If you’re lucky enough to be heading to Mexico for the first time then here’s everything you need to know to make the most of your holiday.

The basics

One of the first things that may surprise you is the size of the country and population. With island territories, Mexico covers almost 1,975,000 square kilometres, and the nation has an impressive 122 million people within its borders.

The main language of the country is Spanish, with around 92% of the population speaking this as their first language, and the Mexican peso is the unit of currency.

Passports

As well as taking your passport with you to enter or exit the country, you should also carry copies of your passport while you travel around Mexico. There are some special circumstances for children under 18 years of age.

If they’re travelling alone, they must report to an immigration officer upon entry and exit from Mexico with a passport and notarised authorisation from their parent(s) which gives permission to travel. This authorisation must be translated into Spanish.

Guardians should note that if Mexican authorities have reasonable grounds to suspect the child is not yours — for example, if you have a different name or appearance – you may be asked to show notarised parental authorisation, birth or adoption certificates or similar documentation.

Mexico and money

Note that Mexico takes defacement of currency seriously. If you happen to take bank notes out of your purse or wallet, and they tear as you do so, the recipient can’t accept it.

By the same token, if someone hands you a torn piece of cash, politely ask if they can provide you with one that is fully intact. You’ll also find that many places in Mexico accept payment in dollars, which you can use as a backup.

Enjoying the sights and the weather

If you’re staying in delightfully sun-kissed Cancun, you should take a day trip to the sacred site of Chichen Itza to explore Mexico’s Mayan heritage. Be aware that the famous, towering temple El Castillo is steeper than it looks.

Also, even though the site is inland, the temperature will feel a little hotter than on the coast. Naturally, on hot days, visitors who are climbing up the temple will be carrying bottles of water — watch out for any being accidentally dropped from above!

Of course, you can’t visit Mexico and not make the most of its fantastic beaches. One coastal destination you might fancy trying is Playa del Carmen. The main beach runs in front of downtown Playa del Carmen – you should set up at the northern end if you fancy a spot of sunbathing.

The tides tend to come in at the southern end and would cut your tanning session short. As you’ll be likely taking a dip in the waters of the beautiful beaches of Playa del Carmen, Puerto Vallarta, or Cancun, you should make sure you’re wearing waterproof sun cream.

TUI is offering last-minute deals to Mexico from €1,279pps for 14 nights. For details see www.tuiholidays.ie.