You don’t have to wander far to encounter the wonders of Mayan history. Within only a few kilometres of Cancun there are numerous ruins that allow visitors to transport themselves back to this long-forgotten kingdom and into a world of mystery and intrigue. Before you embark however, there are a few things to remember so as to really make the most of the experience.
1. Leave ample time for your visit
This is particularly true for visitors attending with young families. With many of the ruins around Cancun located within the confines of an ecological park or equipped with interactive recreations of the original Mayan settlements, children can become immersed in the richness of the experience and simply by allowing an extra thirty minutes for impromptu exploration, a tearful tantrum or sulking car journey can be avoided.
2. Shop around for the best guides
Generally the tour operators in the area are of an exceptionally high standard but it can be worth your while to do a little groundwork to find one best suited to your needs and budget. Most of these have standardized routes but a few, for a little extra price, are willing to cater specifically to your wishes. Alma’s LDS tours are always very reliable and pride themselves on an affordable and friendly service whilst Happy Shuttle Cancun receives consistently excellent reviews.
3. Pack supplies
There is no need to go overboard on this front but it is important to remember that many of the sites you will be visiting are quite some distance from the nearest shops and consequently, some of the amenities you take for granted may not be so readily available. Food, water, bug-spray and sunblock are all vital whilst it is never a bad idea to pack a spare roll of toilet paper. It is also appreciated if you bring a plastic bag to dispose of any rubbish you might have.
4. Watch your bags
Like any major tourist destination, the Mayan ruins around Cancun are not free of thieves. These individuals, whilst rather unsavoury, are far from dangerous, amounting to little more than opportunist pickpockets and can be easily deterred by a wallet-belt, securely fastened backpack or simply an ever-vigilant eye. Have your money divided into smaller notes so as to avoid their attentions.
5. Keep your eye out for cenotes
One of the most delightful aspects of a trip to the Mayan ruins is the opportunity to take a dip in one of the numerous bodies of water that invigorate the area. These provide visitors with some much needed refreshment after a morning’s exploration as well as a fantastic photo opportunity.
6. Pay with pesos
Although dollars are acceptable (and even preferred in this part of Mexico) for you, the visitor, it is better to have your money converted to pesos so as to benefit from the favourable exchange rate. It also makes it easier to keep track of your change as a few of the more devious vendors might not be entirely honest in their dealings with tourists.
7. Be aware of scams
Be wary of those who offer unsolicited help. Often what may seem like a simple favour, such as taking a photograph or a finger in the right direction can result in demands for recompense, an unpleasant exchange that can sour a visit to the ruins. For those who hire rental cars, be careful when filling up gas as a few attendants have been known to neglect to clear the register and burden the customer with double price. These individuals thrive on the ignorance and naiveté of tourists and can be dissuaded if you retort with even the most rudimentary Spanish.