Tips on 4 weeks in Oaxaca

Apr 2nd, 2004, 10:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 13
Tips on 4 weeks in Oaxaca

Hi, everyone:

I'm going to a language school in Oaxaca and would appreciate your help with a little bit of sightseeing that I would like to include in this trip. I'm going at the very end of May and will be in Mexico for 4 and a half weeks. My base of operation will be Oaxaca and I will be busy taking language classes and exploring the city and surroundings for the most time of my trip. But I would also like to include at least one 'outside' experience. I have been to Mexico before (went to a language school in Guanajuato and then travel in Northern and Central Mexico). I have never been to Mexico City and have never visited any coastal towns in Mexico. Thus, I can't decide whether to spend a couple of days in Mexico City (of course, I have the usual safety concerns - I will traveling solo, a woman, and all that stuff), but on the other hand, I'm drawn to colonial architecture, urban places, museums, etc.

Alternatively, I can go to Puerto Escondido on the Oaxacan coast. I do love water but a little bit concerned about the extreme heat, humidity and insects (all of which will be most likely present there at that time of the year). I also have doubts about the bus trip there - I read conflicting reports about terrible bus rides and normal, if long, bus journeys.

I know this is a long email and it seems that I have summarized all the pros and cons, but I would still appreciate any comments, ideas, suggestions that any of you might have on my dilemma.



PS I need to resolve this issue soon as it is connected to my transportation decisions: I can either fly from Boston to Mexico City and then take a bus to Oaxaca and see el D.F. on the way back from Oaxaca or I can fly from Boston to Mexico City then to Oaxaca, study in Oaxaca, then take a side trip to Puerto Escondido (very late June) and then fly from Oaxaca to Mexico City and then to Boston.
Jozhik is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 11:51 AM
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I would always advise anyone with the least inclination to visit Mexico City. It is a fantastic city, with so much to see and do. You can certainly do so in safety even as a solo woman traveler if you take normal big city precautions. I've taken the bus between DF and Oaxaca city before, and it is a nice trip, if you choose to do it. It takes about 5 hours versus 45-60 minutes flying. The bus trip to the coast, I have heard, is much more tortuous and several hours longer. To me, beaches are beaches, no matter how pretty, but Mexico City is incomparable. You would not regret it.
marilynl is offline  
Apr 2nd, 2004, 12:04 PM
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First, you can easily keep yourself busy in the Oaxaca valley for that period of time considering much of your day will be busy with language classes. You are going in the rainy season which should pick up as you go into June. I have been there in early June the last few years and occasionally there has been heavy rain and it was surprisingly cold. You will want an umbrella an maybe a rain coat. As far as sightseeing, in that ammount of time, I would want to do the market days in Tlatcolula, Zachilla, Ocotlan, and maybe Etla. Must see ruins are Monte Alban, Mitla, and Yagul. Pottery-Coyotepec and Atzompa. Alebrejes (carved animalitos) Arrazola, tapetes (carpets) Teotilan de Valle and maybe if you really want to shop for them Santana de Valle. If you want to get a little off the beaten path you might want to go to Hierve de Agua and little further off the beaten path to Ixtlan and Guelatao. All of the above are in and surrounding the Oaxaca Valley. Some of the trips can be combined. Others you need to take by themselves. Unless you want to pay for tours, the colletivo taxis can be found by the second class bus station and in the Abastos market. To bus to Zachilla and Octolan walk down CM Bustamente from the Zocalo and ask people where the bus stations are. To bus to Tule, Teotitlan, Mitla etc. walk out to the periferico and jump on a bus listing your destination or one past your destination (study a map in advance). You can spend a lot of time in Oaxaca city itself. Do the museums, visit all the churches, hang out in the Zocalo, go to the Abastos market on a Saturday, go to Candela for Salsa dancing, etc. As far as going to the Oaxacan coast it is a lot cooler than it will be in July. As far as getting there, I have only been to Huatulco. It was an 11 hour bus ride, not too much fun, but I would do it again. As far as Mexico City, I find it fascinating, but one must be very careful. I hope you have a great time. I am looking forward to going to Oaxaca in June myself.
Dude is offline  
Apr 21st, 2004, 12:58 PM
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Very much in agreement with both Marilyn and Dude - if in D.F. stay at a well reputed hotel and only use taxis they call for you. The embassy area, Chapultapec Park, the museums - with the city's current celebration of Frida - are all incredible. It could take up a month in itself. Or as Dude suggests - getting to know Oaxaca is a lifetime adventure. I leave on Saturday, 24 April, for a three week stay there while attending the Instituto Cultural Oaxaca.
SmilingMary is offline  
Apr 25th, 2004, 08:43 AM
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Jozhik~ you are a lucky person!
Dude~ amazing post, as always!
From a traveler stuck at home (boohoo).
suze is offline  
Apr 26th, 2004, 06:27 PM
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to Dude: I will be going for only 1 week to study at the Becari Institute in Oaxaca so my time will be limited to see much but I want to get out as much as possible so I would be interested in your suggestions. I will arrive on Sat. Eve and meet my family and Sunday will be a free day for me so I would be interested in your suggestion whether I should stay in Oaxaca for that day or venture out. On Monday I start classes and go for 6 hours per day but should have my evenings free. Then I leave for home the following Saturday. I know, not much time. Do you have suggestions for things to do in the evenings (when I am not doing tarea!) thanks
nonstop is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 04:57 AM
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I would definately head out on Sunday. If you are comfortable trying it on your own, I would leave around 9:30 am and take a bus to Mitla (Ask you family how to do this). Once in Mitla it is about a mile walk from the bus stop to the ruins so you might want to take a taxi or pedal taxi depending on how much you like to walk. Check out the ruins for a while then bus back to Tlatcolula. Sunday is market day and it is certainly worth the experience. Make sure to check out the interior of the church in Tlatcolula. After checking out Tlatcolula bus part way back to Oaxaca City and get off at the turn to Teotilan de Valle. Take a collectivo to town and check out various rug weavers also note, that as in Mitla, the church is built on and with the remains of an indigenous temple. It will be getting late by this time. Make sure to get back to the highway before 5 as the buses stop and collectivios are scarce. Get a bus back to Oaxaca and you will have had a long day. Right before Oaxaca you could stop at El Tule too if you still want to see more. This is a marathon day. If you don't want to do all this yourself join a tour to Tlatcolula and Mitla on that day. Last summer Becari offered an o.k. deal on group tours. During the week, I would skip out of class early one afternoon and go to Monte Alban. You can do it in about 3-4 hours roundtrip. The buses depart from, I believe, Hotel Meson de Los Angeles, ask at Becari. You need to see this while in Oaxaca. At night you can enjoy yourself simply walking around. Lots of people hang out in front of Santo Domingo, on the pedestrian street running from the Zocalo area and in the Zocalo area itself. You can have a drink at a cafe, hang out with other people from the language school, etc. I don't think you will be bored. When are you going to be there anyway? I plan on being in town from June 1-14.
Dude is offline  
Apr 27th, 2004, 05:46 PM
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Dude: thanks for the info. Sounds like an agressive plan but doable. I will try to make it all. Is a collectivo a taxi? I like the idea of El Zocolo in the evenings. I did that last summer in Cuernavaca and it was fun running into the other students and in general just observing all the activity. I will be going in August.
nonstop is offline  
Apr 28th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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It is a lot to do in one day and it is a lot to try and figure out, but if you are up for it you get a wide range of interesting experiences. Another option (besides a tour), if you are willing to pay more and don't want the hassle of trying to figure out all the transportation, is to rent a taxi by the hour. If you decide to do that, do all of the above and ask them to stop at Yagul- another archaeological site on the same route that has incredible views of the Oaxaca valley. Re: Collectivos, they are shared taxis with a specific destination. I.e. if they say Mitla on the door that's where they're going. They usually cram six into a small car so it is not too comfortable, but it is cheap and fast. I think you will enjoy hanging in the Zocalo even more than in Cuernavaca. It is quite different.
Dude is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 04:36 PM
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dude: after thinking about it, I think it might be best to hire the taxi to take this trip, since time is short and I might burn a lot of time just learning the bus routes, etc. What is the best way to hire a taxi to do all of this? I think I can see a lot more this way in one day althought the idea of jumping on buses appeals to me. I feel I can really be part of the country that way. But I have to consider the time. thanks
nonstop is offline  
May 1st, 2004, 04:38 PM
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Dude: one more request, since you seem to be very familiar with Mexico: A couple of years ago while in Guanajuato, I was having trouble rolling my r's and a taxi driver kept repeating a Mexican rhyme that was designed to help learn the double rr. It ended with the words ferrocarril. Do you are anyone else know this one or know where I could post to try to get a copy? thanks
nonstop is offline  
May 2nd, 2004, 06:08 AM
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erre con erre ferrocarrill is one people practice with, I'm sure there are more. As far as hiring a taxi you could just go to the taxi stand by the Zocalo and ask around. Instead, however, I would ask at the langauge school and where you are staying and see if someone can recommend someone they know personally.
Dude is offline  
May 5th, 2004, 05:47 PM
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Dude: what do you think is a fair price to pay for a taxi to do all of things you suggest in one day?
nonstop is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 04:52 AM
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Nonstop- sorry that's one I don't know as I haven't rented a taxi by the hour in Oaxaca for about 15 years as I use the public transportation. Best guess is maybe $15.00 U.S. per hour. I would ask at school and askr you family to see if they have an idea. Also just ask a couple of taxi drivers when you walk by the taxi stand at the Zocalo to see if they give you the same price. I will try to remember to find out when I am there in June.
Dude is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 10:32 AM
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nonsrop: Here's your rhyme:

erre con erre cigarro
erre con erre barril
rapido corren los carros de ferrocarril!

BTW: We were initially thinking of trying a language school in Ensenada....but thanks to your posts, now we're thinking Oaxaca.
wantagig is offline  
May 29th, 2005, 03:01 PM
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Good information, I am weighing up acting as tour guide for the family (my wife says NOT again !!), and using taxis as transport BUT there will be five of us !! I don't want to go with two taxis, are there any that carry five people (in comfort )??
Marko is offline  
Jun 27th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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You can also try Karin Schutte ([email protected]). She is a guide and can take you for 20.00 USD per hour. She uses a large VAN and can easily accomodate 5 people.
jmldk is offline  
Jun 28th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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I got a taxi and driver from Las Bungavillas, way cheaper and very good. I think 20 us hours seems a LOT....
Graziella5b is offline  

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