Where to stay in Cancun

Between 22 kilometers of beaches, with banks of fine sand, a tropical climate, nature, rivers, cenotes, caverns, natural parks and much more is what makes Cancun one of the best vacation destinations in Mexico and is a destination that you have to know, live and enjoy at least once in your life.

So get your suitcase ready, because in this article we will tell you everything, but everything you need to know to make your vacation in the pearl of the Caribbean Mexico, unforgettable, extroverted, adventurous and fascinating.

Travel guide to visit Cancun

Travel guide to visit Cancun

Cancun is by far one of the best places to vacation, to enjoy the beaches, to live and enjoy both day and night. Its beaches invite us to cool off during the day, enjoy a tour or water activity and its proximity to the Riviera Maya gives us a quick trip and access to other destinations.

Among these we have Puerto Morelos with its reefs, its jungle, its cenotes, Playa del Carmen with its Cosmopolitan life and the proximity to the best natural theme parks like Xcaret, Xplor and Xel Ha, the city of Tulum with a jungle, nomadic and luxury atmosphere.

And of course, these are just some of the many benefits of visiting Cancun, and in this Cancun travel guide we promise to tell you everything, but everything you need to know to make your visit to the city a true vacation experience.

cancun guide

Where is Cancun located?

The city of Cancun is a young city that is part of the state of Quintana Roo and the Yucatan Peninsula. It is considered a very young city and is still booming in its tourist growth.

It currently has approximately 722,800 inhabitants and is one of the main tourist cities in Mexico, thanks to its coasts and proximity to the Riviera Maya, making it one of the favorite destinations for millions of people in the world.

As a fact of interest, the state of Quintana Roo is the border state between Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Where Cancun is located

What is Cancun like?

Cancun is not a perfect city as many travel blogs or travel agencies tell you, because just as it has very well kept areas, it has some other “marginal” areas. Likewise, the city has two divisions, which are the Hotel Zone and Downtown.

Generally most visitors are attracted by the beaches, the hotels, the nightclubs and the various water activities during the day and tours at night, so they are always inclined to visit Cancun’s Hotel Zone.

How Cancun is

Meanwhile, the downtown area of the city is surrounded by bars, restaurants, stores, food places, plazas and some tourist attractions such as the Palapas Park, the Government Palace, the ceviche monument, etc., etc..

The ADO terminal is also very close to the downtown area and various 2 and star accommodations, as well as hostels. In fact, almost all people who come as backpackers, Europeans or on a budget look for accommodations in downtown Cancun.

There are other areas in the city, but they refer to the general population, where you will find cafes, squares, gyms, parks, etc., etc.. However, it should be noted that from the perspective of tourism, it does not have much to offer, so only the downtown area and the hotel zone are usually marketed.

What is Cancun like?

This is not Cancun

If you start looking for information about Cancun in different travel blogs, you will notice that many of them talk about places like Chichen Itza, Xcaret, Playa del Carmen, Coba and many others as if they were part of Cancun.

This is a big mistake, because imagine this scenario: You as a traveler go to Cancun wanting to know Chichen Itza, as you have already read about it, you were given to understand that it is in Cancun and when you arrive you find out that the archaeological site is located about 200 kilometers away.

What a hassle, right? Well, maybe you didn’t have the budget to afford a trip to the Chichen area, because this happens much more than you can imagine. So, now we are going to tell you that it is not Cancun, right?

  • Puerto Morelos is not Cancun, it is a neighboring municipality located about 30 minutes away from the city.
  • The route of the cenotes is not part of Cancun, it is part of Puerto Morelos.
  • Xoximilco Cancun and Xavage are the only parks of the Xcaret group that are part of Cancun.
  • Playa del Carmen is a sister city of Cancun, about an hour’s drive away.
  • Holbox Island is part of the municipality of Lazaro Cardenas and is located about 2 hours from Cancun.
  • Xcaret, Xplor, Xenses, Rio Secreto and Xnotes are natural and theme parks located outside Playa del Carmen and not Cancun.
  • Tulum is located about 2 hours drive from Cancun.
  • Xel Ha is 5 minutes from Tulum.
  • Chichen Itza is part of the state of Yucatan and as such is not Cancun.

We could go on with the list, but for now these are the most common places that are often confused with Cancun.

How to get out of Cancun Airport

Although there are many ways to get out of Cancun airport and transfer to your hotel in downtown, hotel zone or other places like Playa del Carmen or Tulum, we recommend you our Cancun Shuttle service.

Our shuttle service is comfortable, air conditioned, with cell phone charger and with capacity for up to 9 people. If you are traveling with babies we can help you by customizing the van with a child seat.

Also, if you are traveling with a person with walking problems, we have units equipped with rapa and if you are looking for a luxury transportation service, we can also offer it to you. If you want to know all our services click here.

cancun shuttle

How to get around downtown

As we mentioned before, if you are traveling by plane, your first stop will be the Cancun airport. And we also mentioned that the best option to go from the airport to your hotel is through private transportation services.

However, once you are at your hotel, you will surely want to start going out and getting to know the city. You can do this with the public transportation service, so let’s tell you a little bit about it.

If your hotel is located in the Hotel Zone, you will probably move around only to go to the beaches, visit the plazas and various tourist attractions. Well, in this case, the bus service is the best option for you.

This type of public transportation has a cost of 12.00 MXN and since you are staying in the hotel zone, it will be very easy to take it.

How to get around downtown

The buses that go in the direction of the Nichupte Lagoon, are the ones that go up to the top or in short to Dolphin Beach. Meanwhile, the ones that go in front of the lagoon, are the ones that go downtown.

And since Cancun’s hotel zone is very crowded by locals and tourists, you don’t have to wait for a minute, because the trucks are there for you.

Another type of transportation you can find in the hotel zone are cabs. But we really do not recommend it because of the high cost and just to give you an idea, if you are staying at the Aquamarina Beach Hotel (km 3.5) and want to go to Playa Tortugas (km 7) it can cost you almost 200.00 MXN for the service.

If you are staying in downtown Cancun, you have more transportation options, for example if you want to go to the hotel zone, you have to move to the main avenues where the route 1 and 2 buses pass, which are the ones that mostly go to the area.

You also have colectivos (combis) and cabs as means of transportation. The difference is that both trucks and colectivos in the urban area have a cost of 10.00 MXN and cabs usually cost between 50.00 MXN to 80.00 MXN.

cancun hotel zone

How to get from Cancun to the Riviera Maya

If we first understand that the Riviera Maya can be Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, Puerto Aventura, Tulum or Punta Allen, we can imagine that each destination that is part of the Riviera Maya has its time and distance to get there.

So how can you get to any of these destinations? Again we recommend our private transfer service that you can see here.

How to get from Cancun to the Riviera Maya

However, there are other ways, some cheaper and some more tedious to get there and now we will talk briefly about each one of them.

Private Transportation

Whether you are at the Cancun Airport or downtown, this is the best option to avoid any inconvenience or problem to get to the Riviera Maya.


ADO is a private company that offers transportation services throughout Mexico, although they are usually cheap, you share it with about 50 other people and you must consider that depending on “the class of the trip”, it may make some stops or not during the trip.


Normal public transportation does not take you very far and more than trips within the city, however if you are looking to go to other places that are not in Cancun such as Xcaret, Xel Ha or Tulum which are part of the Riviera Maya, you can make use of this means of transportation.

Generally it is a van that you share with about 12 other passengers and the cost is 45.00 MXN per person and per trip. But it is worth mentioning that depending on the destination, you can take 1 or 2 colectivos to go and to return.


Another option you have to travel are cabs, but be prepared, because the cost of this service can cost up to 7,000 MXN.

Car Rental

If what you want is to have the freedom to stop or even take a detour and visit other places during your trip to the Riviera Maya, renting a car is a very good option and can cost you almost 2,400.00 MXN per day.

As you can see, you have 5 options to move from Cancun to any other nearby city and it depends on the type of traveler and budget you have.

Where to stay in Cancun

Where to stay in Cancun

If you are looking for a cheap accommodation because you will be going out all the time to visit the city and nearby places, it is best to stay in downtown Cancun. As we mentioned before, this is the place where everything is much cheaper for tourists and locals alike.

To give you an idea, breakfast in downtown can cost you almost 50 or 80 pesos, while breakfast in the hotel zone can cost from 250.00 to 500.00 MXN.

If you are looking for beachfront hotels or hotels with a view of the Caribbean Sea, the hotel zone is the right place for you. You just have to remember and consider that the hotels here are usually 4 to 5 stars, luxury, all inclusive, some of them only for adults, others for families.

But each one of these hotels has its own prices that can range from 1500.00 to almost 5,000.00 per night. However, now we will leave you a list of the cheap and not so cheap hotels in the city and where you can stay.

Hoteles Económicos Hoteles de Lujo
Sina Suites
Beachscape Kin Ha Villas & Suites
Condominios Brisas
Aloft Cancun
Bel Air Collection Resort and Spa Cancun
Oasis Palm – All Inclusive
Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas
Flamingo Cancun Resort
Grand Park Royal Cancun
Hostel Ka Beh
Le Blanc Spa Resort
Oasis Smart
Nizuc Resort & Spa
Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancún
Grand Moon Palace Cancún All Inclusive
Hyatt Ziva Cancún
Beach Palace Hotel Resort Cancún
The Royal Sands Resort & Spa All Inclusive
Hard Rock Hotel Cancún

Where to Eat in Cancun

If you decide to stay in a luxury, 5-star, all-inclusive hotel, you won’t have to worry about food, since many of these accommodations have up to 8 restaurants that prepare all kinds of food.

From Italian food, to Mexican food and of course not forgetting the Asian gastronomy or some delicious Spanish dishes and of course, the star of the show: Seafood.

Remember that luxury hotels are part of the hotel zone and as we have just mentioned, they include among their benefits to enjoy the food in their restaurants. This doesn’t mean that you have to stay there, because there are other places outside the hotel that you may fall in love with because of their view, their attention and the way they prepare their food.

Some of these places where you can eat in the hotel zone are:

  • Lorenzillo’s
  • Black Rose
  • Porfirio’s
  • Marineros
  • Cheester
  • El Fish Fritanga
  • Crab House
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Fred’s
  • Limoncello
  • Mocambo
  • Plaza La Isla
  • Chedraui Selecto

In some of them you can eat with a few pesos, for example at marinero’s, cheester, and plaza la isla (several Mexican food restaurants), while in others a meal can cost from 800.00 MXN to 2,500.00 MXN.

Meanwhile, if you are staying in downtown Cancun, forget about having lunch included as these hotels do not offer it, maybe some of them only offer breakfast. However, being in downtown, you will find a great variety of places to eat and of course very cheap.

Some of them we can name are:

  • Cheester
  • Marakame Café
  • The Cancun Grill
  • VIP
  • Sambors Restaurant
  • Casino Dubai Restaurant
  • Footcourt Plaza Las Americas
  • Footcourt Market 23
  • Rolandi restaurant
  • Palapas Park

Of course, this is just a short list of many more places to eat in Cancun and each one should be the one of your choice.

What to do in Cancun

Generally there are a lot of activities to do in Cancun, but hypothetically speaking about Cancun. Remember that many people confuse almost 80% of the Riviera Maya with Cancun.

Therefore, we will give you a list of things to do in Cancun and of course, speaking only of Cancun.

  • Enjoy the beaches.
  • Visit Plaza La Isla.
  • Visit the photo booth.
  • Ride a jet ski.
  • Drive a jet boat.
  • Take a sport fishing tour.
  • Visit Isla Mujeres
  • Camping in Isla Blanca
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Tour the pirate ship
  • Visit the night clubs
  • Enjoy the local gastronomy.
  • Cycle around the hotel zone.
  • Helicopter tour of the city.
  • Visit downtown Cancun.
  • Visit the 23rd Market.
  • Visit Cancun’s famous lighthouse.
  • Visit the ruins of El Rey.
  • Visit the San Miguel Ruins.
  • Visit the temple of the Alacran.
  • Visit the archaeological site of El Meco.
  • Visit the Mayan Museum.
  • Snorkel or dive in Musa.

This is our short list of things to do in Cancun and of course in another post, we will tell you more in depth about each of them.

Cancun Travel Tips

As you can see, this is the official Cancun travel guide and the last recommendations we will give you dear reader are the following.

  • Change your money to the local currency. This way you will avoid paying more
  • Your own money is not mandatory. Beware of those people who demand it.
  • Get to know the beaches. The beaches are the main attraction of the city.
  • Visit the archaeological sites in the hotel zone: Beyond thinking only of Chichen Itza, the city has 4 archaeological sites.
  • Get to know downtown Cancun. Downtown Cancun is an excellent place to get to know a little bit of the local culture.
  • A night out. If or if you have to spend a crazy night in the clubs.
  • Use public transportation. If you don’t need to go to far away places, use public transportation and save yourself a lot of money.
  • Beware of pickpockets. It should be noted that pickpockets do exist on public transportation buses, so be careful.
  • Always try to negotiate the price of tours and do not pay on the spot.
  • Buy with agencies. There are many scammers posing as agency representatives, it is best to go directly to the agency and buy your tour and not from street vendors.

And as a last recommendation, don’t forget to use our private transfer service to and from Cancun airport, we will be happy to assist you!

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