Frequently Asked Questions, visitor info and tips for tourists
WEATHER, SEASONS AND CLIMATE DATA
Climate and Weather: When is the best time of year to visit Mazatlan?
DOCUMENTS AND TRAVEL ASSISTANCE
Required documents for tourists • Driving to Mazatlan
Consulates in Mazatlan
Paying in dollars or pesos? • How to exchange money
Using credit cards
BEHAVING POLITELY ABOUT MONEY
Tipping • Haggling over prices
Using cell / mobile phones • Using public telephones • Mailing letters
NUTS AND BOLTS
Electricity • Mazatlan time
FOOD AND DRINK
What's that on the menu? • Is it safe to drink the water?
MEDICAL CARE, DOCTORS, DENTISTS, PHARMACIES, CLINICS
Can I get good quality medical care?
Do I need a Mexican health insurance policy?
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan weather and seasonal climate
Mazatlan has a wonderful climate year-round, and four distinct seasons.
Fall, Winter and Spring are all extremely comfortable, with variations on warm daytime / deliciously cool evenings.
These months are also virtually completely dry, with only a small portion of Mazatlan's annual rainfall falling within these seasons.
Summer and Fall are the greenest times for Mazatlan and the vegetation in the surrounding countryside of Rural Sinaloa because Summer brings rain and the benefits of all that water sustains plants well into the Fall.
June, July, August and September are the rainy -- and tropical storm / hurricane -- season, with daytime temperatures and humidity considerably higher than at any other time of the year. Despite this, Summer days in Mazatlan are usually sunny (storms tend to build in the afternoons), and our Summer rains can be very exciting!
Video of a Mazatlan Thunder and Lightning Storm
Weather Facts and Mazatlan Climate Data
• Mazatlan usually receives about 33 inches of rain per year, or about 2.8 inches
per month on average, however...
• Virtually all of the rainfall is concentrated in June, July, August, September
and October and...
• On average, September is the rainiest month in Mazatlan, both in terms of
the amount of rainfall and in terms of the number of rainy days and...
• March and April are the driest months, with monthly average precipitation
of just 1/10th of an inch and...
• The warmest month is August and...
• The coolest month is January.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan Sinaloa Tourist Info about required travel documents
The first of our travel tips involves the immigration documents required to visit Mazatlan Mexico.
A valid passport is required to visit Mexico. Citizens of some countries -- including the United states and Canada -- are exempt from many of the more time-consuming document requirements for obtaining a Mexican tourist visa, and are issued Mexican tourist visas routinely and efficiently.
One of the most useful of our travel tips: Mexican tourist visas can be vaild for up to 180 days, so they will usually cover even the most extended Winter visits.
Remember this important Mazatlan visitor information: passport and Mexican tourist visa requirements change. Travelers are advised to check Mexican entry requirements with their State Department, or with the Mexican embassy or consulate in their home country when planning a trip to Mazatlan so that they have the most current information about the documents required to visit Mexico.
Mexican embassies and Mexican consulates also usually have Mazatlan tourist information.
United States registered car
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Visitor Info about driving to Mazatlan from the USA and Canada
Considering driving to Mazatlan?
The second of our travel tips involves the documentation required to bring your Canadian or United States registered car into Mexico.
If you are driving to Mazatlan from the United States or Canada, the documentation required to bring your car into Mexico -- and to Mazatlan -- is simple and straightforward:
• When driving to Mazatlan in your Canadian registered car or United States registered car you must have Mexican auto insurance.
Mexican auto insurance for your Canadian registered car or United States registered car can be purchased at the border; just inside Mexico; or from various insurers in the United States and Canada such as Lewis & Lewis in Beverly Hills, California -- mexicanautoinsurance.com
• When driving to Mazatlan in your Canadian registered car or United States registered car you must have a Mexican automobile import permit -- a Banjercito.
Banjercitos for your Canadian registered car or United States registered car are issued when you enter Mexico or -- for those driving south through the State of Sonora -- when you leave the Sonora Free Zone, just before you enter Sinaloa State.
Documents required to obtain a Banjercito for your Canadian registered car or United States registered car when driving to Mazatlan are: clear title to your vehicle; drivers license from the United States or Canada; proof of Mexican auto insurance.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: if you do not have clear title to your Canadian registered car or United States registered car -- vehicle registration in the United States or Canada is not sufficient -- when driving to Mazatlan you will need a notarized letter from your lender granting permission for you to take the car to Mexico.
Banjercitos for your Canadian registered car or United States registered car are issued for the length of your tourist visa and are inexpensive, costing just (approximately) $35 USD for the entire term of your tourist visa.
Some Mexican Banjercito offices also have Mazatlan tourist information in English.
Disabled parking permits and stickers
Tourists and longer term visitors to Mazatlan can get disabled parking stickers for their cars that allow parking in handicapped spaces.
The permits and window stickers are issued at the DIF (formally, Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia, SNDIF) offices on Angel Flores between Aquiles Serdan and Benito Juarez in Centro. The offices are inside City Hall (Palacio Federal).
Telephone 669 982 2111
To obtain a disabled parking sticker you will need to bring
and / or provide
• Passport and current visa
• Car registration
• License plate number
• Driver's license
• Proof of residency (an electric or other utility bill will suffice)
• Letter from your doctor describing your disability
• Passport photo
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan Tourist Info about foreign consulates in Mazatlan
The third of our travel tips involves the location and phone numbers of Consulates in Mazatlan Mexico.
Mazatlan has seven consulates: the Canadian consulate; the Danish consulate; the French consulate; the German consulate, the Guatamalan consulate, the Netherlands consulate, and the United States consulate. The German and United States consulates in Mazatlan are located in the Golden Zone - Zona Dorada.
Many of these Consulates also offer visitor information.
Boulevard Marina Mazatlan 2302, Suite 41 / Marina Mazatlan
Hours: Monday - Friday 9:30am to 12:30pm
Telephone 669 913 7320
Fax 669 914 6655
Heriberto Frias 1509
Telephone 669 981 7642
Fax 669 985 0578
Belisario Domínguez 1008 Sur / Centro
Telephone 669 985 1228
Avenida Playa Gaviotas 212 / Golden Zone - Zona Dorada
Telephone 669 914 9310
Fax 669 914 3422
Alejandro Quijano 211 Pte. / Centro
Telephone 669 981 6305
Fax 669 981 6305
Avenida Camarón Sábalo 6300, Apartado 575
Telephone 669 988 0047
Fax 669 913 5177
United States Consulate
Avenida Playa Gaviotas 202 / Golden Zone - Zona Dorada
Hours: Monday - Friday 9am to 1pm
Telephone 669 916 5889
Fax 669 916 5889
Euros -- or Pesos in Mazatlán Mexico?
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan Tourist Info about how to to pay for products and services
Many visitors to Mazatlan wonder if they should pay for goods and services in pesos or dollars. The fifth of our travel tips addresses this question, and the answer is simple: tourists and visitors should virtually always pay in pesos.
Current Mexican Peso (MXN) exchange rates for the United States Dollar (USD); Canadian Dollar (CAD); Euro (EUR); British Pound (GBP); Australian Dollar (AUD) and Swiss Franc (CHF)
The reason for this travel tip is also simple: the vast majority of prices for any product or service in Mazatlan will be denominated in pesos, and a visitor or tourist who pays in in pesos will usually get a better deal.
It is not exactly secret Mazatlan tourist information that most merchants, hotels, restaurants, and bars offer poor exchange rates compared to banks -- or even Casas de Cambio -- and it is in the visitors' best interest to pay in pesos.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: the best places to exchange dollars, Canadian dollars, Euros or other convertable currencies into pesos are almost always banks (not Casas de Cambio). Additional Mazatlan tourist info about bank locations and hours can be found in the Banks & ATM section of this website.
The currency of Mexico is the peso -- use it.
Any currency different from that of your home country can take a while to get familiar with, and the Mexican Peso is no exception.
For many years for Mazatlan visitors from the United States -- or others spending American dollars -- the easiest way to make on-the-fly conversions between prices in Mexican Pesos and the the cost in United States dollars was to divide by 10, i.e. 10 Pesos = 1 Dollar, 100 Pesos = 10 Dollars, 500 Pesos = 50 Dollars, etc.
Depending on the exchange rate, in actuality 10 Pesos was either a little more or a little less than an American dollar, but using the Rule of Ten used to be a very easy way to get a general idea of prices.
With the Mexican peso declining in value vs. the United States dollar and many other currencies since mid-2008, the math has become more complicated.
Useful Mazatlan tourist information about currency
• Mexican currency comes in 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 peso denomination bills. The newer bills -- like the 20 peso and 50 peso notes above -- are made of plastic, and have a clear window in them. The first of these plastic bills were the 20 and 50 peso Mexican notes. The new bills -- like the 20 peso and 50 peso notes pictured above -- are slightly smaller than the older paper peso notes. Both plastic and paper notes are in circulation for all denominations below 1000 pesos.
• An important bit of Mazatlan visitor information related to currency: 1000 peso notes should be avoided. This is a relatively new denomination (2005), and once issued was immediately counterfeited.
More importantly, it is often difficult to use 1000 peso notes as payment except at banks or very large retailers because most small stores, Mazatlan merchants, restaurants, and bars will not have sufficient cash to make change, or will simply be unwilling to accept the risk that the bill is counterfeit.
If you receive a 1000 peso note pass it back and get smaller bills.
• 500 peso notes can also present a problem in change-making -- especially at smaller shops and restaurants -- so try to carry bills smaller than this. 100's and 200's are not too large for all but the smallest vendors and stores.
• Virtually no business in Mazatlan will accept a bill which is not entirely intact, and ripped, torn or even stained bills may be refused as well. You should not accept ripped, torn or stained bills as change -- they will probably be a headache to spend.
• Common Mexican peso coin denominations are 1, 2, 5, and 10 pesos. The 10 is especially easy to identify -- it's a nice thick, substantial coin, bronze on the outside and silver on the inside.
There are also 20 and 100 peso coins (each slightly larger than it's next-smaller denomination), but they are not in wide circulation, and as a Mazatlan visitor you are not likely to encounter them. One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: beware the 20 peso coin -- it is very easily mistaken for the 10!
There are also 10, 20, and 50 centavo (cents) coins coming into wider circulation. The smallest ones are made of aluminum and have the appearance and weight of toy money.
You're only likely to receive the smallest of these centavo coins as change at larger stores, like groceries and pharmacies -- prices at almost all other stores are usually in even or half pesos.
A brief history of the Mexican Peso
The Mexican Peso is one of the oldest currencies in wide circulation anywhere in the world, and has played an important role in the finance of many countries, notably the United States and Canada.
The origins of the Mexican Peso are found in the Spanish Dollar -- eight-real coins, commonly referred to as "pieces of eight" -- one of the most widely used currencies worldwide from the 15th to the 19th centuries.
Eight-real coins were first issued in Mexico by the Spainish Empire when Mexico was a colony. These coins were in wide circulation in the Americas and Asia until the early 19th century.
Eight-real coins remained legal tender in Canada -- along with other foreign silver coins -- until 1854.
Similarly, eight-real coins were one of the most used currencies in the United States before and immediately after the American Revolution, and in 1785 the value of the United States dollar was officially set to approximately match that of the Mexican eight-real coin -- both of which were based on the weight of silver in the coins.
It wasn't until 1857 that the United States government officially stopped using eight-real coins as currency, and the Mexican eight-real coin remained in circulation in both the United States and Canada long after the 1850s.
The first coins named "Peso" -- which means "weight" in Spanish -- were minted in Mexico in 1863. They were just 1 centavo.
Emperor Maximilian, the Austrian-born French-supported Emperor of the Second Mexican Empire had grander plans for the peso, specifically the minting of gold pesos with his likeness, and larger denominations, like the 20 gold peso pictured above minted in 1866 -- not long before the collapse of the Second Mexican Empire in Mexico.
The fineness of the silver and gold content of peso coins fluctuated throughout the late 1800s and 1900s, with the last 100 peso silver coins being minted for circulation in 1977.
The magnificent solid gold Centenario -- first minted in 1921 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mexico's independence from Spain -- continues to be minted in limited editions for collectors.
37 milimeters in diameter and containing 37.5 grams (1.20565 troy ounces) of gold in an alloy of 90% gold and 10% copper, it is thought to be the largest, heaviest, gold coin ever produced by any country.
Today, the Mexican Peso is the most traded Latin American currency; the third most traded currency originating in the Americas (after the United States and Canadian dollars (in that order); and is the 8th most traded currency worldwide.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico Tourist Info about changing money
Some of the most requested Mazatlan tourist information relates to exchanging money in Mazatlan! "Where should I exchange my dollars for pesos" and "How do I get the best exchange rate for my dollars" being the most frequently asked.
The sixth of our travel tips addresses the question of the best way to exchange money in Mazatlan Mexico. For further information regarding banks in Mazatlan please refer to the Banks & ATMs page.
As in virtually every country, banks usually offer better exchange rates than private money-changers, called Casas de Cambio here in Mazatlan Mexico. Sometimes much better rates -- as much as 10% or more.
All banks are open Mondays through Fridays, almost all from 9-5. Some are open Saturday mornings. Some have special windows solely devoted to currency exchange, thereby sparing the foreign client the need to wait in line at the normal bank windows.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: remember to bring your passport or other government-issed I.D. -- you will probably be asked to present it.
It is important Mazatlan tourist information that to exchange smaller denomination bills -- usually $20 is the limit -- most of the ubiquitous OXXO convenience stores offer very competitive rates, almost always better than Casas de Cambio.
OXXOs' do not simply exchange money -- you have to make a purchase.
The chart above only shows the current conversion rates for the American dollar to the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar to the Mexican peso. For those looking for Mazatlan tourist information about current exchange rates for any other convertable currency click here. Note: the exchange rates quoted at this website are bank-to-bank rates, you will recieve slightly less.
Detailed Mazatlan tourist information about bank locations and telephone numbers can be found in the Bank & ATM section of this website.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Using credit cards in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Many visitors to Mazatlan wonder about how easy it will be to use credit cards to pay for things on their visit. The sixth of our travel tips addresses this question.
First, it is certainly possible for tourists to use credit cards in a wide variety of settings. Most major businesses, hotels, and many restaurants and bars in Mazatlan accept credit cards. When using credit cards in Mazatlan, Visa and Master Card are generally much more useful than American Express, which is not accepted by many establishments because of their exorbitant fees.
Your credit card charge in Mazatlan will be denominated in Mexican pesos, which will be converted to your home country's currency at the time that the charge is processed, usually the day following your transaction.
Conversion rates offered by most credit card companies whe you use a credit card in Mazatlan are usually fairly close to the international bank-to-bank rate at the moment of conversion.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / About tipping in Mazatlan
Many Canadians and Americans are unsure about what appropriate tips in Mazatlan are. While tipping anywhere -- not just tipping in The Pearl of The Pacific -- is highly subjective, this travel tip is an attempt to review the basics of what are considered appropriate tips in Mazatlan for various services.
Important Mazatlan tourist information: to begin with -- and unlike some countries -- tips (Propinas in Spanish) are a standard practice in Mexico.
The typical range for tips in restaurants, bars, cafés and cantinas is similar to tipping in the United States or Canada -- 15% unless you received extraordinary service.
It is an important bit of Mazatlan tourist information that visitors should be aware that they will rarely be offered the check at a Mazatlan restaurant until they ask for it.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: do not assume that the waiter / waitress is being rude or ignoring you: this is simply customary and, on the contrary, in Mexico to appear to be rushing a customer out would be considered rude.
When you are ready for your bill, simply signal the waiters with a small wave, and ask for "la cuenta" (pronounced "la kwenta").
There is, generally, no expected tipping in Mazatlan at taco stands or other street food carts, but leaving a small tip is considered gracious, and is appreciated.
Mexicans generally don't tip taxi or Pulmonia drivers -- and you should always negotiate a price before starting your taxi ride -- but the same principal of tipping a small amount applies.
If the taxi driver performs additional services, your tip should be appropriate to the amount of service they provided, for example 20-30 pesos for waiting or 30-50 pesos for helping with luggage depending on how much luggage you have.
The exception would be taxi or Pulmonia sightseeing excursions -- where the driver is really acting as your tour guide, beyond simply driving -- and where tips (above the pre-negotiated price) are more common, and to some degree expected.
Ordinarily 10% above the accepted tour price will suffice as an appropriate tip in Mazatlan for a Pulmonia or taxi excursion, unless the service was extraordinarily good.
Airport porters should be tipped about 10 pesos per bag. 50 pesos should probably be your maximum tip unless you have a very large number of bags.
Appropriate tipping in Mazatlan for salon staff is similar to the United States or Canada, the standard tip for salon services (massage therapy, hair cuts, pedicures etc) generally being in the range of 10-15%.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Negotiating prices in Mazatlan
Many Canadians and Americans are unsure about where haggling in Mazatlan is appropriate. This travel tip is an attempt to review where haggling over prices in Mazatlan is appropriate -- and where it is not.
To begin with, negotiating prices is expected in many settings in Mexico.
Whether it is vendors on the beach or jewelry in a fancy store, the first price quoted is often far higher than the seller is willing to accept. A good haggling strategy in Mazatlan is to counter with a far lower offer -- perhaps half of the initial asking price -- and take it from there.
This haggling principal applies to most services, such as taxi rides or automotive repair at independent automotive service facilities (not dealerships).
There are also many contexts where haggling over prices in Mazatlan is not possible, and would be considered rude or simply dumb. At larger stores -- with bar-codes and computers -- and, of course, restaurants and bars with menus, the price is the price.
mazatlantoday.net encourages potential hagglers to try to put their haggling instincts in context and consider the value of the product or service that they are obtaining from a hard-working Mexican.
While aggressive haggling in Mazatlan might make it possible to knock a street vendor down a few additional pesos, do you really want to deprive that person of a small -- and needed -- profit simply to prove that you can do that?
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Info about cell phones in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
There are many ways that Americans, Canadians and Europeans can use cell phones in Mazatlan.
Some carriers in the United States and elsewhere have plans where mobile devices from outside Mexico simply connect to the wireless network seamlessly. If you already have such a plan you probably already know it. If not, it might be worth contacting your carrier and seeing if they offer this type of plan and if it meets your requirements for your trip to Mazatlan.
• If your 850 / 1900 GSM phone is unlocked -- meaning that it will accept SIM cards other than the one from your service provider -- it is very easy to get a Telcel SIM card, which are sold not only at Telcel stores but even at OXXO convenience stores!
• Telcel SIM cards cost just 2 USD (with a $3 USD initial minute purchase required to activate) and they give you a local (area code 669) Mazatlan mobile telephone number. There is no billing involved: these are prepay accounts and the phone can be recharged at a very large number of locations -- including 24-hour OXXO convenience stores.
• If your phone is not unlocked, Telcel -- and other carriers -- make it very cheap and easy to start paying them money! A basic cell phone can be bought for about 15 USD that has a SIM card with a Mexico area code 669 Mazatlan number -- and that usually includes at least ten dollars of pre-paid minutes!
More complete Mazatlan tourist information about your telephone and internet communication options can be found in the Internet and Telephone section of this website.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Info about public telephones in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Many tourists ask if the public telephones in Mazatlan are useful to visitors. This travel tip is an emphatic yes to this question.
There are public telephones everywhere in Mazatlan Mexico.
These phones take either coins or phone cards that can be purchased at any convenience store, such as an OXXO.
Local call from public telephones in Mazatlan are extremely inexpensive -- as little as 3p per call, time unlimited.
International calls can be made from these Mazatlan public telephones but the rates -- like virtually all long-distance telcom services in Mexico -- are rather high compared to what an American or Canadian is used to.
Despite the relative lack of utility of public telephones in Mazatlan for international calls, we are perplexed that more Mazatlan tourist info doesn't emphasise their utility for local calls. One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: get yourself a phone card on your next visit and share this Mazatlan visitor information with friends!
There has also been a resurgance of private telephone booths -- Casetas Telefonica -- in Mazatlan. In elclipse as cellular phone service proliferated, private telephone booths have made a comeback in the form of independent providers such as Casefon who place booths within air conditioned convenience stores like OXXO's -- a big plus on hot humid days!
These private phone booths offer worldwide calling at rates ranging from 1 peso per minute for local calls to 12 pesos per minute to countries outside Mexico other than the United States.
More complete Mazatlan tourist information about your telephone and internet communication options can be found in the Internet and Telephone section of this website.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Mazatlan Sinaloa Mexico Tourist Info about postal services
Many visitors to Mazatlan -- and Mexico in general -- believe that Mexico doesn't really have a postal system or that the Mexican postal system doesn't work.
The thirteenth of our travel tips: contrary to this popular belief, Mexico does have a postal system and, generally, it does work!
The Mazatlan post office is located in Centro across from the central Cathedral / Basilica. Hours are 9am - 5pm weekdays, and 9am - 1pm on Saturdays. It is also usually possible to mail postcards and letters at hotels, and the front desk will often have stamps.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips (it will make you a very fun international traveler!): sent postcards and letters home and thrill your family and friends with very cool and colorful Mexican stamps!
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Visitor Info about electrical service in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
In the era of ubiquitous electronic -- electrical -- devices, most tourists have some questions about electricity. This travel tip reviews the basics of electricity in Mazatlan Mexico.
Visitors to The Pearl of The Pacific from the United States or Canada don't need to worry about bringing power adapters -- electrical current in Mazatlan is the same as you are used to (110 volts), and the plugs are the same.
Older buildings may not have 3-prong (grounded) outlet. If your any of your electrical devices have a 3-prong plug, make sure to bring a 3-prong to 2-prong adapter. Also, be aware that many 3-prong sockets are not actually grounded, because the third ground wire was not installed. This is one of our most important Mazatlan travel tips because, without a proper ground, surge protectors -- for example, one that may be built into your laptop computer or that you bring with you to protect your laptop computer -- will not work.
The electrical system in Mazatlan is generally reliable. Most areas will get a few occasional flickers (usually not surges), and many parts of The Pearl of The Pacific experience occasional electrical outages, especially during rain storms or days with very high winds.
Most of these electrical outages are momentary -- really extended electrical flickers lasting only seconds or a few minutes -- and CFE (the federal electricity company, Comision Federal de Electricidad) is very good about getting power restored quickly when there has been more substantial damage to some portion of the electrical grid.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: given the substantial possibility that even if you are plugged in to a 3-prong outlet that it is not really grounded (see above), it is very inadvisable to keep delicate electronic devices plugged into the grid during storms.
Take a break, unplug, have a drink, relax -- they're all good alternatives to having your computer or the iPod, iPad, Kindle, Nook or super-sexy brand new Android smart phone you were charging fried to a crisp.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the municipal electrical system in mazatlan click here!
If you decide to buy a house in Mazatlan or live here long term, you'll need to get a contract for your electricity which is obtained at a CFE office. In most parts of Mazatlan CFE bills are issued every two months, and are usually due within 15 days. If you don't pay, CFE wastes no time in cutting you off.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: if you don't get your power bill it's your responsibility to know when it's due. If it's getting close to the normal due-date and you haven't received your bill, take a previous bill to one of the CFE machines or the CFE office, wave it in front of the bar-code scanner, and the machine will tell you the amount due.
Be aware that electrical rates in Mazatlan -- and throughout most of Mexico -- are extremely high per kilowatt-hour compared to what Canadians and Americans are used to.
Unfortunately, stealing neighbors electricity is not terribly uncommon in Mazatlan. If your bill seems unreasonably high, turn off everything in your house -- or pull the circuit breaker or fuses -- and check to see if your meter is still running. If so, somebody is almost certainly stealing your power.
CFE takes this seriously. Let them know.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / The current time in Mazatlan Mexico
More about restaurants and dining in Mazatlan | More about street food
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / Eating local foods in Mazatlan
Many visitors to Mazatlan are experts about Mexican food, but some are not.
We offer this brief guide to typical Mexican food you will encounter in Mazatlan, along with short descriptions to help guide you to the type of food you like.
The Pearl of The Pacific offers many culinary choices in addition to Mexican food, and a large database of Mazatlan restaurants -- representing many different cuisines -- can be found in the restaurants section of this website. It is also worth noting that Mazatlan has a very vibrant Street Food Scene, and lots of the delicious food described below can be bought very inexpensively from street food carts and vendors!
What's for breakfast?
As in many cultures, eggs play a central role in Sinaloa breakfast cuisine.
Because of the number of non-Mexicans who visit Mazatlan, your eggs (Huevos) can be prepared pretty much any way you want them, from simple scrambled or over-easy variations common in coffee shops in the United States and Canada to very spicy Mexican versions like Ranchero style with either red or green salsas.
Eggs are virtually always accompanied by refried beans, and chips rather than bread.
Chilaquiles Chilaquiles are a traditional Mexican breakfast dish. The word chilaquiles is derived from the Nahuatl word "chil-a-quilitl" which translates as "herbs or greens in chile broth".
Corn tortillas cut in strips or quarters that are lightly fried form the basis of the dish. Green or red salsa -- or sometimes mole sauce -- is poured over the crisp tortillas and the mixture is heated until the tortilla softens and is topped with queso fresco (fresh cheese). Pulled chicken or pork -- or scrambled or fried eggs -- are often part of this delicious mix which is nearly universally served with refried beans. Yummy!
Chilorio Want something different with your eggs? Chilorio is a Sinaloan breakfast treat! Chilorio was invented in the State of Sinaloa. Chilorio is made with shredded pork seasoned with vinegar and chiles. Chilorio is a great spicy way to start your day in Mazatlan!
Machaca Another way to spice up your eggs is to order them with Machaca, which is most commonly made from shredded -- dried -- spiced beef or pork. Carne Seca is another name for this tasty treat. Machaca with eggs is a very popular breakfast or brunch dish.
Care for a drink?
Try a carbonated apple cider; a Jimaica drink (really more of an Agua Fresca, not a soda pop, it is a cold tea made from the flowers of the Jamaica plant); or Toni Col, a vanilla-based soda invented in El Rosario, one of our recommended Mazatlan Day Trips.
Agua Frescas Agua Frescas could be anything from fruit flavored water drinks to mashed sweetened rice mixed with ice water. Agua Frescas from street carts are made with purified water and ice cubes. Agua Frescas are the perfect antidote for a hot day!
Coconut Water Coconut Water is a real treat in Mazatlan, and a real treat for the wallets of visitors from the United States and Canada! Far from being the trendy high-priced beverage it has become north of the border, frest coconuts are have been a staple of the diet of Mazatlecos for many generations, and are dirt cheap. Usually from the massive coconut plantations on Stone Island, you can drink the delicious nectar through a straw, or have your seller chop the coconut meat up for you, pour in the coconut juice, and take the whole thing home in a baggie to your blender.
Licuados Licuados are a true Mexican treat. Licuados are blended drinks similar to smoothies usually made from rice milk (or cow milk), vanilla, and cinnamon. Sweet and refreshing, Licuados are served from many food stands, carts, and at shops devoted only to selling them.
Refrescos Refrescos are soda. In addition to Coke -- now available in a sugar-free version, not just reduced sugar -- Pepsi in Mazatlan offers a variety of locally produced soda pop products.
Tuba Tuba is a traditional drink made of coconut milk, palm sap and chunks of apple and nuts served over ice. This is a very common street cart / vendor item, and you’ll see street sellers carrying a pole over their shoulders with a gourd on one end and a bag of ice and cups on the other. Refreshingly sweet on a hot day!
A bit of soup?
Birria Birria is a popular Mexican meat stew usually made with goat, lamb, or mutton. Spicy, hearty and filling, Birria is flavored with roasted peppers, onion and coriander and thickened by hours of simmering.
Pozole Pozole is a seasoned stew with pork and hominy. Pozole is usually served with onions and cabbage on the side.
Sopa de Mariscos Sopa de Mariscos is seafood soup. The Mazatlan version of Sopa de Mariscos is similar to many Mediterranean soups with shrimp, clams, octopus, and the catch of the day usually included.
Tortilla Soup Tortilla Soup is a Mexican dining dream come true. Do you like salsa? Avocado? Cilantro? Fresh hot tortilla chips? Tortilla soup combines these ingredients -- and more -- into a soup version of a perfect enchilada!
Arrancheras Arrancheras is grilled skirt steak served with guacomole, salsa, beans and tortillas.
Asada a la Plaza Asada a la Plaza is grilled beef, cut up into pieces, served with potatoes and / or another vegetable, lettuce, onions and tortillas.
Carne Asada Carne Asada is grilled beef. Carne Asada can be served in a taco; as a very thin steak; or cut into pieces and served with potatoes and / or vegetables. Sinaloa is known throughout Mexico for the quality of its beef, and the carne asada in Mazatlan is truly delicious.
Ceviche de Camarone Ceviche de Camarone is a regional classic that is served virtually everywhere in Mazatlan Mexico. Its prepared by marinating fresh uncooked shrimp in lime juice and then blending them with chopped spicy fresh chili's and vegetables. Ceviche de Camarone is served mounded on a plate or in a glass with crisp fried corn tortillas. Try Ceviche de Camarone with ice cold beer -- wonderful!
Chiles Rellenos Chiles Rellenos are Poblano chilis stuffed with cheese, breaded and pan fried or deep fried. Chiles Rellenos are sometimes served in a soupy ranchero sauce.
Enchiladas An Enchilada is a lightly fried tortilla -- usually corn -- that is stuffed with cheese and / or shredded chicken or beef. Sinaloan enchiladas are usually served sprinkled with grated queso cotija and a hot sauce or sauces.
Gorditas A Gordita is a corn cake made with cornmeal and stuffed with cheese, meat or other fillings. It is similar to a pasty and can include pork, chicken, shredded beef, chorizo (hot sausage), carne al pastor, nopalitos (cactus), beans, rajas (sautéed strips of chile), potatoes, eggs or picadillo (ground meat usually mixed with tomatoes, onions, olives and often raisins).
Tacos Tacos are soft flour (harina) or corn (maize) tortillas filled with your choice of beef, pork, chicken or shrimp. A particular treat are tacos "pastor", which is more-or-less like BBQ pork, often served with grilled pineapple -- and simply delicious.
Pescado Zarandeado Pescado Zarandeado is butterflied whole fish covered with sliced tomatoes, peppers and onion with usually a mayonnaise-based dressing, cooked over coals. This is usually ordered by size of the fish and is a must-try dish here in Mazatlan Mexico.
Pollo a la Plaza Pollo a la Plaza is grilled chicken with potatoes and / or another vegetable served with lettuce, onions, and tortillas.
Smoked Marlin Smoked Marlin is primarily served three ways in Mazatlan -- in Escabeche which is a sweet and sour preparation with carrots and onions and other veggies; Estofado, which is stewed; or ala Mexicana with tomatoes, chiles and cilantro.
Tamales Tamales are chicken, beef or pork with vegatables -- usually potato -- surrounded by cornmeal and wrapped in corn husks. Sweet Tamales are also sold. Tamales are not truly a Mazatlan specialty, and they aren't that easy to find.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / About the safety of tap water in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Many visitors to Mazatlan wonder, is it safe to drink the water? This travel tip addresses the safety of tap water in Mazatlan Mexico.
In virtually all cities in Mexico -- and certainly in Mazatlan -- tap water is supposed to be potable, meaning that it has been purified and is suitable for human consumption. That being said -- and like other Mazatlan tourist information you may have read -- drinking tap water is not advised.
The exception to this tip would be some hotels who have filtered internal water systems. These are generally luxury hotels, and they will usually advertise these systems as one of their hotel amenities.
One of our most important Mazatlan travel tips: it is alway worthwhile -- even if you are staying in a luxury hotel -- to check with the front office before drinking tap water.
Almost all restaurants -- including less expensive restaurants -- serve only purified water and ice cubes made with purified water, and the safety of water in Mazatlan restaurants is usually not an issue.
If you would like to learn more about the history of the municipal water system in mazatlan click here!
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / About quality medical care in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Questions about the quality of healthcare in Mazatlan are some of the most frequently asked questions when speaking with retirees considering spending the winter in Mazatlan, or living here full time.
It is also of interest to those -- mostly Americans and Canadians -- who are considering Mazatlan as a destination for Medical Tourism vacations, usually for dental procedures and elective plastic surgery.
Mazatlan has substantial health care infrastructure, and a wealth of skilled English-speaking medical practitioners that are available to serve the medical needs of expats, seasonal residents and tourists.
One of the things that Americans and Canadians first notice when experiencing Mexican health care is the amount of time that doctors and other healthcare practitioners spend with patients -- which is a lot compared to most settings in the United States and Canada!
Simply put: Mexican doctors allow much more time with each patient.
The cost of an office visit with a doctor in Mazatlan is usually under $50 USD, and the costs associated with medical tests and prescription drugs is far lower than Americans and Canadians are used to.
Mazatlan has several hospitals -- notably Atlantic Health International Hospital SHARP -- and a substantial number of medical clinics.
Another thing that usually surprises -- and pleases -- North of The Border patients is that the House Call is alive and well in Mazatlan!
Experienced doctors and other health care providers routinely visit patients at their houses, condos and hotel rooms -- at very modest prices.
Because Mazatlan is a medium-sized community -- the population of the city is roughly 370,000 -- residents, visitors and medical tourists enjoy rapid access to medical resources: doctors and other practitioners know each other and referrals for specialized medical services are usually quite efficient.
The best of the doctors and hospitals in Mazatlan maintain ties with other specialists and hospitals in larger cities in Mexico like Guadalajara, Monterrey and Mexico City that can address medical problems that require tools or technology that Mazatlan may lack in specific cases.
FAQ Travel Guide Tip / About Mexican health insurance in Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Mexico
Private American and Canadian health insurance can often be used at major Mazatlan hospitals and medical clinics and some, like Atlantic Health International Hospital SHARP, have English-speaking staff that are experienced at handling the paperwork to file a medical insurance claim with American and Canadian insurers.
Longer-term or full time expat residents often choose to purchase private Mexican health insurance. There are a wide range of policy options available, and many policies guarantee admittance to specific hospitals, including hospitals anywhere in Mexico.
The annual cost of these private Mexican medical insurance policies varies widely depending on deductible and the range of hospitals and medical clinics included, but at any level of coverage they are very inexpensive compared to private health insurance in the United States or Canada.
Mazatlan has numerous physicians and dentists that provide elective procedures like cosmetic surgery or dentistry. The cost for these procedures is very low by American and Canadian standards, usually running less than 1/3 of the cost in the United States or with private-practice physicians in Canada.