This journey will take you through four states following the Mayan Route. You will know first hand one of the most wonderful areas of Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula undoubtedly has a special place in the psyche of all Mexicans as well as foreigners who have had the opportunity to visit it. It is equally gratifying to get in its renowned places but also discover its more intimate secrets.
Whether it is for the rich pre-hispanic culture (the Mayan), the special cuisine; one of the most complex and outstanding of the Aztec country, or for its magical places, we invite you to give yourself the opportunity to visit this place, one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.
And since we are in the Caribbean blue, a look at The Bahamas: Tips for traveling The Bahamas.
Mexico, like other places in Latin America, is more than what the media reports in search of the highest rating, and every latino knows that there are a couple of common denominators that make these lands unforgettable destinations: their great culture, but everything: its people.
Due to the great territorial extension of Mexico makes it impossible to cover all of the more important destinations of this route and even during this article we are leaving a lot out, our main objective is to give you some points of interest in the route in the Mayan Route. We leave it to you to discover what lays there between each one of them.
1. Palenque (Chiapas).
Our first stop of the Mayan Roue is Palenque. Hidden in the middle of the Chiapa’s jungle. Its name comes from the Catalan palenc, which means fortification, it was discovered in 1567 during the conquest of Mexico, by then the city was already abandoned, it is believed that it was founded around 100 a.C.
Tip: Being in Palenque you can not miss the opportunity to visit the Agua Azul waterfalls and then follow your route to the next destination.
2. Campeche (Campeche).
The capital of the homonymous state, well, its name is actually San Francisco de Campeche. It was founded after the period of conquest by the Spaniards. Because of its strategic position towards the sea it served as a port towards Spain, the city caught the eye of the pirates, knowing that from there treasures went sent to Europe. Corsairs of the likes of Francis Drake or John Hawkins besieged the city without much success. To date it is possible to know the fort that was built to repel the constant attacks.
Today it is a city that is divided between the modern and the classic. Its recent restoration made it worthy to become a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1999.
3. Uxmal (Yucatán).
This Mayan archaeological sites has an importance comparable to Chichen Itza (Mexico) and Tikal (Guatemala). Because of this it is one of the most important sights in the Mayan Route. Be amazed by its buildings that have been preserved quite well even after its abandonment, due to its advanced construction techniques. Highly recommended the light and sound show at sunset.
Tip: If you have time for something sweet take a visit the nearby Chocolate Museum and some of the adjacent stores. You will feel like you have won a Wonka golden ticket.
4. Mérida (Yucatán).
Relax in the white city, take advantage of a place where it seems that its almost 900,000 inhabitants have no idea of the existence of time. Take a walk on the Paseo de Tollocán, visit the anthropology museum at the Palacio Cantón. Eat a salbute or panuchos with cochinita pibil. Accompany them with a sopa de lima, frijol con puerco a pan de cazon or papadzules. Dont forget to try an ice cold Montejo beer or a fresh glass of horchata.
Tip: Beware of the habanero pepper used in this region. Make sure you order your food without it if you’re not a fan of sicy food. If you indeed are, take our word when we tell you that habanero takes spicy to another level.
5. Chichen Itzá, jewel of the Mayan Route. (Yucatán).
This is undoubtedly one of two of the most important archaeological sites in Mexico (the other is Teotihuacán in the center of the country). Also, one of the most outstanding in the world, its iconic pyramid known as the castle, was voted as one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007.
The site has everything you would expect from a pre-hispanic ruin. It is divided into a ceremonial and housing areas. Here you will find: tall pyramids, houses, temples, a court for the ball game and even an impressive cenote. In addition you have inside of the site museums and three hotels to relax and spend the night before moving on.
6. Cancún (Quintana Roo).
Time to give yourself to the tourist life, 5 star hotels, shopping centers with all fashion brands, play 18 holes in one of its more than 10 golf courses. The intense nightlife seems to continue without ever stopping, dive in one of the best reefs in the world. Take a boat tour in the freshwater lagoon only a few meters from the turquoise sea. Take a ferry to Isla Mujeres or Cozumel and all of this without leaving the tourist zone.
Also recommended are the theme parks of Xcaret or Xel-ha.
Tip: If you are looking for something a little cheaper, between Cancun and our next point is Playa del Carmen, the hippster sister of Cancun, with hotels of all levels and prices, still retains much of that folk feeling so typical of Mexico.
7. Tulum (Quintana Roo).
The walled city on the banks of the Caribbean. This pre-hispanic ruin that had its apogee between 1200 and 1450, played an fundamental role in the development of the Mayan culture.
Tulum served as an astronomical observation center, but also as a starting point for the exploitation of the sea and the generation of commercial routes among other Mayan cities.
Today, it is a delight to look, the contrast of the jungle, the ruins and the turquoise Caribbean is simply breath taking. The archaeological center is located within a national park. Here you can even find local wildlife such as spider monkeys, armadillos, iguanas and anteaters.
The town that has the same name has grew some fame in recent years as a yoga center and it has all the tourist services of a small modern city.
8. Bacalar (Quintana Roo).
A few kilometers from the border with Belize is one of the last surprises of the Mayan Route. Even without much hotel development this population has been gaining popularity lately; especially among backpackers and travelers with limited budget.
With a lagoon that resembles the Caribbean Sea (which is not very far from there), cenotes for swimming and even sulfurous thermal waters. Bacalar has everything to become an important tourist development, although in reality we wish it could stay like that. This way Bacalar can keep the magic partially intact and away from the rapacious hands of some unscrupulous businessmen.
If you decide to go to Bacalar, pay more attention to keep it clean, this place does not have the infrastructure of other cities or resorts. This place needs the help from every visitor to continue taking our breath away for years to come.
Tip: We recommend the boat tours and if you have time, you can visit the border city of Chetumal; capital of the state of Quintana Roo. Hope you have a great time traveling the Mayan Route.
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