Unearth the treasures of Mexico, from spicy Mexico City to Playa del Carmen

Cheers a margarita glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico. Discover the culture and landscapes of this fascinating country on a trip that takes you from Mexico City to Play del Carmen – with a spattering of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins, and visit traditional communities in the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. And snorkel in the brilliant Caribbean waters, laze on white sands and stroll through lively marketplaces. Waterfalls and volcanoes await you, and a host of museums, churches and archaeological sites give you a taste of Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.

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Terms & Conditions

Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Country
Mexico
Style
Comfort
Code
QVKD
Physical rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 12

Why we love this trip

  • This is one of our most comprehensive adventures in Mexico, rich in historical and cultural highlights

  • Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal

  • There's something for everyone on this trip, whether you're a history buff, nature-lover or Epicurean

  • Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to the subtler fare found in Oaxaca

  • Your adventure culminates in rest and relaxation. The white sands and azure waters of Playa Del Carmen are the perfect excuse to extend your stay in Mexico

Is this trip right for you?

  • Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites, can be quite strenuous. Be sure to bring suitably sturdy footwear.

  • There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations to break up the longer drives.

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours. There will of course be plenty of chances to swim!

  • It's a good idea to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but can be shy, so you'll need to make an effort to break the ice. It's a great way to show respect and involve yourself in their culture.

  • Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide.

In the evening, usually around 7 pm, you will meet your leader and other members of your group for a pre-trip meeting. The exact time and place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

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).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may be continuing on longer itineraries to start the second part of their trip – Mexico & Costa Rica Experience (QVKBC) or Best of Mexico & Cuba (QVKGC) or Essence of Central America (QVKAC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.
Enjoy a guided city tour. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please.

There are enough activities to do in Mexico City to keep you busy all day. Some of the most popular activities in Mexico City (apart from the ones included in this trip) are:

La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) - for a deeper understanding of this renowned Mexican artist. Bear in mind that queues can be long to enter this museum, particularly on weekends. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost approximately MXN 160.

Closer to your hotel (about 1km) you'll find Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!

Anahuacalli Museum - In the 1930's Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's set in motion the plan to "give back" to Mexico two museums: The first one, La Casa Azul (Frida Kahlo Museum) and second one Anahacalli which hosts more than 50 thousand Pre-Hispanic pieces collected by Diego Rivera.

Leon Trotsky Museum - Having come second best to Stalin on the race to the helm of the Soviet Union, Trotski was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City - where he was eventually murdered. The entrance fee includes free guided tours in English. Ask about it at the ticket box. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost you approximately MXN 100.

If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. An Uber taxi should cost about MXN 300 to get there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN200
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Anahuacali Museum - MXN80
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we vist Teotihuacan, about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here we'll discover the amazing Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once the Aztec capital, and one of the biggest cities in the world. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’  and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2,000 years ago.

We return to Mexico City for one last night in town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we travel by private vehicle to Oaxaca. On route, we'll stop in Puebla, a town of palpable colonial heritage despite rapid development. Time permitting you'll have a chance to visit the local markets, where some excellent hand-paint tiles are available.

Continue on to Oaxaca, the beautiful colonial city known for its cuisine and lively art scene. It's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls.

Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. From the delicious banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’ to the spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious fare, usually sold by the lovely old ladies of the markets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we'll take on a city tour of Oaxaca which includes a visit to Santo Domingo Church, Zocalo, and local art and craft galleries. The plan is to arrive to the colourful 20 de Noviembre market in time for lunch, where you can search through the many local restaurants for whatever you feel like – perhaps focus on the famous grilled meats hall.

In the afternoon we'll visit the nearby village of Teotitlán del Valle. The settlement is famous for its weaving, particularly of colourful rugs. Here you'll visit a workshop and see a weaving demonstration.

Finish up at an artisanal mescaleria for a taste of some of the best mescal in the area. Salud!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Mezcaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Village tour, including Teotitlan
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
today is a free day for you to explore Oaxaca at will. Perhaps you want pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca.

Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is a also a great optional activity. There's also the Santo Domingo Cultural Centre which is worth a visit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we fly from Oaxaca to Tuxla Gutierrez and continue by private vehicle to San Cristobal de las Casas (1.5 hr drive)

Once in "SanCris" take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets.

Time permitting you may want to visit Sumidero Canyon, a gorgeous, 800-metre-deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River. It's roughly as old as the Grand Canyon!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport) - USD30
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Take a tour around the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. Nestled in the highlands, these villages serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous folk who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful costumes. As you explore these villages with a guide, we'll learn more about these mostly Mayan communities.

The rest of the time in SanCris is free for you to explore town. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum, a small museum/research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, apart from a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people that make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons.

Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect-embedded pieces.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las casas - Bicycle rental (per hour) - USD30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - El Chorreadero canyoning - MXN1250
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Na Bolom Museum - MXN50
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Amber (Jade) Museum - MXN20
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque. On the way we'll visit Misol-ha – a fast-moving waterfall where water plunges 35 m, crashing into the pool below. Later, make tracks to the low and wide Agua Azul, which flows slowly over limestone rocks. Remember to pack your swimsuit for a quick dip in the afternoon. Otherwise, take a stroll around the beautiful surrounding area.

Once in Palenque, enjoy some free time exploring the town.

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. It's also possible that the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today, early in the morning you will visit the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Mayan ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD 600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a guided tour of the site. As you explore this lost city keep an ear out for the strange calls of howler monkeys reverberating through the jungle.

In the early afternoon we drive north to Merida (approximately 8 hours).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, travel west out to the coast before taking a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve (approximately 1.5 hours). Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually Nov-Mar), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape .

In the afternoon there’ll be some time to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, 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 other.

For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig') or the mind-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce.

If you can't visit enough Mayan sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Mayan architecture. You'll also see the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, comprising five super-imposed temples
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. transport and guide) - MXN111
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - USD5
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Chichen Itza is our first stop today. This is possibly the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today we spend the day exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. Travel out to ruins of Tulum (approximately 1 hour). This ancient Maya city was once an important trading port, protected against invaders by a high wall. Situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach, it offers wonderful views and photo opportunities. Wander around the ruins with your guide, learning about the castle, temple and other structures within.

On the way back to Playa del Carman, we'll stop at a hidden cenote for a refreshing swim. These stunning natural sinkholes are filled with crystal clear fresh water and make for a memorable dip.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tulum - Archaeological site visit
  • Playa del Carmen - Cenote (sinkhole) visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a free day for you to continue exploring the Riviera Maya or simply relax at the beach sipping a Margarita or two.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end this morning after breakfast.
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Bike rental (per day) - USD10
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel - USD28
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

14 breakfasts

Transport

Private minivan, plane

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights)

Included activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Mezcaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Village tour, including Teotitlan
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeological site guided tour
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (entrance and transport)
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
  • Tulum - Archaeological site visit
  • Playa del Carmen - Cenote (sinkhole) visit

Dates & availability

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Important notes

START AND END TIME:
On Day 1 there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at approximately 7pm. There are no activities planned for the final day.

COMPLIMENTARY ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available for purchase on this trip.

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

Our Best of Mexico trips score an average of 4.91 out of 5 based on 33 reviews in the last year.

Best of Mexico, July 2017

Roslyn Edwards

Best of Mexico, June 2017

Michelle Pugsley