12 Reasons Why Americans Should Backpack Through Mexico

1. Because you’ll meet Mexicans of all backgrounds–not just the waiters, taxi drivers and those who work at your hotel. When you meet the locals who aren’t being paid to be nice to you; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by their pure kindness and hospitality.

2. Because you’ll eat the street food–instead of Italian, Mediterranean or the Americanized version so commonly found in Vallarta and Cancun. When you taste your first street taco filled with tender cochinita, tinga or lechon–it will blow your mind.

3. Because there’s nothing more liberating than dropping your hairdryer, makeup, fancy clothes, uncomfortable shoes and stripping yourself of unnecessary crap and really exploring a new place.

El Chiflon Falls, Chiapas, Mexico

El Chiflon Falls; an off-the-beaten-path discovery in Chiapas.

Petrified waterfalls, Oaxaca

A swimming hole in the petrified waterfalls outside Oaxaca City.

Take a free tour of a tequila factory near Guadalajara and sample some of Mexico's finest

Take a free tour of a tequila factory near Guadalajara and sample some of Mexico’s finest.

4. Because you’ll meet travelers from around the globe with impressive stories; entertaining and wacky expats; and impossibly friendly locals eager to show you their city and the spots they love. You’ll be amazed how much fun you can have sharing a meal with strangers.

5. Because a beach is better when you feel like you’ve discovered it: after you’ve hiked to it, surfed on it, took a ferry, or sailed to it.

beach and palms

A beach found after hiking through the jungle, near Sayulita.

Does a day go by in Mexico where there isn't a parade somewhere?

Does a day go by in Mexico without a parade somewhere?

Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas

Lagos de Montebello, Chiapas

6. Because you’ll be rewarded with private beaches, tranquil sunsets, refreshing swimming holes, vibrant city markets, colorful cultural events, stunning ancient ruins, rousing cantinas, impressive live music–hidden adventures–where you may be the only one or one of few foreign tourists.

7. Because there’s so much more to Mexico than beaches, margaritas, mariachis. There’s more than a drug war, poor immigrants and the negative news spread by the American media–and you’ll never know unless you leave your country or leave the resort.

A local delicacy for sale at the Oaxaca market

Fried grasshoppers–a local delicacy for sale at the Oaxaca market.

Bullfight in the Yucatan

A bullfight found by accident while on a bike ride through Valladolid’s countryside.


One of Mexico’s many cenotes–or freshwater, sinkholes–perfect for cooling off.

8. Because you’ll learn that Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, and Cabo are suddenly a lot less interesting, exciting or beautiful when you’ve seen San Cristobal de las Casas, Oaxaca and it’s Pacific Coast, Puebla, Guanajuato or Guadalajara.

9. Because for the price of one week in an all-inclusive you can put your money toward deserving, locally owned restaurants & food stands, guesthouses & hostels, market stalls and small tour companies–and still have money to spare.

10. Because you’ll discover that Mexico City is a vibrant Metropolitan place with beautiful breezy parks, swanky neighborhoods, impressive architecture, a lively nightlife, more museums than anyone could visit, beautiful people, heaps of tasty food and a metro system that could take you nearly anywhere in the massive city for just 20 cents.

11. Because as our nearest neighbor to the south Mexico packs a lot of cultural punch for the price of an inexpensive plane ticket, and a very manageable half day of travel.

12. Because the tan  fades; but the memories don’t

The City of Guanajuato; a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The City of Guanajuato; a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The murals of Diego Rivera; Mexico City

The murals of Diego Rivera; Mexico City

Torta with lechon

Incredible Torta with lechon, pickled onions, salsa and Horchata on the side–all for around US$2

Another beautiful sunset on Mexico's pacific coast

Another beautiful sunset on Mexico’s pacific coast

See Also:
The Joy and Glory of Mexican Food
Holy Mole
Leaving San Cristobal and the Oaxaca Coast
So Far in Mexico…


  1. So true, I’ve found the Mexican people to be some of the nicest people in the world and they really want me to enjoy their country! Great post!


  2. This all might be true if you can speak fluent Spanish. I’ve been traveling Mexico for nearly 2 months now and I have only very basic Spanish. I’ve found it very hard to get around and discover things like you talk about. The locals aren’t friendly if they can’t communicate with you. The street food won’t blow your mind it will blow your stomach for the next few days after eating it. I agree with a lot of what you say Mexico is amazing and the people are nice but you need to be able to speak their language or you will just be considered rude. Don’t fill Americans heads with faulse hopes of coming to Mexico with no knowledge of their language and expecting to find all the great places that are off the beaten track. You will just disappoint people.


  3. This is a really great post because these are real reasons people fall in love with Mexico. To people like Jay I would say that if you cannot communicate you are missing out on the human experience of it all. Bother to learn some of the language it connects you with the country you’re in so your not just some tourist trying to take as much as you can out of Mexico. Not bothering to communicate with someone will definitely make you look like a douche, and people don’t like douches.
    Elias @ http://cocinax.com


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