Help with two-week Mexico itinerary please

Dec 3rd, 2012, 02:38 PM
  #1  
TQ1
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Help with two-week Mexico itinerary please

I'm planning a trip to Mexico in January. It'll be my first time there. Originally I had three weeks and had my sights set on Mexico City-Puebla-Oaxaca-San Cristobal-Palenque-Merida-Chichen Itza-Cancun. Now with just two weeks (16 days), I realize that this may be too much. Other than Mexico City and Chichen Itza, which I feel strongly about, I'm open to suggestions. I enjoy history and culture, but am not a beach or water sports person. Thanks.
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 05:16 PM
  #2  
kja
 
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Of the places you list, I visited ...

San Cristobal - loved it! Gorgeous setting, a variety of interesting little museums and things to see, fabulous market. I recommend making time to join a guided tour of some of the outlying villages.

Palenque - stunning ruins! The town itself isn't much IMO, but the ruins can easily take an entire day. Leave at least an hour for the excellent museum. From Palenque, you can also take a day-long tour of Misol Ha, Agua Clara, and Agua Azul - beautiful! (Consider taking dramamine for the bus ride from Palenque.)

Merida - very enjoyable! Try to time it so you are there on a Friday evening, Saturday, and/or Sunday, when there are outdoor markets and music and dancing, etc. Another don't miss museum (large, so give it at least 1.5 hours.) From Merida, consider visiting Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. Uxmal can be seen on a day trip. It's magnificent and very different than Palenque or Chichen Itza. To see the other sites of the Ruta Puuc, it would be better to rent a car and spend overnight en route. These sites aren't generally as extensive or well-preserved as Uxmal, but they include some interesting ruins and you might be one of very, very few people visiting them.

Chichen Itza - impressive, and as suggested above, quite different in style from Palenque or Uxmal! Consider visiting it from Valladolid.

Hope that helps!
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Dec 3rd, 2012, 11:10 PM
  #3  
 
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I live in the U.S. and have been traveling in Mexico for over 35 yrs., and finally bought a condo in Quintana Roo 2 yrs ago. Since then I have traveled even more throughout Mexico.

Where are you flying into Mexico from? For me, that would determine where I would start my trip into Mexico, as it depends on airfare from where you are departing from and going to in MX.

Also, what is your travel style? Do you want to see as much as you can, or do you like a more relaxed pace?

January is a great time to visit the Yucatan Peninsula. You could fly into Cancun or Merida (either from Mexico City or straight there from you departure home point, depending on where that is).

Merida is a very nice city, as kja points out above. Very clean, lots of wonderful and colorful colonial architecture, great food, stunning centro historico w/great museums and lots of activity in the plaza (including a Merida Domingo on Sundays where the streets around the main plaza are closed to cars and there are all kinds of food and crafts stands set up in the square-- and on Fri. and Sat. nights some streets on the side of the plaza are also blocked off for live music and dancing and open crafts markets). And as kja said, you can easily do a day tour to the Uxmal ruins from Merida.

I have been to both colonial cities, and I think Merida rivals Oaxaca, which I see was on your original itinerary. The charm of Oaxaca is stretched out into a valley surrounding the city w/lots of small villages, but Merida has as much colonial charm, as many indigenous crafts, great museums, and as much overall charm as Oaxaca, IMO. And like Oaxaca, where you can visit Monte Alban from the city,you can visit Uxmal from Merida. I would skip Oaxaca on this 1st trip and combine your visit to Chichen Itza w/a trip to Merida and to Uxmal as well.

At Chichen Itza, I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend staying overnight very near the ruins the night before you visit the ruins. This is IMPERATIVE, so you can get into the ruins as soon as they open and be done w/your visit before the tour buses from Cancun, the Riviera Maya, and Merida get there.

In the last year I have done both scenarios. Last November my husband and I stayed at Mayaland right next to the ruins the night before our visit. It was wonderful. We had a lovely room and a great dinner and a lovely breakfast the next morning, complete w/colorul jungle birds and peacocks.

At 8 a.m. we walked from the Mayaland hotel right into a private entrance into the backside of the ruins (not the front gate which is a big deal; the back entrance we used is only for Mayaland guests). Mayaland provided a guide for us and he was great. We were virtually alone wour guide at the ruins from 8 a.m. until we were done, at aroound 10:30 to 11 a.m. Wonderful and nearly private experience.

Totally Different Trip: In July 2012 I drove from Valladolid to Chichen Itza with my son. Arrived at Chichen Itza at noon. It was a TOTAL ZOO. I've never seen so many people at any one site. It was not only the amt. of tour bus tourists, it was the wall to wall vendors who are allowed inside the site. They can set up on the perimeter of each of the ruins. So as you are walking around, you are walking on paths by table and after table, up against each other, of trinkets and people loudly hawking them. And they all had this totally obnoxious "jaguar call" trinket they were selling, and they were blowing these things loudly- it was a terrible cacophany of insanity.

My son and I left the site after 20 minutes. It was THAT bad.

SERIOUSLY, if my post gets one thing across to you, stay at Chichen Itza in a hotel the night before, and get into the site at 8 a.m. when it opens!

Mexico has a few good domestic budget airlines: VivaAerobus, Interjet, and Volaris. From Cancun in July 2012, I flew on VivaAerobus direct to Villahermosa (for around $50), and from the Villahermosa airport I took an ADO bus (really a large van) direct to Palenque- 2 hrs ($17). Palenque town is small and compact, it was a short walk to my hotel. Went to the ruins the next day. I loved the ruins at Palenque, and I have been to a lot of Mayan ruins. These are so differnet, they are carved out of the jungle, there is a very good museum on site, and there are waterfalls in the jungle site, just amazing. I did not go to the famus waterfalls (Agua Azul and Misol-Ha) but those are an option in the area.

From Palenque you can then easily take a nice 1st class ADO bus to San Cristobal (5 hrs, 196 pesos = $15 USD).

I love Puebla, but Merida is a lovely colonial city, and IMO you could skip Puebla in this trip.

Reading your post and knowing you have 16 days, and assuming you do not mind being on the move, and considering you do not want beach time and you like history and culture, I think you could possibly fly into Mexico City for 2 days, fly VivaAerobus from Mexico City to Merida for 2 days, (Uxmal/Puuc route on one of those days), ADO bus from Merida to Chichen Itza and stay in a hotel near the site for a night, see ruins next day (2 days). Then ADO bus from Chichen Itza to Cancun airport, and fly to Villahermosa. From Villashermosa airport take ADO bus to Palenque (1 Day). Palenque ruins (1 day) and from Palenque town on to San Cristobal (same day). San Cristobal (2 days). From San Cristobal you'd need to bus to Tuxla Guitierez airport (2 hrs) and fly back to Cancun or Mexico City (Either on VivaAerobus) to fly home.

Factor in travel days into the country/other travel time. Even with that, this gives you a few extra days to play with. However, you need to check the flight schedules as domestic airlines like VivaAerobus only flies certain days to/from Tuxla G., etc.

You could fly into Cancun at start of trip also.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:44 AM
  #4  
TQ1
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Thanks to you both for your tips and suggestions.

emd3, to answer some of your questions, we will be flying from New York, and as you have guessed, we like to see as much as possible, especially cities, cultural sites, and historical places.

Once again, thanks for your help.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 05:50 AM
  #5  
TQ1
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Also thanks for your suggestion of staying near the ruins at Chichen Itza. I plan on staying overnight so that I can visit early and miss the crowds. I also plan on seeing the light show the night before if available.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 11:03 AM
  #6  
 
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I have gone to all of those areas (except San Cristobal, I had to miss that planned trip from Cancun a few months ago due to a family illnes). Ask any questions, will try to help.

There are a limited number of hotels right at the grounds of Chichen Itza. The ones right there are all owned by one co. Mayaland was great, lovely property and you literally walk right into the grounds of Chichen Itza from a gate on the property, and many rooms have a great view of the Observatory at C.Itza. I think it was around $130 a night for us, and we had a room w/that view.

There is another less expensive hotel about a mile or so from the ruins called Dolores Alba. Nice budget hotel w/pool and across from a nice cenote. But you'd have to get to the ruins form there in the morning and evening (for light show night before). I am sure there is some kind of transportation available, but not sure what it is.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 11:09 AM
  #7  
 
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I've stayed twice at Hacienda Chichen Itza, lovely grounds with a nice big pool for cooling off after hiking around. Food was good and they usually have a trio of musicians playing.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 12:18 PM
  #8  
 
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I understand wanting to see as much as possible, but you have too many places on your itinerary.

8 separate places in only 16 days, by the time you subtract all the travel time (planes, bus, car) that doesn't really leave much time anywhere.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 12:27 PM
  #9  
TQ1
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Thanks again, emd3. I just took a look at Mayaland and will try to go for that.

Suze, I know 8 places is too many, hence this post. Originally, I was looking at 23 days.

Right now, I'm thinking Mexico City - San Cristobal - Palenque - Merida - Chichen Itza - Cancun...
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Dec 4th, 2012, 02:14 PM
  #10  
RAC
 
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If you want Mayan ruins, Palenque plus nearby Yaxchilan and Bonampak have much better artistry than anything you'll see in the Yucatan, including Chichen Itza (a very worthy site in its own regard, but Palenque is just magical).

6 locations in 16 days is still too many. I would cut it down to 4 or 5 at maximum, especially given travel challenges in a country the size of Mexico.
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Dec 4th, 2012, 08:07 PM
  #11  
 
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I think Mexico City, Merida, Chichen Itza, San Cristobal, and Palenque are very doable in 16 days. It would be for me and I am not even a fast traveler. ADO buses and domestic flights are good in this area and for those places. You just have to adjust your schedule according to when VivaAerobus flies from Cancun (or Mexico City, depending on how you do the itinerary) to Tuxtla Guitierrez to get to San Cristobal, or to Villahermosa to get to Palenque, depending on how you set up the itinerary.

Not sure why you are adding Cancun, unless that is just for the Cancun airport to get to San Cristobal or Villahermosa (as you said you didn't care about beaches and there is not much more than that in Cancun).
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Dec 4th, 2012, 09:22 PM
  #12  
TQ1
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Sorry, I should have clarified by saying Cancun Airport. It seems that Cancun has the most flights into and out of the US that's in proximity to Chichen Itza. I do not plan on spending any time in Cancun.
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Dec 5th, 2012, 02:16 PM
  #13  
RAC
 
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Merida has an international airport. Have you looked into a return flight from there?

When we combined Palenque and the Yucatan, we flew into Villhermosa, spent 4 nights near Palenque, then took a bus from Palenque to Campeche for one night, then rented a car and drove to Tulum.
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Dec 5th, 2012, 08:50 PM
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I suspect that TQ1 has discovered the reality of the difference in price and the number of available flights for flying into Cancun vs. flying into Merida. It is often much cheaper to fly into Cancun from the east coast U.S. than it is to Merida, and there is a lot more flight time availability. At least that has been my experience. And it sounds like he/she wants to get to Mexico City also so might be looking at flying out of there at the end.

I have done these routes (except to San Cristobal but I researched that and had it booked, but had to cancel the trip) and I know the bus services and domestic flights available to/from the areas TQ wants to visit in his last post above. It is doable, and at a nice pace too if you keep moving - not at a frenzied pace at all, but keep moving. TQ will just need to get on the ADO bus website and on VivaAerobus and figure out the best specific itinerary to put this together.
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Dec 6th, 2012, 07:27 AM
  #15  
 
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I agree with the idea about looking at airport options. If you could arrive Mexico City and leave Cancun (for example) that would save some time and 'backtracking' on the ground.
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Dec 6th, 2012, 08:01 AM
  #16  
TQ1
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Yes, I've looked at airport options, and it seems that the best flights in terms of price and availability are into and out of Mexico City and Cancun. I plan on flying into one and out of the other. Right now, it seems like the most lodging routing, given availability is to fly into Mexico City, then fly to Tuxtla Gutierrez, go by bus to San Cristobal then Palenque, then fly from Villahermosa to Merida, go by bus from Merida to Chichen Itza to Cancun, and fly out of Cancun. Does this routing sound reasonable?

Thanks again for all your help.
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Dec 6th, 2012, 08:49 AM
  #17  
 
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VivaAerobus, Volaris, and Interjet do not fly Villahermosa to Merida nonstop (and you certainly don't want to go through Mexico City), but AeroMexico does in fact fly that route nonstop once a day, which is great for you. A little pricey, but it gives you great flexibility.

Yes, your routing sounds very reasonable. (And it negates the problem of having limited days of availablity of flights from Cancun to Villahermosa or Tuxtal G., if you flew into Cancun and did your itinerary from Cancun to ending in Mexico City.) You will have a lot of flexibility with your routing and timing of when you want to go from place to place.

I believe you can take an ADO minibus (van) from Palenque town direct to the Villahermosa airport. I was able to take a van from Villahermosa airport direct to Palenque, instead of having to deal w/getting into Villahermosa city and then getting bus to Palenque. So you should be able to do the opposit of what I did, and go from Palenque direct to Villhermosa airport.

This will be an excellent trip.

Do you need hotel recommendations for Mexico City, Merida, San Cristobal, and Palenque?
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Dec 6th, 2012, 08:51 AM
  #18  
 
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and P.S. WE WANT A TRIP REPORT WHEN YOU GET BACK!!! Please.
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Dec 6th, 2012, 09:17 AM
  #19  
RAC
 
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There's a morning ADO bus that goes directly from Palenque to Merida. Pretty long bus ride. But, probably not that much longer than taking a bus to Villahermosa, clearing security and checking in, waiting for the flight, landing, claiming luggage etc.

Merida is only 1.5 hours or so from Chichen Itza--my inclination would be to stay in Merida and explore the ruins as a day trip.
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Dec 6th, 2012, 12:12 PM
  #20  
TQ1
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Thanks emd3. I do plan on using the AeroMexico flight. Suggestions on hotels would be most appreciated - I normally stay at 4-star hotels but enjoy boutique properties as well. And most definitely on the trip report. Thanks again.
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