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Mexico: Reflections on a Five-Week Trip

I underestimated Mexico. I scheduled a five-week trip with few expectations but quickly discovered it wasn't nearly enough time.

My itinerary took me from Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast, through the capital of Mexico City, to Cancun and the famed Riviera Maya.

Here's a look back at the stories and photos from my biggest adventure of 2013, broken up by region.

Beach in Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico.
Puerto Vallarta

Pacific Coast

I began my trip in Puerto Vallarta because I wanted to visit my friends Christine and Drew Gilbert.

As luck would have it, another friend and Shannon O'Donnell were wrapping up a three-month stay in San Pancho. Shannon was recently named National Geographic's 2013 Traveler of the Year.

Guadalajara Cathedral
Guadalajara Cathedral


A week after arriving in PV, it was time to strike off on my own.

I had a G Adventures tour to join in Mexico City but wanted to see a little of Mexico's second-largest city along the way.

This is where I kicked off my run of 12 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, starting with a tequila tour.

Palacio de Bella Artes in Mexico City
Palacio de Bella Artes

Mexico City

Mexico City was overwhelming, not just in size but in things to do.

I crammed as much as I could do into my three days, including a fantastic lunch at one of the world's top restaurants and visits to three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in a single day (not recommended).

Mexico City is one of the few mega-sized Latin capitals where I'd like to go back and spend more time.

Colorful Puebla
Colorful Puebla


Puebla was the first stop on my Ancient Civilizations tour with G Adventures.

The highlight was playing Cards Against Humanity for the first time, followed by watching live Mexican wrestling.

Black mole with chicken at Catedral Restaurante in Oaxaca, Mexico
Black mole with chicken at Catedral Restaurante


Oaxaca was all about the food for me, and I couldn't get enough of the moles.

I could've spent a few weeks here, eating my way through every restaurant menu.

Doorway in San Cristobal de las Casas
Doorway in San Cristobal de las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas

The highlight of San Cristobal de las Casas was the Mayan village tour, specifically the church and religious practices of San Juan Chamula.

Mayan ruins of Palenque
Mayan ruins of Palenque

Mayan Ruins

So many ruins, so little time. I struck off from my group on a few occasions to see less-visited ruins like Monte Alban near Oaxaca and Uxmal south of Merida.

As a result of the latter, I never did visit a cenote (underground pool).

Playa del Carmen
Playa del Carmen

Riviera Maya

The group tour finished in Playa del Carmen, a town I was evaluating as a potential place to camp out and work for a few months at a time.

I loved Playa, but it may be best reserved as a vacation spot, the same way I think of Thailand.

I managed a day trip to Cozumel, and an overnight trip to Tulum, before finishing my trip with some fun activities in Cancun.

Overall, I had a fantastic time in Mexico, and despite all I've seen and written, I know there's much more to the country.

I can even picture myself living there one day.

Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:


Tuesday 17th of June 2014

I love that area bounded by the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Dave. But if I'm going to long stay there, my choice is Puerto Morelos or Merida. Playa del Carmen is nice and many webtrepreneurs are choosing it as a place of work and there's a co-working group headquartered there. If I were to bring my work to Quintana Roo, I will choose Cancun over Playa, only because the internet is much faster and the transportation system is amazing. But that's just me. You should explore the area more. It's a beautiful place on earth that I am discovering just now.


Tuesday 17th of June 2014

I'll be heading back to Cancun this September for the North American Travel Blog Exchange conference.

Michelle cowper

Tuesday 17th of June 2014

I'm ready to see the world by backpacking. Mexico sounds like a great place to start.

Michelle cowper

Tuesday 17th of June 2014

I have come to the time in my life that I need to travel as part of a 'bucket list' sort of thing. I've been a single mother for 18 years, IT'S TIME! Your experience has given me a direction 'Mexico'. I'm going to put a plan together now, starting with cleaning out everything I don't need, make a bank balance so that I can enjoy without having to work to much & then where to head to first. I'm very fit & would like to see everything first hand by backpacking. Thanks , keep pasting on the advice.


Wednesday 5th of February 2014

Sounds amazing, Dave! I just got back from a week in Mexico... but most of the time was spent visiting family so I didn't have a chance to experience half as much as you did. Fingers crossed they'll be many more trips for the both of us.

ubiquitous traveller

Monday 13th of January 2014

yes I know San Felipe, PuertoVallarta and Tulum, Mexico is awesome! I'd like to retire there in the future .

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