My tour of Mexico is DONE – for now.
Please SEARCH FOR ‘Mexico‘ to find all of my Postings, Travel Budgets and Retirement Reviews.
Meanwhile, here is some general information about Mexico and / or the places of interest that I did not get to or have not gotten to (yet) …
WHAT PEOPLE SAY:
Mexico is a starting point for many Central America backpackers due to cheap flight connections there. Flights to Cancun are particularly inexpensive, though don’t stay in Cancun too long if you don’t like hyper-touristy places.
Palenque is incredible! San Cristobal is a fabulous city to see as well as Agua Azul Waterfall … A bit dicey with banditos on the roads, but workable.
If you like back roads and no plans, the Yucatan offers some unexpected pleasures.
Travel is horrendously expensive (especially after Asia) plan your travel well and try not to backtrack. There is violence so be careful.
Mexico City is much safer and nicer than it used to be. A great but polluted city. The Metro is fantastic, but you aren’t meant to travel with luggage. There is a Quaker Hostel with rooms and a kitchen etc. The beds are cheap the rooms not so much, but you might want to try it just to see. Go to as many ruins and museums as you can they are all good value. Get onto a food blog website and try out as many of the recommended places as you can. Mexico City might be the best food you have in your trip. Drink Michiladas if you can find them – The chili and soy sauce are interesting.
Crossing to Guatemala. If you go to Chiapas you can cross into Guatemala. These buses and trips will cost you a lot. Expect to pay to leave Mexico (google how much). You don’t have to pay to enter Guatemala just say ‘No’. You can do this trip on a tourist bus, I despise that stuff and it is more expensive, but it is a long and tough trip. If crossing here you will most likely have to use a chicken bus.
Merida is the bustling capital of the Yucatan.
Chichen Itza is the most spectacular and most visited Mexico ancient site. It is an easy day trip from Merida.
Uxmal is one of the best preserved Maya ceremonial centers. It is an easy day trip from Merida.
AROUND THE RIVIERA MAYA:
Are expensive. For these main Tourist Areas of the Yucatan expect to pay US$30-US$40 for a private single room.
Just two hours from Cancun on the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula sits a tiny island called Holbox Island, or Isla Holbox in Spanish. At just 2.5 miles long and half a mile wide, this paradise island near Cancun has all the appeal of Cancun’s stunning beaches but on a miniature scale with a much more intimate feel. Perhaps the best Caribbean island to visit, you can escape the city life, slow down to enjoy the natural beauty, go swimming with whales sharks and see an incredible array of wildlife that calls the island home.
Much of the Riviera Maya has incredible beaches and Holbox is no exception. The island has white sand beaches and knee-high, crystal clear waters that stretch for hundreds of feet before dropping off into the ocean. But unlike Cancun, Isla Holbox is incredibly tranquil, slow-paced and is an off-the-beaten path destination. With the exception of Mexican tourists, it’s relatively unknown to North American travelers and is only moderately visited by Europeans. It’s undoubtedly beautiful, peaceful and amazing without being spoiled by the massive crowds of spring breakers and resort-seeking tourists just trying to escape their office jobs on their yearly vacation.
Don’t expect to find the high end, Las Vegas-style luxury resorts on this small island like you would in other destinations in the Riviera Maya. But with more than 60 privately owned properties, you’ll find a place to stay on any budget. If you’re a backpacker, there’s a hip and stylish hostel located right in the center of town called Tribu Hostel Holbox with rates as low as $10 USD for a shared room. They even offer Spanish courses if you decide to stick around for a while. I stayed at a small mid-range property called Hotel Casa del Viento which offers rooms ranging from $40 to $100 USD per night depending on the season and room type.
Is one of the world’s premier diving destinations. There are more than 100 dive operators on the island, offering everything from deep dives, wreck dives, night dives, and underwater photography dives.
The 600-mile long Maya Reef stretches from Cozumel to Central America, and boasts a technicolor profusion of fish and coral.
Mexico is an easy, convenient choice for many expats who are seeking a first-world country at bargain prices. No wonder a million or more expats make Mexico their home.
Today’s Mexico offers modern highways and airports, cable and satellite TV, Internet, and many other items expats enjoy at home. Want your “big” US lifestyle abroad, you’ll get it in Mexico with an overall cost of living at about half of what you’d pay in the US or Canada.
I stayed in Playa Del Carmen but not Cozumel. Even though I was there in ‘Shoulder Season’, I still could not afford the cost of accommodation in Cozumel on a GRANDPAcking Budget.
SOUTH & THE PACIFIC COAST:
A remarkable blend of Old World and deep-rooted Zapotec and Mixtec traditions are gloriously at play in this cobblestoned historical city. The city is also a culinary mecca.
One of Mexico’s most important archeological sites, Monte Alban, lies just outside Oaxaca.
Mazunte, Zipolite and Puerto Escondido are the three coolest beach towns in Mexico. The Oaxacan Coast (pronounced wa-hah-kah) is great is because it’s relatively off-the-beaten track and far from high-traffic international airports (nearby Huatulco has a big airport but nothing like the other major resorts in Mexico). This means that you will mostly avoid the all-inclusive one weekers who party intensely, gorge themselves on the all-your-can-eat buffets and destroy the peaceful tropical ambiance.
I like to think of Mazunte as the esoteric spirituality capital of Mexico. This place is full of mysteries and good omens. Around the town you will find many yoga and meditation retreats. If the modern corporate world screwed you up, this is a good place to start healing. I really like Hridaya Yoga academy and the extraordinary El Alquimista resort named after Paulo Coelho’s excellent coming-of-age book The Alchemist. As you can imagine, you will encounter a lot interesting expats in Mazunte and the awe-inspiring nearby beach town Zipolite.
I lived one winter in Puerto Escondido and I really loved it there. It is a great launching pad for exploring the endless beaches of the Oaxacan Coast, the wildlife sanctuaries and the dense jungles in the towering interior mountains. As a bonus, Puerto is also home to the “Mexican Pipeline”, the most legendary surf spot in Central America.
Budget: $600-$900 a month
Wi-Fi: Some places have great wi-fi. Others not so much.
Best Time of Year: November to April
Palenque & San Cristobal de las Casas
Palenque is one of the most extra-ordinary Maya ruins set on a high plateau surrounded by dense virgin jungle. One of the best preserved and majestic Maya sites.
San Cristobal is a pretty red-tiled roof colonial town in the highlands of the Chiapas.
This colourful old fishing village is one of Mexico’s treasures. The palm-fringed Playa la Ropa and Playa las Gata feature calm, clear waters that are perfect for swimming and snorkeling beside simple, thatch-roofed seafood restaurants.
Mexico is a big place with a bad reputation. The reputation isn’t altogether undeserved, as drug cartels do control parts of this country, but not all of it. And some of the most appealing regions for both living and investing sit outside the war zones. Mexico offers two long coasts, mountain towns and colonial cities, plus Mayan ruins, jungle, rain forest, rivers and lakes. It’s also the most accessible “overseas” haven from the United States. You could drive back and forth if you wanted.
The Mexican government, through its FONATUR tourism development agency, has a seriously sound track record developing little stretches of this country’s coast. All interested investors have to do is to pay attention to where FONATUR is moving next to cash in. Puerto Vallarta has been one of the most privileged benefactors of FONATUR development. The time has passed to find low entry investments, but as a lifestyle destination, there is no equal to PV in terms of development.
My Initial Thoughts…
- Copper Canyon
- Parras de la Fuente
- Anywhere on the Pacific Coast
- Sayulita / Porto Vallarta / Yelana
- San Miguel de Allende
- Ixtapan de la Sal
- Porto Escondido / Huatulco
- Tenochtitlan / El Tajin
- San Christobal
- Anywhere on the Yucatan Peninsula Coast
- Chichen Itza
- Coba / Xcaret
- Tulum / Acumal
- Riviera Maya
I expect to find a “mixed bag” in Mexico.
My gut tells me that my favourite region is going to be the Yucatan Peninsula. The internet tells me that I’ve got expensive tastes.
I am expecting the areas that I like to be over my target budget.
Mexico will need to “surprise” me; anything’s possible… especially when I take into account the fact that I love historical towns.