Happy New Year guys! I just came back from a trip to Mexico and I loved it so much. The hot weather, swaying palm trees and delicious food were a stark contrast to home, where it was cold and snowing. And the food in Mexico was delicious. Sure, it was pretty much just all meat and bread. And more meat and bread. Every day. But it was amazing! This format of post is going to be kinda like a guide just in case any of you decide to visit these places. (my dollar signs for restaurants are rated out of 3)
First stop: Cozumel. A pretty island just a ferry ride away from Playa Del Carmen, we had a nice walk through town and took some crazy bus to get to San Gervasio, an archaeological site from the pre-Colombian Maya civilization. I would recommend taking a taxi instead of busing to the ruins because it was very complicated and we ended up with having to call a taxi anyways to go back to the ferry terminal. The ruins itself were pretty, but nothing as extraordinary as those on the mainland. I didn’t eat anything at the island nor stayed there overnight, so no recommendations for this one.
Second stop: Playa Del Carmen. We stayed here for two days, hanging out at Walmart and the ATM stations. Kidding! Although we did frequent those places, we also ate lots of good food and walked around. This is also where I ate the best Mexican meal of the entire trip (we even actually did a detour near the end of our trip just to eat there again). It’s called El Fogon and they have these gigantic meat dishes with tortilla wraps (really cheap prices) and fresh juice. It’s always packed but they manage to serve quite quickly so the wait for a table is never too long. We also went to a seafood restaurant and the fish + lobsters + shrimps were really fresh, although we did get ripped off since we didn’t ask for the prices beforehand. For cenotes (a large hole filled with clear water), we went to Jardin Del Eden Cenote on the way to Tulum. It was really nice and refreshing for only 100 pesos each person.
- Food: El Fogon ($) and El Pirata ($$$$)
- Hotel: Wabi Hotel
- Must See Attractions: Jardin Del Eden Cenote (100 pesos pp)
- Tips: Ask for menu and prices before ordering anything, especially at seafood restaurants.
Third stop: Tulum. Here, we visited the Tulum ruins and went on a long drive to reach the nice beaches. The Tulum ruins are a must see, as they have a gorgeous view of the ocean and the archaeological site is beautiful. We ate at Pizzeria Manglar, which is a beautiful restaurant hidden in a dark street. We found it via Tripadvisor and the pizza is really big, and all for exactly 100 pesos. You can even make your own pizza with whatever toppings you want for 100 pesos too. It was amazing.
- Food: Pizzeria Manglar ($)
- Hotel: Tulum Inn
- Must See Attractions: Tulum Ruins
- Tips: Go to the ruins during the morning, as to avoid the large crowds and the heat. Also, chaya is the mexican version of spinach.
Fourth stop: Coba. We drove here to see the Mayan ruins, and we walked over 4 km to get to each ruin! There were bikes for rent, but we wanted to do exercise after eating all that meat, so we walked, thankfully, under the shade of trees. We even got to climb one of the ruins, although our thighs did burn and quiver after. There’s also three cenotes near Coba, and we visited one of them, Tamcach-Ha. They had 2 diving platforms of, I think, 5 and 10 meters, which was so cool since I got to watch my brother painfully belly flop. 🙂
- Must See Attractions: Coba Ruins and Tamcach-Ha Cenote (it was cheap but I forgot how much exactly)
- Tips: If you don’t like walking too far, rent a bike at the Coba Ruins. It’s worth it.
Fifth stop: Valladolid. A nice town near the ruins of Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, where there is ok food (I was disappointed with Las Campanas restaurant). You can walk on the Calzada de Los Friales, which is a road with beautiful pastel buildings and it leads to a nice church. We visited Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, which were both really nice and big. Please visit them in the morning or you will be stuck in these long lines. After the ruins, we drove back to Valladolid, although next time I would just continue straight on to Merida. We came back to this town when we drove back to the airport, and the restaurant we went to was much nicer than the previous one. It was El Meson del Marques, which is situated on the main square. Also, on our second time here, we were planning to go the the Dzitnup cenote, but when we arrived, it was packed, so we changed plans and went to the Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman Cenote instead, and it was really nice. There were only a few people at this cenote and there was a rope swing from which we could jump in the cool, clear, water. So fun!
- Food: El Meson del Marques ($$)
- Hotel: Quinta Marciala
- Must See Attractions: Calzada de Los Friales, Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman Cenote (40 pesos pp), Chichen Itza and Ek Balam.
- Tips: As usual with ruins in Mexico, go early!
Sixth stop: Merida. Just a really nice and busy place to walk around, visit the churches and such. Again, the first night I was disappointed with a restaurant that looked good but really wasn’t (La Chaya Maya). Second night though, we went to a small, but popular, pizza place where they had the most amazing pizza for really good prices. For dessert, there’s this really good gelato place with natural, homemade, ice cream (they even have avocado flavour!).
- Food: Pizzeria de Vito Corleone ($) and Pola Gelato Shop ($)
- Hotel: MariaJose
- Must See Attractions: The main square and some small towns with churches outside of Merida.
Seventh stop: Celestun. Driving here was pretty far from Merida, but it was worth it. We came here especially to see the flamingos. This requires hiring a tour guide and a boat, which you can get pretty cheap ones at the dock just after you pass the bridge on the way to the town (ours cost 1500 pesos). We came here during December, so there were a large amount of flamingos in the water and we got to see different birds and even a crocodile!
- Must See Attractions: Flamingo tour
- Tips: Bring your zoom lens! And because the boat takes up to 8 passengers, you can try to find another group of tourists to join you as to split the cost (since it’s by boat and not by person).
Eighth stop: San Francisco de Campeche. This was my favourite town as the buildings were nicer and the atmosphere was more like in Spain. There’s a nice waterfront path and even a road that is blocked off just for outdoor seating for restaurants. We stayed in the historic fortified town, so we could easily visit the walls and museums. There’s also a really nice Mayan ruin about a one hour drive, called Edzna, and it’s grandeur matches (or even surpasses) Chichen Itza. There’s this restaurant, Don Gustavo, that you just have to eat at. It’s like fine dining for really cheap prices and extraordinary food. I’m not kidding about the food. It was so freaking delicious.
- Food: Restaurante Don Gustavo ($$)
- Hotel: H177
- Must See Attractions: The waterfront, the fortifications(walls+museums) and Edzna.
Ninth stop: Uxmal. On the way back to Valladolid (the stop just before returning to the airport), we visited the ruins of Uxmal. It’s an ancient Mayan city and considered one of the really important ones. It didn’t disappoint!
- Must See Attractions: Uxmal Ruins.
And that concludes my very long post. Hope you liked it!