Yucatan trip suggestions

Old Sep 13th, 2006, 07:44 PM
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Yucatan trip suggestions

Good Evening fellow fodorites,
My wife and I are thinking about a trip to the Yucatan region, possibly in January or February. This is what we are thinking thus far: Fly into Cancun and head over by bus to Playa Del Carmen, where we'll spend 3 nights. Perhaps visit Tulum and Coba ruins, and either Xel-ha or Xcaret. Then take a 1st class bus to Chichen Itza and stay over 1 night so we have plenty of time to view the ruins, and see the light show. Bus to Merida and spend 3 nights visiting this colonial city, with a day trip to Uxmal. Bus to Cancun, spend 2 nights doing water activities, and fly home. A total of 9 nights, and a mix of mayan ruins, water activities, historic sight-seeing, etc.
What do you think?
How is the weather that time of year?
How crowded does it get at the major tourist areas?
Does this itinerary sound do-able? Is it better to do Tulum and Coba on separate days, or see one in the morning, and one later in the day?
Any feedback or suggestions would be appreciated.
Thanks.
Larz
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 03:59 AM
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If you fly into Cun and take the bus to PDC that would be your first night. Wake up the next day and beach it and then night two. The next day could be your Coba day or Tulum. Doing both would be a long trip but can be done. I would hit Coba in the morning when they opened and then stop at Tulum in the afternoon. There is a great beach right there so after the ruins you could go for a swim. Then back to PDC for your third night. I don't really care for Xel-Ha or Xcaret - too overpriced for me. Snorkeling in other places is less crowded. I have been to Chichen Itza but not by bus. Again, going to the ruins early in the morning is necessary to avoid the bus crowds. They open at 8. Coba is more of hike through the jungle while Chichen Itza is more groomed. You can rent a bike or pedicab in Coba to get around if you don't want to walk. The castillo in Coba is still climable but not the one in CI. I've never been to Cancun or Merida but sure would like to get to Merida one of these days.
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 05:11 AM
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We visited the area in February '05, following a similar itinerary, but reversed, and we skipped Cancun. It was a wonderful trip. The weather was warm (infernal, at Tulum) and dry.

Both Chichen Itza and Tulum will be crowded, so the early arrivals recommended by the earlier poster can be helpful. We stayed at the Hotel Mayaland at CI, which is a luxurious option, but very much a mass tourism experience -- crowds of day bus visitors at lunch, and hokey entertainment. Things got better at dinner. As an option, I would suggest staying the the city of Valladolid, about twenty miles east. You could hire a car and driver, rent a car, or take the bus to CI. You would also have the option of seeing Ek Balam, about 10 miles north, which boasts striking high-relief temple carvings.

I would also recommend spending the night at Uxmal, not only because it is extensive and requires time to see, but because you can then also visit the nearby Puuc cities and the Loltun caves. These are on a smaller scale and you will have them mostly to yourselves. We stayed at Hacienda Uxmal, another Mayaland property, and arranged a guide and driver for the Puuc cities.

If you do this you will lose a night but I would not suggest subtracting it from Merida, which is a wonderful lively city. If possible, try and get there for the weekend, when they close down the streets and have live bands fill them with music and dancing.

I found Playa disappointing, but I was hoping for what it was twenty years ago, I guess. Now it is very built up with little or no traditional flavor. The main drag is lined with cheap souvenir shops and touts flogging tours and questionable restaurants. Some folks say it's filled with glamorous young things from Europe. I guess those were the overweight girls in metallic bikinis and high heels . . .

That said, we enjoyed a snorkeling trip and used it as a base to visit Tulum (just take a bus). It does have some good restaurants (tout-less) such as Yaxche. If you are looking for the nightlife and the boogie I expect it is the place to be. For myself, next time we're staying at Akumal, which is just a collection of hotels and restaurants down the coast. Quiet, but said to offer good snorkeling.

As I said, we skipped Cancun, except for using its airport. It wasn't what we were looking for, judging from the skyline.

However, it dominates the region in one important way -- airfares. I would suggest booking as early as possible (like, yesterday) as the inexpensive seats go fast and the rest follow. (Friends who booked a few days after us paid twice what we paid.)

Hope you have a great trip!
 
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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The OP says "Some folks say it's filled with glamorous young things from Europe. I guess those were the overweight girls in metallic bikinis and high heels . . ."

umm, I bet those were not Europeans (now maybe the overweight men in Speedos are!)
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Old Sep 14th, 2006, 02:25 PM
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Funny, I'm not European, dont' own a metallic bikini nor am I overweight but I do live in Playa part time. If you don't know where to go to eat and just stay on the main drag you're just going to the tourist places. Playa is much more than that.
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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 05:13 AM
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Thanks for your replies!
How are the first class buses in the Yucatan? I've read that they are fairly comfortable(e.g., a/c, comfortable seats, restrooms, etc.)? Do they run pretty regularly(between Cancun-PDC, PDC-Tulum/Coba, PDC-Chichen Itza-Merida_Uxmal, etc.)?
Has anyone stayed at the Dolores Alba hotel, in either Merida or Chichen Itza? What did you think?
Any and all other suggestions about visiting this area of the Yucatan would be appreciated.
Thanks.

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Old Sep 24th, 2006, 07:58 AM
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Yes, the buses are nice - the Greyhound type variety with storage underneath. The airport in CUN to PDC is $8usd. They do run every hour from the airport but I'm not sure about the other sites. You can also take the bus from the airport to CUN for $3.50 usd I believe. A great inexpensive way to travel.
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Old Sep 25th, 2006, 03:13 AM
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Old Oct 9th, 2006, 05:39 PM
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I've got a few more Yucatan questions:
1- It seems easy to get to Tulum (and Xel-ha and Excaret)by bus, from PDC, but Coba looks a bit more difficult. Has anyone done the Alltournative tour package, where they visit Coba and a nearby village? Did it allow ample time at the ruins?
2- What's the difference between Xel-ha and Xcaret? Does each require a full-day?
3- Has anyone been to Valladolid, and would it make a good base from which to see Chichen Itza, and maybe Ek-balem? - or - should we just book a hotel near the ruins(Mayaland, etc.)?
4- Anyone been to the Hidden World Cenote? I understand they have snorkeling there. (There seem to be so many cenotes along the Riviera Maya -how do you chose which one to visit when time and money are limited?!)
5- Regarding diving - has anyone done any of the "resort" or "discover" scuba packages? I realize they are not the complete "Open Water" dive course that provides certification - but are they safe and enjoyable? (It seems a shame to visit a world reknown place for diving, and not at least try it.)
Thanks for any and all feedback.

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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Sunday in Merida is special - dancing in the streets - booths on the square selling food and everything else. A fabulous place to stay there - about a 10 minute walk from the center of town - Cascadas de Merida. It's a bed and breakfast - reasonable price. It's the former family home of the present owner - they do a fabulous breakfast. The architecture of the place is awsome. Check out their web site.
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Old Oct 11th, 2006, 02:26 PM
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We rented a car for a few days so visited Tulum and Coba that way. It's easy to drive in that area - very flat, although the road to Coba was pretty rough. (That was several years ago though, so I can't say what it would be like now.)

When we visited Chichen Itza, we based ourselves in Valladolid. We stayed there a couple of nights, and took the bus to Chichen Itza.
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