Traveler ‘To-Do’ Tips from Cancun to Merida

December 30, 2009

I frequently get asked about how to best to travel from Cancun to Merida. Depending on what part of the world you are coming from and what airlines you have miles with, flights into Cancun may be more reasonable than those into Merida. Travelers landing in Cancun will have the option to take a tour bus, hire a taxi or rent a car. The best way to get to Merida of course depends on your length of stay, what time of day or night you arrive, your connecting plans and a myriad of other variables. I’ll cover the basic travel options and To-Do’s here:

BUSES: Taking a tour bus will be a low stress and comfortable 4-hour ride with no stops directly to Merida. The downside is that day time travelers will only be doing windshield sightseeing along the way. ADO Platinum provides luxury buses with the most affordable rates compared to a taxi or renting a car. If you have a late arrival and need to overnight in Cancun, check your airline for hotel hook-ups and credited miles. Best Western hotel is conveniently located across the street from the ADO Platinum Bus Station. Best Western is clean and has a restaurant. Once in Merida at the Fiesta Americana hotel bus station, you can either take a 10 minute taxi ride to Casa La Barenda or arrange pick up by our local management team.

TAXI: Just say no. It will be too expensive.

CAR RENTAL: You can rent a car right at the Airport where most of the major providers are represented. Check your airline travel benefits for best deals first. It’s about 208 Miles or 336 Km from Cancun to Merida. Be sure to get a map from your car rental agency and a copy of Yucatan Today—a very informative ‘local happenings’ magazine that has good maps inside. Oh, and bring a small compass too—I’m not kidding! If you are not used to the flat, but nearly featureless jungle wilderness of the Yucatan, it can be both memorizing and disorienting at the same time.

Below are just a few of highlights to consider seeing along the way.

First up—The city of Valladolid. Worth a longer look than you likely have time for on a day trip. Valladolid is a terrific colonial city about 1 hour out of Cancun with a beautiful central square and notable architectural features. Valladolid has an old-world feel with an intrinsic charm–just what I look for in my travels through Mexico. Highlights of the town also include two Cenotes (say-NOH-tay) or sink holes. One in an unlikely location at the center of town is Cenote Bolonchojool. You can walk to the bottom on a path where you’ll find swimmers, or just hang out at the restaurant above that nearly overhangs for terrific views. And there is another spectacular one just a few kilometers outside of town to the southeast too–Cenote Dzinup or X’kekén. This Cenote is probably the quintessential Cenote of the Yucatan. Breathtaking natural beauty!

Next stop—the legendary Chichen Itza. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and recently named one of the ‘New 7 World Wonders’. Chichen Itza is nearly half way between Cancun and Merida, and you could easily spend a day here, but day-trippers to Merida will only have a few hours. Try to squeeze in time for a favorite beverage next door at the Mayaland Hotel. Walk the manicured gardens and check out the bungalows. This place was interesting enough for us to stay a night or two and forget about the race to Merida. It gave us the time we needed to decompress and thoroughly investigate Chichen Itza too.

Bottom line: With everything I just mentioned it will be a packed day and likely include some night driving into Merida. So you might find yourself deleting sights to make up time or improve the quality of your trip. And if that’s the case, the priorities might be Chichen Itza and Cenote Dzinup or just Chichen Itza.

Alternatively, you can always catch the Cenotes at Cuzama. (See my blog on the web page “Indiana Jones Day Trip” for more on this). http://casalabarenda.com/blog.html

Once you get Merida, the city forms a grid using the cardinal directions and there are several one-way streets. Streets are called ‘Calle’ with even numbers running north to south and odd numbers running east to west. Overshooting a street will just require a trip around a block or two. If you become disoriented in locating the casa you can call our local management team to guide you in.

The maps on the web page can be helpful too: http://www.casalabarenda.com/maps/Yucatan-state.jpg

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