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Published: July 24th 2013
Valladolid is the perfect place to use as a base while in the Yucatan. There are some tourists that come on buses from Cancun, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen, and thus some gringo-targeted shops and restaurants around the central park, but aside from that and an enclave of hotels on Los Frailes, it's an authentic Mexican small city that pays little attention to tourists. It's particularly refreshing after spending some time in Belize and Tulum, where the main attractions are beaches and activities, and not as much people and culture. Everyone is far friendlier inland and the city is perfectly clean, safe, and easy to navigate (all streets are in fact numbered and on a grid).
It's also quite hot there, at least in late July. It was in the mid-nineties (F) every day and fairly humid as well. The mornings were brutal in particular. Add lots of mosquitoes and it's not the most comfortable place if you don't have some good repellant and a strong fan (or air con if you have the money).
I stayed at La Candelaria, which is north of the central park, in a smaller park called La Candelaria as well. It's
It's easy to find good places for lunch (cevicherias, etc.), but most restaurants except for the ones in the square close for dinner. I recommend La Oasis
for an authentic experience.
While the main square is at times littered with bus tourists from Cancun, they only seem to stay for an hour or so -- enough time to buy some crap -- and then move on. On Sundays, the plaza is filled with locals listening to live music and dancing.
Most of the hotels are on Calle Los Frailes. There are some good places to eat there as well.
There is a chocolate factory and tequila distillery here, but they seem more interested in getting you to purchase their overpriced products than teaching you anything. The tours are free, though.
It's possible to take Spanish classes at a school right across from the main church in the main square. They can't organize homestays, though.
These sink hole ponds are every bit as spectacular as I'd expected. The idea that most people come to the Yucatan without seeing them absolutely bewilders me. Cenote Zaci is right in
town, but there are tens of cenotes in the area, most of which are easy to access and which offer good swimming, relatively safe jumping, and crystal clear, clean water. The locals are afraid of them, and even if they can swim, they wear life vests. I regret not trying to visit more of them.
This is worth a visit if you haven't done many other Mayan ruins. There is a beautiful cenote there as well, and you can walk, bike, or turbo-bike taxi the 3 km trail.
People also use Valladolid to get to the yellow city, Chitzen Itza, and countless other cenotes, ruins, and smaller beaches to the north.
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