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Itinerary Ideas For ~5 Day Non-Beach/Relaxing Yucatan Trip

Itinerary Ideas For ~5 Day Non-Beach/Relaxing Yucatan Trip

Old Dec 7, 15, 6:08 pm
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Itinerary Ideas For ~5 Day Non-Beach/Relaxing Yucatan Trip

Still playing with flights, but we're thinking of doing a 5 night trip. Arrival into CUN would in the afternoon on a Tuesday, and departure would be on Sunday morning. So, that's 4 full days of sightseeing. Might be able to change the times/dates more, but I'm looking for an itinerary/route suggestion.

Main Interests: Chichen Itza, Tulum, Merida, at least one cenote. Possible additional interests: Valladolid, Sea Turtles. Not interested in a beach/relaxing "sit around" vacation. Interested in history, culture, food, photography, nature/scenery. Renting a car is a possibility if it will save time; would prefer to take buses if it's efficient enough.

Thanks for your ideas on potential routes.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 8:50 am
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With limited time it will be a lot more efficient to rent a car vs. relying on buses, especially if you're visiting smaller archaeological sites nearby larger ones. Driving in the Yucatan is fairly straightforward and safe (I would not recommend driving in the rest of Mexico).

Chichen Itza is interesting, but extremely crowded with Cancun day-trippers, and there are scores of locals selling trinkets all over the site. So, in addition, I would recommend visiting Uxmal, which is just as big/interesting but more low-key. And if you have a car, you can easily follow the Puuc route and see as many other sites as you feel.

As far as cenotes go, there is a nice one smack in the middle of Valladolid, a couple of blocks from the main square (Cenote Zaci).
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Old Dec 8, 15, 9:42 am
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Consider flying in and out of Merida. We've done that twice; have yet to make it to Cancun. I felt flying to Cancun simply added extra driving since my interest was within the Yucatan. Starwood manages several very interesting haciendas in the Yucatan.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...er-thread.html

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Old Dec 8, 15, 10:02 am
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Thanks to you both for the advice. Looks like driving is the best way. I had previously into MID flights; they're way more expensive than CUN, and AA isn't showing any miles availability. Any ideas on budget hotels? I know this is FT and not LP Thorntree, but I'm more into basic clean and safe 2-3* than SPGs.

Also, any more ideas on how to break up 5 nights and a specific itinerary?
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Old Dec 8, 15, 10:15 am
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In Cancun and out Merida is ideal if you can make it work.

You can fly into Cancun, then take the bus straight to Vallodolid, about 2 hours if memory serves. Mexican first class buses are indeed first class - very comfortable big seats, cold AC (need long pants, socks and a sweater), a little spritz of scented water, toilets...great except for the loud movies. You can easily do Chicken Itza from Vallodolid but there's also quieter, less developed Ek Balam and the cenote, as well as wonderful colonial Mexican atmosphere. I would make my base at the very affordable El Meson del Marques, center of town, and stay 3 nights in Vallodolid. Try to be there on a Sunday for the goings on and music in the square.

You can go to Merida by bus from Vallodolid, again approximately 2 hours, or you might find a taxi at a reasonable price if you prefer that...maybe $80. Do not miss the Mercado in Merida. If the airline connections and price works for you, fly home from Merida.

Alternatively, with only five days you might choose to spend 2 nights in Playa del Carmen because it is so convenient to the Cancun airport. Playa is a good place, small, good restaurants, many affordable places to stay, a good vibe, and a good base for Tulum etc. It is nothing like Cancun. Playa is an easy bus ride from Vallodolid, as well as having a direct bus to the Cancun airport. (We were offered a ride to either place for $50 at the taxi line in downtown Playa, although you would never find that price online by prearrangement.)

About renting a car, just rent it at your base town, use it to tourist around, and return it there. Take the bus between cities.

Last edited by Tizzette; Dec 8, 15 at 11:09 am
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Old Dec 8, 15, 12:57 pm
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Something like this covers a lot of ground:

Day 1 Tuesday afternoon arrival in Cancun, rent car from Easyway,
drive to Valladolid 2 hours, overnight
Day 2 Wed am Ek Balam ruins, pm find a cenote, drive to Merida, overnight
Day 3 Thurs Uxmal ruins, back to explore Merida overnight
Day 4 Friday Merida to Chichen Itza ruins as early as possible, back past Valladolid to Coba ruins, overnight Tulum
Day 5 Saturday Tulum ruins/beach below, drive to Puerto Morelos (20 minutes from Cancun airport) to overnight, maybe stopping at Akumal to snorkel with turtles and rays
Day 6 return car, Sunday morning flight

There were enough comfortable posadas in the U$35-65 range on hotel booking sites to give us enough choice in all those overnight stops.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 1:33 pm
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Thanks for that, VidaNaPraia! Looks like a great route, but 4 hotels in 5 nights makes me a little dizzy (just personal preference). I'd ideally like to consolidate everything into 2 hotels (e.g., 3 nights in Merida and 2 nights in Tulum). *Maybe* a 3rd hotel is we really have to. Do you think that makes sense? By the way, it looks like we could get an early evening flight on Day 6.
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Old Dec 8, 15, 5:29 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Thanks for that, VidaNaPraia! Looks like a great route, but 4 hotels in 5 nights makes me a little dizzy (just personal preference). I'd ideally like to consolidate everything into 2 hotels (e.g., 3 nights in Merida and 2 nights in Tulum). *Maybe* a 3rd hotel is we really have to. Do you think that makes sense? By the way, it looks like we could get an early evening flight on Day 6.
What doesn't make sense to me is pushing all the way up to Merida from Cancun on such a short trip, and also trying to include all the ruins mentioned.
It's a long drive from Cancun to Merida on a hypnotically boring cuota road. And another long drive from Merida to Tulum. That makes me a little dizzy.

The first time we went, we went directly to Valladolid and stayed two nights to see Ek Balam and Chichen Itza in the mornings, with a cenote in the afternoon. We really like Valladolid. Then we drove to Tulum, with a stop enroute to see Coba ruins. Based in Tulum pueblo (saw the ruins and beach, swam with turtles up the road in Akumal, did Sian Ka'an biosphere by boat) and spent the last night closer to the airport (could be in lively Playa del Carmen or closer Puerto Morelos) for a mid-morning flight that got us home in the evening. This is a smaller circle. You could stay in Tulum for the last night, but I prefer not having to drive very far on that last morning; moving one more time is worth it to me.

The second, longer trip, we went directly to Merida to see Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc ruins, but we had already seen the other ruins mentioned above, so we drove past CI and EB on the way there. And we came back to Tulum, a favorite, via a hacienda on Ruta Puuc rather than go back to Merida, and exploring the road and area further south of Tulum.

Those are two circles that work.
Or as people are suggesting, fly into Merida to base for Uxmal, CI and EB, explore the city, and fly out of there as well.

Last edited by VidaNaPraia; Dec 8, 15 at 5:35 pm
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Old Dec 10, 15, 2:23 pm
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i just came back from merida. used it as a base for 5 nights - did chichen itza- for 1/2 day trip, as well as uxmal, and the nearby ruins which you should visit because they are just about empty so you can really enjoy the atmosphere. merida is great, not too crazy unless you head out of the touristy areas toward the local markets where it gets a lot more crowded and busy.
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Old Dec 10, 15, 5:11 pm
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Are you really that big into ruins? If not, seeing Chichen Itza should be sufficient, which would leave you time to explore Merida (great city; at one time, the wealthiest in the world), visit Progreso ($2 bus ride from Merida; retro beach town a couple miles from Chicxulub, where the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs hit Earth), etc.

Depending on your arrival time in Cancun, you might be able to catch a bus right from the airport to Merida, which eliminates the need for a rental car for that long, boring trip. (The highway is inland and there's absolutely nothing to see along the way.) The CUN-Merida ADO bus drops people off right next to the main hotels in Merida. (There's a Hyatt, Holiday Inn, InterContinental, and Fiesta Americana all at the same intersection.)

As of a couple months ago, there was a red-eye bus from Merida to the Cancun airport that leaves Merida around 11:00 PM and gets to Cancun around 4:30 AM, which is perfect for early-AM flights.
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Old Dec 16, 15, 6:57 pm
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Do Mérida or Cancún based five days. For sure.

If you like archaeology, the Ruta Puuc is great. Labná, Xlapak, Sayil, Kabah and Uxmal. A Sunday in Mérida for sure. Stay in one of the Villa Arqueológica hotels and maybe in Mérida at Casa del Balám (House of the Jaguar).

Or, out of Cancún visit Tulúm, Cobá, Ek Balám and Chichén Itzá. Swim or snorkel in a cenote toward the beginning of the tour, ditto Akumal or nearby Tankah, or Yal-ku. The two former often have marine turtles, the third fresh water feeding into salt.

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Old Dec 16, 15, 7:04 pm
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If you stay in Merida, there's a cool little boutique hotel called the Piedra de Agua that's in Centro and literally a stone's throw away (pun intended) from the cathedral, main square, etc. For a short-term tourist, it might be the best-located hotel in the city. (It's actually right in downtown, maybe a mile from the chain hotels, which are still in the city but not right in the downtown area.)
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Old Dec 16, 15, 7:40 pm
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I say stay in playa Del Carmen then shift to Merida. You can do one day snorkeling and cenote, one day coba, then take a bus to Merida where you can go to uxmal on a day trip and maybe spend a day checking out Merida itself.
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Old Dec 18, 15, 8:03 pm
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Personally I would try to spend at least one night in Valladolid.
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Old Dec 22, 15, 9:53 am
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Thanks to you both for the advice. Looks like driving is the best way. I had previously into MID flights; they're way more expensive than CUN, and AA isn't showing any miles availability. Any ideas on budget hotels? I know this is FT and not LP Thorntree, but I'm more into basic clean and safe 2-3* than SPGs.

Also, any more ideas on how to break up 5 nights and a specific itinerary?
i booked an award - lax-merida through alaska. codeshare with aeromexico with stopover in mex each way. stayed at hampton inn merida 5 nights for 20k points - steal for a brand new property. airbnb had good availability too
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