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Seven Better Options Than Cancun When Visiting The Yucatan

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The other day, an old coworker emailed me for advice on his upcoming trip to the Yucatan. Having been there twice, I count the Yucatan as one of my favorite places in the world.

After responding to his email, I realized I’ve only ever written one other post about my trip, most specifically about our stay at Tita Tulum. So, I decided to just post my response to him here so all you other Betties could get a taste of what the Yucatan has to offer.

Valladolid—A small town on your way from Cancun to Chichen Itza. The first time, we just stopped in for conchinita pibil overlooking the main plaza. The second time we spent a night and were charmed by this small city. Cenote Dzitnup is a must to swim in. And Ek Balam is within easy driving distance. It was being newly restored when we went, so it’s probably a more substantial ruin site by now.

Itzamal—Our overnight stay here was a happy accident. The city is gorgeous, mostly painted yellow and absolutely breathtaking at sunset. Don’t forget your camera. It’s a bit out of the way, but it worth the trip if you can swing it. We met a crazy character named Hector who owned a small souvenir shop off of the main drag. He’s American and supposedly was a roadie with the Grateful Dead for a while.

Uxmal—I love ruins and out of all we’d seen in Mexico, this was my favorite site. I assume you’ll be hitting it. There are also three lesser-visited ruin sites nearby and each has its own great reason for visiting.

Tulum—We stayed at Tita Tulum and it’s the whole reason we went back a second time. Looks like you’ve already gotten your accommodations arranged, so I’ll just tell you to make sure you bring your swimsuit when you visit the Tulum ruins. There is a small beach nearby where you can swim out and look back at the only coastal Mayan ruins in existence. I forgot my suit, so I’ll have to live vicariously through your experience.

Merida—The capital city filled with festivals pretty much every night of the week. It’s a little bustle-y and polluted, but worth an overnight visit.

Rio Lagartos
—Again, here we met an interesting character named Filiberto who took us out in his boat to look for flamingos. Then we stopped off at a pink salty pond, which sounds weird and fun and it is. With the hurricanes over the past few years, there are fewer flamingos than usual, so if you ask around, you might find a better town for sightings. For us, meeting Filiberto was more of a highlight than the birds.

Playa Del Carmen
—This is the town where we strolled, shopped and partied. We stayed at La Tortuga and because we went back to PDC three times, got to stay in their swim-up room, their palapa, and their jaccuzi suite. It looks like they’ve done some renovation since we were there, which should make the experience even better.

Also, driving around is a breeze. It’s worth taking the toll roads because they’re fast and you avoid a lot of topes (speedbumps). Plus, there’s hardly any traffic. You mostly share the road with butterflies. We took the slow route only once for the experience and it was deathly slow in comparison. Having said that, it’s still pretty cool to see more of the rural communities along the way.

Travel Betty Basics


Tita Tulum

Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico (about 2 hours south of Cancun)
Rooms $80-170 per night
(We stayed in lovely Cabaña #6 Tucan both times)
Ask for a discount for multi-night stays
The open-air restaurant serves delicious food and strong drinks

Hotel La Tortuga

Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico (about an hour south of Cancun)
$88-305 per night depending on room category and season.

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