Travel to Mexico has been popular for decades largely in part to its proximity to the United States and the favorable exchange rate for U.S. dollars. Mexico is a large and diverse country, offering many economic levels of shopping, dining and lodging. Some prefer to travel to Mexico humbly, staying in simple hostels and eating from taco carts while other prefer to lodge at the highest of the high end resorts and to take advantage of the fine five-star dining opportunities. In short, how much money to bring depends on your personal tastes.
Mexico has very diverse accommodations available ranging from luxury resorts to youth hostels. These prices vary even more depending on what time of year that you travel, whether you are going to a tourist destination or a rural area and what the current exchange rate is. In a popular tourist destination, you will find the average hotel or resort will run approximately $100 to $200 per night for double occupancy. Of course, you can often find good package deals online. On the low end, you can get a simple hotel room that will be clean but rustic for approximately $20 to $40 per night, but those generally do not offer websites for booking. You can find booking information in regional guidebooks before you leave or wait until you arrive to find a hotel. If you want to go very high end, you can get a room at a luxury resort for between $300 and $800 per night. Either way, there is usually a 7 percent to 14 percent lodging tax depending on the state and city that you are staying in, so be sure to budget for that as well. As a general rule, you will get better deals in Mexico during the rainy season (June to October) than you will during winter months or holiday times.
Dining in Mexico can mean five-star restaurants and gourmet cuisine or noshing at the local taco cart or street stand. Many people have fear of stomach problems when eating at local restaurants or taco stands but Mexico has made many improvements in the areas of purified water and hygiene. You will find that the tourist restaurants and gourmet restaurant aren't really any cheaper than what you would expect in a city in the United States. Entrees can run from $12 to $25 per plate or more depending on the restaurant. Cocktails or drinks will run you $2 for a soda or water and $5 to $8 for a margarita or other alcoholic beverage. If you prefer to dine like the locals, you will find plenty of great, authentic Mexican food at bargain prices. You can easily dine on four to five tacos and a beer or soda for under $5. Street vendors offer fresh fruit, crepes, ceviche, candy, roasted corn and soup for anywhere from 50 cents to $3. A hotel or nice restaurant breakfast might run you $10 per person while a local restaurant can provide a hearty breakfast for $3. Don't forget to tip 10 percent to 20 percent.
Again, there is a wide range of items you can purchase in Mexico as gifts for friends or to remind you of your trip. One popular gift is tequila which can range from $10 to $40 a bottle with the average $20, or Kahlua which is generally about $12 to $14 a bottle. Silver jewelry ranges from $5 toe rings to necklaces and bracelets set with precious stones in the hundreds of dollar range. A hammock might run you $30 to $50 while a sarong might cost around $15 to $20 depending on your negotiating skills. Beware of deals too good to be true. Forgeries and knock-offs are popular in Mexico, and fake silver and Cuban cigars abound.
One way to save money is to haggle. It is quite acceptable in Mexico and is actually expected. Although you won't be able to haggle at a resort, you can often negotiate better prices at local hotels, from street vendors and in some local shops. Buying in bulk or staying for extended periods can net you savings, so make sure to ask about discounts.