Best of Mexico

Cheers a margarita glass to the vivacious beauty and fiery flavours of Mexico. Discover the culture and landscapes of this fascinating country on a trip that takes you from Mexico City to Playa del Carmen – with a spattering of enticing stops along the way. Discover Maya history and culture at the incredible Chichen Itza ruins and visit Indigenous communities near the charming San Cristobal de las Casas. Indulge in a feast of delicious local food, with a chance to learn some cooking skills of your own. And snorkel in the brilliant Caribbean waters, laze on white sands and stroll through lively marketplaces. Waterfalls and mountains await you, and a host of museums, churches and archaeological sites give you a taste of Mexico’s rich cultural heritage.

Price Includes
• This is one of our most comprehensive adventures in Mexico, rich in historical and cultural highlights.
• Get up close and personal with the country's diverse heritage, from the magnificent Aztec temples of Teotihuacan to the brightly-dressed Maya folk of the hills of San Cristobal.
• There's something for everyone on this trip, whether you're a history buff, nature-lover or Epicurean.
• Compare Mexico City's heady street-food scene to the subtler fare found in Oaxaca.
• Your adventure culminates in rest and relaxation. The white sands and azure waters of Playa Del Carmen are the perfect excuse to extend your stay in Mexico.

Departure Dates

28 March 2020
04 April 2020
16 May 2020

Other departures available between January – December 2020, seasonal surcharges may apply.
Bonus

Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn 1,000 points on eligible trips with a minimum trip value of $1000^ per person after any other discount is applied. T&C’s apply.

$1 Deposit# on Intrepid trips worldwide

Room/Cabin information
Standard
Offer Ends

31 Aug 19,

unless sold out prior. Availability is limited.

Intrepid
Categories
Product itinerary

Itinerary

Day 1: Mexico City

Arrive at Mexico City’s Benito Juarez International Airport and 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. Settle in and, if you have time, take a stroll to get a feel for this vibrant and rapidly growing capital where the ancient and modern collide. You'll meet your leader and other members of your group this evening for a welcome meeting at 6 pm; the place of the meeting can be found at the hotel reception. This meeting will be followed by an optional group dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Meals Included

  • There are no meals included on this day.

    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 to start the second part of their trip – Best of Mexico & Cuba (QVKGC). Please contact our sales team if you wish to book or know more information on these longer combination trips.

     

    Day 2: Mexico City

    Enjoy a guided city tour of Mexico City. You'll visit the Metropolitan Cathedral, Zocalo, National Palace and Museum of Anthropology. After that, the day is yours to spend as you please. The Leon Trotsky and Frida Kahlo (La Casa Azul) museums are two popular sights worth checking out that aren’t included in this trip. Trotsky, having come off second-best to Stalin in the race to the helm during the Soviet era, was expelled and found refuge in Mexico City where he was eventually murdered, while Frida Kahlo is perhaps the most renowned Mexican artist in history. Both of which can be reached by Uber. Otherwise, just outside of the city, the colourful Xochimilco gardens and canals are especially fun on weekends.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Mexico City - National Museum of Anthropology (Closed Mondays)
  • Mexico City - Leader-led city tour of Historic center
  • Mexico City - National Palace and Diego Rivera murals
  • Mexico City - Metropolitan Cathedral

Optional Activities

  • Mexico City - Frida Kahlo Museum (Cheaper for students, pensioners & on weekdays. Closed Mondays) - MXN200
  • Mexico City - Leon Trotsky Museum - MXN40
  • Mexico City - Palace of Fine Arts (Palacio de Bellas Artes) (Closed Mondays) - MXN60
  • Mexico City - Boat ride through Floating Gardens of Xochimilco (Approx. per boat per hour) - MXN350

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 3: Teotihuacan Ruins / Oaxaca

    Leaving the hotel at 8 am, today you'll visit the Teotihuacan ruins, about 50 kilometres northeast of Mexico City (1.5 hour drive). Discover the amazing ruins known as the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon which dominate the skyline. This was once one of the biggest cities in the world. Stroll down ‘The Avenue of the Dead’ and see the clues to what life was like here nearly 2000 years ago. Continue to Oaxaca (5 hours) learning some Spanish from your leader on the way. This beautiful colonial city is known for its cuisine and lively art scene, but it's also a great place to browse for traditional Mexican handicrafts, with descendants of the Zapotec and Mixtec selling an array of bright woven blankets and shawls. Upon arrival, your leader will take you on a short walk around the hotel to help orientate you, and to point out useful services such as bus stops or ATMs.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Teotihuacan - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Leader-led Informal Spanish Lesson
  • Oaxaca - Leader-led orientation walk

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 4: Oaxaca

    Recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Oaxaca has much to offer travellers so today you’ll take a full day tour of the city and its surrounds, including lunch at a local family’s home. Be ready at 8 am for your local guide will take you to the Mitla ruins, which were once the religious centre for the Zapotec, and Hierve el Agua, a group of stunning natural rock formations where the minerals resemble cascading waterfalls. Sip on the famous, tequila-like local booze, mezcal, at a mezcal factory and visit the Tule Tree, a 1500-year-old tree that's over 11 metres in girth. Returning to the hotel about 8 pm, if you still have the energy, the evening is free for you to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy Oaxaca’s nightlife.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Hierve el Agua - Petrified waterfalls (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Mitla - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)
  • Oaxaca - Guided full-day tour including the Tule Tree, a Mezcal distillery, and lunch in a Zapoteca family home

Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Lunch

 

Day 5: Oaxaca

Today is a free day to explore Oaxaca at your own pace. Perhaps pay a visit to the archaeological site of Monte Alban. The Zapotec civilisation began construction of this city around 200 BC, and Olmecs and Mixtecs have inhabited it at different times. Have your camera ready to go, because up here you can get an amazing view across the three legs of the valley of Oaxaca. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the streets and take the opportunity to feast on some regional delicacies. From the delicious banana-leaf-wrapped ‘tomales’ to the spicy baked chilli and lime grasshoppers, there's no shortage of unique and delicious fare, usually sold by the lovely old ladies of the markets. Season depending, a folkloric ballet performance is also a great optional activity. The Santo Domingo Cultural Centre is also worth a visit.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Optional Activities

  • Oaxaca - Folkloric ballet (seasonal) - MXN130
  • Oaxaca - Cooking class - MXN1130
  • Monte Alban - Archaeological site (Entrance fee) - MXN95
  • Oaxaca - Santo Domingo Cultural Centre - MXN65

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 6: San Cristobal de las Casas

    Depart Oaxaca for the airport at approximately 5:30 am, then take the 8 am flight to Tuxtla airport (1 hour 20 minutes), before driving to the charming city of San Cristobal de las Casas (1 hour). Once in 'SanCris', as it's known, take a walk and soak up the strong old-world atmosphere of this town, which is due in no small part to the grand Spanish colonial architecture, prominent indigenous cultures and winding cobblestone streets. Your leader will help orientate you with a walk around the hotel, then you are free to venture further into the city.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led orientation walk

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 7: San Cristobal de las Casas

    This morning, your leader will take you on a walking tour of the city, passing impressive cathedrals, green plazas and countless museums. Next, head to the nearby Maya village of San Juan Chamula (30 minutes drive). Nestled in the highlands, this village serves as marketplaces and religious ceremonial centres for the indigenous folk who live in the surrounding hills. The local people have retained their traditional way of life and can often be seen wearing their own distinctive, colourful clothes. Journey another 15 minutes to visit the next town of Zincantan. As you explore with your leader, we'll learn more about these mostly Maya communities. Later, during free time back in SanCris, perhaps rent a bike to explore the town further.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Leader-led city tour
  • Maya village - San Juan Chamula Church (Entrance Fee)
  • Maya village - Zinacantan church (Entrance fee)

Optional Activities

  • San Cristobal de las casas - Bicycle rental (per hour) - MXN400

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 8: San Cristobal de las Casas

    The rest of your time in SanCris is free for you to explore on your own. You may want to pay a visit to the Na Bolom Museum, a small museum/research centre which was the home of anthropologist and photographer Gertrude Duby-Blom and her archaeologist husband Frans Blom. While Frans explored Mayan sites all over Chiapas, Trudy studied, photographed and fought to protect the scattered Lacandon people. Today, in addition to being a hotel and a museum, the house provides free accommodation to Lacandon people that make their way to San Cristobal for work, studies or medical reasons. Alternatively, you may want to visit the amber (jade) museum, which displays and sells beautifully carved items and insect- embedded pieces or venture to the Sumidero Canyon to get a dose of nature.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Optional Activities

  • San Cristobal de las Casas - El Chorreadero canyoning - MXN1400
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Na Bolom Museum - MXN50
  • San Cristobal de las Casas - Jade Museum - MXN65
  • Sumidero Canyon - Boat Excursion (Entrance & Transport) - USD30

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 9: Palenque

    Say goodbye to San Cristobal de Las Casas as you head for Palenque and its surrounding jungle. It will be an early start to minimise the chance of hitting road closures common in the area. There will be a stop or two to stretch your legs, before arriving (4-5 hours) at the low and wide Agua Azul waterfall, which flows slowly over limestone rocks. There's time for lunch (optional) and a quick dip, so remember to pack your swimsuit! Otherwise, enjoy a scenic stroll around the beautiful surroundings, before continuing to Palenque (1.5-2 hours). Dinner is included tonight.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Agua Azul waterfall - Visit with option to swim (Entrance fee)

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner

Special Information

The local Zapatista movement in the region around Palenque has been quite active in recent months, occasionally holding protests or blocking roads. Our local operations team is constantly monitoring this situation to ensure the safety of our passengers and leaders. In some cases, we might need to use a longer alternative route from San Cristobal to Palenque to avoid this activity - more so to bypass what can turn into extensive traffic delays, rather than any real danger. It's also possible that the Agua Azul waterfall will not be accessible at the time we are scheduled to visit.

 

Day 10: Palenque Ruins / Merida

At 8 am this morning you'll drive 30 minutes to visit the archaeological site of Palenque. Located on a hilltop in an area of hot jungle, these are some of the most astounding Maya ruins in the region, dating back as far as AD600. Some of the ruins remain unexcavated and are hidden in the surrounding forest. Enjoy a 2-hour guided tour of the site and keep an ear out for the strange calls of howler monkeys as you explore this lost city. At about 11 am, take a 3-hour drive to the lunch stop. Enjoy the chance to stretch your legs as there is another 4-5 hours' drive before reaching Merida at about 8 pm, the capital of the Yucatan region.

Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Merida - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Palenque - Archaeological site (Guide, Transport & Entrance fee)

Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 11: Merida

    Today is a free day to explore the many sights of Merida. Perhaps visit some of the museums, including the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the 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. 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') or the mind-blowingly spicy El Yucateco hot sauce. If you can't visit enough Maya sites, you may want to head for the ancient ruins of Uxmal. Here you'll visit the amazing Palace of the Governors, considered by many to be the best example of classic Maya architecture. You may choose to travel west out to the coast to take 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.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Optional Activities

  • Merida - Uxmal Ruins tour (inc. shared transport and guide) - MXN810
  • Merida - Contemporary Art Museum - MXN65
  • Merida - Celestun Bird Sanctuary (Entrance and Transport) - MXN1035

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 12: Izamal

    In the afternoon, transfer by private vehicle to Izamal, a small city an hour's drive from Merida. Izamal is an important pre-Columbian Maya site and your leader will take you for a guided walking tour of the city including a visit to the Convento de San Antonio de Padua, a Spanish monastery built on the site of a destroyed Maya temple in 1561. Take the opportunity to spend a lazy afternoon people-watching and soaking it all in.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Izamal - Convento de San Antonio de Padua (Entrance)
  • Izamal - Leader-led walking tour

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 13: Chichen Itza / Playa del Carmen

    Departing early, our first stop today is Chichen Itza, an hour's drive from Izamal. This is possibly the most famous Maya site in Mexico. You'll see the marvellous Temple of Kukulkan standing over the ruins and not far from the temple is the ‘ball court’, where many disputes are known to have been settled by way of a ball game that employed only the elbows, hips and wrists. Stone carvings depicting violence suggest it was not such a casual sport. Following a guided tour of the site, we'll continue to the resort town of Playa del Carmen (2 hours).

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Included Activities

  • Chichen Itza - Archaeological site (Entrance fee, Guide & Transport)

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

     

    Day 14: Playa del Carmen

    Take today to enjoy Playa del Carmen as you see fit. Kick back with a book, stroll along the white sands or snorkel in crystal-clear waters. Blessed with azure waters, powdery beaches and an almost European feel, Playa del Carmen is a popular resort town famed for its coral reefs. For adventures further afield, take a ferry across the turquoise seas to Cozumel, an island famous for its reef diving, or perhaps check out the Tulum ruins, an ancient Maya city protected against invaders by a high wall and situated on a cliff overlooking a white sandy beach. In the evening, settle in beachside and watch the world go by with a margarita in your hand or take advantage of the famous nightlife and let your salty hair down.

    Accommodation

  • Hotel (1 night)

    Optional Activities

  • Tulum - Archaeological Site (Entrance fee) - MXN75
  • Dos Ojos Cenote - Fresh water rock pool (Entrance fee with snorkelling gear included) - MXN350
  • Playa del Carmen - Bicycle rental (per day) - MXN250
  • Playa del Carmen - Ferry to Cozumel (Round-trip) - MXN326

    Meals Included

  • Breakfast

 

Day 15: Playa del Carmen

Your adventure ends today. There are no activities planned for the final day.

Meals Included

Breakfast
Helloworld Terms & Conditions

*Conditions apply. Prices correct as at 17 July 2019 but may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Offers subject to availability. Agents may charge service fees, rates vary. Payments by credit card will incur a surcharge. Airfare not included. All savings are included in the advertised price. #$1 deposit offer applies to Intrepid small group and Short Break tours departing before 31 December 2020. The offer is not applicable on Polar voyages, Intrepid Expeditions range, Urban Adventures, Asia Passes, private groups and chartered departures, Adventure Cruising, Galapagos departures on board the Grand Queen Beatriz, trips that include permits for Gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda, trips that include trekking the Inca Trail in Peru and tours operated by external 3rd party suppliers. Multiple $1 deposit bookings may not overlap in travel dates, however consecutive $1 deposit bookings are permitted. Full payment is due 56 days prior to departure. If booking within 56 days of departure, full payment is due immediately. Changes to dates or trips after a booking is confirmed with require the full applicable deposit to be paid. ^Qantas Frequent Flyer members can earn 1,000 Qantas Points on eligible Intrepid tours. An eligible tour is a tour that costs $1,000 or more per person after any other discount is applied. Members must add a valid Qantas Frequent Flyer number and surname to their booking before the trip departure. Qantas Points will be credited to the Qantas Frequent Flyer member’s account within 14 days of the trip departure date. Offers may be withdrawn without notice and are not combinable with any other offers unless stated. Please check all prices, availability and other information before booking. Intrepid Travel and Helloworld Travel booking terms and conditions apply, see in store for details.