Language: Spanish

Climate: The weather in Mexico is determined not only by latitude but also by altitude. Mexico has tropical forests, dry deserts, fertile valleys and snow-capped mountains. Since Mexico's terrain is extremely varied, so is the weather. On the coast, the climate is generally balmy all year, but some months are rainy and others dry, and Mexico City can be quite chilly. The rainy season for most of Mexico runs roughly from May through September or October. During the rest of the year there is little or no rain. Hurricane season runs from June to November.

Time Zone: PDT — Pacific Daylight Time, CDT — Central Daylight Time, MDT — Mountain Daylight Time

International phone code: 52

Currency: Mexican peso (MXN)

Capital: Mexico City

Transportation: Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta and Cancún receive direct scheduled flights from Europe, Canada, Central and South America and Havana, Cuba. If you're travelling from Mexico into the US at a busy time of year, have a look at the website of US Customs & Border Protection (, which posts waiting times at entry points (under Travel). You can make your way to the border by bus or train, cross it on foot or by local bus, and then catch an onward bus on the other side. Greyhound serves many US border cities; to reach others, transfer from Greyhound to a smaller bus line. Travelling in Mexico is most practical by bus, car or air. Passenger transport by train is almost nonexistent. The main full-service airlines, in addition to the major US carriers, are Aeromar, AeroMexico and AeroMexico Connect (formerly Aerolitoral). The rapidly changing palette of low-cost carriers includes InterJet, Volaris and Viva Aerobus. If travelling by bus, be sure to take the express buses if available (they are called directo). Other buses often stop at many smaller stations along the way, making the trip a lot longer. Few US rental firms allow their vehicles to be taken into Mexico. But rentals from most major companies can be obtained in Mexico.

Gay Mexico:

Gay rights and acceptance in Mexico have expanded in recent years as the influence of foreign and domestic cultures (especially from cosmopolitan areas like Mexico City) grows. Attitudes are beginning to change, most markedly in the largest metropolitan areas such as Guadalajara, Monterrey and Tijuana, where education and access to foreigners and foreign news media are greatest.

But change is slow in the outlying areas, and attitudes even in some larger cities can be predominantly intolerant.

North American 'political correctness' is not widely practiced in Mexico, and descriptors based on ethnicity are common and not meant to be offensive. 'Gringo' and 'gabacho' are used regardless of nationality, and often meant as terms of endearment. 'Negro(a)' and the diminutives 'negrito(a)' are not meant to be derogatory. Nor are 'chino(a)' for just about anyone from Asia, or 'turco(a)' for persons form the Middle East.

And while the drinking age and the age of consent are both generally 18 (there are regional variations), ID is rarely checked at bars. Be cautious of young men who may be even younger than they seem.