Guanajuato or Oaxacca for 5-7days?

May 10th, 2017, 04:56 AM
  #1  
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Guanajuato or Oaxacca for 5-7days?

I'm thinking of visiting one of these two cities and their surrounding areas during Feb. For those of you that have been to both, could you please tell me which you preferred and why. I would be visiting one of them after spending 3 weeks in the Yucatan and Mexico City.

Also, has anyone been to Guadalahara? From my reading it sounds similar to Mexico City in terms of cultural and architectural sites. I'm thinking also that it is not as tourist friendly for those with limited Spanish (2 years of high school Spanish many, many years ago). Are my assumptions about Guadalahara correct?
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May 10th, 2017, 06:44 AM
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Guadalajara, at least for me, was my least favorite Mexican big city. It has it's attractions, but the other places you mentioned have more to offer, IMO.
Deciding between Guanajuato and Oaxaca is a good problem to have; you can't go wrong with either. Oaxaca probably has the best food in all of Mexico (outside of CDMX). For museums, ruins, music and culture all in one location, it's tough to beat. Combined with a night or 3 in Puebla, it's a great itinerary. Guanajuato's food scene is less than dynamic in comparison, and the area is best visited with day trips to San Miguel, Queretaro, Leon, etc. Both areas have their own unique architectural 'feel'.
baldone is online now  
May 10th, 2017, 07:46 AM
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Having spent 5 weeks in Oaxaca & many months/years in Guanajuato my choice is obvious.
While Oaxaca area has many attractions including my second favorite ancient site of Monte Alban, the craft villages, women's market, the worlds biggest tree etc it does have it's down side. The almost constant demonstrations, the object poverty,(only city I have seen people eating out of the garbage) with little kids selling junk trinkets 12 hours a day rather than being in school & the open prostitution is to me a huge turn off.
GTO on the other hand is almost too perfect to believe. Immaculate streets, fabulous architecture, the best culture events I have ever seen & I find the food while not as varied as Oaxaca is more than adequate at very reasonable prices. I rent a lovely apartment there in a most excellent area spending total per month on rent, food & entertainment under $700 US a month, less than half what Oaxaca costs & a pittance of what a place like Puerto Vallarta costs.
With San Miguel, Leon & other surrounding cities it has much to see & do.
Guadalajara was my first major Mexican city & will always have a warm place in my heart as the place we spent our honeymoon in '98. I agree with the previous poster that it is not the attraction the other options you asked about, but still a fine destination with lots of pluses,
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May 10th, 2017, 10:06 AM
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Thank you both for your detailed and very helpful comments. It is very much appreciated.

If we decide to go to Guanajuato we would go there from Mexico City by bus, and fly back to the Boston from there.

We do not want to rent a car for any part of this trip. In view of this, would we be better off visiting San Miguel and Queretaro as day trips (by bus) using Guanajuato as a base. Or would it make more sense to go fom Mexico City to Queretaro by bus spend a night or two there and then move on to Guanajuato. I see it takes about 2-2.5 hours to get from Guanajuato to SM or Queretaro by by bus.
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May 10th, 2017, 10:19 AM
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I believe GTO to SM is just a bit over a hour on the most direct bus route. More if you wish to also go to Delores but with your limited time going Mexico City to Queretaro for a night or two then SM makes sense. Perhaps even a night in SM before GTO than flying out of BJX (Leon). IMO all three cities are a delight but GTO is the Gem!
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May 10th, 2017, 04:21 PM
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I'm thinking of splitting our time 3 nights in Queretaro, 3 nights in San Miguel and 4 nights in Guanajuato. Do you think this is the right amount of time in each or is it too much time in the area? We don't like a lot of down time, but don't mind spending time walking through neighborhoods to admire the scenery.
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May 10th, 2017, 05:56 PM
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I stay up to 3 months in GTO so may not be the best one to answer your question.
While I have never stayed in SM I did find two nights in Queretaro adequate. While it is a lovely city with nice plazas & some good restaurants the Museums where a bit of a disappointment. Nice looking buildings but not showing a lot of what I find of interest. In fact almost a empty feeling.
GTO has several good museum including The Mommies, Don Quixote, Diego Rivera's boyhood home among others. I belong to a group that dispense info on cultural events with several listed almost everyday. Dance, Music, concerts & plays included.
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May 11th, 2017, 08:06 AM
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I agree that two nights in Queretaro is probably enough.

I found the mummy museum in GTO extremely distasteful, but many like it (my wife, for example).
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May 11th, 2017, 01:34 PM
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It sounds like a decent amount of time in each city. If you like to explore the surrounding areas, easy places to see from Queretaro are Bernal and Tequisquiapan, both are fairly close to the airport, so easy to get to. I tend to favor the former.
http://de-paseo.com/queretaro/bernal/
A nighttime taxi tour of the aqueducto in Queretaro is worthwhile.
While in San Miguel, some nearby popular attractions would include the minor ruins of Canada De La Virgen, the sanctuary of Atotonilco and Mineral De Pozos. For Pozos, you'd probably need to hire a driver, as the mines steep climb to reach on foot. A nice restaurant in town is at Posada De Las Minas.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ca%C3%B1ada_de_la_Virgen
http://www.sandinmysuitcase.com/sanc...of-atotonilco/
http://beta.visitmexico.com/en/main-...neral_de_pozos
Of course, while in Guanjuato a visit to Leon's leather district is always worthwhile. But many neglect to visit Leon's centro, which I think has the nicest plaza in this part of Mexico. Casa Maria's restaurant at the Ramada Plaza Hotel offers a nice view of the zocalo. Leon's centro doesn't have a lot of touristy stuff to see or do, but you get a good taste of locals going about their daily business. There are a few pedestrian walkways to wander about on, and maybe the most pizza sellers per capita in all of Mexico?
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May 11th, 2017, 02:51 PM
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I will just input the fact that I've been to Oaxaca quite a few times, most recently about 2 years ago when I spent about a week in the city, arriving by bus from DF.

The Zocalo was a mess due to the occupation of protestors but I saw nothing seedy, and no more poverty than in any other Mexican city. I will add that I've been to most regions of the country so I have a pretty good range of comparison.

I've seen prostitutes in cities and rural areas across the globe and there are certainly prostitutes, and houses of prostitution in every Mexican city, but I noticed none in Oaxaca.

Sadly, I often see people eatingn out of the trash in my own city. Please do noto let any of that put you off visiting Oaxaca. Both of your plans are marvelous and both Guanajuato and Oacaxa are jewels. You won't go wrong either way.
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May 11th, 2017, 04:05 PM
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Agree 100% with eks. Prior to moving to Mexico full time, we spent good chunks of the winter in Oaxaca for a number of years. In fact, we spent our 25th wedding anniversary in Oaxaca during the height of the '06 teacher's strike, probably the most boisterous one to date up until that time. We knew they'd be striking and protesting weeks before we went, but Oaxaca is so much more than the zocalo. All the restaurants were still open, and it was more like a circus than a protest. Protesting and demonstrating is a Mexican birthright, and if you travel enough in Mexico sooner or later you'll find a protest.
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May 11th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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The main Mercado's outside walkway is a long block of Hookers as is the two blocks down from the Artists Market by the 'Chocolate" street
I do not know how you missed the number of grade school age kids not in school peddling junks trinkets day & night on the Main Plaza but I found it heart breaking
I spent 5 weeks there so know all above is a daily occurrence.
PS I have been traveling Mexico for 31 years now.
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May 11th, 2017, 08:08 PM
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Since I spent 4 weeks total studying Spanish in Queretaro in 2015 (3 weeks) and 2016 (1 week), I'll say that 3 nights in the city won't be too much. It's a great city with a fun energy at night, one I'm glad to have gotten to know . I thought the museums actually were very interesting and well-presented, enjoying the Museo Regional de Queretaro and the Museo at the Cerro de las Campanas to learn about the history of the state capital & region. The Museo del Ferrocarril had some terrific model train sets with Mexican landscapes. The Ruta del Vino y Queso tour out of Queretaro's Centro was excellent, with stops in Bernal and Tequis.

Loved Guanajuato too; you'll have a great trip whatever you decide. i so wanted to go to Oaxaca last summer, but couldn't as no buses were going into the city due to blockades. Hope you're more successful! Best wishes, Daniel
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May 12th, 2017, 05:27 AM
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I agree that it is very sad to see kid that should be in school but forced to work as street vendors. I don't mean to sound cold hearted but you see that in every city in Mexico and, sadly, in many if not most, countries around the world.

Oaxaca is a poorer state than Guanajuato but for my part, that did not affect my total enjoyment of the city.

I suspect I missed the parade of hookers Stew mentioned cause I was not in that area at night; they certainly were not there in the daytime. Imagine that some of them might be illegals from countries to the south forced to work to pay a debt....who knows.

Again, maybe I am inured to that kind of thing. Drive around in Puglia and you will see African ladies waiting for trade on battered sofas under the olive trees. Not to mention the cages in Bombay or Bangkok, where the young girls, and boys, wear numbers pinned on their chests.. And in my own city, there was once a stretch two blocks from my house where the young boys would be lined up waiting for trade. (Note the Rod Stewart song, "The Killing of Georgie" which mentions that street)

Now that I am in full fledged frambling mode, did you remember a place named El Coyote outside Zihuatenejo town? It was a dance place/whore house where we used to go to dance once in a while. Wonder if it is still there?
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May 12th, 2017, 07:02 AM
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Sorry but the "ladies" are lined up along the street all day long You are correct in that our friend Manuel who is a fourth generation weaver at the Market told us that they are mostly from Central America. What difference that makes is beyond me.I did not mean for this discussion to center on this alone as I hopefully pointed out many of the positive things about the area. I certainly do not understand any that believe only positive things should be posted. I would think all would wish to know the good & the not so good about any area. I live in the San Francisco Bay area with lots of good things but also some very negative ones (Homeless, public urination, crime, pedestrian traffic accident death etc) which all should be aware of IMO.
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May 12th, 2017, 08:19 AM
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I guess I missed the ladies. And I do agree with you that we all should offer the pros and cons of a place through our own eyes. I know people who will not go to India because of the poverty; its personal choice and we are all fortunate to be able to have those decisions to make! I know you love Mexico and your posts are well received on this forum. The lst thing I want is any kind of argument or ill feeling.

Stew: Look at my question about El Coyote above. Just curious if it was still t here when you were in Zihua....thanks!!
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May 12th, 2017, 09:56 AM
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Do not recall El Coyote, but not much of a night life guy. I went to PV every year '86 through '97 but only sporadically since. I did do a bit of "clubbing" when single in the mid 90's but only in what many call Old town.
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May 13th, 2017, 01:29 PM
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Prostitution has been decriminalized in Mexico, and a number of states, including Guanajuato, regulate prostitution, thus legitimizing it and removing much of the negative social stigma. So, to think prostitution doesn't go on in Guanajuato (or other states where it's regulated) would be inaccurate. Indeed, regulation may make it more prevalent.
I like Guanajuato city, but I don't get there as often as I used to even though I only live an hour from there. I find other cities, including Oaxaca, more interesting. Some things I don't like about GTO is that the hotels are pricey for the quality of lodging you get, often quite noisy, and the restaurants are average at best, with no unique regional foods, like you'll find in Puebla and Oaxaca or the Yucatan. I also find the Jardin de la Union claustrophobic on the weekends; the crowds being unbearable. My personal theory is that as traditional weekend destinations near Mexico City such as Acapulco and Cuernavaca become more violent, DF'ers are turning more and more to cities like Guanajuato. To me, GTO is dirtier than it should be for a UNESCO site. The Correo of Guanajuato did a recent article lamenting the amount of trash left on the streets after a weekend of partying by students. Sad.
Shellyk, I don't recall where you're from, but if you're looking to totally escape the cold, Oaxaca will be a few degrees warmer than Guanajuato, with nighttime temps in this part of the country averaging about 40 F and few hotels have heat.
Potential visitors to Guanajuato state should be aware that so far this year the state has recorded a record number of murders, and typically ranks high on the list of most violent states in Mexico. It's not on any US State dept. travel advisory, which I've always found curious. Violence against women is also particularly high here.
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May 14th, 2017, 05:33 AM
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Thank you so much for your input which I greatly appreciate. After doing some more research, I've decided to go to Oaxaca.
I like big cities, and the Monte Albe ruins are calling. I've been to India and feel nothing can top what I saw there, but I still had a good trip.

I am also thinking of including Guanajuato and Queretaro which also sound interesting. If not on this trip, then on my 2019 winter trip, which would then also include Morellia and Lake Paz....It's never too early to start planning for 2019.
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