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Itinerary 17 days in Mexico by Bus or Colectivo – Yucatán, Quintana Roo, Chiapas: Detailed Budget, Transportation and Advice

If you are preparing your vacation in Mexico, like me, and if you are stuck on the itinerary, here is mine. You can use it as inspiration for the holidays, or for other periods.

The difficulty is to choose the best sites of interest because they are all incredible.


  • This itinerary corresponds to 17 days on site
  • This itinerary is for those who prefer the cenotes & lagoons rather than the beach. Here, every time we go to the beach, it is more for snorkeling. If you want to laze on the beach, check out our 15-16 dayprogram in Mexico
  • This program is an improved version of what we really did: for example instead of doing Valladolid – Coba – Tulum – Ek Balam, we have modified the program to make it more logical for you : Valladolid – Ek Balam – Tulum and then Coba by scooter or colectivo. So, reading our travel books, you will see that some things have been removed or changed from the program below, it’s normal
  • We visited a lot of ruins but they are all different, the same for the cenotes (except Zaci and Xcanche which look a little bit alike)
  • Please note that there is a 1 hour time difference between the Yucatan region and the Quintana Roo region. Coba is on the border between the two, and so is Xpujil. Check the time on your phone regularly, if you have 4G, the time will update automatically. Be careful not to miss your excursions to Tulum or Playa del Carmen.
  • If you start your Roadtrip in Cancun, start the program on Day 2

Day 1

Arrival in Merida, rest. If motivated: hop-on hop-off bus to tour the city of Merida. Night in Merida in a hotel in the city center: Gamma Merida (link Booking)

Day 2

We leave Merida for the ruins of Chichen Itza, the most famous ruins in Mexico and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. Early morning departure with the Teen Bus (departure 6:30 am, arrival at 8:30 am, 120MXN) to avoid the tourists. We will not pay for an official guide but buy a booklet with pictures at the entrance. Lockers available on site.

Transportation (cab or colectivo) to and swimming in the cenote Ik Kil, one of the most beautiful (and most frequented) of the region. Then colectivo to Valladolid (it passes every 45mn approximately, you have to leave the parking lot and wait for the colectivo on the main road)

Optional: Photo break (or quick swim) at the cenote ZaciThe hotel is close to the city center of Valladolid. Sound and light show at 21:20 at the Convent of San Bernadino de Siena (free).

cenote Zaci

Night in Valladolid. Hostal Las Cruces 23€ (link Booking)

  • Merida Bus – Chichen Itza : 120MXN
  • Entrance Chichen Itza: 481 MXN, card payment accepted
  • small booklet on Chichen Itza : 110 MXN
  • Cab Chichen Itza -> Ik Kil (from the parking lot) : 80 MXN
  • Entrance cenote Ik Kil : 80 MXN
  • Locker at cenote: 30 MXN
  • Colectivo Ik Kil -> Valladolid (departure from the entrance near the main road) : 35 MXN
  • Lunch in Valladolid: 130 MXN per person
  • Dinner in Valladolid: 230 MXN per person
  • Zaci cenote entrance: 30 MXN
  • Hotel in Valladolid: Hostal Las Cruces 482 MXN, 23€ (link Booking ) the double room. Breakfast included

Note: if you are leaving from Cancun, it is best to start first with the cenote Ik Kil (take the bus at 8:45 am to Chichen Itza, arrive at 11 am – be careful, time change between Cancun and Yucatan) and then take a cab. Take your time before visiting Chichen Itza in the late afternoon to avoid tourists. Then take one of the many colectivos to Valladolid. Overnight in Valladolid. Hostal Las Cruces 23€ (Booking link)

Day 3 :

Visit the ruins of Ek’ Balam in the jungle in colectivo from Valladolid. Meeting point at the crossroads between Calle 44 and Calle 35. Many colectivos leave for 50MXN/person (if there are 4 people), or 65 MXN/person (if there are 3 people). Visit of the Cenote X’canche in Ek Balam, a very deep and large “cave” type cenote, several activities on site.

Ek Balam

Optional visit: Suytun, by colectivo from Valladolid (see the departure of the colectivo here, it is recommended to arrive between 1 and 2 pm) to have a nice light and without tourists. Buffet on the spot (not very good but not expensive). Bus to Tulum (attention time change) and Night in Tulum. Hotel Central Station Tulum 42€ (Booking link)

  • Colectivo from Valladolid to Ex Balam: from 40MXN/person (Taxi 200MXN if you want to privatize)
  • Colectivo Ex Balam – Valladolid: from 40MXN/person (Taxi 200MXN if you want to privatize)
  • Balam Ex-entry: 413 MXN, cash only
  • Cenote X’canche: 80 MXN cash only (150 MXN if transport included, 250 MXN for entrance, transport and activities)
  • Colectivo from Valladolid to Suytun: 20MXN
  • Suytun: 120 MXN life jacket included, cash only (230 MXN if buffet)
  • Hotel in Tulum : Hotel Central Station Tulum 42€ (Booking link)

Day 4 :

Rent a car (40USD/day insurance included) or rent a scooter (500MXN per day) to go around the cenotes on the way between Valladolid and Tulum and making a small detour through the ruins of Coba.

Gran Cenote (small turtles, small depth, go to the other cenote via a small cellar), Cenote Car Wash (water lilies, clear water).

Afternoon: Car (or colectivo) from Tulum to the ruins of Coba ( see the departure of the colectivo to Coba from Tulum here), ruins in the middle of the jungle. Rent a bike to visit the ruins. Second class bus to Tulum at 5pm (Oriente company) or Taxi colectivo for 100MXN/person. Night in Tulum. Hotel Central Station Tulum 42€ (Booking link)

Coba’s main pyramid
  • Car Rental: 40USD/day insurance included or 500MXN for scooter rental
  • Gran cenote: 200 MXN, cash only. 30 MXN the locker
  • Car wash cenote : 100 MXN, cash only
  • Bus Tulum -> Coba (second class): 70MXN or Van Colectivo (70MXN)
  • Bus Coba -> Tulum: 70 MXN (or 100 MXN by cab colectivo)
  • Entrance to the ruins of Coba: 75 MXN
  • Bicycle rental in the ruins of Coba: 50 MXN
  • Gasoline: 800MXN for 2 days

Day 5 :

Rent a car (40USD/day insurance included) or rent a scooter (500MXN per day) to visit the ruins of Tulum and the cenotes between Tulum & Playa del Carmen

Go around the beaches and cenotes on the way between Tulum and Playa del Carmen: Paraiso Beach in Tulum. Lunch on the spot. Blue Cenote(Cenote Azul, incredible color), cenote Xunaan-Ha (in the middle of dense vegetation), little frequented. Return car or scooter around 6pm. Departure for Playa del Carmen in colectivo (1h). Night in Playa del Carmen. Hotel la Galeria by Bunik 32€ (link Booking)

  • Car rental: 40usd/day insurance included
  • Tulum ruins: 75 MXN (be careful, the cash register does not give change, you have to make up the change)
  • parking near the ruins of Tulum: 100 MXN
  • Hotel in Playa del Carmen : Hotel la Galeria by Bunik 32€ (link Booking)
  • Cenote Azul: 120 MXN
  • Cenote Xunaan Ha: 100 MXN
  • Colectivo Tulum -> Playa del Carmen : 45 MXN

Day 6 :

Résultats de recherche d'images pour « mystic snorkel cozumel »

Ferry at 8h Playa del Carmen -> island of Cozumel , famous for its incredible corals and fishes (11USD the crossing). Arrival at 9am. Snorkeling with Mystic Snorkel on a small boat (3-4h, 3 stops, lunch included, on a small quiet beach), 65USD/person (10USD deposit). Ferry to Playa del Carmen then bus to Tulum. Night in Tulum. Hotel Central Station Tulum 42€ (Booking link)

  • Ferry: 22USD round trip per person
  • Snorkeling: 65USD/person
  • Hotel in Tulum : Hotel Central Station Tulum 59€ (Booking link)
  • Bus Playa del Carmen -> Tulum: 88 MXN with ADO, 45 MXN in colectivo

Day 7 :

Day trip from Tulum to Sian’Kaan with a French-speaking agency (we do not have an agency to advise you because we were not satisfied with our Secretoo agency). Observation of animals (dolphins, tortures, manatees), then snorkeling. Departure at 7 am. Return around 4:30 pm. Night in Tulum: Hotel Central Station Tulum 42€ (Booking link)near the ADO Terminal, very convenient.

Here is the program of the day sent by the agency:

We take a van to go to the reserve because the road is regularly not easily accessible by car. You start by observing birds, dolphins, turtles and manatees. Then you will do some snorkeling on the reef. You will take a break on a dream beach with translucent water that they call the natural swimming pool. You’ll have a bite to eat at the home of a local woman who runs a small restaurant away from the other tourists who eat at the buffet provided for them. You will take a stroll in the village with the guide who will answer all your questions. Then you will take the boat back across the mangrove and return to the car. For questions about the weather: we are in a tropical climate and the weather is hardly reliable and predictable. It can rain in Playa and not in Tulum. The weather forecast can indicate rain when it is super nice and vice versa. We go out most of the time and cancellations are rare. The Maya community controls the boats, in case of foreseeable bad weather, it cancels the outing which can be postponed or refunded.

  • Excursion: maximum 97€/person (including 15€ deposit), the price depends on the number of customers that day, we were 10 so we paid 86€ per person
  • Hotel in Tulum : Hotel Central Station Tulum 59€ (Booking link)

Days 8, 9, 10

The lagoon

Day 8: Bus to Bacalar, departure at 8:35 am from Tulum. Relax (La Playita restaurant recommended). Swimming.
Day 9: Morning: Taxi to Los Rapidos. Afternoon: Taxi or walk to CocalitosDay
10: Boat tour (250MXN to 650MXN), paddle (150 MXN per hour) or kayak (100-150 MXN per hour) on the lagoon

Be careful, there are some places on the lagoon where there are crocodiles (Akalki Hotel), it is better to avoid them.

  • Bus Tulum -> Bacalar : 223 MXN (Mayab company, second class bus)
  • Cab to Los Rapidos: 150 MXN
  • Cab to Cocalitos: 40 MXN
  • Back to the page : Los Rapidos – Bacalar en colectivo : 25 MXN
  • Entry to Los Rapidos: 100 MXN
  • Entrance to Cocalitos: 35 MXN
  • Entrance to the Cenote Azul: 25 MXN
  • Boat tour: 250 MXN for 2 hours. Sailing boat : 650 MXN for 4 hours
  • Kayak rental 2 places: 150 to 250 MXN per hour
  • Kayak rental 1 place: 50 to 100MXN per hour
  • Paddle rental : 150 MXN per hour
  • Hotel in Bacalar: 20€ to 52€/night
    • close to the ADO terminal, very nice accommodation, terrace with hammock (sometimes the hammock is in the room): Aljanna House Boutique Hotel 52€ (link Booking)
    • more central, but less pretty, access to the terrace: Hotel Szapot 29€ (link Booking)
    • Deluxe backpackers hostel with private jetty, nice bar and cozy beds: The Yak Lake House link Booking

Day 11

Swimming in Bacalar, walk. Departure at 3:30 pm for Chetumal by bus or colectivo then from Chetumal, bus at 6:30 pm for Xpujil (attention change of time here, we go back one hour). More info about the transportation to Xpujil here. Take a walk and find out about transportation options etc. Buy snack and water for the visit to Calakmul the next day. Night in Xpujil: Gran Garra de Jaguar: 300MXN (Agoda link )

  • Colectivo Bacalar – Chetumal: 45MXN (or 65MXN with the ADO bus)
  • Bus ADO Chetumal – Xpujil : 206MXN
  • Hotel in Xpujil: Gran Garra de Jaguar: 300MXN (Agoda link )

Day 12

Visit Calakmul (beautiful ruins in the middle of the jungle) with a shuttle (400MXN/person round trip, departure at 8am) or a motorized guide (to be seen on site).

Stop at the bat cellar on the way back (bring a mask or something to protect yourself from the horrible smell). Night in Xpujil at Gran Garra de Jaguar : 300MXN (Agoda link)

  • Hotel in Xpujil: Gran Garra de Jaguar: 300MXN (Agoda link)
  • Shuttle Xpujil – Calakmul (a/r): 400MXN (more info here)
  • Cave des 4 millions de chauve-souris: free entrance
  • Entry to Calakmul: payment in 3 installments: 60 MXN, 72 MXN then 75 MXN

Day 13

Morning departure (3:30 am) to Palenque (only bus of the day, it is better to book in advance).
Arrival around 10 am. Rest. Tour of the travel agencies. Do the laundry, go around the city of Palenque (very nice).
If you are motivated, you have time to visit the ruins right away, but I advise you not to as you will be tired.
Night in Palenque. Hotel Casa Hadassa La Cañada 30€ (link Booking).

  • Bus Xpujil – Palenque : 357MXN
  • Hotel in Palenque: Hotel Casa Hadassa La Cañada 30€ (link Booking )

Day 14

ruins of Palenque

Excursion (transportation only, without guide) to the ruins of Palenque, visit to the Sombrillas Waterfalls (without swimming) and the Museum within the ruins. Transport with the agency to the Agua Azul & Misol-Ha waterfalls. Departure at 8am. Return around 7pm. Excursion to choose: the one where you stay at least 2h30 in Agua Azul.

Note : It is possible to visit these two waterfalls in colectivo (but it’s not worth it, too much trouble). Night in Palenque. Hotel Casa Hadassa La Cañada 30€ (link Booking)

Instructions: In order to catch colectivo to Ocosigno, you need to go a bit further to the crossroad of Benito Juarez and 5a. Pte Sur. From here, colectivos leave when full, approximately every 30 minutes. We told the driver to drop us off at Agua Azul and paid Mx 50 per person. The drive from Palenque took approximately an hour and a half on a quite bumpy and zigzag road, and we were happy when it was over. The colectivo dropped us off on a turn off to Agua Azul, and here we had to take a cab to the entrance of the falls for another Mx25 per person. To get back from Agua Azul to Palenque, we had to follow our steps in reverse order. We took a cab from the parking lot in Agua Azul for Mx25 per person and then waited for a colectivo going from Ocosigno to Palenque. If you want to go to Misol-Ha Waterfall as well, you need to ask the driver to drop you off on a crossroad closer to Palenque.

Agua azul
Misol Ha
  • Excursion Ruins Palenque, Agua Azul & Misol-Ha: 385 MXN including transportation and entrance fees (including 36 MXN for the park, 75 MXN for the ruins, 70 MXN for agua azul and 30 MXN for Misol ha). It is highly recommended that you go through the agency Tulum Transportadora Turistica because the colectivo will cost about the same and it’s a hassle to stop at Misol Ha
  • Hotel in Palenque: Hotel Casa Hadassa La Cañada 30€ (link Booking )

Day 15 :

Hacienda Puerta

Bus to Campeche leaving at 8am from Palenque. Arrival 5h30 later. Visit of the city. Visit (squatting) of the overpriced haciendas we couldn’t book : Hacienda Puerta ( Booking link ) and Hotel Socaire (Booking link ) Night in Campeche in a cheaper affordable hotel (28€)

  • Bus Palenque – Campeche : 522MXN
  • Cab Terminal ADO – Downtown: 40MXN
  • Hotel in Campeche : Hospedage 59 : 28€ (link Booking)

Day 16 :

Bus from the terminal del Sur to Uxmal (departures at 12:00 or 14:30 recommended, see timetables here), where there are beautiful ruins with little traffic.
Arrival 3h30 – 4h later.

  • If the bus leaves at 12:00 am: Enjoy the hotel’s swimming pool and the exceptional setting while doing nothing at all.
  • If departure of the bus at 2:30 pm: Lunch first in a seafood restaurant to fall in Campeche. Therefore, the late arrival in Uxmal prevents you from taking advantage of the swimming pool. What a dilemma! 😀
hotel Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum

Dinner on site. Sound and light show at the ruins of Uxmal at 7pm (5 minutes walk from the hotel). Night in Uxmal: Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum, 100€ ( link Booking )

  • Bus Campeche – Uxmal: 160 MXN – departure from Terminal del SUR (second class bus)
  • Uxmal Sound & Light: 103 MX
  • Hotel in Uxmal: historic hotel, which had the Queen of England and Jackie Kennedy as clients : Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum, 100€ ( link Booking)

Day 17 :

Morning visit to the ruins of Uxmal (open at 8am). Bus or Colectivo to Merida. If motivated: hop-on hop-off bus to go around the city of Merida.
End of the road trip. Night in Merida in a hotel close to the airport: Hotel Hacienda Inn 34€ (link Booking )

  • Entrance ticket to the ruins of Uxmal: 413 MXN (payment in cash only)
  • Colectivo Uxmal – Merida : 65 MXN
  • Uber center of Merida – Hotel near the airport: 75 MXN
  • Hotel in Merida (near the airport): Hotel Hacienda Inn 34€ (link Booking )

Summary of expenses

Transportation (Bus, shuttle & colectivo, per person)3,348MXN
Transportation (Car rental for two, 2 days)73€
Accommodation (for two)708€
Tours, excursions (per person): Sian Ka’an and Cozumel175€
Entrance fee (per person)2,918MXN
Food (per person)140MXN to 200MXN/meal
TOTAL (per person), excluding air France – Mexico1 083€

Excluding airplane, we are therefore at 1 083€/person, or 2166€ for two (excluding airplane from France) for 17 days, 17 nights, or 127€/day on average for two

Of course, this budget can be revised downwards:

  • removing expensive ruins like Uxmal and Ek Balam (saving 800MXN/person)
  • by removing expensive cenote like Gran Cenote (saving 400MXN/person)
  • by removing the snorkeling: either in Sian Ka’an or in Cozumel (savings of 65€ to 90€ per person)
  • by replacing hotels by dormitories (savings of 5€/person per day) and by traveling out of season: the hotel budget could possibly be revised downwards (500€)

As this article is already very long, to learn more about the transportation options available to you in the Yucatan Peninsula, consult this article. You can also access all our articles on Mexico (Yucatan, Oaxaca, Mexico City) here

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