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Mexico City, Cancun, Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, Zacatecas and more...

Learn what to see and do ...before you get here 1


INDEX

editorial

mai travel guide of... mexico! acapulco cancun cozumel guadalajara guanajuato isla mujeres mexico city

4 8 11 14 17 20

palenque playa del carmen puerto vallarta/ sayulita san cristobal de las casas san miguel de allende zacatecas

26 28 31 34 37 40

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After years of traveling around the world using branded travel guides found online and in book stores I discovered a need of free, small, concise guides that would give me the highlights I need to know to decide what I should visit in each country. Mai Travel Guides are an attempt to satisfy this demand while saving you some money!

Founder/ Editor Federico Arrizabalaga

VIVA MEXICO!

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Please contact us via email if you’d like to sponsor this travel guide

Tequila, tacos, mariachis and drug violence are usually the first words pronounced by people from around the world when asked to describe what Mexico means to them today. And while they might all be valid, the 14th largest country in the world offers much more to the untrained eye than what you might think: from tropical beaches in Cancun, to thick jungles in Chiapas or whale watching in Puerto Vallarta you are sure to experience an adventure you will never forget. Mai Travel Guide Mexico 1st Edition March 2012

EDITOR IN CHIEF Federico Arrizabalaga CREATIVE DIRECTOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER VERO AVANT


Mexico!

It was in 1519 that the first Spaniards arrived in this part of the world and soon absorbed the local native populations into what was Spain´s enormous colonial empire. Independence from Spain came in 1821, but 35 years later the Mexican-American war broke out ending in 1858 and resulted in Mexico losing about half its territory to the USA. Invaded by France late in the 19th century and ruled by Porfirio Diaz thereafter he brought industry and modernization at the expense of human rights and freedom, paving the way to the 10 year Mexican Revolution. In 1929 the PNM became the ruling party in the country, later changed its name to PRI (Institutional Revolutionary Party) and governed for the rest of the twentieth century. Changes began after the 1985 earthquake which resulted in almost 30,000 deaths (numbers are still unconfirmed), when ineffective management of relief efforts resulted in popular dissatisfaction, public demonstrations, and the first signs of the PRI’s decay. In July of 2000 Vicente Fox became the first president belonging to a party other than the PRI (the PAN) which now has Felipe Calderon as the government ruler. Mexico’s geography and culinary options are as different and tasteful as its history: tough, spicy, and of consequence. Northern Mexico is mostly arid, flat (except for a few minor mountain chains) and shares the longest border in the world between a first and

a third world country. Food-wise, beef and goat dishes are the most relevant food staples, with arrachera being the preferred style. On the other hand, southern Mexico has thick jungles and a tropical rainy climate which has been (and still is) home to indigenous tribes for centuries. Undoubtedly this has had a big impact on local food, and it is here that you will try those dishes usually unheard of. And then there are the beaches. Cancun probably has the most famous in the country, but the beaches along the Pacific coast are not to be easily tamed: head to Puerto Escondido for massive surf or chill out along the empty beaches of Nayarit and make any your own for as long as you want- perfect sunshine and exquisite nature will become the flawless background for your own postcard. Unfortunately Mexico has been very popular for the past two years or so, although not for good reasons and rightfully so. The country has never been able to brag about public safety, but drug related violence is widespread and abundant affecting not only law enforcers and drug involved delinquents but ordinary citizens too. Cities like Monterrey or Nuevo Laredo and others bordering the USA should be avoided, and ask about road safety before any overnight bus or car drive. This said have fun, enjoy the food, and shout loud Viva Mexico!


acapulco

Acapulco lies around a bay of the Pacific coast of Mexico, 300 km south of Mexico City.

History and Overview

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nitially home to the Olmecs, the area around Acapulco passed through Mayan and Aztec rule until the Spanish established a port in the early 1530s. Visiting the city in the early 1900s the then Prince of Wales recommended the city to the European elite, and was already a quite popular resort for them. The city’s commercial development began around the 1950s, and then became a popular destination within Hollywood circles. Since 2011 tourism in this city has suffered a setback with the recent spate of gang-related violence and negative publicity.


Acapulco might not be as glamurous as it was four decades ago, but there is still an undeniable beauty.

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facts for the visitor

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uan N. Alvarez international airport connects Acapulco with both domestic and International locations, and is a 45 minute flight from Mexico City. Round trip tickets range from $25 to $50 if you book early. You can also take a bus or drive from Mexico City which is about 3 – 4 hours away by road. Taxis are plentiful in the city, but these are typically non-metered and fares must be negotiated. Shared taxis are also popular, and have a flat rate of $1. Private buses also ply the city streets and these are an easy way of traveling within. If you wish to drive around, many recommend you hire a car with a driver. The average peak temperature in the city is around 32°C (90°F), while the average minimum temperatures are around 22°C (72°F). Peak temperatures reach as high as 41°C (106°F) in May and dip to as low as 11°C (52°F).

Taxis are typically non-metered and fares must be negotiated. Shared taxis are also popular, and have a flat rate of $1 5


For decades the divers at La Quebrada have brought tourists from around the world.

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acapulco Acapulco is the closest beach to Mexico City.

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he northern part of the bay is home to a number of upscale Mexican hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, while the southern part hosts the newer constructions and caters mostly to the international and wealthier Mexican clientele. Acapulco’s beaches, popular with US students on spring break, are all concentrated in the bay area in front of the main boulevard (La Costera). Some of the nicer beaches on this stretch include the Caleta and Langosta beach. There are a lot of opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving and fishing. Deep sea fishing for sailfish is quite popular around here. Acapulco’s main square, el Zocalo, on the western side of the main boulevard, is a great place to spend a leisurely afternoon. With fountains and a number of

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what to visit One of Mexico’s oldest coastal tourist destinations Acapulco is famous for its nightlife. old trees, the square is more culturally inclined than the rest of the city, and houses the city’s main cathedral. There are also a number of sidewalk cafes and street kitchens that offer full meals for as little as $2. During the evenings the square fills up with locals and a variety of entertainers. A feature unique to Acapulco is the La Quebrada Cliff divers. Since 1934, people have been diving off the cliffs of La Quebrada into a small pool at the base in a superb test of skill and bravery. A platform has been set up at the base of these cliffs to witness this spectacle, where a token fee of under $1 is collected. For the adventurous, some of the hotels also offer options for bungee jumping, paragliding and jet skiing.


acapulco

cuisine

the cuisine in Acapulco is typically seafood, with a strong traditional Mexican influence.

pescado a la talla:coalgrilled fish marinated in chile sauce

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eviche, a popular dish here and anywhere along the Pacific coast, consists of raw diced fish or shrimps, marinated in lime and salt, topped with cilantro onions and garlic. You could also try other Acapulco seafood favorites such as Caldo de cabeza de pescado - fish head soup, pescado a la talla - coal-grilled fish marinated in a chile sauce or meat dishes such as Huaxmole – pork ribs braised in mole sauce. To wash the food down, make sure you also try traditional drinks such as agua de Jamaica, a drink made from red hibiscus flowers. Stronger beverages include tuba and Sangre de Baco.

other places of interest Roughly 10km Northwest of Acapulco is Pie de la Cuesta, a narrow strip of land that divides the freshwater lake of Laguna de Cuyoca from the Pacific Ocean.

Isla de la Roqueta is a place you must visit, with its many trails, lighthouse and snorkeling opportunities.

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hile you can access the lagoon, the Pacific Ocean side of the strip is out of bounds to tourists due to the unpredictable surf. Buses from Acapulco ply this strip. East of Acapulco, on a smaller bay, lies Puerto Marquez – a small tourist-friendly town with a number of beachside shacks which offer good food and liquor. A smattering of Spanish in your vocabulary should help you find your way here. Isla de la Roqueta is a place you must visit, with its many trails, lighthouse and snorkeling opportunities. Getting to the Island is an experience in itself –take a water taxi ($3.50) or the glass bottomed harbor tour boat ($7) from Caleta beach. It is a very popular tour (can be crowded during high season).

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CANCUN

A coastal city located on the Mexico’s easternmost state of Quintana Roo, Cancun was developed only as recently as 1970.

History and Overview

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hough occasionally inhabited since Mayan times, the city’s development started in earnest only once the Mexican government began developing resorts around the area. Locals in the city typically hail from nearby states. The city is divided into two key areas, the mainland residential area and the island tourist zone. Most hotels lie along Kukulman Avenue between the Caribbean Sea and Nichupte lagoon, offering tourists a vast number of options from which to choose.


cancun

facts for the visitor

cancun International Airport, less than 15km from the city, is one of Mexico’s busiest.

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t is well connected to most of the major hubs across the world. This said, transportation from the airport to the city may be a nuisance because of touts who may seek to inveigle you into entering their overpriced vans or even carrying your luggage. Getting around in Cancun is simple enough with the city’s bus service or any taxi. Rates are higher when leaving from the Hotel Strip than from Downtown. The temperatures in the city averages around 27°C (80°F) for most of the year, with the winter months being only slightly cooler. Temperatures peak at 32°C (90°F) around July - August and drops only slightly to 19°C (66°F) in January. Rainfall in the city begins around June, dips for a bit during July-August, and peaks around September. Rain never lasts for long, even during the rainy season.

what to visit Cancun’s beaches, known for their white sand and seven shades of blue crystal clear waters, offer vacationers water sports including boating and Jet-skiing, in addition to snorkeling and scuba-diving.

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laya de Los Delfines, the last one along Avenida Kukulkan and the only one without a hotel right in front has consistent surf throughout the year, and surfboards can be rented. You can begin your stay by snorkeling at the reef after taking a jet boat on the adjacent lagoon, though most often than not it is far from the shore.

PRIVE TRAVEL PICTURES

Numerous dolphinariums including Dolphin Discovery and Wet’n’Wild offer a chance to swim with dolphins. In the heart of the tourist strip is the Interactive Aquarium, a place where in addition to dolphins you get a chance to get up close with other denizens of the sea such as rays and sharks. Cancun’s white sand beaches are without a doubt the best place where to unwind and work on your tan. Handicraft sellers move along the beach, and you can combine relaxation with shopping for sarongs and jewelry made from sea-shells. If you wish to dedicate more time to shopping, Cancun has a variety of shops, from boutique showrooms to more local markets such as the Mercado 28, a traditional Mexican market offering locally made handicrafts. Don´t forget to bargain. The city also has two word-class golf resorts, The Moon Span and Golf club as well as the Riviera Cancun Golf and Spa. Cancun also has world class nightlife with plenty of clubs and bars from which to choose. Begin your night at any of the bars downtown, move on to world famous dance pub Carlos O´Briens and call off the night at club Coco Bongo for the ultimate night out.

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cancun

cuisine

lahabichuela.com

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hile the city may lack unique cuisine, it makes up for this by hosting some very fine restaurants. La Habichuela, one of Cancun’s oldest establishments, offers a wonderful mix of Caribbean seafood and authentic Mexican cuisine. The Paloma Bonita offers Mexican cuisine in a traditional setting and is also worth a visit. Others to consider are Cambalache, Gustino and the Laguna grill with good international specialties .

other places of interest Near Cancun are a number of places for both the adventure inclined as well as the culturally oriented.

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he ruins of Chichen Itza are located in an ancient Mayan city that still has a number of fine examples of Mayan architecture. Numerous structures have been restored, and while all of these are interesting, the most breathtaking by far is the Temple of Kukulkan. On the spring and autumn equinox, a trick of shadows and light creates an enormous serpent winding down the steps, ending at two

Chichen Itza is located in an ancient Mayan city that still has a number of fine examples of Mayan architecture.

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carved snake heads at the base of the pyramid. The ruins also host the largest ball court in ancient Americas, with 12m high walls bracketing a courtyard 166m by 68m. Another place to visit nearby is Xcaret, an Eco-archaeological park 75 miles south of Cancun. In addition to viewing the native flora and fauna, you can also snorkel in underground rivers.

BIGSTOCK.COM


COZUMEL

An island off the southern coast of the Yucatan peninsula, Cozumel, originally a Mayan settlement, is now a thriving tourist among divers and snorkeling enthusiasts.

History and Overview

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he largest town on the Island is San Miguel de Cozumel. The island’s extensive coral reefs were first catalogued by famed explorer Jacques Cousteau in the 1960s and even though a WWII landing strip for aircraft already existed, the development of a larger international airport and cruise ship pier have expanded the influence of tourism in this island.

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facts for the visitor Cozumel’s airport connects the Island with numerous metros in North America, and local flights from Mexico City and Cancun ($75) are also available.

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he Island is also accessible from Playa del Carmen via ferry. Ferries charge approximately $12 for a one-way trip. Once on the Island, taxis or renting cars/mopeds are the means of getting around. Renting vehicles cost in the vicinity of $20 for mopeds and up to $55 for cars. These prices are also a function of your bargaining skills- a lower price is possible too. With its sub-tropical climate, the temperatures in Cozumel rarely drop below 20°C (68°F) for most of the year, and from April to July the waters around Cozumel warm up and offer perfect conditions for scuba diving as well as snorkeling.

what to visit

cozumel

The main attractions of Cozumel are underwater in the form of spectacular coral reefs, as well as the underground river and cave systems that honeycomb the islands’ strata.

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ost of the snorkeling and scuba diving activities are on the west side of the Island, near the main town.A very popular attraction in the island is Chakanaab (Mayan for Little sea) National Park. In addition to Scuba diving and snorkeling, the park offers you the opportunity to swim with dolphins. The park is also noted for hosting the only inland coral reef formation in the world, in the Chakanaab Lagoon. Entry fee is typically $19 for an adult and $10 for children. Mr. Sanchos, located on Coastal road, is a unique establishment that in addition to being close to great scuba diving locations, also offers food, outside activities such as horseback riding and ATV tours. The place is close to the Cardona and San Francisco reefs, and 15 minutes away, by boat, are the Punta Francesca and Palancar reefs. Playa Uvas, a 15 minute drive from downtown San Miguel, also offers Scuba diving as well as kayaking and other activities. Cozumel is also home to the Celarain lighthouse, formerly known as Punta Sur Park. This is the largest ecological park on the Island, and is a mix of white sand

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beaches, mangrove forests and offshore coral reefs. Entrance fees to the park are around $10 for an adult and $5 for children. The park also houses a Mayan structure worth visiting - El Caracol, used by the Mayans to warn of approaching hurricanes. The museum of the Island of Cozumel (entry fee: $3), located close to the downtown pier, is a museum dedicated to the Island’s history and geographical environment. In addition to the exhibit halls, the museum also has a dining establishment on the terrace of the second floor, which is a nice spot for casual eating. If you’d rather glean up on culture instead of scuba diving, then the Island’s numerous ruins should prove diverting enough. The Royal Castle (Castillo Real), located on the north east shore, is the site of Mayan ruins, and also offers the chance for Scuba diving and snorkeling nearby. San Gervasio is probably the most significant archaeological structure on the Island, it being a sanctuary to the Goddess Ixchel. The park housing the ruins is open daily from morning to afternoon, and has a general $7 entrance fee.


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The reefs of Cozumel are considered to be some of the best in the world.

cozumel

cuisine

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ozumel boasts some unique dining establishments, known for both food quality and ambience. An example is Casa Mission, located on the corner of Avenidas Benito Juarez and 55. The diner is located in a large verandah of a hacienda style home. La Choza, on Calle Adolfo Rosado Salas #198, at Avenue 10, offers superb Mexican home-style food. You can even get some very good Italian food at Prima Trattoria, located on calle Adolfo Rosa Salas.

other places of interest

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private Island on the northeast of Cozumel, Isla Pasion is an ideal spot for relaxation, with open air restaurants on the white sand beach - an ideal place for families. Close to the Island is Playa del Carmen, easily accessible by ferry.

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guadalajara

Originally established in Mesa del Cerro, the settlement that is now Guadalajara moved twice over a period of 10 years until it was finally established in Atemajac.

History and Overview

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onstruction of the city’s cathedral begin in 1561, and by 1570, the city had become a hub for the Augustinians and Dominicans evangelization efforts. The city was also in the center of Mexico’s war of Independence, serving as a base for the Insurgent army, until they were pushed out by the Royalist armies.


guadalajara

facts for the visitor

Guadalajara’s airport Libertador Miguel Hidalgo Internacional is well connected to both Mexican and US cities and many other international destinations, and is served by a number of local as well as domestic carriers.

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ransport from the airport to the city costs around $20. The city is also well connected by buses, and a taxi from the bus station to the city’s centre costs around $7. Getting around the city is facilitated by a number of bus services. If you’re less adventurous, you can choose from a number of taxis that ply the streets. The taxis are metered, but you can set the fare yourself if confident about rates. Fares in and around the city’s centre should rarely exceed $5. Temperatures in the city span a range from 11°C (52°F) to around 26°C (79°F). The rains set in around May and last till October, with June to August being the wettest months of the year. It rains almost every day of the week during these months and small floods are common.

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what to visit Most of the sights within Guadalajara are located in and around the city’s ‘Centro’ or downtown area and are within walking distance from each other.

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good place to begin your city tour is the Guadalajara Cathedral. Completed in 1618, the towers of the cathedral were rebuilt in the mid 1800s after an earthquake destroyed the original ones. The result is a cathedral that combines gothic, Palladian and neoclassical styles. The cathedral is surrounded on four sides by plazas shaped as crosses. These plazas feature fountains, statues, adjoining restaurants as well as commercial centers. The eastern plaza (Plaza de la Liberacion) also serves as an atrium for the Teatro Degollado, one of the oldest theatres in the city. The Plaza north of the cathedral houses a mausoleum dedicated to the men and women of note in the Jalisco area The Museo Regional de Guadalajara located on

Liceo Street will give you an idea of the city’s history as well as pre-history. The museum has a noteworthy paleontological collection, and even houses a complete mammoth skeleton that was unearthed nearby. The museum is closed on Mondays, and opens from 930 AM to 530PM all other days. Entrance to this museum is around $4, and is free for all on Sundays. The city is home to one of the largest Markets in Latin America, the Mercado Libertad – a multi-storey market that features a number of food vendors and handicraft sellers. You need to be a little careful here as the crowded nature of the place enables pick-pocketers and purse snatchers to work with relative ease.

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guanatos gwyn

guadalajara

cuisine

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uadalajara is famous for its cuisine, which includes novel dishes such as ‘Tortas Ahogadas’ – drowned subs in which an oblong bun, filled with pork and other stuffing is then doused in a tomato and chili pepper sauce. Another popular dish is Birria, a savory goat stew. The best places for Birria are the restaurants in the Nueve Esquinas area, south of the Templo San Francisco. Other dishes include Pozole, a wholesome soup of pork and vegetables. You must also try Mollete; popular for breakfasts, it consists of a split roll covered with refried beans and topped with chorizo and cheese.

other places of interest An hour and a half away from Guadalajara is the town of Tequila, home of the agave and of course, tequila.

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ou could try taking the Tequila Express, a train service that connects these cities. The service includes Mariachi bands on the train as well as a guided tour to some of the distilleries. The trains run only Fridays to Sundays and need to be booked well in advance. Tickets cost around $95 for adults and $60 for children under 11. Another place near Guadalajara worth visiting is

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Mazamitla, and you can either camp here or stay in a hotel. Mazamitla offers numerous outdoor adventure options, such as a horseback tour to the Cascada el Salto waterfalls- a trip that could cost you around $13 per person. Other camping spots around Mazumitla include Mundo Adventura and Posada Sierra Vista, which offer rock climbing, 4x4 tours and paint ball.

Guadalajara is not only a working city but a historical and cultural center with plenty to see and do.


guanajuato

Initially a mining settlement, Guanajuato has evolved into a charming university town with a strong cultural and historical background.

History and Overview

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n 1998, the city and surrounding mines were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to fueling the Spanish economy with its silver mines in the early 18th century, the city played a key role in the upheavals that characterized Mexico’s political landscape in the 19th century and early parts of the 20th century. Located in a valley, the city’s many cobblestone streets wind about around the town, along with a number of underground roads that track a riverbed.

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javier hidalgo

With its jovial colors Guanajuato is perhaps the most attractive city in Mexico

cuisine

facts for the visitor

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ituated in the highlands at 2008 m (6600 ft), the city experiences semi-dry, semi-warm, temperate weather. Dropping to 7°C (45°F) in January, the temperatures rise to around 30°C (86°F) in May. Peak precipitation occurs during June to September, typically after sunset. The city is a four hour bus drive from the ‘Autobuses del Norte’ station in Mexico City, located on the yellow line. The closest Airport is also in Mexico City. Travelers can commute within Guanajuato by bus, which charge around USD 0.20 for a one way trip, or take a taxi around the city for little more than a dollar. Car hires are also possible, but rates need to be clearly established before hiring. Travelers staying in the city are advised to book hotels well in advance, while those passing through can leave their luggage in the bus stop, as they stop to tour. Guide books are hard to come by, so it is advisable to purchase them in the airport or bus stops in Mexico City.

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hile the state is known primarily for its dairy products, gourmands can look forward to sampling interesting dishes such as Nopalitos - slivers of cactus, cooked with shrimp, eggs tomatoes and oregano, or Ancas de Rana Lampreadas – a dish of frog legs in a wine and sour gravy. For those less inclined to food, a traditional strawberry liquor - Licor de Fresa – must be sampled. lunita lu


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guanajuato

what to visit

Guanajuato is famous for its many examples of neoclassical and Baroque architecture.

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he oldest church – San Diego church – dates back to 1663. Other churches worth visiting include – The Parish church, Cata church, la Compania, and San Cayetano. The Alhondiga de Granaditas, originally a grain warehouse and later a refuge for loyalists during Mexico’s first battle for Independence, now houses Guanajuato’s historical and architecture museum. Another museum of significance is the Mummy museum. This museum houses naturally occurring mummies – some crypts in Guanajuato that were evicted on account of non-payment of tax, were found to have mummified bodies instead of skeletal remains, which are now housed in this museum. Yet another museum worth visiting is the Don Quixote Iconographic museum, with free entry from Tuesday to Saturday, and the collection houses objects from a number of artists including Ocampo and Dali. The neoclassical Juarez theatre, the centre of most

other places of interest

cultural activities in the city, is the main venue for the town’s festival Cervantino – an international art fiesta that celebrates Miguel de Cervantes, author of ‘Don Quixote’. The Juarez theatre also offers guided tours in English, which can be booked at their front desk. The city is also home to the callejoneada – every Friday and Saturday, at around 8 PM, student minstrels dressed in traditional 17th century costumes gather onlookers as they walk down the streets serenading. The city’s winding cobblestone streets also offer a delightful walking experience. Avenida Juarez, one of the few streets that lay completely above the surface, is filled with restaurants, cafes and various stores. Downtown on Avenida Juarez is the Hidalgo market. Surrounded by cast iron fencing, the old railroad station has been converted into a large market where meat and vegetable produce are sold. Locally-made handicrafts, including ceramics, can also be purchased here.

javier hidalgo

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he mines surrounding the city – and the hamlets that have sprung up around them – also make for an interesting visit. La Valenciana, one of the most prolific mines, is still in operation today, and even offers guided tours. Jewelry and handicrafts can also be purchased at the village. The town of Santa Rosa, with its numerous restaurants and Majorica ceramics shop, is also worth a visit. A trip to the peak of the neighboring mount Cubilete, home to the Cristo Rey monument, also offers the more intrepid tourist paragliding opportunities.

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isla mujeres Isla Mujeres (Women Island) is a small island 13km northeast of Cancun.

History and Overview

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narrow strip of land 7km long and around 700m wide, the city derived its name from the number of goddess idols that were found there, dating back to the Mayan times. The city’s development began only in the 1970s, along with Cancun. While hotels dot the entire Island, the Northern part of the Island – the downtown area, where Avenue Hidalgo lies – is a hub for dining and entertainment on the Island.

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facts for the visitor The Island is accessible by ferry from Cancun departing from Puerto Juarez, Gran Puerto Cancun, and Playa Tortugas.

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erries from Puerto Juarez tend to be crowded, as these are popular with the locals. The other option, though expensive, is to charter a Microjet from Aerobanana (998 87-25040). Similar to neighbouring Cancun, the temperature in the city averages around 27°C (80°F) throughout the year. Temperatures peak at 32°C (90°F) around July - August and drops only slightly to 19°C (66°F) in January. The rains in the city begin around June, dip a bit during July-August, and peak around September.

isla mujeres

what to visit

Being quite a small stretch of land, transport within Isla Mujeres happens mostly by taxi, moped scooters and golf carts.

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hese golf carts cost approximately $45 an entire day, and are one of the best ways to explore the island. While not as famous as Cozumel, the island’s coral reefs are noteworthy. With clear and calm waters surrounding the reefs, there are plenty of ideal spots for snorkeling, including beginners. For those less interested in sightseeing, and more on dinner rewards, there are a number of options for fishing trips around the island. Hotels and Guesthouses can typically organize fishing trips for you, where you can bring your catch at the end of the day and have it served as supper. These trips usually cost around $40 and last 3 to 4 hours. If you wish to see what else Isla Mujeres has to offer, visit La Noruega Art Gallery in Benito Juarez, close to the ferry dock. You can find handicrafts and paintings, as well as the occasional art exhibition. There are two beaches worth visiting. Playa Norte, which runs along the northern part of the Island, is packed with clubs and restaurants and is very popular with tourists. Quieter and more secluded is the ad-

jacent Playa Sol, which is on the northwest tip of the Island and is the best location from which to watch the sunset. The water on this beach is less shallow than in Playa Norte. On the southern tip of the Island, at Punta Sur, are the ruins of a lighthouse that was once a temple dedicated to the goddess of fertility Ixchel. There is also a modern sculpture park here.

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Isla Mujeres is where you come to sit back and relax.

other places of interest Isla Mujeres is close to Cancun, and is typically a day trip for most tourists from Cancun. 917 press

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cuisine

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eing a small and recently developed locality, the city hasn’t developed any unique cuisine. However there are a number of open air restaurants that offer a great dining experience. Right next to the ferry dock, on the north side, lie two picturesque spots, the Bally Hoo (known for their Margaritas) and Picus, a restaurant where the fish is brought straight from the sea. Downtown on the Island, on Avenue Hidalgo, you can try Amigos or El Sombrero de Gomar, both authentic Mexican restaurants.


mexico city

Built on the ruins of an Aztec city, Mexico City now has the largest metropolitan area of all cities in the Americas.

History and Overview

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enochitlan, as the city was known by the Aztecs, was completely razed by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes, and the rebuilding of Mexico began around the middle of the 16th century. Spanish nobility dictated the rise of the new city, with a spate of Catholic churches being built along with extravagant homes. During the rule of then President Porfirio Diaz, infrastructures such as roads, communication systems and schools were extensively developed. As a result, the city is often a surrealistic mix of the modern and the archaic.

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mexico city

facts for the visitor

As it lies 2200m above sea level, the weather in Mexico is somewhat mild, with temperatures averaging 13°C to 19°C (56°F to 66°F), with peaks of 32°C (90°F) in May and lows of -2°C (28°F) during January.

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recipitation is low, in the form of rain or even hail, peaking between the months of June to September. The city is located in a valley and the weather patterns, along with the high number of industrial pollutants in the air, have led to the city having the most polluted air in the world. This said cleanup efforts during the last 20 years have borne fruit, and now the city no longer holds that unwanted title. Mexico City Airport (MEX) is well connected to all

other places of interest

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0 km from Mexico City lie the Pyramids of Teotihuacan, a massive archaeological site home to the second largest pyramid in the world and more. The city, in addition to the striking pyramids, has numerous avenues and murals that are still well preserved. The sheer size of these awe-inspiring monuments alone is reason enough for you to make a trip here. Join a guided tour from Mexico City through a travel agent for around 400 pesos or find your way there by train and bus and pay the 48 peso fee. They are open Monday to Sunday. Other places of interest near Mexico City include Tepozotlan – originally a monastery, now the National museum of colonial art. Cities near Mexico worth visiting include Puebla, a small colonial city and Tehuacan, a city known for its mineral springs.

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the major international airport hubs. Travel within the city is well facilitated by the RTP bus system, Metro, and plenty of taxis (the green beetles are popularly known as “bochos”). You might want to watch out for pickpockets in the metro and think about only using the official taxis marked with a red box on their license plates. Mexico City is considered as one of the least safe capital cities in the Americas, and while it certainly isn’t the worst have your hotel book you a cab if you don’t want to take unnecessary risks.

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exican food, a blend of indigenous and Spanish cooking, is often an epicurean experience. For those brave enough, street markets offer a taste of flavorrich authentic Mexican cuisine. You could try a snack of esquites (a corn and pepper concoction), chapulines (grasshoppers- and yes, this is not a mistake) tacos or quesadillas for less than a dollar at any street stall, or you could go for a relatively extravagant Mexican meal at one of the more up-market restaurants fine such as Casa Merlos, Biko, or Azul y Oro. roboppy


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what to visit The best place to begin your city tour is the Historical Center.

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laza de la Constitucion is the second largest square in the world, topped only by Moscow’s Red Square. There are numerous churches you must visit, and toping these are La Catedral and the Basilica de Guadelupe, one of Catholicism’s most sacred places in the Americas . The shrine at the Basilica houses the shroud of Our Lady of Guadelupe, Mexico’s most revered virgin. The city is also home to one of the world’s largest universities, Ciudad Universitaria, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and the Museo Antropologico, one of the best anthropological museums in the world (51 pesos, closed on Mondays). If you’re up for a nice walk and soaking in the culture a trip to the Plaza Garibaldi Mariachi is called for. The plaza is flanked by a number of restaurants and coffee shops, while the actual plaza plays host to groups of folk musicians. Mexico City’s Paseo de la Reforma is a 12 kilometer avenue with a distinct French flavor and many attractions worth visiting. The Angel de la Indepencia (Independence Angel) was erected to celebrate Mexico’s separation from Spain, and the Chapultepec Park and zoo is a 6sq km. park located virtually in the middle of the city. In addition to the zoo, the park also

has several museums including the National Museum, formerly the palace of Austrian emperor Maximilian. Other notable parks include the Parque Mexico and Parque Espana, which occasionally host concerts or outdoor exhibitions to be enjoyed at any of the surrounding cafes and bars. The Xochimilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site, consists of navigable waterways and is interspersed with flower gardens. You can opt for a trip on the quaint boats, called trajineras, and dock at the floating bars, or even enjoy music from the bands that play on similar boats. The Coyoacan district, one of the oldest neighborhoods, still maintains a relatively rural atmosphere with its cobblestone streets and many plazas. This district, home to counter-culture icons such as Frida Kahlo, Leon Trotsky, and Diego Rivera, comes alive during weekends and festivals. This district also has one of the city’s oldest churches, the Parish of San Juan Bautista. Finally, the Zona Rosa is the place to head to if you want to visit many bars, pubs, cafes and stylish restaurants. This mostly gay area is usually crowded, trendy, and willing to take the money you have been saving during your trip.

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palenque

The Mayan city of Palenque spans a 900 year period beginning from around 100BC.

History and Overview

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hough much smaller than the Mayan site of Tikal, Palenque is renowned for some of the finest examples of Mayan architecture and sculpture. After the decline of the city around 800AD, it quickly fell into ruins and was absorbed by the jungle, until it was rediscovered and then restored. Palenque is now one of the most famous Mayan ruins and attracts a growing number of visitors.

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palenque

facts for the visitor

The closest airport is in Villahermosa, 90 miles northeast of Palenque.

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irport shuttles are readily available but need to be booked well in advance. Palenque is also easily accessible by bus from Villahermosa and San Cristobal de las Casas. There are numerous hotels within minutes of the ruins, and it’s recommended you stay there, as a half day trip will not suffice in covering the entire breadth of Palenque. Buses from the hotels to the ruins buses are frequent; otherwise you could choose a taxi to get you there and back. Palenque is located in a jungle, and thus the weather is very humid. Make sure you bring plenty of insect repellent, sunscreen and a lot of water.

what to visit The ruins are open seven days a week from 8AM to 5PM. The entrance fee to the park is under 5$, and the parking fee for vehicles is less than $2.

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t’s advisable to get to the park gates at 8, before the area begins to warm up. Though the site has around 500 structures, most of these are off-limits to tourists as archaeological work and site restoration is in progress. The main entrance, located at the north, leads to some of the largest temples in the site. The Templo de las Inscripciones is one of the first structures you see. Next to this are two more temples – burial temples – titled Templo III and Templo de las Calaveras. The tomb of Pakal, discovered in 1952, housed the moral remains of one of the rulers of Palenque. Another interesting ruin is El Palacio, a maze of courtyards and corridors, rooms and a tower that is

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other places of interest

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n addition to Villahermosa, Palenque is also close to Tuxtla Gutierrez (if in the area don’t miss a trip to the Canon del Sumidero) and Oaxaca. It is not too far from the resorts of Cancun, Isla Mujeres and Cozumel, though you wouldn’t be able to make a half-day trip to Palenque from any of these places. Other archaeological sites in this area of Mexico are Tulum and Chichen Itza, though again none of them can be considered a day trip because of distance.

now closed to tourists. Other sites worth visiting are the Templo del Jaguar and the Templo del Sol. There is also an aqueduct, constructed with large stone blocks and a 10 foot high vault, which channels the Otolum river under Palenque’s main plaza. An on-site museum explains Palenque’s history and also houses a few artifacts.

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playa del carmen History and Overview

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he coastal city of Playa del Carmen (Playa) lies just 45 minutes south of Cancun. Named for the patron saint of Cancun, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Playa del Carmen started out as a small fishing town, has grown into a popular tourist center, and is even a popular stop for most Caribbean cruise ships. In a bid to retain the charm of the fishing community, the government has passed an ordinance limiting building heights to 4 stories. The city has a strong European and American influence and is home to a large number of expatriates. The city also has a distinct residential and tourist community, Playacar, where most of the new developments are being built.

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The ruins in Tulum are some the most recognized –and breathtaking- in all Mexico

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he nearest airport is Cancun’s International airport, from which buses are available to Playa for around $10. Most hotels in Playa del Carmen will also organize transfers, but of course, these need to be booked in advance. The city is not very large, and is pedestrian friendly, so a good walk will take you to most places you wish to visit. There are also a number of car rental agencies, both large-scale and local. Taxis are also commonly available with the fare averaging around 3$. Playa’s sub-tropical climate ensures an average annual temperature of around 27°C (80°F). June to August are the hottest months of the year, and the rainy season is typically around September to August.

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cuisine

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laya has a number of restaurants catering to a variety of tastes. A must-visit is the Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, on 5ta Ave. at Constituyentes. It is basically a chocolate themed shop and is famous for its brownies. El Asador de Manolo, on 5th avenue, is noteworthy for it’s argentine steaks that are not too expensive. For those with a taste for Mexican cuisine, La Cueva del Chango, also on 5th avenue, is highly recommended. wally grom


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playa del carmen

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unning parallel to the ocean, 5th avenue has a number of restaurants and cafeterias in addition to a variety of stores hawking merchandise ranging from clothes to Cuban cigars. The street comes to life after midnight with the after-hour clubs, located nearer the beach, coming into their own. Playa’s white sand beaches are also nice for a stroll, and there are a number of boats willing to take you out further into the water for some snorkeling. Whi-

what to visit le not up to par with cozumel, Playa does offer scuba and snorkeling activities. The beaches within the city, tend to be crowded due to their proximity to the dock, however, further along the beach, the jungle comes right up to the shore. Another place worth a visit in Play is the Aviario Xaman-Ha, an aviary that not only houses birds, but a number of local reptiles and butteflies. A small entrance fee is charged, and the park is open from 9AM to 5PM every day.

other places of interest

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km south of Playa lies the Xcaret eco-archaeological park, where you can find a butterfly pavilion, greenhouse, wildlife breeding program as well as significant Mayan sites. Snorkeling is also possible here, in addition to enjoying a swim with dolphins. About 48km south of Playa is Xel-ha, an ecological theme park where you can snorkel and scuba dive, be up close with dolphins and stingrays, or

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if you choose bicycle through the adjacent jungle. The park also offers opportunities to cliff dive for those with a more adventurous bent of mind. Another set of Mayan ruins on the Caribbean, Tulum is close to the Chichen Itza, and is home to a number of important mayan ceremonial structures. Among the ruins is a pyramid nicknamed El Castillo, which sits on the edge of a forty foot cliff.


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puerto vallarta History and Overview

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amed after a governor of Jalisco – Ignacio Vallarta, Puerto Vallarta (Vallarta) is a resort city located on the Pacific coast, on the Bay of flags (Bahia de Banderas). Though a thriving port and mining town, Vallarta gained international prominence as a resort town in the 1960s and 70s, once the Mexican government began urbanization projects and elevated the municipality of Vallarta as a city. The city has grown extensively and spilled over into Nuevo Vallarta in the adjoining state of Nayarit. The city, along with Guadalajara, is gay-friendly and is very popular with the LGBT crowd, and is also known as the San Francisco of Mexico.

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About 45 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta is Sayulita, a once quaint town that has now become a surf meca.

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facts for the visitor Don’t miss an afternoon stroll down the “malecon”

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hile it is advisable to book your transportation well in advance, you can also choose a taxi from the official airport taxi counter. There are a number of private transports that will try to lure you in, and these prices are much more than the official taxis. You can also take a bus from outside the airport to the city center; all you need to do is flag a bus marked ‘Centro’. To travel around the town you can hire a taxi from the city’s Centro, the drivers being quite amenable to taking you on trips around the city and places outside too. You may also choose a local bus, which has destinations clearly marked on the windshield. Buses typically charge under one US $1.

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Puerto Vallarta is served by the Gustavo Diaz Ordaz International Airport, located north of the city. Rather than staying in Puerto Vallarta, we recommend you stay in the nearby town of Sayulita. Accommodation is somewhat cheaper here, and Sayulita has a rural charm that provides a welcome break from the hectic night life and traffic of Vallarta. The village also has a safe environment, and would be an ideal base camp for your forays into Vallarta. During the summer months, temperatures in Vallarta rise to 32°C (90°F), with 100% humidity. Winters here are more comfortable with temperatures around 27°C (82°F), the nights being pleasantly cool in the winters with temperatures around 19°C (60°F). The temperature of the waters surrounding the city rarely drop below 24°C (75°F), and make for a fantastic surfing experience.


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ordered by the Bahia des Banderas to the west, the city is surrounded by plantations to the north, and hill and jungle terrain south and east. The city’s brown sand beaches offer numerous opportunities to relax and soak up the sun. A few miles from the city, in an area known as Punda de Mita you can find the beaches of Destiladeras (one of the best in the area) and El Anclote, ideal for boogie-boarding and surfing (check www.surfpuertovallarta.info for more details about all the surf spots in the area). Other surf beaches are of La Lancha (beautiful even if you don’t surf) and Burros point. These beaches are surfer friendly, with wave faces of above 5 feet, breaking anywhere from 100 to 200 meters from the shore. If you’ve driven in your own vehicle, ensure the doors are locked and no valuables are visible within the car, as the occasional theft is known to happen. If you wish to spend your time under the water rather than on it, you could opt for Scuba diving or snorkeling. Package deals are available with numerous operators (A good, but expensive operator is Vallarta Adventures) for snorkeling trips to the Marietas Island caverns and the

other places of interest

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n addition to Sayulita, you could also visit the coastal town of Bucerias. A quiet town, Bucerias hosts an art gallery that houses both international and local artists, as well as a collection of pewter. Close to Vallarta is the town of San Sebastian, a mining town situated at a height of 4500 ft above sea level. Buses are easily available to take you to San Sebastian, a rural town, surrounded by coffee and corn plantations. Make sure you buy some of the local coffee if you are a coffee enthusiast. From the nearby Boca de Tomatlan, you could take a water taxi to Quimixto. You could then hire a local guide to take you through the jungle on horseback to the key attraction here – a waterfall.

what to visit Los Arcos underwater caves. In addition to these activities, there are numerous opportunities for other waterbased activities such as parasailing at any beach, kitesurfing, and jet-skiing. If you’ve had enough of the water, you could head towards the Sierra Madre Mountains. Tour guides will take you on horseback or in an ATV through the jungle, visiting Mexican settlements, and getting a chance to see tropical flora and fauna up close. Within the city, head to the Vallarta Botanical Gardens, located on the Carretera a Barra de Navidad. The garden, open between nine to five on all days save Monday, is home to more than a thousand different species of tropical plants, including a collection of carnivorous plants, in 20 acres of land. The gardens also house a restaurant. Also within the city is the Malecon, a paved walkway that stretches from the city’s Centro to the old town, running parallel to the seashore. Along the walkway is a line of contemporary sculptures. The Old town retains a unique charm with a number of restaurants and shops, and is also filled with performing street artists.

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allarta plays host to the Festival Gourmet Puerto Vallarta, an event where international gourmet chefs are brought to the city and paired with local chefs, and their signature dishes are replicated with local ingredients and techniques. Even without the festival, the city’s cuisine is noteworthy. For a fine dining experience, you could visit the Cafe des Artistes, located on Guadalupe Sanchez, in the city’s Centro. This place features French cuisine, with local ingredients and traditional Mexican spices. Another interesting restaurant is La Palapa, situated in Los Muertos beach. The restaurant on the beach offers a fusion of tropical and Mexican dishes, some dieshe worth trying include Pescado Zarandeado and Ceviche.


san cristobal de las casas History and Overview

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riginally home to Mayan civilization, San Cristobal de Las Casas (San Cristobal) is a highland city 2,100ms above sea level. The city takes its name after both St. Christopher and Bartolome de Las Casas, a Spanish priest renowned for his championship of native American rights. San Cristobal was also one of the centres of the Zapatista uprising in January 1994. There is still strong support for this left-wing libertarian socialist group in the city, with a lot of Zapatista-themed merchandise being openly hawked. San Cristobal is surrounded by mountain wetlands and cloud forests and is near to a number of Mayan ruins.

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cuisine

facts for the visitor

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an Cristobal is accessible from Tuxtla Gutierrez by both taxi and bus. Bus services from Tuxla are under $20. Bus services are also available from a number of cities including Huatulco, Mérida, Villahermosa, Oaxaca, Cancun and Mexico City. The city is close to Ángel Albino Corzo International Airport which connects central Chiapas with Mexico City, and even Houston. Getting around San Cristobal is facilitated by numerous taxi services with negotiable rates, typically under $2 within the city. Car rental opportunities are also available, along with drivers if you’re not too sure about locations. Peak temperatures average around 33°C (91°F), while minimum temperatures average 22°C (72°F) for most of the year. It gets quite cold during the winters though, with the temperatures dropping to even 0°C (32°F), around January. That said, May has recorded peak temperatures of 42°C (106°F). As a rule, days are much warmer, while nights get unseasonably cold.

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eing a small town, San Cristobal has numerous restaurants that serve up simple authentic local cuisine which usually has a smooth blend of Spanish and indigenous flavors. Some dishes not to miss include Saffron Tamales, Pan con Chipilin (a legume soup with bread) and Chalupas Coletas, similar to the tostadas sold elsewhere in the country. Located on Calle El Caminero, El Alebrije offers real local Mexican cuisine at reasonable prices, and is very popular among locals. Another establishment worth a visit is El Molcajete which is also notable for the variety and quality of the dishes served. On Insurgentes, you will find El Caldero, famous for its soups. Priced at $4, these soups are a meal in themselves as they are served with a side of salads.

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san cristobal de las casas what to visit

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rganized tours of the city are conducted by various agencies that typically charge under $10, but there is enough information in any hostel or tourist office to learn the fineprint on your own as you walk. Not to miss is the Cathedral of San Cristobal, located in the north side of the Plaza Mayor. Its construction began in 1528 and was originally called cathedral of San Cristobal Martir, with its first bishop ever being none other than famous evangelist Bartolome de las Casas. The Mayan Medicine Museum in San Cristobal is an interesting place to visit. With exhibits detailing traditional Mayan Medicine practices, the museum also houses a nursery where traditional healing plants can be found. The museum is located on Av. Salomón González Blanco, and is open all days of the week, though it closes by 5:00PM on weekends. The museum charges and admission fee of $20. The town’s main square plays host to musicians and

bands most evenings, and on Monday mornings bands lineup to perform patriotic tunes. The city also has a number of churches worth visiting, and the grounds of the Santo Domingo church houses a large handicrafts market. Due to its highland location, several places around the city offer fantastic vistas for sightseeing during a casual evening stroll- ask your hostel owner which is the best when you are visiting . Not too far off are the Mayan ruins of Palenque, which can be visited as a day trip from here. If you have the time though you will be better off if you plan on spending a night near the ruins. The Zapatista movement in 1994, led to a number of NGOs springing up around the city and its surroundings. As a result, there are a number of opportunities to volunteer in various fields such as Education, Reforestation, and construction, to name a few.

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round San Cristobal are numerous Maya villages, home to the Tzotzil Maya. Probably the most famous of these towns is Zinacantan. There are a number of traditional festivals celebrated in this village, with the celebrations fusing both Mayan and Catholic traditions. Another Mayan village not to miss is San Juan de Chamula, located about 10kms from San Cristobal. Spanish is not the main language spoken here, as is Tzotzil, and the town is one of the few that still maintains almost all its ancient indigenous traditions yet has adapted modern commodities in their spiritual beliefs. The town is noted for its large and distinctive church, the floors of which are strewn with pine needles and coca-cola bottles. In what perhaps is one of the most unusual spiritual rituals you will ever witness, locals drink a ceremonial drink made from fermented corn mixed with a carbonated drink (usually Coca-Cola) called posh (pox) and then burp, as a method to cleanse their souls and contact the spirits. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the church. Tours from San Cristobal can be easily arranged; companies offer half day to full day tours to Mayan villages surrounding San Cristobal.

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san miguel de allende History and Overview

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ounded in 1542 by a Franciscan Monk, San Miguel de Allende (San Miguel) derives its name from Fray Juan de San Miguel as well as General Ignacio de Allende, a leader in the war against Spain. Nearly vanishing from the pages of history in the 1900s the town received National Historic Monument Status from the Government in 1926, a move that led to the city being one of the most sought after tourist destinations in Mexico. The town’s unique blend of cosmopolitan comfort coupled with a plethora of historical sites and breathtaking vistas offer an enchanting experience to even the most seasoned traveler.

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facts for the visitor

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an Miguel is close to three Airports, Queretaro (QRO) – 45 minutes away, Leon (BJX) – 1½ hours away, and Mexico City (MEX) – approximately three hours away. Buses and shuttle service are available from all these airports. Commuting within the city is easy, cabs are available and will take you anywhere downtown for a flat rate of USD 2. You could also walk, or conveniently rent a bike to help you navigate these winding streets. The temperatures in the city average around 16°C to 22°C; they peak at 30°C in May and drop to as low as 7°C in January. The rains begin around June and last till September every year. The air is quite dry, even during the rainy season, and can lead to chapped lips and dry skin.

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cuisine

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an Miguel has a number of restaurants that offer a range of cuisines including European, Mediterranean, Spanish as well as Mexican. In Cuna de Allende 13, La Posadita is one of the better restaurants that offers authentic Mexican food including Cochinita Pibil and Mole de Olla in beautiful surroundings. Andanza in Casa de Sierra Nevada, Hospicio 42 and Mivida in Calle Hernandez Macias 97 also offer top notch Mexican cuisine at prices that average around USD 30yup, the price tag indicates how touristy this place is.


what to visit The city retains a strong colonial flavor, with a number of plazas surrounding the city center and has some interesting architectural buildings.

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he San Francisco church constructed in the late 1700s is a fine example of the neoclassical style, and the parish of San Miguel is also worth visiting. Originally built in the 1700s, the parish was rebuilt in neo-gothic style, apparently with inspiration from postcards of European churches. The church lies outside the Jardin Principal. This idyllic park is popular among locals and tourists, with bands playing during the weekends. Abutting the Jardin principal lies the Allende House, a museum dedicated to a native son of San Miguel, General Ignacio Allende. Another historic institute worth visiting is the Angela Peralta Theatre, initially designed to host opera, now with a more broadened scope. The Biblioteca Publica is a public library that caters to the city’s large expat population. It has the second largest collection of English

other places of interest

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language books in Mexico, has a cafÊ, and sponsors tours. South of the city’s center lies the Juarez park. On the banks of a river, the park is filled with fountains, wrought iron benches and a number of old footpaths. The park is also near the Zacateros market, where you can find locally made handicrafts. Another market is the Mercado de Artesanias, which features a wide variety of local handicrafts made from wool, brass, blown glass and even papiere mache. San Miguel de Allende is also well known for its rich cultural history. Festivals such as the Easter Holy week are celebrated with grand parades, and the city hosts numerous music festivals including a jazz festival. The Festival de Musica de Camara, which takes place in August each year, brings chamber music to the theatres and streets of the city.

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Fourteen kilometers from the city is the Santuario de Dios y de la Patria.

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teeped in the history of this region, the Sanctuary dates back to the 18th century and is surrounded by high yet plain walls with the inside completely covered with murals. Another attraction outside town is El Charco del Ingenio, a wildlife reserve that additionally offers opportunities for mountain biking, rock climbing, horse riding as well as bird watching. The valley also hosts the Cante botanical gardens, and if you prefer to relax instead, head to the town of Dolores Hidalgo where a few thermal baths can be found.

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zacatecas

located in central-north Mexico, originated as a mining town in the 16th century and is famous for its distinctive pink limestone buildings.

History and Overview

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owards the latter part of the 16th century the city became a hub for several monastic orders – the Franciscans, Augustinians and the Dominicans. The city was a big player during the Mexican revolution – during the battle of Zacatecas in 1914 rebel forces ousted government forces from the city and in doing so destroyed a number of the city’s buildings. The city has sprung up since without any planning and as a result it is riddled with narrow winding alleyways and small plazas. The city is also home to numerous churches and monasteries that were built with the income generated from the city’s mines, at their peak of their production during the 17th and 18th centuries.

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facts for the visitor Zacatecas International Airport has flights to most of the major Mexican cities as well as several US cities including L.A., Chicago and Houston.

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rom the airport you can take a cab and reach the city’s center in around 15 minutes or take bus number 8 and be there in 20. The city is also accessible by bus from many cities within Mexico- and some in the USA. The city’s downtown area (Centro Historico) is small enough to get around on foot (highly recommended), but you can also choose a taxi, with fares being negotiable. If you prefer a more organized

what to visit

sightseeing experience choose a guided tour of the city, available downtown. Situated 2400m above sea level, average temperatures drop to below 0°C (32°F) during the months of January and rise to a pleasant 22°C (72°F) during the summer months. The temperatures get quite low during the winter months and it’s advisable to carry warm clothing as most of the hostels there don’t have heating facilities.

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The Cerro de la Bufa is a hilltop and a distinctive feature in the city. The top is accessible by a cable car (Teleferico) from the Cerro Del Grillo, another hilltop on the other side of the town.

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he cable car ride provides spectacular views of the city and the surrounding countryside, operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs under $3 for a one-way ticket. You can also trek up the hill, but for safety reasons, it’s recommended you trek only during the day and not at night. Next to the cable car terminal on La Bufa is one of the oldest mines in the city, El Eden. Entry to this abandoned mine costs around $6-$7 and includes a guided tour. The mine also hosts an underground nightclub – the La Mina. The city’s Catedral de Zacatecas is a fine example of Churrigueresque architecture. It is constructed from red sandstone (cantera), and boasts an elaborately carved façade. Another church worth visiting is the Church of Santo Domingo, with its Baroque façade and carved altarpieces in the Churrigueresque style. In addition to examples of fine architecture the city also hosts a number of interesting museums such as the Museo Rafael Coronel. Housed in a former Francis-

can convent, the museum houses the largest collection of masks in Mexico. Some of the 4500 masks on display include Olmec and Teotihuacan masks. The museum is open on all days save Wednesday, between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and charges $2.5 as admission fee. Another interesting museum is the Museo Pedro Coronel. This museum hoses the works of Pedro Coronel as well as works of Modern European masters such as Dali, Picasso and Braque. It also includes preColombian, Mesoamerican and West African works. The museum is closed only on Thursday, and charges and admission fee of $2.5. If you’re visiting the city around September then you’ll be just in time for the Feria de Zacatecas, the city’s main fair, which occurs on the Friday before the 8th of September to the 24th of September. Expect to witness cock fights, bull fights, street performers and a number of sporting events. Make sure you make your hostel reservation well ahead as everything is full during that week.

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The sloped and cobbled streets of Zacatecas remind you that this is Mexico’s most colonial city.

other places of interest

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6 km south of Zacatecas lies La Quemada, a Mesoamerican archeological site that is made up of a number of masonry platforms of various sizes built on a hill. There are a number of ceremonial constructions as well as terraces at this site. A few kilometers away from the city’s Centro is the town of Guadalupe. The town hosts a Franciscan monastery and evangelic college which houses a museum on its grounds. Entry to this museum costs around $3.5 .In addition to the museum, you could also visit the chapel – Capilla de Napoles – which is noted for its gilding and decoration.

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cuisine

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he cuisine in Zacatecas is a blend of Spanish cuisine and strong regional flavors. Popular dishes here include Asado de Boda, a savory braised pork dish that has chocolate added into it. Another dish very popular here is the Puchero Vaquero de Zacatecas, a stew of meat and vegetables served with rice. If you’d rather indulge your sweet tooth, then you could try the Jamoncillo de Leche, a sweet dish resembling milk fudge.


mai travel guides

MEXICO

Mai Travel Guides Mexico 1st Edition March 2012

Photo Credits All photos in this guide are from www.flickr.com unless otherwise noted. The names below are in the same order as the pictures in each city guide. Guadalajara: Jordi Chueca, Wonderlane, David Light Orchard, Ricardo Perez Isla Mujeres CP, Christine, Alaskan Dude, Kudumomo Zacatecas Eneas, bobbyh_80 (x 2), cnszym San Cristobal de las Casas: stevendepolo, Javier hidalgo, j.g in s.f, cedric’s pics San Miguel de Allende: sirsnapsalot, Jason Tinder, jj.figueroa, jcmar.net Palenque Routard 05, karma-police, Richard Weil Acapulco mr. cool jg, crimthan findnemed, mdianem, Angeldob, BluEyedA73 Guanajuato Javier hidalgo, Irene sofia, jj.figueroa, k.kendall Cancun Mike McHolm, pdbreen, celso flores, Mike McHolm, trevorhpittman, Price Travel Mexico Cozumel CaptPiper, rivieramaya26, Skinned Mink, brewbooks Playa del Carmen pato_garza, robwest, Alaskan Dude, Redeo Mexico City Francisco diez (x 2), Crystian Cruz, Clinker Puerto Vallarta O’Moreno, aaron_anderer, dktrpepr, ctoverdrive Cover Photo Loren Javier.

Copyright, Legal Notice and Disclaimer This publication is protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights: you are not allowed to sell this Guide to anyone else. If you downloaded or received this publication from anyone other than www.maitravelsite.com or affiliates, you’ve received a pirated copy. Please contact us via e-mail at fede at maitravelsite.com and notify us of the situation. Please note that this publication is based on personal experience and research. Although the author and publisher have made every reasonable attempt to achieve complete accuracy of the content in this Guide, they assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. Also, you should use this information as you see fit, and at your own discretion. Your particular situation may not be exactly suited to the examples or experiences illustrated here and you should adjust your use of the information and recommendations accordingly. Any trademarks, service marks, product names or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if we use one of these terms.. Finally, use your head. Nothing in this Guide is intended to replace common sense, legal, personal or other professional advice, and is meant to inform and entertain the reader. Have fun, save money, and hit the roads! Copyright © 2012 Federico Arrizabalaga at www.maitravelsite.com. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Emergency 066 Red Cross 065 Police 060 Directory assistance 040 Tourist protection & information 01 800 903 9200 or 01 800 987 8224 Mexico City airport (01-55) 2482-2424 Embassies and consulates USA ( 01-55) 5080-2000 UK (01-55) 1670 3200 Germany (01-55) 5283 2200 Canada (01-55) 5724 7900 Spain (01-55) 5282 2974

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Making calls within Mexico is quite confusing these pointers will help you get it right. Calling from a fixed phone to a local fixed phone- dial the local number. -Long distance to another state: 01+state code+ local number -To a local cell phone: 044+ cell phone number -To an out of state phone number: 045+ cell phone number Calling from a cell phone -To another cell phone: the full number (including state code) -To a local fixed phone: the local number -To an out of state fixed phone: 01+ state code number+ phone number


MAI Travel Guide: Mexico  

Tacos, Tequila and beaches are what most people think of when this country springs to their mind, but there is a lot more than what you migh...

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