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Mayan ruins and Mesoamerican culture, tacos and tequila, perfect beaches and the pure joy of mariachi bands trumpeting along papel picado-strewn streets – few countries lay on the charm like Mexico.
One of the world's most popular beach destinations, Mexico has an extraordinary coastline. For a sublime holiday of sun, surf and gourmet adventures, its rugged Pacific Coast hits the spot. On the Mayan-rich Caribbean shoreline, endless palm-fringed sands dip into gentle waves that are great for snorkelling and diving – look out for whale sharks off the coast of Isla Mujeres.
Dotted along its 9,400km (around 6,000 miles) of coastline, Mexico has everything from sophisticated all-inclusive family resorts on the beaches of Cancun to romantic honeymoon hotels on the Riviera Maya. Step away from Mexico’s big resorts to discover tiny villages, where taco stalls line the streets and colourful houses light up cobbled old towns.
Whatever kind of holiday you’re looking for, adventure is never too far away in this Central American nation: hike through Oaxaca's mountain cloud forests, marvel at Mayan temples of Palenque, Tulum and Chichén Itzá, and swim in the cenotes (caves) of Riviera Maya.
Mexican food is famous the world over – but nothing tastes as good as the real thing. Try cochinita pibil (slow-cooked pork) in Yucatán, devour mole in Pueblos, order authentic tacos from a beachfront taquería, and discover the creative dining of Mexico City.
For a proper party, Cancun is the place to be, a resort famous for nightclubs and US spring break antics. Nearby Playa del Carmen and Tulum on the Yucatán Peninsula are popular for package beach holidays, plus they’re close enough to visit the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá. If surfing is more your thing, consider a holiday on the Baja Peninsula, close to the US border.
At the southernmost tip of Baja California, the resorts of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo are both great destinations for families. The beaches are relatively unspoilt – Medano Beach is one of the best – and whale watching is a highlight from December to March.
There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts here, including Villa La Valencia Beach Resort and Spa, which has a long lazy river, kids club and a poolside taco bar.
Mexico's Oaxacan coast takes you into authentic Mexico, with far fewer tourists. Rustic surf towns such as Puerto Escondido are packed with surfers, keeping costs down.
If you're travelling on a budget, head to Puerto Vallarta for a cheap beach holiday in Mexico. Aside from the all-inclusive hotels, there are dozens of smaller budget properties available, many close to the beach.
Lively street parades, beach bars serving tequila cocktails, crazy foam parties, late-night discos… Mexico loves a fiesta. Cancun is Mexico's best-known party destination where beach hotels have nightly pool parties with international DJs.
Consider a stay at The Tower by Temptation, an adults-only all-inclusive resort, which lights up like a rainbow.
Mexico City is the nation's heart of arts and culture. Stay in Centro Histórico for easy access to this 24-hour city, with Museo Mural Diego Rivera and the Palacio de Bellas Artes right on your doorstep.
Coyoacán is a more traditional district, where you’ll find the Frida Kahlo Museum and a collection of guesthouses and boutique hotels.
For the perfect all-inclusive beach escape, check out the Riviera Maya. Home to beach city Cancun, there are tons of hotels here that back straight onto the sand. For something a little more authentically Mexican, look at Pochutla in Oaxaca. The beaches here are a little more low-key, with less high rises and more greenery.
With so many all-inclusive resorts in Mexico, it can be hard to choose one. Popular spots with lots of great options include Playa del Carmen, Cabo San Lucas and Cancun.
Hotel Xcaret Mexico in Playa del Carmen features unlimited access to Grupo Xcaret adventures parks, where you can explore natural underground caves, go zip-lining and join snorkelling excursions.
Located in an ancient Mayan forest, Chablé Spa is a boutique spa resort in a restored 19th-century hacienda on the Yucatán Peninsula. Near historic Mérida, its casitas and villas all have private pools, and it has one of the few spas in the world with its own cenote.
Alternatively, head to Playa del Carmen and Palmaia, The House of AiA, an ultra-luxury resort with swim-up suites, a jungle spa and gourmet restaurants by next-level chefs from Michelin-star restaurants.
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