Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jul 5, 2012 1:29 AM Last Post By: kersje82
Jun 29, 2012 12:56 PM
Mexico ItineraryHi all,
Just planning our Mexico trip for December and I think I need some help as I have run out of days :-) I have made a list of the places I wish to see, but I would like some advice on how long to stay somewhere and what to skip. As I want to see and do as much as possible, I was thinking of renting a car. I have been reading other posts and the buses seem to be a good option. Not sure what to do here either. We have about 18 days in Mexico in total (excl flight days)
- Arrive in Cancun so spend the night
- Tulum (ruins and day trip to Sian Ka'an Bio Reserve)
- Xcalak ? (diving at Chincorro Atol)
- Xpujil (ruins of Calakmul and Becan)
- Palenque (ruins and Misol'ha waterfall)
- Uxmal (ruins)
- Merida (visit town and day trip Celestun for Flamingo's )
- Valladolid (Ek Balan, Chichen Itza and visit cenotes, possible for diving)
- Coba (drive past from Valladolid to Playa del Carmen)
- via Playa del Carmen straight on to Cozumel (diving and relaxing approx 6 days)
I know, I know, too many things but it all looks so good! The more I read, the more excited I get. So, any advice (regarding time to stay or skipping) is more than welcome. We will travel in mid December until early Jan.
Many thanks in advance!
Jun 29, 2012 1:21 PM
1Do Coba when you visit Tlulum... Go direct Merida and base for day trips to Uxmal & the other attractions... Perhaps, too long at Cosumel ... carracar
Jun 29, 2012 2:24 PM
2Where is the allowance of time on the road? Much too ambitious.Drop Xcalak, not much to see, difficult to organize trio to Chincorro. Do as Carracar says, use Merida for base of Uxmal. You need more time in Merida to get to Celestun and visit the city, and one day for Uxmal. You need two days in Valladolid if you are really interested in visiting the sites. Spend more time visiting the wonders of "Yucatan, then, use the rest of the time on Cozumel.
Jun 29, 2012 3:31 PM
3"Drop Xcalak, not much to see, difficult to organize trio to Chinchorro."
I hate Xcalak so much that I've spent about 20 days there. But, I agree that its not necessarily a good detour for everyone to make. It could disappoint travelers moving rapidly around the region trying to "see and do as much as possible".
The one Xcalak outfitter who is allowed to take people out to Chinchorro may not be able to assure you with certainty in advance that such an excursion will take place during the day or two that you anticipate being there. Chinchorro is a long way out from the coast. So, a lot of time and marine fuel is expended simply getting there and back. Those trips depend on weather conditions and also on the availability at any given time of sufficient paying clients. Most visitors to Xcalak (including me) have been satisfied instead to visit reefs that are accessible on short distance boat tours, or to simply snorkel over coral heads that are accessible by swimming out from shore. And, there's no "beach" to speak of at Xcalak.
While every place on your list can be reached via public transportation, for some locations taking that approach can be inconvenient (Xcalak, has just one bus arrival and departure per day.) or expensive (The taxi ride from Xpujil to Calakmul is lengthy.).
Obviously the costs of renting a vehicle vs. using buses and taxis varies depending upon the number of travelers involved. I believe that for solo travelers, using public transportation is almost always the cheapest way of traveling in Mexico, but the costs change when groups of three or four people share a car.
Are you a single person, a couple, or a larger group? How adventuresome a driver are you? How tight is your budget? Either car rental or public transportation can potentially can work well as a means of traveling around the Yucatan, and/or venturing inland to Palenque. Both strategies have devotees here on TT Mexico branch.
Jun 29, 2012 4:17 PM
4Janneke--You've made a great list of places to visit, and you're right that slowing down and reducing the number of places that you'll go could potentially improve your trip. Planning to do this in December, instead of at a hotter time of year, is also very wise.
In addition to thinking about :places", consider separately listing the types of experiences that you want to have on this journey. You appear to be drawn to ruins and to places where diving and other aquatic activities take place. If you would like to broaden slightly the range of experiences that you'll have, there are several places between Tulum and Ixpujil that might be worth exploring.
The Spanish fortress at Lake Bacalar is worth visiting, as is Cenote Azul, a beautiful swimming and dining spot about five miles/8K south of Bacalar. It's conveniently close to the Tulum-Chetumal highway. Later, a few miles south of there you will need to pass through part of Chetumal as you head towards Ixpujil.
I like Chetumal's new, 'aspiring to be world class' zoo/environmental education center that is full of plants and animals of the region.
Chetumal also has a fine "Museo de la Cultura Maya", located beside an art gallery and an interesting market. By spending an hour or so exploring the giant ceiba tree within that modern museum ,visitors can develop perspective about the life experiences and cosmology of Mayan people--both ancient and contemporary. The Museum is very close to hotels offering varying prices and amenities. I've not yet personally visited Chetumal's waterfront or its municipal murals, but others have praised those things.
Jun 30, 2012 2:54 AM
Thank you for your replies. Xcalak is definately off the list now, so that will save us some time. We will also use Merida as a base. To answer your questions; we are a couple and if it will save us a lot of time we don't mind spending the extra E700 or so for a car. My boyfriend is more into relaxing on the beach and diving, whereas I love culture, which is why we are trying to get a bit of both.
We are foreigners living in Barcelona, where the syle of driving is different from our home countries, so we expect we eill be able to adapt in Mexico. I am more worried about the stories I have heard regarding robberies and kidnappings. Makes me think the buses will be safer. Also not sure about parking possibilities either. What are your thoughts on this?
Also wondering if you think Campeche is worth a visit as we also have Merida on the list? (trying to condence the list further)
Thanks again for your help!
Jun 30, 2012 7:33 AM
6My husband and I rented cars always (used Easyway and once CancunRentaCar both include all insurance and zero deductible) and had no problems whatsoever other than a Pemex scam (I had to use the restroom and left hubby to deal with the car - he did not get out of the car and watch to make sure they set the pump to zero so we got overcharged), no tickets and not sure where you are reading about kidnapings. Just wear your seat belts, and obey the speed limits (do not try and keep up with the flow of traffic as they all speed down there) and stay in the right hand lane. Do not worry about others passing you. Watch the speed limits thru Playa del Carmen as they change often (not as bad now that they have the new overpass) and there is often one speed limit for the right land and one for the left. Otherwise no problems.
Jun 30, 2012 8:47 AM
7Renting a car is really a matter of personal preference rather than safety. I personally wouldn't want to deal with driving in Merida as it's so congested, but I definitely want a car when visiting Tulum! Almost all of the hotels I know of in Valladolid have secure parking lots. I'd prefer to have a car when in Valladolid as it makes visiting Ek Balam and cenotes much easier. My two favorite cenotes are Xlakaj just south of Valladolid and the cenote at Ek Balam.
I can definitely understand how very much you want to squeeze in all of these great places since you're coming from Europe, but I think you're gonna have to save Chiapas and Campeche for another trip!
Jun 30, 2012 1:39 PM
8Just for perspective, a few years ago my husband and I did a similar trip though we had a few more days for it. We flew in/out of Cancun.
Cozumel – 7 nights/public transportation to get there
Playa – 1 night/picked up rental car
Tulum (ruins and briefly at the beach), Balacar (would have spent a night there if we had know how nice it was) and on to Xpujil for 2 nights. Visited Calukmal the next day.
Drove north to Uxmal area and spent 2 nights at a nice B&B in a small town in that area. Sorry, forgot the name of it right now. Used the car to visit Uxmal and drive around to various minor ruins, which was very convenient.
Merida – 6 nights. On the first day we used the car to go to Celestun for the day (saw the flamingoes) and then we dropped off the car. Used public transport for the rest of the trip. Would have been nice to spend a night or two in Celestun. Next time would spend less time in Merida but we were there over Christmas and we have found that it is easier to just stay put than try to move around much at Christmas. It's not impossible, but easier.
Valladolid – 3 nights. Visited Chichenitza, Ek Balam, cenotes. Next time I would just stay at one of the hotels just outside the entry to Chichenitza. Not that impressed with Valladolid or Merida (have been to much nicer colonial cities elsewhere in Mexico and other Central American countries. ) Flew out in the morning, took a direct bus to the airport.
Jun 30, 2012 2:09 PM
9ps. This part of Mexico is considered very safe. Don't know what you would have heard about kidnappings or any particularly notable crimes against tourists. Maybe they were events in other parts of Mexico? Or not recent? Robberies can happen anywhere but the risk in the Yucatan is not high. There is petty crime, as there is anywhere.
We have traveled extensively in Mexico by both bus and rental car and had no problems although driving can be stressful not knowing where you are going and different driving customs. Do be aware of valid safety considerations.
Jul 2, 2012 4:48 AM
10You can fit a lot into 18 day in the Yucatan. To give you an idea, here's what I got through in 14 days in December 2010, coming from the UK. I had a car for 3 days in Tulum just to get around, and just used buses and taxis after that. You can see that it took me about 1 week to do a full circuit starting from Tulum and ending on Isla Mujeres, which is probably a minimum figure. With 18 days to play with you may have time to get to Palenque and back, but it depends on how much time you want on the beach:
Day 0 - Arrived Cancun, bus and collective to Tulum
Day 1 car rental – Tulum Ruins, Gran Cenote, Tulum South Beach
Day 2 car rental – Snorkeling at Akumal, Hidden Worlds Cenote tour
Day 3 car rental – Snorkeling in Cenote Manatee at Tanakh Tres, Mujil Ruins and walk through Sian Kaan, evening bus to Chetumal
Day 4 – Maya Museum and general wander around Chetumal, late afternoon bus to Xpujil
Day 5 - Day trip to Balamku and Calakmul by taxi, stopped at bat cave at sunset on way back
Day 6 – Half day trip by taxi to Chicana and Becan Ruins, Xpujil Ruins, late afternoon bus to Escarcega
Day 7 – early morning bus to Campeche, looked round town, late afternoon bus to Merida
Day 8 – Full day Merida seeing town and museums
Day 9 – Tour from hotel to Chichen Itza, bus from Piste to Valladolid
Day 10 – Collectivo to Ek Balam, taxi to Dzinip Cenotes, afternoon in Valladolid, evening bus to Cancun, ferry to Isla Mujeres (very busy day!)
Day 11 – Morning on beach, afternoon exploring the island
Day 12 – Day trip to Isla Contoy
Day 13 – lay on beach
Day 14 – ferry to Cancun, flew home
Days 1, 3, 5, 6, 10 & 12 were probably the highlights. If I could have seen one more thing it would have been Uxmal, if I could have stayed anywhere longer it would have been Valladolid.
Hope that helps give an idea of what's doable.
Jul 5, 2012 1:29 AM
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