First time to Yucatan (mexico)

Old May 25th, 2007, 10:43 PM
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First time to Yucatan (mexico)

Hello,
I'm travelling to Cancun during first/second week of October with my husband and 16 month (in Oct) old daughter. Please let me know if my plan seems right?
Day 1: Drive from Cancun airport to Tulum, relax at beach, stay night at Tulum
Day 2: Tulum ruins, beach and nearby areas (suggestions?)stay night at Tulum
Day 3: Drive to Coba ruins, then to Chichen Itza and watch the night show, stay night at Chichen
Day 4: See Chichen Itza ruins in the day, drive to Cancun, night at Cancun (just to experience Cancun)
Day 5: Flight back home
Please tell me if this plan seems do-able with my daughter? Also, suggestions for a good hotel on the beach or close to beach in Tulum which is below $90/100.
Any suggestions to add something interesting to do in this trip, nice restaurants for vegetarians will be a great help!
Also, will I need to get my carseat or will the car rental company provide me with it?
Thanks so much,
Preeya
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:09 AM
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Your plan sounds doable.

Definately bring your own carseat - it will be one comfort that your daughter knows. Car rental carseats are often very dirty. We have Britax seat, which is large, but I much prefer to have my own carseat; it's a hassle, but worth it.

In Tulum, look at Tita Tulum which has great off season rates. Or Hamaca Loca has good rates too. Have you checked the list on hotelstulum.com?
Tulum is very veg friendly - no worries there.

Coba is huge. I'm wondering how you might transport your daughter through the site. Getting around by bicycle is the easiet way to see Coba, but I'm not sure how you could do that with a 16 mo old.
If you did a stroller, you'd need a jogging stroller because of the rough terrain - but that would be nearly impossible to travel with.
When my son was about that age, we had a backpack carrier for him - this is probably the best options.
Veg options at Coba are about zilch. You will have to get by on beans, rice, tortillas, etc.

Driving to Chichen - please do it in the day light. Driving these roads at night is really difficult.

Same concerns about your daughter in Chichen as Coba - although there are no bikes to rent. The backpack carrier works best. I had brought a regular stroller once and it did not really work out.

At Chichen, the only thing for veg is a grilled cheese platter - not a sandwich, but a cheese that can be grilled like Halloumi. I thought it was good.

Driving to Cancun after Chichen will be a whip -easpecailly after all the going, going y'all are doing. I'd skip it and stay another night in Chichen or Valladolid - wherever you are staying. Your daughter will prefer the pools to the beach in Cancun...I'm assuming.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:34 AM
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I think you've planned a whirlwind trip and will miss having any downtime to relax and just enjoy the area. Three ruins in five days is a whole lot of walking/driving. It's certainly a do-able itinerary so here's the lowdown. Flight down (indeterminate time), wait for rental car and leave airport, plus 1 1/2 hour drive to Tulum. Check in at Tulum and spend the evening. Drive to ruins 15 min and spend a couple of hours there, drive to beach or use the one at the ruins for rest of day. Drive to Coba 1 hour and tour ruins (choose to walk or take pedicab) 2-3 hours then get in car for drive to Chichen Itza another 1 1/2 hours, find hotel, check in, go to night show. Next day spend at Chichen for 3 hours or so then drive 2 1/2 - 3 hours to Cancun find hotel and check in. Somewhere in all this comes the eating, inevitable sidetracking and whatnot.
Have you driven in the area before and do you have a good map?
How will your daughter deal with extended periods of sitting?
Do you have a plan B if something goes awry?
Coba and Chichen are huge areas to cover with a child (and even without a child). Take a cooler in the car with you to store food/drinks.
Those are just some thoughts I've had this morning. I've been to all the ruins you've mentioned several times and am usually exhausted just going to one in a day with the heat.
Sue
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:35 AM
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Pepper -
You and I were posting at the same time. Ditto your thoughts.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 07:58 AM
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With 5 days, I'd probably do 2-3 nights in Tulum, 2-3 nights in Playa del Carmen or Akumal. I'd do Coba as a day trip from Tulum, spend a 1/2 day at the Tulum ruins and spend the rest of my time on the beautiful beaches of Tulum and Playa or Akumal. Your plan involves a lot of driving - you'll regret not having more time to enjoy the area.
Have you gone to locogringo.com?
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Old May 26th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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Absolutely agree, colokid -

And after reading your post, I'm reminded how we did only half of Chichen one year when our son was 15 mo and then went again the next year to see the other half. We were so exhusted and worn out only seeing half each time.

Although...I have to admit that we saw Ek Balam right before the second trip to Chichen - and that may have had something to do with us being pooped.

Bring tons of water with you, Preeya. We always bring two large sized Camel Baks on any ruins excursion and completely empty them.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 09:22 AM
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Yes,water,water,snacks. Went to Ek Balam in March and was so happy I finally got to that one. Going back again in a week and it's on my agenda to see again. Just not enough time last trip. Plus, then you get to stop in Valladolid for a well deserved meal. There was a military checkpoint last time on the Coba road about 1/2 way there; if you have any cold pop in the car for these guys they really appreciate it.
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Old May 26th, 2007, 10:10 AM
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Thanks all for your input! I think I will skip either Coba or Chichen (maybe Coba as if I never come back again, I would've done oh so famous Chichen!)
Also, maybe just add another day and rest at Tulum before going to Chichen.
Any good hotels at Tulum that are clean, kid friendly suggestions will be great!
I will keep you posted when I start my bookings.
My husband or I have not driven in Mexico..so dont know how we will handle that, but its the best way with our daughter I think.
More questions to follow when I get down to literal booking and planning.
Any other tips for me?
Preeya
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Old May 26th, 2007, 11:37 AM
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Be sure you review the road rules in MX as they are different than in the States (not sure if that's where you're from). Gas stations are spaced apart and again, know the hints to not being surprised at the pump. Topes are in the road south of Cancun and again on the road to Chichen so be sure to slow down for those (raised bumps in the road to slow folks down). There are several grocery stores on your way south to stop in if needed including the newer Soriana on the west side of 307 just opposite Playacar. Good selection and more of a Super Target type of store. Don't know much about staying in Tulum as I've only done day trips there and I live in Playa. Have pesos to pay for gas and only in the amount that you need; do not ask to fill up your car. Pemex is the name of the gas stations in MX. Many insights as to how to navigate in the Yucatan can be found at either www.locogringo.com or www.playa.info. Lots of informative folks there who've done all this before. Locogringo probably has more info on parts south of Playa. Oh, you can no longer climb the castillo at Chichen but can still climb at Coba which is the tallest castillo in the Yucatan. There is a wonderful colonial town east of Chichen called Valladolid which is a great place to stop and eat or stretch. Beautiful old church and on the north end of the square opposite the benches is a great open air restaurant where you can order from a variety of different vendors and then sit in tables in the middle of this huge room. Yummy. Also, just outside Valladolid is a prison where the most excellent hammocks are made by the prisoners and sold. Look for many brightly colored hammocks on the south side of the road with the prison in the background. Don't hesitate to ask questions.
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Old May 29th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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Pepper (or anyone else),
I have a question: I am traveling to Cancun next week with wife and college-age daughters who have no interest in anything cultural except the beach and the nightlife. I would like to make a day trip to the ruinsfrom our hotel (JWMarriott-Cancun), but have been told to be careful that some of these "excursions" are nothing more than tourist traps with stops that are more geared to souvenir shopping. I am really interested in only the historical and archeological aspects and wonder if there are some guided tours that are strictly archeological/historical in nature without all the other tourist stuff. Do you know of any? How would I find such a guided trip to the ruins?
Thanks!
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Old May 31st, 2007, 06:52 AM
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I think your original pace was just about right. The vacation that is ideal for one person would be to slow for another.

Keith
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 06:57 AM
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SBrown -

Sorry...been out of town...

The best tour for you do is an Alltournative Tour. The problem is that they leave mostly from PDC. They have a Coba Ruins tour that involves a zipline into a cenote along with the ruins. You can take a cab down to PDC - I met a guy who did that from Cancun because he knew Alltounative was the group he wanted to go with.
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 07:00 AM
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Wow!...they leave from Cancun now...this is exactly what you are looking for...

http://www.alltournative.com/day-exp...-encounter.php
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 08:58 AM
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OK here is our plan:
Day 1: Drive from Cancun to Chichen, see the night show
Day 2: Visit Chichen ruins, then drive to Tulum
Day 3: Tulum beach and relax (maybe Coba?)
Day 4: Tulum ruins & beach
Day 5: Drive back to Cancun, if time permits see local spots and flight back to Boston
How does this seem?
I have a few questions:
# Which is better, Cabanas Copal or Zahra? And what rooms are better with a 15 month old, sea view, beach cabana or garden room? Is the beach good there?
# Any other good hotel suggestion? I saw Tita Tulum, isnt it too away from the ruins...does that matter?
#Do I need a guide at Tulum or Chichen ruins, who can explain me about the ruins and show me everything quickly so that I dont miss out as well as understand what I say?/ Or take some book? How much would a guide cost?
#Is the Tulum beach dangerous as to any fishes etc hurting kids (I might be overthinking based on Jaws.. but a mom has to do all that!)
#What is good for shopping in Tulum area or the areas I'm visiting?

Your suggestions are so helpful. Thanks so much-Preeya
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 09:27 AM
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Some more questions:
# What is it about the no electricity and electricity at Tulum hotels? Is there a place that has electricity till 10-11pm?
# Around Tulum or Chichen could you please suggest a cenote, not deep, where my 15 month old daughter can also get in with us?
Thanks,
Preeya
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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 12:44 PM
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preeya,

Although we have not yet stayed in Tulum (we usually stay in Akumal) we did check out Los Lirios and they are one of the very few hotels on the beach road that have A/C (some of the rooms at Ana y Jose have A/C now also but it is out of your price range). Garden or deluxe garden view would be in your price range. Los Lirios wanted US$129 plus tax last May (low season) so we went back to Akumal instead and paid US$30 less for a hotel that had both A/C and pool. A/C might be something for you to consider in October when it can be very humid.

I have read that the vast majority of hotels on Tulum beach road are not on the electric grid, so those that have fans, etc. power them with generators which can be noisy, so that is probably why they turn them off after 10 or 11pm when most people are sleeping anyway.

I checked the link that pepper was kind enought to post and it looks like Zahra has electricity until 11pm. Personally you could not pay me to stay at Copal.

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Old Jun 1st, 2007, 01:22 PM
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Whoooah!

Im ny opinion, you guys are likely to (1) exhaust yourselves, (2) deyhdrate the baby, and (3) see a lot of scrub jungle from the front seat of a rental car while tearing out the transmission on topes.

Keep in mind you are there for five days only. That's 60 hours, maximum, of daylight, more like 50 in October. You have planned for 3 hours driving Cancun-Tulum, 4 hours Tulum-Coba-Chichen, and 3 hours Chichen-Cancun.
Assuming you are very familiar with the routes, comfortable on mexican back roads, and have no delays. That's a full day of your five in the CAR! Please tell me you were not polaning to drive the interior at night!!! (and there isn't ANYTHING to see while driving in the Yucatan - don't water your houseplants for a couple weeks, put up a couple resort posters (to simulate the many billboards along Cancun-PDC stretch) and you'll get a similar effect).

Coba is an immense area with very long walks between structures, and very little "open area" where you can appreciate the vista without a long upward climb. (cover your yard furniture with grass clippings and you will get a similar effect). The ruins are spectacular, but probably less effective as an introduction than Chichen.

Chichen Itza is relatively compact and more cleared/deforested - you can walk a reasonable distance and experience a number of fairly impressive structures in relatively close proximity.

Tulum is a kiddie-park size site with a nice crowded beach area to cool off and is child-friendly - our latest 18 month old loved chasing iguanas along the paths and swimming at the beach this February. She would have been nothing but mosquito dinner at Coba which is really in the jungle, and fried chicken at Chichen which is likely to get hot and dry. Ditto the mosquitones at the light show.

Having traveled Yucatan with kids for 10 years, I'd say that unless you find pleasure in exhaustion, bug bites, and heat prostration, you'll have a better experience (and the kiddo certainly will) spending a couple days at Tulum/beach/litle bit of ruin; One overnight at Chichen (night show if you insist, but it's really weak and buggy; enough Chichen to see the Castillo, the ball courts, the cenote and the caracol, and the remainder of the time at the beack or pool either in Tulum or Cancun. You'll be more rested, less cramped, less scratchy, and actually absorb some of what you see.

Please skip Coba in October with a baby.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 07:01 AM
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Ummm...okay....

For hotels in Tulum, I'd look at something that is known for being a bit cleaner. Tita Tulum is a good choice. And a few others such as Los Lirios (which is good w/ a baby since they are about the only place with a bathtub...really hard to shower off a 16 mo old every night!!).

Or look at a place with a pool - at least that way you can get the sand off. Pools at Ana y Jose, Parayso, Zulum, Las Ranitas. You'll have a car, so it doesn't really matter. The beach is much nicer the farther down the rd in Tulum.

The deal w/ no electricty is that Tulum Beach is not wired to The Grid. Elec comes in to each hotel independently via solar, wind. Those with a/c have generators.

Beach in Tulum has waves at times - that'd be the only true concern w/ a 16 mo old. No dangerous critters. Crabs sometimes, but they tend scurry away.

Still don't know how you'd do Coba effectively - guess you'll have to walk with a backpack carrier or something. We did Chichen when our son was 15 mo and then a year later (w/ Ek Balam)...both times in August. None of us dehydrated - but we did use two full Camel Baks.

ALL cenotes are very, very deep. Bring a life jacket that fits properly if you plan do a cenote. The clarity of the water is deceiving...it can look 10 feet, but it's really 30+ feet. The water is cold since it's an underground river that feeds it - think of a natural spring with a constant year round temp of 68 degrees.

For shopping - I like Mixik in Tulum. That's about it. Also try the Alltournative shop along the Coba Rd on your way to Coba.

Drive times are more like (w/o stops):
Tulum to Cancun - 1.5 hours
Tulum to Coba - 1 hour
Chichen to Tulum - 2-2.5 hours

You need to get two maps from cancunmap.com - the Riviera Maya Map and the Chichen Itza Map. These are the only guides you will need for the area - they are constantly updated and have off-the-beaten-track adventure.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2007, 07:40 AM
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Coba has cheap rental bicycles that make it very easy to get around. Most of the people going there seem to go straight to the biggest pyramid and then leave.

Going to other structures, you have the place to yourself, and it is cool the way that once you are off the trails, the jungle is still grown up. It feels like you may discover something unknown behind the next bush.

Keith
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Old Jun 4th, 2007, 09:30 AM
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Thanks a lot everyone for your responses! I have now decided to skip Coba and relax at the Tulum beaches. ALso, I might book the Tita Tulum for us, anything to consider there??
Should we do Chichen ruins before Tulum ruins???
SO that way we will go from Cancun airport drive to Chichen, see the ruins next day and then remaining 3 days we can just spend on Tulum beach and the ruins one half day.
Do you suggest I do one night at a Cancun hotel, or just skip and enjoy Tulum?
How do I avoid Iguanas in my room? Are there many bugs/iguanas during Oct? I'm a little scared of them, never been close to an iguana (except during a trip to Everglades, saw one far on the tree)
Would ask more detailed questions later. Thanks so much!
Preeya
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