Relax with a cocktail on one of Playa del Carmen’s beaches, where sand as fine as powdered sugar meets glittering azure sea. , a vast complex full of crumbling temples and pyramids. , where you can slurp warm, thick mole (a rich sauce often served over rice) and sample the edible plants and flowers that the indigenous Zapotec people have eaten for centuries..
The modern rubs up against the ancient in Mexico, and you’ll get to experience both contemporary and historic attractions in this tour. Begin with the sun-drenched beaches of Playa del Carmen and travel through colourful, colonial towns like San Cristobal de las Casas on your way to the buzzing metropolis that is Mexico City.
Breakfast Included: 4 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included:
Playa del Carmen
Welcome to paradise! After meeting your tour leader and travel group at a 6 pm welcome meeting, see what’s on offer during a short orientation walk with your group leader. Choose whether you’d like to ease into your Mexican adventure with an optional group dinner or begin exploring on your own. The bars and beaches of this coastal playground are yours for the taking. Don’t despair if you’re not a techno-head, you’ll find bars specialising in everything from rock and roll to retro pop along the shore.
Playa del Carmen
Today, you can do as you please. The spectacular ruins of Chichen Itza are just a few hours away, so maybe to spend the day taking in the vestiges of the grand Maya city. The complicated geometric design manipulates light and sound in strange ways, so if you decide to visit make sure you stop and listen for strange echoes and watch for serpentine shadows. Or perhaps you’d prefer to spend the day with you shoes off and feet buried in the powdery sands of one of Playa’s beaches?
San Cristobal de las Casas
Perhaps use your morning to visit the Tulum and the famous ruins that hug the cliff edge. In the afternoon, you’ll drive to Cancun airport, learning some Spanish on the way with an informal lesson from the group leader. After a 1.5-hour flight and another private transfer, you’ll arrive in San Cristobal de las Casas in the evening. A colonial town filled with vibrant art, it’s hard not to be joyful with this bold colour palate as your backdrop—from the warm yellow hue of the town’s eponymous cathedral to the bright blue of the sky on clear days. Get to know the area on a leader-led tour of the city, then use the late afternoon and evening how you wish.
San Cristobal de las Casas
Take a 30-minute local bus ride to the nearby Maya village of San Juan Chamula, where unique cultural customs prevail over the conventions of non-indigenous Mexico. This independence is exemplified in the central church where, if the timing is right, you can witness a ceremony that blends ancient Maya spirituality and animism with a heavy dollop of Catholicism. You might see the locals drinking pox, a traditional ceremonial liquor sometimes served from a horn. This ritual alcohol has only recently become available for purchase outside insular Maya communities. If you’re curious, why not use part of your free evening back in town to sample some of this smoky spirit at a bar—enlightenment not guaranteed.
The culinary paradise of Oaxaca awaits after a full-day of public bus travel. You'll take a taxi to the bus station in the morning, then spend 9 hours on board. A great time to crack a book or take a nap. Stretch your legs with an orientation walk once you arrive and the rest is up to you. Oaxaca is famous for many unique regional dishes, and you should feel free to let your nose lead the way. Tamales de rajas (chilli and tomato tamales) are a good place to start, a delicious hand-held meal that’s been a staple in the area for thousands of years.
Eat breakfast early because your leader will be taking you to the market. You’ve got the rest of the afternoon to check out Oaxaca and the surrounding points of interest. You could start in the centre of town, with the widest tree in the world. The Tule Tree is over 2000 years old and spotting faces and figures in the knotty trunk is a local pastime. If you choose to visit this ancient behemoth you might find it sparks a desire to learn more about the rich history of the area. If that’s the case, why not take a cheap bus trip to the ruins of Mitla—an archaeological site that was first inhabited by the Zapotecs and subsequently the Mixtecs before the Spanish arrived.
An early start is necessary to get the most out of the journey to Mexico City. The 5-hour drive will be broken up with a quick stop to check out Puebla, a charming city where locally produced blue floral tiles adorn many of the walls. Next up is Teotihuacan, a sprawling ancient complex with wide streets and gigantic pyramids. A guided tour will help you to understand the geometric and spiritual influence behind the old-world city’s design. A 1-hour drive will see you arrive in Mexico City in the evening, where you might want to relax after a long day of sightseeing.
Today your leader will show you around the historic city centre. Visit Zocalo Square, a prominent central meeting place since Aztec times, and soak up the sound of rapid fire Spanish and booming drums that fill the vast space. The dome-topped Palacio de Bellas Artes is the next must-see attraction. Within the stark white marble palace you will find walls painted by the likes of Diego Rivera. You can spend the afternoon doing whatever takes your fancy in the heart of Mexico. Why not sit down lunch at a fonda (family restaurant)? You can usually grab a typically delicious three course meal for less than AUD 5.
Adios to those who are ending their journey here.