I was excited for my trip to Mexico. I thought it would be full of tacos, beaches and fun. However I left after a short two weeks due to being a little disappointed with what I found.
Week one: Guanajuato
I would say this is a more underrated city that has a large majority of local tourists. I had booked the first week in Guanajuato City, Guanajuato. I hadn’t realised till shortly before my trip that it was winter and Guanajuato would be cold. I spent the week being rugged up in what warm clothes I had (not many). I did think Guanajuato was a beautiful city with its cobble stone streets and restaurants with outdoor seating areas.
It’s was a good place to learn Spanish as there are very limited English speakers and I was lucky enough to find a couple of restaurants which also had English menus otherwise I sat their google translating the menu. I didn’t do anything here except go to my Spanish lessons and sit in Starbucks because I was very jet lagged. However once I can conversation in Spanish I would like to come back here. It seemed to give a more traditional view of Mexican life compared to the touristy areas which is where I went next.
Week 2: Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum
After a quick bit of research I desperately wanted to go somewhere warmer after freezing in Guanajuato. I had originally been thinking of going to Puerto Vallerta but my plans fell through so I booked a flight ($150AUD!) to Cancun. From what I googled and read online I didn’t think I would like it so only booked two nights at Nomads Hostel and Bar. The hostel was good (although a bit too much party orientated for me) however as it was in the town of Cancun I didn’t find there anything around to see or do. I found a laundry mat down the road to finally do my washing and then I caught an R1 bus done to the Hotel Zone for the afternoon.
I thought it was a walkable strip where you could access the beach and walk past different shops and restaurants. I was wrong, its a long long strip that you wouldn’t bother walking. I got off at a plaza which was a good spot because there was different food and shops there to look at, it was like a big shopping centre really. However I walked to the other side where the beach should have been and it was full of massive resort hotels and I had no idea how to even get a glance at the beach.
I’d say Cancun might be alright if you can afford an all exclusive resort with private access to the beach (is the beach even nice?)
Playa Del Carmen
I only stayed in Playa two nights as well and wasn’t overly disappointed by this place but I expected much more from the beach. There’s one long main road that is full of shops and restaurants which I actually didn’t mind. It is quite touristy but I was happy strolling up and down eating ice cream and window shopping. If you’re a shopper I’d say come here as there’s quite a few brand shops but don’t expect cheap. It’s also full of large souvenir shops which are fun to browse through.
I went down to a section where you can actually access the beach and couldn’t believe how small of room there was. It looked like 2 meters of sand before the water. So it was almost a building, a bit of sand and some water. It’s possible I’m just lucky to have seen many beautiful beaches and therefore this was a huge disappointment. I didn’t even bother try get a spot of sand to sun bake on or go for a swim.
Everyone online had raved about Tulum but I then realised that that was apparently years ago before it became over run by tourists (I’m one so no hate) and prices went through the roof. I booked to stay at Tulum Banana Hostel which is in town. There’s a main street which I didn’t mind wandering about but to get to the beach is a 20-30 minute ride as bike (100peso per day). I just kept riding to the end of the bike track where the beach would be but discovered that you had to pay to access most parts of the beach there. A quick google led me to a public beach Playa Las Palmas (I think). I knew I had arrived at the public beach when there were heaps of bikes parked in one area!
The beach as I first walked onto was disappointing but as I walked further it was nicer and had a decent amount of sand to sun bake on. So I went for a quick dip which was nice but it was so windy that I only tanned for about 10 minutes as the sand was getting everywhere. It was windy almost everyday I was in Tulum and others were complaining about it too.
Tulum did have a nice range of restaurants/cafes and would be well suited to health freaks or anyone veg/vegan however meals were expensive. My hostel had a kitchen so I went and brought groceries to cook some meals because I didn’t want to be forking out heaps all the time. I just found there wasn’t much to do here other then the beach (there’s cenotes) and even that wasn’t that great. I did find Cara Felix Tulum which is a book store cafe. I was able to sell them my current book I had finished and they gave me credit to buy one of their books. It’s also a great place to sit and read or have a coffee and cake.
Overall I didn’t have a terrible time and there were definitely parts I enjoyed but I just think theses three areas are hyped up to be amazing when they are more average. Of course this is just my opinion and everyone likes different things. I was also in a bit of a funk from my jet lag and only really felt better once I actually went and did the tour of Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik Kil. But by then it was my second last day and had already booked a flight to Guatemala so I’m not completely dismissing them. I might return another day for take 2 when I’m not so in my head.
Also a quick side note but I did not think much of the tacos, maybe I just didn’t know how to order the right ones but the ones we make at home are better. #unpopularopinions
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