Day of the Dead???

Old Aug 11th, 2023, 10:19 PM
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Day of the Dead???

Highly likely that we will make a return trip to Mexico. Staring to plan way in advance as we will be flying using points and will need to book as soon as flights are released. We will also probably be meeting up with our nieces who's will be in Mexico towards the end of their gap year trip.

Where is the best place to be for the celebrations? Mexico City seems the obvious choice but have heard good things about the celebrations in Patzcuaro and Oaxaca. Guanjuato also seemed like a fun town on our last trip. Any thoughts and suggestions would much appreciated.

My understanding is that the celebrations take place on the first and second of November. Presumably it best to be in place a couple of days either side?

Finally, there is a possibility that we may incorporate a side trip to Central America. Is there anywhere there that we should consider for DOD festivities?

Thanks in advance
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Old Aug 12th, 2023, 12:56 PM
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Are you thinking yet this year or next? Oaxaca & Pátzcuaro are the 2 most popular DOD destinations in the entire country. Thus the most expensive. And if you're thinking this year, it may be a challenge to find affordable lodging right now, especially in Patzcuaro. I can't help but think Cuetzalan in Puebla's Sierra Norte might be an intriguing option. Chris Daniel is an expert on the area. Hopefully he'll chime in.
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Last edited by bald0ne; Aug 12th, 2023 at 01:11 PM.
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Old Aug 12th, 2023, 03:38 PM
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A fascinating Day of the Dead celebration is in Chiapas outside San Cristobal de las Casas in San Juan Chamula, an indigenous community. Here are my stories describing the experience:

https://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/dia...n-juan-chamula

https://www.travelgumbo.com/blog/cha...de-los-muertos

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Old Aug 12th, 2023, 06:16 PM
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My understanding is that the celebrations take place on the first and second of November. Presumably it best to be in place a couple of days either side?

Correct. November1st is for the souls of children, November 2nd is for the souls of adults. Some places you'll even see Halloween celebrated at night on the 31st (yes an adaptation from north of the border).

As far as "a couple days either side" I think before is more interesting/important because you can see the honorary altars, Catrinas, and likely special music and dance performances, the 'pan de muerto' (bread), of course locals at the cemetery. I haven't observed much going on after the 2nd.

I have been in Puerto Vallarta a number of times, at this time. Not recommending that location for this request, just saying Dia de los Muertos happens in most (all?) Mexican towns in some fashion.

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Old Aug 13th, 2023, 12:57 AM
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Thank you for all the responses.

For clarity, I am taking about Nov 2024 mainly so I can secure award flights as soon as they become available and secondly because that is when our nieces will be in Mexico. I must have been waxing lyrical bout the delights of Mexico a, s it now seems at though their parents (my BIL & wife) will also be joining us. Thanks for the heads up re accommodation baldone, it seems there is another reason for early planning. Thanks also for the suggestion of Cuetzalan, we loved Puebla the last time and it seems this could combine well. I will have a closer look.

MmePerdu. Thanks for the suggestion of San Juan Chamula. We missed out on that when we were in Sn Cristobal as there was a screw up with the tour we were meant to take. Arrived at the departure point only to find they had overbooked and there were no seats! SC is sort of half on the agenda as we also missed out on Palenque. It may be an option if we decide to include Guatemala though, with just a month, that may not be a viable option. Great blog BTW.

Suze - thanks for confirming my thoughts on visiting pre/post DOD. I guess much will depend on when the girls arrive in Mexico - fortunately they have left me in control of their flights. On which note, it has just occurred to me that booking flights and buses are equally as important as accommodation!!


On an entirely separate note, which probably requires a separate post, any thoughts on a quiet laid back beach location? Not looking for big resorts or cities. Just somewhere with great seafood, relaxed vibe and no big hotels perhaps some good diving (not essential) . Oaxacan, Pacific coast, Caribbean, Gulf coast maybe?











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Old Aug 13th, 2023, 09:00 AM
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I have enjoyed Negril Jamaica
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Old Aug 14th, 2023, 09:05 AM
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crellston, I did a Yucatan tour and think at some point I promised to post that rough itinerary. I know bald()ne has not toured Yucatan extensively. One of the beachside towns that we enjoyed briefly was where my guide lived, Celestún. Low key compared to many others of that sort (no big high rise chain hotels and condo complexes). It is not far from Merida, which we unfortunately only drove through. You might consider Merida-Celestun-Uxmal if you find it is too involved or time consuming to get to Palenque. The flamingoes should have arrived in Celestun by November.

Palenque was at the end of our trip and we ended in Villahermosa for flights out. I gather you may be looking into overland travel but flying is an option at least one way.

Here is the order that we toured


Fly into Cancun and transfer to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel (minor diving/snorkeling spot). (Villa Blanca Garden hotel) Ruins in Cozumel not worth visiting (we dropped them). Birding only. I don't think you would necessarily like that coast between Cancun and PdC due to heavy tourism development, sort of the Puerto Vallarta of the Caribbean coast.

Ferry back to Playa, drive south to Chetumal (Fiesta Inn hotel 2 nights).

Sian Kaan Biosphere reserve, second day Bacalar Lagoon and Noh Bec. Enjoyed our dip in Bacalar Lagoon. Rough road on the way down. There is an airport in Chetumal so you don't necessarily have to do that drive.

Transfer to Chicanna Ecovillage near Xpujil for 2 nights, full day at Calakmul Reserve and ruins. Worthwhile.

Transfer to Uxmal visit Hochob ruins on the way. Two nights Hotel Uxmal Resort Maya (walk or taxi to site). First night sound and light at Uxmal. Next day at Uxmal and Kabah. There are a few other hotels closer to the ruins at about twice the price but this one was fine, nice pool and view, good buffet.

Transfer to Celestun (two nights). Many small posadas in town. White sand beach. Also went to Sisal another beachside town with more upscale villas nearby.
Celestun beachside palapa lunches and Biosphere reserve (flamingoes).

Transfer to Palenque (3 nights Mision Palenque). That was a nicer hotel with large grounds a bit away from the center of town. Not 100% sure it is still available.
full day Palenque
full day Yaxchilan which requires a river trip, and a long day but wonderful site. I think virtually everyone takes a tour to get there.
Trans to Villahermosa ( Aluxes EcoPark and La Venta Park and museum)
Fly out (to CDMX)

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 14th, 2023 at 09:55 AM.
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Old Aug 15th, 2023, 01:36 AM
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Thanks mlgb that is really, really helpful. I had almost entirely discounted flying into Cancun as that type of resort development is something that just does not appeal but it does seem though it could be a means to an end. "Low key" is good - big resort areas are a no no. I shall investigate whether my Amex companion ticket Amex voucher permits open jaw flights into MEX and out of CAN. If so that could be the answer. If not, I suppose booking a CAN - MEX flight is no big deal.

I will check out those places you mention in more detail but, in your opinion are Palaenque/Yaxchilan worth the effort of getting there? There or Merida-Celestun-Uxmal ?

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Old Aug 15th, 2023, 05:22 PM
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Again just speaking from the sidelines, but pretty sure most people use the Cancun airport for coming into that Caribbean side of Mexico. Doesn't mean you'd go anywhere into or near the resort strip.
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Old Aug 15th, 2023, 07:16 PM
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Some random thoughts.
Cuetzalan is a long ways from anywhere. Almost 4 hours from Puebla. DOD would no doubt be a cool experience there, but it might be challenging for your group with nieces etc.
Another thought, closer to Puebla & Mexico city, would be Tlaxcala. Prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, DOD in Mexico was originally celebrated, not for 2 days in November, but rather starting in August for 20 days for dead niños, and then for another 20 days in September for dead adults. But it was in Tlaxcala, with the arrival of the Franciscans in the 1500's, where the celebration was first merged with the pagan European Catholic rituals of All souls/saints days and thus it began to be celebrated on November 1st & 2nd. So Tlaxcala was where the first DOD in Mexico was actually celebrated on what's now considered the 'traditional' dates. So some obscure DOD history there. Tlaxcala is a pretty city in Mexico's smallest state. Nearby Huamantla is a Pueblo Mágico.
https://reportelobby.info/destinos/2...%20septiembre.
Diving. Mexico's only 2 coral reefs are near Cozumel and in the Gulf just off of Veracruz, the latter not well known as a dive area at all. But Veracruz would be much easier to reach from Tlaxcala, plus the state could easily be toured from Tlaxcala or backtrack a bit to Puebla. Xalapa has México's best Anthro museum outside of CDMX, plus the pinacoteca Diego Rivera, the largest public collection of his paintings in the country. Coatepec & Xico are Pueblo Mágicos in coffee country. Veracruz has an excellent aquarium, the San Juan Ulúa fort, classic cafes and dance & music plus tons of history. Of course lots of seafood including on the Laguna Mandinga. Veracruz beaches aren't considered the greatest, (gray/brown sand) but it's easy enough to find miles of deserted coastline either north or south of the port. Some with typical 'rustic' Mexican hotels. Cancuncito is tiny sandbar popular with Veracruz day trippers, but still doesn't get busy.
https://www.lugaresturisticosdeveracruz.com/puerto/cancuncito/
In addition to the coral reef are several wrecks, some not very deep and just offshore. A return loop back to Puebla or cdmx takes you through Córdoba & Orizaba, 2 more Pueblo Mágicos. Eva Longoria's CNN Veracruz piece I thought was really good.
https://diveadvisor.com/mexico/gulf-...o-scuba-diving
If you opt for Patzcuaro for DOD, the closest quiet beach area would be Troncones. No diving, but easy surfing. And excellent seafood. No high-rises except in Ixtapa 40 minutes away. Lots of beachfront villas. You'd have to take a bus from Patzcuaro to Zihuatanejo, then taxi to Troncones.
South of Zihuatanejo is the quiet beach area of Barra De Potosí. Our dentist raves about it. We were not fans of Zihuatanejo, busy, full of gringos and dirty beaches. Reminded us too much of PV.
If you opt for Oaxaca for DOD, the closest beach area would be Huatulco. It's a FONATUR development (like Cancun) but nowhere near the development and no highrises. Super clean. There are some relatively empty beaches in nearby coves but not as empty as they once were. Further up the coast are Mazunte & San Agustinillo for empty beaches. No diving and a brutal bus ride from Oaxaca. Or an expensive Cessna flight of 40 minutes.
Now, back to Cuetzalan. If you could figure out the logistics, a cool itinerary from there would be San Rafael (at least for lunch at Maison Courturier) and then on to the Costa Esmeralda at Tecolutla, Veracruz. San Rafael was settled by the French. Hotel Azúcar in Tecolutla offers some pretty upscale beach lodging & dining. Both Azúcar & Maison Courturier are owned by Grupohabita a rather upscale chain with properties in cdmx & Condesa.
:::: MAISON COUTURIER ....
AZÚCAR

Last edited by bald0ne; Aug 15th, 2023 at 07:21 PM.
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Old Aug 16th, 2023, 03:56 AM
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The more remote sites Palenque Yaxchilan and Calakmul were all great, as was Uxmal. Lots of trees and wildlife (monkeys) around the ruins still at Calakmul and Yaxchilan to add to the atmosphere.

Some climbing still allowed (although not the most important pyramids).
Surprisingly we all enjoyed the sound and light show at Uxmal (in Spanish).

I don't think you can go wrong with any of them that fit best into the itinerary.

BTW even a casual observer should be aware that the intensive development of the Riviera Maya extends well south of Cancun all the way to Tulum.
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Old Aug 17th, 2023, 01:31 AM
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Many thanks for the thought baldone. Already looked into a few of those suggestions and will delve deeper into the coming weeks. Thank you for the clarification mlgb. As you say, I need to see how best they would fit into an itinerary and I need to get that done soon than later.
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Old Sep 8th, 2023, 01:46 AM
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Yes, Mexico City is the most obvious choice. You can consider visiting Guanajuato or San Luis Potosí as people of La Huasteca Potosina celebrate all aspects of the Day of the Deadtradition. You can check this article made by National Geography about places to visit during Day of the Dead tradition https://www.nationalgeographic.com/t...of-dead-mexico In case you want to explore as a local during the time, I would recommend you to get a local as your tour guide in Mexico https://gowithguide.com/mexico/mexico-city They will certainly help to understand their local customs properly. Hope you will have a great time there.
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 07:06 AM
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Just one point of caution that I'm running into for this year's DotD in Mexico City. For most of the time I've been planning our trip to Mex City, it was assumed/projected that the big parade would be the weekend before, 28th or 29th. However, when the official dates were released around the beginning of this month, the big parade is actually on Nov 4th. We just had to flip our itinerary (which was fine since luckily we hadn't booked our accommodations) but it could definitely reek havoc on non refundable bookings.... or add a ton of cost.
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Old Oct 24th, 2023, 08:41 AM
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Thanks for the thought saidmatt. I had read about that somewhere and was surprised that they left the announcement so late! Certainly doesn’t help with the planning!

We are not going until 24 but I guess the same issue is likely to arise next year! As it stands, we are likely o arrive in Mexico City in mid October to meet family coming from different places so will have to be flexible re location for DOD. Currently our plan is to head north then south from Mexico City so, we may be there or may try to hit Oaxaca or San Cristobal around that time. I was also half thinking of a return to Patzcuaro or Morelia but that seems a little too complicated!

Do come back and let us know how you get on. Any tips will be appreciated.
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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 09:56 AM
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Just an FYI. I have a friend now living in the Chapala area that is an experienced Mexico traveler. He had plans to do DOD in Chiapas this year, but canceled on this advice of a long time Chiapas resident he's known for years. Sounds like an increase in violence on the part of both local indigenous groups and cartels, and according to her, (his friend), tourism has pretty much dried up, at least where she's at. He didn't elaborate exactly where he was going; I was thinking one of the outlying villages from San Cristobal. A year from now maybe a totally different story. I'll email him and try to get more specifics.
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Old Oct 25th, 2023, 06:03 PM
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Once again, many thanks for the heads up baldone. Your insight into travel in Mexico is, as always, much appreciated. I should be grateful for any further insight, you or your friend can provide.

As you say, a lot can happen in a year so I shall enedeavour to keep things flexible. As I mentioned the only reason I am planning so far in advance is that I need to book reward flights as soon as they are released and also to arrange to meet up with our nieces ( and now possibly my BIL and SIL too!) . I did consider heading to Guatemala first and then crossing the border to Palenque etc. Doesn’t sound as though that was my best ever idea! These situations do seem to change rapidly but maybe I will keep things a little simpler and less adventurous. I must be feeling my age today!
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Old Oct 27th, 2023, 08:02 PM
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My amigo relayed the following. He says that there are a dozen or so indigenous communities, not to mention the zapatista's, in Chiapas which you probably know. But each community has their own laws & so-called police forces, independent of Army, State, Municipal police or Guardia Nacional. Which you probably know too. None of which are allowed to intervene in local disputes except by invitation. The various groups will erect blockades, at random, to control entry & exit to/from the various communities. Might last an hour, a day or a weekend. Or maybe just charge a toll. Or no movement at any price. 2 cartels are wrangling for control of the region, the Sinaloa & Jalisco New Generation. The blockades disrupt their overland flow of 'product' through the region, so they resort to gunfire. There are a couple of Facebook groups with updates on blockages in the area, 'Bloqeuos Carrerteros Chiapas' & 'Grupo de Alertas Chiapas' Which may prove useful in your planning. He reports there have been blockades along the San Cris-Palenque highway for about a month now. He had planned on visiting the Lacandones in the rain forest prior to Muertos but that's now out of the question, according to his 'informant' in San Cris. She lives there (San Cris) but deals in indigenous art & the like produced in those communities so as such is pretty well informed. No reports of unsavory activity in San Cris proper, except for some gunplay several months back. If it were my trip, I'd probably have no qualms about visiting and staying in San Cris. But outlying areas might give me pause right now. We were there years ago before moving to Mexico. We rented a car and drove to Palenque & Comitán. Even then, some 15 or so years ago, there were mild roadblocks on the Palenque highway for tolls. Beautiful area and Palenque is a fascinating archeological site. That's what I know and can relate. I trust my contact's info.
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Old Oct 28th, 2023, 04:54 AM
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Thanks for the update. I seem to recall that the reasons we didn't make it to Palenque on our last trip was that we were advised that there were roadblocks along the way. I can't say SCde las Casas was our favourite place on that trip as we found it overly tourist orientated. Some nice trips out from there though. I will check in with you nearer the time.

Trying to put in place a vague plan of where to go. Not especially bothered about repeating places as I am of the view that you can get more out of a place the second or third time around. Certainly found that to be the case in Vietnam, Peru and New Zealand. CDMX is clearly a definite and Guanjuato was such. fun place we have to take our nieces there. Morelia is a possibility although Sam unsure whether we liked it so much because it was close to xmas?

Other than that, somewhere on the coast (not sure which one) , Somewhere around the Yucatan following in mlgb's footsteps perhaps. Though we always seem to be drawn towards mountains rather than coasts.
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Old Nov 29th, 2023, 09:57 PM
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Finally managed to book our Avios business class flights from Madrid to Mexico City. A very complicated process involving hours on the phone to British Airways Executive Club. Not an entirely wasted day as it cost half the points flying from Madrid with Iberia than from London with BA and the taxes dropped from £900 to £528. The cash saved will pay for return flights LHR - MAD and a couple of nights in Madrid/Toledo on the way back.

We will be away for one month so I now need to sort out a rough itinerary. We shall be in Mexico from 21 Oct to 15 Nov. I have settled on Oaxaca for Dia del Muertos probably for 5-7 days from 30 Oct. We will clearly spend a few days in Mexico City and also want to return to Guanjuato and so will have a few days to play with before Oaxaca. Any suggestions for places around CDMX? We have already done Puebla (my wife is keen to return, I am not so sure!) Taxco perhaps?

After Oaxaca, we should have around 10 days before returning to MEX for our flight back. I am leaning towards the Yucatan, perhaps using Merida as a base. Is that too much time? Could we squeeze in Palenque en route? Another destination perhaps? I have heard tell of places like Isla Holbox etc but am not clear on how touristy these place may be.

I appreciate that this is a long time ahead but from what I understand it s essential to book accommodation in places like Oaxaca well in advance.
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