What to do in Yucatan Peninsula?

Feb 16th, 2002, 05:01 AM
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What to do in Yucatan Peninsula?

we're flying into Cancun mid May for 3 weeks. we're from London and will be travelling independently. Because of flight times we have to spend 1st night in Cancun (any suggestions for something good value?) but intend leaving the next day to start exploring the Yucatan Peninsular.
Our intention is to take buses around the peninsular spending time on the coast snorkelling and also seeing the sights. Arriving 17th and HAVE TO spend May 20th on the beach as it's my birthday. Where is a good place to go? Cozumel? Morales? Don;t want to stay in anonymous big places but as it's my 40th I would like a couple of days of 'wow this is wonderful'. Don't need a tv or mini bar etc but would like a fan or air con.

Would love to hear your suggestions and also will it be very humid? What is public transport like along the coast to the lake near the Belize border and then back up to places like Chichen Itza amd Merida etc? Any suggestions as to where to go in the 3 weeks? what to do where to stay? As we'll be doing it all independently we are open to all suggestions

Many thanks for your help.
Feb 16th, 2002, 07:59 AM
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Sounds like a great trip you are planning. Here would be some of my suggestions.
For the first night, you might stay at the Holiday Inn Centro in Cancun. Its near the bus station and moderately priced. Another moderately priced hotel close to the bus station is Novotel.
As far as a place for your birthday, here are a few ideas. For the best top of the line experience (Tony Blair and family stayed here), La Maroma at www.maroma-mexico.com. Another excellent choice, at much lower price, might be Cabanas Conchita or Zamas at Tulum, www.hotelstulum.com. I am never one to recommend all inclusives, and none of these are.
You will have no problems getting first class or better to any place you want in this area. If you see an ADO-GL or Maya de Oro on the route, they are a cut above the others.
Merida is an excellent choice. Many hotels in all ranges and not too touristy. Another recommendation I would have is San Cristobal, Chiapas. Excellent hotels at very low prices and really beautiful mountain scenery.
Be happy to help more if I can. Just let me know.

Feb 16th, 2002, 11:34 AM
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I have been down to that area several times, but never in May before. I don't think you'd need to worry about booking accommodation in advance - there should be plenty available. On one trip, we took a bus from Cancun to Vallodolid, where we stayed 2 nights. We went to Chichen Itza for the full day - it's only 1/2 hour by bus from Vallodolid. We then took the bus from Vallodolid to Merida where we stayed a few days.

On another trip, we rented a car in Playa del Carmen and drove down the coast to Bacalar, just above the Belize border. The roads were good and we had no trouble driving. We drove to one site to see the ruins - I can't remember the name, but it was more or less deserted - just a couple of people who worked there - it felt like we were discovering it ourselves! There was a really deep large cenote near Bacalar. We ate in the restaurant next to the cenote and went swimming. There wasn't a lot of hotel choices in Bacalar - we stayed in what looked like a little resort hotel on the edge of the lagoon.

We've also stayed in the Tulum area a couple of times. No hotel recommendations there - we usually try to find something cheap.

I've been to Cozumel several times and I generally like to stay in town. Last time we had a little 'bungalow' - it was part of a small complex (4 or 5 units) and we had a small kitchenette. The room was round, Mayan style, with a huge palapa style roof. We thought it was pretty cool and the price was great. The same people also own a B&B.

There are loads of smaller hotels in Playa del Carmen, all price ranges. As I said, you should have no problem finding a place that suits you.

We've only spent 1 night in Cancun. I can't recall the name of the hotel, but it was in the city, near the bus terminal. Prices along the hotel strip are way beyond what I want to spend.

Cozumel has very good snorkeling. The area around Akumal on the mainland is also good for snorkeling.

We're going to Isla Mujeres for a few days in a couple of weeks time. We were there a few years ago. It's a short ferry trip from Cancun, so you might want to check it out as well.

Three weeks - that should be a terrific trip for you!
Feb 17th, 2002, 04:25 PM
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Having recently returned from a wonderful eight day trip to Yucatan, I am responding to your e-mail.

We flew to Cancun and spent one night there at El Rey del Caribe– a wonderful, inexpensive experience to get away from the glitz of hotel row. Dinner at Los Almendros was an expensive disappointment. However, breakfast at Bisquets Obrgon was a great experience.

Taking a first class bus to Merida only cost $19 US each and was an interesting four hour, one stop trip.

Arriving in Merida, we took a cab to Casa San Juan (a small B&B). I probably should not reveal this to you and the world, but staying there was one of the highlights of the trip. Sr. Da Costa IS one of the most knowledgeable people in Merida. But beyond that he enjoys SHARING his knowledge with his guests. He helped us arrange tours, rent cars, and even gave us a lift in his car to go shopping. Breakfast on the patio gave us the opportunity to interface with other guests who shared their experiences and advice on where to eat and where to shop.

Dinner at Habichuela’s in Merida was a wonderful meal with exceptional service, good food and a reasonable price. However the best meal we enjoyed in Mexico was at a local café recommended by Sr. Da Costa near Casa San Juan. . Lunch for TWO with black bean soup, grouper, rice, salad, tortillas, and a wonderful flan cost $2.85 US.

EVERY SUNDAY Merida closes off the area around the Zacalo for an elaborate, all day festival. We spent 14 hours moving from park to park, eating from vendors, shopping and enjoying the wonderful entertainment. That was the highlight of the entire trip.

I realize that Chichen Itza and Uxmal are the prime archeological sites to visit, but Dziblchaltun was much more interesting. It seems that thegovernment is using that location to display artifacts from other sites in an environmentally protected museum. We had rented a car to go to Progresso and stopped there enroute at the suggestion of Sr. Da Costa. That visit was the second most interesting aspect of our visit.

Another fact that we learned that proved enjoyable and interesting is the concept of Botanas. At Sr. Da Costa’s recommendation we enjoyed “free food” at three cantinas. I would suggest that you explore Eladios, El Tucho and La Botanito as examples in Merida.

Very reluctantly, we returned to Cancun by bus with a stop at Chichen Itza. Again we staid at El Rey del Caribe. Dinner that night at the Cancun version of Habichuela’s reminded me of Disney World. The service was poor at best, the food was marginal, and overall it was a disappointing way to end our visit.

Have fun. I envy you.
Feb 18th, 2002, 08:05 AM
dan woodlief
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I would recommend using two or three bases for most of your touring - maybe Playa del Carmen (easily accessible bus station), Tulum, or Akumal, along with Merida. Maybe even a more relaxing spell on Isla Mujeres or Cozumel would be a nice change, but we found Playa del Carmen quite relaxing too. You can easily see Uxmal and the smaller archaeological sites from Merida. With the amount of time you have, I highly recommend staying overnight at Chichen Itza to allow for seeing the site early without all the heat and tourists. Tulum, Xel-Ha, Coba, and Cozumel are easy to see from Playa del Carmen (an hour south of Cancun). Cancun is only better for Isla Mujeres and perhaps daytrips to Chichen Itza. You might want to take a look at my three-part Yucatan travelogue at www.oneeyed.homestead.com. We stayed in Cancun as a base (June 1998-would use Playa del Carmen if I did it again), but traveled all over by bus, including an overnight stay in Merida.

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