Its extensive coastlines of more than 10,000km include the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Mexico has pleasant and warm weather, unique food, art and archaeology, pyramids, music, history, museums, haciendas, superb architecture and 21st century cities, weather from snow mountains in the Sierras, to rainy jungles in the Southeast and desert in the Northwest, numerous golf courses, excellent fishing, and world-class destinations like Acapulco, Cancun, Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Mazatlan. Mexico is ranked as the 7th major destination for foreign visitors, according to the World Trade Organization.
Mexico is officially called the United Mexican States (Spanish: Estados Unidos Mexicanos).
Mexico is one of the most popular tourist countries on the planet. Much of the tourist industry revolves around the beach resorts as well as the altiplano in the central part of the country. Visiting the northern interior allows visitors to get off the beaten path a bit. American tourists tend to predominate on the Baja peninsula and the more modern beach resorts (Cancún and Puerto Vallarta), while European tourists congregate around the smaller resort areas in the south like Playa del Carmen and colonial towns like San Cristobal de las Casas and Guanajuato.
Mexico uses the metric system for all measurements. All weather forecasts are in Celsius (°C).
The climate varies dramatically across Mexico’s vast landscape. In the northernmost area of the Baja Peninsula, on the Pacific coast, the climate is Mediterranean, whereas the climate is arid on the other side of the peninsula, facing the Sea of Cortez. As you go south on the Baja Peninsula, the climate changes to become a subtropical sub-arid/semi-arid climate, until you reach La Paz and Cabo, which has a unique tropical desert climate. On the mainland, the northern area of Mexico tends to be mountainous and chilly, and the lower areas have an arid climate. A tropical climate prevails from around the Tampico area down to Cancun, as well as the adjacent side on the Pacific.
High and low, rugged mountains; low coastal plains; high plateaus; temperate plains with grasslands and Mezquite trees in the northeast, desert and even more rugged mountains in the northwest, tropical rainforests in the south and southeast Chiapas, Campeche, Yucatán y Quintana Roo semiarid in places like Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosí and temperate coniferous and deciduous forests in the central part of the country Mexico City.
- Mexico uses the 24-hour clock system for time keeping.
Mexico observes daylight savings time (DST) the same way as the US prior to 2007, from the first Sunday in April to last Sunday in October. This now includes the tropical regions of southern Mexico as well. There will be several weeks each year when the US is on DST, but Mexico is not.
There are a few exceptions to this rule. The state of Sonora south of Arizona does not observe DST, since Arizona doesn’t have it either. Baja California is the only Mexican state that followed the US in 2007 and now observes DST from the second Sunday in March to the first Sunday in November. Baja California Sur, however, continues to follow the old rules like the rest of Mexico observing DST. This means that BC and BCS are on the same time for three weeks of the year, despite being in different time zones.
Tourist Tax Law Mexico has an established tourist exit tax of MX$594 (oct 2021) which is normally included in your plane ticket when you depart the country or if departing over land, you pay it at the border post. However, a law has been introduced whereby entry into Mexico will also require the payment of a tourist tax of MX$594. This entry tax now seems to be at all land border crossings. Just to reiterate, you now pay an entry and exit tax for Mexico.
According to the Mexican Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores), certain foreign nationals who intend to stay in Mexico for fewer than 180 days for the purpose of tourism or business, or 30 days if in transit, may enter Mexico visa-free. This service is available to citizens of all European Union nations, plus Andorra, Argentina, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Liechtenstein, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Malaysia, Micronesia, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City and Venezuela.
Other visa exempt persons include:
- Citizens of any country who hold a valid visa for, or who are permanent residents of, Canada, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States or the Schengen Area.
- Citizens of any country who are permanent residents of Chile, Colombia or Peru.
- Residents of French overseas departments and territories, Danish territories, and Dutch Caribbean territories.
Note that for British nationals, only holders of British Citizen, British National (Overseas) and British Subject passports are eligible for visa-free entry.
See the official list for who may enter visa-free.
An Electronic authorization visa (Autorización Electrónica) for travelling to Mexico is available on the Internet for nationals from Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, provided that they travel to Mexico by air. Authorisation is valid for 30 days and a single entry. Upon arrival, visitors are authorised to stay in Mexico as tourists for up to 180 days.
Other nationalities must contact a Mexican consulate in order to find out the requirements for citizens of their country, and may have to apply for and obtain a visa in advance of travel. If you are in need of other information, Mexico has diplomatic offices in many cities around the world. The consulates in the USA are typically open for business to non-citizens (by telephone or in-person) only 08:30-12:30.