in North America

Skip Chichén Itzá, Go to Cobá and Uxmal

If you’re heading to Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula, chances are high you’ll visit some Mayan ruins while you’re there. Unless you spend your whole vacation on the beach at a resort, in which case I’d kindly advise you to reevaluate your decision, and possibly your life. Most people know of Chichén Itzá, a vast Mayan city with the famous El Castillo featured in Spanish textbooks and postcards. But if you’re reading this and haven’t been yet, skip it and check out Cobá and Uxmal instead.

Chichén Itzá is pretty commercialized these days. The archeological zone has almost as many vendors selling the same souvenirs than tourists. We’ve heard the land is collectively owned by a group of people and I understand if this is how they make their livelihood, but it seems excessive. The whole site is very impressive, but after visiting Cobá and Uxmal, in Quintana Roo State and Yucatán State respectively, you won’t miss out on much.

We went to Cobá first. It’s near Tulum and it’s nestled in the jungle. There are many bicycle taxis waiting to take you between the disparate pyramids, but the walk is really enjoyable. The highlight though is you’re able to summit the larger pyramid and get a great view of the area from the top, providing the selfie stick-wielding visitors don’t knock you off1.

Cobá was a little busy when we went, but nothing like Chichén Itzá. Uxmal was next, during our Couchsurfing stay in Mérida. It’s an easy day trip out of the city and a little respite from the sweltering humidity.

At Uxmal, there might have been 50 people while we were there. It was incredible. You want to take photos of ancient ruins without Billabong shirts in them? Go to Uxmal. There’s also a larger pyramid like El Castillo in Chichén Itzá.

After a few days of a little cold and some rest in Campeche, we made it to Mexico City. Since Patricia and I started in the Yucatán and have plans to swing back around to Guatemala, we are saving Oaxaca and Chiapas for our way out. Thankfully, the weather is more agreeable for us in central Mexico.

  1. #NoSelfieSticks, anyone?