After a short stay in Oaxaca we readied ourselves for the next bus ride: 30 hours until Merida. All bus rides in Mexico will be with the company ADO. ADO has the monopoly in the market, even smaller bus companies that operate under a different name are owned by them. For all mayor routes you will be able to purchase bus tickets online, of course if you prefer you can also buy tickets directly at the station (the price won’t differ). The positive thing about ADO controlling the market is price transparency, tourists cannot be tricked into paying more than locals.
Bus rides seemed pretty safe and most buses were clean and modern too. Of course don’t do the mistake of leaving your bags out of your side. We saw backpackers putting their bags into the overhead baggage/locker storage. This is a big mistake, please avoid it, you will most probably get robbed. A girl got her bag, including passport stolen because of this. The rule to staying safe is pretty clear: Keep your valuables close to you at any time. Your big backpacks will be stored in the lower luggage compartment of the buses, which is absolutely fine.
What is there to say about Merida? It is a very hot place, in November temperatures were on average at 35 degrees celsius. It has a beautiful central square, very typical Spanish colonial architecture, food is definitely affordable (meal prices: 2-5€) if you don’t go into hyped touristic restaurants, it is also safe to walk around during the evening. We stayed at Hostal Zocalo, when we were there they were renovating the place, therefore it was quite noisy and the bathrooms were not fine. Other than that they have a well equipped kitchen and pretty good breakfast. A double room was priced at 14€ per night (7€ per person). Pretty sure once renovations are done it’s a quite good place to stay at, as it is directly at the central square.
As we mentioned in our Oaxaca SumUp we missed out on celebrating Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca, a real shame, but the good news: Dia de los Muertos in Merida is also highly entertaining. Street parades, traditional dancing everywhere, traditional graveyard ceremonies, awesome food stands, simply an exciting atmosphere that made it a very special day for us.
Merida is a great base to visit some of the most known touristic sides of Mexico. Normally we try to avoid tours and do most of the things on our own, but for visiting the famous mayan ruins of Chichén-Itzá we found a pretty good deal and therefore decided to make an exception. A day-trip visiting one of the wonders of the world, The yellow town „Izamal“ and three Cenotes cost us 30€ per person (including the entries). What are Cenotes? Cenotes are natural sinkholes filled with water. In Mayan culture these water chambers are seen as holy places. In Mexico you’ll find different types of Cenotes, some look like caves, others like a lake or river.
From Merida we also went for one day to Celestún. Celestún itself is a small beach town with not that much to offer. The reason tourists go there in large numbers is definitely not the beach. From Celestún you have the chance to take small boats to discover beautiful mangrove lagoons and to spot flamingos. If you are lucky to be there in the right season (December-February) you are supposed to see countless flamingos. We were not completely unlucky but also not that fortunate, we saw maybe 30 flamingos, which is better than none. For visiting Celestún from Merida and doing the boat trip you will need more or less half a day, costs were around 10€.