It's hard to believe quite how different each trip to Mexico can be, the astounding diversity which makes Mexico the ultimate holiday destination to suit almost any criteria. Here is my advice on where to go in Mexico...
Art in Mexico city
I started in Mexico City once again, but this I settled on getting to grips with the cities famous artists, visiting Diego Rivera's famous murals at the Palacio Nacional and then heading to the south of the city to visit Casa Azul, Rivera and Frida Kahlo's marital home which is today a museum of their work. Dinner was at La Dulce Patria, one of the best restaurants in the city (and where Bono from U2 happened to be celebrating his birthday that same night!) and the restaurant is part of Las Alcobas - a great boutique hotel in the desirable Polanco District where I was staying.
Culinary delights of Oaxaca
Leaving the big city behind, I headed south the Oaxaca, stopping briefly in the town of Puebla, a must for anyone interested in churches: it has 365 to visit. Oaxaca itself is a lovely city with a beautiful Zocalo (main square), but one of the main draws of this city is undoubtedly the quality of the food here. Mexico's culinary capital is home to hundreds of restaurants and I particularly recommend a cooking lesson if you have time. You'll be taken to the market to pick your ingredients, before being taught how to make some Oaxacan delicacies such as the Mole or Tamales.
locals sit on the pine needle covered floor, lighting candles, rubbing eggs on each other, sacrificing chickens and spitting Coca Cola. Bizarre to say the least.
Surrounding Oaxaca are lots of small villages, where potters, wood carvers and weavers ply their trade, and the Zapotec site of Monte Alban (the first of many I saw) is also well worth taking the time to have a look around. From Oaxaca, it is a short hour long flight over to the state of Chiapas. After a quick boat trip through the Sumidero Canyon, I headed up the mountain to the small town of San Cristobal de las Casas, where narrow cobbled streets and low rise buildings make you feel as though you are a world away from any smoggy cities. Make sure you don't miss the town of San Juan de Chamula nearby - the local priest was banished years ago for being too Catholic, and now the church is the site of pagan rituals where locals sit on the pine needle covered floor, lighting candles, rubbing eggs on each other, sacrificing chickens and spitting Coca Cola. Bizarre to say the least.
Off the beaten track Palenque
Chiapas is perhaps best known for the archaeological site of Palenque, which is fantastic, but if you are keen to get really off the beaten track, Yaxchilan and Bonampak are two sites which are much more remote and the chances are you'll have them to yourselves. Buried deep in the jungle, it is much easier to imagine what these forgotten cities once were and fortunately they don't yet have fast food stalls lining the entrances…yet.
From Mayan ruins, it was over to the Yucatan peninsula, to indulge in a little luxury. The Luxury Collection Hacienda's hit the spot, and with 5 dotted around between Campeche and Merida you can visit 2 or 3 before heading over to the Caribbean Coast. Uayamon was my favourite - it is small and intimate and the individual rooms scattered around the grounds are quite literally big enough for an entire family; they were once the homes of the Hacienda's most trusted employees and their families.
Chichen Itza and beyond
After a quick stop at Chichen Itza, where I was incredibly lucky to be granted early access and have the place virtually to myself, it was over to the dazzling water of the Caribbean Sea. The choice and quality of the hotels here is hard to believe, and there really is something for everyone, whether it is a top end resort style hotel with a great kids club like the Rosewood Mayakoba, the idyllically peaceful Esencia just south of Playa del Carmen or the super trendy Be Tulum in the quiet little town of, you guessed it, Tulum. Just don't let the fact that you are near Cancun put you off! Contact Original Travel