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Non-Beach/Resort Trip to Yucatan - 1st Week of January

Non-Beach/Resort Trip to Yucatan - 1st Week of January

Old Dec 15, 16, 2:39 pm
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Non-Beach/Resort Trip to Yucatan - 1st Week of January

Considering a non-beach/resort trip to the Yucatan to see historical stuff (Merida, Tulum, ruins, etc.). Hesitant to travel to Cancun around this time of year because of tons of crowds and expensive accommodations. We can go some other time of year if this is a bad time. Thoughts on how annoying it will be this time of year?
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Old Dec 17, 16, 5:35 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Considering a non-beach/resort trip to the Yucatan to see historical stuff (Merida, Tulum, ruins, etc.). Hesitant to travel to Cancun around this time of year because of tons of crowds and expensive accommodations. We can go some other time of year if this is a bad time. Thoughts on how annoying it will be this time of year?
Mexican and foreign visitors pack Cancún during the high season, particularly Christmas - New Year weeks and Easter Week. Jan - Mar is busy, very full, higher prices.

Ideal time for the higher demand times at beach resorts? November (referred to as "Novi-hambre " or "Nov-hunger") up to about 15 Dec. drier, pleasant weather, but fewer people.

Non-beach? I'd recommend a trip starting and ending in Mérida. Start or end with a weekend in Mérida for the cultural events and historic sites (plus music and Maya influenced food), visit Dzibilchaltún archaeological zone, and if you're interested in wildlife and birds visit the Celestún lagoon.

Add a "Ruta Puuc" (Xlapak, Sayil, Labná, Kabah and the stunning Uxmal, plus Chichén Itzá and a restored sisal hacienda. This is a nice circuit for 3-4 days, with decent two lane roads, hotels, etc.

Last edited by JDiver; Dec 17, 16 at 5:43 pm
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Old Dec 17, 16, 7:47 pm
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Thanks JDiver. Do places like Merida, Valladolid, the cenotes, the stops on the Ruta Puuc, etc. get swamped with tourists in the same way that Cancun does? I realize Chichen Itza will be particularly overcrowded, but it seems overcrowded all the time.

I was in MEX around New Year's time a few years ago, and there were hardly any foreign tourists there. That was nice.

Whenever we do visit the Yucatan (whether now or later), I'm not sure we'd want to drive. I read your Mexican travel insurance thread in detail recently, and it makes me nervous.
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Old Dec 18, 16, 4:57 pm
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Originally Posted by LAX_Esq View Post
Thanks JDiver. Do places like Merida, Valladolid, the cenotes, the stops on the Ruta Puuc, etc. get swamped with tourists in the same way that Cancun does? I realize Chichen Itza will be particularly overcrowded, but it seems overcrowded all the time.

I was in MEX around New Year's time a few years ago, and there were hardly any foreign tourists there. That was nice.

Whenever we do visit the Yucatan (whether now or later), I'm not sure we'd want to drive. I read your Mexican travel insurance thread in detail recently, and it makes me nervous.
The Puuc Route and Mérida, etc. shouldn't be as crowded as Cancún, which gets hordes of Chilango (Mexico City) travelers as well as US, Europe and Canadian visitors seeking the sun, beach and escape from winter.

I've driven the Puuc Route, etc. and driving was not a problem. I did save some money in parking, unnecessary rental time and hassle by eschewing having a car in Mérida and picking up / dropping a car at the airport (Mérida is good for walking, safe and taxis are cheap). Just do buy the insurance. (We enjoyed the trip, and our Aussie friends loved it.)

At Chichén Itzá, we stay at the Mayaland hotel and bungalows where the archaeologists were housed and hit the trail across the street early - it's cooler, the myriad busses haven't arrived, you have the site to yourself both after the tour busses leave in the early afternoon and before they arrive in the morning; then you lunch and drive on.

Uxmal is another top site (on the Puuc Route). The hotel Hacienda Uxmal Plantation and Resort is well situated and interesting on its own.

The Maya influence on Yucatán cooking makes it worthwhile to learn it. Try La Chaya Maya, or less upscale but welcoming Los Almendros restaurants, and Sorbetería El Colón for delicious ice creams and sorbets made from natural ingredients (they've been doing this over 100 years - practice does make perfect).

My mouth is watering thinking of panuchos, fish tikin xic, sopa de lima, cochinita pibil, poc chuuc, relleno negro... And Sunday downtown streets close to create a huge pedestrian-friendly family area with restaurants, antique and other shops, chess and checker tournaments at the square, you name it.

Last edited by JDiver; Dec 18, 16 at 5:05 pm
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Old Dec 22, 16, 12:37 pm
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I did a non-beach trip to Yucatán in mid-November myself, and I didn't find it that touristy at all, with the notable exception of Chichén Itzá (which was wonderful first thing in the morning and then turned into a cluster once the tour buses/aggressive vendors descended).

Valladolid got a fair bit of tour bus traffic in the late afternoon, but it seemed that the buses just disgorged their passengers into the central plaza for half an hour and then all drove away, so it wasn't that uncomfortable.

I agree with JDiver's comments about Mérida (and La Chaya Maya - yum!) I also second his advice that you go to Dzibilchaltún - it's a beautiful site, and when I went it was almost empty. I had a private guide all to myself, and he cut me a discount because there was no one else around.

I'd also suggest a visit to Izamal - a small, sleepy town with a gorgeous monastery plunked down in the middle of it. I went there on my last day almost as an afterthought, but it was one of the highlights of the trip. So beautiful and so peaceful.

With the exception of the Cancún tourists who descended on Chichén, most of the tourists I saw were European, generally older people, with a smattering of North American families in Mérida.
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