uber app is convenient and reliable. 

An Uber ride of 10 minutes costs around 40 pesos. Apart from Uber, there are also several other rideshares in Mérida like Cabify, DiDi or inDrive (with mostly lower fares compared to Uber). But one the best way to get around Mérida is in fact Uber.

Logo Casa Loltún

Renting a Car

When you travel to Mérida you should consider renting a car. Most of the day trips from Mérida are a little out of the center. However, if you are intending to stay mainly in the city, you do not need a rental car.


If you are under 25 years of age, car rental is not possible or only against additional payment. The minimum age for driving a car is 18 years and you need a driver's license with the Roman alphabet in Mexico, otherwise an international driver's license is required. You will also need a credit card and your passport.

Car rental companies

I don't recommend booking a rental car through a broker or a platform such as Expedia, because it gets complicated if there are problems. At the airport in Mérida (at the main exit) there are the usual companies such as Avis, National, Hertz, Europcar, Dollar or Fox. 

When renting a car at the airport, however, there is an additional 19% federal tax that you have to pay. Most of the well-known providers such as Budget, Avis, Alamo etc. are also comparatively expensive and the service is inconsistent

Very good local providers in Mérida are Easy Way (on Calle 60, between Calle 55 and Calle 57, half a block from Parque de Santa Lucía, next to the Holiday Inn Express) and Yucatan Vacations (directly on the side of the Hotel Fiesta Americana opposite the Holiday Inn Mérida, Calle 56-A, No. 451, other providers such as Avis, Budget, Europcar and Firefly also have an office there). 

Fees and insurance options are in both cases transparent and affordable and the service is also good. Both deliver the car to the airport or pick it up from the airport. After returning the car, they will also take you back to the airport or to your hotel. It is best to ask.

Availability of rental cars

The availability of rental cars depends on the time of year. During the vacation season, cars may not be available if you don't book them in time. Demand is particularly high at Christmas and if you are unlucky, even a reservation will not help you. 

Car insurance

You need local liability insurance in Mexico to drive a rental car in Mexico. It doesn't matter if you may already have liability insurance, you must take it out locally in Mexico. This is required by law. However, the legally required liability insurance is not sufficient, so fully comprehensive insurance is strongly recommended.

Incidentally, most car insurance policies that may be included in credit card contracts only cover the car you rent. But you also need liability insurance to cover injuries and damage to others. They are usually not third party insurance either, but only cover your excess if you take out third party insurance with an excess.

General tips (important!)

Don’t be fooled by the online prices for some car rentals. When you pick your car, you suddenly have to pay $20-35 extra per day for an obligatory insurance. This can double the price and is only an information in the small print. 

A general recommendation is to take a short video (and photos if necessary) of the condition of the car (once around) when you pick it up. You should also check that all lights and indicators are working and that no warning lights are on.

You should also know that rental cars in Mexico are rarely handed over with a full tank of gas. Furthermore... always have pesos for the tolls, as cards aren’t accepted. And if you haven't driven a car in Mexico before: watch out for the so-called "topes", which are speed bumps that usually appear unexpectedly in front of you and are sometimes present in Mexico in an inflationary manner.

Logo Casa Loltún

Filling up a Car

Almost all petrol stations are from Pemex - the Mexican state oil company. All Pemex have the same price (in each area). All gas stations in Mexico are full service. You do not fill up yourself, but there are attendants that pump the gas for you. 

You simply tell the gas station attendant how many pesos you want to fill up for. If you want to fill up, say "llénelo, por favor" (full tank please). Note that the double "ll" is pronounced like a "y" in Spanish. It can happen that credit cards cannot be used, so you should always have cash with you.

There are not always gas stations on long stretches of highway, so it is always advisable to fill up when you see a gas station. If you are driving from Cancun to Merida, for example, there is only one gas station after Cancun, near Valladolid.


Unfortunately, in some cases there is cheating. Always make sure that the counter of the fuel gauge is at 0, that the correct fuel nozzle (on your side) is used, check if they added the amount, you asked for and that the gasoline ends up in your car (getting out is no mistake) and pay very close attention to the change. If a service fluid is to be topped up, be vigilant.

If you pay by credit card and are told that the transaction didn't work and you should pay cash, you'll probably pay twice (so ask to see the receipt for the cancelation). 

And if you are asked for US dollars, the exchange rate will of course be very unfavorable for you (so again - always have pesos with you). This may all sound worse than it is, but you should be careful - caution is the mother of wisdom.

Logo Casa Loltún

Mobile Navigation

If you want to use your cell phone in the car for navigation, you can use Goole Maps, or Waze, for example. Google Maps has to be the number one travel app in the world and is also the owner of Waze. Coverage is generally good in the cities in Mexico, but can be spotty or non-existent in some rural areas. 

If in doubt, you can download the maps before you set off and then use them offline. Google StreetView coverage is also very good. And another tip: If you rent a car, take a portable cell phone holder with you, it's only a small item but immensely helpful for a safe ride.

Logo Casa Loltún

Parking in Mérida

On street parking is a bit difficult right in the city center and there is no street parking possibility within about 3 blocks of Plaza Grande. And what you should know: Parking is generally prohibited where the curbs are painted yellow. 

But there are several off street parking lots. Just look for a big capital E (which stands for Estacionamiento - Parking lot). Parking costs around 30 pesos per hour and don't forget the closing time.

Some good parking spaces

You can find parking lots for example on Calle 60 between Calle 53 and 55 next to Santa Lucia park (E. Portales de Santa Lucía), on Calle 60 between Calle 53 and 55 next to the Holiday Inn Express (E. Merida II), on Calle 62 between Calle 55 and 57 (E. Público Chaya Maya), on Calle 62 between Calles 59 and 61 (E. Louvre), or at the corner of Calle 63x64 (E. Público). This are just a few suggestions - there are many other parking lots in the area.

Logo Casa Loltún

Casa Loltún Vacation Rentals

Rent a wonderful restored 19th-century colonial house or a new apartment in the historic city center of Mérida. This is an amazing opportunity for anyone looking for a unique and beautiful place to stay!

Get ready to be blown away by a unique blend of colonial heritage and modern architecture and dive straight into the vibrant life of the city!

Casa Loltun Colonial House
bottom of page