From Andrew Harper
The vast republic of Mexico encompasses nearly 2 million square miles of every topography imaginable: verdant grasslands; mountain ranges; volcanic plains; dense rain forests. However, most visitors are only familiar with its shoreline. Travelers have been flocking to the beaches of Mazatlán, Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta for decades. In recent years, the Caribbean “Riviera Maya” has become increasingly popular, as have smaller pockets of the Pacific Coast such as Zihuatanejo and Costa Alegre.
A visit to the colonial heart of Mexico is worthwhile -- in particular to the cities of San Miguel de Allende and nearby Guanajuato, both located in the highlands northwest of Mexico City. These are fine destinations for amblers without agendas. Expect plenty of winding cobblestone streets, stately continental mansions and a tranquilo pace of life. Accommodations here are suitably historic and eclectic; the Casa de Sierra Nevada in San Miguel is assembled from several disparate mansions near the zócalo.
CLIMATE : Aside from the northern Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, much of Mexico consists of high plateaus with a warm, agreeable climate. Temperatures are determined largely by altitude. Winter in the mountains can bring freezing conditions, while coastal areas remain blissfully tropical. Rain falls chiefly from May-August. The most pleasant time to visit all areas is November-May.
TIME : One hour behind New York (EST). Baja California Sur is three hours behind.
CURRENCY : Peso (MXN). Fluctuating rate valued at MXN13 = US$1.00 as of March 2012. Note: Many hotels quote room rates in US$ only.
U.S. EMBASSY : Mexico City, Tel. (55) 5080-2000. There are also consulates in Guadalajara, Tel. (333) 268-2100, and Merida, Tel. (999) 942-5700.
DIRECT DIAL CODES : To phone hotels in Mexico, dial 011 (international access) + 52 (Mexico code) + city code and local numbers in listings.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS : Passport. Visit www.travel.state.gov, and for travelers’ health information, www.cdc.gov.
GENERAL INFORMATION : Visit www.visitmexico.com before your trip.