Tour Mexico will try to give you a broad perspective of touring, living or vacationing in visiting Mexico. To get more detailed information on cities check out Mexico-Cities.com.
Mexico is a large country with almost 2 million square kilometers. The topography is very diverse, and the climate reflects this fact. At any time of the year you can find an area of Mexico with a perfect climate. Many parts of the central highlands (such as Guadalajara) and some coastal locations (such as Ensenada), have "perfect" weather all year round.
An interactive Map of Mexico Check Climate Data.
TOUR-MEXICO splits the country into 4 main geographical areas as seen on Virtual Mexico:
There are approximately four climate zones in Mexico. 1) The Baja has a climate that varies considerably, from Mediteranian-like on its northern west coast to its desert-like east coast and then to dry-subtropical further south. 2) The Mexican coastal areas get hot and humid weather in the summer and ideal weather in the winter. 3) The central highlands get nearly ideal weather year-round. 4) The northern border desert areas have very hot weather in the summer and cool nights in the winter with some snow on occasions.
Mexico's economy is driven by tourism,
industrial production, oil and gas production, textiles and clothing, and agriculture. Americans visit Mexico more often than any other country in the world. Hundreds of North American factories have been built near the border areas and major cities, to take advantage of the lower labor costs. Mexico has 1/5 of the worlds oil reserves.
Mexico produces and exports a wide selection of agricultural goods. Just about every kind of fruit and vegetable is grown on giant modern irrigated farms and small family plots.
The population is approximately 100 million, and it is very diverse. More than 50 distinct Indian cultures exist together with the Spanish speaking 'Mestizos' (mixed Indian and European, who make up the main population). Although Spanish is the official language and is spoken by the majority, many different indigenous languages are spoken as well. There is also a growing population of Norte Americanos (applied to Americans, Canadians, and Europeans), since many people have decided to retire to Mexico and benefit from the lower cost of living, and the wonderful climates. Large expat communities exist around Guadalajara, Mexico City, Ensenada, San Carlos and the Puerto Vallarta area.
Although the highway system is generally not up to American and Canadian standards, many excellent highways can be found in Mexico, and many other roads only require a little patience to take you to marvelous sights. Volcanoes, vast deserts, tropical jungles, miles of deserted beaches, ancient ruins, modern cities, quaint villages, and posh resorts, can all be found in Mexico.
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Mexico has an excellent bus system. First class buses are a preferred way to travel for many Norte Americanos, but many other buses are fine too, and much less expensive. Trains also are available, but the standards do vary. For many people, air travel is the way to go. There are many excellent airports in the country. All resort areas are served by airports, and many people cruise by boat to coastal destinations.
If you drive to Mexico, and many do, the one thing that can cause you problems is driving a car in Mexico without MEXICAN auto insurance. Don't do it!! A car accident in Mexican law is treated like a felony, and unless a party to an accident can prove financial capabilities, he/she can, be jailed for up to three days, until a magistrate determines who is responsible for the accident. If you have Mexican auto insurance, that is proof enough, and you won't be held unless a death or serious injury occurred. You can purchase Mexican insurance easily over the Internet or at the borders before entering Mexico.
We do not recommend that you drive the back or secondary roads of Mexico at night. The secondary roads can be hazardous due to poor lighting, pot holes, obstructions, or livestock on the roads. Often they have no shoulders, so disabled cars cannot get off the roads fully. Since automobile accidents can cause problems, don't put yourself in a situation where an accident is more likely to happen. Drive carefully, even if the locals don't, and you should have no problems driving in Mexico.
Most of the main highways are 4 lane freeways now, although many of them are toll highways. These toll highways are generally safe to drive at night as they are patrolled, but cut your speed by 10-20 KPH at night. The automotive mechanics in Mexico are legendary for their ability to repair any vehicle, at reasonable prices.
It would be difficult to name an activity that you like to do, that you can't do in Mexico. In the larger cities, you can attend events such as the opera, symphony, bull fights, horse racing, movies, dog racing, professional sports, etc. Smaller centers have folk festivals, stage plays, fiestas, flea markets, street musicians, etc. Most places have movie theaters, golf courses, and wonderful plazas where people gather in the evenings.
The coastal areas offer marvelous fishing, diving, snorkeling, and beach activities. The highlands offer great climates, cultural events, and the exploring of ancient ruins and colonial buildings.
Litter can be a problem in some areas of Mexico. Even if there was a will to clean it up, tax dollars are probably not available for it. This is becoming less of a problem over the years.
Shopping is varied and generally inexpensive. The large centers have modern shopping malls, and every settlement has many street vendors offering a wide variety of hand crafts and food.
Mexico has an excellent and inexpensive health care system. Many larger centers offer first class hospitals, and a full range of health care. Many North Americans now travel to Mexico for dental work and minor surgery, as prices are considerably lower. Pharmaceuticals are widely available and at prices lower than the U.S. or Canada. Doctors are well trained and some even do house calls! Both private and public health insurance plans are available, and they are inexpensive compared to the USA.
Violent crime in most parts of Mexico is less of a problem than in the United States or Canada. Guns are not allowed, although the drug gangs sure have plenty. Mexican law is hard on violent criminals. You can feel much safer walking the streets in most of Mexico than in most other cities in North America. The larger cities such as Mexico City have a crime problem like any large city, and the border areas have higher crime rates. Crime is increasing near the resort cities too, and may rise to US levels eventually. Most crime in Mexico is property crime, or drug related, and most murders are among competing drug gangs. Drug cartels in Sinaloa State and Baja California are particularly violent.
Mexican people are generally friendly and helpful. They almost always return a greeting, and usually with a smile. Speak a little Spanish, and they will go out of their way to be helpful.
The border areas do have problems with crime, but some of the horror stories you may have heard are greatly exaggerated. The best way to avoid crime in Mexico is to not get drunk and disorderly, and to use a little common sense about flashing money or valuables. These rules apply no matter what country you are visiting. In Mexico the vast majority of assaults occur outside of bars at night to people that have been drinking.
Corruption exists, but it is not as bad as you might think. Corruption exists in the U.S. and Canada as well, but in different forms. Mexican government workers and police are paid very low wages, and they sometimes try to supplement their incomes by collecting "fines". You can decide whether the "fine" is justified or not, but remember, it is a part of their way of life, and in spite of official condemnations, it is not considered a serious crime by many people. It also keeps taxes low.
Mexico offers a wide variety of excellent dining opportunities. Any type of food is available, and in the better restaurants, the food preparation, presentation and service are among the best in the world. Prices vary from very low, to as much as you would pay in a nice restaurant anywhere.
If you can speak a little Spanish, you can experience excellent values and a wide variety of cuisines. If you limit yourself to English speaking dining establishments, your choices will be more limited, and the prices will be higher generally. Street vendors offer snacks at very low prices. Don't be afraid to try them, but use one that the locals are using. Mexicans don't want to eat contaminated food any more than you do.
Avoid drinking tap water. Most restaurants use purified water in their food preparation areas, but ask if you are not sure. If you are not sure that purified water is being used, avoid salads and other raw foods. You can drink the excellent beer and wines with complete confidence. Mexico produces very good beer, brandy and tequila.
You can find a great variety of tourist accommodations in Mexico. As with meals, if you speak a little Spanish, and check out the locally owned hotels, you can get incredible bargains. If you stay at resort hotels, you may pay prices comparable with the United States, and you can feel comfortable speaking English.
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Mexican law allows foreigners to own real estate. There are special laws governing foreign ownership of land within 50 kilometers of the coast or 100 kilometers of the border. To 'buy' property in these areas, you may need to use a "Bank Trust" arrangement. Definitely consult a local lawyer and/or notary. In other areas of Mexico, full deeds of land can be purchased.
Many people have discovered that they can retire on their old age security pensions in Mexico, and live a comfortable lifestyle. But as prices go up in Mexico, this may be harder to accomplish in the future.
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