Review: TUI Mayan trail of Mexico

Mexico has always been a bit of a bucket list place for me. We went to Tijuana for the ay in 2009 whilst we were in San Diego but that’s not quite the same. We’d initially planned to book two weeks all inclusive somewhere and just do day trips to places like Chichen Itza or a Cenote. But we also know that once my bum cheek hit that sun lounger, the probability of me getting the motivation to get off it again will dwindle with each passing day. So we were pleased to see TUI offered the best of both worlds; a week on the guided tour of the Mayan Trail of Mexico and then a weeks all inclusive.

So since they turned out to be two very different holidays, they definitely warrant two different blog posts but let’s kick off with first things first and i’ll give you a (brief as possible) run down of what we got up to in the first week:

Day 1 – arrival

We arrived after what felt like a gruelling 10 hour flight, battled through Cancun airport (which no lie, took about 3 hours to wait for out bags) and met a rep who bundled us off in a mini bus to our airport hotel for the night. We briefly met our tour guide Tino that evening before having some dinner, we well deserved beer, and an early night ready for our 8.30am start the next morning.

Day 2 – Valladolid & Secret cenote

Starting strong with a drive to Valladolid which is a beautiful colourful little town where we had a free tequila tasting. Interestingly, Mexican tequila doesn’t actually taste bitter at all, the vanilla one I tried was absolutely lovely but was almost £50 a bottle, and I wasn’t about to drop that much on day one of the holiday.

After a mooch around there for an hour or so we went to a cenote where we were able to swim and it was a real bucket list activity for me. We’d be pre warned to drink our swimming costumes and towels and the cenote had changing area and lockers to leave all your stuff. You’re also provided with life jackets and these things are pretty deep and no matter how much of a strong swimmer you thing you are, it would be pretty easy to panic and get stuck under water in one of those things. And I’m sure the staff there would rather not spend their days rescuing cocky British tourists. After the swim our lunch was included which was a hot buffet of local Mexican food and any drinks we wanted to buy from the bar.

From here we were driven to our hotel in Chichen Itza to spend the evening to ourselves and have dinner and some drinks.

Day 3 – Chichen Itza

This was another highlight for me and a slight concern that we were peeking too soon with the cool activities. After another 8.30am start, we went to Chichen Itza and spend about 3 hours there in total. As usual Tino was an excellent guide in keeping all the information relevant and interesting without it being boring. Chichen Itza itself I found super interesting, especially learning about the Mayan calendar and how they built the structure based on the way the sun rises and sets at different times of the year – it’s all so clever! We were given some free time again to wander around and get a drink or something to eat if we wanted to so again was the perfect balance of guided tour and time on our own!

We had a pit stop in Izamal for lunch which was an authentic Mexican restaurant which was all lovely food – an I had a great aperol spritz, but the experience was hampered slightly when they insisted we hadn’t paid enough of a tip – frustrating really since a tip should be optional anyway surely?

Anyway, on to Merida next which was the most built up city we’d visited thus far so was nice to have the evening to ourselves to grabs some drinks and food (I had an amazing kiwi margarita) but we felt slightly Mexican fooded out at this point already so opted for a really nice burger place near the hotel.

Day 4 – Uxmal and Campeche

On to another ancient site – but much smaller and quieter that Chichen Itza so the slower pace of the tour actually made it really nice. The buildings are so impressive and the knowledge that Tino has of the areas makes it really interesting. After Uxmal we visited a traditional Mayan restaurant for lunch which was all pre made for us and incredibly fresh and tasty. The highlight of the meal was being treated to a ‘cockroach’ cocktail, which is surprisingly nicer than it sounds!

It was a long ride on the coach to Campeche and we’d hoped we might get there in time to lie by the pool for an hour but sadly the pool at the hotel was so small there was only 2 sun loungers, which were occupied, and was facing the complete wrong direction anyway so there was no sun on it! So we got changed and went out fr sinner instead. There’s a main street in Campeche which is full of bars and restaurants so that was fun to try out.

Day 5 – Edzna and Palenque

You’d think we’d be all ruined out by this point but honestly all the different places on the tour have been just that; very different and feel quite off the beaten track so have all be quiet. Most of the places we’ve been to we’ve pretty much been the only group of people there so it’s all felt really special an secluded! The ruins and Edzna offered possible one of the best views of the trip – I was blown away by how pretty everything was and also how well preserved all the buildings were.

The rest of the day was spent on the coach as we travelled about 6 hours to Palenque, however – another highlight of the trip was stopping off for lunch at an absolutely beautiful beach front restaurant overlooking the Gulf of Mexico and honestly it’s one of the prettiest places I’ve seen with my own eyes.

Day 6 – Palenque

Now, you would think after having been to a Cenote and Chichen Itza then surely the trip couldn’t get better than that? WRONG! Palenque is another archaeological ruin site but this time in the heart of the jungle and is just stunning. Again the views – if you’re able to climb up to the top of some of them are breathtaking and I could have sat at the top of one of them looking out over the vast jungle all day. One thing I was really liking about the whole tour by this point is that we don’t spend too long at each place, enough time to see everything sufficiently, not so much time that we get bored. It’s also nice that being such a small group, we’re often given options as to what we want to do, where we want to eat etc so feel more in control than your average tour where you’re just shepherded around a lot.

After Palenque we went to Welib Ha waterfalls. Believe me when I tell you that this is one of the best things I have ever experienced in my life and something that will never leave me. Again, it was deserted so feels like somewhere we just stumbled cross by accident. I’m a total water baby anyway and never in my life did I imagine that I would get opportunity to swim in a natural waterfall. I felt like I was in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. This was another place I could have stayed at all day.

After and hour or so at the waterfall it was back to the hotel where we had the rest of the day to ourselves which was much needed. It was nice to be back at the hotel for 1.30pm for a change and be able to just hang around the pool and enjoy the sunshine. It was also lovely that the entire group decided to go out to dinner together that evening so was a testament to how close we’d all become over the course of the week.

Day 7

This was another long travel day but to be perfectly honest I was glad of it, with the high of the previous day I felt like I just needed a couple of hours on the bus listening to some podcasts as I was feeling a little templed out! We hot footed it across the Yucatan for our overnight stay in Chetumal which is a quiet little seaside town. We struggled to find anywhere open for dinner here but ended up in a really lovely Italian restaurant – but I had the Mexicana pizza so you know, it was semi authentic!

Day 8 – Tulum

We had been so busy on the tour that I was so ready to our beach extension at our all inclusive resort but before then we had one final stop at Tulum, which are a set of ruins over looking the Caribbean sea. They were probably the most visually stunning but it was also the most touristy place we visited. Still though it felt like the perfect way to end the tour and warm us up for some seaside fun.

Over all I felt the tour was the perfect was to see everything we wanted. We had toyed originally with the idea of staying at an all inclusive resort for the whole 2 weeks and just booking day trips but in all honesty once my cheeks hit that sun lounger I think I would have found it difficult to get the motivation to move so doing it this way was ideal. I liked that it was a small group and that we were offered options for things like food or when we wanted some alone time where possible so it didn’t feel too regimented.

I also like that non of the early starts were too early, I think the earliest we were on the road was 8am and Tino our tour guide was so knowledgeable, funny and friendly he really made the trip interesting. I think it would also be an all abilities tour – there wasn’t too much walking and you didn’t have to climb anything if you didn’t want to!

I guess my only negative was the mini bus itself wasn’t the most comfortable; it was fine for short journeys but for the longer journeys a more luxury coach would have been better but that’s kind of nit picking I suppose. All in all I highly recommend this tour, it’s a great way to see the Yucatan and some secret hidden gems too!

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5 Comments

  1. Samantha Rickelton
    April 27, 2024 / 3:46 pm

    I love the idea of a holiday like this, it’s nice to include lots of sightseeing with a week of relaxation afterwards.

  2. Rae
    May 15, 2024 / 2:52 pm

    Been looking at booking this trip, but hadnt seen any proper reviews!
    So this has been so hopeful! and given me the push to get booking for next march! Pics are fantastic and looks amazing!
    Can I ask what time of year you went?!

    • honestlyhelen
      Author
      May 15, 2024 / 4:32 pm

      Ah I’m so pleased! I couldn’t find any reviews before we went either and would have found it so helpful so decided to write one myself!! We went 30th January this year so essentially the first 2 weeks of Feb and weather was great! I’m posting a review of the hotel add on we did too soon!

  3. Ellen
    June 12, 2024 / 2:58 pm

    I’ve done a few TUI tours! Morocco & Turkey got the Greek one coming soon! So after reading your review will definitely be booking this one up too ! Any advice on hotel stay after? 😎

    • honestlyhelen
      Author
      June 12, 2024 / 2:07 pm

      Oh yes definitely, I literally posted a review of the hotel we stayed in as an add on this morning if you head over to my home page it should be the top post!

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