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Mexican / central american honeymoon?

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
So im getting hitched in joshua tree this May and looking into central and south america for our honeymoon spot. Budget is 3-600 a night.

Merida to maya riviera was one thought, has anyone gone through there lately? Im assuming crime isnt an issue that far south, but whats the vibe? Merida seems pretty interesting culture wise and safe. I was thinking of driving down for some beach time at maya riviera. Is that a easy drive? Is maya riveria tourist hell?
Is maya riviera just cancun, playa carmen and tulum? or are there other spots in between? If so i think it could be too touristy for our tastes.

Other options are nicaragua, costa rica, and the like.
We are looking for a chilled out vibe, to use travel vernacular- bohemianchic (barf) . Less resort more small boutique operations.

Nicaragua looks very promising, managua & granada look like a great towns to dig into before going off to the coast and jungle.
Been to costa rica, but would certainly go back.

Nature, hiking, food and culture are all important to us, so Im ruling out the more touristy areas such as playa carmen/cancun ect..

Any thoughts, suggestions would be very welcome. Wildcards? Colombia? uruguay? peru?

Thank you kind sirs
Edited by eglbc - 4/6/13 at 10:43pm
post #2 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by eglbc View Post

So im getting hitched in joshua tree this May and looking into central and south america for our honeymoon spot. Budget is 3-600 a night.

Merida to maya riviera was one thought, has anyone gone through there lately? Im assuming crime isnt an issue that far south, but whats the vibe? Merida seems pretty interesting culture wise and safe. I was thinking of driving down for some beach time at maya riviera. Is that a easy drive? Is maya riveria tourist hell?
Is maya riviera just cancun, playa carmen and tulum? or are there other spots in between? If so i think it could be too touristy for our tastes.

Other options are nicaragua, costa rica, and the like.
We are looking for a chilled out vibe, to use travel vernacular- bohemianchic (barf) . Less resort more small boutique operations.

Nicaragua looks very promising, managua & granada look like a great towns to dig into before going off to the coast and jungle.
Been to costa rica, but would certainly go back.

Nature, hiking, food and culture are all important to us, so Im ruling out the more touristy areas such as playa carmen/cancun ect..

Any thoughts, suggestions would be very welcome. Wildcards? Colombia? uruguay? peru?

Thank you kind sirs

First, have the mods move this to Travel. Better reception there.

I just spent 6 months in all these places so I can definitely help you out here but I need to know what you mean by 'bohemian'? Lots of hippies, lack of tourists, sleeping on the beech, etc.? It can differ wildly from place to place. How long are you going for?

For pretty much ANYWHERE in Central America, looking for any sort of 'bohemian' vibe on that large of a budget is ridiculous. You could stay in hostels if you really wanted to do it like that. Shit, $500 a night could book you a room at the LeBlanc, which is the fanciest all-inclusive resort in the whole damn part of that Americas.

Lastly, what activities do you want to do? Ruins, diving, mountain climbing, etc.. Be specific.

If you have any questions feel free to PM me.
post #3 of 30
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your feedbacks, I appreciate any insights, because I dont know anyone who has travelled that region personally.

When i laid out budget, i was imagining a higher end, but relaxed vibe, like aman resorts but not quite as costly.Emphasis on view, nice rooms, and spa. Think coqui coqui tulum.

Its honeymoon so no hostles. Design influenced lodging is a plus.

We are going for about a week, wouldnt mind 2 main destinations. jungle/forest/mountain/lake and then a beach for pure downtime.

Very interested in ruins, cenotes, caves, snorkeling and hiking. Authentic cultural experiences a plus, so this makes me think that playa carmen / tulum may be out of the question. Though merida and valliodad look very interesting and near ruins.

I know the word bohemian is kinda vague and loaded, but i want somewhere that you wont find drunken pink NJ tourists, instead a culturally refined clientele. (NYT T magazine readers smile.gif)


Our initial plan was belize then tikal, but seems like the May weather in belize veers towards cloudy all month into rain.

How do i get mods eyes on this for the move?
post #4 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by eglbc View Post

Thanks for your feedbacks, I appreciate any insights, because I dont know anyone who has travelled that region personally.

When i laid out budget, i was imagining a higher end, but relaxed vibe, like aman resorts but not quite as costly.Emphasis on view, nice rooms, and spa. Think coqui coqui tulum.

Its honeymoon so no hostles. Design influenced lodging is a plus.

We are going for about a week, wouldnt mind 2 main destinations. jungle/forest/mountain/lake and then a beach for pure downtime.

Very interested in ruins, cenotes, caves, snorkeling and hiking. Authentic cultural experiences a plus, so this makes me think that playa carmen / tulum may be out of the question. Though merida and valliodad look very interesting and near ruins.

I know the word bohemian is kinda vague and loaded, but i want somewhere that you wont find drunken pink NJ tourists, instead a culturally refined clientele. (NYT T magazine readers smile.gif)


Our initial plan was belize then tikal, but seems like the May weather in belize veers towards cloudy all month into rain.

How do i get mods eyes on this for the move?

Whelp, you do now. Always happy to help a bear at a picnic table. Report the thread and ask for it to be moved.

Just to clarify - hostels have private rooms, so you could easily have your own time while still being 'bohemian'. Just throwing it out there.

Saving that, find a cheap-ish hotel. Any one will do. None of the areas you really want to go to, save Cancun, are all that pricey.

I was completely unimpressed with Merida. I know Lonely Planet raves about it. But the center of town is one zocalo and.....that's about it. Its cute, but its so far out of the fucking way of anything that its really not worth it IMO. You won't be there for whale shark season, but if you want the completely off the beaten path thing, Isla Holbox is a tiny little island where all the streets are sand. Cute place. I couldn't do more than a day or 2, mostly because I just don't like tiny places like that. Cancun gets a bad rap IMO. Honestly, the beaches there are some of the nicest I've seen. And you usually can score a good deal on a hotel since there's fucking overrun with them. Food and drink aren't overpriced, and if you stay out of the clubs, its not bad at all. You can get to Chitzen Itza very easily from there (about 2/2.5 hrs each way) which makes it an ideal jump off point for doing that. There's nothing worth seeing in Valladolid. NOTHING. Mark it off the map.

Now, if you do stay in Cancun, again which I recommend, you can get to Isla Mujeres from there. A larger island than Holbox, and more refined, but still not so big that it loses its charm. All tourists and locals though. Cozumel is off the cost of Playa del Carmen. The ONLY reason to go to Cozumel is if you scuba dive. If you don't, scratch it off the list. Playa's an alright place but I thought it was overrated. Kind of a Rio-light vibe there. I do get the impression that you'd LOVE Tulum though. An absolutely gorgeous beach, two ruins (one that literally sits on a cliff overlooking the beach, the other less than 30 minutes away), cute boutique hotels and palapas on the beach, and a very bohemian feel to the city (which is tiny). Also, very easy access to the cenotes in the area which are pretty fucking cool. Some to snorkel, some to dive. I'd definitely recommend that for you.

As far as 'authentic' cultural experiences go, they're few and far between. Saving an authentic restaurant, or eating at someone's house, there's really nothing that special about the area. Is very touristized, and the things they do advertise as being authentic, often end up feeling cheap and touristy anyway.

Now, if you want, you could get into Mexico City. From there, you could see a WHOLE host of other cool shit. Transport to and from Cancun is ridiculously cheap. If you like trains, and hiking/cool shit, I cannot recommend the train ride through the Barrancas del Cobre (the Mexican Grand Canyon) highly enough. Absolutely incredible vistas, excellent excursion opportunity, and some amazing scenery. Or, you could head south from Tulum to Chetumal and hop the ferry to Belize. Or you could go south west from Tulum to Palenque (my second favorite ruin) and see the ruins and Agua Azul. Then you could get into San Cristobal and from there into Guatemala.

I got a TON of options for you.
post #5 of 30

Rambo nails it.

 

Merida is great if you live there.

 

I liked Holbox - quiet little fishing village. The place to go if you want to sit under a palapa and have a grilled fish caught moments earlier, some fresh guacamole and a beer for about $7. Enjoy the village life.

 

Tulum is worth a few days. You can do high or low and everything in between. Cenotes are cool - diving them is not for the faint of heart.

 

If you get down to Guatemala the maya ruins at Tikal are pretty cool and I loved Antigua. Stay far away from Guatemala City.

 

lefty

post #6 of 30
I was thinking about this today. If you want to do a beach/ruin run, this is how I'd do it:

Fly into Mexico City. Cheap places to stay abound (even hostels with very nice private rooms). Stay one night that you fly in to get settled. If the weather's ok, in the morning, get up at the butcrack of dawn and go to Teoitican. You want to be there on a day with no/little clouds, so that when you climb the pyramids, it makes you feel like you're walking into the sky. VERY COOL. Then, head back home. Next day, you can either go to the Anthropology museum (tons of cool shit) or fly to Cancun. Fly via VivaAeroBus (about $100) to Cancun. When you get to Cancun, relax. Next day, head to Chitzen Itza. When you get back, relax. Next day, head to Tulum. In Tulum, do the Tulum ruin/Beach one day, and Coba/cenote snorkling the next. Assuming you can knock that out in 2 days (might take you a third depending on the Cenote schedules), head to Palenque. In Palenque, stay the night. The next morning, head to the Palenque ruins. Then, when you get back, head over to Agua Azul. Palenque's out of the way from anywhere, so this is where it gets tricky:

-either head back on an overnight bus to Chetumal so that you can board the ferry to Belize

-head south to San Cristobal

Depending on which one you pick, you can either head into Belize and do the islands/mayan ruins there (some cool shit) or Guatemala (Tikal, which is probably the best ruin of them all)
post #7 of 30

I'm mexican and I think Rambo has a better idea of those places haha. 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eglbc View Post

Is maya riviera just cancun, playa carmen and tulum? or are there other spots in between? If so i think it could be too touristy for our tastes.
 

 

About this, Cancun is one place and the Riviera Maya another one. Both I think they are great, but I think that the Riviera Maya have a more intimate experience than Cancun. Cancun it's like the typical vacationist place, everybody goes there, so if you go in a vacation period, it might be full. Riviera Maya, if I don't remember bad, I was in Playa del Carmen, it was more calm but the sea was "dirty" because a huracaine just passed by, but I think right now the sea should be great. 

 

Plus if you want to be near archeological sites, there is the most famous Xcaret, but Xel-Há it's very cool too. Maybe you can grab a boat or fly to Cozumel which is very near the Riviera Maya and have some great places too. 

 

post #8 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rambo View Post

I was thinking about this today. If you want to do a beach/ruin run, this is how I'd do it:

Fly into Mexico City. Cheap places to stay abound (even hostels with very nice private rooms). Stay one night that you fly in to get settled. If the weather's ok, in the morning, get up at the butcrack of dawn and go to Teoitican. You want to be there on a day with no/little clouds, so that when you climb the pyramids, it makes you feel like you're walking into the sky. VERY COOL. Then, head back home. Next day, you can either go to the Anthropology museum (tons of cool shit) or fly to Cancun. Fly via VivaAeroBus (about $100) to Cancun. When you get to Cancun, relax. Next day, head to Chitzen Itza. When you get back, relax. Next day, head to Tulum. In Tulum, do the Tulum ruin/Beach one day, and Coba/cenote snorkling the next. Assuming you can knock that out in 2 days (might take you a third depending on the Cenote schedules), head to Palenque. In Palenque, stay the night. The next morning, head to the Palenque ruins. Then, when you get back, head over to Agua Azul. Palenque's out of the way from anywhere, so this is where it gets tricky:

-either head back on an overnight bus to Chetumal so that you can board the ferry to Belize

-head south to San Cristobal

Depending on which one you pick, you can either head into Belize and do the islands/mayan ruins there (some cool shit) or Guatemala (Tikal, which is probably the best ruin of them all)

 

Now, this is a very nice schedule! If you fly via VivaAeroBus, buy the VIP tickets, I don't know if they are still available, so that you get first in the plane and select where to sit, if not it's a mess haha.  

post #9 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by Betelgeuse View Post

I'm mexican and I think Rambo has a better idea of those places haha. 
Quote:
Originally Posted by eglbc View Post

Is maya riviera just cancun, playa carmen and tulum? or are there other spots in between? If so i think it could be too touristy for our tastes.

 

About this, Cancun is one place and the Riviera Maya another one. Both I think they are great, but I think that the Riviera Maya have a more intimate experience than Cancun. Cancun it's like the typical vacationist place, everybody goes there, so if you go in a vacation period, it might be full. Riviera Maya, if I don't remember bad, I was in Playa del Carmen, it was more calm but the sea was "dirty" because a huracaine just passed by, but I think right now the sea should be great. 

Plus if you want to be near archeological sites, there is the most famous Xcaret, but Xel-Há it's very cool too. Maybe you can grab a boat or fly to Cozumel which is very near the Riviera Maya and have some great places too. 



We really enjoyed staying in Akumal, which was lower cost than Xcaret and Xel-Há. Very low key vibe, easy access to Tulum and Coba. I'd skip Cancun and Playa del Carmen for their over-development and touristy tackiness.

I disagree with lefty and Rambo about Merida and Valladolid, but it all depends on what you're looking for. Valladolid is small and quiet, Merida is pretty typical of a mid-sized Mexican city. It's unpretentious and was pretty much undiscovered by tourists from the US until the last 10 years or so, so it has none of the generic touristy crap that Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are blighted by. Uxmal is a top rank ruin, and is about an hour outside of Merida. I liked Progreso as well, it's more of a working seaside town than the others, but still has a decent beach and has great food.

Rambo is spot on about visiting Mexico City though. Phenomenal place.
post #10 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by imatlas View Post

Rambo is spot on about visiting Mexico City though. Phenomenal place.

 

nod[1].gif I don't remember how many museums the city have... but we are the city with the most museum in all the world. Check this link out, if you decide to come to Mexico City, this is a top 15 of the best museums to visit http://www.excelsior.com.mx/2012/07/19/comunidad/848680

 

Just consider that some of them are in what is know as "El Centro" or "El Zócalo" so don't dress luxurious to go there, something casual, and you are going to have fun. And also ask in your hotel for "Taxis de sitio", don't take a taxi in the street not because it's dangerous, but if they see that you don't speak spanish or something like that, they might overcharge you, meanwhile the "Taxis de sitio" they have established tarifs and it's safer.

post #11 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by imatlas View Post

We really enjoyed staying in Akumal, which was lower cost than Xcaret and Xel-Há. Very low key vibe, easy access to Tulum and Coba. I'd skip Cancun and Playa del Carmen for their over-development and touristy tackiness.

I disagree with lefty and Rambo about Merida and Valladolid, but it all depends on what you're looking for. Valladolid is small and quiet, Merida is pretty typical of a mid-sized Mexican city. It's unpretentious and was pretty much undiscovered by tourists from the US until the last 10 years or so, so it has none of the generic touristy crap that Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are blighted by. Uxmal is a top rank ruin, and is about an hour outside of Merida. I liked Progreso as well, it's more of a working seaside town than the others, but still has a decent beach and has great food.

Rambo is spot on about visiting Mexico City though. Phenomenal place.

I snorkeled with the turtles in Akumal. Definitely ranks as one of the most underwhelming experiences on my first trip. Its like watching cows eat grass under water. I suppose I could agree with you on Merida, but Valladolid blew. I didn't do Progresso but I heard it was nice and quaint. I skipped Uxmal. I wanted to see it at night as they light it all up, but the geniuses in the Yucatan government didn't think it wise to arrange a bus to be available back from there at night and a taxi was like $40. Pass. Plus, its not nearly as nice as any of the other ones I listed above.

Xcaret and Xel-ha aren't actually ruins. They're ecological parks setup by the Mexican government. Think of them as state funded Disney Worlds. Lots of cool shit to do there. But definitely tourist traps.

http://www.xcaret.com/

http://www.xelha.com/
post #12 of 30
Bookmarking this thread for future reference
post #13 of 30

When I was last in Mexico City (we were considering relocating there) my wife's company ferried us around in armored cars and wouldn't let us wander the streets in seemingly nice neighbourhoods. I did steal away to hook up with a protection dog trainer for a day who then took me to his training partner's apt where they kept a year-old tiger. The cat had his own bedroom. We wanted some beer so we took the tiger for a walk to a local bodega. No one really bothered us.

 

The cathedral in the main zocalo is pretty nice (I believe the oldest in the americas) and the anthropology museum is great.

 

If you do go to Tulum (and you should) stay an extra day and kayak through the biosphere - it's pretty sweet.

 

lefty

post #14 of 30
Thread Starter 
can i get contact for protection tiger?

Lots of amazing info here.

For anyone whos been to tulum, is it expensive? can you eat like a local? What are your honest opinons of it?
post #15 of 30

Uh men, the food it's amazing everywhere, no kidding. 

 

If you decide to come to Mexico City, we also have in here a lot of different food from all the world, no kidding again plus the local cusine. 

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