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Free Travel Guide: Mexico


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Free Travel Guide: Mexico

  1. 1. Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Zacatecas and more... Learn what to see and do ...before you get here 1
  2. 2. INDEX editorial After years of traveling around the mai travel guide of... mexico! world using branded travel guides found online and in book acapulco 4 palenque 26 stores I discovered a need of free, small, cancun 8 playa del carmen 28 concise guides that would give me the cozumel 11 puerto vallarta/ sayulita 31 highlights I need to know to decide what guadalajara 14 san cristobal de las casas 34 I should visit in each country. Mai Travel guanajuato 17 san miguel de allende 37 Guides are an attempt to satisfy this isla mujeres 20 zacatecas 40 demand while saving you some money! mexico city 23 Founder/ Editor Federico Arrizabalaga VIVA MEXICO! Tequila, tacos, mariachis and drug violence are usually the first words pronounced by people from around the world when asked to describe what Mexico means to them today. And while they might all be valid, the 14th largest country in the world offers much more to the untrained eye than what you might think: from tropical beaches in Cancun, to thick jungles in Chiapas or whale watching in Puerto Vallarta you are sure to experience an adventure you will never forget.advertisingPlease contact us via email if you’d Mai Travel Guide Mexico 1st Edition EDITOR IN CHIEF Federico Arrizabalaga CREATIVE DIRECTOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER VERO AVANTlike to sponsor this travel guide March 2012
  3. 3. Mexico! It was in 1519 that the first Spaniards arri-ved in this part of the world and soon absor- a third world country. Food-wise, beef and goat dishes are the most relevant food staples,bed the local native populations into what with arrachera being the preferred style. Onwas Spain´s enormous colonial empire. In- the other hand, southern Mexico has thickdependence from Spain came in 1821, but 35 jungles and a tropical rainy climate whichyears later the Mexican-American war broke has been (and still is) home to indigenous tri-out ending in 1858 and resulted in Mexico lo- bes for centuries. Undoubtedly this has hadsing about half its territory to the USA. Inva- a big impact on local food, and it is here thatded by France late in the 19th century and you will try those dishes usually unheard of.ruled by Porfirio Diaz thereafter he broughtindustry and modernization at the expense And then there are the beaches. Cancunof human rights and freedom, paving the probably has the most famous in the coun-way to the 10 year Mexican Revolution. In try, but the beaches along the Pacific coast1929 the PNM became the ruling party in the are not to be easily tamed: head to Puertocountry, later changed its name to PRI (Insti- Escondido for massive surf or chill out alongtutional Revolutionary Party) and governed the empty beaches of Nayarit and make anyfor the rest of the twentieth century. Changes your own for as long as you want- perfectbegan after the 1985 earthquake which re- sunshine and exquisite nature will becomesulted in almost 30,000 deaths (numbers are the flawless background for your own post-still unconfirmed), when ineffective mana- card.gement of relief efforts resulted in populardissatisfaction, public demonstrations, and Unfortunately Mexico has been very popu-the first signs of the PRI’s decay. In July of lar for the past two years or so, although not2000 Vicente Fox became the first president for good reasons and rightfully so. The coun-belonging to a party other than the PRI (the try has never been able to brag about publicPAN) which now has Felipe Calderon as the safety, but drug related violence is wides-government ruler. pread and abundant affecting not only law enforcers and drug involved delinquents but Mexico’s geography and culinary options ordinary citizens too. Cities like Monterreyare as different and tasteful as its history: or Nuevo Laredo and others bordering thetough, spicy, and of consequence. Northern USA should be avoided, and ask about roadMexico is mostly arid, flat (except for a few safety before any overnight bus or car drive.minor mountain chains) and shares the lon- This said have fun, enjoy the food, and shoutgest border in the world between a first and loud Viva Mexico!
  4. 4. acapulco Acapulco lies around a bay of the Pacific coast of Mexico, 300 km south of Mexico City. History and OverviewI nitially home to the Olmecs, the area around Acapulco passed through Mayan and Aztec rule until the Spanish established a port in the early 1530s. Visiting the city in the early 1900s the then Prince of Wales recommended the city to the Eu- ropean elite, and was already a quite popular resort for them. The city’s commer-cial development began around the 1950s, and then became a popular destinationwithin Hollywood circles. Since 2011 tourism in this city has suffered a setback withthe recent spate of gang-related violence and negative publicity.
  5. 5. Acapulco might not be as glamurousas it was four decades ago, butthere is still an undeniable beauty. erlucho facts for the visitorJ uan N. Alvarez international airport connects Acapulco with both domestic and International locations, and is a 45 minute flight from Mexico City.Round trip tickets range from $25 to$50 if you book early. You can also takea bus or drive from Mexico City whichis about 3 – 4 hours away by road. Taxis are plentiful in the city, but theseare typically non-metered and fares must benegotiated. Shared taxis are also popular, and have aflat rate of $1. Private buses also ply the city streets andthese are an easy way of traveling within. If you wishto drive around, many recommend you hire a car witha driver. The average peak temperature in the city is around Taxis are typically non-metered32°C (90°F), while the average minimum temperatures and fares must be negotiated.are around 22°C (72°F). Peak temperatures reach ashigh as 41°C (106°F) in May and dip to as low as 11°C Shared taxis are also popular,(52°F). and have a flat rate of $1 5
  6. 6. For decades the divers at La Quebrada havebrought tourists from around the world. prayitno acapulco what to visit Acapulco is One of Mexico’s oldest the closest beach to coastal tourist destinations Mexico City. Acapulco is famous for its nightlife. T he northern part of the bay is home to a num- old trees, the square is more culturally inclined than ber of upscale Mexican hotels, restaurants and the rest of the city, and houses the city’s main cathe- nightclubs, while the southern part hosts the dral. There are also a number of sidewalk cafes and newer constructions and caters mostly to the in- street kitchens that offer full meals for as little as $2. ternational and wealthier Mexican clientele. During the evenings the square fills up with locals Acapulco’s beaches, popular with US students on and a variety of entertainers. spring break, are all concentrated in the bay area in A feature unique to Acapulco is the La Quebrada front of the main boulevard (La Costera). Some of Cliff divers. Since 1934, people have been diving off the nicer beaches on this stretch include the Caleta the cliffs of La Quebrada into a small pool at the base and Langosta beach. There are a lot of opportuni- in a superb test of skill and bravery. A platform has ties for snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. Deep been set up at the base of these cliffs to witness this sea fishing for sailfish is quite popular around here. spectacle, where a token fee of under $1 is collected. Acapulco’s main square, el Zocalo, on the western For the adventurous, some of the hotels also offer side of the main boulevard, is a great place to spend a options for bungee jumping, paragliding and jet leisurely afternoon. With fountains and a number of skiing. 6
  7. 7. acapulco cuisinethe cuisine in Acapulco is pescado a latypically seafood, with a talla:coal- grilled fishstrong traditional Mexican marinated ininfluence. chile sauceC eviche, a popular dish here and anywhere along the Pacific coast, consists of raw diced fish or shrimps, marinated in lime and salt, topped with cilantro onions and gar- lic. You could also try other Acapulco seafood favori-tes such as Caldo de cabeza de pescado - fish head soup,pescado a la talla - coal-grilled fish marinated in a chilesauce or meat dishes such as Huaxmole – pork ribs brai-sed in mole sauce. To wash the food down, make sure you also try traditio-nal drinks such as agua de Jamaica, a drink made from redhibiscus flowers. Stronger beverages include tuba and Sangrede Baco.other places of interest Isla de la Roqueta is a place you must visit, with its manyRoughly 10km Northwest of Acapulco is Pie trails, lighthousede la Cuesta, a narrow strip of land that and snorkelingdivides the freshwater lake of Laguna de opportunities.Cuyoca from the Pacific Ocean.W hile you can access the lagoon, the Pacific Ocean side of the strip is out of bounds to tourists due to the unpredictable surf. Buses from Acapulco ply this strip. East of Acapulco, on a smaller bay, lies Puerto Mar-quez – a small tourist-friendly town with a number ofbeachside shacks which offer good food and liquor.A smattering of Spanish in your vocabulary shouldhelp you find your way here. Isla de la Roqueta is a place you must visit, with itsmany trails, lighthouse and snorkeling opportunities.Getting to the Island is an experience in itself –take awater taxi ($3.50) or the glass bottomed harbor tourboat ($7) from Caleta beach. It is a very popular tour(can be crowded during high season). 7
  8. 8. CANCUN A coastal city located on the Mexico’seasternmost state of Quintana Roo, Cancun was developed only as recently as 1970. History and Overview T hough occasionally inhabited since Mayan times, the city’s development started in earnest only once the Mexican government began developing re- sorts around the area. Locals in the city typically hail from nearby states. The city is divided into two key areas, the mainland residential area and the island tourist zone. Most hotels lie along Kukulman Avenue between the Caribbean Sea and Nichupte lagoon, offering tourists a vast number of options from which to choose.
  9. 9. cancun facts for the visitorcancun International Airport, less than 15km from the city,is one of Mexico’s busiest.I t is well connected to most of the major hubs across PRIVE TRAVEL PICTURES the world. This said, transportation from the air- port to the city may be a nuisance because of touts who may seek to inveigle you into entering theiroverpriced vans or even carrying your luggage. Getting around in Cancun is simple enough withthe city’s bus service or any taxi. Rates are higherwhen leaving from the Hotel Strip than from Down-town. The temperatures in the city averages around 27°C(80°F) for most of the year, with the winter monthsbeing only slightly cooler. Temperatures peak at 32°C(90°F) around July - August and drops only slightlyto 19°C (66°F) in January. Rainfall in the city beginsaround June, dips for a bit during July-August, andpeaks around September. Rain never lasts for long,even during the rainy season.what to visit Numerous dolphinariums including Dolphin Disco- very and Wet’n’Wild offer a chance to swim with dol- phins. In the heart of the tourist strip is the Interacti- ve Aquarium, a place where in addition to dolphins you get a chance to get up close with other denizens ofCancun’s beaches, known for the sea such as rays and sharks.their white sand and seven Cancun’s white sand beaches are without a doubt the best place where to unwind and work on your tan.shades of blue crystal clear Handicraft sellers move along the beach, and you canwaters, offer vacationers combine relaxation with shopping for sarongs andwater sports including jewelry made from sea-shells. If you wish to dedicate more time to shopping, Can-boating and Jet-skiing, in cun has a variety of shops, from boutique showroomsaddition to snorkeling and to more local markets such as the Mercado 28, a tra-scuba-diving. ditional Mexican market offering locally made handi- crafts. Don´t forget to bargain.P The city also has two word-class golf resorts, The laya de Los Delfines, the last one along Aveni- Moon Span and Golf club as well as the Riviera Can- da Kukulkan and the only one without a hotel cun Golf and Spa. right in front has consistent surf throughout the Cancun also has world class nightlife with plenty year, and surfboards can be rented. You can of clubs and bars from which to choose. Begin yourbegin your stay by snorkeling at the reef after taking night at any of the bars downtown, move on to worlda jet boat on the adjacent lagoon, though most often famous dance pub Carlos O´Briens and call off thethan not it is far from the shore. night at club Coco Bongo for the ultimate night out. 9
  10. 10. cancun cuisine W hile the city may lack unique cuisine, it makes up for this by hosting some very fine restaurants. La Habichuela, one of Cancun’s oldest esta- blishments, offers a wonderful mix of Caribbean seafood and authentic Mexican cuisine. The Paloma Bonita offers Mexican cuisine in a tradi- tional setting and is also worth a visit. Others to consider are Cambalache, Gus- tino and the Laguna grill with good international specialties . other places of interest Near Cancun are a number of places for both the adventure inclined as well as the culturally oriented. T he ruins of Chichen Itza are located in an an- carved snake heads at the base of the pyramid. The cient Mayan city that still has a number of fine ruins also host the largest ball court in ancient Ame- examples of Mayan architecture. Numerous ricas, with 12m high walls bracketing a courtyard structures have been restored, and while all of 166m by 68m. these are interesting, the most breathtaking by far is Another place to visit nearby is Xcaret, an Eco-ar- the Temple of Kukulkan. On the spring and autumn chaeological park 75 miles south of Cancun. In addi- equinox, a trick of shadows and light creates an enor- tion to viewing the native flora and fauna, you can mous serpent winding down the steps, ending at two also snorkel in underground rivers. BIGSTOCK.COM Chichen Itza is located in an ancient Mayan city that still has a number of fine examples of Mayan architecture.10
  11. 11. COZUMEL An island off the southern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, Cozumel, originally aMayan settlement, is now a thriving touristamong divers and snorkeling enthusiasts. History and Overview T he largest town on the Island is San Miguel de Cozumel. The island’s extensive coral reefs were first catalogued by famed explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s and even though a WWII landing strip for aircraft already existed, the develo- pment of a larger international airport and cruise ship pier have expanded the influence of tourism in this island. 11
  12. 12. seth bienek facts for the visitor Cozumel’s airport connects the Island with numerous metros in North America, and local flights from Mexico City and Cancun ($75) are also available. T he Island is also accessible from Playa del Carmen via ferry. Ferries charge approximately $12 for a one-way trip. Once on the Island, taxis or renting cars/mopeds are the means of getting around. Renting vehicles cost in the vicinity of $20 for mopeds and up to $55 for cars. These prices are also a function of your bargaining skills- a lower price is possi- ble too. With its sub-tropical climate, the temperatures in Cozumel rarely drop below 20°C (68°F) for most of the year, and from April to July the waters around Cozumel warm up and offer perfect conditions for scuba diving as well as snorkeling. what to visit cozumel The main attractions of Cozumel are underwater in the form of spectacular coral reefs, as well as the underground river and cave systems that honeycomb the islands’ strata. M ost of the snorkeling and scuba diving activities beaches, mangrove forests and offshore coral reefs. En- are on the west side of the Island, near the main trance fees to the park are around $10 for an adult and town.A very popular attraction in the island is $5 for children. The park also houses a Mayan structu- Chakanaab (Mayan for Little sea) National Park. re worth visiting - El Caracol, used by the Mayans to In addition to Scuba diving and snorkeling, the park warn of approaching hurricanes. offers you the opportunity to swim with dolphins. The The museum of the Island of Cozumel (entry fee: $3), park is also noted for hosting the only inland coral reef located close to the downtown pier, is a museum dedi- formation in the world, in the Chakanaab Lagoon. Entry cated to the Island’s history and geographical environ- fee is typically $19 for an adult and $10 for children. ment. In addition to the exhibit halls, the museum also Mr. Sanchos, located on Coastal road, is a unique es- has a dining establishment on the terrace of the second tablishment that in addition to being close to great scu- floor, which is a nice spot for casual eating. ba diving locations, also offers food, outside activities If you’d rather glean up on culture instead of scuba such as horseback riding and ATV tours. The place is diving, then the Island’s numerous ruins should prove close to the Cardona and San Francisco reefs, and 15 diverting enough. The Royal Castle (Castillo Real), lo- minutes away, by boat, are the Punta Francesca and cated on the north east shore, is the site of Mayan ruins, Palancar reefs. Playa Uvas, a 15 minute drive from and also offers the chance for Scuba diving and snorke- downtown San Miguel, also offers Scuba diving as well ling nearby. San Gervasio is probably the most signi- as kayaking and other activities. ficant archaeological structure on the Island, it being a Cozumel is also home to the Celarain lighthouse, for- sanctuary to the Goddess Ixchel. The park housing the merly known as Punta Sur Park. This is the largest eco- ruins is open daily from morning to afternoon, and has logical park on the Island, and is a mix of white sand a general $7 entrance fee.12
  13. 13. seth bienekThe reefs of Cozumel are considered to be someof the best in the world.cozumel cuisine rhyndmanC ozumel boasts some unique dining establishments, known for both food quality and ambience. An example is Casa Mission, located on the corner of Avenidas Benito Juarez and 55. The diner is located in a large verandah of a hacienda style home. La Choza, on Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas #198, at Avenue10, offers superb Mexican home-style food. You can even get some very good Italianfood at Prima Trattoria, located on calle Adolfo Rosa Salas. rhyndmanother places of interestA private Island on the northeast of Cozumel, Isla Pasion is an ideal spot for relaxation, with open air restaurants on the white sand beach - an ideal place for families. Close to the Island is Playa del Carmen, easily accessible by ferry. 13
  14. 14. guadalajara Originally established in Mesa del Cerro, the settlement that is now Guadalajara moved twice over a period of 10 years until it was finally established in Atemajac. History and Overview C onstruction of the city’s cathedral begin in 1561, and by 1570, the city had be- come a hub for the Augustinians and Dominicans evangelization efforts. The city was also in the center of Mexico’s war of Independence, serving as a base for the Insurgent army, until they were pushed out by the Royalist armies.14
  15. 15. guadalajara facts for the visitorGuadalajara’s airport Libertador Miguel HidalgoInternacional is well connected to both Mexican and UScities and many other international destinations, and isserved by a number of local as well as domestic carriers.T ransport from the airport to the city costs around $20. The city is also well lucy nieto connected by buses, and a taxi from the bus station to the city’s centre costs around $7. Getting around the city is facilitated by a number of bus services. If you’reless adventurous, you can choose from a number of taxis that ply the streets. Thetaxis are metered, but you can set the fare yourself if confident about rates. Faresin and around the city’s centre should rarely exceed $5. Temperatures in the city span a range from 11°C (52°F) to around 26°C (79°F).The rains set in around May and last till October, with June to August being thewettest months of the year. It rains almost every day of the week during thesemonths and small floods are common. what to visit stephen downes Most of the sights within Guadalajara are located in and around the city’s ‘Centro’ or downtown area and are within walking distance from each other.A good place to begin your city tour is the Gua- Liceo Street will give you an idea of the city’s his- dalajara Cathedral. Completed in 1618, the tory as well as pre-history. The museum has a no- towers of the cathedral were rebuilt in the mid teworthy paleontological collection, and even houses 1800s after an earthquake destroyed the ori- a complete mammoth skeleton that was unearthedginal ones. The result is a cathedral that combines nearby. The museum is closed on Mondays, andgothic, Palladian and neoclassical styles. opens from 930 AM to 530PM all other days. Entran- The cathedral is surrounded on four sides by plazas ce to this museum is around $4, and is free for all onshaped as crosses. These plazas feature fountains, Sundays.statues, adjoining restaurants as well as commercial The city is home to one of the largest Markets incenters. The eastern plaza (Plaza de la Liberacion) Latin America, the Mercado Libertad – a multi-sto-also serves as an atrium for the Teatro Degollado, rey market that features a number of food vendorsone of the oldest theatres in the city. The Plaza north and handicraft sellers. You need to be a little care-of the cathedral houses a mausoleum dedicated to ful here as the crowded nature of the place enablesthe men and women of note in the Jalisco area pick-pocketers and purse snatchers to work with re- The Museo Regional de Guadalajara located on lative ease. 15
  16. 16. guanatos gwyn guadalajara cuisine G uadalajara is famous for its cuisine, which includes novel dishes such as ‘Tortas Ahogadas’ – drowned subs in which an oblong bun, filled with pork and other stuffing is then doused in a tomato and chili pepper sauce. Ano- ther popular dish is Birria, a savory goat stew. The best places for Birria are the restaurants in the Nueve Esquinas area, south of the Templo San Francis- co. Other dishes include Pozole, a wholesome soup of pork and vegetables. You must also try Mollete; popular for breakfasts, it consists of a split roll covered with refried beans and topped with chorizo and cheese. other places of interest An hour and a half away from Guadalajara is the town of Tequila, home of the agave and of course, tequila. Y ou could try taking the Tequila Express, a tra- Mazamitla, and you can either camp here or stay in in service that connects these cities. The servi- a hotel. Mazamitla offers numerous outdoor adven- ce includes Mariachi bands on the train as well ture options, such as a horseback tour to the Cas- as a guided tour to some of the distilleries. The cada el Salto waterfalls- a trip that could cost you trains run only Fridays to Sundays and need to be around $13 per person. Other camping spots around booked well in advance. Tickets cost around $95 for Mazumitla include Mundo Adventura and Posada adults and $60 for children under 11. Sierra Vista, which offer rock climbing, 4x4 tours Another place near Guadalajara worth visiting is and paint ball.stephen downes Guadalajara is not only a working city but a historical and cultural center with plenty to see and do. 16
  17. 17. guanajuato Initially a mining settlement, Guanajuatohas evolved into a charming university town with a strong cultural and historical background. History and Overview I n 1998, the city and surrounding mines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to fueling the Spanish economy with its silver mines in the early 18th century, the city played a key role in the upheavals that characterized Mexico’s political landscape in the 19th century and early parts of the 20th century. Located in a valley, the city’s many cobblestone streets wind about around the town, along with a number of underground roads that track a riverbed. 17
  18. 18. javier hidalgo With its jovial colors Guanajuato is perhaps the most attractive city in Mexico facts for the visitor cuisine S W ituated in the highlands at 2008 m (6600 ft), the city experiences semi-dry, semi-warm, tempera- hile the state is known primarily for its te weather. Dropping to 7°C (45°F) in January, the dairy products, gourmands can look temperatures rise to around 30°C (86°F) in May. forward to sampling interesting dishes Peak precipitation occurs during June to September, ty- such as Nopalitos - slivers of cactus, co- pically after sunset. oked with shrimp, eggs tomatoes and oregano, or The city is a four hour bus drive from the ‘Autobuses Ancas de Rana Lampreadas – a dish of frog legs del Norte’ station in Mexico City, located on the yellow in a wine and sour gravy. For those less inclined line. The closest Airport is also in Mexico City. to food, a traditional strawberry liquor - Licor de Travelers can commute within Guanajuato by bus, Fresa – must be sampled. which charge around USD 0.20 for a one way trip, or take a taxi around the city for little more than a dollar. lunita lu Car hires are also possible, but rates need to be clearly established before hiring. Travelers staying in the city are advised to book hotels well in advance, while those passing through can leave their luggage in the bus stop, as they stop to tour. Guide books are hard to come by, so it is advisable to purchase them in the airport or bus stops in Mexico City. 18
  19. 19. javier hidalgo guanajuato what to visit Guanajuato is famous for its many examples of neoclassical and Baroque architecture.T he oldest church – San Diego church – dates back cultural activities in the city, is the main venue for the to 1663. Other churches worth visiting include – town’s festival Cervantino – an international art fies- The Parish church, Cata church, la Compania, ta that celebrates Miguel de Cervantes, author of ‘Don and San Cayetano. The Alhondiga de Granadi- Quixote’. The Juarez theatre also offers guided tours intas, originally a grain warehouse and later a refuge English, which can be booked at their front desk. Thefor loyalists during Mexico’s first battle for Indepen- city is also home to the callejoneada – every Friday anddence, now houses Guanajuato’s historical and archi- Saturday, at around 8 PM, student minstrels dressed intecture museum. Another museum of significance is traditional 17th century costumes gather onlookers asthe Mummy museum. This museum houses naturally they walk down the streets serenading.occurring mummies – some crypts in Guanajuato that The city’s winding cobblestone streets also offer awere evicted on account of non-payment of tax, were delightful walking experience. Avenida Juarez, one offound to have mummified bodies instead of skeletal the few streets that lay completely above the surface, isremains, which are now housed in this museum. Yet filled with restaurants, cafes and various stores. Down-another museum worth visiting is the Don Quixote town on Avenida Juarez is the Hidalgo market. Su-Iconographic museum, with free entry from Tuesday rrounded by cast iron fencing, the old railroad stationto Saturday, and the collection houses objects from a has been converted into a large market where meatnumber of artists including Ocampo and Dali. and vegetable produce are sold. Locally-made handi- The neoclassical Juarez theatre, the centre of most crafts, including ceramics, can also be purchased here.other places javier hidalgoof interestT he mines surrounding the city – and the hamlets that have sprung up around them – also make for an inter- esting visit. La Valenciana, one of themost prolific mines, is still in operation to-day, and even offers guided tours. Jewelryand handicrafts can also be purchased atthe village. The town of Santa Rosa, withits numerous restaurants and Majorica ce-ramics shop, is also worth a visit. A trip tothe peak of the neighboring mount Cubile-te, home to the Cristo Rey monument, alsooffers the more intrepid tourist paraglidingopportunities. 19
  20. 20. isla mujeres Isla Mujeres (Women Island) is a small island 13km northeast of Cancun. History and Overview A narrow strip of land 7km long and around 700m wide, the city derived its name from the number of goddess idols that were found there, dating back to the Mayan times. The city’s development began only in the 1970s, along with Cancun. While hotels dot the entire Island, the Northern part of the Island – the downtown area, where Avenue Hidalgo lies – is a hub for dining and entertain- ment on the Island.20
  21. 21. facts for the visitor The Island is accessible by ferry from Cancun departing from Puerto Juarez, Gran Puerto Cancun, and Playa Tortugas. F erries from Puerto Juarez tend to be crowded, as these are popular with the locals. The other option, though expensive, is to charter a Microjet from Ae- robanana (998 87-25040). Similar to neighbouring Cancun, the temperature in the city averages around 27°C (80°F) throughout the year. Temperatures peak at 32°C (90°F) around July - August and drops only slightly to 19°C (66°F) in January. The rains in the begin around June, dip a bit during July-August, and peak around September. what to visit isla mujeres Being quite a small stretch of land, transport within Isla Mujeres happens mostly by taxi, moped scooters and golf carts. T hese golf carts cost approximately $45 an entire jacent Playa Sol, which is on the northwest tip of the day, and are one of the best ways to explore the Island and is the best location from which to watch the island. sunset. The water on this beach is less shallow than in While not as famous as Cozumel, the island’s co- Playa Norte. ral reefs are noteworthy. With clear and calm waters On the southern tip of the Island, at Punta Sur, are surrounding the reefs, there are plenty of ideal spots for the ruins of a lighthouse that was once a temple dedi- snorkeling, including beginners. For those less interes- cated to the goddess of fertility Ixchel. There is also a ted in sightseeing, and more on dinner rewards, there modern sculpture park here. are a number of options for fishing trips around the island. Hotels and Guesthouses can typically organize fishing trips for you, where you can bring your catch at the end of the day and have it served as supper. These trips usually cost around $40 and last 3 to 4 hours. If you wish to see what else Isla Mujeres has to offer, visit La Noruega Art Gallery in Benito Juarez, close to the ferry dock. You can find handicrafts and paintings, as well as the occasional art exhibition. There are two beaches worth visiting. Playa Norte, which runs along the northern part of the Island, is packed with clubs and restaurants and is very popu- lar with tourists. Quieter and more secluded is the ad- 21 julia b
  22. 22. julia b Isla Mujeres is where you come to sit back and relax. other places cuisine of interest B eing a small and recently developed loca- lity, the city hasn’t developed any unique Isla Mujeres is close to cuisine. However there are a number of Cancun, and is typically a day open air restaurants that offer a great di- ning experience. Right next to the ferry dock, on trip for most tourists from the north side, lie two picturesque spots, the Ba- Cancun. lly Hoo (known for their Margaritas) and Picus, a restaurant where the fish is brought straight917 press from the sea. Downtown on the Island, on Ave- nue Hidalgo, you can try Amigos or El Sombrero de Gomar, both authentic Mexican restaurants. 22
  23. 23. mexico city Built on the ruins of an Aztec city, MexicoCity now has the largest metropolitan area of all cities in the Americas. History and Overview T enochitlan, as the city was known by the Aztecs, was completely razed by Spa- nish conquistador Hernan Cortes, and the rebuilding of Mexico began around the middle of the 16th century. Spanish nobility dictated the rise of the new city, with a spate of Catholic churches being built along with extravagant homes. During the rule of then President Porfirio Diaz, infrastructures such as roads, communica- tion systems and schools were extensively developed. As a result, the city is often a surrealistic mix of the modern and the archaic. 23
  24. 24. mexico city facts for the visitor As it lies 2200m above sea level, the weather in Mexico is somewhat mild, with temperatures averaging 13°C to 19°C (56°F to 66°F), with peaks of 32°C (90°F) in May and lows of -2°C (28°F) during January. P recipitation is low, in the form of rain or even the major international airport hubs. Travel within hail, peaking between the months of June to Sep- the city is well facilitated by the RTP bus system, Me- tember. The city is located in a valley and the tro, and plenty of taxis (the green beetles are popu- weather patterns, along with the high number larly known as “bochos”). You might want to watch of industrial pollutants in the air, have led to the city out for pickpockets in the metro and think about only having the most polluted air in the world. This said using the official taxis marked with a red box on their cleanup efforts during the last 20 years have borne license plates. Mexico City is considered as one of the fruit, and now the city no longer holds that unwanted least safe capital cities in the Americas, and while it title. certainly isn’t the worst have your hotel book you a Mexico City Airport (MEX) is well connected to all cab if you don’t want to take unnecessary risks. other places cuisine of interest 5 M exican food, a blend of indigenous and 0 km from Mexico City lie the Pyramids of Spanish cooking, is often an epicurean Teotihuacan, a massive archaeological site experience. For those brave enough, home to the second largest pyramid in the street markets offer a taste of flavor- world and more. The city, in addition to the rich authentic Mexican cuisine. You could try striking pyramids, has numerous avenues and a snack of esquites (a corn and pepper concoc- murals that are still well preserved. The sheer tion), chapulines (grasshoppers- and yes, this size of these awe-inspiring monuments alone is is not a mistake) tacos or quesadillas for less reason enough for you to make a trip here. Join than a dollar at any street stall, or you could go a guided tour from Mexico City through a travel for a relatively extravagant Mexican meal at one agent for around 400 pesos or find your way there of the more up-market restaurants fine such as by train and bus and pay the 48 peso fee. They are Casa Merlos, Biko, or Azul y Oro. open Monday to Sunday. Other places of interest near Mexico City inclu- roboppy de Tepozotlan – originally a monastery, now the National museum of colonial art. Cities near Mexi- co worth visiting include Puebla, a small colonial city and Tehuacan, a city known for its mineral springs.24
  25. 25. cm ortega bo 47 juan chbwhat to visitThe best place to begin your city touris the Historical Center.P laza de la Constitucion is the second largest has several museums including the National Museum, square in the world, topped only by Moscow’s formerly the palace of Austrian emperor Maximilian. Red Square. There are numerous churches you Other notable parks include the Parque Mexico and must visit, and toping these are La Catedral and Parque Espana, which occasionally host concerts orthe Basilica de Guadelupe, one of Catholicism’s most outdoor exhibitions to be enjoyed at any of the su-sacred places in the Americas . The shrine at the Ba- rrounding cafes and bars. The Xochimilco, a UNESCOsilica houses the shroud of Our Lady of Guadelupe, World Heritage site, consists of navigable waterwaysMexico’s most revered virgin. and is interspersed with flower gardens. You can opt The city is also home to one of the world’s largest for a trip on the quaint boats, called trajineras, anduniversities, Ciudad Universitaria, a UNESCO World dock at the floating bars, or even enjoy music from theHeritage site, and the Museo Antropologico, one of bands that play on similar boats.the best anthropological museums in the world (51 pe- The Coyoacan district, one of the oldest neighborho-sos, closed on Mondays). If you’re up for a nice walk ods, still maintains a relatively rural atmosphere withand soaking in the culture a trip to the Plaza Gari- its cobblestone streets and many plazas. This district,baldi Mariachi is called for. The plaza is flanked by home to counter-culture icons such as Frida Kahlo,a number of restaurants and coffee shops, while the Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, comes alive duringactual plaza plays host to groups of folk musicians. weekends and festivals. This district also has one of Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma is a 12 kilome- the city’s oldest churches, the Parish of San Juan Bau-ter avenue with a distinct French flavor and many tista.attractions worth visiting. The Angel de la Indepen- Finally, the Zona Rosa is the place to head to if youcia (Independence Angel) was erected to celebrate want to visit many bars, pubs, cafes and stylish restau-Mexico’s separation from Spain, and the Chapultepec rants. This mostly gay area is usually crowded, trendy,Park and zoo is a 6sq km. park located virtually in the and willing to take the money you have been savingmiddle of the city. In addition to the zoo, the park also during your trip. 25
  26. 26. apg white palenque The Mayan city of Palenque spans a 900 year period beginning from around 100BC. History and Overview T hough much smaller than the Mayan site of Tikal, Palenque is renowned for some of the finest examples of Mayan architecture and sculpture. After the decline of the city around 800AD, it quickly fell into ruins and was absorbed by the jungle, until it was rediscovered and then restored. Palenque is now one of the most famous Mayan ruins and attracts a growing number of visitors. 26
  27. 27. palenque facts for the visitorThe closest airport is in Villahermosa, 90 miles northeastof Palenque.A irport shuttles are readily available but need karmapolice to be booked well in advance. Palenque is also easily accessible by bus from Villahermosa and San Cristobal de las Casas. There are numerous hotels within minutes of theruins, and it’s recommended you stay there, as a halfday trip will not suffice in covering the entire breadthof Palenque. Buses from the hotels to the ruins busesare frequent; otherwise you could choose a taxi toget you there and back. Palenque is located in a jungle, and thus the wea-ther is very humid. Make sure you bring plenty ofinsect repellent, sunscreen and a lot of water.what to visit other placesThe ruins are open seven daysa week from 8AM to 5PM. The of interestentrance fee to the park is Iunder 5$, and the parking fee n addition to Villahermosa, Palenque is also clo-for vehicles is less than $2. se to Tuxtla Gutierrez (if in the area don’t miss a trip to the Canon del Sumidero) and Oaxa- ca. It is not too far from the resorts of Cancun,I Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, though you wouldn’t t’s advisable to get to the park gates at 8, before the be able to make a half-day trip to Palenque from area begins to warm up. Though the site has around any of these places. Other archaeological sites in 500 structures, most of these are off-limits to tourists this area of Mexico are Tulum and Chichen Itza, as archaeological work and site restoration is in pro- though again none of them can be considered agress. day trip because of distance. The main entrance, located at the north, leads tosome of the largest temples in the site. The Templo delas Inscripciones is one of the first structures you see. now closed to tourists. Other sites worth visiting areNext to this are two more temples – burial temples – the Templo del Jaguar and the Templo del Sol. Theretitled Templo III and Templo de las Calaveras. The is also an aqueduct, constructed with large stone blockstomb of Pakal, discovered in 1952, housed the moral and a 10 foot high vault, which channels the Otolumremains of one of the rulers of Palenque. river under Palenque’s main plaza. Another interesting ruin is El Palacio, a maze of An on-site museum explains Palenque’s history andcourtyards and corridors, rooms and a tower that is also houses a few artifacts. 27
  28. 28. playa del carmen History and Overview T he coastal city of Playa del Carmen (Playa) lies just 45 minutes south of Cancun. Named for the patron saint of Cancun, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Playa del Car- men started out as a small fishing town, has grown into a popular tourist center, and is even a popular stop for most Caribbean cruise ships. In a bid to retain the charm of the fishing community, the government has passed an ordinance limiting building heights to 4 stories. The city has a strong European and American influence and is home to a large number of expatriates. The city also has a distinct residential and tourist community, Playacar, where most of the new developments are being built.28
  29. 29. gregory brownThe ruins in Tulum are some the most recognized–and breathtaking- in all Mexico facts for the visitor cuisineT he nearest airport is Cancun’s International air- P port, from which buses are available to Playa for around $10. Most hotels in Playa del Carmen laya has a number of restaurants catering will also organize transfers, but of course, these to a variety of tastes. A must-visit is theneed to be booked in advance. Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, on 5ta Ave. at The city is not very large, and is pedestrian frien- Constituyentes. It is basically a chocolatedly, so a good walk will take you to most places you themed shop and is famous for its brownies. Elwish to visit. There are also a number of car rental Asador de Manolo, on 5th avenue, is notewor-agencies, both large-scale and local. Taxis are also thy for it’s argentine steaks that are not too ex-commonly available with the fare averaging around pensive. For those with a taste for Mexican cui-3$. sine, La Cueva del Chango, also on 5th avenue, Playa’s sub-tropical climate ensures an average an- is highly recommended.nual temperature of around 27°C (80°F). June to Au- wally gromgust are the hottest months of the year, and the rainyseason is typically around September to August.
  30. 30. wowitsstephen playa del carmen what to visit R unning parallel to the ocean, 5th avenue has a le not up to par with cozumel, Playa does offer scuba number of restaurants and cafeterias in addi- and snorkeling activities. The beaches within the city, tion to a variety of stores hawking merchandise tend to be crowded due to their proximity to the dock, ranging from clothes to Cuban cigars. The street however, further along the beach, the jungle comes comes to life after midnight with the after-hour clubs, right up to the shore. Another place worth a visit in located nearer the beach, coming into their own. Play is the Aviario Xaman-Ha, an aviary that not only Playa’s white sand beaches are also nice for a stroll, houses birds, but a number of local reptiles and butte- and there are a number of boats willing to take you flies. A small entrance fee is charged, and the park is out further into the water for some snorkeling. Whi- open from 9AM to 5PM every day. other places of interest 6 km south of Playa lies the Xcaret eco-ar- if you choose bicycle through the adjacent jungle. chaeological park, where you can find a The park also offers opportunities to cliff dive for butterfly pavilion, greenhouse, wildlife bree- those with a more adventurous bent of mind. ding program as well as significant Mayan si- Another set of Mayan ruins on the Caribbean, tes. Snorkeling is also possible here, in addition to Tulum is close to the Chichen Itza, and is home to enjoying a swim with dolphins. a number of important mayan ceremonial struc- About 48km south of Playa is Xel-ha, an ecologi- tures. Among the ruins is a pyramid nicknamed cal theme park where you can snorkel and scuba El Castillo, which sits on the edge of a forty foot dive, be up close with dolphins and stingrays, or cliff. 30
  31. 31. mcw026 puerto vallarta History and OverviewN amed after a governor of Jalisco – Ignacio Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta (Vallar- ta) is a resort city located on the Pacific coast, on the Bay of flags (Bahia de Banderas). Though a thriving port and mining town, Vallarta gained inter- national prominence as a resort town in the 1960s and 70s, once the Mexi-can government began urbanization projects and elevated the municipality ofVallarta as a city. The city has grown extensively and spilled over into NuevoVallarta in the adjoining state of Nayarit. The city, along with Guadalajara, is gay-friendly and is very popular with theLGBT crowd, and is also known as the San Francisco of Mexico. 31
  32. 32. About 45 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta is Sayulita, a once quaint town that has now become a surf meca.ctoverdrive mcw026 facts for the visitor Don’t miss an Puerto Vallarta is served afternoon stroll down by the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz the “malecon” International Airport, located north of the city. W hile it is advisable to book your transportation Rather than staying in Puerto Vallarta, we recommend well in advance, you can also choose a taxi from you stay in the nearby town of Sayulita. Accommoda- the official airport taxi counter. There are a tion is somewhat cheaper here, and Sayulita has a rural number of private transports that will try to lure charm that provides a welcome break from the hectic you in, and these prices are much more than the official night life and traffic of Vallarta. The village also has a taxis. You can also take a bus from outside the airport to safe environment, and would be an ideal base camp for the city center; all you need to do is flag a bus marked your forays into Vallarta. ‘Centro’. During the summer months, temperatures in Vallarta To travel around the town you can hire a taxi from rise to 32°C (90°F), with 100% humidity. Winters here the city’s Centro, the drivers being quite amenable to ta- are more comfortable with temperatures around 27°C king you on trips around the city and places outside too. (82°F), the nights being pleasantly cool in the winters You may also choose a local bus, which has destinations with temperatures around 19°C (60°F). The temperatu- clearly marked on the windshield. Buses typically charge re of the waters surrounding the city rarely drop below under one US $1. 24°C (75°F), and make for a fantastic surfing experience. 32
  33. 33. puerto vallarta what to visitB ordered by the Bahia des Banderas to the west, Los Arcos underwater caves. In addition to these activi- the city is surrounded by plantations to the nor- ties, there are numerous opportunities for other water- th, and hill and jungle terrain south and east. The based activities such as parasailing at any beach, kite- city’s brown sand beaches offer numerous oppor- surfing, and jet-skiing.tunities to relax and soak up the sun. A few miles from If you’ve had enough of the water, you could headthe city, in an area known as Punda de Mita you can towards the Sierra Madre Mountains. Tour guides willfind the beaches of Destiladeras (one of the best in the take you on horseback or in an ATV through the jungle,area) and El Anclote, ideal for boogie-boarding and sur- visiting Mexican settlements, and getting a chance to seefing (check for more de- tropical flora and fauna up close.tails about all the surf spots in the area). Within the city, head to the Vallarta Botanical Gar- Other surf beaches are of La Lancha (beautiful even dens, located on the Carretera a Barra de Navidad. Theif you don’t surf) and Burros point. These beaches are garden, open between nine to five on all days save Mon-surfer friendly, with wave faces of above 5 feet, breaking day, is home to more than a thousand different speciesanywhere from 100 to 200 meters from the shore. If of tropical plants, including a collection of carnivorousyou’ve driven in your own vehicle, ensure the doors are plants, in 20 acres of land. The gardens also house a res-locked and no valuables are visible within the car, as the taurant.occasional theft is known to happen. Also within the city is the Malecon, a paved walkway If you wish to spend your time under the water rather that stretches from the city’s Centro to the old town, run-than on it, you could opt for Scuba diving or snorkeling. ning parallel to the seashore. Along the walkway is a linePackage deals are available with numerous operators (A of contemporary sculptures. The Old town retains a uni-good, but expensive operator is Vallarta Adventures) for que charm with a number of restaurants and shops, andsnorkeling trips to the Marietas Island caverns and the is also filled with performing street artists.other places cuisineof interest V allarta plays host to the Festival GourmetI Puerto Vallarta, an event where interna- n addition to Sayulita, you could also visit the tional gourmet chefs are brought to the city coastal town of Bucerias. A quiet town, Bucerias and paired with local chefs, and their signa- hosts an art gallery that houses both international ture dishes are replicated with local ingredients and local artists, as well as a collection of pewter. and techniques. Even without the festival, the Close to Vallarta is the town of San Sebastian, a city’s cuisine is noteworthy.mining town situated at a height of 4500 ft above sea For a fine dining experience, you could visitlevel. Buses are easily available to take you to San Se- the Cafe des Artistes, located on Guadalupebastian, a rural town, surrounded by coffee and corn Sanchez, in the city’s Centro. This place featuresplantations. Make sure you buy some of the local co- French cuisine, with local ingredients and tradi-ffee if you are a coffee enthusiast. tional Mexican spices. Another interesting res- From the nearby Boca de Tomatlan, you could take taurant is La Palapa, situated in Los Muertosa water taxi to Quimixto. You could then hire a local beach. The restaurant on the beach offers a fu-guide to take you through the jungle on horseback to sion of tropical and Mexican dishes, some dieshethe key attraction here – a waterfall. worth trying include Pescado Zarandeado and Ceviche.
  34. 34. san cristobal de las casas History and Overview O riginally home to Mayan civilization, San Cristobal de Las Casas (San Cristobal) is a highland city 2,100ms above sea level. The city takes its name after both St. Christopher and Bartolome de Las Casas, a Spanish priest renowned for his championship of native American rights. San Cristobal was also one of the cen- tres of the Zapatista uprising in January 1994. There is still strong support for this left-wing libertarian socialist group in the city, with a lot of Zapatista-themed mer- chandise being openly hawked. San Cristobal is surrounded by mountain wetlands and cloud forests and is near to a number of Mayan ruins.34
  35. 35. javier hidalgo facts for the visitor cuisineS B an Cristobal is accessible from Tuxtla Gutierrez by both taxi and bus. Bus services from Tuxla are eing a small town, San Cristobal has nu- under $20. Bus services are also available from merous restaurants that serve up simple a number of cities including Huatulco, Mérida, authentic local cuisine which usually hasVillahermosa, Oaxaca, Cancun and Mexico City. The a smooth blend of Spanish and indige-city is close to Ángel Albino Corzo International Air- nous flavors. Some dishes not to miss includeport which connects central Chiapas with Mexico City, Saffron Tamales, Pan con Chipilin (a legumeand even Houston. soup with bread) and Chalupas Coletas, simi- Getting around San Cristobal is facilitated by nu- lar to the tostadas sold elsewhere in the coun-merous taxi services with negotiable rates, typically try. Located on Calle El Caminero, El Alebrijeunder $2 within the city. Car rental opportunities are offers real local Mexican cuisine at reasonablealso available, along with drivers if you’re not too sure prices, and is very popular among locals. Ano-about locations. ther establishment worth a visit is El Molca- Peak temperatures average around 33°C (91°F), while jete which is also notable for the variety andminimum temperatures average 22°C (72°F) for most quality of the dishes served. On Insurgentes,of the year. It gets quite cold during the winters though, you will find El Caldero, famous for its soups.with the temperatures dropping to even 0°C (32°F), Priced at $4, these soups are a meal in themsel-around January. That said, May has recorded peak ves as they are served with a side of salads.temperatures of 42°C (106°F). As a rule, days are muchwarmer, while nights get unseasonably cold. 35
  36. 36. san cristobal de las casas what to visit O rganized tours of the city are conducted by various bands most evenings, and on Monday mornings bands agencies that typically charge under $10, but there lineup to perform patriotic tunes. The city also has a is enough information in any hostel or tourist offi- number of churches worth visiting, and the grounds of ce to learn the fineprint on your own as you walk. the Santo Domingo church houses a large handicrafts Not to miss is the Cathedral of San Cristobal, located market. in the north side of the Plaza Mayor. Its construction be- Due to its highland location, several places around the gan in 1528 and was originally called cathedral of San city offer fantastic vistas for sightseeing during a casual Cristobal Martir, with its first bishop ever being none evening stroll- ask your hostel owner which is the best other than famous evangelist Bartolome de las Casas. when you are visiting . The Mayan Medicine Museum in San Cristobal is an Not too far off are the Mayan ruins of Palenque, interesting place to visit. With exhibits detailing traditio- which can be visited as a day trip from here. If you have nal Mayan Medicine practices, the museum also houses the time though you will be better off if you plan on a nursery where traditional healing plants can be found. spending a night near the ruins. The museum is located on Av. Salomón González Blan- The Zapatista movement in 1994, led to a number co, and is open all days of the week, though it closes by of NGOs springing up around the city and its surroun- 5:00PM on weekends. The museum charges and admis- dings. As a result, there are a number of opportunities to sion fee of $20. volunteer in various fields such as Education, Reforesta- The town’s main square plays host to musicians and tion, and construction, to name a few. other places of interest A round San Cristobal are numerous Maya villages, home to the Tzotzil Maya. Probably the most fa- mous of these towns is Zinacantan. There are a number of traditional festivals celebrated in this village, with the celebrations fusing both Mayan and Ca- tholic traditions. Another Mayan village not to miss is San Juan de Cha- mula, located about 10kms from San Cristobal. Spanish is not the main language spoken here, as is Tzotzil, and the town is one of the few that still maintains almost all its ancient indigenous traditions yet has adapted mo- dern commodities in their spiritual beliefs. The town is noted for its large and distinctive church, the floors of which are strewn with pine needles and coca-cola bott- les. In what perhaps is one of the most unusual spiritual rituals you will ever witness, locals drink a ceremonial drink made from fermented corn mixed with a carbona- ted drink (usually Coca-Cola) called posh (pox) and then burp, as a method to cleanse their souls and contact the spirits. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the church. Tours from San Cristobal can be easily arran- ged; companies offer half day to full day tours to Mayan villages surrounding San Cristobal.36 apgwhite
  37. 37. san miguel de allende History and OverviewF ounded in 1542 by a Franciscan Monk, San Miguel de Allende (San Miguel) deri- ves its name from Fray Juan de San Miguel as well as General Ignacio de Allende, a leader in the war against Spain. Nearly vanishing from the pages of history in the 1900s the town received National Historic Monument Status from the Gover-nment in 1926, a move that led to the city being one of the most sought after touristdestinations in Mexico. The town’s unique blend of cosmopolitan comfort coupledwith a plethora of historical sites and breathtaking vistas offer an enchanting expe-rience to even the most seasoned traveler. 37
  38. 38. gtoexperience facts for the visitor cuisine S S an Miguel is close to three Airports, Queretaro an Miguel has a number of restaurants (QRO) – 45 minutes away, Leon (BJX) – 1½ hours that offer a range of cuisines including away, and Mexico City (MEX) – approximately European, Mediterranean, Spanish as three hours away. Buses and shuttle service well as Mexican. In Cuna de Allende 13, are available from all these airports. Commuting wi- La Posadita is one of the better restaurants thin the city is easy, cabs are available and will take that offers authentic Mexican food including you anywhere downtown for a flat rate of USD 2. You Cochinita Pibil and Mole de Olla in beautiful could also walk, or conveniently rent a bike to help surroundings. Andanza in Casa de Sierra Ne- you navigate these winding streets. vada, Hospicio 42 and Mivida in Calle Her- The temperatures in the city average around 16°C nandez Macias 97 also offer top notch Mexican to 22°C; they peak at 30°C in May and drop to as low cuisine at prices that average around USD 30- as 7°C in January. The rains begin around June and yup, the price tag indicates how touristy this last till September every year. The air is quite dry, place is. even during the rainy season, and can lead to cha- pped lips and dry skin. 38
  39. 39. what to visitThe city retains a strong colonial flavor,with a number of plazas surrounding thecity center and has some interestingarchitectural buildings. frank 3.0T he San Francisco church constructed in the late language books in Mexico, has a café, and sponsors 1700s is a fine example of the neoclassical style, tours. South of the city’s center lies the Juarez park. and the parish of San Miguel is also worth visi- On the banks of a river, the park is filled with foun- ting. Originally built in the 1700s, the parish was tains, wrought iron benches and a number of old foo-rebuilt in neo-gothic style, apparently with inspiration tpaths. The park is also near the Zacateros market,from postcards of European churches. The church lies where you can find locally made handicrafts. Anotheroutside the Jardin Principal. This idyllic park is popu- market is the Mercado de Artesanias, which featureslar among locals and tourists, with bands playing du- a wide variety of local handicrafts made from wool,ring the weekends. Abutting the Jardin principal lies brass, blown glass and even papiere mache. San Mi-the Allende House, a museum dedicated to a native guel de Allende is also well known for its rich cultu-son of San Miguel, General Ignacio Allende. Another ral history. Festivals such as the Easter Holy week arehistoric institute worth visiting is the Angela Peralta celebrated with grand parades, and the city hosts nu-Theatre, initially designed to host opera, now with a merous music festivals including a jazz festival. Themore broadened scope. The Biblioteca Publica is a Festival de Musica de Camara, which takes place inpublic library that caters to the city’s large expat po- August each year, brings chamber music to the thea-pulation. It has the second largest collection of English tres and streets of the city.other places nomad moderneof interestFourteen kilometers fromthe city is the Santuario deDios y de la Patria.S teeped in the history of this region, the Sanctuary dates back to the 18th century and is surrounded by high yet plain walls with the inside completely covered with murals. Another attraction outsidetown is El Charco del Ingenio, a wildlife reserve thatadditionally offers opportunities for mountain biking,rock climbing, horse riding as well as bird watching.The valley also hosts the Cante botanical gardens, andif you prefer to relax instead, head to the town of DoloresHidalgo where a few thermal baths can be found. 39
  40. 40. zacatecas located in central-north Mexico, originated as a mining town in the 16th century and is famous for its distinctive pink limestone buildings. History and Overview T owards the latter part of the 16th century the city became a hub for several monastic orders – the Franciscans, Augustinians and the Dominicans. The city was a big player during the Mexican revolution – during the battle of Zacatecas in 1914 rebel forces ousted government forces from the city and in doing so destroyed a number of the city’s buildings. The city has sprung up since without any planning and as a result it is riddled with narrow winding alleyways and small plazas. The city is also home to numerous churches and monasteries that were built with the income generated from the city’s mines, at their peak of their production during the 17th and 18th centuries.40
  41. 41. jordi marce facts for the visitor Zacatecas International Airport has flights to most of the major Mexican cities as well as several US cities including L.A., Chicago and Houston.F rom the airport you can take a cab and reach the sightseeing experience choose a guided tour of the city, city’s center in around 15 minutes or take bus available downtown. Situated 2400m above sea level, number 8 and be there in 20. The city is also acces- average temperatures drop to below 0°C (32°F) during sible by bus from many cities within Mexico- and the months of January and rise to a pleasant 22°C (72°F)some in the USA. The city’s downtown area (Centro during the summer months. The temperatures get qui-Historico) is small enough to get around on foot (highly te low during the winter months and it’s advisable torecommended), but you can also choose a taxi, with carry warm clothing as most of the hostels there don’tfares being negotiable. If you prefer a more organized have heating facilities.what to visit zacatecasThe Cerro de la Bufa is a hilltop and a distinctive feature in thecity. The top is accessible by a cable car (Teleferico) from theCerro Del Grillo, another hilltop on the other side of the town.T he cable car ride provides spectacular views of can convent, the museum houses the largest collection the city and the surrounding countryside, opera- of masks in Mexico. Some of the 4500 masks on display tes from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs under $3 for include Olmec and Teotihuacan masks. The museum is a one-way ticket. You can also trek up the hill, but open on all days save Wednesday, between 10 a.m. to 5for safety reasons, it’s recommended you trek only du- p.m., and charges $2.5 as admission fee.ring the day and not at night. Another interesting museum is the Museo Pedro Next to the cable car terminal on La Bufa is one of Coronel. This museum hoses the works of Pedro Co-the oldest mines in the city, El Eden. Entry to this aban- ronel as well as works of Modern European mastersdoned mine costs around $6-$7 and includes a guided such as Dali, Picasso and Braque. It also includes pre-tour. The mine also hosts an underground nightclub – Colombian, Mesoamerican and West African works.the La Mina. The museum is closed only on Thursday, and charges The city’s Catedral de Zacatecas is a fine example and admission fee of $2.5.of Churrigueresque architecture. It is constructed If you’re visiting the city around September thenfrom red sandstone (cantera), and boasts an elabora- you’ll be just in time for the Feria de Zacatecas, thetely carved façade. Another church worth visiting is city’s main fair, which occurs on the Friday before thethe Church of Santo Domingo, with its Baroque façade 8th of September to the 24th of September. Expect toand carved altarpieces in the Churrigueresque style. witness cock fights, bull fights, street performers and a In addition to examples of fine architecture the city number of sporting events. Make sure you make youralso hosts a number of interesting museums such as hostel reservation well ahead as everything is full du-the Museo Rafael Coronel. Housed in a former Francis- ring that week. 41
  42. 42. Christian y SergioThe sloped and cobbledstreets of Zacatecasremind you that this isMexico’s most colonialcity. other places cuisine of interest T he cuisine in Zacatecas is a blend of Spanish 5 cuisine and strong regional flavors. Popu- 6 km south of Zacatecas lies La Quemada, a lar dishes here include Asado de Boda, a Mesoamerican archeological site that is made savory braised pork dish that has chocolate up of a number of masonry platforms of va- added into it. Another dish very popular here rious sizes built on a hill. There are a number is the Puchero Vaquero de Zacatecas, a stew of of ceremonial constructions as well as terraces at meat and vegetables served with rice. If you’d this site. rather indulge your sweet tooth, then you could A few kilometers away from the city’s Centro is try the Jamoncillo de Leche, a sweet dish res- the town of Guadalupe. The town hosts a Francis- embling milk fudge. can monastery and evangelic college which houses a museum on its grounds. Entry to this museum costs around $3.5 .In addition to the museum, you could also visit the chapel – Capilla de Napoles – which is noted for its gilding and decoration. 42
  43. 43. mai travel guides MEXICO Mai Travel Guides Mexico 1st Edition March 2012Photo CreditsAll photos in this guide are from unless otherwise noted. The names below are in the same order as the pictures in each cityguide. Guadalajara: Jordi Chueca, Wonderlane, David Light Orchard, Ricardo Perez Isla Mujeres CP, Christine, Alaskan Dude, KudumomoZacatecas Eneas, bobbyh_80 (x 2), cnszym San Cristobal de las Casas: stevendepolo, Javier hidalgo, j.g in s.f, cedric’s pics San Miguel de Allen-de: sirsnapsalot, Jason Tinder, jj.figueroa, Palenque Routard 05, karma-police, Richard Weil Acapulco mr. cool jg, crimthan find-nemed, mdianem, Angeldob, BluEyedA73 Guanajuato Javier hidalgo, Irene sofia, jj.figueroa, k.kendall Cancun Mike McHolm, pdbreen, celsoflores, Mike McHolm, trevorhpittman, Price Travel Mexico Cozumel CaptPiper, rivieramaya26, Skinned Mink, brewbooks Playa del Carmenpato_garza, robwest, Alaskan Dude, Redeo Mexico City Francisco diez (x 2), Crystian Cruz, Clinker Puerto Vallarta O’Moreno, aaron_anderer,dktrpepr, ctoverdrive Cover Photo Loren Javier.Copyright, Legal Notice and DisclaimerThis publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and allrights are reserved, including resale rights: you are not allowed to sell this Guide to anyone else. If you downloaded or received this publicationfrom anyone other than or affiliates, you’ve received a pirated copy. Please contact us via e-mail at fede at and notify us of the situation.Please note that this publication is based on personal experience and research. Although the author and publisher have made every reasona-ble attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Also, you shoulduse this information as you see fit, and at your own discretion. Your particular situation may not be exactly suited to the examples or expe-riences illustrated here and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly.Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are usedonly for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms..Finally, use your head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common sense, legal, personal or other professional advice, and is meantto inform and entertain the reader. Have fun, save money, and hit the roads!Copyright © 2012 Federico Arrizabalaga at All rights reserved worldwide. 43
  44. 44. Emergency 066 Making calls within Mexico is quite Red Cross 065 confusing these pointers will help Police 060 you get it right. Directory assistance 040 Calling from a fixed phone to a local fixed Tourist protection & information phone- dial the local number. 01 800 903 9200 or 01 800 987 8224 -Long distance to another state: 01+state Mexico City airport code+ local number -To a local cell phone: 044+ cell phone number (01-55) 2482-2424 -To an out of state phone number: 045+ cell Embassies and consulates phone number USA ( 01-55) 5080-2000 Calling from a cell phone -To another cell phone: the full number (inclu- UK (01-55) 1670 3200 ding state code) Germany (01-55) 5283 2200 -To a local fixed phone: the local number -To an out of state fixed phone: 01+ state code Canada (01-55) 5724 7900 number+ phone number Spain (01-55) 5282 297444