RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
The Riviera Maya, a tourist corridor of white-sand beaches, scenic ruins and fun-filled cenotes (limestone sinkholes), was made for road-tripping. Yes, it’s growing fast, too fast some will say, but despite all the development, you can still find that small fishing town or head inland to catch a glimpse of the Mexico that tourism forgot.
If it’s partying you want, you’ll find serious hedonism in boomtown Playa del Carmen. Playa still trumps fast-growing Tulum as the Riviera’s wildest city, but it’s got nothing on Tulum’s spectacular Maya ruins perched high above the beach.
Whether traveling by car or bus, getting from one town to the next is a breeze – after all, the Rivierais basically 135km of coastline that stretches south from Puerto Morelos to Tulum. Everything’s so close that you can go diving in Puerto Morelos by day and still have time for a candlelit dinner in Tulum.
Palm-fringed beaches, chili-spiced cuisine; steamy jungles, teeming cities; fiesta fireworks, Frida’s angst: Mexico conjures up diverse, vivid dreams. And the reality lives up to the imagining.
Art & Soul of a Nation
Mexico’s pre-Hispanic civilizations built some of the world’s great archaeological monuments, including Teotihuacán’s towering pyramids and the exquisite Maya temples of Palenque. The Spanish colonial era left beautiful towns full of tree-shaded plazas and richly sculpted stone churches and mansions, while modern Mexico has seen a surge of great art from the likes of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. Top-class museums and galleries document the country’s fascinating history and its endless creative verve. Popular culture is just as vibrant, from the underground dance clubs and street art of Mexico City to the wonderful handicrafts of the indigenous population.
An Outdoor Life
With steaming jungles, smoking, snowcapped volcanoes, cactus-strewn deserts and 10,000km of coast strung with sandy beaches and wildlife-rich lagoons, Mexico is an endless adventure for the senses and a place where life is lived largely in the open air. Take it easy dining alfresco beside a Pacific beach or strolling Guanajuato’s colonial streets. Or get out and hike Oaxaca’s mountain cloud forests or snorkel warm Caribbean reefs.
At the heart of your Mexican experience will be the Mexican people. A super-diverse crew, from Mexico City hipsters to the shy indigenous villagers of Chiapas, they’re renowned for their love of color and frequent fiestas, but they’re also philosophical folk, to whom timetables are less important than simpatía (empathy). You’ll rarely find Mexicans less than courteous. They’re more often positively charming, and know how to please guests. They might despair of ever being well governed, but they’re fiercely proud of Mexico, their one-of-a-kind homeland with all its variety, tight-knit family networks, beautiful-ugly cities, deep-rooted traditions, unique agave-based liquors and sensationally tasty, chili-laden food.
Travel for All
Travel in Mexico is what you make it and the country caters to all types of visitor. Stay in pampering resorts on the Riviera Maya, budget beach huts on the Pacific or colonial mansions in the highlands. Eat gourmet fusion food in chic city restaurants or equally delicious grandmothers’ recipes at a busy market comedor (food stall). Getting from A to B is easy with comfortable buses running almost everywhere and an extensive domestic flight network.