Mexico is a vast country which borders the United States to the north and Belize and Guatemala to the south. It was also chosen as the lucky country where we would be starting our “gap year” adventure!
So why did we chose to start in Mexico? We were intrigued by the culture, the cuisine and most of all, the history of Mexico. From ancient ruins to Caribbean beaches Mexico had everything, and we enjoyed every minute of it. Below is a quick overview of our five weeks in Mexico, along with some of the activities that we got up to.
Our Mexico Route (click to make it bigger)
Mexico City is a city full of history and culture and we spent an enjoyable 8 days in Mexico’s capital. To get a comprehensive overview of what we did here check out our Mexico City Highlights blog.
Things we did: Templo Mayor, Lucha Libre wrestling show, Anthropology Museum, Chapultepec Park, Chapultepec Castle, Historic Centre, Teotihuacan, La Condesa and La Roma, Coyacan, Frida Kahlo Museum, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Torre Latinoamericana, Xochimilco.
Puebla is a 2.5 hour bus journey from Mexico City and is another city that has a vast array of things to do. As we spent only 2 nights here we didn’t get a chance to take in all the tourist sites, but sometimes just walking around a city like this is enough to get a feel for its culture. We wrote a short piece about our time in Puebla.
Things we did: The Zocalo, Puebla Cathedral, the light show at Puebla Cathedral (only on weekends), Church of Santo Domingo, Templo de San Francisco, San Pedro Chalula, The Giant Pyramid of Chalula, Puebla cuisine.
Oaxaca is a famous city in Mexico and is a 5 hour bus journey from Puebla. Our time in Oaxaca was short, we had just 1 night and 2 days so we didn’t do any of the day trips from the city such as Monte Alban ruins or the petrified waterfall Hierve El Agua. Instead we just strolled around the city and even managed to witness one of its famous religious processions!
Things we did: Zocalo, Santo Domingo Church, Oaxaca Cathedral.
San Cristobal de Las Casas
San Cristobal (for short) is an overnight 11 hour journey from Oaxaca, and we spent 4 nights here in total. Set in a mountainous region of Chiapas the weather here is alot cooler than the rest of Mexico. San Cristobal has a real eclectic mix of people, on any journey through its streets you will come across traditional Mayan families and hippies. We did a blog on our time in San Cristobal.
Things we did: Sumidero Canyon, San Juan Chamula, Iglesia De Guadalupe, Reserva Moxviquil.
We managed to get a shuttle from San Cristobal to Palenque for $350 pesos per person with Jalapeño Tours. Not only was this cheaper and faster than getting an ADO bus, but it also included transport to, and entrance fees to Agua Azul, Misol-Ha Waterfall and Palenque Ruins. This was the perfect option for us and although it was an early start (3am) it was one of our best days in Mexico!
Things we did: Agua Azul, Misol-Ha, Palenque Ruins.
Campeche was a last minute entry to our Mexican itinerary but it ended up being one of our favourite cities! Set by the sea and surrounded by fortified walls this city was picture perfect. We spent just one night here by it coincided with a Day of the Dead festival and the atmosphere in the town was enchanting!
Things we did: The Malecon, Day of the Dead Festival, Zocalo, The city walls/forts.
Mérida is the biggest city in the Yucatán and was our intended destination for Day of the Dead. I say intended because when we arrived there (October 31st) the celebrations had already ended! Something to consider if you plan on visiting Mérida for Day of the Dead – they celebrate it the weekend before! With this disappointment the majority of our plans had evaporated so we just visited the town square and relaxed by the pool in our hostel instead!
Things we did: Pink Cactus Walking Tour, Casa Montejo, Paseo de Montejo, Parque Santa Lucía, Catedral de San Ildefonso, Plaza Grande.
Valladolid is a great base for visiting the different Cenotes in the Yucatán and for visiting Chichén Itzá – and that’s exactly what we did here! The town itself is definitely worth a visit however, it has a lovely central park and here you can get the Yucatán specialty, Marquesitas.
Things we did: Cenote Samula, Cenote Xkekén, Hacienda Selva Maya, Chichén Itzá, Valladolid Central Square.
Playa Del Carmen
After the exertions and all the traveling of the previous few weeks we decided to relax for 6 nights at the beach town of Playa Del Carmen. This was probably our least favourite part of our Mexican trip, it just didn’t feel like we were in Mexico! It was still nice to relax by the beach and we did so in the Wah Wah Beach Club! Even if the rain did decide to spoil some of our stay….
Things we did: Relax, relax, relax.
Tulum is a lovely town split into two; the beach/ruins and the town itself. We decided to stay in the town for 2 days and take a day trip to the beach and ruins. The ruins themselves are not on the scale of Teotihuacan or Palenque but are still enjoyable due to their beachside setting. Tulum beach was fantastic and we wish we had spent our 6 nights there instead of Playa Del Carmen.
Things we did: Explored Tulum town, Tulum ruins, Tulum beach.
Chetumal was our last stop in Mexico and it is also the boarding point for boats to Belize. It was also welcome return to traditional Mexican towns that we had not seen since Valladolid. There is not alot of stuff to do in the town itself but it gave us a chance to visit Bacalar, which is a gorgeous lake with many different colours!
Things we did: Kayaking on Bacalar lake, Fort at Bacalar, got the boat to Belize.
Check out some of the highlights of our Mexico trip in the video below!