If you are a Filipino planning to visit Mexico this year, read this
This Mexico travel guide for Filipinos will answer all your questions about visas, arrival, entry/exit requirements, and more about Mexico.
Welcome to Part III of No Visa? No Problem! series: a collection of articles on visa-free countries for Filipinos. This series aims to give another perspective to Filipinos about the other countries they can visit if they are rejected with a US or Schengen visa.
Mexico is not always in a Philippine passport holder’s bucket list but for the longest time, it has been in mine. I actually live here now! If you haven’t been to Mexico, I am sure you’re thinking of one thing: is Mexico safe? I don’t say yes to every question about Mexico’s safety because the cartels still live up until today – there’s just less noise than before. But this does not apply to the whole country. Mexico is big and is one of the most beautiful countries I ever lived in. Plus, the visa application for Philippine passport holders is way easier than the USA and Europe so come join me explore this marvelous country!
Getting to Mexico from Manila
I am going to warn you now – flights to Mexico from Manila are expensive. First, I looked for airlines that fly directly from Mexico. There are no airlines that do this route from Manila so I tried major flying hubs in Asia. The only two flights that I found are from Beijing and Tokyo.
I was only traveling one-way since the plan was to go backpacking in Central America for an indefinite time. I didn’t need a ticket back to the Philippines. The cheapest ticket I found was ₱50,349 and the route was Manila-Beijing-Tijuana-Mexico City. The total flight time was 22 hours. Considering the distance between the Philippines and Mexico, this flight deal was great.
However, I found out that this flight needs to change terminals in Beijing – meaning, you need to apply for a visa to China. Applying for a Chinese visa is not very difficult because you’re only going to apply for transit. I just went to the Chinese Embassy, gave them my passport, flight ticket to Mexico, and paid the visa fee. I got my Chinese visa after 2 days and they gave me a 10-day visa.
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Tokyo was slightly more expensive at ₱60,540 but goes directly to Mexico City for a total flight time of 15 hours. I have a valid Japanese visa so this was another option but if you don’t have a Japan visa, you can’t fly through Tokyo.
There are way cheaper options but only if you have a valid USA and Canadian visa. This will save you over half the price than flying through Beijing and Tokyo. If you have a valid USA or Canadian visa, you can fly from Manila to Los Angeles or Vancouver for ₱30,000 (2-way) then fly to Mexico City for less than ₱5,000 (one-way). Note that you have to book these flights individually.
Visa regulations for Filipinos entering as a tourist
Philippine passport holders need a visa to enter Mexico. The application is not that difficult especially if you can prove financial capability. If you want to know the step-by-step process of applying for a Mexican visa, read my Mexico visa for Filipinos article.
However, if you have a valid USA, Canada, and Japan visa, you don’t need to apply for a visa to Mexico. These visas are enough for you to enter Mexico. I used my Japan visa to enter Mexico (lots of times!) and there haven’t been any problems. In all your layovers, the airlines will always check if you have a visa to Mexico but all you have to do is tell them that you can enter with a CA, USA, and JP visa. Once you show any of these visas, they won’t question you any more. It’s as easy as that!
All tourists entering Mexico will receive a 180 days tourist visa (6 months). Even if you use a CA/US/JP visa, you will also get the same number of days. When you enter Mexico, you will be given an entry card with a stamp. Please don’t lose this because you need to present this when you leave the country. If you lose it, you will have to go to a consulate to obtain a new one. Of course, this one comes with a fee. To make sure, please take a picture of your Mexico entry card and save it in your email.
What to they ask Filipinos when entering Mexico?
Nothing, really! As long as you have the visa, then you’re in! Mexico and the Philippines have very good diplomatic relations so Mexico is used to Filipino tourists. There are also lots of Filipinos living in the US/CA who travel Mexico often with their CA/USA visas so they really are used to Filipino tourists in Mexico. Just relax and answer all their questions. Based on the many times I entered Mexico with a Philippine passport, they don’t really ask a lot of questions!
As a Philippine passport holder, what do I need to present to the Mexican Immigration upon arrival?
Again, I entered Mexico a lot of times already so I feel pretty confident whenever I do it. I also speak Spanish fluently but I don’t think that’s a factor in traveling to Mexico. But don’t be too confident and always have the following ready. I encourage you not to print and waste paper. If you have all these on the phone, that’s more than enough.
Proof of accommodation
If you are backpacking in Mexico and you don’t know your exact travel dates yet, just book a one-week reservation in Mexico City using Booking.com. This platform allows you to book a confirmed reservation without paying. You will receive an email confirmation and all you have to do is show this to the immigration officer upon arrival. If the event that you are already sure about your travel dates and itinerary, book via Airbnb. Airbnb hosts will always help you whenever there’s a problem in your entry to Mexico. The immigration officer can confirm your stay by calling your Airbnb host. If you don’t have an Airbnb account yet, get a ₱2,000 discount when you sign up using this link.
Outbound flight ticket
I also wasn’t asked for an outbound flight ticket when I entered Mexico and there were many times that I entered without a reservation. It’s not a need but if you are not confident and this is your first time to enter Mexico, make sure you have your outbound flight ticket reservation. No need to print it. Just show your email confirmation.
You don’t have to have a detailed itinerary (day-by-day) but if you do, it’s better! Based on experience, you just need to do prior research before your arrival. In the case that your itinerary is not solid yet, make sure that you can mention places you will visit. Are you going to Mexico City? Cancun? Baja California? What are the interesting sights for you? Mention all the tourist spots that you want to visit – you don’t have to be detailed about it. At least show that you know where you want to go. If you’re someone who plans your travels meticulously, you can also arrange your transportation service in Mexico ahead of time.
What is the ideal budget to travel to Mexico?
You’d be surprised to know that the cost of living in Manila is 34% more expensive than in Mexico City. On my first visit here in 2013, I really couldn’t believe that there’s a country cheaper than my country, the Philippines. Mexico is super cheap and your travel budget will always go far here! It’s just like going to Thailand or Vietnam!
Mexico’s currency is called the Mexican peso (MXN). As of April 30, 2020, 1 MXN is equivalent to ₱2.12 PHP. If you are traveling with US dollars, $1 USD is equivalent to 23 MXN. Prices below are based on the cost of living in Mexico City. This is just to give you an idea of how much your Mexico travel budget should be.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do I need a transit visa if I have a layover before Mexico?
It really depends on where you are stopping and what visas do you have. Remember that you can enter Mexico with a valid Canadian, American, and Japanese visas. Any of the three will do. Please refer to this section for clarification.
When is the best time to visit Mexico?
Mexico is a big country so different states have different weather. Most of the tourist destinations have hot weather all year long. Winter is also bearable here. It does not snow so you don’t need to pack winter clothing. Just make sure you have something warm in case of emergency. Mexico City is always cold (and raining).
If my flight to Mexico will stop in the US, is it advisable for me to apply for a US transit visa or a US tourist visa?
US tourist and transit visas have the same application process. The only difference is their validity. If you are going through this process, you might as well apply for a US tourist visa. They normally give 10 years to Filipinos and the processing fee is the same price as the transit visa.
Will I meet Filipinos in Mexico?
I only met one Filipino in Mexico and she got in touch as a blog reader. Other than that, I didn’t meet Filipinos in Mexico. I’m sure there’s a lot – I’m just not looking that’s why I haven’t encountered any.
Is it easy to navigate Mexico as a Filipino?
Yes! In major cities, almost everyone can speak English. All Filipino nouns are the same in Mexican Spanish (mesa, silla, cubiertos, etc) so as a Filipino traveling in Mexico, you will hear a lot of familiar words that you can use in your travels. Mexicans also look like us. For the one year that I have been traveling here, people always mistake me for being Mexican! They don’t even ask – they just assume I’m Mexican right away.