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Pegontheroad Apr 5th, 2016 09:27 AM

Need Yucatán suggestions
I'll be in the Yucatán for 12 days in November. I'll stay in Cancún for three nights, Chichen Itza for three nights, and Mérida for three nights. I'm looking for another destination for two nights.

I'm primarily interested in Mayan ruins, nature, architecture, local culture, etc. I am not interested in beach time or nightlife. I'm looking for suggestions for a city or archeological site that I might enjoy. Valladolid? Uxmal?

I am quite lazy, and I'll want to relax and take in the ambiance. (No climbing of pyramids!) My plan is to return next year and possibly more than once in subsequent years, so I don't have to see everything on this one trip.

Any suggestions?

SambaChula Apr 5th, 2016 09:59 AM

You may not be interested in beach time, but unless you are comfortable with extreme heat and humidity, you might think about at least including visits to some cenotes in the afternoons.

Ruins in the Yucatan include CI, EkBalam, Coba and Tulum, all easily reached from a starting point in Cancun, in addition to Uxmal, the Ruta Puuc ruins, and a couple of more off-the-path ones (such as Calakmul), as well as many more.

Valladolid is small-ish and quite charming. Some typical local shops, and one high-quality art- craft store. On Sunday, there is a festival, with music and dance, in the main square.

IMO 3 nights in Cancun is 3 more than I would allocate, and 3 'AT' relatively isolated CI (instead of based in Valladolid) is also not ideal for me. If you don't want beach, you might linger along the Ruta Puuc. Conveniently near the airport for a last night, I'd recommend Puerto Morelos, beachside, but with a quiet, more local vibe.

jamie99 Apr 5th, 2016 11:33 AM

Not a whole lot of hotels in Chichen Itza itself and nearby Piste is kind of a dump.
We enjoyed staying at Hacienda Chichen Itza very much, beautiful grounds and nice relaxing pool, good food as well.
Valladolid itself is also nice, and a bit closer to Ek Balam. You might enjoy a visit to Rio Lagartos for the flamingos.

Christina Apr 5th, 2016 11:41 AM

I wouldn't stay in CHichen Itza for 3 nights myself, I consider it a day trip. I know there are hotels there, though. I'm not clear on how you are getting around, but I'd also say Vallodolid is a good idea. Of course Uxmal ruins are great, and so it Ek Balam.

FOr a smaller town, you could consider Izamal which is east of Merida and has some important archeological ruins, and is important for religious reasons, also.

Naturewise, I really like the flamingo preserve in Rio Lagartos. It was wonderful, but I took a bus tour that went there (and to Ek Balam, as I recall).

It might be best to use an organized tour to go there, not sure of your logistics, as I said.

If you just want some place for 2 nights, Valladolid or Izamal should work.

november_moon Apr 5th, 2016 01:14 PM

With 3 nights around CI, I'd definitely stay in Valladolid - as others have said, it's a neat town and a good base for other things in the area.

On our trip, I really enjoyed Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc ruins. We stayed at the Pickled Onion B&B in Santa Elena for our visit to that area. We really enjoyed staying there - one of our favorites of all time :) Also in that area, we visited Sotuta de Peon, which is an old hacienda that still has the machine for processing the henequin plant and demonstrations about traditional rope making, plus a ride through the henequin fields to a cave cenote - very cool.

cybor Apr 5th, 2016 04:19 PM

I agree with a lot of the comments on this thread.
November is a great time to tour the ruins/museums, haciendas etc because it should be cooled down by then. Fact, it may be too cool to swim.
If you tell us a bit more about how you'll be transporting yourself and what your goals are in each of the locations you've chosen we can help you a bit more.

emd3 Apr 5th, 2016 05:02 PM

I have been to Chichen Itza multiple times in the past 5 yrs. Personally, the only way I will visit there is by staying overnight the night before visiting the ruins, and staying at one of the hotels right at the sight. Mayaland is very nice (peacocks roaming the grounds, lovely rooms, views of CI buildings, great food. So we stay there the night before, and the next morning they have a back gate at the hotel that takes you right into the ruins, bypassing the front gate. This is HUGE-- you can get into the ruins early before the public can get in if you stay at this hotel and use their gate into the ruins.
We also get a guide through the hotel, which is very helpful, definitely worth it.

The benefits of getting into the ruins before the tour buses arrive and the hoards of people get in are huge. You will have the place to yourself and it will also be prior to the hundreds of loud vendors arrive to set up their tables of noisy and mostly tacky items for sale. In particular there is a terrible noisy jaguar call device that the vendors blow all day long once the swarms of tourists arrive. You will avoid that by getting into the site early.

If you do that and get in early and have 4 hrs between 7 and 11 when the buses and hoards arrive, you will have a lot of time to enjoy the ruins. I can not tell you how terrible it is by 11 am when the tour buses arrive.

Do you have some particular reason for wanting to be at CI for three days? That seems like a really long time to me. As others have said, if you free up some of that time you could go to Ek Balam and Ruta Puuc from Merida, or even stay in a hotel/B&B on th Ruta Puuc.

I second the suggestion of stopping at one of the haciendas where heniquin was produced, it is very interesting. .

gotmax Apr 5th, 2016 05:06 PM

There is stuff like ziplines, Cenotes(Sinkholes), ATVs, Horseback Riding, and other stuff near Playa Del Carmen. I enjoyed horseback riding at Bonanza Ranch There is also some ruins in Tulum. Tulum is not to far from Playa, but maybe you could stay there and spend a day in Playa, or the other way around When I was in this area I didn't really focus on Ruins so I don't know that much about that kind of stuff, but you should check those out

kja Apr 5th, 2016 07:54 PM

1st and foremost: I strongly encourage you to get, or to consult, the <i>Moon Guide</i> -- IME, the best of the half dozen guidebooks I used when planning my time in the area.

Why Cancun? Given your stated interests, it seems an unlikely choice.

I was glad I stayed in Valladolid to visit Chichen Itza and surrounding areas. I found it a particularly charming city with a wealth of options in / near. And as a person who is NOT, by any stretch of the imagination, a morning person, I was glad to arrive at Chichen Itza a bit later in the day -- after the main tour groups had started, but still with plenty of time to visit in a leisurely manner (with lots of sunscreen, water, and a good hat). To each his/her own!

I would definitely recommend the Ruta Puuc and Uxmal – glorious! I stayed overnight at the Flycatcher Inn, but agree that the Pickled Onion would also be a good choice. BUT I think you would need to rent a car for 2 days to make that possible, and I don't think you said whether you were considering a car or not.

I also agree that Izamal is lovely. If nothing else, you might consider stopping there for a few hours on your way to or from Merida.

Before deciding whether to visit the flamingoes of Rio Lagartos, try to determine whether the main portion of the flock will be there or in Celestun at the time -- it can make a huge difference.

Hope that helps!

november_moon Apr 5th, 2016 08:19 PM

When we were planning our trip, we were originally not going to rent a car, but decided to in order to more easily visit Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. I am glad that we did. Driving was easy and it was fun to be able to poke around some of the towns enroute from one place to the next. We ended up spending some time in the town of Tikal, which we otherwise wouldn't have. We also stopped at some roadside stands and places.

For Chichen Itza, we stayed at the Mayaland, which was cool - we could see the ruins from our room. We liked being able to see the ruins first thing in the morning and being given done before the buses got there. You could do the same thing from Valladolid though, you'd just have to get up a little earlier.

november_moon Apr 5th, 2016 08:19 PM

When we were planning our trip, we were originally not going to rent a car, but decided to in order to more easily visit Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. I am glad that we did. Driving was easy and it was fun to be able to poke around some of the towns enroute from one place to the next. We ended up spending some time in the town of Tikal, which we otherwise wouldn't have. We also stopped at some roadside stands and places.

For Chichen Itza, we stayed at the Mayaland, which was cool - we could see the ruins from our room. We liked being able to see the ruins first thing in the morning and being given done before the buses got there. You could do the same thing from Valladolid though, you'd just have to get up a little earlier.

Christina Apr 6th, 2016 08:04 AM

I think Peg has plenty of time so does plan on staying at CI for one night or more. However, I did go with a tour group and did no experience anything that was so problematic as named. YOu can't climb them anyway, and it's a big place, so the fact that it was fairly busy with tourists (I suppose, I don't recall any problems) didn't bother me at all. And yes, there were vendors lining the sidewalks on the way to it, but that didn't bother me, either, they were just trying to earn a living. No reason it should bother me. There was nothing particular loud about them that was unusual. Now the jaguar whistle thing would have driven me nuts, I don't recall it (I went a few years ago, but not more than 5), but they do that same thing on the Ramblas in Barcelona, only ducks, and it makes me go nuts, I hate it so much. It is such an ugly sound. SOunds like something like that.

I went around Thanksgiving. The main thing you do at CI is look at it, didn't stop me from doing that. I'm not big on staying days in any particular spot just to see one thing, though. I actually enjoyed visiting Ek Balam more than Chichen Itza, it was more interesting and you can see different things. It was smaller, also.

Pegontheroad Apr 6th, 2016 08:21 AM

I probably should have added that I know nothing of the Yucatán, which explains my choices a little. Cluelessness.

I thought I'd day-trip out of Cancún. I'd like to see Tulum and whatever is on offer when I get there. I reserved a cheap room and later discovered that the rate was non-refundable; nevertheless I chopped one day off so that I could go to Chichen Itza a day earlier and leave a day earlier than I'd first planned.

I'm staying at Mayaland hotel and bungalows. I have long been fascinated with the idea of seeing Chichen Itza. I first heard of it in 1960, when I began teaching 7th grade social studies. There was a unit on Chichen Itza in our book, and it sounded fascinating.

I am still not sure what transportation I'll use. I'd planned on going by bus, as for some reason I'm intimidated by the idea of driving in Mexico. I've driven all over Europe, so I shouldn't be reluctant to drive in Mexico. I'll think about it.

Thanks for the suggestions. I'll do a little more research and see about visiting some of the places you've mentioned.

november_moon Apr 6th, 2016 12:20 PM

I was nervous about driving in Mexico too - and there are places in Mexico that are more than a little nuts to drive in. When I go to Veracruz, I don't drive - traffic is intimidating, plus because it is so busy, its hard to watch the traffic and navigate. But in the Yucatan, I drove all over and it was very easy. The biggest issue is night time driving, which you shouldn't really do in rural areas because there may be people with unlit carts or bikes on the road, pedestrians, and also animals. Other than that, just watch out for the monster speedbumps.

kja Apr 6th, 2016 03:54 PM

For most of the trip, you wouldn't need a car unless that's your preference. The possible exception that I've seen from the places mentioned so far would be the Ruta Puuc: I believe you can get to Uxmal by joining a day-tour from Merida, but if you want time to see other sites along the Ruta Puuc, a car would be an advantage.

If you do rent a car, be sure you read up on some of the critical differences between driving in the Yucatan and driving elsewhere -- knowing the relevant rules and norms of the road can go a LONG way to minimizing the risk of an accident.

And for what little it's worth, I generally LOVE to drive -- and I absolutely hated driving in this area! On the back roads, and even the major road from Merida to Celestun, the interplay of light and shadow made it extremely difficult for me to detect or prepare for the many jolting topes; the absence of street lights made it impossible to drive after sunset; the aforementioned differences in rules of the road made for some VERY scary moments, etc.

In contrast, I found the intercity buses, most if not all by ADO, convenient and comfortable, and I enjoyed the glimpses I got into local life by riding them. JMO.

SambaChula Apr 7th, 2016 05:02 AM

Having driven in the Yucatan, I am completely baffled about what "critical differences" in driving there that you refer to. Yes, you do have to understand that topes (speed bumps) protect settled areas by forcing vehicles to slow, but heeding the posted speed limit, driving defensively and such, are just common driving sense anywhere. Traffic/drivers seemed quite normal and we never encountered a remotely scary moment that I remember. In fact, the person I have traveled (several times to Yucatan) with is a new driver, and even at that, expressed being comfortable. Not being ingenuous, but a totally different experience than you seem to describe.

Note: A "cheap room" in the Yucatan, without compromise in standards, might be a clean, comfortable posada for about U$50 per night.

I think you may be disappointed in several factors because of your preconceptions of the area. One is the time you spend in Cancun after you see what else the Yucatan has to offer. Another may be in putting CI at the top of a list of ruins in the Yucatan. We found Ek Balam and Coba much more interesting, and you have the opportunity to visit Uxmal as well. If you simply day trip to Tulum, you may understand how beautiful the beach is there, and regret not having more time to spend. But if you do visit the ruins, bring a swim suit for the part of the beach below, a great break from the heat. You might also like to make time to snorkel with huge turtles and rays in Akumal as another day trip from those pre-paid fixed days in Cancun.

Have a great trip. Plan on returning to see more.

Fra_Diavolo Apr 7th, 2016 05:43 AM

Just wanted to add that if you decide to spend a couple of days in the Uxmal and Ruta Puuc area, which is certainly worth it, you can get away without a car. There are hotels within walking distance of Uxmal. To visit the Puuc cities we hired a car and driver from the hotel. It worked well. Be sure to read up on the sites so you can request which ones you would like to visit.

cybor Apr 7th, 2016 06:18 AM

From what you've said I'm gathering that the beach isn't all that important to you - true?
Staying at Mayaland is a great option but I'm not so sure if it warrants a 3 night stay. I recently had lunch and drinks there and it is a gorgeous property. I love the idea that you can get into the ruins earlier than everyone else. That said, if you get to the gate by other means of transport when the gates open at 8 am you'll be able to see the entire grounds of Chichen I before the hoards come.
Keep that in mind because once the tourist buses and worse the vendors get there the place is nearly intolerable. That all starts around 10:30.
Fly into Cancun(what time does your flight arrive?
Spend the night there if late or make your way to Mayaland.
Split the rest of your time in Vallalodid and Merida.
Cancun 1n
Mayaland 1n
Vallaloidid 3n - sweet walk around town that's close to many attractions. You'll find a huge array of tours to various sites offered here.
Merida 6 - 7n Not sure about your flight times - a great walk around city that has countless cultural and tourist attractions. You're also very close to many ruins, bio ecological areas. Transportation and tours are plentiful.

Also check the departure flights from Merida MID airport so you don't have to fly out of Cancun.The ADO bus takes 3 1/2 - 4 hrs from Merida.

SambaChula Apr 7th, 2016 07:18 AM

Also, since you state you are "clueless".....
I would recommend trip insurance since November is still considered hurricanes season.
And even if you are not a beach person, make sure you explore some of the Yucatan region's cenotes. Refreshing in the heat of an afternoon, after walking around at ruins.

jamie99 Apr 7th, 2016 10:57 AM

I agree with SambaChula about the driving being easy there the only place that was a bit difficult was Merida (we took a wrong turn en route to Uxmal where we stayed at Hacienda Uxmal).
Don't care for the beach below the ruins at Tulum though, too crowded. Instead drive or take a taxi to a nice beach club like Ziggy's at Cabanas Tulum or La Zebra.

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