Get cultured in real Mexico.

Make Mexico your amigo with this 15-day exploration from the sprawling megacity of Mexico City out to the coastal sounds of Playa del Carmen. This overland adventure covers the best of the mex – from colourful colonial architecture and weaving cobblestoned laneways of Oaxaca, the highland culture and charm of San Cristobal de las Casas, the lush jungle and ruins of Palenque, the lively hub of Merida, to discovering the gems of the Caribbean. All of this, with the added bonus of as many tacos, tostadas and tejates you can devour. Experience the real Mexico, by immersing yourself in the culture and history, eating the delicious food and travelling alongside communities of joyful locals. You know, life could be worse.

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.

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Terms & Conditions

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

Travel solo, together

You're never alone when travelling solo with Intrepid

Why you'll 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 in Oaxaca, Chiapas and Merida.

  • Escape the Mexican heat in the culturally-rich highlands of Chiapas. San Cristobal de las Casas has an old-world town vibe, surrounded by ancient tribal villages.

  • Head deep into the jungle and experience the lush wilderness and cultural significance of Palenque and Lacanja – a real Indiana Jones moment.

  • Take an optional tour to the historic site of Chichen Itza to understand why these ancient Maya ruins are one of the new Seven Wonders of the World.

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip includes time spent travelling in a private vehicle and public bus with your group, including an overnight bus journey. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.

  • 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 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020.
View the 2019 itinerary
Bienvenidos! Where better to start a Meh-i-co exploration than in Mexico City – one of the world's largest urban centres. Forget about the crowds and the smog, Mexico City has got museums, galleries and diverse architecture for you, along with pumping nightlife and delicious street food. Let’s kick things off with a welcome meeting today at 6 pm. If you arrive into the city early, head to the Zocalo, the city's huge central square to see Aztec ruins and colonial architecture, or relax in one of the many parks, plazas or gardens. Another great thing to do is to hop on one of the colourfully painted boats that cruise through the canal district of Xochimilco, or head to the National Palace for a look at the intricate murals painted by Diego Rivera. After the meeting tonight, you’re definitely going to want to seek out some tacos for dinner, and with an informal lesson from your group leader, try to place your order in Spanish!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals - Free
  • Mexico City - Boat ride through Floating Gardens of Xochimilco (Approx. per boat per hour) - MXN350
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Please note that this trip can be partnered with other adventures into a ‘combo’, which means that some of your fellow travellers may carry on to further destinations at the end of this tour. If you’d like to spend more time in Central America, have a look at the combos that include this trip’s itinerary: Epic Mexico & Cuba (QBYMC), Epic Mexico, Belize & Guatemala (QBYYC), or Epic Central America (QBYZC).
Maybe grab some chilaquiles (a type of breakfast nachos) in the morning, then join your leader for an orientation walk around the historic centre of the city. Mexico City can feel overwhelming due to its sheer size and volume of people, however your group leader will know where to go. Walking makes you hungry, so it’s time to head on an included taco crawl, sample a couple of tacos from local street food vendors. It’s nothing fancy, but they sure are delicious. The afternoon is free for you to enjoy – if you like art, the Frida Kahlo Museum is a must-see, and for all museum lovers there's the Museum of Anthropology or the Palace of Fine Art. Don’t forget to snack your way around the city too, munching on tostadas, tortas, and chicharrones all day long. 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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (Closed Mondays) - MXN70
  • Mexico City - Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) (Closed Mondays) - MXN60
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum (Cheaper for students, pensioners & on weekdays. Closed Mondays) - MXN200
  • Teotihuacan day-trip & Dinner with the locals - Urban Adventures - USD52
Meals Included
  • Lunch
Take a public bus to the smaller but no less beautiful city of Oaxaca (around 7 hours). Pronounced ‘wuh-haa-ka’, this colourful town in the south is full of colonial buildings, colourful arcades and busy markets. Your group leader will provide an orientation walk to get your bearings, before giving you the time to visit at your own pace. With two full days to come, you’ll have heaps of time to explore the narrow, cobbled streets in the city, as well as the culture and natural beauty of the surrounding area. Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians selling colourful woven blankets and shawls populate the markets – a great place to shop for textiles, as well as margarita flavours. Here you’ll also find some tasty regional food specialties, everything from cactus fruit, to spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers and the heavenly Oaxacan cheese. Make sure you pick up a tejate – a maize and cinnamon flavoured chocolate drink served cold. On your walk, be sure to look out for any reference to Oaxaca’s renowned arts scene, including folk art, fine art and dance. Get lost admiring the spectrum of coloured buildings or sit in the main square listening to a street performer, sipping a mezcal and watching the world pass by.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The city (and state) of Oaxaca is yours to explore on this free day, full of optional experiences. Perhaps head to the spectacular mountain top temples of Monte Alban just outside the city. Monte Alban was inhabited for 1500 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. You’d better have your camera ready, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Alternatively, you could take a day tour out to the nearby Mitla Ruins. Mitla (the Nahuatl word for ‘underworld’) is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. For something more relaxing on your way from Mitla, drop by the springs of Hierve el Agua – a series of mineral pools and calcified waterfalls dotted on top of a mountain, providing sweeping panoramic views of the Mexican countryside. Perhaps on the way back to Oaxaca, you could stop into a mezcaleria (mezcal distillery) to learn about the lesser-known but more and more popular hermano (brother) of tequila. It is mainly produced in Oaxaca, but is not for the faint-hearted as it’s generally enjoyed straight-up. Bottom’s up!
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Monte Alban - Archaeological site (Entrance fee) - MXN95
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - MXN65
  • Mitla - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport) - MXN45
  • Hierve el Agua - Petrified waterfalls (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport) - MXN630
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today is another full day in Oaxaca, but be prepared to board an overnight bus later to travel to the mountain-top village of San Cristobal de las Casas. You’ve got today to bask in the colour and sights of Oaxaca, so why not test out your culinary skills at a delicious cooking class? Otherwise, check out the artisan stores in the markets and around town, and head to the historic Templo de Santo Domingo – a grand stone church with a large forecourt. In the evening, hop on a first-class overnight bus to San Cristobal del las Casas (approximately 13 hours in total). First-class buses in Mexico are quite comfortable. They are equipped with toilets and reclining seats with plenty of legroom. They are always air-conditioned, so make sure you take a warm layer with you, as it may get cold on board. While the bus is very comfortable, the road from Oaxaca to San Cristobal has some very winding sections. If you suffer from motion sickness, this will be a good time to have your medication ready.
Accommodation
  • Overnight bus (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - MXN1130
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
Travelling by bus around Central America is the easiest and best way to get around, however petty thefts happen from time to time, especially during overnight journeys. These people are not only an annoyance, they are also unfortunately extremely talented. They wait for passengers to be asleep to skilfully search through unattended luggage in search of cameras, money and credit cards. During overnight bus journeys, it is safest to carry all your valuable belongings close to you at all times and out of the reach of anyone throughout the journey (not in the overhead compartments). Your group leader would have completed this journey multiple times, so take their advice, and if you have any issues, do not hesitate to ask them.
Say ‘hola’ to San Cristobal, your pastel-hued highland home for the next two days. Arrive early in the morning – check-in at the hotel isn't usually until midday, so leave your luggage and start exploring the city. Today and tomorrow are at your leisure here. Your group leader will point the main things out on a leader-led city tour, and afterwards, will help you arrange any optional activities. With its winding cobblestone streets snuggled in the Chiapas highlands, San Cristobal de las Casas has an old-world feel mixed with strong pre-hispanic roots. Wander to a local cafe and check out their baked goods or try some pox – a traditional corn-based liquor, often flavoured with other ingredients.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
Optional Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - MXN65
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Head out of town this morning and take a tour of the nearby San Juan Chamula, a traditional Maya village that serves as a centre for the indigenous folk around here. The villages are home to Tzotzil and Tzeltal groups, who maintain their tribal origins through their traditional dress and customs. Your leader will take you to a church where 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. Please be aware of a strict ban on cameras as the local people maintain their traditional customs. Afterwards, there's an option to take a trip to Sumidero Canyon, where you can take a boat down the mighty Rio Grijalva. Or you might like to get things pumping with further exploration of the villages by mountain bike. For something more adventurous, try a canyoning trip to ‘El Chorreadero’. This 6-hour excursion will see you venture a kilometre inside a (dry) cave and return following the river through a number of cascades, pools and rappels. A truly memorable experience, but probably not recommended for the claustrophobic or those with fear of heights.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula Church (Entrance Fee)
  • Maya village - Zinacantan church (Entrance fee)
Optional Activities
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mountain bike tour - MXN600
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today travel along a windy road by private vehicle to Lacanja River (approximately 6 hours). You will stop at Agua Azul (blue water) waterfall on the way, where you'll have an option to swim in the cascading pools. Once you've arrived, the afternoon is free for you to relax or explore. There are a few optional activities on offer, including a rafting experience over Lacanja River waterfalls and backwaters and to the nearby archaeological site, then travelling back through the jungle and past the waterfalls of Moctuniha. There are also some awesome guided hikes available to book, so ask your group leader if you would like to organise this. Coming from the city today, you’ll have a much different experience – staying right in the middle of the jungle in an eco-cabana.
Accommodation
  • Cabins (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
Meals Included
  • Dinner
This morning is free to explore the Lacanja jungle and surrounding lush trails and waterfalls, before travelling to Palenque in a private vehicle (approximately 2 hours). After arriving, head to the archaeological zone and visit the ruins of Palenque. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to AD600 and are some of the most impressive Mayan relics in Mexico. As you take a self-guided walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing from the jungle. There are many ruins that are still un-excavated and remain concealed in the forest. You can opt to take a guided tour of the ruins or through the surrounding jungle to a hidden waterfall (at an extra fee). The area gives you a great idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first arrived. This feels like real Tomb Raider stuff.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
Optional Activities
  • Lacanja - Half-day Rafting, Waterfalls & Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport) (Minimum 4 people) - MXN800
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
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 Lacanja to Palenque to avoid this activity – more so to bypass long traffic delays than any real danger.
Today, travel by public bus and head north up to the old-world charm of Merida (approximately 7-8 hours in total). Founded in 1542, this city has a large indigenous population, with approximately 60% of Merida residents of Maya background. Take use of an orientation walk on arrival and wander through the Old Town, checking 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 Maya replicas. This is also a great place to sample local food specialities, such as cochinita pibil (slow-roasted barbeque pork) or the extremely spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. For a snack, there's a bicycle cart on almost every corner in Merida selling elotes (corn on the cob) doused in salt, chilli, cheese, lemon juice or other toppings. If you haven’t noticed already: yeah, they like corn.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Merida is the gateway to the Maya ruins of Uxmal. Perhaps today a tour of the ruins is on the cards, including a guide and shared transport. Little is known about the site’s origins but it’s thought the city was founded around AD500. Much of the site is decorated with masks of the rain god Chac. Otherwise, you can also visit a nearby bird sanctuary or a variety of other ruins, or hunt down one of the hidden cenotes (stunning natural sinkholes filled with water) and take a dip in the crystal clear fresh water. If you decide to stay in the city, know that 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 (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Guided city tour - MXN318
  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
With a second full day in Merida, make sure that you haven’t missed any of the main sights in the city. Otherwise, there is an opportunity to visit the most well-known archaeological site in Mexico: Chichen Itza. Listed as one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is considered the most important example of a fusion of Maya and Toltec tradition and civilisation in Yucatan. See the Caracol (a circular stellar observatory), the Great Ball Court (the largest field in Mesoamerica) the main sight in El Castillo (a step pyramid dominating the centre of the site) and many more historic ruins. Your group leader can organise transport and entrance fees into the archaeological site, however we recommend getting there early in the morning, as this area gets very busy with tourists during the day.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Optional Activities
  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport) - MXN1335
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today, travel to Izamal by local bus (approximately 2 hours), which is known as the City of Yellow, because of the yellow ochre and white hues painted on many of the buildings, as the local’s way to preserve its light and project it to the future. Enjoy a leader-led city tour with a visit the San Antonio de Padua Convent – an imposing colonial structure at the centre of town adorned in the city’s distinct colour. Enjoy some time to continue exploring the city at your own pace and be sure to get another Mexican fix at a local restaurant tonight.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour
  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Take a public bus to the resort hub of Playa del Carmen (approximately 2.5 hours). Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is relatively close to Cancun but with less of a young party atmosphere. Here you can spend your time snorkelling among the mangroves or in underground caverns, tanning, or strolling along the white sands of the playa (beach). Your group leader will provide an orientation walk to the city, with a visit to a Mexican ice-cream store for an included tasting (of course). You’ll lean more about the flavours and the traditional methods of how it is made. With a free afternoon at your leisure, why not pull up a towel and bask in this tropical paradise? It is also possible to take a ferry from here across to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef. In the evening, feast on seafood, kick back with your group and watch the waves with a margarita in hand.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Playa del Carmen - Paleteria visit (Mexican Ice-cream store)
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip) - MXN326
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
With no activities and no accommodation planned for the day, you are welcome to check-out at any time. Today is a perfect day to travel south on a half-day tour to the Tulum archaeological site, quite unique because of its placement on the side of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. If you wish to spend more time in Playa del Carmen, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Half-day tour of Tulum Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport) - MXN800
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

1 breakfast, 1 lunch, 1 dinner

Transport

Private vehicle, Public bus, local bus, Overnight public bus, Taxi

Accommodation

Hotel (12 nights), Overnight public bus (1 night), Cabin (1 night)

Included activities

  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula Church (Entrance Fee)
  • Maya village - Zinacantan church (Entrance fee)
  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Entrance fee & Transport)
  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour
  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
  • Playa del Carmen - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Playa del Carmen - Paleteria visit (Mexican Ice-cream store)

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. This is an 18-29s departure.
2. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. There are no activities planned for the final day so you may depart at any time.
3. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Day 5 (Overnight bus) where you will be in shared accommodation. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.

Essential trip information

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