Travel tips for first-time visitors to Mexico

How I Travel For Free By Planning My Own Finances

Mexico has beautiful Spanish colonial towns, white-sand beaches and mysterious Mayan ruins. Millions travel to Mexico each year to experience their history, culture and food. Some book a week in one of the luxurious riviera maya homes for rent while others spend their time backpacking around the country. But visiting Mexico can be a daunting experience, especially if it’s your first time. Keep reading and discover these essential travel tips to make sure your trip goes smoothly.

Staying safe in Mexico

One of the biggest concerns facing travellers to Mexico is the poor safety record in the country. Switch on any news channel and you’re bombarded with stories of gun crime and drug-related incidents. Others focus on how street crime and robberies target tourists. But this is usually blown out of proportion. Yes, Mexico does have a poor safety record. But not every town and city is the same. The vast majority of resorts such as Los Cabos and Cancun are completely safe. As are the smaller colonial towns in more rural areas. If you travel to Mexico City or areas that are notorious for drug trafficking routes, you should exercise a lot of caution. But for most tourists, vacationing in Mexico is no more dangerous than staying at home. Most of the hype you hear is just that – hype.

Brush up on your Spanish

If you’re planning to explore Mexico outside of the resorts, having a basic knowledge of Spanish is a must. While most people in and around the tourist areas can speak some English, it’s unlikely they will be able to in the local areas. Learning a few phrases can go a long way. And many Mexicans will appreciate that you’re making an effort to learn their language. Apart from putting a smile on the shopkeepers face, a bit of Spanish can unlock doors and allow you to experience the real Mexico. Knowing how to bargain in their lingo also reduces the chance that you’ll pay the tourist price. You don’t need to be fluent. Instead, grab a guidebook or watch a few videos on YouTube to learn a handful of basic phrases.

Make the most out of Mexico’s ruins

Egypt has the pyramids and Mexico has Mayan ruins. The ancient civilisation reigned in Central America for centuries leaving vast temples and cities behind. The most famous is Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula. But most towns and cities have ruins of varying sizes within a short drive of the centre. Tour companies offer an excursion to the nearby ruins. Or you can rent a car and visit them independently. If this is your first time, it’s a good idea to learn more about this ancient culture. Having the chance to visit the ruins and experiencing the best of Mayan traditions is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s strongly recommended to research which ones you want to visit. Don’t fall into the trap that other tourists do and see it as ‘just another ruin’. Instead, embrace the vast and diverse shapes and styles of the ancient Mayans in Mexico.

Always research tour companies

Signing up for a tour is one of the best ways to see Mexico. Most towns and cities, especially those near touristy areas, take visitors out to the sea, inland or to Mayan ruins. But because of the surge of visitors and an endless supply of customers, the quality of some have dropped dramatically over the last few years. The best policy is to shop around and don’t sign up for a tour just because it’s the cheapest. Research the company and read reviews on TripAdvisor. Some of the less professional agencies don’t meet the safety requirements, overcrowd buses and lack the knowledge to explain the attractions in depth. It might be better to splash out a bit more on a more reputable company. But the only way to make sure is to do a bit of research before arranging an excursion.

Want a bargain? Don’t forget to haggle

Because a large part of Mexico’s coastal regions rely on tourism, some of the more unscrupulous locals see international visitors as cash machines. When you ask for the price, they will often quote up to two or three times higher. This includes buying souvenirs, street food and pretty much anything outside of a shopping mall. The key is to haggle. Speak to somebody who you trust beforehand to get an idea of what the going rates should be. Prepare to pay slightly more, but be persistent to stop them from completely ripping you off!

Embrace the Mexican hospitality

Whenever you meet a Mexican, they will almost always greet you with a smile. Family life is the centrepiece of Mexican life and this transfers onto how they treat their guests. Striking up a conversation with a local is easy – especially if you know a little bit of Spanish. Most people that you meet will always be happy to practice their English on a tourist. And occasionally, this leads to an invite back to their house for a beer or shot of tequila. Travel around the country and you’ll be welcomed and receive excellent hospitality. Embrace it and show your warmth back to them in return.

Preparing for your trip to Mexico

Learn a few phrases of Spanish and be ready to barter for bargains. Always research tour companies and find recent travellers’ experiences before booking anything up. Take the chance to learn about their Mayan heritage and embrace the Mexican hospitality. And finally, Mexico is a lot safer to visit than most people think!


Ideal Places To Visit For Year-End Travels

Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to spend quality time with my childhood friends. Our lengthy conversations led to a topic surrounding our itch to wander overseas. They were highlighting that they want to travel as a group, before the year ends. The brief cycle of months dawned on me!

In the blink of an eye, 2017 is coming to an end. Bid the fruitful year in the best way possible by arranging a memorable vacation or staycation. You do not have to break the bank to experience great adventures.

Consider these 3 ideal destinations:


Empty your mind and close your eyes. What is the first thought that pops into your mind when you visualize a relaxing getaway? Personally, I envision strolling at pristine beaches that overlooks the majestic mountains. Bali lets you experience this and more!

From historic temples to luxurious villas, Bali provides opportunities for interactive family sessions. You can climb the famous Mount Batur or take part in a rejuvenating yoga retreat.

Read Also: Tips For Hiking Alone

Saving Tip: Browse through the travel packages that your trusted financial institutions offer. For instance, UOB has the “3D2N Explore Bali Your Way” and “3D2N Ossotel Legian” packages. The former includes a round-trip airfare, airport transfer, accommodation, daily breakfast, and a 10-hour car disposal service. While the latter includes a tailored stay at a aesthetically-pleasing contemporary hotel. Prices for these said packages start at S$448.


One of the most accessible countries in the Southeast Asia is Hong Kong. If your fantasy vacation includes the vibrant nightlife and mouthwatering street food, Hong Kong is the place to be!

How can you think twice about going anywhere else when the tempting aroma of Cantonese food breezes past you? Well, delicious meals are hard to resist especially for food-loving Singaporeans. You can also shop until you drop as you discover its bargain shops and markets.

Image Credits:

Image Credits:

Saving Tip: Absorb the technique of travel agencies by using comparison sites such as and Thanks to modern technology, you do not have to spend countless hours on the tedious search through every airline out there.


Looking forward to showcase your collection of sweaters and coats? Experience the chilling winds brought by the South Pole as you explore the wonders of Melbourne. Navigate bravely through this city to be greeted by friendly inhabitants and culturally-rich establishments.

As an art junkie, I can recommend visiting their museums. You can drop by the Heide Museum of Modern Art or the Melbourne Museum. You do not want to miss the “Melbourne Cup” every November. This is a massive horse-race event that is celebrated throughout their nation.

Image Credits:

Image Credits:

Saving Tip: If you are a spontaneous traveler, consider spotting the last-minute bargains. Last-minute deals come in handy with an occupation of ever-changing schedules. Try visiting Expedia to book for a last-minute flight to Melbourne.


Travel Hack: How To Keep Your Phone Bills Low When Travelling

By Akansha Priyadarshi

Despite being excited about your upcoming vacation, you can’t help but notice the lump in your throat when you remember the $1,000 inflated phone bill you faced after your last trip. Having your phone during your travels is essential; from finding cheap things to do in Phuket, looking at maps and snapping photos with your camera, the average traveler today can’t travel without their phones. However, keeping your phone bills low is a challenge when overseas. The cost of cellular data and phone calls can swell ridiculously the moment your phone goes on international roaming. Try using the following hacks to avoid moaning over your phone bill after your next vacation.

Switch off your data roaming

This is one of the simplest things you can do to avoid exorbitant additions to your phone bill if you don’t have an international data plan. Keep the data switched off by sliding off the cellular data in your phone. To turn off cellular data on most phones, go into settings and turn off cellular data and data roaming to avoid data roaming charges.

Buy a new local SIM

Buying a new local SIM when you visit a new country is the easiest and cheapest option. This is perfect if you know you’re going to need cellular services and internet. The new SIM card will provide you with a temporary local plan without slaying your account. Most networks have a counter at the airport after baggage claim to assist tourists, so be sure to keep a look out for those to get your local SIM card.

Disable push notifications

You don’t need push notifications while travelling. Who wants to know the growing number of emails  piling up in that inbox when you are enjoying a day at a beach? To top it all, it costs you your data usage.

Download your maps in advance

It always pays off when you plan your trips in advance. You can download maps for the locations you are going to visit beforehand, when you have a planned itinerary. Use free Wi-Fi services in your hotel or any other place where free Wi-Fi is available to download the maps before you head out. It will save you from expensive cellular data costs. You can use apps like Citymapper or Google Maps that have functions for users to save maps for offline use and to navigate around without using unnecessary data. Here are more travel tips on using Google Maps.

Keep a check on your data usage

Last but not least, you can track your data usage. It is easy to forget how much data is being used when you’re watching YouTube videos and have numerous photos to post on your Instagram, Facebook and other social media accounts. You could save yourself a lot of trouble if you set a limit for data usage and be mindful of it. There are several data tracker apps such as 3G Watchdog, My Verizon Mobile, DataMan and My Data Manager, that can help you in tracking your usage. And if you use an iPhone, you can simply reset the data statistics by going on setting and adjusting your cellular usage.

Leave your holiday on a high note, knowing that you’ve kept your phone bill low.


The Virgin Solo Trip On A Budget

“As you travel solo, being totally responsible for yourself, it’s inevitable that you will discover how capable you are.”

Living in one of the smallest and safest countries in the world, it is impervious that majority of the Singaporeans aren’t as independent as the greater part of the world growing up. The sad fact that we aren’t able to defend ourselves and be as “street smart” puts us in a real disadvantage. Not to compare to anyone, but instead a disadvantage to ourselves when we set foot into a new territory on our own. Born with a silver spoon in our mouths, the world beyond this little island that we grew up in can be very intimidating.

As a Singaporean myself, travelling out alone is definitely something I really enjoy, but nonetheless it was daunting at first especially in a country where I’ve never been to before. I had the chance to travel out alone recently, and for me, it was awe-inspiring and refreshing. For those of you who have been considering travelling solo, here’s my two cents worth of tips.

  1. Do Research

Possibly one of the worst things to do is take a flight to a country you know nothing about. Aside from all the attractions and sightseeing spots, certain countries tend to charge tourists a different rate from the locals. Knowing things such as which cab services to take and where the best places to shop are will shed light on what you can expect to ensure you’ll have a smoother trip and less hiccups.

Read Also: Your Ultimate Guide To Planning Your Europe Trip

  1. Back Up Plans

Unexpected things happen more often than not when you least expect, and so you should always be prepared. Keep a photocopy of your passport, travel details, extra cash and maybe a credit card somewhere in case things go awry. A thumbdrive with the soft copies saved will also do the trick. You might also want to save the number of your embassy and bring along a power bank to charge your mobile, laptop and any electronic peripherals that may comes in handy.

Check out the Traveler ID App in iTunes.

  1. Travel Light
Samsonite Firelite

Samsonite Firelite 20″ Carry-On Hardside Spinner Luggage


People travel alone for a vast number of reasons – be it to shop, explore or take a break from their hectic schedule. Since you’ll be alone, it’d be best to take your own luggage with you all through the way just to make sure it’s in safe hands. Keeping your baggage light allows you to move around more freely and, maybe also shop more. The Samsonite Firelite is crafted from woven thread of polypropylene with Curv technology making it one of the most durable and lightest bag under five pounds. (Costs $465 on eBags with 15% discount from vPost)

  1. Be Cautious Of Your Surroundings and Personal Belongings
Checked Baggage

(Image credit: TheeErin, via Flickr)

Self-explanatory, the small bag you carry around should be guarded with all you’ve got – it is in fact, all you’ve got when you’re out roaming the streets. Best to be observant of your surrounds and people: not paranoid, alert. Make sure you create clear labels and tag your bags.

  1. Weigh Your Decisions

Travelling alone means you can do whatever you want, whenever. But with great power to decide, comes great responsibility to return in one piece. Jumping off that cliff sure looks like great fun, but know what you’re getting into before taking the leap.

With that said if you’re still hesitant, take the adventure to a place you’ve been to before or a place where the popularity can speak simple English. Here are a couple of places which has loads of unexplored adventures that are good for starters with a budget:

  1. Australia
Ayers Rock Uluru

Ayers Rock, Uluru (Image credit: Mark Wassell, via Flickr)

Being the sixth largest country in the world, there’s definitely places you’ve yet to visit and things you’ve yet to do. From diving to visiting the beautiful Ayers Rocks, this country’s beauty will sweep you off your feet. Love camping? Bring along your outdoor gear!

Read Also: 25 Places You Need to Visit in Australia

  1. Thailand
Chiang Mai Night Market

Chiang Mai Night Market (Image credit: Caitriana Nicholson, via Flickr)

A popular destination amongst Singaporeans, the Land of a Thousand Smiles is rich in culture. Although language may be a barrier, the signs and directions are quite clear. With the help of the people, it shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Read Also: 10 Best Places to Visit in Thailand

  1. The Philippines
Chewy Chua

Boracay at Dusk (Image credit: Chewy Chua, via Flickr)

The Philippines is similar to Singapore with majority of the population able to converse in English which makes travelling around easy as pie. The lot of beautiful beaches and the world’s biggest shopping mall at your dispense ensures that you have everything you need.

Read Also: 14 Places to Visit in the Philippines in 2014

  1. Hong Kong
Night of Hong Kong

(Image credit: Jonathan Leung, via Flickr)

A highly cosmopolitan city, Hong Kong is full of scenic gardens, fantastic hiking trails and great food. One of the biggest cities in the world, you’ll never finish exploring Hong Kong’s uniqueness. If you love shopping, you would definitely fall in love with the night markets along Temple Street.

Read Also: 20 Must Visit Hong Kong Attractions & Travel Guide

  1. Malaysia
Deer Cave, Gunung Mulu National Park

Deer Cave, Gunung Mulu National Park (Image credit: robdu91, via Flickr)

One of the more technologically advanced cities in Asia, it is the hallmark of an ideal exotic locate. From the wild forestry to the skyscrapers in the city, it’s like being in two places at once.

Read Also: 10 of the Best Places to Visit in Malaysia

Before you embark on the greatest adventure of your life alone, be sure to book your flights by comparing the fares from SkyScanner without compromising on your safety. Book your hotels with the best rates with our hotels search engine:


4 Useful and Money-Saving Travel Tips for Memorable Adventures


Rather than spending more money on high-end accommodation, why don’t you spend more on fun activities such as skydiving? Spend it on once in a lifetime experiences that can only happen on the place you are at.

Save up to 58% on your travel expenses though It is a popular website where people rent out their own home and find a place to stay while they travel. With this system, you will get a local feel and get to be toured to places that you will have never visited if you travelled by tour packages.


Do what locals usually do and you will find yourself immersed in interesting conversations with them. Do not be afraid to try the cheap street foods that the locals are queuing for (unless you have an upset stomach).

Image Credits: Simon & His Camera via Flickr

Image Credits: Simon & His Camera via Flickr

I have a friend from Serbia who wants to bargain in Hong Kong flea but her district features can be a prey to vendors who want to take advantage of their customers. So, she let her Chinese friend help her bargain in the local language. It worked.


Instead of flushing your money by taking taxis all around town, try to ride the local buses or trains. It will not only allow you to save a great deal of money but it will also give you memorable experiences. It is not everyday that you get to sit to locals carrying their fresh produce from their harvest.


Converse with your fellow travelers and the locals to get credible information on which places to go to or which places do they enjoy the most. Chances are, you may find yourself in untouched places of beauty where only a few people go.