What To Pack For A Mexico Road Trip
The good thing about Mexico is that you can often buy what you need there. Still, you should pack wisely, just in case.
In terms of clothing, you can wear whatever you want in Mexico just nothing grotesquely revealing, and keep swimwear to the beach. Light fabrics help you breathe. I tend to wear dresses, skirts, and tank tops with sandals, plus some athletic wear for active days. You might want to bring a sweater and jeans for cool nights or bus rides.
Here are some items that are smart to pack for a trip to Mexico:
Biodegradable sunscreen. Leave your regular sunscreen at home it can be harmful to delicate areas like cenotes, Lake Bacalar, and the waters surrounding Holbox. Stick to the biodegradable or reef safe brands.
Earplugs. Mexico is loud. Even in small towns. Even in luxury hotels. Even on a Monday night. Earplugs are essential to get a good nights sleep in Mexico.
Mosquito repellant. Mosquitos can be incessant in this part of Mexico, especially at sunset.
Travel towel. Cenotes dont provide towels youll need to bring your own.
Sports sandals. Sports sandals are ideal for climbing ruins and exploring the outdoors while leaving your feet room to breathe on hot days.
Hacienda Hotels Outside Of Merida
There are several Marriott Luxury Collection Hotels that are converted former haciendas. Theyre lovely places to spend a couple of nights in a romantic setting that takes you back in time. The two best are Hacienda San Jose and Hacienda Temozon, the latter close enough to Uxmal to be a base for exploring the ruins.
One thats not part of that collection but follows a similar playbook is Hacienda Katanchel, a 740-acre estate less than 45 minutes from Meridas historic center. You have to have a group to book there as theyre only open when occupied. It can accommodate whole wedding parties though, with 40 rooms in all, scattered across grounds with cenote-fed pools and lush vegetation.
Catherwood Travels, the upscale tour company, also has a collection of haciendas that groups can book or youll end up staying at one or more of them if you go on one of their excellent tours.
If you dont want to go full-on colonial, one of the most luxurious options in all of Yucatan state is Chablé Resort & Spa, about a half-hour drive from Merida. This luxury resort is a true mix of old and new: the heart of the property is the 18th-century main hacienda building and theres a restaurant in the old machine works building, but the sections that were added on are thoroughly modern.
To see detailed reviews on our top picks, head to our page that links to our takes on the best luxury hotels in Merida.
Santa Lucia Where To Stay In Merida For An Authentic Experience
For a more residential experience, the neighborhood of Santa Lucia is a good option. This is actually the closest Merida district to the Zocalo. If you prefer Airbnb, Merida Mexico has many offerings in this neighborhood.
In addition to excellent restaurants, youll have easy access to grocery stores and everyday shops. Many expats call Santa Lucia home, so its an international flavor overlaid with Mexican culture. The hub of Santa Lucia is the church, and the adjacent park, where festivals and fairs take place.
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Alternative Yucatan Road Trip Itineraries
Want a slightly different two week Mexico itinerary? No problem! You can customize this Yucatán road trip itinerary to your needs.
Would you rather take public transportation than drive? You can do that!
Would you rather change accommodation less often and stay longer in fewer places? Indeed you can.
Do you only have 10 days or a week? We can absolutely work with that.
Do you have more than two weeks to travel? Lucky you. I have suggestions.
Dig Into The Merida Foodie Scene
Merida has an amazing gastronomy scene, with regional dishes from throughout the Yucatan as well as cultural influences from elsewhere in Mexico and worldwide. From street carts and cafes to fine dining, you wont go hungry in Merida! Some of the traditional Yucatecan foods to try include:
- warm, paper-thin crunchy wafers with your choice of fillings rolled up inside. The most popular is a salty and sweet combo Nutella with Edam cheese. I prefer just the Nutella, but recommend that adventurous eaters try both! These can be found at food carts in the Plaza Grande and elsewhere in Merida.
- Cochinita pibil: this must-try traditional Maya dish starts with preparing an entire pig in a sour orange citrus marinade and the local spice achiote , then cooking it underground in banana leaves. The high acid content of the marinade and the slow cooking time result in a very tender meat. Cochinita pibil is served with tortillas, pickled onions, and other toppings.
- Poc Chuc: a Mayan/Yucatecan version of boiled or grilled pork.
- Papadzules: a version of this traditional Yucatecan dish might have even pre-dated the colonial era in Mexico. These are corn tortillas dipped in a sauce made from pumpkin seeds and filled with hard-boiled eggs, then garnished with a cooked tomato-pepper sauce.
- Sopa de lima: one of my favorites, this soup is made with turkey or chicken and a lime found in the region, topped with crunchy strips of fried tortilla.
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How To Get Around Merida
Merida has a compact city center which is well laid out in squares and parallel streets. Its easy and mostly safe to walk around the central sights, even at night. In fact, you can see the best of Merida and its Centro Historico and crowded markets on a walking tour.
The main bus station, as well as several tourist attractions, are found outside the city center. Taxis are inexpensive but you can also make use of the local bus network. City buses cost 8 pesos and cover set routes, usually departing and terminating close to the central square.
For day trips to archaeological sites, you can easily book a tour through your hostel, hotel, or at the tourism office in the main square. You can also use the local Collectivo services, these are small minibuses that leave regularly from set departure points when full. Alternatively, you can hire a car. As you only have 3 days for your Merida itinerary, a car will help you cover as much ground outside the city as you can but you wont need it in the city center.
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Is Mrida Gay Friendly
Si! Mérida is a rising star for the LGBTQ+ traveler. While there are many gay-friendly places in Mexico, Mérida is quickly becoming one of Mexico’s gay darlings. LGBTQ+ travelers will feel most welcome strolling the historic downtown under the blue skies of this magical place.
The combination of its warm hospitality, exceptional hotels with exemplary service, inclusive culture, fantastic cuisine, fun bars, and clubs, plus plenty of opportunities to tour and drink in its Mayan archeological sites, from a centrally located destination, Mérida, is a must-visit during your next trip to Mexico!
Museums To See In Merida
There are three main museums that are of interest to first time visitors to Merida. Of course there are dozens of other options that range in art, small oddities to haciendas. See the above section on the main square for information on the Macay Museum.
- Gran Museo del Mundo Maya. This modern looking museum houses the current state of Mayans living in the modern world and also examines the Mayan past in the Yucatan Peninsula. Hours: open 8:00am-5:00pm Wednesday-Monday. Closed Tuesdays. Entrance price: 150 pesos for non Mexicans and 100 pesos for Mexicans.
Inside of the Mundo Maya Museum.
- Anthropology and History Museum. This museum has a lot of Mayan artifacts from around the area and peninsula. This is a well done two story museum with an impressive collection. Hours: open Tuesday-Sundays 8:00am-5:00pm. Closed Mondays. Entrance price: 55 pesos.
The beautiful building on Paseo de Montejo that houses the Museum of Anthropology and History.
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Where To Stay In Valladold
Valladolíd is a small, cheap city and you can enjoy it on a budget, but spending a bit more money can get you a much nicer hotel. I recommend staying within a few blocks of the zócalo, the main square, to maximize your brief time here.
If you want luxury accommodation, I recommend Le Muuch Hotel. This may be the most beautiful property in town with chic, colorful rooms and a beautiful outdoor area with hammocks and a pool.
If you want mid-range accommodation, I recommend Casa Tia Micha. This is a mid-range property that feels luxurious, from its classy stone bathtubs to its elegant carved wood furniture, but its well priced and central.
If you want budget accommodation, I recommend Hotel Zazil-Maj. Here the rooms are simple but clean and recently renovated, just a few blocks from Cenote Zaci.
Visit The Sites In Merida
One of the most beautiful places in Mexico, and one of the countrys prettiest colonial cities, theres no shortage of things to see in Merida. From historic monuments to colonial buildings, colorful streets to charming cafes, youll never run out of fun things to do in Merida, like these top Merida sites:
- Plaza Grande: The main plaza, or Town Square, where youll find the Merida Cathedral
- Paseo de Montejo: Meridas most famous, tree-lined street
- Monumento a la Patria: The most beautiful monument in Merida
- Mundo MayaMayan World Museum: Meridas largest collection of Mayan artifacts
- Museo Palacio Canton: A beautiful European-inspired mansion on Paseo Montejo
- Parque Santa Lucia: This park hosts cultural events and dance performances, and has nice restaurants for outdoor dining
- Palacio de Gobierno: The Merida and Yucatan government offices, where you can see the gorgeous murals painted by local artist, Fernando Castro Pacheco
Merida Yucatan Mexico Travel Guide
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Is It Safe To Drive In Mexico
A lot of people get intimidated about driving in Mexico but its not as scary as you think, especially here in the Yucatán Peninsula. This is a safe and easy region of the country. I wouldnt hesitate to drive alone in this part of Mexico!
If youre driving in Mexico for the first time ever, the Yucatán Peninsula is the perfect place to start. Most major roads are in good condition. Yucatán state has exceptionally low crime Quintana Roo states crime is mostly concentrated in the resort towns youll be avoiding. The landscape is fairly flat and you dont have to deal with crazy mountain passes.
In other parts of Mexico, like remote areas of Chiapas, locals frequently shut down roads due to protests or ask passing drivers for money this is very uncommon in the states of Yucatán, Campeche, and Quintana Roo.
If youre looking to get good value for money, I recommend comparing car rental rates at RentalCars.com. Keep in mind that the cheapest rates are often for manual transmissions if you need an automatic car, specify that when you book so there are no surprises.
Obviously, youll need a license to drive in Mexico. Mexico recognizes English language licenses, regardless of country. If you dont have an English or Spanish language license, you may want to bring an international driving permit .
Mexicans drive on the right side of the road.
Getting Around In Merida
Merida is on the smaller side, especially if youre just sticking to the main areas of Centro Historico and Paseo Montejo. It is also very walkable, so as mentioned, if youre just staying in the city itself, skip the rental car and just use Uber and taxis when needed.
Merida public transport
Mexico in general has a great public bus system that goes from city to city, and state to state. The biggest bus company is ADO, and you can take an ADO bus from Merida to pretty much anywhere else in the Yucatan, and the whole country.
Within the city itself, the public transportation in Merida is well. lacking. It does exist, but the buses and colectivos arent well maintained, and they dont use any kind of online schedule or app. For these reasons, walking, Uber and taxis work best in town.
Is there Uber in Merida?
Yes There is Uber in Merida, and in general, Uber in Mexico is much cheaper than in the U.S. Prices will of course vary, but figure about $50 pesos for a 20-minute ride. Besides Uber, there is DiDi and InDriver, but theres no Lyft in Merida.
Merida Yucatan Mexico Travel Guide
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Where To Stay In Mrida
Mérida is a popular stop for travellers uncovering Yucatán, resulting in a great selection of excellent accommodations.
Despite that Mérida is quite a big city, teeming with vibrant laneways and plazas, it is still pretty straightforward to find a hotel that offers both comfort and a relaxing setting.
Yet due to the citys popularity, it can occasionally require some extra effort to find an option that meets your travel budget.
Fortunately, I saved you some time and made a list of my favourite accommodations, including some of the best budget-friendly options.
Casona 61|This beautiful hotel is situated right at the heart of Mérida, only a stones throw away from all the best things to see and do. On top of that, it features air-conditioned rooms and an outdoor swimming pool.
Hotel Flamingo Mérida | Comfortable modern rooms at an excellent price-quality ratio – plus an excellent pool to escape Méridas sizzling heat.
Hotel Colon Mérida|Located directly in the lively streets of Mérida, Hotel Colon offers great rooms, comfortable double beds, and a large outdoor pool.
Hotel Maya Yucatán | Nestled in Méridas cheerful Santa Lucia neighbourhood, Hotel Maya Yucatán is surrounded by trendy cafés, inviting boutiques, and several places of interest. Perfect for those on a budget, it has comfortable rooms, and a refreshing outdoor pool.
Alternatively, use booking.com to find accommodations in Mérida.
Santiago & West Of Centro
A much more local neighbourhood. Still with all the modern convenience you want but without the tourism. Only a few blocks from centro. Enjoy the weekly dance in the square on tuesday nights, typically featuring a big band or other live music.
Want to know more about the Merida Neighbourhoods plus a complete run down on what to do and where to eat in Merida Mexico? Read our Ultimate Guide To Merida Mexico.
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Best Time To Visit Yucatan Peninsula
Weather wise the best time to travel to Yucatan Peninsula is November to February when temperatures are the coolest. March, April and May it can get really hot and humid and from June till October is the official rainy season. High season is from December till April and therefore the best month to visit Yucatan Peninsula is November.
One Week In Mexico Itinerary
If you only have one week in Mexico, I would split your time between two destinations: either Holbox and Mérida or Bacalar and Mérida. I know its tempting to add in lots of destinations, but trust me on this one.
In 2019 I spent a week in Mexico split between Holbox and Mérida and it was perfect.
You may want to consider a one-way car rental from Cancún to Mérida. One-way rentals can often be more expensive, but it saves you hours of driving in this case. Once again, RentalCars.com will give you an idea of the pricing.
But a car isnt necessary for this weeklong trip. You can easily do this itinerary by public transportation on the ADO buses, as I did in 2019. If you go to Holbox, take one of the many shuttles from Cancún Airport to Chiquilá its faster and easier than the bus.
- Day 1: Arrive Cancún, drive to Chiquilá and get the ferry to Holbox
- Days 2-3: Holbox
- Day 4: Drive from Chiquilá to Mérida
- Days 5 and 6: Mérida
- Day 7: Depart Mérida
There is a lot more to see on the drive from Chiquilá to Mérida Valladolíd, Chichén Itzá, some cool cenotes, Izamal than the drive from Bacalar to Mérida.
So which place is better, Holbox or Bacalar? Wow, thats a tough one! Having spent time in both places recently, I would give the edge to Bacalar. Its more unique and I think it has a better vibe.
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Is A Yucatan Peninsula Road Trip Safe
Yes, yes, yes, yes! A road trip in the Yucatan is most probably safer than driving around your home country. Yucatan tourism did a lot to make this a safe place for tourists and it clearly has paid off. When I did a Yucatan road trip 11 years ago I saw loads of road blocks and military presence. This is all gone nowadays. Not a single moment on my Yucatan trip in March 2019 I felt unsafe, nor did I see anything suspicious. People around the Yucatan peninsula are extremely helpful. May you ever get lost, just ask for directions. These people dont bite!
Make sure to always stay connected to the internet by buying a Telcel sim card. In my article the best sim card for tourists in Mexico I found out that Telcel is the only mobile operator with decent network coverage.