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Why Go to Acapulco

In the 1950slong before the rise of Cancún and CaboAcapulco was the go-to Mexican destination. During its heyday, the "Pearl of the Pacific" attracted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, and even John F. Kennedy with its amber beaches and pulsating nightlife. Acapulco's former beauty was celebrated on the big screen in films like Elvis Presley's "Fun in Acapulco" and the hit TV series, "The Love Boat." But as the 20th century wore on, Acapulco's glorious reputation tarnished as the city succumbed to over-crowding, pollution, and drug trafficking.

Several decades after its fall from beach-destination grace, Acapulco is steadily reviving. It's a popular weekend getaway for many Mexican vacationers, not to mention a prevailing hideaway for European travelers, so you'll find the ambience is more international than the Americanized Cancún. Dance to the live music along the Zócalo, hunt down some of Mexico's best ceviche downtown, or escape from the tourist hubbub in Acapulco Diamante's swank nightclubsyou can still hear echoes of the glamour and glitz of the city's Hollywood heyday.

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Acapulco Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best times to visit Acapulco are April, May, October, and November. The weather is consistently sunny, hot, and humid during these months, and deals abound. Dry season occurs from November through May, while the rainy season occurs June through September. Average highs throughout the year are in the upper 80s and lower 90s, while the average lows stay above 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

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What You Need to Know

  • Siesta, Siesta Many stores and restaurants close between noon and 2 p.m. while area residents take a break from the afternoon heat. So sit back, relax, and take a nap before you hit the nightlife.
  • Here's a Tip Tipping is standard practice in Acapulco. Waiters expect to receive between 15 and 20 percent for excellent services, and porters are accustomed to being tipped at least $1 USD per bag.
  • Be Vigilant According to the U.S. State Department, drug cartel violence in Acapulco is not directed toward Americans, but travelers should still be aware of their surroundings.

How to Save Money in Acapulco

  • Bargain for your taxi Always negotiate your taxi fare before entering the cab. You can also negotiate an hourly price if you want to stop for a meal or check out entire areas like Old Acapulco.
  • Go local Although they don't have the extended hours of the casas de cambios (exchange houses), local banks will give you the best exchange rates.
  • Barter at 50 percent Always barter for your souvenirs, suggesting at least 50 percent of the vendor price, and stick to your guns. Be sure to ask for a discount if you're buying more than one item at a time.

Culture & Customs

The dress code in Acapulco is informal during the day; standard beach apparel is acceptable. During the night, "dressy casual" is the norm, and many clubs prohibit jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, or shorts.

English is a common language spoken in Acapulco, but you'll win over local citizens if you try to speak some Spanish. Common phrases include hola (hello), adios (goodbye), por favor (please), and gracias (thank you).

Safety

Acapulco has been the scene of several high-profile shootings related to the ongoing battle between drug cartels and the Mexican government. According to the U.S. State Department , the violence is not directed toward Americans, but travelers should still remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings. Generally, the tourist zones are safe and continually patrolled by tourist police. If you're at all unsure about your safety, choose a different destination. The destinations along Riviera Maya in the east, including Cancún , Cozumel , and Tulum , currently remain safer alternatives to Mexico's west coast.

One of the largest safety concerns in Acapulco is turbulent water. Avoid the rough surf at Playa Revolcadero and stick to the beaches in front of the hotels along the Costera, most of which are supervised by lifeguards. When going out at night, be sure to stay in the tourist zones and avoid dark side streets. Generally, taxicabs are safer than rental cars, writers say.

Getting Around Acapulco

The best way to get around Acapulco is by bus or taxi, since driving yourself can be a hassle thanks to heavy congestion and poor road conditions. Taxis are prevalent and affordable throughout the city with one major exceptionGeneral Juan N. Álvarez International Airport (ACA)where they aren't allowed. Most travelers use the special airport transit service, Transportes Aeropuerto, to travel the approximately 30 minutes north to the resort area.

Air routes are often limited by season, so you may have to first fly into Mexico City's Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX), which is about 200 miles north of Acapulco. In a car, you can reach Acapulco in five to six hours, or there are also many bus lines to take you to your beachfront paradise.

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Entry & Exit Requirements

A passport is required for entry into Mexico. Travelers must also carry a Mexican Tourist Permit, which is usually issued free of charge upon arrival (If there is a fee, it is usually absorbed in your ticket cost). Be sure to hold on to the tourist card throughout the trip, as you will need to present it upon departing the country. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. State Department's website .

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