travel guide - escape to mexico with ariane

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mexico is such a surprising country. divided between coast and land, from sandy beaches to national parks and amazing cities, mexico has so much to offer! I was amazed at how most people underestimate mexico, often linking it to overpriced resorts, and forgetting about everything there is to discover outside of it.

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isla mujeres

mexico

located at a 15 minute ferry ride from touristic cancun, this island is a true catch.

where to stay

poc na hostel (approx. 12$ cad / night) is located right on the beach, with a beach bar and hammocks. free concerts at night and bbqs!

where to enjoy the sun

playa norte

where to eat

street food is cheap and amazing on the island! lola valentina is a great restaurant for breakfast (and smoothies). you can also meet jorge at the bar called t&t and ask him to bring you on a food tour of the island, he knows the best local spots!

what to do

rent a golf cart or a scooter and ride around the island. you can also book a snorkeling trip (some of the best snorkeling in mexico is right there).

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merida

mexico

capital city of the yucatan province, merida is a less touristy option compared to other mexican cities. it's a colourful colonial city that will please any instagrammer out there ;)

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where to stay

nomadas hostel (14$ cad / night) has a great pool with hammocks. plus, you can take salsa or cooking lessons and it's right at the center of the city!

where to eat

chaya maya is a cute restaurant where you can eat delicious yucatan dishes for cheap, in a beautiful decor! for breakfast, head to café opio, where they serve amazing smoothies and juices. at night, for cheap-but-amazing food and drinks, head to la negrita - a restaurant bar with a beautiful terrace and live music. if you want an authentic meal, head to a local market where you can eat mexican dishes for less than a dollar.

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where to party

la mezcalaria (same owners as la negrita) offers all the mexican mezcal you can dream of. if you’re looking for a place to dance salsa to some hispanic music, this is the place!

what to do

merida has a couple of museums and landmarks to visit. the st. ildephonsus cathedral, in the main square of the city, is definitely a must see. the mayan museum and anthropology museum will make you understand this civilization better before heading to visit some ruins! finally, visit palacio gobierno, a green colonial government building transformed into an art museum.

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chichen itza

mexico

there are many amazing mayan ruins in the yucatan region, chichen itza being the biggest one of them. tip: get there early to avoid the masses of tourists! also, get a guide, as the visit is much more interesting when you actually understand what you are looking at. although chichen itza might be the most impressive of them all (it’s one of the 7 wonders of the world), you can’t visit or climb the temples. if you have time, I recommend doing two different ruin sites: chichen, and uxmal, where you can climb the pyramids and visit the ruins.

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tulum

mexico

although famous for its luxury resorts and yoga retreats, tulum is a wonderful place to stay while in mexico. the beaches are amazing, the choice of food is endless and there is certainly no lack of cool activities to do around.

where to stay

there are many cheap hostels around the city, weary traveler hostel is a very good option, with a rooftop and a pool.

where to eat

tulum has so many good restaurants, many of them italian, which you might crave after eating tacos 3x a day! posada margherita is a delicious Italian restaurant by the beach.

where to party

batay tulum is my personal favorite: live music, delicious drinks and tapas in the city. if you want to see the sunset while sipping margaritas, head to coco bar on the beach.

where to go for a swim

cenotes are natural underground lakes and are very common in the yucatan peninsula and quintana roo province. every cenote is different, so you can have fun discovering multiple ones. close to tulum, two cenotes stood out: gran cenote, where you can snorkel and see beautiful fish and many turtles, and dos ojos, a park with multiple lakes and caverns, where you can explore the underwater world (either by snorkelling or diving).

what to do

apart from the many cenotes around, there are other various day trips you can do from tulum. head to akumal beach to swim with turtles (closed on mondays) or to snorkel. visit sian kaan biosphere for a boat ride in lagoons and a walk in the jungle.

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other places

to visit in mexico

rio lagartos

located outside of merida on the northern coast, rio lagartos is a natural reserve where you can admire various species of birds and general wildlife. there is also a beautiful pink lake called las coloradas where you can see flamingos and enjoy the view (you can’t swim).

izamal

a small city just 72km away from busy merida. izamal is a tiny yellow colonial city that is worth visiting for a day or on your way to chichen itza ruins.

text and pictures by ariane poulin
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