Top 5 things Americans need to know about Mexican culture

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Mexico is an extremely popular destination for American travelers. Americans make up the largest percentage of tourists in the country, with millions visiting the country each year.

In 2022, Mexico’s popularity among Americans continued to rise, with destinations like Cancun and Puerto Vallarta setting records. In the first quarter of 2022 alone, more than 3 million Americans visited Mexico.

Woman walking down a street in Mexico with a camera, Americans

It is also the largest country for American expats, with up to one million Americans living temporarily or permanently in Mexico.

Mexico is popular among Americans because of its beautiful beaches and nature, interesting cities, delicious food and great culture, affordable prices, and proximity to the United States.

For Americans planning to visit Mexico soon, here are some key things to know about Mexican culture before your trip:

Street from Mexico, Americans

1. Tipping is common in Mexico

Unlike some international destinations in Asia or Europe where tipping is not a thing, it is common in Mexico.

Just like in the United States, you are expected to leave a proper one for restaurant waiters, bartenders, valets, hotel maids and other service workers. At a restaurant, 10% to 15% of the total bill is an appropriate tip.

In more touristy areas, a gratuity may be automatically added to the bill at a restaurant, in which case no additional tip is required.

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Restaurant in Mexico

2. Don’t expect English everywhere

In many popular destinations in the country, you will have no problem finding fluent English speakers in the tourism and hospitality industry.

However, overall, only 12% of Mexicans speak English as a second language (which is still much higher than the percentage of non-Hispanic Americans who speak Spanish as a second language).

This means that English is not as common in Mexico as some American tourists might expect, especially away from the most touristy areas.

Learning basic Spanish before visiting Mexico will go a long way in making communication and getting around the country easier.

Woman in Mexico

3. Prepare for a slower pace of life

There is a slower pace of life in Mexico when it comes to many things, some positive and some negative.

Long, unhurried meals with friends and family and the traditional afternoon siesta they are examples of Mexico’s more relaxed pace of life. Shops often close earlier and may not be open at all on Sundays or holidays, and there is less of a 24/7 culture like the US.

However, this can also be a disadvantage as things can take longer than some Americans would expect and there is a lot of slow bureaucracy in the country.

woman on hammock in mexico

4. There is always something to celebrate in Mexico

Mexican culture is incredibly vibrant. Family, friends and community are extremely important in Mexico.

You’ll find that someone is always celebrating in Mexico, whether it’s unique holidays Day of the Dead (The day of the Dead), Semana Santa (Holy Week), Navidad y las Posadas (Christmas season) and The independence Day (Independence day.)

Parades, processions, decorations, and other events are common during the holidays in Mexico, along with special meals. Weddings and birthdays (esp Quinceañeras) are also a big problem.

Many Americans may find the country shockingly loud, with fireworks and loud music common at all times of the day, but that’s just part of the culture and daily life in Mexico.

Christmas in Mexico City

5. Mexican culture is incredibly diverse

Despite the stereotypes Americans are familiar with, Mexican culture is not a monolith. It’s actually incredibly diverse.

Mexico is a mixture of many different cultures, including indigenous, European, African and miscegenation (mixed) Although Mexico is an 80% Roman Catholic country, there is still significant indigenous influence.

More than 300 languages ​​are spoken in Mexico, and the country’s diversity can be seen in its varied destinations, from electrifying cities to ancient Aztec ruins to perfect colonial towns.

Dia de Muertos

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