5 Nights in Mexico in Late July--First Time Visit

May 2nd, 2008, 05:48 PM
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Join Date: May 2003
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5 Nights in Mexico in Late July--First Time Visit

Wife and I (mid-50s) would like to celebrate our anniversary in Mexico. We've never been there. We don't want hyper-tourist locations. Our interests include arts/crafts, ruins, food, architecture, and nature--most everything but clubbing and high-end shopping. A beach might be nice, but we're concerned with heat/humidity in July. Oaxaca seems interesting as do some parts of the Yucatan. Would like to be able to combine good local cuisine with some shopping for crafts with some nice natural scenery with some ruins and other historical architecture. I know we're asking a lot for 5 nights, and are prepared to make choices, but any advice would be welcome.
rgrusin is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 07:20 PM
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YOu're right five nights is not that long - but you have what you have! Just make the choice and don't try to cram in more than a city or two at most- and any second one should be close by.

Based on your interests, one idea might be to just fly into Mexico City (often the cheapest flights from U.S.), stay there a couple nights and then go to another near and easily reachable colonial town via luxe and cheap bus to Guanajuato or Queretaro. Both are lovely - great culture, architecture, street life in the zocalo in the evenings etc.

We're contemporaries of yours who have done a fair amount of Mexico traveling and have similar interests. We spent all of Jan/Feb in Mexico - a month in Oaxaca, two weeks in Guanajuato, several days in Mexico City, a few in San Miguel de Allende and several in Queretaro. We love all these cities. Really you could spend all 5 in Mexico City and not see it all. Oaxaca definitely has all you're looking for and would be a great choice, but you don't have much time. It's an hour or so flight from Mexico City or a 6? hour bus ride. But we just did that bus ride and have to say that the last half of it was just beautiful - fabulous mountains - cacti - very interesting. Very comfortable. Yucatan is good for all the things you mentioned too. We liked Merida as well and saw the flamingos in the nearby town of Celestun. And we went to the interesting ruins at Uxmal. And of course you could do Tulum or Chichen Itza near there (where we've not been). Wasn't too crazy about the Yucatan food though. Not much variety. Oaxaca is the food place - wonderful markets,street food, restaurants.

We hired guides outside both Guanajuato (a gorgeous colonial town) and Oaxaca to take us bird watching in the mountains. Both these excursions were wonderful.
glover is offline  
May 2nd, 2008, 08:45 PM
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5 nights would be great in either Guadalajara, Morelia, Oaxaca OR Mexico city. First trip do not waste your time traveling. Any of the above will keep you occupied & weather in the Mountains will be great!
Stewbear is offline  
May 3rd, 2008, 06:59 AM
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I would recommend Oaxaca as best for 5 nights given your interests. I think it has the best craft shopping in Mexico, with lots of interesting shops in the town, and markets in the surrounding craft villages--Teotitlan for rugs, Ocotlan for pottery, to name only two. Don't miss the workshops of the Aguilera sisters (especially Josefina) in Ocotlan--a statue of the Virgin, patroness of Oaxaca, by Josefina, found in the Bazaar Sabado in Mexico City, is still one of my most loved possessions.

Oaxaca has wonderful restaurants--Rick Bayless has a home here, and the inspiration flows both ways between him and some of the city's cooks. The whole Centro area, with a couple of walking streets and the best zocalo in Mexico (no cars, lots of music), is an architecture lovers paradise.

For ruins, you have Monte Alban and Mitla, both well worth attention, especially Monte Alban.
marilynl is offline  
May 4th, 2008, 05:08 AM
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I am thinking Oaxaca too. Depending where you live you might see if Continental is still flying direct from Houston as it would give you more time there. With five days you would have many choices. You could certainly include Monte Alban, Ocotlan, Mitla, the churh at Tlatcolula, Teotitlan and Tule as well have time in Oaxaca City. With the new road heading south twoard Mitla you can see a lot more than you used to be able to in a day.
Dude is offline  
May 4th, 2008, 07:05 AM
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Yup, definitely skip the beach (in July with your list of interests) and pick just one place for your 5 nights.

suze is offline  
May 4th, 2008, 04:36 PM
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Thanks for the advice. Oaxaca seems like the best choice for us, staying in Oaxaca City. I have three questions, though.

First, our anniversary falls on the second Monday of Guelaguetza. Would there be any reason we shouldn't go for the festival?

Second, could you give us some lodging recommendations?

Third, has the political unrest of recent years subsided?

Thanks, Fodorites, for all of your help.
rgrusin is offline  
May 4th, 2008, 05:40 PM
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Yikes, Guelaguetza, I kinda forgot that, can you even get a room at this point? Yes its worth going to. As far as political unrest, two summers ago it was a big deal interrupted everything and would, I think, unsettle a first time visitor. Last year, not so much. For loding, I am not much help, I do home stays or stay at inexpensive places like La Casa de la Tia. I think you need to check to see if you can even get a place. There are lots of folks there at this time of year.
Dude is offline  
May 4th, 2008, 08:04 PM
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I didn't think of that either--not sure what the room situation will be.

What types of places do you like to stay in? Small B&B: Las Bugambilias is very nice. Hotel with pool: Hotel Victoria, and this might be my choice given that it's July.
marilynl is offline  
May 5th, 2008, 11:53 AM
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We're not into deluxe accommodations, but want something clean and comfortable. B&B would be fine.
rgrusin is offline  
May 7th, 2008, 06:58 PM
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I have been to Oaxaca many times, have also taken groups there. I would not go for galeguetza for your first trip for 2 reasons Everything will be very crowded & pricey and the political unrest would be most likely to surface at thaT time. You are 100% safe at any other time. Also I have a wonderful friend of many years, Florencio Moreno, who is a fabulous licensed tour guide and to spend a day or 2 with him in the villages would make your trip ( I guarantee that!!!) Look at academictoursoaxaca.com There are several nice b & b's, just be sure it is a location convenient to the zocolo. You will love Oaxaca for all the reasons already mentioned.
smcgown is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 10:07 AM
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Yes, Oaxaca is an excellent choice, given your interests.

I stayed at the Casa del Sotano a few years ago and could not have been more pleased. About 100USD a night.

robertino is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 10:28 AM
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I agree that Oaxaca would be great if you can get a room. I have to say that I was in Oaxaca in July 06 and still had a great experience. I was with a friend in a homestay, and maybe that's what made the difference--the mother of the house knew what was going on, where we should or shouldn't go, and we loved Oaxaca and had a wonderful time in spite of the troubles.

I'm heading back, this time with my husband, in June, and am very much looking forward to it!
mmb23 is offline  
May 8th, 2008, 02:39 PM
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Yucatan Peninsula is better there are many thing to do, to visit, you can stay in blue beach all day resting, go to shop, historical Merida, go to archaeological zone like ChichenItza and Tulum, explore Cenotes they’re amazing clear water and deep good to dive (this is the best thing I did), ecotourism with a lot island, Cozumel has the second biggest reef of the world, echo parks Xel-ha get river to snorkel and Xcaret here night show is magic, aquatics activities like snorkel, dive, swim with dolphins. Personally I lived the experience, swam with dolphins at Delphinus Rivera Maya, they have a great service, good environment, natural pool, friendly people whom care about dolphins in every way.
Actually Cancun, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, offers beautiful beaches and awesome Natural Reserve.
You have to live it!
Feby is offline  
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