How Much Money Should I Bring to Cancun (and Do I Need Pesos)?

When visiting Cancun, you should bring an average of US $100 per day. Although US dollars are widely accepted in Cancun, you will need pesos for small expenses such as tipping, paying bus and taxi fares, buying souvenirs, eating at local restaurants and drinking at local bars.
How Much Money Should I Bring to Cancun
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That said, the exact amount of money you need to bring to Cancun will vary depending on various factors, including the duration of your trip and your hotel’s location. It will also depend on whether you plan to buy local goods, have a holiday package and are traveling solo or in a group.

Before going on your trip to Cancun, it’s important to plan ahead and anticipate areas where you’re likely to spend. This will enable you to estimate how much cash you’re going to need for your vacation. Read on for the ultimate guide to money in Cancun.

How Much Money Do I Need in Cancun?

Plan to spend around US $101 (2,040 Mexican pesos) per day during your holiday in Cancun. Each day, expect to spend an average of US $7.11 (143 pesos) on meals and US $8.35 (168 pesos) on transportation.

The average cost of a hotel room in Cancun for a couple is US $167 (3,349 pesos). Therefore, a one-week trip for two to Cancun will cost an average at US $1,420 (28,559 pesos).

How Expensive is Cancun?

Although Cancun is cheaper than cities such as Miami and Los Angeles, it’s not quite the bargain that many visitors expect. Room prices at the nice hotels are close to similar hotels in Hawaii, while lower-end hotels can be disappointing in terms of quality.

That said, travelers can enjoy great rates at all-inclusive resorts, particularly during the low season. Good deals are also possible in the peak season, as long as you book well in advance.

If you plan to simply lounge on the beach by day and drink at bars by night, then Cancun can work with a lower budget. On the other hand, if you plan on indulging in many tours and activities, then you’ll find prices in Cancun to be significantly high.

How Much is a Bottle of Water in Cancun?

The price of a ½ liter bottle of water in Cancun is about 8 Mexican pesos.

How Much is a Gallon of Milk in Cancun?

The price of a liter of milk in Cancun is about 21 Mexican pesos.

Is It Expensive to Eat Out in Cancun?

No, it is not expensive to eat out in Cancun. Food and drink prices in Cancun can be reasonable, especially if you eat in the Downtown area.

You will find the best deals on food and drinks at the local spots scattered around Punta Cancun, the main nightlife and shopping district. Here, you can get street food for under a dollar, or enjoy a meal at a decent restaurant for about US $5.

How Much is an Average Meal in Cancun?

Here is an overview of average food and drink prices in Cancun:

MEAL PRICE (USD)  NOTES
Breakfast 2.00 – 4.99 These prices quoted are for cheap meals within the Hotel Zone. You can eat for much less in restaurants at Downtown Cancun.
Lunch 3.49 – 7.49 The best food deals in the Hotel Zone are found at the small local eateries located in the heart of the nightlife/tourist district.
Dinner 5.99 – 8.98 You may have to look around for reasonably priced restaurants. Going to eat in Downtown Cancun may not be worth the savings.

How Much Money Will I Need for a Week in Cancun?

A one-week vacation for one person in Cancun will cost around 14,279 Mexican pesos. Therefore, a one-week trip for two to Cancun will cost around 28,559 Mexican pesos.

If you’re traveling to Cancun with family, the price per person will usually go down because children’s tickets are often cheaper and you can share hotel rooms.

How Much Would an Average Trip to Cancun Cost?

Here is an overview of the cost of an average trip to Cancun:

  MEXICAN PESOS  NOTES
Flights 3,400 – 8,000

 

This will vary depending on the airline, when you travel and where you depart from.
Accommodation Single Room – 1,675 Per Night

Double Room – 3,349 Per Night

This will vary depending on the quality of the hotel.
Meals 143 Per Day Per Person Breakfast prices are normally a bit cheaper than dinner or lunch. Food prices at sit-down restaurants are often higher than at fast food joints or street food vendors.
Taxi Ride 168 Per Day Per Person Taxi fares in Cancun are significantly higher than public transportation.
Entertainment 360 Per Day Per Person Inclusive of fees for entry to attractions, day tours, plus other sightseeing expenses.
Drinks Alcohol – 66 Per Day

Bottled Water – 18 Per Day

It is not safe to drink tap water in Cancun.
Tips 0.50 Per Day The usual amount for a tip in Cancun is 5 – 15%.

How Much Money Do I Need to Stay All Inclusive in Cancun?

The beauty of all-inclusive holidays is that one upfront fee covers all your meals, drinks, accommodation and transportation. Therefore, if you do not plan on leaving your all-inclusive resort in Cancun, you may never need cash.

That said, you will need cash for small expenses like giving tips, taking public transportation or purchasing local goods and souvenirs from small vendors. For a one-week stay at an all-inclusive resort, a couple should budget to spend about US $150 in tips, preferably in US $1 or $5 bills.

How is Cancun on a Budget?

Here are some tips for traveling to Cancun on a Budget:

  • Know When to Go: The best time to visit Cancun on a budget is between April and June. At this time of year the weather is still good and there are fewer tourist crowds, which means that you can enjoy some great deals on flights and accommodation.
  • Save on Airport Transfers: The cheapest way to get to Cancun from the airport and vice versa is by taking the ADO bus. Buses depart from outside the terminals and cost less than US $5 one-way.
  • Stay at a Budget-Friendly Hotel: The cheapest hotels in Cancun are found in the Downtown area near the bus terminal. You can request for a better rate if you are staying for multiple nights. Most hotels in Cancun also offer discounts in the low season.
  • Take the Bus: Buses provide the cheapest means of getting around in Cancun. Fares are as low as US $1. If you must take a taxi, be sure to agree on the fare with your cab driver before you begin the trip.
  • Eat Local: The best way to save money on meals in Cancun is by eating at the smaller, more authentic eateries that cater to locals rather than tourists. Moreover, dining within the Hotel Zone will cost more than a bite to eat in Downtown Cancun.
  • Shop Local: Whenever you need to buy groceries in Cancun, it’s best to shop at the local markets and small convenience stores. To save money, avoid shopping in the Hotel Zone where everything is more expensive.
  • Be Ready to Haggle: It never hurts to negotiate the price when booking tours, hiring taxis or purchasing souvenirs at local markets. In fact, it is almost expected. Therefore don’t be shy to ask at least – you may be pleasantly surprised!
  • Use Pesos: Avoid paying in American dollars, as you are likely to get a bad exchange rate. Always pay in Mexican pesos instead. You can withdraw pesos from ATMs in Cancun, which normally give a better exchange rate than the cambios.
  • Visit Attractions on Your Own: Avoid booking a tour if you plan to venture outside of Cancun and explore the Riviera Maya on a budget. In addition to being cheaper, going it alone gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace.
  • Bring Toiletries: Items like sunscreen and mosquito repellent usually cost more in Cancun than what you would typically pay back home. As such, it is recommended that you bring your own from home to avoid the added expense.

Should You Tip in Cancun?

Tipping is customary in Cancun. It is therefore often expected that you tip staff as a way to show your appreciation for their good service. Tipping may also help to ensure that you get special treatment throughout your stay at a hotel or resort, or at a restaurant or bar to which you intend to return.

In addition to tipping, a gift such as jewelry or clothing may be well appreciated. That said, while some holidaymakers like to bring gifts for staff, cash is what pays their bills and puts food on the table. Therefore, do give gifts by all means – just be sure not to substitute them for cash.

Should I Tip at an All Inclusive Resort in Cancun?

Yes, you should tip at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun. Although many all-inclusive resorts in Cancun officially have a “no-tipping” policy, this is rarely enforced, therefore staff members will accept and appreciate tips. But rather than asking for a tip, your maid may say, “Tomorrow is my day off,” which is a hint that if you’re going to tip them, then it’s a good idea to do so before their day off.

Here is an overview of when to tip at Cancun all-inclusive resorts:

STAFF TIP OR NO TIP?  NOTES
Bartender Tip US $1 for every round of drinks, especially if you order complicated cocktails
Golf Cart Driver Tip US $1 per trip
Server Tip US $5 – 10 per meal
Shuttle Driver Tip Both to and from the Airport
Tour Operator Tip For off-site activities such as sailing
Buffet Meals No Tip US $1 – 2 per meal
Rental Car Staff No Tip
Front Desk Staff No Tip
Housekeeping Optional Unless you leave a mess or request for extra towels

How Much Do You Tip in Cancun?

The amount of money you give as a tip in Cancun is at your discretion, and should be based on the quality of service you received.

Nonetheless, there are certain standards for tipping in Cancun that provide a basic understanding of how much is usually tipped and to whom. If still unsure, the general rule is simply to tip as much as you would back home.

What is a Good Tip in Cancun?

Here is an overview of good tip amounts in Cancun:

STAFF MEXICAN PESOS  NOTES
Bell Hop 25 – 50 For assisting with luggage and showing you to your room
Housekeeper 20 – 50 Per night. Tip on a daily basis, and tip more if your room is messy or you get extra towels.
Waiter 10 – 20% If a Service Charge is not included in the bill
Bartender 20 Per drink
Porter 10 Pesos Per suitcase
Concierge 100 Or more, depending on how difficult your request was e.g. a reservation at a fully-booked restaurant
Spa Staff 15 – 20% Of the cost of the spa treatment. Leave it at the desk inside an envelope with the employee’s name written on it.
Pool Boy 100 If they save you prime seats by the pool
Day Tour Guide 10 – 20% Of the total cost of tour, even if it lasts just a couple of hours
Multi-Day Group Tour Guide 60 – 100 Tip the tour leader per day
Private Tour Guide 200 Tip your guide per day
Tour Driver 40 If you have a driver besides the tour guide
Private Transfer 20 – 40

90

Per Passenger, to the Greeter

Per Passenger, to the Driver

Shared Transfer 40 – 100 Depending on the length of the trip
Taxi Driver 10 Per suitcase – only if they assist you with your luggage
Gas Station Attendant 5 – 10 Only if they clean your windshield or check your oil and tires
Grocery Baggers 1 – 2 Per shopping bag

Should I Tip in Dollars or Pesos in Cancun?

It is recommended that you tip in Mexican pesos while in Cancun.

This is because service staff are able to use the money immediately, even on their way home. On the other hand, if you give them tips in American dollars, they will have to go to a foreign exchange place to convert it to pesos, for which they are not likely to receive a good exchange rate.

But if you only have US dollars for the tip, give notes rather than coins. This is because US coins cannot be exchanged for pesos in Cancun, which makes them harder for locals to use.

What is the Average Salary in Cancun?

The average salary in Cancun is around 38,900 Mexican pesos per month. This includes benefits such as housing and transportation.

Of course salaries in Cancun vary widely between different job titles, with 9,830 pesos being the lowest average, and 174,000 pesos being the highest.

How Much is the Minimum Wage in Cancun?

The Minimum Wage in Cancun is 123.22 Mexican pesos (roughly US $6.51) per day. The annual wage is 2,369 pesos, while the hourly wage is 0.95 pesos.

How Much Do Resort Workers Make in Cancun?

Here is an overview of the average wages that resort workers earn in Cancun:

JOB TITLE AVERAGE WAGE (PESOS) NOTES
Housekeeper 6,000 – 8,000 Per Month, plus tips
Hotel Front Desk 11,000 Per Month, plus commissions
Waiter at High-End Restaurant 900 Per Day, mostly from tips
Waiter at Bar/ Nightclub 500 – 1,000 Per Night for 10 hour shifts
Hotel Entertainer 13,000 – 15,000 Per Month

What Currency is Used in Cancun?

The Mexican peso is the official currency in Cancun. However, US dollars are also widely accepted at most Cancun businesses. Foreign currencies other than American dollars are sometimes accepted – especially at the major resorts.

Do I Need Pesos in Cancun?

This will depend on your travel style and vacation plans. If you plan to do a lot of tipping, shopping from small vendors, using public transportation, dining at local restaurants and clubbing at local bars, then yes, you will need pesos in Cancun.

On the other hand, if you’re planning to stay at your all-inclusive resort for the entire vacation, then you won’t really need pesos.

Can I Use US Dollars in Cancun?

This will depend on where you are making your payment from. While most hotels, shops, restaurants and tour companies in Cancun will accept payment in US dollars, smaller merchants, shops and street vendors may only accept Mexican pesos. As such, it is always recommended to use the currency of the country you are visiting.

Here are some tips for using dollars in Cancun:

  • Most businesses will not accept dollar bills that are too worn, or which have tears, tape or writing.
  • Do not give tips in US coins. These have no value in Mexico as they can’t be exchanged at any currency exchange business.
  • Expect to be given back your change in pesos.
  • Bring dollar bills from home in small denominations.
  • Avoid using big denominations of dollars for small purchases e.g. US $20 to buy gum. The shop may not be able to accept your transaction due to lack of change.
  • Although most businesses accept dollars, they set the exchange rate at their discretion, which usually isn’t as good as the banks.
  • When exchanging dollars at a bank or cambio, you will need to present your passport. Be sure to request for pesos in small bills.

Is It Better to Use Pesos or Dollars in Cancun?

It is better to use pesos rather than dollars in Cancun. This is because you will get more value for your money when using Mexican pesos as opposed to US dollars.

American dollars are widely accepted in Cancun by most shops, hotels, restaurants and tour operators. In fact, many big resorts and high-end restaurants typically list their prices in U.S. dollars. This enables tourists to easily go their entire vacation without having to convert their currency into Mexican pesos.

That said, it is not recommended that you use US dollars during your vacation in Cancun. This is because many vendors will not give you back your change in dollars, but rather in Mexican pesos. In addition, when giving back change most vendors will set the exchange rate to their own advantage.

Should I Bring Pesos to Cancun?

This will depend on your vacation plans. If you plan to do a lot of tipping, buying souvenirs, taking taxis and buses, drinking at local bars and eating at local restaurants, then yes, you should bring pesos to Cancun. But if you’re not planning to leave your all-inclusive resort for the duration of your trip, then you don’t really need pesos.

If you want to bring pesos, exchange a minimum of US $30 before you leave home. This way, you will arrive in Cancun with cash for taxi fare from the airport to your hotel, as well as tips for luggage handlers. You can therefore kick off your fun vacation in Cancun right away without having to rush around looking for a bank.

But even if you don’t bring pesos to Cancun, you can still get them from an ATM at the airport when you arrive. Airport ATMs are safe to use and you’ll get good rates at minimal fees. Although the ATM only provides pesos in large denominations, you can always have them broken down at your hotel.

Where Can I Change Money in Cancun?

Here is a list of places where you can change money in Cancun:

  • Cambio: Cancun has currency exchange houses known as Casa de Cambio, which give good exchange rates. They are normally open long hours and provide quick service.
  • Hotels & Resorts: You can also exchange dollars at hotels in Cancun. However, you should do this as a last resort as hotels normally give the lowest exchange rates.
  • Banks: The best exchange rates in Cancun are found at the banks. But you can only exchange money in Cancun banks between the hours of 9am and 1pm.
  • Cancun Airport: The airport in Cancun has a currency exchange desk which offers good rates without the usual fees and commissions.
  • ATM Machines: There are ATM machines all over Cancun. However, you should avoid using the ATM at Cancun Airport if possible as it doesn’t give good rates.

Is There a Currency Exchange at Cancun Airport?

Yes, there is a currency exchange desk at Cancun Airport. In fact, Cancun Airport is said to offer surprisingly good foreign exchange rates.

They are considered one of the best options in town, as they don’t charge currency exchange fees or commissions like banks and ATM machines.

Do I Need Cash in Cancun?

Yes, you will need cash in Cancun. Cash will come in handy for giving tips, buying souvenirs, paying for taxis and buses, buying drinks at local bars and eating at local restaurants. It is recommended that you take a few hundred US dollars in singles bills of ones and fives for tips.

More importantly, you need Mexican pesos more than US dollars. Although both currencies are widely accepted in Cancun, you will get more value for your money with Mexican pesos than American dollars. Moreover, many small merchants do not accept credit or debit cards.

Can You Use a Credit Card in Cancun?

Yes, you can use a credit card in Cancun. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discovery are widely accepted at most big resorts, restaurants and tour operators in Cancun. That said, it is important to always have some cash on hand, as many small merchants and vendors in Cancun do not accept credit cards.

Also keep in mind that most banks charge a foreign transaction fee for using your credit card abroad. Moreover, ATMs and merchants in Mexico will charge you a currency conversion fee for withdrawing your money in US dollars. This normally translates to higher fees and double the exchange rate.

Can I Use My Debit Card in Cancun?

Yes, you can use your debit card in Cancun. You can use debit cards to withdraw cash from ATMs. But expect to be charged a foreign transaction fee for using your debit card outside of your home country. That said, it is advisable to only use your debit card at your hotel or big stores rather than at small market vendor stalls.

It is also important to inform your bank in advance that you will be traveling overseas so that they don’t freeze your card for suspected fraud while you’re on vacation.

That said, it is better to use credit cards rather than debit cards in Cancun, as credit cards have better protection. This is because if your debit account is compromised, it’s your money they are taking, so it could take some time for your bank to straighten things out. On the other hand, if you have a problem with your credit card, it is the bank’s money in dispute, therefore your own money will not be held up.

Also consider opening a separate “vacation” account for traveling expenses only, which is not linked to any of your other accounts. This way, if your debit card is compromised, there is a limit to the amount of damage that can be done. It is also recommended that you change your card PIN number immediately once you get back home.

In any case, it is better to use cash in Cancun as much as possible, especially pesos. Your money will go farther in Cancun when you use pesos rather than dollars. It is recommended to bring a couple hundred US dollars, your credit card and ATM if you need more pesos.

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