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Choices of Mayan Ruins


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Hey all. We have a dillema. A one day trip from Playa Del Carmen with a rental car allows us two options.

1) Spend the day at Chichen.


2) Visit Coba in the morning and visit Tulum on the way back.


So it's 6 hours in Chichen or 3 hours each at Coba and Tulum.


What would you do?:eek:

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OK - been to all three - either option is interesting in it's own way.

1. I am not sure how long it will take to get to Chichen because I did Chichen when I was staying near Merida. Chichen is very extensive and impressive. You should be able to see a lot of it.

2. Coba is and "older" ruin than Chichen but not as full excavated. Also it covers a huge amount of space. On site you should either rent a bicycle or use one of the pedi-cabs to see the various buildings - they are quite widely spaced. BRING insect repellant. Tulum is a very small but very scenic ruin (You can see all of it in about 1 or 1.5 hours). It is much "newer" than Coba -so the contrast is quite interesting.

If you do this option allocate most of your time for Coba.

Quite frankly I would have a VERY hard time deciding between these 2 options. Personally I would probably do #2 because you get to see 2 very different sites.

Be sure to allocate LOTS of time for the drive whichever option you choose. The main highway from PDC to Tulum is in good shape (this is were you turn inland to go to Coba). The road to Coba is OK but in each little village, there are speed bumps - so it is not a fast trip.

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Thanks Zeno. We leave tomorrow and you helped me make my choice. I was second guessing myself by for not going to Chitchen. From what I can see on the internet, Chichen is very much restored. Almost too much, like Disney would have done if it had a Mayan Ruins Area at Disney World. I think we will enjoy the "older" and less restored ruins. I think the trip into the jungle will make the adventure even more outrageous. :D


BTW..Chitchen is 2 1/2 hr ride from Playa Del Carmen.


I'll be sure to post a review when we get back. Thanks for the help.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I am very interested in learning how the trip to Coba & Tulum goes. We are planning a similar venture in Jan. but are a little nervous about renting a car. Will look forward to your next post. Please let us know how much time was required to do the excursion. Thanks.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Mandy - I sepnt about a month in Play del Carman in Jan/Feb '04. Visited all the sites and rented a jeep for a week. I love driving in Mexico and had 0 problemos. Really allowed us to do whatever we wished. If I had only 6 hours in Playa and really wanted to see some ruins, enjoy myself and not be too hurried, I'd head south from Playa to Tulum (about 40 minutes) and then MAYBE head east to Coba (another 45-60 minutes), but figure it out and u won't much time to linger at each site.


I'd rather head east from Tulum to the Grand Cenote(15 minutes), spend 45 minutes there, great cenote snorkeling, very cool and errie! Then to Tulum for a 2-3 hours, gorgeous setting, amazing. Spend the $ for guided tour w/ you and yours only, no large groups. At Tulum, you can also enjoy a beautiful beach cove (usually crowded), but walk south, in the surf (up to your knees/thighs) around the point (easily done) and enjoy a much larger beautiful beach w/ fewer people.


Then race back to Playa to catch the ship, but if you miss it you'll luckily be stranded at the coolest shoreline resort in Mexico. Great nightlife, shiek bars, wonderful food!

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  • 2 months later...

Thanks N&T. Very helpful info. Well we just returned from our Carnival Triumph cruise which docked in Cozumel from 7 am till midnight. We ferried over to Playa, rented a car and drove to Coba and so glad we made the effort. The pyramid at Coba is taller than at Chichen Itza, the site is mostly shaded (just don't forget mosquito repellent) and easy to get around on the bikes or two-person "taxis" you can rent. Definitely have a guide give you an introduction to the site and then explore on your own. We met a guy who owns a B&B in Playa and he recommended the cenotes at Cho-Ha, Gran Cenote, or Crystallina cenote for cooling off after the hot jungle. We went to Cho-Ha, just 5 km past Coba. For 40 pesos (about $4) we were able to swim in this recently opened crystal clear undergound "sinkhole" with stalagtites and stalagmites. On the way back we stopped at Tulum, which isn't as archaeologically significant as Coba but is a very beautiful setting by the sea. Unfortunately we only had an hour here which wasn't nearly enough to take a tour and have some time to swim at the beach. If you're already in Playa you can definitely do both Coba and Tulum and a cenote if you get an early start.

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