Mazatlan on The Cheap

Mazatlan on the Cheap

mazatlan on the cheap

Of course, 5 Weeks in Hawaii with a baby wasn’t enough travel to try and maximize my mini-retirement/ maternity leave, I wanted to also go to Mexico too.  I had never been to Mexico.

We were very impressed with Mazatlan, it seemed like a lot of people there were also Canadian so we felt at home.  There were a lot of references to Canada that we saw in Mazatlan (like a Canucks restaurant) and the locals told us there were probably more Canadians than Americans there.  Many are retirees or snowbirds leaving the cold winters to head down to Mexico during the cold months.  Mazatlan is considered more economical than the other resort towns in Mexico, such as Puerto Vallarta and Cancun.  I would have preferred to go to Cancun but we wanted to limit the flights to shorter flights and stick to the Pacific side.

Our flights were the most expensive thing, it was about $325 USD per ticket from Los Angeles to MZT (Mazatlan).  Other than that we spent $55 USD for accommodation and about $150 USD for food, transportation etc. and everything else.

where to stay

For four nights, we stayed at a two bedroom condo called the Sea Garden on the edge of town.  It was far from the center of things and all the other resorts but it was a much quieter area.   We had a beautiful view of the ocean and pools and it was perfect!  Especially since it cost us $55 USD for the four nights.  Yes, you read that correctly.  More on that in my timeshare travel hacking post coming up.

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Mazatlan on the cheap
Our view, nice eh?

what we ate and drank

  • For breakfast, we had oatmeal packages that we brought on the carry on luggage, and two eggs and some fruit.  Baby GYM had his organic squeeze pouch baby food for breakfast.
  • Room service pizza for $15.  The tax and tip were included and the price of the room service pizza was the same as eating at the hotel restaurant downstairs.  This was our dinner on the day we arrived since we didn’t have time to go to the store to buy groceries.
  • Fried rice for 20 pesos (around $1.25 USD) and fried rice with two choices combo for 45 pesos ($2.50) in Historico Centro (I think it was called Murale Chino or something, basically “The Great Wall”- it is a chain).

Chinese food in Mazatlan

  • Liverpool breakfast buffet at the Las Gallerias shopping mall– this was a very authentic all-you-can-eat Mexican breakfast for under $10!  Nothing was labeled unfortunately so I didn’t really know what I was having but it was all pretty good.  Liverpool is like a department store.
  • Purchased at the El Mercado, we bought fresh whole red snapper and 1lb of prawns for $7 USD (this was an absolute DEAL compared to back home in Canada!).  We just boiled the prawns (in bottled water of course) and they were so delicious!  We just steamed the snapper and had it with some onions and cucumber.  You can get away with being not creative when you’re too cheap to buy oil, butter, salt, and pepper or other seasonings.  It really brings out the natural flavour of the food you’re eating!

Prawns and Red Snapper in MazatlanFresh seafood at El Mercado

  • We also went to the local Walmart- Some of the purchases at Walmart were a 10L bottle of water, bananas, oranges, a pineapple, canned corn/peas, onions, cucumber, honeydew, palmier pastry treats, and eggs.  Basically, all the patrons at Walmart were non-Mexicans.
  • McDonald’s- I had an ice cream cone for 12 Mexican Pesos (or about $0.70 CAD).

Ice cream in Mazatlan

  • Corona beer was super cheap, about $1 CAD a can at the grocery store.  Of course, I had a can of beer with my prawns.

getting around

Getting to and from the airport to the edge of town cost around $21 USD with a taxi.  The rates seem pretty fixed and it is negotiated between the driver and the tourist.  They have a lot of golf-card inspired looking open top taxis in Mazatlan and they are called Pulmonias.  Apparently, Pulmonias are not found anywhere else, just Mazatlan!  Taxi drivers in Mazatlan do not need a tip (and I can confirm this when we didn’t tip and they were still very kind) as these are fixed prices.  More details here in this Tripadvisor post.

There is a bus (Sabalo-Centro) that costs 11 Mexican pesos and runs pretty regularly to the Golden Zone (where all the hotels and restaurants are) and the “Old Town” Centro Historico where the cathedral is.  It’s not luggage or stroller friendly though!

Related: PC Travel Review

what to see and do

  • The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception was built in 1899 and is hard to miss.  It is currently being restored.  It is very beautiful and there is a nice plaza beside it.

Sightseeing in Mazatlan

  • El Mercado was a nice visit, there are lots of tourist stalls and knick-knack and souvenirs if you’re into that sort of thing.  There are also fruits and vegetables and meat and fish stalls right beside the knick-knack and souvenirs.  All under one roof of course.  This is where we got our fresh seafood for an unbeatable price.  Everyone who visited Mazatlan seemed to have one of the ubiquitous tourist Mazatlan T-shirts.
  • It was just nice walking around the streets.  The Centro Historico area is not very big.

Mazatlan Travel

  • Walk for 1 hour and take a round-about adventure courtesy of Google Maps to the Las Gallerias mall and bushwack your way with a stroller through fallen down chain link fences.  I don’t know how Google Maps thought that was a walking road.  Then see condors flying above you and swooping down, and be fearful that they are going to swoop your baby away haha.  Everything is fenced off so we couldn’t enter the mall from the back and had to go around it, alongside the sewage.
Las Gallerias Adventure in Mazatlan
Google Maps thinks this is a walking path?
  • Pool time.  It was fun to have time to sit at the pool or enjoy the beach.  Baby GYM loves “swimming”.  We couldn’t go in the Pacific Ocean, the waves were quite high/ dangerous and there were jellyfish in the water.

In summary, we were very very impressed with Mazatlan.  People were so friendly and hospitable.  They just seem to LOVE children, an elderly local man came up to baby GYM, smiled, and started patting his head and said “bonito bonito bonito!!” and kept smiling.  The food was very reasonable and the sunsets were beautiful.  I can see why there are so many Canadian retired snowbirds coming to Mazatlan regularly for the winter.

Why stick with the cold Canadian winters and be trapped indoors most of the time when you can be enjoying the Pacific Ocean and warm weather of Mazatlan AND have most of the conveniences that North Americans are used to at very reasonable prices (namely Walmart, Schtick razors for under $1, and Corona beer for $1).

Readers, have you been to Mazatlan before? Anything that you would recommend eating, seeing, or doing?

Mazatlan on the Cheap

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24 thoughts on “Mazatlan on The Cheap”

    • @Tom- I would love to go to Cancun! (When I think of Mexico, I think of Cancun, but alas this opportunity presented itself… and it would be less flying for baby)

  1. You got the gorgeous ocean view from the condo! It sounds a very nice trip. Do you feel safe to walk around there? In US, we got too many negative news about drug cartels and crimes in Mexico. Any concerns?

    Definitely I like to go and see Mexico. If I could live there for a couple of months, that would be wonderful. Rent an apartment, buy the fresh veggie/fruit, and cook myself. Get to know the culture, and practice Spanish. That’s what I like to do.

    • @Helen- Yeah! We were lucky, they upgraded us for free. It felt very safe and I know what you mean about safety concerns. I kept on reading in the news about tourists who were murdered at all inclusive resorts so I had a bad feeling about Mexico, but it seemed very safe there. They were so patient when I was practising my Spanish too, it would be a perfect opportunity for you to practice your Spanish since you are learning it in retirement! Nothing like immersion in the country to practice the language.

    • @Caroline- Maybe the Cancun side will be easier/ more direct from Eastern Canada 🙂 Or spring break with your kids since it’s coming up- it’s March already can’t believe it!

  2. Hi GYM,
    Sounds like a great trip. I have family that are snowbirds in Mexico so I travel in Mexico at least once a year. But I haven’t been to Mazatlan for over 20 years (it looks so nice). I find the people are friendly and everything is so cheap once you leave the tourist areas. Thanks for the update now I have to plan another trip.

    • @Steve- Lucky you to have snowbird family so you have a place to stay!! It seems like quite the retirement, nice to get away from the cold weather. Enjoy trip planning.

  3. Did I mention how jealous I am of your maternity leave? What a great way to get away from the cold. I’ve never been to Mazatlan, but I’ve been to Playa del Carmen which is on the Yucatan side. I went in January, so I was bummed it wasn’t really warm enough to swim in the water.

    I can’t believe how cheap you got the hotel, and haha at $1 Corona!

    I’m excited to read about your next trip!

    • @The Luxe Strategist- Ahh Playa Del Carmen I would love to go there. The Yucatan side has nicer water, more clear, but Mazatlan sufficed for us. Yeah, maternity leave so far has been pretty awesome (minus the decreased sleep), though I can’t complain. I think this might be the last one though 🙁 I am trying to convince husband to have baby go to Asia but given how he behaved on our last flight (25 min of shrieking before flight take off) I have a bit of flying-with-baby-PTSD.

  4. Thanks for sharing, GYM! I’ve been to Playa del Carmen before but never to Mazatlan. Thanks for sharing the great photos and details on pricing. Admittedly, the gray sky winters and cold weather in Canada has been bringing me down. A cheap getaway like this would be perfect.

  5. Okay, seriously…Hawaii, Mexico, Los Angeles….with your first baby while on maternity leave??? I thought I was kickin’ it if I showered any given day when my first child was born! I literally sat on the couch, with the phone, the remote control and some thing called a Boppy (do they still have those??) for like 3 months! Of course, things changed a lot with my second child, but still, I’m very impressed by your willingness to jump right into some travelling adventures with baby in tow! You go GYM girl!!

    • @Kat- Haha I think they do still have a Boppy (is that a nursing pillow?). Haha, I understand about the shower thing, it’s so hard to get anything done! I can’t remember the first 3 months they were a fog. I love traveling, I feel a little empty if I don’t have a trip to look forward to!

  6. Wow, I’m in awe that you traveled to all these places during maternity leave, Hawaii, Mexico and So. Cali with Baby GYM that’s not even a year old!! I’m guessing the cold weather has really pushed you guys to get out and travel to warmer climates.
    $1 Coronas!? That really is a good deal…haha!!
    BTW, I like how you said ‘Drank’, I already knew it meant alcohol…lol!! I would say that whenever I’m out with friends!

    • @Kris- Oh yeah, the grey skies and rain are pretty depressing, it’s not like SF or LA where you have nice weather. Haha, well you know, might as well have a Corona if it costs about the same as bottled water.

  7. I love Mazatlan! We’ve been there twice and it’s been my favourite place we’ve visited in Mexico. I love that it’s a short and direct flight from Edmonton and cheaper than other spots.

    The last time we went we went to this restaurant on the beach and they had these crab chimichangas that were one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. Now I need to go back!

    • @Sarah- There was also a direct flight to Regina when we were heading back! It seems like the place to go for Canadians 🙂 Mmm crab chimichangas… I love the fresh seafood.

  8. GYM! Thanks so much for sharing your awesome Mexico experience! Mr. DS and I went to Mexico once years ago…I can’t even remember the place’s name, but it was on the Atlantic side (yes, it was that memorable of an experience). I got sick on day 2 (don’t eat Asian in Mexico), and Mr. DS got sick on the last day. When I was brave enough to venture outside of our room, I sat by a pool, under an umbrella, bundled up – because it rained the ENTIRE week. 🙁 The resort was full of Italians that smoked (I’m allergic and can’t handle that s***) and were not friendly. Hopefully I didn’t just offend any of your Italian followers. Maybe they were cranky because the place sucked too 😉

    We would have felt at home with the Canadians too…glad you had a great experience! Looking forward to see your future travel hacking post! Maybe it will inspire me to get my passport renewed again??! Eeks!

    • @Mrs. DS- I ate Asian in Mexico (albeit just fried rice) and survived haha. Sorry to hear you got sick and it rained the entire week AND you were exposed to 2nd hand smoke. Geez, what a trip. I think this calls for renewal of passport and a re-do of Mexico 😉

  9. oh wow, GYM! $55 USD for the four nights?? Lol I definitely wanna read that!

    I love your picture of the view, it looks very nice! Also, the pic of the fried rice is making me hungry (lunch time right now haha).

    and $0.70 CAD for a cone used to be our prices at McDonald’s like over 15 years ago! I think it’s like over $1.25 or $1.35 now? I forget. I still pop into McDees to eat their cone. My fiance and I just had one last week and he paid HAHA. I miss my childhood days…

    Looking forward to your next post 😀

    • @fin$avvypanda- I know! I remember the $0.70 McDonald’s cones, unfortunately, inflation has hit us hard in Canada. I love their cone- even though someone told me once the ice cream is made out of petrolatum, though I have never done my research to verify if that is true.


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