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Top Things To Do

Climb the high volcanic peaks of Popocatepetl and Nevado de Toluca, and then go scuba-diving in their craters.

Hire a brightly painted trajinera (gondola), usually accompanied by mariachi singers, to cruise the tree-lined canals and Aztec-engineered floating gardens of Xochimilco.

Get into the spirit of Mexico's Day of the Dead or rather Los Dias de Muertos, since this is a two-day festival. On 1 November, the angelitos (dead children) are remembered, and the next day, dead adults. Celebrations range from sombre and quiet affairs with candlelit visits to cemeteries, to raucous remembrances, drinking and carousing.

Grasp the Column of Life - legend has it that the column tells visitors when they will die. If the hands overlap, the visitor is living on borrowed time. This curious relic is situated in the prehistoric site of Mitla, a pre-Colombian complex of tombs decorated with striking murals.

Bask in the sun at Mexico's best beaches. On the Baja Peninsula head for the Cabos San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. On the Caribbean side, make for Cozumel, an island with nothing but beaches in every direction - Playa Bonita is one of the best.

Retreat to a luxury guest ranch, for days in the saddle and evenings of fine cuisine and tequila tastings.

Dive in for a closer look at the reefs of Los Manchones, Cuevones, Chital or La Bandera - prized diving spots, known for their extraordinary marine life and unusual cave structures.

Take a ride on the remarkable Copper Canyon Railway (see Getting Around). For the best views of the ravines and mountains, do the 13-hour trip from Los Mochis on the Pacific coast to Chihuahua City, rather than the other way around.

Sleep all day. Those with a ticket to one of Cancun's 15,000-capacity beach parties will need all the energy they can get. Take a break for sunrise.

Nourish the senses with a trip to the Ballet Folklorico, performing Wednesdays and Sundays at Mexico City's Palace of Fine Arts. Performers dance their way through Mexico's rich traditions and ancient rituals, and the headdresses are stars in their own right (website: www.balletmalia.com).

Pick up a new skill. Mexican resorts offer a full range of watersports, including jet-skiing, windsurfing and sea kayaking. Surfing can be enjoyed on the Pacific breakers and parasailing is another exciting sport.

Follow in the footsteps of the Aztecs with a relaxing spa break. The ancients knew what was good for them and made full use of the country's countless hot springs.

Give something back. Mexico is a poor country, enjoyed by predominantly rich tourists. Buy souvenirs direct from local artisans, keeping their craft alive. Politely ask permission before taking photos of locals, and offer to send a copy.