15 days

Mexico In Depth

Mexico In Depth

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Mayan ruins of Palenque

UNESCO World Heritage-listed pre-Hispanic city of Uxmal

The Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán and Spanish city of Oaxaca

UNESCO World Heritage-listed Chichen-Itza

Teotihuacan's Pyramids of the Sun and Moon

Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan

Cancun and Playa del Carmen

San Cristobal de Las Casas' Chiapas indigenous culture

Mexico City

Trip rating
  • This is our most comprehensive tour in Mexico. Having explored Mexico City and the great ruins of Teotihuacan we discover the delights of Puebla and Oaxaca. From Monte Alban we visit the ruins of the Zapotec capital before continuing southward to the town of San Cristobal, complete with its traditional Indian communities. The magnificent Palenque Mayan ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza.

    Why we love it

    • This is our most comprehensive tour in Mexico.
    • Having explored Mexico City and the great ruins of Teotihuacan we discover the delights of Puebla and Oaxaca.
    • From Monte Alban we visit the ruins of the Zapotec capital before continuing southward to the town of San Cristobal, complete with its traditional Indian communities.
    • The magnificent Palenque Mayan ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Mayan sites of Uxmal and Chichen Itza.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Mexico City

    • On arrival at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, you will be transferred to the hotel in the heart of the downtown area.
    • In the evening (usually around 7pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing.
    • Please check the notice board at the hotel reception for confirmation of the exact time and place of the meeting.
    • This meeting is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.
    Hotel Regente City or similar

    Day 2 - Teotihuacan - Mexico City

    • Located 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City are the 'must-see' archaeological ruins of Teotihuacan - the site of the massive Pyramid of the Sun and Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline of the complex.
    • This was once the country's biggest ancient cities, and capital of the Aztec people, who ruled over the largest empire in the pre-Hispanic era. Guarded by mountains, this magnificent city is thought to have been founded early in the 1st century AD and reached its peak around 500 AD, when its influence extended down to Guatemala and as far north as present-day Texas.
    • With the help of a local guide, you will have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’, uncover its many wonders and imagine what life must have been like nearly 2000 years ago.
    • You will also visit Virgen de Guadalupe, the city’s major religious landmark. After your exploration you will return to Mexico City in the afternoon.
    Hotel Regente City or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Mexico City

    • Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Situated in the middle of a vast valley, this energetic metropolis, with a population exceeding 20 million, is one of the largest cities in the world.
    • There is a saying that if it happens in Mexico, it happens in Mexico City!
    • Following a city tour, you will have a free afternoon to discover the city's myriad of neighbourhoods and historic buildings.
    Hotel Regente City or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Puebla

    • This morning you will travel by private minivan to Puebla.
    • Puebla has managed to maintain its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. There are a plethora of churches and colonial buildings that remain a testament to its proud history.
    • You will spend time at the local markets, a great place to hunt down hand-painted tiles and other handicrafts, take colourful photos and try your hand at bargaining.
    • To finish off a busy day, perhaps refuel with the local specialty, mole Poblano, a dish famous across Mexico. You may prefer to learn how to cook this famed dish for yourself at an optional cooking class.
    Hotel Colonial or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 5 - Oaxaca

    • This morning you will travel by minibus to the colonial city of Oaxaca. If you're interested in purchasing traditional Mexican handicrafts, this is the place! Descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls.
    • Oaxaca has a vibrant art scene, and is famous for its colourful markets and its relaxed, laid-back feel. It is also a great place to try out some regional delicacies, from ‘mole’ sauces and banana leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’ to the baked chilli and lime grasshoppers. These are sold by the little old ladies at the markets, with each of them declaring that their creation is the best.
    • If the frenzy of finding a bargain becomes too much, chill out in one of the many laid-back cafés and soak up the ambiance by observing everyday life passing by.
    Hotel Oaxaca Real or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Monte Alban - Oaxaca

    • Today you will drive the short distance up a nearby hill to the ancient Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban, which looks out across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC and it reached its peak during the period between 300 and 700 AD, when the population was estimated to be around 25,000.
    • Monte Alban exercised political, economic and ideological control over the local communities and surrounding regions that include the peaks of three mountain ranges that converge in this valley.
    • With the help of your local guide, you will have plenty of time to explore the remnants of plazas, tombs, palaces and temples that make up this fascinating site.
    • We return to Oaxaca for the afternoon, which is free for you to explore at your leisure.
    Hotel Oaxaca Real or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Tehuantepec

    • This morning we drive south towards the Pacific coast on our way to Tehuantepec.
    • On the way we will stop to see the Tule Tree (an impressively large Montezuma cypress tree), a Mezcal factory, and the ruins at Mitla.
    • Mitla is an important Zapotec archaeological site and was the main religious centre for the Zapotec people. It was originally built as a gateway between the world of the living and the world of the dead and the name Mitla is derived from the Nahuatl word Mictlan, meaning ‘underworld’.
    • We spend the night in the town of Tehuantepec.
    Hotel Calli or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 8-9 - San Cristobal de Las Casas

    • Today we continue driving east into the state of Chiapas.
    • On the way we visit Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon. We then continue on to San Cristobal de las Casas.
    • San Cristobal de las Casas has a distinctive old-world feel, thanks to the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets. It also maintains its indigenous routes.
    • Villages like Chamula are tucked in to the highlands surrounding the San Cristobal, these essentially act as market places and places of religious ceremonial import for the local indigenous people who live in the neighbouring hills.
    • The traditional way of life has been preserved for the local people here, and you will have the opportunity to see them in customary dress. In order to gain a better understanding of these largely Mayan communities, you will have the chance to explore the myriad of surrouding villages on a cultural tour.
    Hotel Arrecile de Coral or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 10-11 - Palenque

    • You will depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and head for Palenque today. The highlight of this part of the trip is a visit to the Misol-ha and Agua Azul waterfalls.
    • Though geographically close, Misol-ha and Agua Azul waterfalls are astoundingly different. Misol-ha stands 35 metres high, and the water cascades in one single drop to a pool below. You can walk underneath the water to the cataracts on the other side of the fall.
    • Agua Azul is, by contrast, a wide a low waterfall, defined by a number of smaller falls across limestone. The minerals in the limestone lend the long river here a beautiful blue hue.
    • You might like to take a refreshing dip in the turquoise water here. Be aware that the current in some areas is very strong, so ensure you pay close attention to the guidance of your tour leader.
    • The following day we visit the ruins of Palenque.
    • Situated on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, lie some of the most incredible Mayan ruins in the region, dating back to AD600. The eerie calls of howler monkeys echo through the jungle as you wander among ancient ruins, further enhancing the majestic nature of this magnificent site. Some ruins remain unexcavated and hidden in the surrounding forest.
    Hotel Maya Tulipanes or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 12 - Campeche

    • Pack your swimsuits today as we drive north towards the Gulf of Mexico, where we stop at the beach for a swim. We then drive on to Campeche where we spend the night.
    • Campeche is a typical Spanish colonial harbour town, complete with walls and fortifications. A UNESCO World Heritage site, many of the town's buildings have been restored, and as a result it is one of the most picturesque towns in Mexico.
    • We take an orientation tour of the city and also visit the San Miguel Fort and museum.
    Hotel Baluartes
    Breakfast

    Day 13 - Merida

    • This morning we head into the ancient ruins of Uxmal to view the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the finest example of classic Mayan architecture, and the mystical Pyramid of the Magician, which consists of 5 super-imposed temples.
    • We then continue on to the city of Merida, and take a tour of the city.
    • Known as the 'White City' due to its great use of limestone and white paint, Merida was a centre for Mayan culture long before the arrival of the conquistadors. Today Merida is a bustling city with much of its colonial influence intact.
    • You will have plenty of time to explore the many sights and your guide will be able to recommend a number of sightseeing options, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan, the shady Plaza Grande, replete with a 16th century Cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace, and Casa Mantejo on the others.
    • The outdoor market is another must-visit, with an array of hammocks and mayan replicas for sale, as well as a selection of enticing local specialties, including ochinita pibil or the brain-numbingly spicy el yucateco.
    Hotel del Gobernador or simiilar
    Breakfast

    Day 14-15 - Chichen Itza - Playa del Carmen

    • Chichen Itza is arguably the most famous Mayan site in Mexico. Its name came from the deep, natural well known as a ‘cenote’ (sinkhole containing groundwater) located near the centre of the site, which was used during the city's heyday as a place for human sacrifices to appease the Mayan rain god Chaac!
    • The magnificent Temple of Kukulkan stands over the ruins and not far from the temple is the ‘Ball Court’, where it is believed many disputes were settled in a game with combatants hitting a ball by using only their elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depict the violence of the play around the ball court walls, suggesting it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, you will continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen.
    • There are no activities planned for the final day and you will be able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    Hotel Playa del Carmen or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Local tour leader
    • Local guides
    • Arrival transfer
    • Transport
    • Sightseeing and entrance fees
    • Meals: 14 Breakfasts

    Not Included

    • Airport departure tax
    • Visas where required
    • Meals not included in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry
    • Any optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips
    • Items of a personal nature

    Safety Information

    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Mexico In Depth

    Dorothy - , 22 Dec, 2011
    5
    Overall Rating

     

    Ernesto has encyclopedic knowledge about the historic sites and his country. Sometimes almost too much. 

    Some of us felt we could easily have used another day in Mexico City. Or you could advise your clients to come a day or two early, there is so much to see.

    rt his knowledge about the ancient Inca civilisation was amazing.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PSMI
Group size 1 - 16
Start City: Mexico City
End City: Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Style: Small Group

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