Cancun questions: which to do?

Old Jan 9th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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Cancun questions: which to do?

We will be spending a week in Cancun. I am very interested in visiting Mayan Ruins. My husband and I are "outdoorsy" types. Is Chichen Itza "not to be missed" or is Coba or Tulum enough? I love ancient sites. We are very interested in Jungle Crossing or Mayan Encounter. Has anyone used them?
I'm not crazy about Chichen Itza by large tour bus, is renting a car for the day a viable option?
We will likely spend a day at Xcaret with other family, and would appreciate any feedback on that park. How is the snorkeling at Xcaret and can you do it without paying extra?
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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 07:23 AM
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I rented a car and visited Tulum and Coba last February. I enjoyed them immensely. They are different enough from each other that doing them both in one day didn't seem like too much. Doing Chichen Itza on another day out of just a week's trip would be a bit much for me.

Be sure to rent bikes at Coba and take your time. It seemed that most people just raced to Nohoc Mul pyramid and back to the parking lot.

At the other ruins at Coba, I rarely saw anyone else and there was more of a sense of adventure. It felt almost like I might discover something behind the next bush that no one knew was there.

BTW, if you like Thai food be sure to have lunch at Mezzanine in Tulum. Really a gorgeous location and some of the best Thai food I have had.

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Old Jan 16th, 2007, 07:57 AM
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If you love ancient sites I would see Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza.

Tulum is very small and can be seen in a couple hours. The Coba ruins are mostly unrestored. Chichen Itza is most impressive but also the most visited. I took a flight tour of Chichen Itza and thought it was well worth it. You fly over the jungle and arrive by 10 am. Most of the tour buses arrive around noon. Thus with the flight tour you have the ruins mostly to yourself for a couple hours. The tour included a Mayan guide to explain the buildings.
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Old Jan 17th, 2007, 03:00 PM
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As was said before these are very different places. Tulum is on the ocean is mostly restored and has a lot of visitors, bring your towel and swim suit there is a great beach once you get inside. Coba is in the jungle and mostly unrestored. You can do both of these in one day from Cancun, but it will be a very long day. There are a number of good places to eat right outside the Coba ruins. If you want authentic food this is a great place to try it out.

Chichen Itza is very impressive and also takes a long day. You will be in the car for about 5 hours.

I would say these are all places that you need to see to learn about Mayan Culture. Doing all this along with Xcaret in a week is a lot (too much for me). That would be 3 days from sun up to sun down. I have done these trips in a rental car with others and it is doable. The rental car option is in my experience as cheap or cheaper than the bus tours. At each of the ruins you can hire a guide to show you around for an hour or so. I have done that and it's really nice to have your own personal tour guide.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 02:31 PM
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I did the Alltournative Mayan Encounter tour which included the visit to Coba. There were 12 people in our group (I believe this is maximum capacity), and while everything was as advertised, it wasn’t quite as “adventurous” as I had imagined (or perhaps feared). We all made one quick trip on the zip-line (20-30 seconds), rappelled into a sinkhole and kayaked across a little lake. I took my 10-year-old niece, so it was perfect for us, but we both thought there would be a little more thrill, perhaps more than one zip-line. We loved Coba and our guide was very knowledgeable, he gave us a 40 minute lecture on the city, but after the lecture, we only had about an hour to explore, and Nohoch Muul is a long walk from the entrance, so we had to take a “bicycle taxi” to the temple in order to have enough time to climb to the top and we still had very little time to explore on our own. It was still the highlight of our trip, and I definitely recommend Alltournative. The guide was great and the equipment seemed very safe, I just wish I had asked a few more questions beforehand to get my expectations in check.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 03:07 PM
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I agree with most replies. All ruin towns are quite different and offer different perspective of the Maya culture. If you are definitely going to Xcaret, I would recommend going to Tulum and Coba. Tulum are wonderful ruins located on the beach coast. Otherwise with very little time to spare in one week, I would still go to Xcaret then decide to only go to Chichen Itza on a different day. Eventhough Chichen Itza is not on a beach front, there are wonderful Cenotes close by. Cenotes are deep wholes, cave like underground. The water is crytal clear and there are some Cenotes that are great attractions where many locals and tourist come to swim. Chichen Itza is the most impressive of all the Maya ruins, but has very little shade, so don't forget to carry a lot of water and your visor or an umbrella, but it is worth it, and go early before the tourist arrive at noon. There are also wonderful restaurants close by, just ask the guides or a local to recommend one. As far as Xcaret. It was the highlight of my trip to Cancun. It is a wonderful ecological park with part zoo. There are many species that are from this region that are showcase thru out the park. Nevertheless the water is the most important attraction. First, there is a half man made and half natural lazy river about a mile long that takes you thru out the park. There are also plenty of swimming pools thru out the park. The park is also located at the coast of the sea, so there is plenty of swimming or sun bathing to do. You also can watch and/or swim with dolphins. You can snorkle and scuba dive (they used a helmet only that traps air, so you don't have to wear the whole outfit just the helmet). There are lockers & showers, and there are 3 or 4 restaurants thru out. Thru out the day there is mexican folk dancing (at night it is the best show) in a cave like auditorium. They also have a demonstration in a man made ruin courtyard were they show you how the mayas use to play a type of basketball game to the death. The whole park is a wonderful experiense, but you need the whole day to enjoy all the activities. Enjoy!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 08:39 PM
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Hi! You are going to love Cancun. I definitely recommend seeing Chichen Itza, you will not be disappointed. I have seen also seen Tulum and Coba and were I to pick just two sites, it would be Chichen Itza and Coba. We did the Alltournative Mayan Encounter and had a great time. We had no problems using the company and I highly recommend them. We have always seen the sites in a small group 4-6 and I honestly believe it to be the best way. I have also been to Xcaret and thought it was wonderful. I know they have added attractions since we were last there and can only imagine that it is that much better. When we were there they had a show entitled "Xcaret at Night" and I loved it. It showcased traditional music from the different regions "states" in Mexico and was wonderful.

Have a great time!
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