Days
15
Price from
R58,864ZAR

Discover Maya ruins, Indian communities and colonial towns on this in-depth Mexican adventure

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 continue southward to the town of San Cristobal, complete with its traditional Indian communities. The magnificent Palenque Maya ruins are next and then comes the Yucatan Peninsula with stops in Merida and the Maya site of Chichen Itza.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2018
From 01st January 2018 the itinerary and some inclusions of this trip will change - Details are below in the 'Important Notes' Section. Please click the link under 'Itinerary' to switch to the 2018 version.


Start
Mexico City, Mexico
Finish
Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Country
Mexico
Style
Peregrine
Code
PSMI
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
89 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • This is our most comprehensive trip in Mexico, rich in historical and cultural highlights

  • Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the extraordinary Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the colourfully-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal

  • There's something for everyone in this trip, whether you're a history buff, nature-lover or Epicurean

  • Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to subtler forms found in Oaxaca

  • Your adventure culminates in rest and relaxation. The white sands and azure waters of Playa Del Carmen provide the perfect excuse to extend your time in Mexico

Is this trip right for you?

  • Some included activities, such as guided tours of archaeological sites, can be strenuous. Be sure to bring comfortable and sturdy footwear.

  • There are a few long days of travel, as you'll be covering a lot of ground. So be prepared for some driving. You will, however, make stops at interesting locations along your way to break things up.

  • Due to sporadic Zapatista protests in the region around Palenque, some changes to day 9 of your itinerary may be necessary.

  • The tropical climate of Central America means conditions can be hot and humid. Always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 22 January 2017 to 31 December 2017. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2018 - 31 December 2018

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport, where you'll be transferred to your hotel. A complimentary transfer is included with your trip. Please ensure you provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel so the transfer can be organised.

In the evening (about 6 pm) you will meet your tour leader and the other members of your group for a pre-tour briefing. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place, and have your insurance details and next of kin information ready for collection.

This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

There are enough activities to do in Mexico City to keep you busy for a week, so you may want to consider to arrive to Mexico City a day or two before the start of your trip. Some of the most popular activities in Mexico City (apart from the ones included in this trip) are:

Leon Trotsky Museum - Having come second best to Stalin on the race to the helm of the Soviet Union, Trotski was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City - where he was eventually murdered. The entrance fee includes free guided tours in English. Ask about it at the ticket box. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost you approximately MXN 100.

Perhaps visit the Frida Kahlo Museum for a deeper understanding of this renowned Mexican artist. Bear in mind that queues can be long to enter this museum (we recommend you book tickets online), particularly on weekends. An Uber taxi from your hotel to the museum should cost approximately MXN 160 each way. This museum is closed on Mondays.

If you prefer to get out of the city and escape the crowds, take a trip to the canals and gardens of Xochimilco. An Uber taxi should cost about MXN 300 to get there.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum - MXN200
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Special Information
This trip can be booked as part of a longer combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may continue travelling to Cuba, El Salvador or Costa Rica at the end of this trip. Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.
Today is a long but worthwhile day. You'll start a city tour of Mexico City at approximately 8.30am. First off is the impressive National Museum of Anthropology, before heading to the Zocalo (main square) for a visit to the Cathedral and National Palace. You will discover that Mexico City is an exciting mix of modern cosmopolitan glamour with remnants from both its ancient and colonial history. Your city tour will finish at approximately 3pm so make sure you carry some snacks and water.

Mexico is synonymous with tacos, so this evening (at approximately 7pm) your leader will take you on a 'taco crawl' around town. Explore a variety of tastes from locals' favourite "taquerias". Warning - you may not want to know the ingredients in your taco before you try them! Just trust your taste buds. This activity should take between 1 to 1.5hrs

After Tacos, your leader may suggest taking a taxi to Plaza Garibaldi, where for about MXN 200 you can get a Mariachi band to perform for you!
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
Optional Activities
  • Mexico City - Mariachis in Garibaldi Square (entry is free, price to hire a band for 2-3 songs) - USD8
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Today won't have a chance to go for lunch until approximately 3pm. So make sure you carry some snacks and water.
Travel by private minivan to Teotihuacan - about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City. Here you'll discover the extraordinary Aztec ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the country's biggest ancient cities and the Aztec capital. With the help of a local guide, you'll have time to stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ to see fascinating clues to what life here was like nearly 2,000 years ago.

Return to Mexico City after lunch (not included) and spend another afternoon exploring this vibrant metropolis.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Geneve or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
At approximately 8am you'll farewell Mexico City and head south to Puebla. The drive takes about 3 hours depending on local traffic. Once in Puebla, your leader will take you on a walk around this town which has retained its colonial heritage despite rapid growth and development. The walk will include a visit to the Calle de los Dulces (Candy street), El Parian (handycraft market) as well as a couple of colonial buildings that remain a testament to Puebla's proud history, such as the Town Hall Palace and the Rosary Chapel.

You will have lunch in Puebla (not included) before continuing south to Oaxaca, another 5hrs drive.

Oaxaca is renowned for its cuisine and vibrant art scene. It's also an excellent place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, as descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec Indians sell an array of bright woven blankets and shawls here.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning your leader will take you on a tour of Oaxaca including Santo Domingo Church, Zocalo and local art and craft galleries. You'll arrive at the 20 de Noviembre market in time for lunch, where you can search through the many local restaurants for whatever you feel like – perhaps focus on the famous grilled meats hall.

In the afternoon, travel out of the city (approximately 1hr drive) and visit the nearby village of Teotitlán del Valle. The settlement is famous for its weaving, particularly of colourful rugs. Here you'll visit a workshop and see a weaving demonstration.

Later, learn about a peculiar tradition not many have the opportunity to witness when visiting Oaxaca: beeswax candle making! You will visit a local shop that keeps this centenary tradition alive to learn about the technique involved in the making of these delicate candles and maybe have a go at it yourself!

Finish up at an artisanal mescaleria. Unlike other mainstream mescalerias, here you will have the opportunity to meet an experienced "palenquero" and learn about the production of this famous Mexican drink made from cactus. Needless to say, you'll taste some of the best mescal in the area. Salud!
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
This morning you'll take a cooking class to get to grips with some regional specialties. The tour starts at approximately 10am with a visit to the local market – wandering past stalls of everything from cactus fruit to grasshoppers, Oaxacan chocolate, and then heavenly Oaxacan cheese - queso oaxaca – and pick up some supply ingredients for you class. Then you'll visit a local house and try your hand at cooking some regional delicacies. No doubt there will be some kind of corn involved – it's been a staple of Mesoamerican cuisine for over 7,000 years.

After feasting on your creations, the rest of the afternoon in the city is free. Perhaps continue the day's food theme by visiting Calle de los Dulces, or 'Sweets Street', to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Mision de los Angeles or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
Optional Activities
  • Oaxaca - Monte Alban Ruins (entrance fee) - USD10
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - USD8
  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - USD10
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Take a noon flight to Tuxtla Gutierrez. before travelling by minivan to the Sumidero Canyon, an 800-metre deep canyon carved out by the Sumidero River and dating from the same time as the Grand Canyon - the boat tour takes approximately 2hrs.

Then continue driving a further 1.5hrs to San Cristobal de las Casas where you can expect to arrive by 7pm. In the evening, take in the distinctive old-world feel here, which comes from the Spanish colonial architecture and pretty, cobbled streets.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Please note that occasionally towards the end of dry season (November to April) the water level in Sumidero Canyon may become too low for us to safely take the boat tour. If our staff deem this activity to be unsafe, we will replace it with another included activity of similar value.
This morning embark on a half day tour to the Mayan villages of San Juan Chamula and Zinacantan. These villages, nestled in the highlands, serve as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous people who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and are often seen dressed in their own distinctive colourful costumes. You will explore these villages with a guide and learn more about the culture and history of these mainly Mayan communities.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Parador Margarita or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today is a long travel day as you depart San Cristobal de Las Casas and travel north to Palenque. On the way you will visit the waterfalls at Agua Azul and Misol Ha. Today's driving time adds up to approximately 8hrs. You should expect to arrive to Palenque at about 6pm.

Situated in hot jungle, Palenque is the jump-off point to the nearby Maya ruins of the same name – you'll visit them tomorrow.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Villa Mercedes or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Notes: Due to increased activity by the Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque, some changes to your itinerary may be necessary for your safety. The Zapatistas have recently been targeting tourists in order to draw attention to their cause. As a result, some transport to and from Palenque may need to be rerouted, which means longer travel times of up to 9 hours. Some activities, including visits to the Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls, will be unavailable until this situation is resolved. Alternative activities will be organised as required and explained by your tour leader at the welcome meeting. Currently there are no safety issues within the city of Palenque itself, or at the nearby Mayan archaeological site. We’re constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders.
Today you will meet a local archaeologist for a memorable morning visit to the ruins of Palenque.

Archaeologists have been hard at work uncovering the secrets of this ancient city, but around 90% of the site remains unexcavated and concealed in the forest. Sitting on a hilltop surrounded by thick trees, the ruins date back to 600 AD and are some of the most impressive Maya relics in Mexico. As you walk among the temples, listen out for the eerie calls of howler monkeys and screeching parrots echoing through the jungle. The area gives you a real idea of what the Spanish invaders must have seen when they first came across the hidden ruins.

After an early lunch, continue driving north to Merida. This will be your last long travel day on this itinerary - approximately 8 hours. Arrive into the historic town of Merida in time for dinner (not included).

Merida was funded in 1542 and it still retains much of its old-world charm. Take in the splendour of its many colonial buildings and learn more about the Mayan heritage of the town.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Castellano or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Palenque - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
In the morning, travel west (1.5hr) to the coast before taking a boat ride and visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere Reserve. Here, near extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you'll see a variety of coastal birds. Depending on the season (usually Nov-Mar), you may be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape .

In the afternoon there’ll be some time to explore the many sights of Merida and your guide will be able to recommend some good options. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Museum of Yucatan and stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture. Hang out in the green and shady Plaza Grande, with the 16th-century cathedral on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other. For a taste of Merida's 19th-century glory, go for a walk along the mansion-lined Paseo de Montejo. The outdoor market is another essential visit, with an array of hammocks and Mayan replicas for sale, plus a selection of enticing local cuisine, including the dish cochinita pibil ('little pig').
Accommodation
  • Hotel Castellano or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
Optional Activities
  • Merida - Regional Museum of Yucatan - MXN52
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Today you leave Merida at 6am and arrive to Chichen Itza by 8am in time for breakfast. After breakfast you will take a 2hr tour of Chichen Itza. This is possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. Recently named one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Chichen Itza has both Toltec and Mayan ruins lying alongside each other. The famous El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan) pyramid dominates the site. Not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’ where many disputes are were settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not some casual sport. Nearby, excavations of the Well of Sacrifice offered up treasures of jade, copper and gold, as well as many human and animal bones.

Following a guided tour of the site, continue to the Caribbean coast and the resort town of Playa del Carmen (approximately 3 hours).
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and a European feel, Playa del Carmen is a resort city close to Cancun but with less of a party atmosphere.

Today is a relaxing day as you take a short trip down the coast to Xpu-Ha beach. This quiet, hidden away beach is a perfect place to escape the crowds and soak up the Caribbean atmosphere. You may choose to swim, snorkel or simply lay back under an umbrella to read a book.

In the evening, back in Playa, you can feast on seafood, relax, and watch the sunset and waves with a margarita or two.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Yucatan Coast - Xpu-ha beach visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Spend the day exploring the Yucatan Peninsula. Travel out to ruins of Tulum (approximately 1 hour). This ancient Maya city was once an important trading port, protected against invaders by a high wall. Situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach, it offers wonderful views and photo opportunities. Wander around the ruins with your guide, learning about the castle, temple and other structures within.

On the way back to Playa del Carmen, perhaps stop at a hidden cenote for a refreshing swim. These stunning natural sinkholes are filled with crystal clear fresh water and make for a memorable dip.

Back in Playa del Carmen, enjoy the last of your time reading a book at a beachside bar or taking a stroll among the trendy holidaymakers lining the shore. In the evening, why not head out with the group to reflect on your experiences and indulge in one final meal.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Hacienda Paradise or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum ruins guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Playa del Carmen - Cenote (sinkhole) visit - USD12
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast today.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Special Information
Some departures of this trip are part of a combination trip. As such, some of your fellow travellers may be continuing on longer itineraries such as – Mexico & Costa Rica Highlights (PSMRC), or Mexico, El Salvador and Guatemala Explorer (PSMGC), or Central America Uncovered (PSMDC), or Mexico & Cuba in depth (PSMBC), or Mexico & Cuba Highlights (PSCMC)

Meals

14 breakfasts, 1 lunch

Transport

Private minibus, plane

Accommodation

Hotel (14 nights)

Included Activities

  • Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
  • Mexico City - City Tour
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral
  • Mexico City - Taco crawl
  • Mexico City - Teotihuacan archaeological site (inc. transport, entrance and guide)
  • Puebla - Visit Puebla on route to Oaxaca
  • Oaxaca - Leader led city tour
  • Oaxaca - Teotitlan del Valle visit
  • Oaxaca - Beeswax candle shop visit
  • Oaxaca - Artisanal mescaleria visit
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class
  • Oaxaca - Mezcal Factory
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Sumidero Canyon (inc. transport)
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Mayan villages tour inc. San Juan Chamula
  • Palenque - Misol-Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls
  • Palenque - Archaeologist led visit to Palenque ruins
  • Merida - Celestum boat tour
  • Chichen Itza Ruins - Entrance & Guided tour
  • Yucatan Coast - Xpu-ha beach visit
  • Playa del Carmen - Tulum ruins guided tour

Reviews

Our Mexico In Depth trips score an average of 4.4 out of 5 based on 89 reviews in the last year.

Mexico In Depth, November 2017

Anneli Atkinson

Mexico In Depth, October 2017

Kathleen Townend

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Important notes

START AND END TIME:
On Day 1 there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at approximately 6pm. There are no activities planned for the final day.

COMPLIMENTARY ARRIVAL TRANSFER:
To book your complimentary arrival transfer you must provide your flight details to your booking agent at least 14 days prior to travel.

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:
A Single Supplement to have your own room is available for purchase on this trip.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2018
From 01st January 2018 the itinerary and some inclusions of this trip will change. Please click the link under 'Itinerary' to switch to the 2018 version.

To constantly improve our itineraries we take on all feedback from our previous travellers and local teams. There is a lot of ground to cover so currently day 10 has a 9-11 hour bus trip however for next year we will add a night in Campeche to break up this journey. The itinerary will be the same length but will have one less night in Playa Del Carmen in order to slow down the pace and shorten the distances travelled in one go. There may also be some minor changes to inclusions.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.