Southern Mexico is the country's most popular tourist destination and it's not hard to see why. Mayan ruins, dense jungle, white sand beaches, islands, coral reefs, indigenous villages and colonial cities – the south has it all. Be sure to check out the fine towns of Oaxaca, San Cristobal de las Casas, Campeche and Mérida, as well as the ruins of Palenque, Uxmal and Chichen Itza. If you want beach time, Tulum is southern Mexico's most hip destination, but there are also plenty of mega-resorts nearby, including Cancun.
The north is a vast and daunting land of deserts, mountains and endless lonely highways. Don't miss the Copper Canyon that competes with Arizona's Grand Canyon for sheer jaw-dropping grandeur. A network of immensely beautiful colonial cities grace the interior of Mexico, including Guanajuato, Zacatecas and Querétaro. Built on the prodigious wealth of silver mining, many of them and their buildings have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.
Western Mexico is a bastion of national traditions, such as tequila, mariachis and the Mexican hat dance. The best place to enjoy all of them is Guadalajara, Mexico's second city. But indigenous culture is richly represented in the west too, with scores of evocative Purepecha villages perched upon the shores of Lake Pátzcuaro. The Pacific coast is a truly vast and legendary stretch of shore with everything from glitzy high-rise resorts to chilled-out bastions of hippy culture. Ramshackle fishing communities, quiet enclaves and blissfully isolated beaches are plentiful, perfect for slinging a hammock and soaking up the sunset.
The Gulf coast may not be as beautiful or popular as the Pacific, but it is wonderfully verdant and free from tourists. Don't miss the steamy, hedonistic port of Veracruz, the archaeological wonder of El Tajín and the urbane university city of Xalapa.