Travel through vivacious Mexico from Mexico City to Playa Del Carmen

Discover the heart of Mexico's Aztec, Zapotec, Mayan and Spanish cultures on this two-week journey spanning ruins, pueblos and beaches. Arrive in Mexico and travel through the mad metropolis of Mexico City to the relaxed beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula, and unravel the magnificent mystery of the ancient Mexican civilisations along the way. With plenty of opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and hiking, this is the ideal introduction to one of Latin America's most colourful and exciting destinations.


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Country
Mexico
Style
Basix
Theme
Explorer
Code
QVRM
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • You've never seen true colour until you've been to a Mexican market. Practice your bargaining skills, snap some photos and pick up traditional handicrafts at the markets in multiple destinations

  • Eat your way through arty Oaxaca. Mole, mezcal and chocolate for dinner? Delicioso!

  • Escape the Mexican heat in San Cristobal de las Casas. This old-world town is surrounded by ancient tribal villages that have retained their traditional customs and roots

  • Discover the colonial history of charming Merida. Loaf around in leafy plazas, get cultural at a museum or work your salsa shimmy with a friendly local

  • Chichen Itza is one the New Seven Wonders of the World. It's not hard to see why - strolling around the ancient Mayan ruins feels pretty wondrous

  • Away from the thumping nightlife of Cancun, splash around, sun-bake and play on Playa del Carmen's white sandy beaches

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip involves some long days of travel by local transport, including two overnight buses. While this can be tiring, it's also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and get under the skin of a place.

  • Mexico's climate is sultry and tropical, so can get really hot and humid. Wear loose clothing and make sure stay hydrated, especially while out on walking tours.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Bienvenidos! Welcome to Mexico. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Modern meets ancient in Mexico City - one of the world's largest urban centres. Although crowded and smoggy, D.F. (Distrito Federal) offers a great variety of museums, galleries and architecture, along with exciting nightlife and delicious street food. If you arrive into the city early, head to the Zocalo, the city's huge central square, to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture. Perhaps relax in one of the many parks, plazas or gardens or take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City Markets and Food Tour - Urban Adventures - USD41
  • Teotihuacan, Mexico City Markets & Food Experience - Urban Adventures - USD86
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide) - USD50
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals - Free
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral - Free
  • Mexico City - Templo Mayor (Archaeological Site and Museum) - USD5
  • Mexico City - Palace of Fine Arts (Bellas Artes) - USD5
  • Mexico City - Museum of Anthropology - USD6
  • Mexico City - Bosque de Chapultepec & Natural History Museum - USD5
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN140
  • Mexico City - Estadio Azteca football match (ticket price depends on the game) - USD30
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
  • Mexico City - Floating Gardens of Xochimilco and boat tour - USD45
  • Mexico City - Torre Latino 360° lookout - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning your leader will take you on an orientation walk around the city, followed by a free afternoon. If you like art, the Frida Kahlo Museum is a must-see. Another fascinating activities is a boat tour through the canal district of Xochimilco.
Alternatively, you can choose to take an optional day trip to the archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan, 50 kilometres out of the city. A local guide will lead you down 'The Avenue of the Dead', pointing out the historic Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon. You'll also visit the religious landmark of the Virgen de Guadalupe.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Beyond Mexico City: Hidden Teotihuacan & Family Dinner - Urban Adventures - USD52
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning and most of the afternoon are free to continue exploring Mexico City. Later in the afternoon, take taxis to the bus station and catch a local bus to Puebla (approx 2.5 hours). Please make sure you bring bottled water and snacks for the journey. Local buses in Mexico aren’t the colourful school buses you’ll see in other areas of Central America. Most of the buses we use in Mexico are comfortable coach-style vehicles, with a bathroom and seats for all passengers. Local buses tend to blast the air conditioning so remember to pack a jacket in case you get cold.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is free to discover Puebla at your leisure. Although a rapidly growing city, Puebla features many well-maintained colonial churches and buildings. Two good examples are the Santa Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel. Head to the markets to brush up on your bargaining skills and pick up some hand-painted tiles or other handicrafts. If you're looking for something more active, go for a hike near one of the area's looming volcanoes. After a day sightseeing and shopping, why not try some mole Poblano, a dish native to Puebla and famous all over Mexico? You could even try making it yourself during an optional cooking class.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Puebla - Santo Domingo Church and Rosary Chapel - Free
  • Puebla - Visit to Cholula - USD15
  • Puebla - Cooking class - USD85
  • Puebla - Lucha Libre show (ticket price depends on seating area) - USD15
  • Puebla - Museum of Art - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today travel by local bus to Oaxaca (approx five hours). You'll have two full free days here. Your leader will provide ideas for activities and help you to make the most of your time. A beautiful old colonial town, Oaxaca is full of graceful arcades and colourful markets. The markets are populated by descendents of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling colourful woven blankets and shawls. Oaxaca is also known for its arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Explore the narrow, cobbled streets or simply sit in the square drinking mezcal as the world goes by. Your hotel is within walking distance of Oaxaca's nightlife hot spots.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Spend the next two days exploring Oaxaca. Perhaps visit the spectacular mountain top temples of Monte Alban just outside the city. Monte Alban was inhabited for 1,500 years by the Olmec, Zapotec and Mixtec peoples, and is an outstanding example of a pre-Columbian ceremonial centre. The settlement's terraces, dams, canals and pyramids were literally carved out of the mountain. Alternatively, you could take a day tour out to the nearby Mitla Ruins, the mineral springs of Hierve el Agua and a mezcal distillery. Back in town, why not whip up something delicious at a cooking class?

On the evening of Day 7, take a first-class overnight bus to San Cristobal del las Casas (approx 13 hours in total). First-class buses in Mexico are quite comfortable. They are equipped with toilets and reclining seats with plenty of leg room. They are always air-conditioned, so make sure you take a light jumper with you as it may get cold on board.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Full-day tour inc. Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua and mezcal distillery - USD45
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - USD80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Arrive into San Cristobal early in the morning. Check-in at the hotel isn't usually until midday, so if you can't check in on arrival, leave your luggage and start exploring San Cristobal. Today and tomorrow are at your leisure. As always, your group leader will help you arrange to take part in optional activities. With its winding cobblestone streets and colonial architecture, San Cristobal de las Casas maintains an old-world feel mixed with strong pre-hispanic roots. The surrounding villages are home to Tzotzil and Tzeltal groups who maintain their tribal origins through their traditional costumes and customs. You might like to explore the villages by mountain bike. If you take a day trip to San Juan Chamula, make sure to visit the church. The floor is covered with pine needles and the air is heavy with incense. Shamans come here to carry out cleansings with firewater, ancient prayer and chickens. If you visit, please be aware of a strict ban on cameras as the local people maintain their traditional customs. There are also markets selling colourful handicrafts. Another option is a day trip to Sumidero Canyon. Back in town, wander to a local cafe and try an 'elote', a traditional highland corn snack.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula - USD20
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport) - USD30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - USD40
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Amber (Jade) Museum - MXN20
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - USD5
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Museum of Typical Costumes - USD4
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - El Chorreadero canyoning - MXN1250
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today travel along a windy road by private minivan to Palenque (approx 6 hours). Once you've arrived, the afternoon is free for you to relax or explore. Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jumping off point to the nearby Mayan ruins of the same name. You'll have tomorrow to check them out.

Notes: The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases we might need to use an alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you have the chance to visit the ruins of Palenque. Situated on a hilltop, the ruins date back to 600 AD and are some of the most impressive Mayan relics in Mexico. As you walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys echoing from the jungle. There are many ruins which are still un-excavated and remain hidden in the forest. You can opt to take a guided tour of the ruins or through the surrounding jungle. This evening, transfer to the bus station and board an overnight bus to Merida. The journey should take around eight to nine hours in total.
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Palenque - Guided tour of Palenque Ruins - USD60
  • Palenque - Jungle Trail tour - USD15
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Early this morning arrive into the historic town of Merida. Founded in 1542, Merida still retains much of its old-world charm. Wander through the Old Town, check out some museums and stroll the city streets, which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the others. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. Mornings are the best time to visit the outdoor markets, where you can stock up on hammocks and Mayan replicas. This is also a great place to sample local food specialities, such as 'cochinita pibil' or the extremely spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. Merida is the gateway to the Maya ruins of Uxmal. A tour of the ruins includes transport and a local guide. Little is known about the site's origins but it is thought the city was founded around 500 AD. Much of the site is decorated with masks of the rain god Chac. You can also visit a nearby bird sanctuary or a variety of other ruins. Merida's locals love dancing. Every Sunday the town's streets are transformed into an open-air dance floor, with salsa and merengue bands providing the music.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide) - MXN111
  • Merida - Cuzama cenotes tour (inc. transport and guide) - USD45
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport) - USD50
  • Merida - Guided city tour - USD15
  • Merida - Dzibilchaltun Ruins tour - USD70
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Travel to Playa del Carmen by private minivan, stopping en route for an included visit to the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza (this first leg will take about two hours). Recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza contains both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo pyramid dominates the site. There is also a large ball court where games used to be held. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold as well as many human and animal bones. The group will spend 2-3 hours at Chichen Itza before continuing on to Playa (approx 3 hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but with less of a party atmosphere. On your last night of the trip, kick back with a margarita and watch the sunset.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Entrance
Optional Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Guided tour - USD80
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today your adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. In order to make the most of what Playa del Carmen has to offer, however, we strongly recommend that you extend your stay for a few extra days. Please contact us if you need us assistance booking additional accommodation. Spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving in underground caverns or strolling along the white sands. For an adventure further afield, take a ferry across to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving. Perhaps take an Urban Adventure with an expert local guide.
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Dos Ojos Cenote snorkelling tour - USD80
  • Playa del Carmen - Bike rental (per day) - USD10
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel - USD28
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Local bus, overnight bus, private minivan, metro

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights), Overnight bus (2 nights)

Included Activities

  • Chichen Itza - Entrance

Dates & availability

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Important notes

A Single Supplement is available on this trip, except on the nights when we travel by overnight bus.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

Reviews

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Mexico Unplugged, November 2016

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Mexico Unplugged, November 2016

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