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Briefly Mexico:

After my Asia trip i was approaching to the idea of Latin America traveling with prejudges due to safety issues. Just before i started my trip, i watched El Chapo to understand what i will be face to face. Of course, the tv show made me worried. However, I understood that there was nothing to be worried about.

This time I had to book flight ticket with roundtrip as i took 1 month off from company that i am work for. I was so excited for to go away again. Even it was for one month, it was better than nothing.

VISA…It was super easy to cross the border. Mexica doesn’t want any visa for USA citizens, EU citizens and EU residency holders. To get electronic visa is also very easy for Turkish, Russian and Ukrainians. All you need to do is to fill a form just one day before you off to Mexico. Here is the link. ( Even if I have EU residency permit, I printed the electronic visa out.

About Mexico:

First of all, if I had known that the country was that fantastic, I would have spent my one month in Mexico. Incredible nature, many attraction points, delicious foods, history, nice people and affordable prices…

I will give more details about the good things in the country one by one but let’s first go over the things you need to know before you go.

As you know the country´s biggest exporting product is cocaine. You can find it funny and weird but it is true. Therefore, the violence between the cartels is in the top level. The rule between government and the cartels is so simple: don’t involve each other’s business.

Southern Mexico, where is full of touristic attraction points and pretty safe. However, the police vehicles are everywhere, the money transfer vehicles are secured as a tank and some stores have heavy armed security. It shows that there could be anything in anytime. So, what I can suggest is to not stress but be in caution all the time.

I had some opportunities to speak with some locals. As you heard the most dangerous and the biggest cartel in Mexico is in Sinaloa. Despite the people want the cartel war stop they have sympathy to the Sinaloa Cartel. The reason is the benefits that they have from them; restoration of the churches, connecting electricity to the villages, fixing the roads, building schools and many other different benefits which supposed to come from the government.

Also, what I have learnt from a local is: once the cartel members step in a restaurant the doors are locked, the phones are collected, no one in - no one out till they finished their meal. And in that while whatever the other people eat get paid by the cartel member. The purpose of these actions is to prevent in the case of someone turn them in to the police.

So, let’s get started with the destinations:

1. Playa de Carmen:

I took direct flight from Frankfurt to Cancun. But I didn’t stay in the city. I took a bus to Playa from the airport directly. My flight to Costa Rica was from Cancun anyway. I left it for the last days. Ado bus station is just in the right-hand side after the exit. Also, the ticket counter is just before the exit gate.

Where to stay… I stayed in Lobo del mar Hostel. If you do not mind party and laud music the hostel is just for you. There is a bar and pool on roof. Drinks are free for the hostel guests every day from 7pm to 8pm. It is in a good location; just 300 meters from sea side and attraction points… (You can see more details about the hostel in my Instagram. I pinned them in highlights- Mexico)

The best thing in Mexico is there are shuttles to everywhere which are called ´´collectivos´´. And you don’t need to pay the expensive tours. All you need to do is just plan where you want to go and then take the right collectivos to go there. One way is maximum 1 USD. You can pay in USD or Mexican pesos.

The city is close to the best Cenotes in Mexico. What does cenote mean? The natural pools formed by rain after filtered by the soil. Therefore, it is the purest and richest water on mineral base.

  • Parque XCA HA Cenote:

I got there with collectivos and paid 4 usd for entrance. To be honest it wasn’t that interesting. If you have limited time you don’t really need to go there. Here I share the photos below.

  • Cenote Azul:

I stayed there 3 hours. It is surrounded by a forest which you can find small natural pools as well but the cenote itself is great. Stayed there couple of hours. Jump from 12 meters high to the cenote, read book, take pictures and sun bath. I suggest you to go there in the morning otherwise it can be little bit crowded.

Just take the Tulum shuttle from the center and tell the driver to get off in Cenote Azul. The journey takes 15 minutes and it costs 2.5 USD.

  • Cenote Cristalino

Just 5 mins walk from Cenote Azul. It is smaller and also there are less people. It still has good nature for chilling out. I stayed there 30 mins after.

  • Cozumel island

You can take a daily tour or just roundtrip ferry ticket. I bought a ferry ticket and spent my one day there. Ferry ticket with round trip costs 14 USD. Just walk through the main street alongside the sea side. You will find a lot of ticket sellers in evenings.

Cozumel Island is full of nice beaches and restaurants. The only bad thing for the island is there is no bus or colelctivo service.You have to take taxi. Therefore, i suggest you to wait the other people in the taxi station (just in the left-hand side from the main pier) and share the cost. I waited max 10 mins and find some others to go paradise beach with. It costed 5 USD in that way.

The nature of the Island was amazing. Actually, there were Mayan Ruins in the island but I didn’t prefer to go there. I was going to go to Chichen itza from Merida anyway. And also, to go the Ruins by taxi to in Cozumel was very expensive unless going with a group. So, I spent all my day in Paradise beach. It is most likely a holiday village; pool, beach, cocktails and amazing sand with ocean. The entrance is 3 USD, cocktails are expensive J. Perfect for one day event.

Back to Playa with 17.30 ferry, spent one more night there and get ready for Tulum the next day.

2. Tulum:

Tulum is 45 mins away from Playa de Carmen and there are shuttles(colectiovos) every 15 mins that depart in the Center of Playa. Me and my friend Ann who i met in the hostel, paid 2.5 USD each and headed to Tulum.

There are two sides in Tulum: The city and beach side. i preferred to stay in beach side. The city side was not that attractive for me. We rented a car and directly started to explore the around as she didn’t have time, she needed to back to Cancun to catch her plane for the following day.

  • Tulum Ruins:

It is 10 mins from the center. It can be reached with colectivo or even with a bike. However, it is not for me to bike under that ruthless Sun.

The ruins are just edge of a cliff and ocean. It makes the place more interesting for me. Also, you can get down to the beach enjoy the ocean and continue to see ruins but the ocean was full of sea weeds and we didn’t prefer to swim.

There are a lot of iguanas in the place. They are climbing the ruins and there happens a really good scene when they become the same color of the ruins. If you interest with photography, here would be a good place for you.

After we spent 1 hour there, we jumped to our car and headed to Coba region to see some cenotes. It took 45 mins drive.

  • Coba(Cenotes Choo-Ha)

After 45 mins drive, we were in Cenote Choo- Ha. But it is better you use navigator. As it is in the middle of nowhere. Also, you will pass by Coba pyramids and lake. Despite the lake looks very nice, it is full of crocodiles. So, do not sit on the edge and put your feed inside of the water.

Once we arrived to the cenote, we had to have a shower to not make the cenote dirty. It is not necessary to have shower fist for all the cenotes but that one, you have to.

There are stairs to reach down there from a hole. It is kind of a hidden cenote under the ground.

The color of the water is incredible. It was ice blue color and also ice cold. If you like photography, you will like here but try to go as early as you can. The place is not that big and it is very crowded.

After we spent 1 hour there, we back to Tulum and I took her to the center bus station in Tulum.

  • Tulum Beach Clubs,

I won´t give a special beach club name. Because they are all same. There is a beach called ´´Tulum Beach´´ and they are on that beach side by side. They have all entrance fee between 25-35 USD however I didn’t pay because of there were sea weed all over the shore. But if you want to chill out on luxry sunbed and drink your expensive cocktails against to the ocean you can go any of them.

  • Biking to KA´AN

One of the most common things in Tulum is rent a bike. There are a lot of place to rent bikes. I rented from ice-cream Bar for 10 USD/1day.

I got my bike and started to ride to KA´AN. The area is totally woody. You have to ride 8 km to reach a tower that can see the whole landscape. If you ride 5 more KM you can reach a lake full of crocodile and get a tour. It was the beginning of my trip and I didn’t want to pay 30 USD for the Tour. So, I back to Tulum after stayed there for a while. However, I met with couple of people who were riding to the same place and we became a small bike gang. Also, there is a beach bar on the way that you can cool down and enjoy the ocean view with beers.

Where to stay…I stayed in Bambu Palas Hostel. Everything was made of bamboo. And Hostel has also a small cenote. A small bar and restaurant, live music and god vibe… the worst thing was mosquitos in the evening… there were a lot of mosquitos because of the cenote. If you have allergy, I do not recommend you to stay in the hostel, or you don’t spend your night around the hostel bar. I paid 18 usd daily but I can say that the hostel has one of the most interesting concepts during my journey. Tulum is not the cheapest place in Mexico anyway.

Where to Eat…Ice cream bar is one of the most famous places in the area. You can eat dinner, lunch also stay till late evening to drink and enjoy. The café bar turns kind of a night club in the evening. Good vibe, nice people and I can say that, affordable prices. BUT…. I got my phone stolen in the bar. So, bear it in your mind; you are still in Mexico. I was really drunk and didn’t pay attention my small bag. The day after I went back to the place in the morning and asked to see the CCTV records. The guy was there for morning shift told me that he must have called is boss. After they had word, he went to the office and brought my phone back. I do not know had stolen it but as I said very careful when you get drunk in Mexico.

3. Merida

The city was not that much tourist attraction point 8-9 years ago and a taxi driver told me that the city was under the control of drug cartels. But nowadays it is very safe and one of the sightseeing cities in Mexico. After Player de Carmen and Tulum you can feel more traditional culture of Mexico:

Local people, architecture of the houses, roads, food…

Where to stay… Stayed in Nomadas Hostel for 8usd per night. The hostel is a typical old school Mexican architecture with pool and common area. If you want to chill out and silence this is the place for you. Even you cannot talk in common area after 10PM. Also, only beer and wine are allowed to drink so no pissed in the hostel 😊 I didn’t find negative those rules actually. The hostel was 5-7 mins to central and it was very clean.

What to do… if you are interested photography like me just walk half day in the city, taking photos, have a break and then continue to taking photos. Well, do not forget to get a big bottle of water as the city can be very hot.

  • Chichen Itza:

As you know it is one of the places where under protection of UNESCO. And it totally deserves it. The place can be reached from Tulum as well. However, i preferred to visit it from Merida. There is a bus service From Merida central Bus station to the pyramids every 30 mins and it is approx. 15 euro with return. However, I suggest you to find a group, rent a car together and create your own tour. In this way you can visit other attraction points in the area and you would be more flexible with a car. If you have not Visa or Master credit card, forget about renting a car.

I met with a lovely German group and hired a van we were 8 of us and the cost really pressed. Everybody paid 12 USD for whole day (car rent + petrol). I can say that the day was the most enjoyable day of my whole journey. Beautiful people, amazing vibe, extra ordinary places.

  • Santa Barbara Cenote:

I know there are a lot of photos Instagram about different Cenotes in Mexico. But it is impossible to go all of them. Mexico has 6000 different cenotes 2400 of them are in Yucatan Area. As you can see the above cenote suggestions, I have been a lot of them. But this is the most fantastic one. There is nothing to write just see it from the photos. But it is not a solo cenote. You have to pay 12 USD to get in to the facility, however it is totally worth it; there are 2 other cenotes and bikes with a guide are including to the price.

  • San Antonio:

On the way back we searched other cenotes on our way and visited them. This is why I suggest you to rent a car with a group.

Where to Eat… Las Trompos restaurant where I ate 2 days. Clean, local food and affordable. It is very close to the city center. At least try here for one night.

Time to Explore some other ruins in Palenque. Ado Bus departs ever day to Palenque but it is better you book your ticket at least 2-3 days before. Otherwise the tickets are getting more expensive. Also, the other thing you need to concern; robbery in the busses. That journey takes 8 hours though the jungle. My German friends were get robbed in the Bus after they fall asleep. Some bad people do not sleep all night and steal the belonginess when the people are sleeping. So do not put your bags and important things to the storages above.

Also, we have been stopped in a cartel checkpoint. In the first place I thought it was a police random check-in but then I understood that we had stopped by a Cartel member. In that case you do not have to worry. They are not looking for you. All they want to do is to show everyone how powerful they are. And then we continued our way to Palenque.

4. Palenque

After a strange journey i arrived in Palenque without and robbery. Palenque is known with the ruins. And the thing makes it more attractive is they are in a national park. So, hiking and ruins together are possible in Palenque. Normally it takes half day but what I can suggest you is get some sandwiches and do picnic, chill out all day in a real ancient city.

Where to stay… I stayed in Kabans Kim Balam Hostel just near the gate of the Palenque National Park. 10 usd per night. There is 4 km way to walk from the gate to ruins through the jungle and also there is a museum about the ruins and the story of it. The entrance fee is 3.5 usd and the museum is free.

My purpose to visit Palenque was the Ruins. But I liked the hostel and the place. So, I decided to stay 3 days. Let me tell you more about the area and the hostel: First of all, hostel is just middle of the jungle. All you can hear is the animals and breeze. There is a big swimming pool you can chill out all day in that nature. I didn’t do anything for one day and just stayed there and socialized with people. The hostel is the last one before the Ruins. So, that is the reason many travelers choose there to stay. Hostel is a good vibe. I would stay there again.

The city was the capital of the Mayans. And the grandchildren of them are still living there. It is pretty much easy to separate the Mayan people and Spanish Mexicans.

Where to eat... There is a small entrance just opposite of the hostel. It looks like another entrance to the jungle but when you follow the natural path you reach to a place where you can eat, listen traditional live Mayan music and also other hotels. Actually, was little bit pissed and looking for a place for having lunch but then I saw a board that was written ancient tattoo on it. I found myself to follow these small board and then I reached a small cabinet that some locals were smoking weed. I asked them if they could make a traditional Mayan Tattoo. They made it with a hand poke technique. It completely healed after 4 days.

I also mat fantastic people in the hotel in the same day. There were a couple; They were both musicians. They met in Cancun 1 month ago and decided to travel together. Carolina is from Germany and Elias is from Mexico. They are making music together. Their next stop is San Cristóbal where they will try to find a bar and making some money by making music. They still couldn’t figure out what they are to each other and they don’t need to find it out anyway. Just enjoy the moment and give good feelings to each other. You never know who you meet during traveling. Everything is possible there are no limits. Their story reminded me my Asia trip last year... i hope their story ends up better.

I wanted to go to San Cristobal but I had no time there were 2 countries more to go. But I remember that I was thinking to not leaving Mexico. However, I had some planning in Costa Rica and Panama. Then I headed to Cancun-Isla Mujeres. I was going to spend 3 days there.

5. Cancun&Isla Mujeres

Actually, my planning was to spend 3 days in Cancun and visit Isla Mujeres for a one day. But i changed my mind once i had seen Cancun. It was a big city and somehow, i really do not find the big cities attractive. Therefore, I decided to stay 2 days in Isla Mujares. And i really didn’t regret on it.

Isla Mujeres is an island that you can see Mexican tradition and Touristic attraction in the same place. Beautiful small streets with small bars, shops and restaurants. There are 2 sides of the island. The beaches in north side between the mainland are more beautiful especially ``North Beach`` is with beautiful white sands and amazing ocean.

Where to stay… the Island is very small so you do not have to stay in the center. I stayed in Balu Hostel and it was 10 mins walk from attraction points. Isla Mujeres is a very safe place. You can walk to you hostel even 3 am in the morning.

Where to eat... the island is little bit more expensive than other places I had visited. But I preferred to eat tacos as street food. They are still my favorite.

What to do…If you like diving you can join the diving tours to underwater museum. It is costed 15USD. Despite the boat forgot us for 1 hour in the middle of the ocean it was interesting to see a Volkswagen Beetle in 15 meters beep of the ocean. 😊

I love to take street photos and Isla Mujares is one of the best places for that. Colorful graffities, traditional small Mexican buildings and old cars…Then catching the sunset accompany of a beer. I would have stayed there 10 days at least if I had had enough time.

I was kind of ready to go to Costarica after a short but intensive tour in Mexico. I headed back to Cancun, stayed there 1 night and flew to Costa Rica from Cancun Airport.