After Palenque, we must visit the ruins of Uxmal and finish the roadtrip in beauty in a luxury hotel, vintage style. But I hesitated a lot between a direct trip from Palenque to Merida (8:30 am) and then visit Uxmal the next day, or take a short break in Campeche. Finally, to spend less time in transportation, I decided to cut the path in two and spend a night in Campeche.
Part 1: Travel Diary
Day 14 (January 2nd)
Palenque – Campeche by bus
Bad luck, it is January 2nd and many Mexicans are also traveling. The direct bus Palenque – Campeche leaving at 8am is full since several days. Luckily, we still have 2 places left next to the toilets for the trip Palenque – Escarcega. A journey of 3h30 which will seem interminable because the toilets aren’t well cleaned and each time somebody goes there, a nauseous smell attacks our nose. And as half of the bus will go to the toilet during the trip, I let you imagine… Well, fortunately we did not have these seats for 5h30 until Campeche because we couldn’t have supported 2 more hours in such conditions.
Arriving in Escarcega, we buy a second class bus ticket to Campeche. The bus leaves from the second class terminal, but makes a stealthy stop in front of the ADO terminal. We thought it was a good idea to wait at the ADO terminal, but we should have gone to the second class terminal – to have a seat. Taking it from the ADO terminal, we left for 2h30 in pain, standing in a crowded bus.
Arriving in Campeche, we take a cab to our hotel. It is good there, there are public buses but I am in a hurry to arrive. 40MXN later, we are dropped at the right place.
This pastel-colored city is extremely pretty – there are even old cars parked in the street. The city center is surrounded by old forts (you can climb on them). It reminds us a little bit of Valladolid and the many colonial cities we visited in Central America.
Today’s program is super light: walking downtown and squatting in the haciendas that we couldn’t book. Hacienda Puerta because it is out of price. And the hotel Socaire because it was sold out. It is really our thing: to pay a drink at the bar in exchange of a small visit of the overpriced hotels. While enjoying a great service.
Hacienda Puerta (Booking link) is just 2 minutes away from our guesthouse, we go there first to have dessert. The restaurant overlooks the garden and we can admire the swimming pool built in the ruins. The pool hidden inside has even hammocks hanging over the water. Mexicans have a thing with hammocks, but hammocks above the pool is a specialty that I am seeing for the first time
This hacienda has a lot of character, the swimming pool is very pretty but the rooms, according to the comments, look small and the price/quality ratio is strongly criticized. On our side, we are very satisfied with our desserts at 100 MXN in this beautiful setting, the quality/price ratio is perfect 😀 We go up on the terrace and can see that even the roofs of the houses are colorful .
Let’s go now to the Socaire hotel (link Booking). It’s much less pretty, but considering the size of the windows, the rooms look more spacious here. You have to cross the whole courtyard to get to the small vegan-healthy-homemade-ethical café and for 30MXN, you can have a pretty acceptable drink. The coffee does not have a beautiful sight, it is the crossing of the hotel which is interesting finally.
It’s almost sundown and we hurry across the main square to go to the Malecon, which is the boardwalk on the Gulf of Mexico. We aren’t well positioned because we are looking north, but the sky changes colors every minute and it is extremely photogenic.
From afar, we see people kayaking or paddling. The water is so calm that it looks like a big lake, but we are well in the South of the Gulf of Mexico. Nobody seems to want to bathe here.
Besides, no one comes to Campeche to bathe. 166km away, there is a much more heavenly area near Ciudad del Carmen, which is Isla Aguada. With white sand, and turquoise water worthy of a beach in the Bahamas. By the way, if you want to go there, instead of taking the bus Escarcega – Campeche, choose Escarcega – Ciudad del Carmen and get dropped off at Isla Aguada. Otherwise, you can take a second class bus from Campeche to Isla Aguada (always in the direction of Ciudad del Carmen). In the worst case, all agencies in Campeche will be happy to take you there.
Day 15 (January 3rd)
It is time to leave Campeche for Uxmal. We are supposed to take the bus around 12:00 but the day before, I saw that a seafood restaurant was selling stone crab claws, which I liked very much in Florida. We decide to take the bus rather at 2:30 pm, eating, and eating well must be the priority n°1.
To get there, we walk 30 minutes instead of taking a cab, to walk along the Gulf and enjoy the view on the way. With this heat and an empty belly, the walk is a bit tiring, but we could see a lot of fish in the water and birds feasting. They dive straight into the water, it makes a big splash but the offer is so abundant that it seems that they succeed every time. A real sushi bar.
To tempt us, the waiter came with a cart full of seafood: crab claws, huge lobster tails, and fresh fish. Everything is sold by weight of course, but for 3 times less than in Florida.
We surely had eyes bigger than belly, ordering a guacamole, a paella, 5 pinches of stone crab, a ceviche and a pitcher of limonada. Because the restaurant offers us in more full of small things: tostadas, fish soup, nachos, sauces of any kind… we should have ordered only the crab claws and a paella maxi. The guacamole was too much. The crab claws are much bigger than in Florida and they cost 650MXN for 5 (33€ approximately) but they are so huge that I had to share them with JB. JB will not finish his paella which isn’t in his habits! As much as the Mexican food does not seduce us, the seafood here is at its best (too bad they don’t have oysters or sea urchins). Without forgetting the incredible view on the sea : <3 come on I give you the name of the restaurant : La Palapa del Tio Fito. They are a little bit off-center, that’s why the prices are very soft.
It is out of the question to walk in the other direction. We hail a cab and pay 45MXN to the bus terminal. Here cabs don’t have a meter. You have to use the predefined fares from one zone to the other (it’s marked on the windscreen). We don’t understand anything about this zone story (the drawing delimiting the zones is a bit difficult to understand in 2 seconds) and we just trust the driver.
We take the SUR bus from the second class bus terminal (Terminal del SUR) at 2:30 pm. Instead of spending 1h20 (direct way), the bus makes a detour via Hopelchén and we arrive at our destination only at 18h. It stops absolutely everywhere and as soon as it enters a city, it drives at 5km/h because of many speed bumps on the road. We intended to take advantage of our luxury hotel but it is missed. At 18h50, we go to the ruins of Uxmal to watch the spectacle of sound and light, but the tickets for 19h are already all sold. A second session is envisaged at 8 pm, but at 7:30 pm, there is a problem of electricity and since it is still not solved at 8:05 pm, we return empty-handed after having been refunded and let us dine quickly at the restaurant of the hotel.
Day 16 (January 4th)
Ruins of Uxmal
With Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, the entrance tickets to Uxmal are out of price. So we have to pay 418MXN, a huge sum knowing that other ruins cost only 75MXN or 120MXN maximum. This price change took place at the beginning of 2019. Many backpackers, on a world tour, had to turn back when they arrived on the spot because the rates indicated in their travel guide were not updated and it was too much for their tight budget. If you have to choose among these 3 ruins, I would say that you still have to go to Chichen Itza. Even if it did not impress me particularly, these ruins are the best preserved.
To be able to enjoy our luxury hotel before check-out at 12:00, we visit the ruins of Uxmal as soon as it opens (8:00 am).
Guides are available on site (800MXN for a French guide and 700MXN for other languages).
As soon as we enter the site, we see a huge pyramid with a rounded edge, it is the star of these ruins. These rounded edges are typical of the Puuc style and in the area there are other Puuc ruins in the surroundings, less known, but that you can visit with a car.
Here, the sculptures are still very well preserved and numerous. I like it very much! Add to that the “alone in the world” side. I understand why our friend Karen, who visited these ruins last summer, said that they were her favorites.
Apart from the main pyramid, we can climb on all other structures. The main pyramid seen from the front is even more impressive. It does not look very high, but its top is very well decorated and we can see it, imposing, from other structures further away.
We make the tour of the archaeological site, there is a lot of wind, the sky becomes cloudy. We end the visit in 1h30 and return to the hotel, 10mn walk from the ruins.
Our luxury hotel, Hacienda Uxmal (link Booking) is one of two hotels near the ruins. This one has a history and a cachet that the other does not: a false air of the Winter Palace in Luxor – it is an old hotel once frequented, among other personalities, by the Queen of England and Jackie Kennedy. It is the most expensive hotel of our road trip (100€/night) but we wanted to end our trip in beauty. With its rocking chairs, in front of and inside the rooms, varnished wooden furniture, a bathroom with old tiles… we think we are projected in Cuba, or in an old time… we don’t know anymore what day it is, where we are. Time seems to stop completely.
It’s a bit cool and instead of swimming (JB had taken a dip the day before), we enjoy the sun, next to an iguana that has taken up residence next to the pool.
We watch for a second class bus to Merida, at the official bus stop right next to the chocolate museum. Around 12:10 pm, we see a colectivo passing by, it is marked Uxmal – Ticul on it. I stop him and ask if he goes to Merida. The answer is positive. We take it for 65MXN, the trip lasts 1 hour. We are too happy to find a colectivo, instead of cramming us in a second class bus which stops everywhere on the way.
We are dropped off at a street of the ADO TAME Terminal. This is the end of the roadtrip.
We stay there for a week while waiting for the price of the plane to Oaxaca to drop, but if you only have an afternoon here, you can take an Uber to downtown and then have lunch at La Chaya Maya, a very famous restaurant offering Yucatan specialties. There is always a 3 meter queue in front of the restaurant at any hour. The restaurant has a lot of positive opinions on Google but the clientele is mostly Mexican. We opted for an assortment of dishes and conclude that if even in this highly rated restaurant, we don’t like anything, it’s just that Mexican cuisine and we, it’s absolutely not a love story.
Also stop by the Teatro Armando Manzanero, where the Turibus bus stops, which goes around the city in one hour for 120MXN (there are some every 30mn-1h). It looks like a hop on hop off bus but it doesn’t stop anywhere. The text is read in Spanish, we understand one word out of 3, there are some jokes and games that words that I don’t understand at all. Basically, the bus takes us to different parts of the city and explains the speciality of each one. Nothing transcendental, but it allows us to make a tour without getting too tired. We regularly pass 50 cm under electric wires and trees, but it’s not dangerous, we have to stay seated all the time, that’s all.
What I really like about Merida is its colorfulness, its beautiful churches and the absence of flashy billboards. Usually the name of the store is painted on the wall. This city is super nice and is perfectly adapted to digital nomads, who will be happy to have a city on a human scale, with a public transport system at the top, and close to many tourist sites.
We recover our luggage left for 2.5 weeks at the Hilton hotel, we send our dirty linen to the lavandaria and I get pampered at the Boho Spa Centro (970MXN or 46€ for 90 minutes of massage).
That’s it, it’s the end of our 17 days of road trip in Mexico, I hope you liked our stories. To access the complete program & the total budget, I recommend you to read our dedicated article here.
Our next roadtrip will take place in China (in March) – yes, for 2020, we’re going back to Asia (and we can’t wait to be there!).
Part 2: Practical Tips
Transportation: Coming to/from Uxmal by bus
To go to Uxmal, there are second class buses leaving from Merida or Campeche. Merida being closer (1h drive) while Campeche is at least 2h drive. By taking the right bus, it is possible to visit the ruins of Uxmal on the way between Campeche and Merida, without having to sleep there and without turning back.
- The schedules of the second class bus: Campeche – Uxmal are available here, the trip takes between 2h and 3h30, it depends on the number of stops made on the way.
- The timetables of the second class bus : Uxmal – Campeche are available here, the trip lasts between 2h and 3h30, it depends on the number of stops made on the way
- A colectivo passes every 2h30 in front of the ruins of Uxmal, in front of the bus stop (of the chocolate museum) and goes to Merida. The colectivo is marked “Uxmal – Ticul” on it. I saw this colectivo at 9h20 and 12h05 and the trip costs 65MXN.
- The second class bus stops in Uxmal for Mer ida about every 2h30. I saw it at 7h55, 9h40, 12h20 and it is supposed to pass also at 15h, 18h and 20h15. The time of passage depends a lot on the number of passengers and the stops made. Come to the bus stop 20 minutes before and don’t be surprised if it is 20 minutes early or late.
- Second class buses leave from Merida (ADO TAME terminal) for Uxmal for 89MXN, at the following times: 6h, 9h05, 10h40, 12h05, 14h, 15h30, 17h05 and 18h. The gentleman of the colectivo advises me to take this bus instead of looking for a colectivo (because it makes a detour by Ticul)
- Bus Palenque – Campeche : 522MXN
- Cab Terminal ADO – Downtown: 40MXN
- Hotel in Campeche : Hospedage 59 : 28€ (link Booking)
- Hacienda Puerta (Booking link ) and Hotel Socaire (Booking link)
- Seafood restaurant – Terminal del SUR by cab: 45MXN
- Bus Campeche – Uxmal: 160 MXN – departure from Terminal del SUR (second class bus)
- Uxmal Sound & Light: 103 MX
- Hotel in Uxmal: historical hotel, Hacienda Uxmal Plantation & Museum, 100€ ( 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)
- Hotel in Mérida (downtown): Gamma Mérida 45€ to 60€ (link Booking)
- Turibus: 120MXN/person
- Boho Spa Centro : 970MXN or 46€ for 90 minutes of massage
Did you like this article? Find our 17 days itinerary in Mexico by clicking here and the other articles of the road trip here
- Road trip in Mexico #1 : Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, Valladolid, Cenote Zaci, Ek Balam, Cenote X’canche
- Road trip in Mexico #2: Cobá, Mayan Ruins & View from the top of its pyramid Nohoch Mul
- Road trip in Mexico #3: Tulum, Playa del Carmen & the Cenotes (Car Wash, Gran Cenote, Xunaan-Ha, Cenote Azul, Cenote Suytun)
- Road trip in Mexico #4: Sian Ka’an, Dream Beach, Dolphins & Turtles
- Road trip in Mexico #5 : Bacalar, Los Rapidos, les Cenotes & Cocalitos
- Road trip in Mexico #6 : the Ruins of Calakmul, at the end of the jungle
- Road trip in Mexico #7: Ruins of Palenque, Misol-Ha and Agua Azul Waterfalls
- Road trip in Mexico #8 : Campeche, Ruins of Uxmal & Merida
- Guide: 15 days in Yucatan (by bus & colectivo)
- Guide: 17 days in Yucatan (by bus & colectivo)