I recently took a trip to Cancún and Tulum, Mexico and had a far better time than I ever expected! I was even able to hit another World Wonder! I will break down my trip to give you the best travel guide of what to do and see in both Cancún and Tulum, Mexico.
I traveled to Cancun in the beginning of December but booked my flight in October. I typically wouldn’t book my flight this far in advance but by checking the Hopper App and messing around with flight algorithms for a little I decided to go ahead with a purchase. Most of the people I was traveling with were coming out of another city, taking a lower level airline and still ended up paying more than me. My round trip flight was $225 from Mia to Cancún on American Airlines. Not too bad.
Stay tuned for my Pack like a Pro Blog Post to see how I managed to pack a weeks worth of clothes in my carryon and still managed to have extra clothes! This way you don’t have to worry about that checked bag fee.
The Cancún airport is very nice. A lot of good food options, very clean, huge duty free area and good shopping. I also went through customs very easily. I was pleasantly surprised. My biggest issue with most airports is bad signage. I didn’t have any issues with this here. You will walk quite a bit but that’s to be expected in many airports. Also, Clear is available at this airport and gets you through TSA in no time!
MY ACTIVITIES - Cancun
This location is so deserving of being a World Wonder. This was number three for me and my second this year! If you look up pictures of Chichén Itza you typically only see the main temple but it’s much larger than that and the significance and intelligence in the making of it is beyond fascinating. I went on a tour of Chichén Itza and a cenote booked off of TripAdvisor. This was my first time booking an excursion with them. If you’re staying in hotel zone, my recommendation would be to book this excursion from someone selling it the mall area. When booking online, TripAdvisor stated that all admission was included but that wasn't the case when I got with the tour group. Overall the experience was very fun even though it started rocky. The tour included a visit to a cenote, a buffet lunch and a guided tour of Chichen Itza. For two people the total came out to $140 USD including the extra $50 USD we had to pay which they claimed was a tax.
This was our first stop in our TripAdvisor tour. I would have preferred to go to Chichén Itza first but it worked out fine. Here you will first receive a blessing from one of the locals that still owns land near the property. After walking through the gift shop you have about 2 hours to explore the area that includes the buffet, a tequila tour and of course the Cenote.
Tequila Distillery Tour: Go through the making of Mexico's favorite liquor, Tequila from beginning to end. Once you have gone through the process from plant to distillery process you can do a tasting of the products they sell.
Cenote: Before you go in you must rinse of preserve the fish that are in the cenote. There are showers and locker rooms available. These are natural pools so expect to see some fish but they are small and will not bother you. There's honestly an amazing energy in there and you feel the serenity when you hit the water. They do have towels and life vest for rent at very low prices here.
Buffet lunch: The lunch had a great variety of food, very clean, great service and beer is included. If you're lucky you will catch some of the locals performing a native dance while you eat.
If you are staying in Cancún you are most likely staying in the Hotel Zone. It gives you somewhat of a Vegas Strip vibe but not quite. If you want to be in a young fun area, this is the place. Within hotel zone there is a mall, plenty of restaurants, clubs and plenty of activities. If you never wanted to leave that area, you really wouldn't have to. I would recommend purchasing an excursion package in the mall area if you're staying here. There's multiple companies stationed in there looking to sell their package so walk around talk to a few and pick the one that has the best value for the price!
The Club Scene: The club set up at most of the clubs in Hotel Zone is that you pay at the door and then you have access to an open bar. It's not so much sections like in the States. The price at the door can range from $30-$60.
Mercado 23: Barter! Barter! Barter! Looking for souvenirs for your entire family? This is the place. There are hundreds of little shops with everything you could want from bags to jewelry to shot glasses to local liquors. You can also try some local food!
Street food: In my experience, street food can sometimes be some of the best meals I have in different countries. Try some street tacos and street corn. You won't regret it!
MY ACTIVITIES - TULUM
The drive from the Cancun airport to Tulum will take just under 2 hours but it's a pretty smooth ride. Something I didn't know about Tulum before going is that it is somewhat cut off from the surround areas. I would recommend going the route my friends and I went with. We booked an AirBnB and reserved everything through there including our drivers, chef and yacht rental. These are plenty of really nice AirBnBs is the area that are not expensive.
Cenotes - Round 2
This cenote experience was even better than the first at Cenote Tortuga Tulum. What was so amazing about this one was that it was four different cenotes all at one location for only $25 USD! You receive a tour guide, goggles and life vest and lasted about 2 hours. I did not wear water shoes but the guide has a bin with him that you can place your shoes in at the beginning of each cenote. This would mainly be used for walking from cenote to cenote not being in the water because it is very deep or you’re waking in sand once you’re in the water. As a true adventurer and water lover, this was hands down one of the most amazing and fun excursions I've ever done. Three of the cenotes are in caves and you can even see bats sleeping in the first one. One of them is open and you're not required to wear a life vest. Plus you get to jump from a cliff into the clear waters if you want to! You do not have to know how to swim to do this activity.
I highly recommend taking a waterproof case for your phone! The pictures and videos you can take while being in the caves or underwater are incredible and definitely “insta worthy.” Click here to shop waterproof cases on my Amazon Storefront now!
Going Out Scene
If you want to go to the club you will most likely be going all the way to Playa Del Carmen about an hour away. Once you're in downtown PDC there are basically to strips of clubs and bars. We chose to go to a spot named Mandala which gives you somewhat of an American club vibe. They have sections, bottle service, gogo dancers and all the other things you're used to seeing in the clubs here. You can expect to hear a mix of music all night no matter where you go going from EDM to Spanish to Hip-Hop. I genuinely had a fun experience being out that night. There are also a lot of restaurants that are open late so you can stop for pizza or tacos for your ride back to Tulum. We did not actually go out in the city of Tulum.
While we had a chef to cook most of our meals we did go out for a gorgeous beach side dinner one night at Taboo. It’s a little more on the expensive side but you definitely get your money's worth. The service was impeccable and I loved my meal as well. Something really fun and cool that they had was a live violinist playing modern songs and killing it. He would interact with the guest and we had a really fun time. They have great drinks, seafood and steak options.
IMPORTANT NEED TO KNOWS
Drinking Water: One thing to be very mindful of is that you should not drink the water in Mexico. That means not brushing your teeth with the sink water, being mindful of drinks with ice in it or smoothies and foods that have to be washed in water and served uncooked. Hotel rooms typically comes with two water bottles or have a place to fill a reusable water bottle.
Bathrooms: While it was not stressed as much here, Mexico is like many other 3rd world countries where you should not flush the toilet paper. Some places have signs that say it and some don't. Toilet paper is available at almost all restrooms unlike some other countries that really promote not flushing the paper so they don't even provide it.
Getting around: Google maps is your friend. I don't know if its an issue with my person phone or what but Apple Maps just doesn't seem to work for me out of the country. Uber/Lyft are not available here so it is important to either ask your hotel or AirBnB host for a reliable taxi company.
Language: The native language in Mexico is Spanish but you do not have to know how to speak it in order to get around. Yes, it would help but if you're going to places like Cancun or Tulum their will be tons of locals that speak English or at least enough English for you all to understand each other.
Until Next time, Stay Trippin'!