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Want to visit ruins in Yucatan - want cultural experience & fun too!

Want to visit ruins in Yucatan - want cultural experience & fun too!

Sep 18th, 2002, 08:41 AM
  #1  
Elaine
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Want to visit ruins in Yucatan - want cultural experience & fun too!

I would like to visit the Yucatan with my family - kids are 13, 15, & 16. I am not into the all inclusives. I want everyone to feel they're in a foreign country and learn about the culture as well as have fun. Does anyone have any suggestions of where we should go?
 
Sep 18th, 2002, 09:02 AM
  #2  
Nancy
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Playa del Carmen or Akumal.
They're both about an hour south of Cancun and are good jumping off points for Tulum, Coba and Chichen Itza.
Check out locogringo.com for a huge array of accommodation types.
If you are into snorkeling or diving, I'd go with Akumal.
if you want a larger choice as far as activities and dining, I'd say PDC.
(Akumal is a little quiet for teens for more than a few days...)
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 01:21 AM
  #3  
rquirk
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You won't feel that you are in a foreign country if you go to the places suggested by Nancy. I suggest you go to Merida and do La Ruta Maya then go and spend some time in Valladolid which is a very Yucatan type town and just a 40 minute bus ride from Chitchen Itza.

Bus everywhere and sit with the locals.

Playa Del Carman is not unlike Cancun. Restaurants cater for American Tex-Mex style dishes instead of Yuacatan cuisine. PlayaCar has a beach, streets thronged with restaurants and a shopping mall. All the local Mexicans ( waiters, shop-keepers ) persist in speaking english even when asked a spanish question. This is because english is the most prevalent language there. Mariachis will also do a cute turn at your restaurant table every night. It is like a Disnyworld microscopic view of the Yucatan. Yuk.
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 01:26 AM
  #4  
rquirk
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Lonely planet do a book just on the Yucatan ( I believe ). If not the section within the Mexico book is still good. The culture is around Merida and Valladolid ( Merida state ). The fun is around Quintana Roo state
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 04:52 AM
  #5  
Nancy
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Elaine,
I do not agree with rquirk's assessment of Playa del Carmen and that area at all.
I have traveled all over the Yucatan, and it is indeed very possible to have an authentic Mexican experience on the Caribbean coast and in Playa del Carmen.
Elaine is traveling with 3 teenagers, and I am sure they want to have lots of things to do and see. She said they all want to have fun.
PDC is not anywhere near as commercial as Cancun, and there are many very good non-touristy places to eat and stay in the area. We've been there 10+ times and have enjoyed every trip.
My husband speaks fluent Spanish and a little Maya, and the local people we have run into love to chat with him.
rquirk must not have tried very hard to get into the local scene there if he/she had pseudo mariachis at the dinner table every night and no one would speak Spanish (in Mexico!)
 
Sep 19th, 2002, 05:33 AM
  #6  
rquirk
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Elaine, I've spent a year in Mexico, living and working with mexicans. Playacar is a tour touts paradise - always has been .. always will be. Just examine the number of people who's first trip to Mexico is Playacar on this very forum. You just think it's Mexico because it's slightly more Mexican than Cancun. My advice to you is stop going to PlayaCar and go see the rest of Mexico. You only mention Chitchen Itza and Akumal which are day trips for lazy people from their tourist resorts. Go see Uxmal and Palenque, both are more impressive sites than these as is Teotihuacan outside Mexico DF.

I didn't say that Quintana Roo is fun .. it is probably the best place to be for teenagers. Just very sanitised and anglicised by true Mexican standards. Ever see a cock fight in PlayaCar ? No ? Well they are very popular elsewhere all over Mexico.

I really think the best thing is to get a book on the Yucatan because there are so many diverse activities .. history, cities, museums, beaches, watersports, theme places, diving with turtles and Merida state is so different to the beach side Quintana Roo.

As I said, history and culture and to be found mostly in Merida state. Quintana Roo is the beach / hedionistic state.
 
Sep 21st, 2002, 06:06 PM
  #7  
Gigi
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rquirk- Are you comparing PDC to more remote, but close areas to PDC or to just about any or all areas in Mexico, including Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco? I always had the view that Cancun, Cabo and Mazatlan were much more Americanized than all the rest of Mexico and only recently had heard of PDC. What are your views on Cozumel? Also, many people probably don't know of some of the areas mentioned and are maybe leary of driving/traveling to remote areas. I'd appreciate hearing back.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 01:29 PM
  #8  
JMM
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Some comments about Elaine's dilema.
BTW - I have been to Merida and Akumal
For culture - Merida - ruins at Uxmal are the best
For fun: Playa del Carmen - not quite as sanitized as Cancun.
Given that you cannot ram culture down teenagers throats (and I saw a couple of parents trying to do that in Merida), I would say to Elaine - consider somewhere in the Mayan Riviera (Playa del Carmen and south - I like Akumal but it may be too quiet for teens) - why ? reasonable access to "fun" and some easy to digest culture readily available - ruins at Tulum.
 
Sep 22nd, 2002, 04:09 PM
  #9  
Elaine
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Thanks for all the info! I still don't know what I'm going to do. I know my kids would enjoy the beach at
Akumal.

They've been exposed to culture before as we went all over Morocco (independently) last summer. Maybe we'll go to Merida and Akumal.

I've went to Uxmal many years ago but haven't seen Chichen Itza yet and would like to.
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 09:22 AM
  #10  
Patty
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Elaine,
I haven't been to Uxmal or Palenque, but have been to Teotihuacan a couple of times and found Chichen Itza equally impressive. I think you'll enjoy it. Akumal has great snorkeling if that's something that would interest your kids.

Gigi,
Both PDC and Cozumel are pretty Americanized in my view. I returned after 7 years and could not believe how developed it was, especially PDC. For me it's too busy although it's still not as developed as Cancun.
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 09:38 AM
  #11  
katie
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Go to Belize. A lot less touristy (some places not touristy at all) than Mexico destinations and plenty of ruins to chose from. Great surf and turf vacation options in Belize too, and plenty of culture for the kids to learn.
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 12:47 PM
  #12  
Patty
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Actually Belize is great destination which I think the kids would enjoy and is less developed than most parts of the Yucatan. Lots of active adventures including seeing Mayan ruins, hiking, canoeing, cave tubing, horseback riding, etc. inland and phenomenal snorkeling out on the reef. I normally don't try to talk posters into changing their destinations, but since katie mentioned it, I thought I would offer an opinion since I've been to both.
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 01:21 PM
  #13  
Gigi
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Patty- thanks for answering my question. Do you also agree with most of what rquirk said? What places have you been to in Mexico (besides the ones mentioned) and is PDC and Coz. as Americanized as Cabo. & Mazatlan? And, by 'Americanized', do you mean just being much more developed, or by many other senses as well (as rquirk told)?
 
Sep 23rd, 2002, 06:55 PM
  #14  
xxx
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During the late 60's and early 70's, I accompanied my family on numerous road-trip vacations to almost every corner of the Mexican nation. I have been to all the places in Mexico cited by rquirk in his/her posts (several more than once), and to many others as well.

This May I returned to the Yucatan for the first time since 1973. We visited not just PDC, Chichen Itza, Tulum, and several of the other "touristy" locations, but drove down past Limones almost to the Belize border.

Based on this recent visit, I have news for rquirk - everyplace in the Yucatan peninsula is now extremely "sanitised and anglicised" compared to the way it was - in both city and countryside. Just as an example - while it's certainly nice and worth a visit, the "typical" town of Valladolid is immaculate, orderly, and very modernized compared to the typical Mexican provinical town of 30+ years ago. While the rural poverty still exists in the Yucatan, it is much less god-awful than I remember. I guess that the absence of filthy naked children with swollen bellies standing by the roadside (all too common a sight 30+ years ago) just makes the Yucatan too much like "Disnyworld [sic]" for rquirk's tastes, but frankly, I don't miss the sight, and I doubt that the Yucatecan people do either.

By the way, rquirk, while the city of Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan, there is no "Merida state"
in the nation of Mexico. If you are going to set yourself up as the expert on the "true" Mexico, at least get the basic facts right.
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 04:46 AM
  #15  
Nancy
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THANK YOU xxx for giving accurate information and a much more informed portrayal of the area.
Unfortunately, there are too many rquirks on this board who dispense misinformation to people looking to educate themselves about an area.
It's true that the entire region has been modernized over the years compared to what it was like, as you cited. I think it is still a wonderful place to visit and has a lot to offer the active traveler wanting cultural enrichment and fun.
I also don't believe rquirk has been to many of the places he/she so nastily criticizes.
Akumal is well known as having one of the most beautiful beaches in the area and great snorkeling/diving. It's NOT a day trip for lazy people.
Chichen Itza is widely recognized as having amazing ruins. rquirk lumps it in with the "lazy person's day trip."
I hope Elaine wasn't offended as SHE would like to see the ruins there.
rquirk, your own posts reveal your ignorance.

 
Sep 24th, 2002, 01:48 PM
  #16  
Patty
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Gigi,
I guess I define these places as 'Americanized' because you will find the English language used commonly both spoken and written. Hotel properties, tours, etc. will often quote prices in USD or USD rates are printed in their brochures. And there are chains which are familiar U.S. brands. That doesn't mean it's not a fun place to visit and can be a plus for some. I'm just not sure it's what Elaine was looking for. Aside from the resort areas in Mexico, I have only been to Mexico City a couple of times.
 
Sep 24th, 2002, 05:44 PM
  #17  
Gigi
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Patty- thanks for answering. Is PDC. and Cozumel, in your opinion, more Americanized than Cabo. & Mazatlan? Also, do Malaria & Dengue, among other diseases, occur in this area of Mexico? I would appreciate hearing back- thanks.
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 09:13 AM
  #18  
Patty
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Gigi,
No I don't think PDC and Cozumel are more Americanized than Cabo. PDC probably gets more of a mix of tourists from other nationalities as well. Actually parts of Mazatlan I don't find to be very 'Americanized' if you get away from the hotel zone, for example, the community on Stone Island. I'm not up to date on diseases. I would imagine any tropical area has some risk of mosquito born illnesses. I would check the CDC's website or ask a clinic that specializes in travel medicine.
 
Sep 25th, 2002, 09:35 AM
  #19  
dan woodlief
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I would suggest that the Yucatan is a great place to have fun and experience the culture as well. Certainly it is not the "most Mexican" place in Mexico, but it has its own unique and worthy attributes. Spend some time south of Cancun as others have advised (although my own experiences come from 1998). Allow yourself some time inland as well. Maybe spend a couple of days in Merida (make sure one is a Sunday, when there are lots of festivities) and visit the beautiful and relatively less touristed ruins at Uxmal (compared to the other spectacular site at Chichen Itza) as well as perhaps a day at the smaller sites near Merida. Don't skip Chichen Itza though. You may also get a better cultural experience by spending time on the second class buses, when you will be among mostly Mexicans. I would suggest that the best way to visit many of the ruins (particularly Chichen Itza) though is by car unless you stay nearby because you can get there earlier before the heat and crowds are out in force. If you want to experience the Yucatan of old, take along a copy of "The Lost World of Quintana Roo" by Michele Peissel and see what it was like to travel in the Yucatan a few decades ago.

If you want to see more about Merida, the ruins, and more "fun" things to do around the Yucatan, you can read my three-part travelogue at www.oneeyed.homestead.com (a personal travel photography site). I have included lots on the history and specific sights at the ruins.
 
Sep 26th, 2002, 03:03 AM
  #20  
rquirk
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I don't know why you lot are getting so upset. I just pointed out that it was anglicised by other areas of Mexico. Other posters bear this out - not just me. for the sake of bleating I will restate that Quintana Roo is a good place for teenagers with lots to do. I believe my view was quite balanced in this respect.

When I dispense travel information I don't have a map in my lap so if I state Merida is in Merida state and I get it wrong I dont give a shit. What Im being asked for and what I give is my impression and opinion.

In response to being asked my comparisons I would state again that I consider central mexico to be most mexican including areas to the north like Copper Canyon.

I look at the Yucatan as Mexican with a very strong Mayan influence. I still regard PDC ( that is PDC not necessarily the surrounding area ) as very anglicised.

All the signs on Isla de las Mujeres are posted with English and Mexican sharing poll position. For the sake of you pedantics that is Mexican Spanish.

I would be interested to know how many travellers of Mexico as a whole share my view. It is certain that PDC aficionados do not.
 

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