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A 2-week adventure to discover one of the world's finest cuisines! You'll start in the Capital City trying some of the best street food that Mexico has to offer. Moving across the country, you'll sample some of the regional specialities, such as 'mole poblano' and 'tlayudas'. Discover the many ways that food plays a huge part in the local traditions, as well as the history behind this fascinating country.
Explore Tour Leader
11 nights comfortable hotel
2 nights premium hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Mexico City, the capital of Mexico and truly the heart and soul of the country. With so much rich history to discover, the city is filled with historic buildings, landmarks and the largest number of museums in the world.
Due to the number of evening flights into the international airport, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you'll need for the day. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive into Mexico City at any time. If you would like an airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Mexico City International Airport (MEX) which is approximately a 30 minute drive from the hotel.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may want to get out to one of the city's incredible museums, and the Museo Nacional de Antropologia is particularly acclaimed for its astounding collection of pre-Hispanic artefacts. In fact, spending an additional few nights in Mexico City before the tour starts is well worth considering for those who have the time available.
Hotel Casa Blanca (or similar)
On our first day in Mexico City we visit the downtown including the Zocalo (main square) and the Cathedral, built on top of Tenochtitlan - the old Aztec capital. During our tour around the city we will be introduced to one of Mexico's most famous exports - the tacos. We'll experience some of the city's most authentic basket tacos, known as 'tacos de canasta', at the local taquerias. These soft-shelled tacos are normally filled with marinated pork, beef or chicken. We can spice these up with some of the homemade chilli sauces, of which there are usually several heats to choose from. Often these tacos a la canasta spots are filled with locals trying to grab a quick lunch, so expect the service to be quick and a bit frenetic on a busy day!
This afternoon we drive to Coyoacan in the south of Mexico's Federal District, famous for its coffee and churros culture. Founded in the seventh century and later conquered by the Mexica, the "place of coyotes" retains its small-town charm with cobbled streets, colonial churches and colourful markets. We'll have some free time here to explore. If you'd like to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum, this is the perfect time to do it - tickets must be purchased in advance.
It may be possible to watch a performance of the Ballet Folklorico this evening at the Palacio de las Bellas Artes, schedule permitting.
Leaving this city we will drive north out to the mysterious pyramids of Teotihuacan. Although abandoned thirteen centuries ago, they are still an unbelievable sight. Once the largest city in the Americas with perhaps 100,000 inhabitants, its influence continued through Middle America, and Maya craftsmen borrowed its decorative motifs and building designs. Centuries later the Aztecs revered Teotihuacan as 'the Place of the Gods'. Following our visit we will continue our short journey east to the city of Puebla passing between three of Mexico's most recognisable volcanoes, Ixtaccihuatl, Popocatepetl and La Malinche.
Hotel Colonial De Puebla (or similar)
We start our day with a visit to Puebla's Sweet Street - the 'Calle de los Dulces'. Puebla is a great stop for those with a sweet tooth and the city has an entire road dedicated to producing and selling sweets and biscuits. This will then be followed by a visit to the former convent of Santa Rosa, the alleged home of the creation of the 'mole poblano'. Both Oaxaca and Puebla claim to be the creators of mole, pronounced 'mo-leh', and it comes in many forms and colours. The most famous is the dark chocolate one from Puebla. A good mole is thought to have over 20 ingredients in its mix including chilli, tomatoes, garlic, cinnamon and many more, and is normally poured over chicken or tacos. We will have the opportunity to sample the local varieties over lunch today, before driving south through cactus country to Oaxaca, one of the most charming colonial cities in Mexico. Arriving in the early evening, our first stop will be to try 'tlayudas', a large crunchy tortilla topped with refried beans, lettuce, avocado and meats of your choice such as grilled steak, chilli pork and cheese.
Oaxaca Real (or similar)
We have a free morning today, during which you may like to visit the nearby Zapotec site of Monte Alban, which flourished over 1,500 years ago. This impressive complex of temples, pyramids and enigmatic rock carvings was built literally on top of a hill, which means that there will be some hill walking and steps to conquer in the site. The incredible views over the Sierra Madre and the fertile valley are well worth the effort. For those who would prefer to remain in the city, Oaxaca is a charming place to while away a morning. Try visiting one of the local bakeries, or the 20 de Noviembre market for a morning 'pan'.
At lunch we will drive out of the city a little way, stopping off at a traditional mezcal factory en route. Mezcal means 'oven-baked agave cactus' and you will have a chance to the see the process of how this is made, as well as trying some of course. Lunch is taken at the 'Caldo de Piedra' restaurant, named after an ancient cooking techique where raw fish, shrimp and vegetables are cooked when a red hot stone is added to the broth. We'll return to Oaxaca in the late afternoon.
Today we have our first-hand experience in a Mexican kitchen when we join a mother and son team for a cooking class. We start the day by going to the Centro de Abastos - one of the biggest food markets in the city, where we will see the enormous selections of fresh ingredients used in Oaxacan cooking. The son, Chef Gerardo, will talk us through the variety of tropical fruits and vegetables that we'll see, and we'll purchase those needed for the meals we will be preparing together. With our ingredients in our shopping bags we head back to Chef Gerardo's house to prepare several separate dishes, which we will then eat for lunch. The daily menu may vary, but we may be making tamales, learning how to stuff chillies or preparing a local mole. Usually the chefs give us a typical hot chocolate or coffee and some fruit on our arrival, and we'll be sure to enjoy some tequila along with our meal.
This afternoon has been left free to explore Oaxaca further, or you may wish to head out of town to visit the Mixtec-Zapotec site of Mitla, which can be done on a public bus.
Today is a full day's journey through the mountainous Sierra Madre range, through the hot and windy isthmus of Tehuantepec and on to our hotel in Chiapa del Corzo, the provincial capital of Chiapas state, which we will explore over the next few days. There are plenty of stops to stretch our legs, eat and drink during the 10 hour journey.
Hotel la Ceiba (or similar)
We start the day by driving up the scenic mountain road to San Cristobal de las Casas. On route we will visit San Juan Chamula, where they practice an interesting blend of Catholicism and traditional Maya beliefs, before continuing to Zinacantan and to the house of Antonia. At Antonia's house we will be taught how to make an indigenous dish known as tamales. Tamales are eaten everywhere in Mexico, however each state has its own recipes. They are a corn-based dough, stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling and steam-cooked in corn husks or banana leaves. This type of tamales are eaten throughout the year, but particularly as a traditional dish over the Christmas period. Antonia and her family will teach you how to make corn husk tamales stuffed with beans and 'hoja santa' - the sacred leaf. Following this we will head to San Cristobal where you will have some free time to explore this highland town this afternoon.
Hotel Arrecife (or similar)
We will start our day with a visit to the food market. In contrast to the markets of Oaxaca, the ingredients differ here in San Cristobal as do the traditional meals. You will see a range of produce such as coffee and cacao and our Tour Leader will explain their use in local food. According to the Popol Vuh, the book on the creation of the Maya, man was created from yellow and white corn. Corn grows throughout the Chiapas highlands and is used today as their main ingredient in traditional indigenous cooking of the Tzotzil and Tzeltal communities.
There is a unique atmosphere to this small colonial town, high in the scenic Chiapas range. The indigenous groups from the surrounding hills fill the town and marketplace with their colourful dress including the distinctive Tzotzil Indians who still retain much of their Maya customs and language. They are noted for their bright textiles and weavings in bold designs and this is the place to bargain for some colourful souvenirs. This afternoon you may wish to visit Na Bolom, the House of the Jaguar, which is dedicated to the preservation of the Lacandon tribe and displays many of their artefacts.
This evening we will visit a traditional restaurant in San Cristobal, serving up delicious authentic dishes like enchiladas, mole stews and San Cristobal's 'bread soup' (packed with vegetables, boiled egg, banana slices and corn bread).
Leaving the highlands today we travel to the humid, hot jungles of Palenque. On route we will stop by a traditional cacao ranch where you will visit and see how the fruit grows and is processed into chocolate. After exploring the ranch we will try some deep fried mojarra (fresh water bream) for lunch in an ideal setting overlooking the lake Nezahualcoyotl. There is a vegetarian option for non-fish eaters. We will then continue towards the Gulf of Mexico, through the state of Tabasco, on to Palenque.
Hotel Maya Tulipanes (or similar)
This morning we will start early with a guided visit to the famous jungle ruins of Palenque, a fascinating and important Mayan site. Once the choking forest was cleared, the ruins revealed the tomb of the high priest Pakal, his body adorned with a marvellous jade death mask - one of the most prized relics of the Maya culture, discovered only in 1952. Only 1% of the site has been excavated, and with its shroud of the steamy rainforest it has an aura of deep mystery.
In the early afternoon we drive along the Gulf coastline to the pleasant colonial city of Campeche, the state capital and once one of Spain's main ports in Mexico. It's a long drive, and we'll take snacks, arriving at the fishing village of Champoton in the late afternoon for a ceviche 'lunch' (or early dinner!) Meaning 'meat cooked in vinegar', ceviche is made up of raw fish or seafood marinated in lime juice, onions, peppers and other spices. Peru is famous for its ceviche, but it is actually found throughout Central America, and this Mexican version is equally as delicious. We will then continue to Campeche. Campeche, although less visited than many parts of the Yucatan, boasts one of the most elegant and well-maintained colonial quarters with 18th and 19th century houses painted in soft pastel colours.
Hotel Mision Campeche (or similar)
We start with a short drive to Uxmal. Encircled by hills, Uxmal is expansive in its design, with majestic palaces, temples, pyramids and long geometrical friezes that rank amongst the most splendid examples of ancient American art anywhere. The incredible Pyramid of the Magician and the beautiful Governor's Palace must also rate as two of the finest examples of Mayan art on the entire continent. Today we will visit this extraordinary site, spending some time exploring what for many is considered the crowning glory of Puuc architectural style, with its classical lines and abstract designs. Leaving Uxmal behind we will continue to the village of Abala, where we will be invited to enjoy a pibil lunch in a local villager's house. Pibil means 'cooked underground', and it is a technique where the meat is wrapped in a banana leaf, marinated in a sour orange and annatto sauce and baked in a barbeque pit for several hours.
Following lunch we continue on to Merida, a city famed for its beautiful Spanish-Moorish style architecture. Known as the 'White City', Merida is the capital of the state of Yucatan and its centre reflects its colonial heritage, with a church or mansion on every street and its plazas alive with markets, entertainment and visitors.
Hotel Nacional Mérida (or similar)
After a later start we drive to the colonial backwater of Izamal. Here we will have lunch at restaurant Kinich - situated in one of the great houses of Izamal this is reputed to be one of the best restaurants on the Peninsula to enjoy the Yucatecan specialities such as lime soup, stuffed cheese, pork or chicken pibil style and 'relleno negro', black turkey stew. This afternoon we will return to Merida. We will have the opportunity to visit the Colon ice cream parlour, which has been making ice cream and cakes for over 100 years; there will be lots to choose from!
The trip ends in the morning at our hotel in Merida.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Merida at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like an airport transfer today, you need to depart from Manuel Crescencio Rejon International Airport (MID) which is approximately a 20 minutes' drive from the hotel.
Mexico is a vast country whose weather varies by season and region. The optimum time to travel is generally between December and April when rainfall is at a minimum. Temperatures are coolest between December and February and temperatures start to rise from March and the hottest months are May, June and July. The rainy season runs from May until October when humidity and temperatures are highest. The rains tend to be intense and short, clearing the humidity before building up again. The Caribbean coast can be affected by hurricane season between June and November. Please bear in mind that at altitude the temperatures can drop considerably at night and sudden changes can occur at any time.
2 Pin Flat
Roman Catholic, Protestant
Spanish is the official language, but around 50 languages/dialects are also spoken by the indigenous peoples of Mexico.
Mexico City - Ballet Folklorico - US$100-120; Frida Kahlo Museum - tickets must be purchased online in advance as they sell out very quickly. We recommend booking a 4pm or 4.30pm slot on Day 2 of the tour. Tell your Tour Leader on arrival if you have pre-purchased tickets. Oaxaca - Regional Museum US$ 5; Monte Alban US$50 inc transportation San Cristobal - Jade museum US$5; Na Bolom Museum US$5;
From November-April warmer clothing is needed in the highlands (San Cristobal and Mexico City), which are mostly mild, but temperatures can drop dramatically at night. Pack a fleece and some long sleeved clothing for protection from sun and insects. Lightweight rainwear is essential. In general, winter is dry and summer wet. Casual clothes are acceptable. Shorts are acceptable everywhere except in churches.
Comfortable shoes/trainers with a good grip and sandals.
One main piece of baggage and a daysack. Remember - you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself.
An umbrella is useful for tropical downpours. A water bottle is recommended. Bring insect repellent, sunscreen and a sunhat. You could also think about bringing a notebook to write down some of the recipes that you've picked up during the trip.
Its worth noting that the hotels in the highlands of San Cristobal can be extremely cold at night. They can provide extra blankets on request, and electric heaters at an additional cost. If you're prone to the cold we recommend packing a layer to wear under your pyjamas here, particularly if you're travelling in autumn or winter.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Mexico: Citizens from UK, New Zealand, Australia, New Zealand, US and Canada require a Mexican Tourist Card to enter. This is obtained on arrival if flying into Mexico City Benito Juarez Airport or Cancun International. Some airlines may give this to you at the check-in desk. Once you receive the tourist card you must keep this on you until you exit Mexico. If entering by another port - you will have to apply for this in advance online - website - https://www.inm.gob.mx/fmme/publico/en/solicitud.html Other nationalities should consult the relevant consulate. All visa information is subject to change. You should confirm all visa related issues with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. USA: If your flights pass through the USA, even if only in transit, you will require either a visa or an ESTA (an e-visa). Please read on for more information. Citizens of the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and passport holders from several EU countries can apply for an ESTA under certain conditions. This applies if you enter the country by sea or by air, and this must be done online via https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, no later than 72 hours prior to travel. Travellers who have not registered before their trip are likely be refused boarding. You must have a biometric passport to apply for an ESTA. UK passports which are biometric feature a small gold symbol (camera) at the bottom of the front cover. If you have visited Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen since 2011 or are dual nationals of these countries, you cannot travel with an ESTA and instead you will need to apply for a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If you are unable to provide a valid visa before boarding flights to the US, or entering via another method, you may not be permitted to travel. You should also be aware that if you have travelled to or have been in Cuba since the 12th of January 2021, you will not be eligible for an ESTA visa waiver and will need to apply for a US visa. You should consult the US State Department website to determine which you will need. Your ESTA application will ask for Point of Contact information. Please note that if you're only transiting through the USA then this is not required. If you're visiting or staying in the USA on an Explore trip, then our USA contact information will be listed on your final documentation which you will receive approximately 3-4 weeks before departure. Entry requirements for the USA can change regularly, therefore, please ensure you have the most up to date information before you travel by checking the US embassy website. Visa applications - http://london.usembassy.gov/niv/apply.html Canada: An electronic travel authorisation (ETA) is required by British citizens transiting via Canada. For more information see the official Canadian government website: http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against typhoid, tetanus, infectious hepatitis and polio. Please consult your travel clinic for the latest advice on Malaria, Dengue and Zika Virus. Please take preventative measures to avoid mosquito bites - these include mosquito repellent as well as long trousers and long sleeve shirts to cover up when necessary. Please note many countries in Central America, South America and the Caribbean require a yellow fever vaccination certificates if travelling from infected areas. A detailed list of these countries can be found on the NaTHNaC website - http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries. Also on the NaTHNaC site there is a list of Countries (and specific areas within a country) which are at risk of infection and a vaccination is therefore recommended. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.