Where Did We ?
Absolutely number 1 experience in Mexico for me. If you are not a diver, perhaps you will get inspired hearing stories of people diving here or looking at pictures. Being nestled between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and sitting comfortably above the Caribbean Sea, Mexico has a vast array of diving to offer. Cage Diving to see the Great White sharks on the Baja Peninsula or cenote diving in the Riviera Maya- it's up to you! It will leave you inspired either way.
The most famous ruin left from the ancient city is perhaps the Pyramid of Kukulkan who was an ancient Maya snake deity. Chichen Itza was once one of the greatest and most sacred Mayan centers of the Yucatán peninsula. It is believed to be more than 1000-year old. The Maya and Toltec vision of the world and the universe influenced their stone monuments and artistic works. Several buildings have survived and are available for visit, such as the Warriors’ Temple, El Castillo and the circular observatory known as El Caracol.
Tulum is a small but well worth the visiting town on the Caribbean coastline of the Yucatan peninsula. One of the main attractions here is the ruins of what once was the major port of the Maya people. The Ruins are located just off the highway at the entrance of the town. They are sitting on a cliff that has an outlet to the beach which is fantastic, one of the cleanest waters. However, I would recommend a beach that is outside Tulum called- Playa Akumal. It is an excellent place for snorkeling and just sipping a refreshing cocktail.
Visit Xcaret Park
Xcaret is labeled as an eco-archaeological amusement park. It is a natural sanctuary where the history of Mexico combines with the Mayan traditions at the heart of the jungle. It is very suitable for families with kids, they will have the time of their life. Our favorite attractions here are the caves to the Mayan village, Paradise River, Chapen of Guadalupe and of course the Vino De Mexico Wine Cellar. This definitely a one full day experience!
Snorkel the Cenotes
The Cenotes in the Riviera Maya are perhaps a strange and controversial phenomenon. Some refer to it as a sinkhole created from the collapse of limestone rock. Some say its an underground cave formed from a meteorite impact. What we know for sure is that it is flooded with crystal clear fresh water and that they are stunning!! They are suitable for snorkeling and diving without the need for a cave diving license. More diving info here
Other SEEs and DOs worth mentioning
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- Puerto Vallarta
- Quetzalcoatl’s Nest
- Cenote Xkeken
- MUSA Underwater Museum
- The Great Pyramid of Cholula
Coba is another ancient Mayan city on the Yucatán Peninsula, located in the state of Quintana Roo. There is a very interesting looking climbable pyramid there. It is also the tallest Mayan Temple in Mexico (120 steps) The city was once inhabited by about 50000 people some 1500 years ago.
Almost always referred to the prime vacation destination on the Pacific Coast of Mexico. Puerto Vallarta has a lot to offer from food tours to Rhythms of The Night which is a "dance" show that depicts elements from the Mexican folklore. Its silly not to mention that sunsets here are NOT TO MISS! Margaritas too!
Northwest of Mexico City the feathered Aztec serpent god Quetzalcoatl has been turned into a series of condos.Located among the lush natural ravines of Naucalpan, Mexico, Quetzalcoatl’s Nest is a fantastical snake-shaped structure that includes ten separate apartments spread over 16,500 square feet. Designed by renowned Mexican architect Javier Senosiain, the residence is an exploration of ‘organic architecture’ that takes its design inspiration from nature and aims for minimal impact to the environment.
The pre-colonial Mayan tradition believed that the gates to the beyond lay in cenotes. Just a few kilometers from Valladolid in the Yucatan Peninsula, the landscape is dotted with natural sinkholes, leading straight down into the earth. Unlike their unsightly name, the sinkholes are beautiful and filled with crystal clear, blue-green water. They are easily accessible and have become a tourist hot spot due to their proximity to spring break destinations like Cancun.
Located off the coast of Mexico, the project is comprised of more than 400 life-size sculptures that will form a massive artificial coral reef in the clear, shallow waters that can be easily reached by divers, snorkelers and those who float over in glass-bottomed boats. The entire project is designed to promote marine life and increase biodiversity in the waters. Perfect for snorkeling!
Thanks to the brush and grasses that had overgrown its walls, the largest man-made pyramid in the world has been mistaken for a hill. Even today, it’s understandable how this came to pass, thanks to the old Spanish chapel perched at its summit. When you see a picture of it, it looks like a volcano but what it really is the biggest pyramid in the world.
Mole and Grasshoppers
Mole is a type of sauce used to make a number of dishes in the Mexican cuisine. Generally, a mole sauce contains a fruit, chili pepper, nut and such spices as black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and chocolate. Our favorite restaurant guide Foursquare showed us the way to Axiote, a traditional Mexican restaurant in the center of Playa Del Carmen, minutes away from the beach. Another popular dish at the restaurant were fried grasshoppers. My friends thought they are cool!
The vegan restaurant La Senda Vegana in the heart of Playa was like finding a diamond on the street. Super small, with an open to the street front it serves 100% vegan dishes and they are delicious!!! They also have the best deserts like the chocolate cake. Juices and kombucha are also freshly made in house. The owner is actively working in the restaurant making sure that everything is running smooth and clients are happy! Truly amazing food and relaxing place. P.S. Try the grain burger!
Amorino Gelato & Coffee
Amorino is a French gelato and coffee shop that uses only organic and natural ingredients. There are only a handful of shops in North America as it is considered a boutique place. You can choose from 2 locations here- 1 in Cancun and 1 in Playa Del Carmen. They even have organic, dairy free, all vegan sorbet and gelato. Needless to say, the coffee is terrific as well! An excellent after dinner place to relax and just stare at the crowds walking through the main street of Playa.
Papa Charly is the place where we had the most delicious stuffed with cheese pepper, dipped in batter and then deep fried goodness of Mexico. Great food, relaxing atmosphere and healthy delicious fresh squeezed juices, what else can you ask for before heading to the beach?
Our primary destination in Mexico was the Quintana Roo province. Our favorite means of transportation here was a rental car. We were able to drive from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, take the ferry across to Cozumel, drive further south to Tulum and visit Chichen Itza on our own time. It was easy to get one at the airport and usually when you book online is quite cheap. However, don't let that fool you, an 8$ rental is perhaps possible in Mexico but make sure you account for insurance since you are in a foreign country and/ or a significant deposit. However, locals say that busses are quite frequent and good way of commuting.
Starting with accommodation- we stayed in Playa Del Carmen in a charming new AirBNB apartment complex with pool, barbecue, jacuzzi and everything that you will ever need and it was a short, 10 min walk to the beach and 5th Avenue. It was very affordably priced at $78 a night. It was 3 of us, so it seemed like a good deal, for a 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen, pool and so on. Depending on where you eat food is also quite reasonable with a price tag of 7-15$ for an excellent entree and shared appetizers with friends. If you don't want to overspend much, don't get drinks at the bars on the beach, they can sometimes be a rip-off.
As a Bulgarian citizen, I was not required to obtain a visa to enter Mexico if a stay for a period of up to 180 days. There is a list of countries here, where you can check if you are eligible for entry without a visa. Permanent residents of US, Canada, UK, Japan and any state of the Schengen Space are exempt from acquiring a visa. The same applies if you have a multiple entry visa for the US. This, however, does not apply if you are doing business. For business activities, you should check for further information.
Mexico's native currency is the Mexican Peso; however US Dollar is widely accepted almost everywhere. Today 1 us dollar trades for a little over 19 Mexican pesos. Credit cards are also accepted in most places. Although, the last is not true if you are trying to get to Chichen Itza and don't have the cash to pay your toll.
PRO TIP: Don't enter the highway if you do not have cash, there is no ATM before the exit where you have to pay the toll. P.S. Don't ask me how I know...
Through our initial research, it seemed like Mexico is a very class-conscious society where social stratifications are well-defined. Upper-class Mexicans will not get their hands into tasks they find "beneath" them. A sense of fatalism is quite strong among many Mexicans, who feel that their path through life is largely preordained. Macho attitudes are taught in Mexican males almost from birth, and machismo plays a pervasive role in shaping Mexican culture. However, we didn't experience any of what some would consider "unhealthy" attitudes. People were amiable and courteous to us, service was outstanding in all restaurants. Shake hands or give a slight bow when introduced particularly when greeting a Mexican woman. It is considered that shaking hands is appropriate if she extends her hand first.
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