Oaxaca or Merida?

Old Oct 1st, 2002, 11:18 AM
  #1  
Judith Fujita
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Oaxaca or Merida?

Plan to spend Christmas week in either Oaxaca or Yucatan to see archeological ruins and do other cultural sightseeing. If you are familiar with both or either tell me your opinions and personal experiences there.
 
Old Oct 1st, 2002, 05:54 PM
  #2  
D
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I know Oaxaca really well, I do not know Merida, so someone else will have to speak to that. I go to Oaxaca twice a year and find it facinating. The weather at that time of year should be excellent. Warn days- cool nights. The primary archaeolgical sites are Monte Alban and Mitla. Both fascinating, both very diferent. In addition there are many smaller sites to explore like Yagul and Zachilla. There are various towns in the Oaxaca valley that have a market day- Tlatcolula Sunday, Ocotlan Thursday, Etla Wednesday, etc. These are interesting and give you an opportunity to experience various indigenous culture. Also you can visit towns famous for specific crafts, Teotilan del Valle- Carpets, Arrrazola- carved animals, etc. Oaxaca is high desert. The city is at around 5000 feet, so it will be quite different than the Yucatan. If you are interested in Oaxaca the good hotels are already, most likely, booked. Christmas leading up to Epiphany Jan. 6th (the traditional gift giving time in Mexico) is a big deal. Oaxaca City will be packed. The Zocalo will be full of food and craft stalls and it will be a busy time. I usually arrive January 1 and have a great time. I love Oaxaca, but hoepfully someone can say something about the Yucatan because I would love to travel there in the near future. Good luck when you make your choice.
 
Old Oct 1st, 2002, 08:02 PM
  #3  
Marilyn
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D has covered so much of the personal experience side that I will just add my vote for Oaxaca. Merida has its charm and better proximity to the beach resorts of Yucatan, but Oaxaca is one of the best places in Mexico. If you are interested in the old cultures, then you should also visit the Archeological Museum which has a lot of treasure that was taken out of the graves at Monte Alban.
 
Old Oct 2nd, 2002, 09:27 AM
  #4  
Jean Valjean
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Keep in mind that Merida was hit very badly by hurricane Isidore. I don't think that repairs will be finished by December.
 
Old Oct 2nd, 2002, 11:22 AM
  #5  
Sandy
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I've been to both places and enjoyed both but there's no comparison as far as I'm concerned . . . it's Oaxaca!

I second everything that D said. Oaxaca is a fascinating place to go and you'll not have time to do everything interesting to do there in a week. You won't regret it if you choose this one.

Buen viaje,
Sandy
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 02:02 PM
  #6  
Steve
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I'll agree with Sandy in one respect...there is no comparison...the two are apples and oranges...however, i think she meant to say Oaxaca is far superior. I, on the other hand, think your question can only be answered by understanding what it is you like to do...it says in your question, you want to do the ruins...for that, I recommend Merida by far...much more varied and important sites surrounding the Yucatan capital...I've spent alot of time in both places, and prefer Merida for a historical experience...also better weather (if you think warmer is better)...less ex-pats, which is a big plus in my book... proximity to wide variety of activities including beachs, colonial villages, cenotes and, yes, some of the best ruins in the world. Oaxaca is a very nice place too...probably an easier place to visit for the typical american...much more bent toward tourism...Merida has it's own wealth, and doesn't need to kiss your rear as much or as often as people in service positions in Oaxaca. In Merida, they're not surly, just more real somehow.

BTW, the storm was a big problem on the coast near merida...however, downtown Merida is fully back to it's normal self, with just alot of trees now gone...if you haven't been there before, you won't even miss them.
So I'd say go to Merida unless you're generally a wimpy traveller, prefer to wear a winter coat when the sun goes down, or retired. For ruins, Merida is top banana.
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 03:12 PM
  #7  
D
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I have to take issue with Steve a little. He is right, the two places are very different. He is also right you have to decide what you are looking for. I have to say that Monte Alban and Mitla are smaller ruins physically than some on the Yucatan, however no less important. Were're talking different civilizations here. I will also disagree about the tourist butt kissing thing. Yes- if you stay at Hotel Victoria and take a paid tour it will be very touristy. You can do that in the Yucatan as well. You can also live as the locals. There are no tourists were I stay and I use the local transportation. Go to Guelatao or Ixtlan two hours from Oaxaca and there are no tourists at all- by the way you should go to these towns. Bottom line- both are great- still would go to Oaxaca.
 
Old Oct 19th, 2002, 03:48 PM
  #8  
Steve
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Fair enough D...opinions are like VW bugs in Mexico...everyone has one...but I thought you said you did not know Merida...if that's true, how can you have such a strong opinion of one over the other? And I stand by my account that Oaxaca is more "touristy" and "americanized" than Merida, especially during peak season like Xmas.
Judith...I've lived in both places for months at a time, and based on the clues in your posted question (ruins and cultural stuff,) my "vw bug" is that you want Merida, but will be happy either way you go.
 
Old Oct 20th, 2002, 08:54 AM
  #9  
D
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I said I don't "know" because I have only done a one week tourist thing years ago so I have only seen the the highlights. I feel like I "know" Oaxaca because I spend 2 months each year there. But I think I am getting too picky when I take issue over a plce you have spent more time in than me. I'm with your bottom line they will have good time with either choice. Maybe I need to head to the Yucatan some more.
 
Old Oct 20th, 2002, 10:00 AM
  #10  
steve
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and I'll admit to playing devil's advocate to an extent...when i saw the original question posted, i thought there would be some interesting, balanced discussion on a worthy question...when i saw so much pointing to Oaxaca, I felt obligated to get Merida back into the realm of consideration.
Lemme know if you need any suggestions on visiting merida and the Yucatan...I know you'll end up having a two places to love.
 
Old Oct 20th, 2002, 04:35 PM
  #11  
D
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O.k. I Was planning to go Oaxaca in early November to stay with friends for a couple of weeks, then a short visit to San Cristobol. I have the time to do more. What should I do- I have to say this one has taken a strange tack!
 
Old Oct 21st, 2002, 10:26 AM
  #12  
Steve
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Well, come to Merida of course!
It would be my pleasure to offer up advice on an excursion to the WHITE CITY. However, I think I'll need just a little bit of info on what you like to do before I get too specific...age and stage maybe...what you don't like as well. For instance...fine dining, si o no? Car? Sports? Nightlife? Beach? Cultural stuff like traditional dancing? Historical architecture?
Lemme know and I'll put some ideas togther for you...if you want to e-mail your response to me at the above address, that'll work best.
 
Old Oct 23rd, 2002, 08:28 AM
  #13  
TunaTaco
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Oaxaca is more touristy?? You're loco.

The Yucatan has many more tourists at the ruins...they make day trips from the nearby mega-resorts.

If you want good ruins, friendly locals, great food and old-world Mexico, go to Oaxaca. You don't have to worry as much about cab drivers and other service related people trying to swindle the tourist when in Oaxaca. On the Yucatan tourism is so abundant that, as in any country, there are a large number of people looking to trick or take advantage of the tourist.

 
Old Oct 25th, 2002, 10:20 AM
  #14  
steve
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Hey Taco...you've got to read the question buddy...we are talking about Merida vs. Oaxaca (did you not see her header?) If one compares Merida to the city of Oaxaca, then there is no question, Oaxaca is more touristy.

Merida is 5 hours from Cancun by bus. No one is making a day trip to Merida from the Cancun/PDC/Isla Mujeres mess. You are right that the sites near Cancun (primarliy Chichen Itza and Tulum) can be to crowded with day trippers. However, at Uxmal, Labna, Sayil and Dzibilchaltun, and the dozen or so secondary sites within a short drive of Merida, crowds are not an issue (except on soltices.)
Taco, it's obvious from your posting that you don't know Merida and it's surrounding area. Would hope you get a chance to educate yourself soon...
 
Old Nov 18th, 2002, 08:20 AM
  #15  
Lilliana
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I recently returned from a trip to Oaxaca and must tell you it was disappointing. I don't know if any of the previous posters are Latinos or Spanish speakers, but I am and I did not have a pleasant experience there. "Viva la revolucion" "Viva Zapatista" were frequently overheard. Bad service. Rude behavior. Almost always from young to middle-aged indigineous men. I would strongly recommend reading up on Oaxacan history to better understand the opression and discrimination Oaxacans have endured. It is definitely an interesting area to visit, but I for one would not return nor recommend it. Hate to rain on the parade, but that was my experience.
 
Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 01:03 PM
  #16  
TunaTaco
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I just got back from Oaxaca. I spent 4 nights in the city and 5 on the coast.

I had NO problems with rude behavior at all and I found the people to be genuine, friendly and polite.

Actually, my trip to Oaxaca changed my opinion on the people of Mexico. I had only been to Cancun and Tijuana and I came away from those 2 tourist areas with an uneasy feeling about Mexican people. That has all changed, thanks to the people of the state of Oaxaca.
 
Old Dec 2nd, 2002, 02:35 PM
  #17  
Janet
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I want to take Spanish classes in Mexico. I was thinking Merida, but I also have been considering Oaxaca...So, Judith's question is very relevant to me. Keep up the discussion--I need to make the decision.
 
Old Dec 3rd, 2002, 03:45 AM
  #18  
Max
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Hi Lilliana- I am sorry to hear you had a bad time in Oaxaca. I have been going there 2x a year for ten years and have always been treated well by everyone and received wonderful service in everything. I am fluent in Spanish, but I would hate to think that is the difference. I hope you can return some time and enjoy things as much as I do.
 
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