Colourful costumes, delicious food and ancient history - Mexico has it all at this rave from the grave.

Mexico’s throwing a party and everyone’s invited – even the dead! Travel from Oaxaca to San Cristobal del las Casas and pumping Playa del Carmen, taking in the after-dark antics of the famous Day of the Dead celebrations. Commune with spirits at a Oaxacan graveyard, wander through markets jangling with skeletons, and discover the ancient Aztec customs behind Mexico’s most iconic (and awesome) festival. After farewelling the dearly departed, explore mountains, check out some hidden Caribbean caves and then carve up the dance floor in Playa.

This trip is for 18 to 29-year-olds

Some of our under-30 travellers prefer to get around with people their own age. If that’s you, you’re in the right place!

Over 29? We’ve got over 900 other great adventures to choose from for solo travellers, friends, families, food lovers, hiking enthusiasts, and more.


Start
Oaxaca, Mexico
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Destination
Mexico
Style
Basix
Theme
18 to 29s
Code
QBYO
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18, Max 29
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why you'll love this trip

  • Party it up with the locals and discover why the dead are the life of the party.

  • The Mayan people and their culture are far from extinct! Visit the San Juan Chamula church and see it for yourself.

  • Relax in the brilliant azure waters of the Caribbean, swimming with sea turtles and exploring underground caves.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip includes some long days of travel using local transport, including an overnight bus. While this can be tiring, it's also a fantastic way to rub shoulders with the locals and experience a destination as they would.

Itinerary

Can you smell that? The heady aroma of spices, garlic, smoked meats and vegetables should alert you to the fact that you’ve arrived in the food capital of Mexico. A welcome meeting at 3 pm will get you acquainted with your fellow travellers and local leader – they’ll have all the best recommendations for places to eat and drink so you can dive in mouth first this evening. Please let us know in advance If you're going to be late to the meeting, we'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information, so please have all these details for your leader. Afterwards, join your leader on an orientation walk. The city is full of colonial arcades, leafy tree-shaded streets and colourful markets. You might want to fuel up to explore on tasty regional specialties – from cactus fruit to baked chili and lime grasshoppers and heavenly Oaxacan cheese.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you’ll see all the different sides of Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival. Although Die de los Muertos is celebrated all over Mexico, Oaxaca is known for its particularly lavish celebrations, with festivities taking place up to a week before November 1st and 2nd. Your tour leader will take you shopping for an outrageously loud costume to wear at tonight’s festivities, then you can get your face painted or visit the giant sand tapestries at the Museo del Palacio (which are made just for Dia de los Muertos).
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Day of the Dead celebrations
  • Oaxaca - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
November 1st is the most traditional and culturally fascinating day of the Day of the Dead celebrations. On this day families prepare altars for their deceased loved ones, which they display at homes and over graves at cemeteries. Start things off with a reflective visit to a local cemetery and see the many shrines created by the local families. It’s not unusual to see shrines decorated with the deceased’s favourite items (such as toys and trinkets), as well as alcohol, food and candles. Afterwards, soak up the unique festival vibes on a guided walk through town with your local leader, visiting local houses, markets and plazas to see all the different and colourful celebrations.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Day of the Dead celebrations
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today you're free to explore Oaxaca at your own pace. Perhaps head to 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. If you don’t feel like an excursion, you can also stay in town and take part in a cooking class. In the evening, catch an overnight bus to San Cristobal del las Casas. Don't worry, they have toilets, air-conditioning and seats that recline.
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD5
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - USD85
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (Entrance fee) - USD5
  • Oaxaca - Full-day tour inc. Mitla Ruins, Hierve el Agua and mezcal distillery - USD45
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Please note that the road from Oaxaca to San Cristobal is very winding at times. If you suffer from motion sickness it is a good idea to have your medication ready.
Roll into San Cristobal del las Casas in the early morning and be greeted by the town’s candy-coloured architecture. This highland town will be your home for the next two days. Hotel check-in isn’t until midday, but you’ll be able to store your luggage at the hotel and start exploring the city with your leader on an orientation walk. In the afternoon, pay a visit to the small town of San Juan Chamula and its church. Don’t come expecting your standard stiff service, though. The floor is covered with pine needles and the air is thick with the smell of incense. Shamans regularly come here to conduct cleansing ceremonies using firewater, ancient prayers and chickens. Photography is strictly prohibited as a sign of respect for traditional customs, but if you're lucky enough to catch a service the mental pictures will stick with your forever. Return to San Cristobal del las Casas in the evening and perhaps experience a taste of authentic regional cuisine at one of the many local restaurants.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is another free day and your group leader will be on hand to help you arrange some optional activities. The villages surrounding San Cristobal del las Casas are home to Tzotzil and Tzeltal groups, who maintain their tribal origins through their traditional costumes and customs. You can explore these villages and learn more about their way of life on an adrenaline-fueled mountain bike ride. Another option is a canyoning trip to ‘El Chorreadero’. This six-hour excursion ventures a kilometre inside a (dry) cave and follows a river through a number of cascades, pools and rappels. This is a memorable experience but not recommended if you’re claustrophobic or have a fear of heights. You can also choose to stay in town and check out the local museums, such as at the award-winning Museo de la Medicina Maya showcasing the history of indigenous healing techniques.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - USD45
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - USD5
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - El Chorreadero canyoning - MXN1400
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Rise and shine! The glorious sun, sand and surf of Playa del Carmen is waiting for you. It will take half a day of travel by buses and planes, but it's worth it. A 1.5-hour drive will take you from San Cristobal to Tuxla Gutierrez Airport where you will board a flight to Mexico City. Get on another flight to Cancun and after about 2.5 hours in the air, another airport transfer will get you to Playa in the evening. If you have the energy you might want to check out one of the many bars and clubs that line the sandy shores.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Pop on some swimming gear and get ready for a day of snorkelling. First up is Akumal, located a short drive south of Playa del Carmen. Every day dozens of sea turtles come here to munch on seaweed, which is prolific in the area. Spend up to an hour snorkelling with these amazing creatures before moving on to a nearby cenote (sinkhole) to swim in hidden water caves. Finish the day back in Playa del Carmen, maybe sipping an ice cold margarita by the beach.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport) - Free
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This Mexican adventure comes to an end today. There are no activities planned for the final day and you are free to depart the accommodation at any time. If you’d like to spend some extra nights here, let us know at the time of booking and we’ll be happy to organise the accommodation for you. If you want to experience Playa del Carmen like a local, why not join one of our dedicated Urban Adventure one-day tours. Find out more at www.urbanadventures.com.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

No meals are included on this tour

Transport

Overnight public bus, Private vehicle, Local bus

Accommodation

Hotel (7 nights), Overnight bus (1 night)

Included activities

  • Oaxaca - Day of the Dead celebrations
  • Oaxaca - Orientation walk
  • Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Playa del Carmen - Orientation walk

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
2. To have a private room on this trip, a single supplement is bookable; subject to availability.
3. For the included internal flight ticket, please provide your full name exactly as per passport, at the time of booking or at least 45 days prior to travel.
4. Hurricane season in this region is June to November, when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.

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.