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scdreamer Aug 14th, 2011 07:07 PM

Oaxaca or Yucatan?
Thinking about taking a two-plus week trip to Mexico from late March through mid April 2012. Looking at either Oaxaca or the Yucatan ... have been to both, but it was about 35 years ago to Oaxaca for me, and my husband hasn't ever been there.

Just last spring we went to the Yucatan, and we loved it. Traveled the back roads by rental car all over, through small out-of-the-way villages and and still felt we had barely scratched the surface after two weeks. I want to swim in more cenotes and eat more Mayan food. We loved Merida, and could spend some more time there easily.

On the other hand, Oaxaca offers a pretty great cultural experience, not to mention all the amazing moles.

Hard to decide where to go ... if we decide on Oaxaca, we'd like to get over to the coast for a little beach time. I was last in Puerto Escondido 35 years ago when it was not developed at all ... sure it would not be the same now. A friend and I took the chicken bus on a 12-hour ride from hell on a mountainous red dirt road from Oaxaca to Puerto Escondido ... is that road paved now? Is it realistic to try to see Oaxaca City and the coast in the amount of time we would have?

I stayed in Oaxaca for about ten days last time I was there, but I was a young hippie girl on my way to Guatemala, and my desires for creature comforts were non-existent. As a "mature" adult, I am still willing to be somewhat adventurous, but I do like a nice bed and I definitely believe a/c is a good thing.

Flights to Oaxaca are more expensive (and complicated) than getting to Cancun for a start point, so that's a consideration.

We are a well traveled couple in our late 50s early 60s. We are in good physical shape, enjoy hiking and biking. I speak passable Spanish. We aren't into the resort scene.

Anybody have suggestions for our dilemma?

Approach_Guides Aug 14th, 2011 07:15 PM

Sounds like you have plenty of time to do both. You could fly in and out of Yucatan, stay there for a week, and then take an internal flight to Oaxaca, where you could eat well and tour the surrounding area (including several of the most important Maya and pre-Maya sites). Enjoy your trip!

GEsssa Aug 14th, 2011 07:46 PM

Have spent a lot of time in Mexico and can say that the trip by road from Mexico City to Oaxaca, through the Sierra Madre, is as beautiful as anything in the Alps or Atlas in Morocco. Amazing varieties of cacti and incredible mountain formations. From Oaxaca, where I last spent a wonderful weekend last year in a lovely pension a few blocks from the zocolo, there is Monte Alban and all the small villages nearby. The trip west to Puerto Escondido takes 6 or 7 hours but the road is definitely paved. Or you head south along the Oaxaca road along the winding road toward Palenque which is definitely the most beautiful of all ruins in Mexico. Have a wonderful time! Mexico is rich in everything that makes a wonderful vacation.

qwovadis Aug 15th, 2011 05:17 AM best for me

especially since you want beach time my fav for that places like

Seasonally better in summer in Oaxaca for more of a short stay

cooler mountain colonial experience in summertime head there.

Lots of strikes safety issues there though currently

for both monitor register

Happy Travels!

Fra_Diavolo Aug 15th, 2011 07:44 AM

It seems you've covered the Yucatan pretty well, why not explore Oaxaca? You seem to have a good idea of the attractions.

I'm sure you will find that exploring this beautiful city as rewarding as you did Merida -- possibly more so.

You will find no dearth of comfortable accommodations.

I haven't been to the Pacific coast so can't comment, but understand you can take a short flight there.

Second the recommendation to take the bus from Mexico City to Oaxaca for the spectacular scenery.

I have no current knowledge of the strikes and security concerns mentioned above -- maybe someone can chime in on that.


scdreamer Aug 15th, 2011 09:03 AM

Years ago I took the train from Mexico City to Oaxaca. I wonder if there is still a train for that route?

Fra_Diavolo Aug 15th, 2011 09:16 AM

Don't know about the train, and my Mexican guidebooks are elsewhere, but I don't believe it is still running.

However, the luxury bus lines such as Uno are very pleasant.

scdreamer Aug 15th, 2011 09:56 AM

I looked, and the train is no longer running, but the bus ride sounds as if it goes through some amazing scenic areas.

We are pretty much deciding we will fly into Mexico City (we have a "companion" fare that gives us a great break on the fare to DF), stay a couple days there and then bus to Oaxaca.

We will be in Oaxaca for about five days and then bus over the mountains to Puerto Escondido for another five days or so, before returning to Oaxaca and then back to Mexico City.

We are pretty stoked to not need a rental car this time around ... that saves us a lot. For the areas we hope to cover, buses should do the trick.

Anyone have suggestions as to hotels (especially in Mexico City), sights not to be missed (e.g. Monte Alban, etc)or any other ideas, I am open to all!

Already getting excited to be planning a new trip!

Fra_Diavolo Aug 15th, 2011 12:36 PM

I'm a fan of the Hotel Majestic in Mexico City. I stayed there my first two trips and wished I had on my third. I will return for my fourth.

Some people prefer the trendier locations in Condesa, Polanco, etc., but I like staying on the Zocalo in the historic center. This puts me close to the Templo Mayor, the Rivera murals in the National Palace and the cathedral. There are several good restaurants in the area.

The Majestic has a nice lobby. The rooms are certainly a little faded, but perfectly adequate. It has a small restaurant on the top floor, as well as a bar, both with a great view over the Zocalo. Try to get a room on the higher floors facing the square. You can put your feet up and relax while not missing any of the action!


Michael Aug 15th, 2011 04:53 PM

Mitla should not be missed, and between Mitla and Oaxaca is one of the major weaver's villages. In Oaxaca proper, the archeological museum and the Tamayo museum should not be missed.

We were happy with the Hotel Marques del Valle (and that was a few years ago), although an exterior room overlooks the zocalo and all its evening activities.

Teri_Gunderson Aug 15th, 2011 06:25 PM

I'm glad you decided in Oaxaca. It's wonderful that time of year. Perhaps you will be here over the week before Easter - there are lots of interesting things to see.
I would not recommend the marquis de valle - the noise would get to be too much and it is too expensive for just an average hotel. I live here in Oaxaca and I think the B&B Las Bugambillias. - - is very nice. Great location, great food, beautiful place. For a nice hotel up by Santo Domingo I would choose Hotel Maela.
There are vans to the beach - though they are terrible they are the best choices. I would not take the bus directly to P escondia. The road is terrible- Take the little longer way via Pochutla - To make the trip easier think of leaving about noon and staying overnight in San Juan del Pacifico. It is very high and very beautiful. Then one to the beach the next morning. There are nicer places at the beach to stay than puerto - but puerto has a charm.
It's not that hard to take vans, taxis or collectivos to the villages for the market days. If you need help with this, email or call [email protected] or in Oaxaca 503-8134 - If you buy coffee, I'll tell you what I can. I know you will enjoy your visit - it is very safe here - you may hear about a strike - they make US news but not here - they are a pain for the traffic but nothing about them is dangerous. I walk all over by myself and find the people helpful, kind and generous.

emd3 Aug 15th, 2011 07:46 PM

What type of hotel are you looking for in Mexico City? Higher end, or mid-range? We like the Hotel Catedral a block behnd the Catedral and zocalo, but we have also stayed in higer end hotels in the DF.

For Oaxaca, check out the Parador San Miguel. I have staryed there before, and we are staying there again this fall for our 25th anniversary. Very good restaurant, lovely colonial atmosphere and courtyard, a straight block and a half to the catedral and zolcalo. They have rooms on the 2nd and 3rd floor that have nice natural light and are quiet, which is important near the zocalo.

Do some research on the single craft towns in the valley around Oaxaca, and the markets in the towns also. Nice to combine a day trip to a market outside the city with a weaving village, mezcal producing village, or a pottery village, etc.

The markets in Oaxaca, Santo Domingo, the chocolate street (Calle Mina), museums, great dining- lots of great stuff right in Oaxaca city also.

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