An increasing number of older Koreans are finding Mexico a charming place to travel with its affordable prices, rich cultural heritage and scenic resort spots.
Until recently, Mexico has mostly been popular among Koreans as a honeymoon destination, particularly to the resort city of Cancun, but now many baby-boomers born between 1955 and 1963, who have started to enter the twilight stage of their life after retirement, are becoming attracted to the Latin American country.
Mexico, in fact, has long been a popular place to retire. It was named the best country to retire by U.S. magazine International Living last year, as the low cost of living eases the burden on retired people with little income and a pleasant climate guarantees a healthy lifestyle. It also provides many benefits to travelers over 60 such as discounts on flights, restaurants and groceries.
Won Jong-hak and his wife pose on a Caribbean island during their trip to Mexico last summer in this picture provided by himself.
Choi Ho, a 56-year-old retiree, traveled from Mexico City to Cancun for a month in November last year. "I could relax at holiday spots while taking tours to the Mayan ruins spread around," he said.
Won Jong-hak, 61, from Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, traveled to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula last summer with his wife. He chose the region as his retirement travel destination. "I have been to Asian countries and the U.S. before. I looked for a long-distance destination I can visit while I'm still healthy enough to enjoy it, and I chose Mexico," he said.
The number of Koreans traveling to Mexico has increased rapidly. According to the Mexican tourism authority, the number more than doubled from 31,700 in 2012 to 75,400 in 2017.
"More than 85 percent of customers who buy our package tours to Mexico are people in their 50s and over," said Choi Woo-suk at Mode Tour. "Many of them visit historical sites in Mexico City and take a rest in Cancun for as long as two or three months."
Lee Yeon-teak, a professor at Hanyang University, said, "Korea, like many Western countries, has started to see a trend taking off where retirees set out on long-term, long-distance trips. That's why Mexico, which has not been popular among Korean travelers as it is too far to visit for a short vacation, is emerging as a popular destination."