First stop: Cancun, Mexico

So staying at an all-inclusive, 5 star venue in the hotel district of Cancun may seem like a strange place to start a backpacking trip where you’ll be staying in hostels and travelling on a budget for the rest of your trip but that’s exactly what I did. Why? My decision on which part of the world to travel to first (South East Asia or Central & South America) was based upon where some of my best mates decided to celebrate their 30th birthdays. Three of the five of us were turning or had already turned 30 within around 3 weeks of when we stayed in Cancun and we wanted to celebrate it somewhere special.

The hotel we stayed at was the Riu Palace Hotel – and it was by far the best all-inclusive hotel I’ve ever stayed at.

Balcony view from our room at Riu Palace Hotel in Cancun

Balcony view from our room at Riu Palace Hotel in Cancun


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The lobby [Download link for VR]


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Hotel grounds overlooking pool and beach [Download link for VR]


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The beach outside the hotel [Download link for VR]


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The jacuzzi [Download link for VR]


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Outside restaurant [Download link for VR]


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Sunset on the beach [Download link for VR]


Usually at all-inclusives, the food kinda sucks, the alcohol is all watered down or they only have the cheaper brands and after a couple of days you’re sick of it all – this wasn’t the case at the Riu Palace. All the food, even the buffet selection was awesome, and they had 4 or 5 restaurants (which you had to book in advance but was still included in the all-inclusive package) which were real, real good.


food - nachos


food - steak



My mates all paid around £1,250 for the 7 days (including flights, transfers etc.) but as I was only travelling one-way, I was able to get added to one of their rooms for what ended up being around £65 a night – basically the price you’d pay in England for a Premier Inn or similar.


The Clubs of Cancun

We often check out all the nightlife we can whenever we go to any country and we kind of knew that the music would suck in Cancun (as opposed to some of the European cities we’ve traveled to). So knowing this going in, we still had some great nights. We hit Dady O’s (probably the best of the lot), Mandala Club (pool party) where the drinks I’m pretty sure were watered down (but we paid for bottle service wherever we went for between £40-£50 or so and they kept replacing the bottles when we ran out so it wasn’t a huge issue) and a couple of other spots like The City etc. which weren’t all that.


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On the strip [Download link for VR]

club - group shot with lads

Pool Party at Mandela Club

One of our best nights was when we slipped off the main strip and hit one of the side streets to a local bar and seeing a random live brass band turn up out of nowhere at 4am in the morning:


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Brass band on the streets of Cancun [Download link for VR]


The most expensive night where you pay something like $70 (with n0 bottle service) was Coco Bongo but after leaving the place I could only call the party spectacular – there really was no other way to describe it. It was a combination of a theatre/musical show along with your standard club music. If you can, I’d definitely recommend bottle service here –  you’ll enjoy it waaaaay more then being crammed in elsewhere like we were.


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Coco Bongo [Download link for VR]

I’ve been all over the world with the guys I went to Cancun with, attended their stags and weddings, birthdays and numerous weekend benders across England and Europe, and can honestly say that I’m never as happy as when we all get together – so I couldn’t have picked a better way to kick off my travels then by doing it with these guys.

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In the lift heading for another night out [Download link for VR]

Selfie pic lads?

Selfie pic lads?

Sunset on beach in Cancun

Final evening on the beach

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Final shot in the hotel lobby before I left the lads [Download link for VR]

Heading off alone for the first time, my next stop was Holbox Island in Northern Mexico.


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  1. posted by
    Starting my solo journey on Holbox Island (Isla Holbox)
    May 20, 2016 Reply

    […] sounded like the perfect place to chill after 7 nights of binging in Cancun, with untouched beaches, loads of wildlife, and a small community of around 2,000 locals and […]

  2. posted by
    Celebrating my birthday on Isla Mujeres, Mexico – 360Backpacking
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    […] was planning on skipping this island as I’d heard it was similar to Cancun but decided to head there with Emma (one of the Dutch girls I’d travelled to Cuba with) as […]

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    How I lost 16 days to Tulum (Mexico) by following the music. – 360Backpacking
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