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A trip to Cancun without the Cancun


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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 278
Joined: April 21st, 2008
Location: Oslo, Norway

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Tags: cancun, belize, tikal, guatemala, Ambergris, tulum, maya
  • Added on: March 1st, 2011
The way I see it, the best you can do when arriving in Cancun is to leave immediately. Travel south, see Tulum, wetlands, islands, Belize and Guatemala. Last December that's exactly what I did (Tulum, Chetumal, Belize City, Ambergris Caye, Tikal, Flores, Chichen Itza), during the two weeks between arriving in and leaving from Cancun.

Here's the photo journal:

I realize that my stops are still plenty full of tourists, but they're quiet paradises compared to the calamitous Cancun. Worth considering for anyone able to find cheap tickets for Cancun.

Happy trails!



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Lost in Place
Posts: 96
Joined: December 29th, 2009
Location: Pacific Northwest

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  • Added on: March 1st, 2011
I agree! Unless you are looking to party and hit the clubs, Cancun does not offer much "culture." But just a short drive down to Tulum and whoa, a whole different world.
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Armchair Traveler
Posts: 28
Joined: November 17th, 2010

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  • Added on: March 2nd, 2011
If one goes south of Cancun, the whole area starts from Riviera Maya and ends in Tulum. The main city that comes across in this area is Playa del Carmen and it is not very far from Cancun. Cozumel island is an amazing island located near this Playa del and it takes about half an hour in ferry to reach there.


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Guidebook Dependent
Posts: 17
Joined: February 8th, 2011
Location: Columbus, Ohio

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  • Added on: March 2nd, 2011
While I would agree that the "Cancun" portion of Cancun is utterly cultureless, outside of the Zona Hotelera there is a regular town. I recently spent 10 days in Cancun with a totally different perspective then the average tourist. It is easy to fly into Cancun and then spend a week in some all inclusive resort without once venturing out of sight of the beach. When I went it was with the purpose of a vacation and not a trip, but I didn't want the resort experience so I stayed in a hotel that was a 10 minute drive from the beach. Everyday I walked a half mile down the road to the local supermarket and bought groceries for my lunch and breakfast. For dinner I ate at local restaurants and street cart vendors. The most memorable experience I had was eating out of a bathtub. Yes, a bathtub. Some creative cook converted a bathtub into a mobile grill and was grilling up some insanely good meat. His wife set out a little buffett of toppings (rice, beans, cheese, 8 different salsas, lettuce, etc.) on a card table and they sold drinks from a cooler. This was the cheapest, most delicious meal I have ever had. To give you an idea of how un-touristy the area surrounding our hotel was, when my family and I went out walking for dinner we were hands down the palest and tallest people in sight, and I'm not even six foot. To summarize the trip, I took the hotel shuttle to the Zona Hotelera beaches every morning then took a taxi back in early evening and went out to find some dinner. It was an awesome trip, equal parts culture and beach. I'll upload some of my pics to my Flickr account when I get home later and post the link here.
A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving. -Lao Tzu

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Holds PhD in Packing
Posts: 156
Joined: December 22nd, 2006

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  • Added on: March 3rd, 2011
PDXnative wrote:I agree! Unless you are looking to party and hit the clubs, Cancun does not offer much "culture." But just a short drive down to Tulum and whoa, a whole different world.

Nothing wrong with having some cultureless / mindless / worryless / tequila drenched fun in Cancun or any other destination. Sometimes its great to deep dive in cultural endeavours, sometimes that is not what we need. I would say that Cancun is a great starting point because it offers opportunities from the 100% beach no locals, you would never know that you left US kind of all inclusive week, to 100% hard core local culture, no english speaking kind of travel.
I trully enjoyed my trip there after a month of adventure travel in some other part of the world.
I also enjoyed Tulum & Chichen Itza and the "culture" part.

On their own, I would not rate either part that high, as there are many similar places all over the world, however as a combined area its not a bad destination, especially as its close to many NA cities.

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