How Long Can You Last in Mexico for $500?

Twenty dollars bill | © Kurtis Garbutt/Flickr
Twenty dollars bill | © Kurtis Garbutt/Flickr
Over the past decade, Mexico has secured its place as one of the trendiest spots for tourists and travelers. Business is booming in the beach resorts of Cancún and Puerto Vallarta and its capital city was named best destination by The New York Times last year. But that doesn’t mean you should be paying through the nose for food, accommodation or transport. How long can you last in Mexico with $500? Probably around 10 days if you follow this guide to stretching your money to the max.

Accommodation: $120

Hostels are the best bet for budget travelers to Mexico and there are many options catering to the backpackers who flock to the country every year. Ten day’s accommodation in a dormitory will set you back $120 at Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral in Mexico City and less than $90 at the Pacific Buddha Hostel in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca. Prices vary dramatically depending on the location but most tourist spots have some budget options. Even Cancún, Mexico’s priciest tourist trap, offers some budget options, with a dorm room at the Mezcal Hostel available for less than $14 per night.

Hostel Mundo Joven Catedral │ © PROVasenkaPhotography/Flickr

Food: $150

Local food is the way to go for tourists watching their wallets, but this shouldn’t be a burden for the average visitor – traditional Mexican cuisine is so delicious that UNESCO has put it on its intangible cultural heritage list. Prepare to spend approximately $3 to $4 per meal for street food or $10 per head in a family restaurant. A 1.5 liter bottle of water will set you back roughly $0.50, and a cheap can of beer about $0.70. Frugal travelers can expect to spend approximately $10 to $15 on food and drink each day.

Tacos al pastor © william.neuheisel / Flickr

Transportation: $150

Intercity transport costs in Mexico are very reasonable, with high-quality coaches shuttling travelers between cities around the country. A one-way bus trip from Mexico City to Guadalajara will set you back around $40. For longer internal trips, Mexico has several budget airline options, with Volaris offering the cheapest fares. A round trip from Mexico City to Cancún costs as little as $120. Expect to pay around $150 for a four-city-trip around Mexico.

Volaris airplane © Bernal Saborio/Flickr

Sights and activities: $80

Most museums and art galleries in Mexico charge a small entrance fee of around $2.50. For the most popular Mexico City museums, expect to pay a bit more. The must-visit Frida Kahlo Museum charges a general admission fee of $10.50, while The National Museum of Anthropology charges $3.80.

Students, teachers or professors should bring school or university ID from their home country as many museums offer a discount. Frugal travelers should also factor additional costs into their budget, including tour and audio guides, nightlife expenses and souvenir shopping.

The Sun Stone at Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology © Anthony G. Reyes/Flickr