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Richarda Jul 17th, 2012 08:04 AM

Merida and the Yucatan
Thinking about doing a Saturday to Saturday trip in February to this area. Is there enough to see/things to do in Merida itself to spend the week there or should we plan on some day trips also. Am reluctant to rent a car. Any suggestions would be GREATLY welcomed.

jan47ete Jul 17th, 2012 10:23 AM

We were there in March as a cruise stop. The port of call was Progresso but we took the public bus to Merida. It was fun to spend the day but if you google map Merida, you can see some other towns, Progresso, Campeche, the Parque, etc and determine if you want to bus to them. I just read about Campeche being a up and coming place to visit and bus is very cheap.

robertino Jul 17th, 2012 10:25 AM

Great idea and a great time of year to go.

You could definitely stay in Merida for a week and find day tours - maybe arrange through your hotel.

But it's very easy driving. Just don't drive at night. And beware of topes - BAD speed bumps.

You could fly into Merida and spend a few days. I really liked the Casa del Balam. Then rent a car. There are several major car rental companies just a few blocks north of the hotel.

Drive to Chichen Itza and stay 2 nights. Hacienda Chichen is very good. Explore the site the next day and return to the hotel and relax by the pool, set in lush jungle-like grounds.

Some people will recommend Valladolid. I hated it. However, that may have been because I was getting tired of my in laws.

Then drive west past Merida. Campeche is very nice - a beautifully restored old pirate town with 2 forts protecting it and a lively and attractive main square.

Uxmal is about half way between Merida and Campeche and deserves as much time as you can give it.

Then back to Merida for your flight home.

There is a highway connecting Merida to Chichen Itza but it's much more interesting to drive the old road that passes through living Mayan villages. Just try not to hit any livestock or children when doing so.

People also like Celestun, on the coast close to Merida. Flamingoes I think.

jamie99 Jul 17th, 2012 11:49 AM

Haven't made it to Merida yet, but a visit to Uxmal and some of the nearby Ruta Puuc ruins is well worthwhile, we had a rental car and stayed overnight at Hacienda Uxmal, was great but eat dinner elsewhere as the only restaurant there is a pricey buffet with limited selection. We ate the the sister resort Lodge at Uxmal and the food was very good.

Hacienda Chichen Itza is also very good as mentioned, beautiful grounds and a nice pool to cool off in after visiting the ruins, get there early before the tour buses arrive and the vendors get setup.

Campeche is another cool city just a bit south of Uxmal ruins, an hour or so drive, if you do go visit Fuerta de San Miguel, good museum there.

kja Jul 17th, 2012 07:42 PM

> Is there enough to see/things to do in Merida itself to spend the week there or should we plan on some day trips also.

A week in Merida itself would be too much for me, but it depends on what you want to see and experience. For my purposes, 2.5 days made sense. Do try to make sure you are in Merida for some of its wonderful weekend celebrations, which include markets and displays of folk dancing, and people of all ages dancing in temporarily pedestrian-only streets to live music. Great fun!

As others have mentioned, you have several options for day trips or for overnight stays that can be relatively easily managed by public transportation. I thought Campeche worth the better part of a day (extra if you visit Edzna). I'm one of the people who enjoyed Valladolid and was glad I made that my base for Chichen Itza. (I spent 1 night in Valladolid, with about 2 days in the area, including my time in Valladolid, Chichen Itza, the cenotes of Dzitnup, and Ek' Balam.) You can visit either Progresso or Celestun - check to see where the flamingos are during the time you'll be there and choose accordingly. And plan on a VERY early departure from Merida OR relocate in time for an early morning boat ride. Izamal should be a very easy day trip from Merida; I thought it one of the most charming places I visited in the Yucatan.

If you are bound and determined to avoid a rental car, check into current options for seeing Uxmal from Merida. If you have any interest in Mayan ruins, do consider trying to visit even more of the Ruta Puuc. When I was there, visiting the Ruta Puuc was much more difficult by public transportation than by car, so I "caved" and rented a car. No regrets! (But as robertino notes, watch for the topes!) If you leave Merida in the morning and return the next afternoon, you should have plenty of time to enjoy these stunning sites, and maybe even explore the Loltun Caves. And if you do that, consider staying at the lovely Flycatcher Inn in St. Elena.

Hope that helps!

Softseattraveler Jul 19th, 2012 08:00 PM

Merida is a great base for hotels, bus transportation, museums, and nightlife. On weekends, the streets around the plaza in front of the Cathedral become pedestrian only and turn into a dance club. Lots of food and musical groups.
Good bus service via ADO, Sur Bus and others can get you to many Mayan ruin sites such as Uxmal ruin site and several others in the Puuc area.
Good bus service reaches other cities such as Campeche and Valladolid.
You can reach Chichen Itza by bus from Merida or from Valladolid. Reach Chichen Itza from Valladolid via collective taxi. Get to Chichen Itza early is possible to avoid the crowds and the hordes of vendors. Be prepared to pay three times the normal fee if you are a non Mexican. A night in Valladolid will allow you to visit Chichen early.
Walk from the center of Valladolid a few blocks to a cenote for a swim. I like the Hotel San Clemente.
Reach the ruin of Dzibilchaltun and the beaches at Progreso, not far from Merida, via the Progreso Bus. Estacion Progreso, two blocks south of the Zocalo on 62nd St.
ADO Bus serves to Cancun and from there you could reach Tulum ruin site where you also find a good beach just below the ruin site.
You can walk from the center of Merida to the bus terminals, three blocks south and three blocks west.
another option, Biosphere Preserve of Celestun: 60 mile bus trip, Flamingo colony, Noreste Station Corner of Calle 50 and 67.

Michael Aug 8th, 2012 03:49 PM

This was quite a while back, but we stayed in Merida and used local tours, arranged 24 hours before, to get to Chichen Itza and Uxmal.

emd3 Aug 9th, 2012 08:13 AM

Michael, where is that cemetary in the pictures?

Michael Aug 9th, 2012 08:35 AM

I do not know. It was taken either on the way back from Chichen Itza or Uxmal as part of our local tour.

WendyPGreene Aug 11th, 2012 07:55 PM

You could definitely spend a week in Merida.. Lots to see and do.

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