Top Mexico Souvenirs (Yucatan Peninsula)

You can find pretty much everything your heart desires in the many shopping areas of Cancun. For upscale shopping, check out La Isla in the Hotel Zone (HZ) and Puerto Cancun, just outside the HZ entrance. More casual shopping can be found at Plaza la Fiesta and Flamingo Mall in the HZ. For more local flavor, check out Plaza las Americas mall and Markets 23 and 28. However, you may want to practice your Spanish before heading to either market; there won’t be many English speakers. Cozumel and Isla Mujeres also have their own shopping districts but sell many of the same goods found in Cancun.

 

Everyone has their own way they like to remember their vacation; some people like $5 T-Shirts and Senor Frogs shot glasses, while others like local goods. Nothing wrong with either but this list is geared more towards the latter. Many goods here are made in China, so be discerning when choosing where you spend your money. When it comes to handwoven goods, I like to see them being made in the shop and silver should always have a 925 stamp. Without further ado, here are some of the best local goods to bring home from Cancun:

 

1. Handmade Clothing

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

You will see the white embroidered blouses and dresses in many shops across the region. The blouses and dresses are flattering and airy and the best pieces are handmade by those of Mayan ancestry. For men, the embroidered shirts are called, “guayabera” and help keep you cool during the long Mexican afternoons. While you should haggle a bit, these pieces take time, so don’t offer an insultingly low price.

 

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2. Beaded/Handmade Jewelry

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

Simple woven and beaded bracelets are some of my favorite inexpensive souvenirs from across Mexico. You can see young women making these bracelets in many of the shops you pass. These bracelets generally just cost a few pesos and are great souvenirs for those people that you want to remember but can’t afford to spend much money on. More expensive pieces can contain coral but these are more commonly found on Cozumel.

 

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3. Silver Jewelry

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

While almost all silver comes from Taxco, silver jewelry abundant throughout much of Mexico and Cancun is no different. You should *always* haggle with the shopkeeper on price. Many times the pieces are priced over 100% more than what they are worth. Do not purchase from the first shop you walk into and don’t be intimidated when the shopkeeper says, “this deal expires when you walk out my door” (it won’t). Side streets are often better for bargains, as many people stick to the main drag. Be sure to look for the 925 stamp on each piece you purchase and be sure about what you are buying – refunds generally do not exist.

 

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4. Handwoven Beach Bags

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

One of my favorite souvenirs is my handwoven beach bag. You can find these in many shops across both east and west coast but be sure you see the lady making them on-site. That is the only way to guarantee they are not factory made. They come in many different designs but most common is a floral pattern. A good you should haggle on a little but keep in mind they are art.

 

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5. Xtabentun

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Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

For those of you who like to bring home unique liquors from the areas you visit, Xtabentun should be your choice here. While tequila is overwhelmingly more popular, you should wait to buy it until you visit the state of Jalisco, where it’s made. Xtabentun comes from the neighboring state of Yucatan and is derived from anise seed and fermented honey. You can use it however you would like but many people prefer the sweet liqueur in coffee.

 

6. Chocolate

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

As you may know, the Mayans once inhabited the state of Quintana Roo. Like many of us today, the Mayans were big fans of chocolate. The cacao bean and beverages derived from it were often used in ceremonies honoring the Gods. Try to avoid buying milk chocolate and opt for a darker variety to enjoy the true richness of the treat. Varieties with cinnamon and chili pepper are commonly available.

 

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7. Vanilla

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Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

One of those souvenirs that is great if you can find the real thing but is often imitated. You can find vanilla extract everywhere in shopping areas across Cancun, the problem is finding the good stuff. The first ingredient should be vanilla bean and the only other one should be alcohol. Don’t go for the cheapest extract you find; it probably won’t be the real thing.

 

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8. Hammocks

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

Many natives in the nearby state of Yucatan still sleep in hammocks every night. For this reason, great quality handwoven hammocks can be found throughout the states of Yucatan and Quintana Roo (Cancun). This is a good that can be haggled down in price but quality goods take time and money. Look for a shop where you can see the hammocks being made.

 

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9. Achiote

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Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

A spice common in dishes native to the area, achiote imparts a nice orange-red color to any dish. The ground spice and its paste can be found in many markets but the seeds are generally considered more desirable. If you cannot find this spice in a souvenir market, Market 23 or a local grocery store are your best bets. Chorizo and longaniza are types of sausages that contain the spice and the famous Yucatecan dish cochinita pibil also contains achiote.

 

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10. Talavera Pottery

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

Not native to the region, this pottery comes from Puebla. However, it is beautiful and many travelers choose to purchase it in Cancun because a trip to Mexico City is not in their plans. Be very careful when transporting it back to the states and don’t be afraid to ask the shopkeeper to wrap it extra well.

 

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11. Hot Sauce

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

Photo Credits: pixabay.com

 

The best hot sauces *by far* are not the ones you can buy bottled in a souvenir shop. The homemade hot sauces found in restaurants are 1000 times better and spicier. Your mouth will remember this “souvenir” if you are not used to spicy food. If you do want to take some home, the El Yucateco comes from the neighboring state of Yucatan but you can find it in many International food shops in the USA.

 

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