H everyone! In this topic I’d like to share with you my experience making a cheap vacation to Cancun!
In one of the cold North -American winter evening by the time I was residing at the University of Notre Dame campus, I have decided to go to a warm fascinating Cancun. Thankfully we have had almost a month of the winter break ready to chill out a bit after the hard semester. Cancun was almost at the top position among the places I was going to choose from – Bahamas are always expensive, other Caribbean islands didn’t offer affordable prices for flight. Cuba was under consideration, but it was a bit complicated to travel over there from the US. Finally, I found out the flight from Chicago for just $200 both ways and got my backpack ready. I didn’t regret about this choice at all.
Normally Cancun is very crowded during the Christmas time, because a lot of Americans come to spend their holidays and enjoy the tropical weather. It is much cheaper and enjoyable to fly there when all crowds are gone, and all the prices dropped down significantly. My entire trip was about $600 including flight, accommodations and food. I didn’t buy a package tour with all-inclusive, which I find very boring to stay during the whole trip in one place. I just booked everything by myself and planed one week of my vacation this way: 2 days for Cancun, 2 days in Valladolid, 2 days in Tulum, and the last 2 days in Cancun again. This terrain is so rich for attractions! You can explore the modern city Cancun and ancient Maya civilization, swim in senote and visit a colonial town Valladolid. In addition to this, the Yucatan peninsula considered to be a very safe place, much safer than Florida.
White sand and turquoise sea
Cancun is worldwide known through its famous white sand beaches, luxury hotels and turquoise sea. The city is the largest urban area in the Eastern part of the Yucatan peninsula and the resort destination where you can find a hotel from the huge range of lodging in the Hotel Zone. This is a part of the city situated on the narrow strip between the Nichupte lagoon and the Caribbean sea made up of luxury hotels and beaches. Cancun has a big international airport where you can take a taxi or a bus to the city and reach all destinations you need. The transportation system is well-developed, and buses run frequently. I arrived to the airport after 11 pm and found the bus I needed very fast.
We used to think that Cancun is kind of luxury resort and not everyone can afford it. But it’s not true! If you don’t book an all-inclusive package, you can avoid the higher costs. You just need to look at some cheap accommodations before planning your trip. My hotel “Pa’Xa Mama Hotel Boutique” for the first 2 night costed about $40 per night. This wasn’t situated in the Hotel Zone, but the location was great – just a few minutes walk from the Central Bus Station, and if you need to go to the Hotel Zone, you can easily take a bus. The thing I liked about the Hotel Zone – it has only public beaches and no one private, despite the luxury hotels. You can choose every beach you like, if go down south to Playa Delfino beach you will see the colorful Cancun sign, where everyone makes a snapshot.
Valladolid and Chichen Itza
After my first 2 days in Cancun I went to Valladolid – a Spanish colonial town founded in 1543. The bus ride was about 2,5 hours from Cancun Central Bus Station, and I booked the Hostal Gayser for a ridiculous price – only $8 per night! For this price you will get a separate room with only one drawback – the walls unfortunately were thin and I heard everything. However, the hostel itself was super clean with the good Wi-Fi and great location – just about 10 minutes from the main square. Valladolid is a fascinating town with the great history, architecture and it’s worth to visit. There is a huge range of attractions – from colonial era churches to natural attractions like cenote. If you go few blocks from the heart of the city, you will find the Cenote Zaci – underground spring in which visitors can swim. On the main square you may like to visit the Cathedral of San Servacion or enjoy the Mexican food in one of many restaurants scattered nearby.
Valladolid is a popular destination for visiting nearby Mayan ruins such as Chichen Itza and Ek’ Balam. You can dedicate a couple of days for exploring two great cultures – colonial town Valladolid founded by Spanish conquistadors, and the ancient Mayan civilization. There are frequently buses from Valladolid to Chichen Itza and it takes about 30 minutes. You can join there a tour with a guide or just go and explore ancient ruins by yourself, what I did. This place is very crowded and you will hear all the languages and see people from around the world. If you would like to buy a souvenir in Chichen Itza, they are pretty expensive and it is better to do in Valladolid.
Tulum and Play del Carmen
The next part of my adventure were cities Tulum and Playa del Carmen, which both located on the coastal line. Tulum is now one of the favorite places in Yucatan peninsula to visit because of its white sand beaches, ancient ruins and freshwater cenotes. The town has also the Zone Hotelera like in Cancun, with about 70 hotel boutiques. While staying in Tulum it is better to consider at least 2 -3 days to explore different activities. Among the incredible beaches, one of them became the most popular – the Playa Paraiso, and if you like to hang out on a beach, I would highly recommend this one. There are tons of other places to visit in Tulum beyond the shore: the ruins on a cliff right next to the beach, the Gran Cenote, Cenote Christal, and you must pay a visit to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. In the middle between Valladolid and Tulum there is a place called Koba, and if you like to discover Maya Pyramids, this is right for you! In Chichen Itza the climbing on a pyramid is prohibited, but in Koba it is possible!
After visiting Tulum I took the local ADO bus and visited Playa del Carmen, another coastal city, where I stayed only one day. The things to do there are pretty the same as in Tulum – beaches and cenotes. There are thousands of cenotes in Yucatan peninsula, and I think they are the best places to swim! If you are certified, you can dive into the chrystal clean water of a cenote. In Playa del Carmen I would recommend the Cenote Azul.
Island of Cozumel
One more place I went at the same day was the island Cozumel. The crossing ferry from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel takes about 40 minutes, and this is the most common way to go there. There are two companies that provide this service in fast and safe boats, and the ferries run hourly – the first is at 6.45 am and the latest at 11 pm. Cozumel is not so commercialized as Playa del Carmen, but offers you a lot of different activities depending on your preferences. The most favorite thing to do there is diving, another good option is to take a round trip by renting a scooter or a car and you will enjoy the incredible views. For those who likes beaches it could be a Paradise to go to the Playa Mia. The renting a car in Cozumel is very affordable and cheaper than taxi – prices start at $25 per day. If you like to stay there longer, the good budget option for you could be the “2 Tank Dive Hostel and School”. They offer the best service for backpackers and dive packages.
I spent the last two days of my trip in Cancun and booked the great Nirvana Hostel with an amazing location in the Hotel Zone for just $35 per night for a single room! It was not so close to the beaches, but if you like walking, it could be awesome to see all these luxury hotels along your way or you can just take a bus and be on the beach within a few minutes. I would highly recommend this place for a budget tourist if you like to stay in the Hotel Zone.
Thanks for reading my post and if you have any questions or comment I would be more than happy to get them! You can e -mail me directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Alex