I have on occasion seen postings in the travel forum asking for advice about back packing thru or in the Yucatan area. I would be very careful about doing this. I have been to Mexico and love the place and the people, but it has never been a "low crime" area and is how going thru rough times.
If you decide to back pack anyway, I suggest approaching the reception desk at some of the up-scale hotels in or around Cancun or the other cites that have a lot of tourist and get advice from them.
I would not approach people in just any business, like restaurants', bars, etc.
a couple of years back a canadian couple was brutally murdered in their five star resort hotel room. the hotel was the barcelo maya and they were staying their for their daughters wedding. their names were nancy and dominic ianeiro. what bothers me about this is the sloppy police work that was conducted. the mexican police first falsely blamed 2 canadian soccer moms of the murder then later appologized and said it was a former hotel employee with psychological problems that murdered the couple. however they failed to detain the suspect originally and he fled the country. he is still at large today. beware of resorts in mexico. most of them do not conduct background checks on their employees and when something bad happens they refuse to admit fault. i would also steer clear of the barcelo maya where the murder occured
took us 4 hours to get off plane and go to hotel. Only two people checking incoming traffic. Most travelers said they would not choose Cancun as next vacation. Trying to arrive or leave on Delta on a saturday is impossible. The Mexican government will loose alot of travelers unless they can prepare for massive influx. I always go to cancun in feb/march-may rethink travel for 2009
I warned about the danger of undercurrents, and cannot emphasize enough the risk in going into the water. Let alone, no one is normally around to help you if they could. The current can drag out out to sea very quickly and swimming back brings fast fatiguea and strength
We got on the R1 bus, with luggage in hand, just outside the downtown bus terminal. The bus driver realizing we were just in town and headed to the hotel zone, took advantage of our unfamiliarity with the bus fare and currency. I handed the bus driver a 50 peso bill for two tickets (2 ticket at 6.50 pesos each) and he handed me back two tickets plus a 20 peso bill underneath. I should have been given back 37 pesos. The moral is: COUNT YOUR CHANGE WHEN YOU GET ON THE BUS.
The local buses on the hotel zone are very convenient and we've taken them often very safely. However, do beware. On this particular trip, about 6:45 pm, between km 3.5 and 6, the bus was very crowded. Yet the driver let on two males who had no room to stand. I am always very cautious and had my zippered shoulder bag strapped across my front. Even so, they managed to get into the zippered purse to steal my wallet. It was after the Embarcadero stop. I knew something was up when they were pressed against us so tightly and when I glanced down the zippers were open. We dashed off the bus after them, but they had darted across the street - which is very heavy traffic - so I knew it was useless. It just leaves you with a very violated feeling. We were so enjoying our trip and this left such an unpleasant scar. We are sure the bus driver was in on the scam. The pair probably rides up and down the strip collecting wallets all evening. Don't know whether it's even worth reporting to the police as there are probably hundreds of such stories.
What a shame a few jerks have to ruin it for the honest local people as well as the visitors. It's biting the hand that feeds them.
the clients here around the Yucatán are strong and flags ( red, yellow, green) directed by to beaches to notify visitors of the wave conditions. Unfortunately every season at least one tourist drowns because of ignoring these flag warnings.
Be sure to be careful when serving in these seas because the undercurrent is very strong. If you are looking for a calmer sea, go to Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres.
I cannot stress this enough--bring mosquito repellent and spray regularly. My friends and I went through 4 cities in 3 weeks in Mexico and didn't get a single bite... until we came to Cancun. I myself got over 10 bites (no joke) on one arm at a cafe by the hotel strip.
Again: BRING INSECT REPELLENT!
If you take a tour that starts early in the morning and decide to grab something to eat before you leave, you'll find that all places outside of the (most likely overpriced) hotel cafeteria are closed. Your two options are either hotel food or buy something in advance.
I bartered at the flea market downtown one evening after dinner for a Panama hat for my father. I paid about $20 to get home and find out the hat was dirty and stained from sweat on the inside. Make sure to inspect anything you buy from the flea market before you pay.
Just returned from my first trip to the Riveria Maya. While there my family and myself took a day trip into Cancun with our rental car (which we had insured). As we entered the main area, we were hit by a local on a motor bike. The cops were called, and after about 2 hrs of *** from the cops, they told us we would have to pay the guy that hit us $200 and pay a $500 ticket to them, or have our car impounded and go to jail-(that my father was at fault). Well, unfortunately we were too scared to fight back, and we paid the money and got the hell out of cancun, with no plans of ever returning. We did file a report with the US Embassy, but are sure that we will never hear about it or get our money back. Just a warning not to drive in Cancun, or if you do and get into an accident, call the Embassy right away.
If you venture out into any of the cities or small towns be prepared to encounter starving and thirsty dogs and animals. My heart was broken by the condition of one sweet momma dog and if there was a way for me to rescue her I would have. Next trip I will be sure to have a bag of dog food and extra water with a water bowl for the strays that are always running around.
Everyone who goes to Mexico...knows to be careful of the police. Don't do anything out of the ordinary...or else you will be picked up...and easily thrown in jail.
If you stay in the mainstreams of the rest of the tourists...you're fine. If you're in the outskirts...is when you get into trouble.
The number one things to stay away from in my opinion is salad and cheese. In fact, last year I ate at a yoga restuarant (on the Isle M.) and got sick from the cheese. In general the cancun hotel zone resorts use pasteurized cheese, disinfect their vegis and water so I think they are very safe.
Many cheeses' source milk is not pasteurized. In particular I have seen studies that show the bacteria which contaminates milk like listeria survive the cheese making process. I have been to mexico 9 times (cancun 6 times) and have gotten sick 7 times. I have finally figured out that it is the cheese. I ate a lot of cheese because I was vegetarian.
In particular I have gotten sick when eating Queso manchego and Queso fresco. Most of the resorts know this and they use pasteurized cheese. There is some good info at CDC on the issue you are concerned with. If you search deeper into their Montezuma revenge page you will find info that will help you identify the pathagens that might attack you. By paying close attention to your symptoms you can identify the organism and its likely source.
My wife is biochemist/microbiologist and her expertise is propagating pathogenic bacteria. She designs medical diagnostic equipment that identifies pathogenic bacteria. If you get a copy of the cdc symptom matrix you will see that different pathogens have a different disease onsite pattern. As someone mentioned in some other forum the illness comes as we react to baterially produced toxins. The bacteria produce toxins they we respond to with the classic food poisoning symptoms.
The more we promote an understanding of this issue more likely mexico will require that milk be pastuerized like it is in the US.
OK, I would have thought this tip within the realm of the completely obvious, but after watching the news of hurricanes Emily and Wilma on TV, apparently there are people out there that don't understand what a hurricane is. When you are in Cancun and there are notices of a severe hurricane (i.e., anything labelled "Category") coming ashore, LEAVE! Now! Put down that rum and coke, step away from the buffet line, and for God's sake don't stand around on the beach in your bathing suit watching the storm come in. Go to your room, pack your bags, get a taxi to the bus station, and go someplace inland that's not on the ocean... I hear Merida's nice. Valladolid is pretty too. Here are some hints that things are going to get really bad: the workers at the hotel stop everything and start boarding up all the windows; there are suddenly military vehicles driving around everywhere; your hotel takes down the red "danger" flags on the beach and puts up black or skull-and-crossbones ("Jolly Roger") ones instead (bit of humour on their part); huge deliveries of sandbags start to arrive at the hotel; every ten minutes on CNN they show a massive grey swirl headed straight for the Yucatan Peninsula. Unless you want to spend the next several days in a crowded school gymnasium with thousands of people, possible die or drown, get out. I know the idea of sitting around with others through a big storm may sound kind of "cool", but this ain't your momma's spring shower with rainbows. Also, don't expect your tour representative to be of any help you or make sure you're comfortable; they're understaffed when it comes to trying to dealing with everybody on a case-by-case basis during a catastrophe.
Our travel agent told described the accomdations here as luxury but they were a bit less impressive...more
I believe that most everyone that posted positivie comments either on this site or Trip Advisor had...more
The hotel is great and everything went fine on my stay. The staff is friendly, the rooms are...more