Merida, Mexico (Yucatan)

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    Aug 14, 2009 11:17 AM GMT
    I am heading to the Yucatan on 2 Sept and plan on using
    Merida as a base to explore Uxmal, Chichen Itza and several smaller sites. I have about a week. My traveling partner has bailed on me so I am going solo. Anyone have any particular experience/comments to share? Thanks.
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:19 PM GMT
    Absolutely love Mérida! icon_smile.gif

    Been there thrice, and still want to go back. In fact, I had the same experience of my travel partners bailing on me the first time I was there. Had so much fun that I wanted to go back.

    Whatever your budget is for hotels, stay near the cathedral, where the thick of the action is. The top end chain hotels (ie Fiesta Americana, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Hyatt) are in their own enclave, which is a bit too far away for a short stroll to the sights.

    Definitely plan time to be in the main square on a Sunday. The streets are closed to traffic, and there is a bazaar and lots of outdoor music performances.

    Chichen-Itza is a blast. Not sure if you are intending to take a tour, but the best time to see Chichen, is when the hoards of tourist buses have left (or before they arrive). This means that you can either stay at Chichen, or take the last bus out to Mérida. I did the latter the last time I was there, and got some amazing shots of the pyramid.

    Another place that I thought was worth the visit was Haçienda Sotuta de Peon, which is a great old house with the henequen plantation. You even get to see the tradition rope-making techniques and get transported by mule-train in the estate.
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:30 PM GMT
    I traveled to Southern Mexico two years ago, roaming from Cancun and making my way up to Veracruz (saw around 8 major cities and many towns). Mexico is a beautiful country; you will definitely not be disappointed. Merida consists of mostly historical colonial buildings but the moment you step out of the city you will find endless Mayan ruins - some consist of only one pyramid while others are entire cities - and indigenous towns. I wanted to see other major cities, so I sadly did not spend too much time visiting the surrounding area of Merida. I'm trying to make my way to Palenque in the near future. Enjoy your trip.

    BTW, Chichen Itza is a sight to see. Amazing!
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:35 PM GMT
    outofthegrey saidAbsolutely love Mérida! icon_smile.gif

    Been there thrice, and still want to go back. In fact, I had the same experience of my travel partners bailing on me the first time I was there. Had so much fun that I wanted to go back.

    Whatever your budget is for hotels, stay near the cathedral, where the thick of the action is. The top end chain hotels (ie Fiesta Americana, Intercontinental, Holiday Inn and Hyatt) are in their own enclave, which is a bit too far away for a short stroll to the sights.

    Definitely plan time to be in the main square on a Sunday. The streets are closed to traffic, and there is a bazaar and lots of outdoor music performances.

    Chichen-Itza is a blast. Not sure if you are intending to take a tour, but the best time to see Chichen, is when the hoards of tourist buses have left (or before they arrive). This means that you can either stay at Chichen, or take the last bus out to Mérida. I did the latter the last time I was there, and got some amazing shots of the pyramid.

    Another place that I thought was worth the visit was Haçienda Sotuta de Peon, which is a great old house with the henequen plantation. You even get to see the tradition rope-making techniques and get transported by mule-train in the estate.


    Yeah, visit the main square on Sunday for sure!
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:36 PM GMT
    world5524 saidI'm trying to make my way to Palenque in the near future.


    Make sure you visit San Cristobal de las Casas, the old capital of the Chiapas, and the surrounding Maya villages. The journey from San Cristobal to Palenque also takes you through some cloud forests. While you are at Palenque, don't forget to visit Yaxchilan and Bonampak too! icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:41 PM GMT
    outofthegrey said
    world5524 saidI'm trying to make my way to Palenque in the near future.


    While you are at Palenque, don't forget to visit Yaxchilan and Bonampak too! icon_smile.gif


    Will do - both are on now my list, thanks!

    I have never been to Chiapas. I have family members who went there and fell in love with the state. Oaxaca is also on my list.
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:50 PM GMT
    world5524 saidI have never been to Chiapas. I have family members who went there and fell in love with the state. Oaxaca is also on my list.


    Chiapas had a bad name earlier on, due to the guerilla movement and sub-commandant Marcos. I really loved San Cristobal, which is quite like Guatemala in many ways.

    As for Oaxaca, I was supposed to visit again when I was last in México in 2006/7, but there was the unrest, and I diverted to Guadalajara instead. Oaxaca is wonderful, especially around Christmas, when you get to see the posadas... icon_smile.gif

    You can tell that I love México, can't you? Especially when its the opposite side of the globe from me, and it takes more than 24 hours of flying just to get there.
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    Aug 14, 2009 3:59 PM GMT
    Yes, I can tell that you love Mexico. We all love it! Guadalajara is a nice city, I'm sure you enjoyed your stay there. When I visited, I stayed about a block from the main square, boy that was fun. Zapopan, Tequila, Laguna de Chapala. Overall, a nice place!

    I need to make it out East too. I have yet to visit any Asian country.

    I saw that you’ve made it to Peru - my next voyage, probably next year. I just came back from Argentina. Buenos Aires was one of the nicest cities that I have seen.
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    Aug 14, 2009 4:06 PM GMT
    Thanks, guys. Above noted and appreciated. Sort of bummed about going alone but I'm sure it will be worth it. I'm thinking Vallodid-Chichen Itz-Merida-Uxmal-Tulum and home to DC in one week. Sound too ambitious? Thanks. Bob
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    Aug 14, 2009 4:08 PM GMT
    I really enjoyed Guadalajara. Stayed near the city centre, so everything was a short walk away. The trips to Tlaquepaque and Tequila were unforgettable too!

    As for Peru, you have to go! Make sure you do the Inca Trail, and not just take a train there. It is a totally different experience. I can tell you all about the Chachapoyas in the North, but that's a long story that has nothing to do with this thread.

    Do come by the Asia Pacific. You'll find a lot of strange familiarity having been to Latin America! icon_smile.gif
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    Aug 14, 2009 4:29 PM GMT
    XMILGUYDC saidThanks, guys. Above noted and appreciated. Sort of bummed about going alone but I'm sure it will be worth it. I'm thinking Vallodid-Chichen Itz-Merida-Uxmal-Tulum and home to DC in one week. Sound too ambitious? Thanks. Bob


    My first time in México was a 2-week trip (one week around México, D.F., and another around Mérida). So, one week for Mérida is do-able. BTW, you do know that September is still officially hurricane season, and your plans may get affected by the weather?

    Looking at your itinerary, it looks like you're flying in and out of Cancún. Presumably you don't mind spending time travelling Cancún to Mérida and back, else an open-jaw itinerary would be better. Not sure what you want to see in Tulum. If it is for the beaches, then fine. If it is for the ruins, you might want to look at Coba, which is a more impressive site. That said, the ruins at Tulum are special because of the sea.

    Actually, looking at the places you want to cover, you might want to drop something off the list, if you only have 7 days. Presumably your itinerary will work like this:

    DAY 1: IAD to CUN, CUN to VDO overnight VDO
    DAY 2: Visit CZA, evening CZA to MID
    DAY 3: Orientation around MID, visit main square, Cathedral, MACAY, etc.
    DAY 4: Visit Uxmal and possibly Kabah
    DAY 5: MID to TUY
    DAY 6: Visit the ruins and beaches at TUY
    DAY 7: TUY to CUN, CUN to IAD

    Dropping Tulum will probably make sense, and give you another day or two in and around Mérida.
  • vindog

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    Aug 14, 2009 5:15 PM GMT
    Chiapas and Oaxaca are no where near Merida. Oaxaca is about a 24 hour bus ride, and Chiapas is about a 12 hr bus ride.

    I lived in Merida for 3 months in the late 90s. I would as well recommend staying downtown as opposed to one of the aforementioned hotels. They are more affordable and closer to the "action."

    Make sure to hit the Anthropology Museum and, as said, the Sunday market.

    There is a long running drag show that was still going when I went back in '06. It had moved from a shitty bar in '97 to a huge venue in '06 that was outside of town. Good times had there, for sure.

    As far as the outlying areas go, I recommend Uxmal and Loltun Cave. Personally I preferred Uxmal to Chichen, but both can be seen during your stay. I liked the surrounding area and structures more at Uxmal, plus you don't get the droves of tourists from Cancun like you do at Chichen. I also recommend getting a guide on your trip to the Maya Ruins, mainly because if you don't have a strong background in Maya culture, they will give you so much insight in to their fascinating culture, architecture, mathematics and astronomy. Really helps put things in perspective and understand why they did what they did.


    Loltun Cave is a cave system that was used Pre-Maya, then by the Maya as well. Fun little tour.

    Go swimming in a cenote while you are there too!

    One of the cool things about the Yucatan is that due to its eastern location in Mexico it has become the biggest melting pot in the country. Since its the "closest" part of the country to Europe, immigrants from Italy, Lebanon, Spain, France, Greece, Germany, etc have created a very unique culture not found in the rest of Mexico.


    Enjoy....and screw your friend...you'll have more fun alone anyway icon_smile.gif


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    Aug 14, 2009 5:25 PM GMT
    A lot has changed since the late 90s, when I first visited México. For one, the pyramids at Chichén-Itzá and Uxmal are no longer scalable. I still have pictures for people climbing the pyramids, but you are no longer allowed.

    The airline industry has also undergone a period of consolidation, and many air-routes are no longer in service. Back in the 90s, Palenque was linked to Mérida by air, but no longer.
  • vindog

    Posts: 1440

    Aug 14, 2009 5:37 PM GMT
    outofthegrey saidA lot has changed since the late 90s, when I first visited México. For one, the pyramids at Chichén-Itzá and Uxmal are no longer scalable. I still have pictures for people climbing the pyramids, but you are no longer allowed.

    The airline industry has also undergone a period of consolidation, and many air-routes are no longer in service. Back in the 90s, Palenque was linked to Mérida by air, but no longer.



    I can see why...those steps were TINY at Uxmal at the Temple of the Magician. I'm sure plenty of people has some fatal or near fatal falls...


    I was nervous climbing them







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    Aug 14, 2009 7:13 PM GMT
    XMILGUYDC saidStayed in Cancun in a five star. It was great but I prefer but something more modest.


    May I suggest Hotel Caribe http://www.hotelcaribe.com.mx/ in Mérida? It is tucked away in the corner of a public square (so it is not noisy), yet not too far from the main square.
    2227348535_22fc51e871.jpg
  • kew1

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    Aug 15, 2009 8:10 AM GMT
    outofthegrey said
    world5524 saidI'm trying to make my way to Palenque in the near future.


    Make sure you visit San Cristobal de las Casas, the old capital of the Chiapas, and the surrounding Maya villages. The journey from San Cristobal to Palenque also takes you through some cloud forests. While you are at Palenque, don't forget to visit Yaxchilan and Bonampak too! icon_smile.gif


    Also on the Palenque - San Chris road - the ruins of Tonina. When I went it was empty - maybe 50 people.This was the city that conquered Palenque
    Got in for free as the coffee plantation we were staying at had a path leading str8 in.
    & we could go anywhere.

    I don't know if the Microlight man is still working at Palenque. He used to be in a field by the road to the ruins & take people for flights over them. I think the campsite we stayed at was closing the following year - it was on the edge of the ruins & people were using Mayan altars as stools . Very humid & wet,take stuff for insect bites,also go on a rainforest tour of the ruins, they stretch a long way behind the main city (may have been opened up now, it was 2003).


    Mayan villages near San Christobal & cameras - careful, take a picture of the wrong person & you're in trouble.
    http://www.mexperience.com/guide/colonial/sjchamula.htm
    http://www.mexperience.com/guide/colonial/sancristobal.htm
    Also expect rain,lots of it
    This would be another trip tho.

    I'll 2nd outofthegrey - go to Chichen early, we got there at 8am(I think) & it was empty, we left around 11am just as all the coaches arrived from Cancun, was like opening time at Disney.
    Uxmal was quiet - too far from Cancun for day trips.


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    Aug 15, 2009 8:16 AM GMT
    Chichen-Itza was amazing. I second hitting the cenote on the way and jumping in. Inspiring. Have to say, though, Tulum is one of the most beautiful ruins/setttings I have ever visited. The sea and sand below...awesome site.