Sorry - advice needed for 7 days Yucutan, Mexico
Replies: 12 - Last Post: Oct 7, 2012 6:13 PM Last Post By: montereyjack
Sep 30, 2012 2:47 PM
Sorry - advice needed for 7 days Yucutan, MexicoHi there my girlfriend and I are flying into Cancun and depart exactly 7 days later. We want to get straight out of Cancun. We want to have a few days exploring ruins and a few days to chill out on a nice beach and do some snorkelling. We are early 30's, adventurous and hate the over touristy areas. Our experience of tours have been a nightmare so would be great to avoid this. Our first trip so feel that we must go and see chichen Itza (I know it will be very touristy and will will need to arrive when it opens). In terms of beaches we would like somewhere beautiful without crowds of people but is romantic and great for snorkelling and food!
Wondering if we need to hire a car for part of the trip and how we should plan our trip. It's two weeks away and we haven't had time to do any planning as we have a 7month old baby who won't be coming on this trip but staying with grandparents. Any suggestions, itinineries, advice on cheap but clean and nice places to stay would be much appreciated.
Many thanks everyone - Murray and Lou
Btw arrive at 4pm on 16th October and depart on 23rd at 6pm (4pm check-in!)
Sep 30, 2012 3:13 PM
1On Mexico's Caribbean coast, you won't be able to find anywhere that's luxe and romantic and offers good food without attendant crowds of tourists. The three just go together. Your best bet (given the time you have) will be somewhere like Tulum, which is touristy but unhurried and uncrowded. The beaches are nice and there's a wide range of accommodation available, much of it quite romantic.
Given your tight schedule, renting a car may be a good idea, though Mexico does have an excellent bus network. Really it comes down to how much you want to do: the more "sights" you'd like to cover, the more renting a car will make sense.
Chichen Itza is very nice, but crowded and touristy as you know. Nice alternative/additional sites (easily reached from Merida or Valladolid) include Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, and Ek Balam. Coba, very near Tulum, is really wonderful.
A good route might take you from Cancun to Merida or Valladolid, spend two or three days seeing ruins/cenotes nearby, and then jumping over to Tulum. See Coba on a daytrip and enjoy some mellow beach time before coming home.
Fair winds and happy travels.
Sep 30, 2012 10:42 PM
2It will be hot inland, 88F high, 70F low for the second part of october - and humid. If you are not big fans of hot humidity, going to Valladolid and Merida will be tough.
Otherwise, #1 schedule looks fair. I know you don't have much time right now with 7 m.o. but do consider buying LP's PDF sections for States of Quitana Roo and Yucatan of the LP Guide to Cancun, Cazumel, and Yucatan - they do least lesser touristy areas along the coast.
Oct 1, 2012 2:29 AM
3Murray and Lou--Congratulations for both having a seven month old and also being able to get away for a week. Given the fact that your first day will be spent getting to Mexico, and much of your last day devoted to traveling home, you'll only have five and 1/2 days available there to do things. And, as alterigor has wisely pointed out, in late October it will still be very hot at inland locations such as Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and Merida. (Those places are great to visit during the winter months.)
So, consider making this entirely, or almost entirely, a beach trip, one during which you don't move around too much. Tulum's small ruin is probably the only one on the coast worth going out of your way to see. If a quick visit there doesn't provide enough ancient Mayan architecture to satisfy you, consider also touring the much larger site at Coba, which is only about an hour inland from Tulum. Get to Coba early so you can walk along the paths through the low jungle there right after the place opens in the morning. Or you could rent bikes to get around that vast site, or perhaps pay someone to carry you to the various pyramids in a bicycle taxi.
If you're budget is tight, consider gettting around using public transportation rather than a rental car. Once you've paid for necessary insurance, vehicle rentals from Cancun airport can cost considerably more than advertised. Public buses are cheap. Money saved by not renting a car can be applied to "living large" in other ways, spent on better lodging, some fancier meals, and reef snorkeling trips.
Not renting a car would work especially well if your beach stay is in Playa del Carmen instead of Tulum. Both are touristy, but in different ways. Playa is one hour by bus or car from the Cancun airport, one hour from Tulum's ruins and beach, and two hours+ (allowing time for a connection in Tulum) by public bus from Coba. Coba has two or three lodging establishments of varying prices/quality, located within two hundred yards of the entrance to the archeological site.
LIke you, I enjoy snorkeling. Consider taking a snorkeling tour boat out to a reef during your first day or two, if the weather happens to be good then. That's an activity that doesn't work as well, if at all, in dark, rainy, or choppy weather. Visibility is typically best during the brightest part of the day.
For more about Playa, Tulum, and similar places see:
Oct 4, 2012 7:08 AM
Oct 4, 2012 3:08 PM
5Travelinhobo haven't you got something more useful to do! "Sorry" is my way of apologising for a probably well over asked question about yet another week in Yucutan.
Everyone else thanks for your time and lengthy responses, much appreciated. We are pretty much set on renting a car now. We really like the sound of Tulum although it does sound a little quiet. For nightlife we just want some restaurants and maybe a couple of bars (on the beach or wherever) with a bit of local music. Love a bit of Jazz. Really just want a chance to sink a few tequila cocktails and then go to bed after soaking up some authentic Mexican culture! Do you think Tulum will provide this or is Play del Carmen a better choice?
I realise we do need a hub if we are gonna go see Chichen Itza. I know what to expect and will get there as early as poss. Its really a choice between Valladolid and Merida I guess.
My thinking so far is:
Tuesday: Arrive - drive to Valladollid, sleep.
Wed: Ek Balam after a good sleep and hopefully not too early start, amble round Valladolid and then sleep in Valladollid
Thursday : very early for chichen itza, then find a cenote to swim/snorkel in. Sleep in Valladollid
Friday: Drive to Tulum enjoy beach
Saturday: More tulum and surrounding
Sunday: More tulum and surrounding, possibly Coba if we are not sick to death of ruins!
Tuesday: drive back to Cancun on the coast for flight home.
I don't know if this is doable or if we are using our time wisely. Some say Valladolid has less to offer then Merida. Also Louisa liked the sound of Celstun. Any thoughts?
By the way I am an semi professional photographer who likes to take pics of my travels. Would I be right in assuming that we wont see any beach sunsets, with sun setting in the west?!?! Also any other great photography spots for either landscapes,sunsets, sites or wildlife?
Thanks again all for your kind replies. Regarding heat it doesn't bother us. If we can stand 46 degrees in Varanasi I think we can stand anything!
Cheers Murray and Lou
Oct 4, 2012 7:15 PM
6You know they say 80% of all people consider themselves better than average. And 80% of people with digital cameras consider themselves semiprofessional photographers :))) You really crack me up with your comment, OP - if you are a serious photographer I am sure you'll find something more original to shoot in Yucatan rather than most abused and overused subject you mentioned!
Anyhow, your itinerary looks fine to me. I love Valladolid but Merida is more cosmopolitan so if nightlife things to do you are after, it will better serve you compared to Valladolid.
You can drive to Piste from Cancun upon arrival and sleep there. See CI first thing in the morning and drive to Merida. Spend day and two nights there. Drive to Tulum: with early start, you can visit Ek Bakam for few hrs and make it to Tulum same day.
Coba is between Valladolid and Tulum so you are losing travel time visiting it from Tulum but I think it's ok.
I know you are trying to fit as much as possible b/c there is only that much time you got away - but if you feel you have Monday ad extra day, consider to slow it down and enjoy. Perhaps some quiet time at Valladolid will be good after all. And I am speaking from similar relatively similar experience.
Edited by: alterigor
Oct 5, 2012 7:27 AM
7Thanks alterigor but in response to your cracking up II actually work as a professional cameraman and freelance as a photographer on the side so if you like I could call myself a professional photographer but thought i would plat it down. Anyway I'm holiday so I don't need to be finding the most original photograph of Chichen Itza!! I simply wouldn't mind a few places which offer good places for sunsets etc. With landscape photography its often the case to shoot something that has already been shot by someone else and in my case I would try and take something original for my own record. I don't really care what 80% of people say with a digital camera frankly!
I will read the advice section later, thanks for that! :)
Oct 5, 2012 8:48 AM
8Tough call between Valladolid and Merida. Obviously, Valladolid is close to a couple of great places you plan to visit but tucks itself into bed pretty early.
You're going to have a tough time finding: "For nightlife we just want some restaurants and maybe a couple of bars (on the beach or wherever) with a bit of local music. Love a bit of Jazz. Really just want a chance to sink a few tequila cocktails and then go to bed after soaking up some authentic Mexican culture!"
In both Tulum and Playa, you will get the music on the beach but you won't get any "authentic Mexican culture." Really, the only Mexicans in Tulum you will see will be the waitstaff, and even then, they are few and far between. Far more international folks working in tourism who own businesses on the beach. Playa is lovely at night but they do cater to tourists as well.
Honestly, the best place to find nightlife with local music (though definitely not on the beach) is Cancun. Plenty of adorable little bars, both indoors and on patios, both mellow and loud, where you can drink cocktails and listen to local music. Usually folk and rock in Spanish.
Merida would be your best bet for cocktails, people watching, and music, of all the places you plan to visit.
Valladolid is a great base for day time activities, as you know from the activities you have planned during your visit, but as I said, it gets pretty quiet pretty early there. Plus, it's a small city so choices for food and bars are limited. But there are some great lesser known cenotes that you will be able to visit since you'll have a car.
Oct 7, 2012 3:18 PM
9Thanks everyone for your valuable info, it's very much appreciated and we are considering all what you are saying.
Alterigor, your itinenary seems to make the most sense. Cancun - piste -CI- Merida- EK Balam - Tulum. Thanks very much for the suggestions. If we did it that way then that's 4 nights in Tulum isn't it? We defiinitely want to go to a cenote also so do you think maybe we should have 3 nights in Tulum and instead of piste have 2 nights Valladolid and 2 nights Merida? What do you think of this and what's the best way of incorporating all three?
Are we trying to do too much? Basically I want to check out CI for what it's worth, see Ek Balam as probably a more authentic add on ruin, get some Mexican culture in Merida and some beach and chill out in Tullum? Then on final day a drive up the coast back to cancun for our flight home?
One night of nightlife is all we really want, some ruins and some beach. I won't be satisfied going to Mexico without experiencing a bit of real Mexico. I appreciate that really means Mexico city and travelling around for weeks but we only have a babysitter for one week, we get discounted flight tickets to cancun through my gf who works for an airline so I have to to play the cards that I've been dealt!
Thanks for all your advice, it's really helping us to plan and decide.
Murray n Lou ;)
Edited by: Muzby1801
Edited by: Muzby1801
Oct 7, 2012 3:53 PM
10Personally, I like Valladolid so I see no harm spending time there, at least 1 night. But if your primary reason to stay there are cenotes then keep keep in mind that there are cenotes everywhere: there are at least two popular cenotes, Gran Cenote and Cenote Dos Ojos near Tulum. You can visit them from Tulum.
I can't blame you for trying to do a lot in short timeframe. I am familiar with the situation :)))
Oct 7, 2012 4:15 PM
11Ok so how's about from cancun we drive straight to Valladolid. Sleep. Next day go ek balam and then amble around valladolid and spend night there again. Then next day early to CI then leave for Merida where we spend two nights. From Merida drive to Tullum for three night. Go to a denote from there, see the ruins and get some beach time in.
Does that sound wise? If so I will have to get booking - a week to go! :s
Cheers and all the best!
Murray n lou
Oct 7, 2012 6:13 PM
12Have you been to other colonial cities in Mexico?
If you have I find nothing special in out of the way Merida. It's all "real Mexico".
The plaza and cathedral in Merida are good if you haven't been to other cities.
You get sunrises off the water in Tulum (faces east yah?)
You don't get much sunset anywhere. Flat jungle.
There's a nice hotel east of Chichen-Itza called Dolores Alba.
One really nice pool, one near the office not nice.
You know you must get to Chichen at the gate opening time.
You have about two and a half hours before the madness and heat begin.
Don't fall for the evening light show.
You could drive from Valladolid to Tulum, passing Coba along the way.
If you time it right, you might get sunset from the top of the Coba pyramid.
Could be great. Also a lagoon there. Rent bikes to get around.
They won't let you climb the pyramid at Chichen anymore since a German tourist took a tumble.
I wouldn't get your hopes too high for great food.
Bar food and carry out in Merida was pretty good.
Memorable snorkeling I found at Yal-ku lagoon, north side of Akumal.
You may not have time enough for all this in only one week. I barely did with two weeks.
Try not to have too much on your plate.
The freedom and air conditioning of the rental car were a big plus for me.
Roads are easy once you figure out what a tope speedbump is.
You don't have time to stand around in the heat waiting for buses,
trying to figure out where and when.
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