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Valladolid is a charming town in the Yucatan Peninsula. Many people stop by en route to/from Chichen Itza, but it is worth spending a full day here if you have the time. The colorful architecture, colonial churches, and ample amount of ice cream will keep you curious and satisfied all day long.
Weather: The weather in the Yucatan Peninsula varies from warm to hot year round, but there are two noticeable wet and dry seasons. The wet season, (also known as the hurricane season) typically starts in June and ends in October. The dry season begins in November and lasts through May. An optimal time to travel is in May after Spring Break and before June. Prices tend to be a little lower, the volume of visitors have decreased, and the weather is still great. If you plan to book your trip in the summer months be sure to check the weather patterns. Valladolid generally tends to be hotter because it is inland.
Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. If you plan on spending the night, dinner attire is also casual. Even though Valladolid is inland, respectable bathing suits underneath attire can be worn if you plan on going to a cenote (underground sink hole ideal for swimming and exploring).
Culture: Valladolid has a small town friendly feel to it; they are very welcoming to visitors. Please be respectful of the town to maintain the charm. The staff at the visitors center (located across the main park) are also available to answer any questions you have, and signs are bi-lingual.
Shopping: If you love chocolate, you are in the right place. Chocolate Artesenal Maya Chocol Haa is a museum, cafe, and store. Learn about the importance of chocolate, taste the 10 different varieties, and buy your favorite flavor. You can find this gem on Calzada de los Frailes, a beautiful road mixed with Mexican stores and restaurants.
Some Suggested Activities In Valladolid:
Calzada de los Frailes: Walk around this colorful street, search for your perfect souvenir, and try local delicacies such as Lomitos de Valladolid, a pork dish in fresh tomato sauce.
Francisco Canton Rosado: Take a walk around the central park, eat ice cream, and people watch. It's one of my favorite things to do, and you can learn so much culture through observation. You will hear laughter, see lovers, and watch entrepreneurs making the most out of a hot day.
Traditional Agave Distillery: Take a tour of the blue agave distillery, walk through the fields, and learn about the traditional step by step process to obtain the agave liquid. This tradition has lasted for over 400 years; and will add special insight about customs and culture of the Maya. At the end of the tour, you will have the opportunity to take some tequila home with you!
If You Are A Foodie: Enjoy fresh Mexican food atop the Cenote Zaci. Savor fresh salsa, tortillas, nachos, plantains, and other Mexican specialities. A bonus: if you have lunch here, you will get free admission to the cenote.
Safety Tip: Carry water, biodegradable sunblock, a snack, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you?
The Yucatan Peninsula is one of the most beautiful places I have experienced. Located on the Mexico's Caribbean coastline, Riviera Maya is full of life and culture, rich Mayan history, and sparkling blue beaches. It is a place to visit time and time again.
Weather: The weather in Riviera Maya varies from warm to hot year round. November - January are the coolest months; the climate is warm, but the nights tend to get a little cooler. February - May tend to be the optimal months to visit; the water is calm and the climate is highly pleasant. The hottest months are between June - August, however be aware that hurricane season is officially between June - November. The peak season tends to be from November - January, spring break, and Easter weekend.
Basic Style Etiquette for Men and Women: Casual and sophisticated. Playa del Carmen attracts a more mature crowd than Cancun. Men and women should pack clothing that is light and breathable; be sure to leave your jeans at home. For women: when you are touring around, it is acceptable to wear a bathing suit with a tank top, shorts, and sneakers. Men can wear similar attire when touring; bathing suit, shirt, and sneakers. People typically dress up for dinner, and transition into their clubbing clothes after midnight. Be sure to bring your most comfortable sandals for the beach and for walking around.
Culture: The people in Riviera Maya are friendly and approachable. They are very proud of their heritage; it is okay to ask questions, however do not generalize their ethnicity. Many locals are (understandably) very particular about their background, so be respectful. Our surroundings were full of fresh cuisine, color, and celebration, so enjoy this culture for all its splendor.
Shopping: You will find a variety of hammocks, hats, clothing, pottery, and jewelry that you will want to take home but find something meaningful that resonates with your style. We found these beautiful lamps from a company called Jellyfish on 5th Avenue. Each lamp is made from local gourds or jicaras and reflect Mayan symbols.
Some Suggested Activities:
Tulum: This ancient Mayan city overlooking the Caribbean Sea, is exceptionally unique. Tulum was the first Mayan city discovered by Spanish conquerors in the 16th Century. Visit Tulum to learn about old trading routes, the meaning behind Mayan architecture, and find yourself at the beach after you walk through history. Private tour guides are available when you purchase your entrance ticket.
Coba Ruins: These ruins in the jungle are well worth the 50 minute drive from Tulum. Coba was once a major urban center in the Yucatan Peninsula with complex routes and alliances. You will find well preserved hieroglyphic texts and architecture walking through Coba. Do not miss seeing the views from Nohoch Mul (meaning great knoll), the tallest structure on the Yucatan Peninsula at approximately 138 feet in height.
Cenote: These natural fresh water sinkholes were created naturally over 6,500 years ago. They are perfect for swimming, diving, and exploring. Dos Ojos (meaning two eyes) is a local favorite; it is tucked away in the Mayan jungle, and the caves are approximately 61 km in distance. Please be sure to bring biodegradable sunscreen to protect the natural ecosystem.
5th Avenue - Playa Del Carmen: Filled with restaurants, small shops, and name brand stores, 5th Avenue is the most popular street in Playa Del Carmen and less than a minute walk to the beach. The main attractions are between Calle 3 Sur (south 3rd Street) to about 40th Street. The streets are organized by even numbers, so you really are walking about 22 blocks.
If You Are A Foodie: There are several beach front seafood restaurants that you will love. Fusion is a wonderful little restaurant on the beach. Watch the waves, order some ceviche or fajitas with a refreshing beverage, listen to live music, and life is good! Fusion is located on 6th Street and the Beach in Playa Del Carmen.
Safety Tip: Carry water, sunblock, and an umbrella and/or a hat when you are touring. You do not want to get dehydrated or sunburnt on your trip, do you?