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Mexico Itinerary

Old Aug 10th, 2012, 06:57 PM
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Mexico Itinerary

We are planning our first trip to Mexico and would like input on our "rough draft" itinerary. Our trip will be about 13- 14 days long. We are most interested in nature sights and cultural experiences.

Fly into Cancun and spend two nights (we are not beach people who enjoy swimming or sitting at a beach or pool but would like to at least get a taste of it.). Is there something in the Cancun area that you would suggest we see?

Drive to Valladolid and spend 5 nights - a day and a half for visiting Valladolid and the rest of the time to go to Chichen Itza, Coba and Ek Balam and a cenote (is there one cenote that is a lot better than the others?) Drive back to Cancun Aiport and fly to Mexico City.

Spend at least 5 days in DF (including A day trip to Teotihuacan) Anthropology Museum, Temple Mayor, National Palace, Rivers murals, Castillo de Chapultepec Museum, Museo de Bellas Artes, the Cathedral, Coyoacan, Sumaya Art Museum. is the Four Points hotel pn Colonia Roma really a good central location?

I look forward to any info you can give me.
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Old Aug 10th, 2012, 09:02 PM
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First, I would recommend that you ask the editors to add a country flag to your post - many of us only scan for one or two countries.

> Fly into Cancun and spend two nights (we are not beach people who enjoy swimming or sitting at a beach or pool but would like to at least get a taste of it.). Is there something in the Cancun area that you would suggest we see?

Have you considered staying instead at Puerto Morelos or somewhere else not far from Cancun's airport where you can see the reef and have a couple of nice meals? Or even Tulum if you really want to experience a stunning Yucatan beach with ready access to Mayan ruins (which could include Tulum and Coba)? And if you end up in Tulum, you would also be close to the Sian Ka'an nature reserve, worth considering if nature is a priority.

> Drive to Valladolid and spend 5 nights - a day and a half for visiting Valladolid and the rest of the time to go to Chichen Itza, Coba and Ek Balam and a cenote (is there one cenote that is a lot better than the others?)

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Valladolid, but I saw everything there I wanted to see - and more - in less than 2 days. I can imagine spreading the sites over 2 or 3 full days (especially if you include Coba, for which Valladolid is not a particularly ideal base as I understand it), but I have trouble imagining 5 nights in Valladolid itself.

As I recall, I got to Valladolid mid- to late-morning, checked into my hotel, and took a bus to Chichen Itza. I think I had at least 5 hours at Chichen Itza, which I thought enough for the site (OK, I'd have liked 1/2 hour more to linger, but I was there longer than I would have liked given the heat). After returning to Valladolid, I visited the cathedral and enjoyed a long walk around town (during which I visited its monastery, another church, a small museum, and several interesting neighborhoods) before a late dinner. The next morning, I went to Ek' Balam, where I spent several memorable hours. Back to Valladolid for a visit to its main cenote (Cenote Zaci), and then a brief ride on a shared minibus to Dzitnup, which has two incredibly beautiful cenotes within a short walk of one another. Back to Valladolid, a walk through some shops and markets....

I was ready to (and did) leave Valladolid late in the afternoon of the day after my arrival there. I like to keep moving when I travel, and can easily imagine that others might prefer a slower pace and so might want to spread these things over 2 or 2.5 days. Spreading them over 5 nights would only make sense to me if your goal is to really relax, with just one or two visits/activities each day.

Instead of staying 5 nights in Valladolid, you might consider spending a few nights in Merida, perhaps with a stop in Izamal en route from Valladolid. From Merida - which has a wonderful archeological museum and some lively options on weekends, including several displays of traditional dance and other cultural events - you are well positioned to see awesome Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. Check any travel guide book or search this board for more information.

And there's an airport near Merida, so you could proceed from there.

Hope this is helpful!
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Old Aug 11th, 2012, 08:56 AM
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Our first trip to Mexico several years ago began in Cancun. We opted not to stay there. We also chose not to drive, but find our way using public transportation. Even with limited Spanish, we got it done. I think for 13-14 days you should concentrate on the Yucatan and leave Mexico City for another trip. Here is what we did. From airport, private driver to Playa del Carmen for 3 nights. Our late arrival from U.S. Prevented us from using public transport. Spent a day in Xel Ha. You could go to Cozumel or Tulum from there or other cenotes in the area. Next bus to Valladolid. It was July and extremely hot. I would not consider 5 nights there. 2 nights at Chichen Itza. We stayed at the Hacienda Chichen and it has been one of favorite places we have ever stayed. The ruins are amazing. We arranged a local guide through the hotel to explain what we were seeing and thought it much better than the large groups. From there we returned to Cancun and spent the rest of our days on Isla Mujeres. All of our days were busy. You could easily find many more places to explore.
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Old Aug 11th, 2012, 10:24 AM
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Also not a fan of Cancun, stayed there once for four nights, just too high rises and American chain places but other people love it. Consider a day trip to Isla Mujeres or maybe even stay there. Rent a golf cart to tour the island for the day, stop at the turtle farm, Garrafon de Castillo if you want to snorkel,Punta Sur, maybe a dynamite pina colada at Villa La Bella B&B, turn in the cart, shop if you want, spend a few hours on North Beach, beautiful and shallow for a long way out, they stay for sunset, drinks and dinner and return to Cancun if not staying overnight.

For Valladolid, 5 nights is a lot, it is a nice colonial town and have stayed there as well as the above mentioned Hacienda Chichen. Consider maybe a side trip to Rio Lagartos to see the flamingos, you pass right by Ek Balam on the return.
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Old Aug 11th, 2012, 06:48 PM
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If you are not a beach person, take the boat across from Cancun to Isla Mujeres and spend a day touring around in a golf cart. Five days in Valladolid is probably too long.. Make sure you see the ruins in Tulum and experience the beauty of nearby Sian Ka'an.. It was probably one of the most beatiful places I've been. Spend an evening walking 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen is also recommended good luck and have fun!
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Old Aug 13th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Other people like it, but I personally think that one day in Valladolid is one day too many. Stop there for lunch on your way from Cancun to Chichen Itza. Drive on and stay at the above-mentioned Hacienda Chichen, which is really nice and located just outside the gates. See CI the next day, relax by the beautiful pool, have a great dinner. Next day drive to Merida and stay a few days. Take the old road through mayan villages rather than the highway. Just be very careful of the killer speedbumps, or topes. I can recommend the Casa del Balam in Merida. Day trip to Uxmal.

Then you can fly from Merida to DF. 5 days is a good amount of time to spend there. It is a fascinating city. I love Colonia Roma - yes - a great location. There is a really nice wine bar on the east side of the Plaza Rio de Janiero. Walk to Zona Rosa, walk to Condesa. And very convenient to the Insurgentes metro station.
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Old Aug 19th, 2012, 05:33 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your info and suggestions. We decided to change gears and focus on one section for our first time in Mexico.

We plan to fly into Oaxaca and spend at least 4 days exploring the town and little villages. Then we will head to Puebla for 3 days and finish our trip in Mexico city for about 5 days. Next, I will check out lodging...I am still open to suggestions.
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Old Aug 20th, 2012, 10:43 AM
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Your itinerary is very long on culture/archaeology/history and very, very short on nature.

I would look at exploring the southern part of the Riviera Maya--think Tulum, Akumal--for more nature experiences--like Sian Kaan biosphere, snorkeling with sea turtles at Akumal bay, etc. Stay there instead of Cancun, and take away a day or so from Valladolid as well (2-3 nights for Valladolid should be plenty, and it's not a far drive from Tulum).

Oops, just saw the update below.

I would maybe consider looking at Chiapas since you'll be next door in Oaxaca. Palenque is the country's best Mayan ruins, and there is no better combination of culture/history plus nature than the day trip to Bonampak and Yaxchilan.
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Old Aug 21st, 2012, 08:52 AM
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I totally agree regarding Palenque. Best archeological site I have been to in Mexico, absolutely stunning setting in the jungle w/flowing water and waterfalls on site. But I am not sure how easy it is to get to from Oaxaca. I flew from Cancun to Villahermosa on Vivaaerobus, and then took the bus from Villahermosa airport straight to Palenque town.

From Puebla, go to Cholula, 30 min away. Although the pyramid there is unexcavated, it is the 2nd pargest pyramid in the world, and the tunnels underneath the pyramid are open to go through. There is a lovely church built on top of the pyramid, and on a clear day you can have a spectacular view of the volcano Popocatepetl, the one that was actively rumbling and spewing this past spring.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 09:20 AM
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Great responses. Here's another question: How long would it take to go through customs in Oaxaca airport once we land? The flight I'm looking at would get us in at 8:17pm. I'm assuming there would be taxis outside the airport where we could zip over to lodging.

We are looking for a nice, Mexican style place for lodging...between $80-$100 a night which would include breakfast and be close to the main "attractions" in Oaxaca (Iglesia de Santo Domingo, Museo de las Culturas, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Museo de los Pintores Oaxaquenos, Zocalo, Alameda de Leon, Casa Juarez, Centro Fotografico Alvarez Bravo, Arquitos de Prehispanico Rufino, Palacio de Gobierno)...any suggestions for this? We are open to small inns, hotels or B&B's.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 12:10 PM
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Are you really lfying directly into Oaxaca? Most flights from other countries go to Mexico City first and do customs and Immigration there, then fly a domestic flight to Oaxaca.

We love Parador San Miguel in Oaxaca. Lovely colonial inn, 14 rms, 4 suites, wrought iron, lovely courtyard w/birds, fantastic restaurant (comida meal there is a big bargain and GOOD, some of the best food we have had in Oaxaca), unbeatable location (2 blks to zocalo and catedral, 3 blocks to Santa Domingo, very walkable location). Check rates, it depends on what time of yr you go, starts at $85 in low season. Very good front desk help both before and after you get there.
http://www.paradorsanmigueloaxaca.com/the-hotel.htm

How are you seeing the outlying villages? Renting a car? If looking for a guide, we used Linda Hanna last year. She has great relationships w/many artisan families in the villages and she customized a day for us based on types of artisans we wanted to visit. It was fantastic. She runs a B&B but it is way too far out of town for us- but we loved her as a guide.

http://www.folkartfantasy.com/folkart.htm
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Yes, there are taxis at airport. But we always use the van service. There is a booth right to right before airport door exit. pay for van there, and at that time of night maybe one other person in van w/you. Drops you at your respective hotels, and they are all in close proximity usually in that central area. Better deal than a taxi and really no more time consuming that time of night esp.

For Puebla, look at Hotel Colonial. Love that place too.
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Old Aug 23rd, 2012, 12:15 PM
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p.s. Parador San Miguel is so special that we stayed there again on our 25th anniversary trip last Oct./Nov.
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Old Aug 24th, 2012, 02:17 PM
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Thanks Emd3....I've emailed Parador San Miguel and Hotel Colonial de Puebla for information on their rooms.

What I meant was that our trip starts in Oaxaca....we have to connect in Houston. And thank you for Linda Hannah's website....it looks fabulous. I'll have to weight Linda's place with Parador SM and see which one we'll take. I emailed Linda to see about her tours.

Have a great weekend!
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Old Aug 25th, 2012, 05:45 AM
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Linda Hanna's B&B is nice (we went there before doing a tour w/her) but it is a bit far out of town, about 10 min. beyond the outskirts of town. Quiet out where she is, not really a village there to speak of. And her folk art is amazing in the house. But she has to give you a ride into town and you'd need a taxi back. Personally, I think it is better to stay in town and be able to walk to meals and walk to the zocalo, etc, and get back easily to the hotel to drop things off, rest, change clothes, etc. Linda will pick you up at your hotel for her tours.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 10:31 AM
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On the direct flight to Oaxaca from Houston you will go through customs in Oaxaca where they will X-ray luggage and perhaps hand inspect. Plan for a 30-45 minute process. Shared vans (inexpensive collective taxi) will take you to your hotel in the city.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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emd3 and softseattraveler: Do you know the name of the shared vans? Are there more than one from which to choose? Once we have paid for the van, how long does one usually wait until the van is there to pick you up? Our flight gets in at around 8:17pm, and with customs and all, my guess is that we won't be ready for the van until around 9:30pm or so.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 01:31 PM
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I don't think there is an official name for the vans. If you need to ask someone about them, call them "colectivos." Colectivos is a general term referring to inexpensive vans that locals use to get around towns.

Don't fret about this. Just ask someone if you can't find the counter to buy the van ticket to the hotel (You'll pay for a ticket to the centro, as long as that is where your hotel is.) The counter is the last booth right before you exit the airport, on the right hand side. This is a small airport, one exit after you get luggage and go through customs.

Believe me, the vans will still be there to pick you up at that time. There are constantly vans loading to take people to the centro, and as long as there is a plane coming in, they are there. It does not take long for the van to leave once you are in, I've never waited more than 5-10 min. at most. There will be others on your flight taking the colectivo vans to get to their hotel.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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I now recall that I did take that flight from Houston into Oaxaca one time last yr. And it did take awhile longer than we expected to get through customs and immigration, about 45 min to an hr. They only had two people processing immigration for our whole plane of people, and someone had a problem w/their status, so all of a sudden we were basically down to one line. Like I said, it is a small aiport operationally.
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Old Aug 28th, 2012, 11:19 AM
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Thanks again, emd3, this is very helpful
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