Day Trip in Nogales, Mexico

Looking for a break from the Phoenix summer heat, I needed a road trip.  Several of my friends headed North this weekend for Sedona, Flagstaff, and Payson.  We headed South to Mexico!

With some US cash in our pockets, passports (or Global Entry cards), iced coffee, and a full tank of gas we were on our way.

Beautiful summer day in Nogales, Mexico
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Cancun Mexico | Sun, Sand, Scuba, and Beyond

Mexico has a bad reputation for crime and violence, it is all over the news.  Yet, there are some beautiful and safe parts of Mexico, like Cancun.  It is on the eastern tip of Mexico, sitting on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.  It is well protected from most of the hurricanes and enjoys gorgeous weather year round.  There is no need to drive across the border, Cancun is easily accessible from most major airports.

Hyatt Zilara Resort
Hyatt Zilara Resort beach

Cancun boasts beautiful beaches, the northern section of the Great Maya Reef, Mayan ruins and museums, art, spa activities, shopping, nightlife, and friendly locals.  Far less expensive than the Mediterranean cities, Cancun is a great value for a luxury vacation on a budget.

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Mayans in Cancun, Mexico

The most well-known Mayan ruins and archaeological sites are in the interior of Mexico and Central America which can be difficult to visit, often requiring long car or bus rides.  The nearest airport to Chichen Itza is Cancun and then it is still several hours travel by car.  There are two noteworthy Mayan sites located within Cancun.

El Rey
El Rey

El Rey
El Rey

El Rey is located along the Hotel Zone of Cancun, tucked away behind large trees and a small sign.  For 43 pesos (per person) this hidden gem is an old Mayan village for exploration.  The area surrounding the structures is cut back leaving very little shade.  The site opens at 8 AM for the coolest temperatures.  There are plenty of signs in both Spanish and English translation.

View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site
View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site

The entire site takes less than an hour to walk and take a few photos.

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The Mayan Museum, Museo Maya de Cancun, is just down the street from the El Rey site.  The museum opens at 9 am, one hour later than El Rey, allowing for a full morning of Mayan history. At a mere 57 pesos, the entrance fee is one of the best bargains in Cancun!

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Chichen Itza Travel Guide | Explore the Mayan History in Mexico

Explore the incredible ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza! Travel Guide with transit time, tours, the pyramid, beyond the pyramid, Mayan History in Mexico, and more!

Art, Museums, History, Science, Natural Wonders, and Archaeology are a few of my favorite things!  So what could be better than an archaeological site full of art, culture, science, an ancient pyramid, an astronomical observatory, and more located in a jungle? That was my motivation to spend the day at Chichen Itza Mayan archaeological site.

The Chichen Itza site is located in the Yucatan state of Mexico, the nearest village is Piste (pronounced pis-tay).  Our adventure started in Cancun, Mexico on the far East coast.  The cheapest way from Cancun to Chichen Itza is by tour bus, it is also the slowest and most restrictive.  We skipped that and arranged for a private car through our resort, paying $250 USD for private driver all day including fuel.  Slightly more expensive, but we set the schedule and our little car passed all the buses so we arrived before the crowds.  By car, it is a 2 hour drive using toll roads, or an extra hour to avoid the tolls.  Tolls are charged by type of vehicle, meaning that our private car paid approx $500 pesos for both tolls (approx. $42 USD) but van or bus is more expensive.

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