To most people of the world, Cancun is all beaches and all Mayan ruins. Most tourists come to this city and stay in the Hotel Zone, to venture later on to the different islands and beaches nearby.
However, beneath the surface, when you go out of the Hotel Zone or get off the beach and head towards the mainland, you’ll encounter the part of Cancun that is entirely different from what you see in travel sites and in pages promoting Cancun travel – you will see that part of Cancun that is the real face of Mexico.
While the Hotel Zone has townhouses and condos and resort hotels, in mainland Cancun you will find two- and three-storey houses similar to what you’ll find in most of Mexico. You might even chance upon the so-called super manzanas.
These are old sections of the city that are designed like a triangle, each looking like its own community – complete with supermarket, church, and school. And while the Hotel Zone lodging facilities are known for being pricey, the rates in most of the accommodation found in mainland Cancun are very affordable, around 4 times cheaper.
Apart from these differences, the pulse of these two opposing areas in Cancun is also very different. The Hotel Zone is designed to offer very touristy activities, from the high-end restaurants to inclusive resorts.
When you go into the mainland, you’ll get to experience authentic Mexican culture as you encounter the displays found at the La Casa Del Cultura, for example, or the weekend celebrations held in Parque las Palapas or even the stands and stalls containing fresh produce and meat at Mercado 23.
Life in mainland Cancun is laid back and slow. There is still a remaining tinge of traditional culture that is not corrupted by technology.
Friends meet personally. Families spend weekends together, going on picnics and excursions.
The entire community in general gets busy with activities on weekends and during different times of the month – with fiestas, open markets, parades, and other celebrations.
Visitors who are staying in Cancun for a week or more may have the time to venture out of the Hotel Zone to experience a cultural immersion in the mainland.
Expats who are looking for a place to stay can also consider mainland Cancun. Cost of living is not as cheap as in most of central Mexico, but it’s still a lot less than in the US or Canada. And the neighboring beaches, cenotes and ruins are always a treat, not to mention the year-round tropical climate.
The city also comes complete with basic amenities such as a strong Internet connection (3g and 4g), banks, a major airport and many other modern facilities that will rival many modern cities.