Cancun and Mayan Riviera 5-Day Itinerary
Most famous for Cancún, the Mayan Riviera is Mexico’s tourist fantasyland, a jungle coastline of white-sand beaches, ancient Mayan ruins and clear-water cenotes, freshwater sinkholes and caves found throughout the flat limestone sponge of the Yucatán peninsula.
Many visitors stay in a resort in Cancún. These all-inclusive monstrosities can be a good deal. You’ll be right on the beach, have a pool, get unlimited food and free drinks, and all-in-all have a fun, relaxing vacation.
But even if the package includes some tours, you won’t get to know Mexico. How could you? Why would you venture into downtown Cancún for real tacos when you have a free buffet in your luxury hotel? Why would you travel inland to Valladolid when the pool party starts at 10 a.m. every day?
Though Cancún is known for big resorts and mass tourism, and formerly lesser-known beach hangouts like Playa del Carmen are now firmly established on the beaten path, a budget-concious side remains to these world-class tourist destinations. You can still get a nice hotel for under $30 in downtown Cancún, and eat the best - and cheapest - local food just a few blocks from the beach in Playa del Carmen.
This itinerary is written for the independent traveler who likes the beach but also wants some culture. Besides saving a lot of money, you will:
- Have two full days on two gorgeous beaches: Cancún and Playa del Carmen.
- Explore two Mayan ruins: Chichén Itzá, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, and Tulum, a sunny fortress built on cliffs overlooking one of the most iconic beaches in Mexico.
- Dip your toe into Yucatán culture in Valladolid, a small colonial town in central Yucatán.
- Swim, snorkel or scuba dive in the clear, freshwater Dos Ojos cenote.
- Eat what Mexicans eat: seafood, tacos, and Yucatán specialties like panuchos and salbutes.
- Shop, party, get tan, and learn some Spanish, history and culture. And, if time permits, venture farther into Mexico and Central America.
My Cancun and Mayan Riviera 5-day itinerary offers 43 pages of complete hotel, restaurant, transport and sightseeing recommendations and includes an extensive appendix with sections like Food and Drinks, Places and Terminology, Useful Local Phrases, Money Matters, Safety, A Brief History and Other Places to See.At $4.99, the itinerary will pay for itself the first time you follow my advice on a hotel, restaurant, bus or cenote. My email address is included, so you are welcome to email me with any questions you have. And if you are unhappy with the itinerary for any reason, Unanchor provides a full refund.