I will start by saying, I have finally made it to Mexico. Although it was not my top list destination, it was my sister's for years and so after reading a lot about safety, I have finally decided to go for it, and so glad I did!
As (stupid me) was unaware of this, I will start with a tiny bit of geographical information.
First of all, the Yucatan Peninsula is in the east of Mexico, right above Belize & Guatemala. This I knew :). What I did not know is that Yucatan & Yucatan Peninsula are 2 different things. Basically the Yucatan Peninsula is formed out of 3 districts:
Now that this was settled and we know where we are travelling to, I want to also clarify the the term of Riviera Maya, as you might hear references to it :)
Riviera Maya = "It straddles the coastal Federal Highway 307, along the Caribbean coastline of the state of Quintana Roo, located in the eastern portion of the Yucatan Peninsula. Historically, this district started at the city of Playa del Carmen and ended at the village of Tulum, although the towns of Puerto Morelos, situated to the north of Playa del Carmen, as well as the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, situated 40 kilometres (25 mi) to the south of Tulum, are both currently being promoted as part of the Riviera Maya tourist corridor." (Source)
You will most likely arrive at Cancun Airport. I will take a few minutes from your time to give you some peculiar details of this airport.
Things that I wondered before arriving:
1. they do have WiFi in the Airport is sort of powered by Google or something like this. It's not very good or stable, but it works.
2. There is a free shuttle bus between terminals, I saw it, but did not take it (as an ADO driver gave me a lift :))
Waiting for someone at Cancun Airport:
I arrived in T4 and got to T3 (ADO driver drove me to T2, then walked to T3) to wait for my sister.
When I got to T3, I was not allowed to go and wait for her at arrivals, there seems to be no actual arrivals hall area like in other airports.
Her view: when she would arrive, she would go out and end up where the buses/taxis are
My view: I was on the side, close to departures, and was not allowed to go where the taxis were (at her arrival location).
Basically that meant 2 things:
1. I had to stay put to try to spot her when I would see her arriving, yell for her to come on the side where I was (My voice is not very loud)
2. we had no real transport option except of what they would want us to use.
I wanted to book ADO, but they said that there are no spaces available, of course not true, but I could not reach on my own the ADO (there might have been an option, but it was night and if you don't know the airport not easy to move around) so my only option was to take a taxi. They ask 2800 pesos for a taxi to Playa del Carmen which I think is outrageous, but anyway we ended up paying 100 Euro (approx 2050MXN)
I used 3 main locations as accommodations and from there we arranged what to do & see
1. Playa del Carmen - 3 nights
Day 1 - Visit Playa del Carmen + Beach
Day 2 - Day trip: Chinchen Itza + Ik Kil cenote + Coba
Day 3 - Visit Playa del Carmen + Trip to Merida
Day 1 - Day trip to Izamal
Day 2 - Day trip to Uxmal & Celestun
Day 3 - Visit Merida
Day 4 - Trip to Tulum
Day 1 - Tulum Ruins + Beach
Day 2 - Gran Cenote + Beach
Day 3 - Trip to Cancun Airport
I will detailed everything in separate posts so that I don't make this one too long.
Agency we used: Condor
âContact name: Andres de la Mora
Phone Number: +52 1 998 214 9009
They have several Tours in a 12 persons van. The driver is also a guide.
Private driver option:
The driver from Condor (Delio) gave us the phone number of his brother (Luis Aguilar) who is located in Merida, so if you need private transport around that area you can give him a call. He has both a regular car and a van.
Phone Number: +52 1 999 470 1118
If you need transport around Cancun you can ask Luis for Delio's number - he is based in Cancun.
It felt safe at all times in all places we've been. That highlighting that we were 2 girls and used our iPhone/photo camera etc without stress or problems. We did not stay late into the night, but I don't think that would have been a problem. The only safety concern I had was in Tulum due to stray dogs (and I am super afraid of dogs).
To also add, one of the drivers we had also highlighted, that in this area of Mexico you can see people everywhere with their phones out as it's safe but this is not the case all over Mexico
ADO is a company that provides decent/good quality transport in between cities. Thus for longer distances I can only recommend them. They have different quality services, with ADO Platinum being the luxury version and those ones are super comfortable (Website)
Oriente - second class of ADO - they have no toilet and are quite old
Drivers on both ADO & Oriente seemed to be experienced & professional people
Collectivos - we did not use them, but are small vans that you can basically stop almost everywhere to go to your next location (if you are on their route)
Taxis - are safe to use, make sure you agree the price when you go in the taxi, they have no meters. To ensure you get a fair price ask your hotel on how much such a trip would be
Bicycle - In Tulum going around with a bicycle is very common especially if your hotel will be in Tulum Pueblo and not in Tulum Zona Hotelera
I will actually not type a packing list as the climate is not that difficult, but make sure you have comfortable-summer cloths + swim wear. If available, have your snorkeling equipment and water shoes as well. Check the weather before, and potential pack in a rain-jacket.
Plugs: Type A & Type B
Basically they use the same type of Plugs as in the US. If coming from a country with different type of plugs, don't forget your adapter
Spanish, of course. But a lot of people speak also English especially if you stick around Cancun/Playa del Carmen. If you go deeper, this is less the case.