Valladolid, Chichén Itzá and A One Way Ticket Home

After over a week in Mérida it was finally time to leave. I took a bus to Valladolid, and the trip in total took a little over 2 hours with ticket prices ranging from $115 MXN to $200 MXN (about $6 USD to $10 USD) depending on the time of day.

Getting to Valladolid was scary but also a breath of fresh air. I realized it was going to be the first time I was on my own in about a month. I hadn’t traveled anywhere by myself since arriving in Oaxaca. It felt nice to have some alone time after being constantly around people for so long.

Valladolid is a sweet and quiet colonial town located in the center of the Yucatán peninsula. There isn’t a ton to do in the actual town itself but it’s centrally located within reach of many of the ruins, like Chichén Itzá and Ek Balam, and less touristy than staying in Cancún or Mérida. The town itself is covered in pastel colored homes and cobble stone roads making it a great place to take in Mexico’s old world charm. There are several great restaurants in the town as well. In my opinion, it’s a great place to set up camp for four or five days to explore several cenotes and Mayan ruins close by. There are a few cenotes you can actually reach by bike and if you’re super adventurous the Mayan ruins of Ek Balam are about 16 miles (27 km) away.

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Catedral de San Gervasio located in the center square of Valladolid.

I stayed at La Candelaria while I was in Valladolid. At $9 USD a night you can’t beat the price. The rooms are comfortable, a free breakfast is included and they offer bike rentals on site.

I decided to join some people I had met at my hostel to Chichén Itzá- Mayan ruins located just outside of Valladolid. We went to the ADO bus station and caught a bus for Chichén Itzá. ADO has two buses daily, one leaving at 10am and one leaving at 4:20pm. You can also buy tickets at the station for second class buses that run more frequently. Prices range from $30 MXN to $90 MXN (about $1.50 USD to $9.50). The trip takes about an hour.

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El Castillo at Chichén Itzá.

We ended up getting to the ruins around 3pm which was actually perfect timing because the rest of the tour groups were leaving. Chichén Itzá closes at 5pm. The sun wasn’t as strong around this time and hardly anyone was still there. The lighting and the emptiness of the ruins were great for taking photos.

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Chichén Itzá was truly amazing. To think that ancient Mayans were able to build these massive structures without the help of metal tools, animals or a wheel is beyond me. The most central and largest temple is called El Castillo. If you stand facing the foot of the temple and clap, a noise comes back like the chirp of a bird. The Mayans created this effect so a person standing on the top step can speak in a normal voice and be heard by those at ground level, at quite some distance. This same feature is also shared by another Mayan pyramid at Tikal.

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El Caracol, the observatory.

There was all this greatness and nature around me but I felt like I couldn’t fully appreciate it. I had this sense of longing to go home. I’d been pretty homesick ever since San Cristóbal de Las Casas and was hoping the feeling would go away but it still hadn’t. I was future tripping about what I would do by myself for Christmas in Mexico. I wanted to go home and be with my family for the holidays. I wanted to stick to my original plan to travel for 6 months, but I realized being home with my family during the holidays was important to me. I made the decision then and there that I’d buy a ticket home that evening.

That night when I got back to the hostel I looked over all the possible options. Round trip tickets, using my airline miles to buy the ticket, one way tickets. Undecided, I told myself I’d sleep on it. But that night I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning going over all the possibilities in my mind. It was the first sleepless night I’ve had in a long time. Finally, at 2pm, I decided I’d end the inner struggle and use my airline miles to buy a one way ticket home.

The next morning when I woke up I thought, “Oh God! What have I done?!”

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Mexican Folk Art at Casa de Los Venados.

To get my mind off of my impulsive decision, I took a tour of the folk art museum, Casa de Los Venados. It had been highly recommended from someone staying at my hostel so I decided to check it out. A retired American couple purchased a large old colonial home, spent 9 years remodeling it and now is currently living there. They are both Mexican Folk Art fanatics. With their large collection of Folk Art they have turned their home into a free museum. They offer tours daily at 10am. After the tour a donation is suggested and all proceeds go to local charities. The tour takes about an hour and I highly recommend it.

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Valladolid

Where to Stay:

Hostel La Candelaria

Located in Parque Candelaria on Calle 35 and Calle 40.

$9 USD per night

What to do:

Mayan Ruins, Chichén Itzá and Ek Balam both of which feature cenotes

More Cenotes, Dzitnup aka Xkeken, Zaci and Samula.

Casa de Los Venados, Mexican Folk Art museum. Located on the corner of Calle 40 and Calle 41.

Getting there:

Getting to Valladolid from anywhere in the Yucatán is fairly easy by ADO first or second class bus.

Valladolid’s ADO bus terminal located at Calle 39 and 46, near their main square.

The first class buses provide direct service to the major towns and cities throughout the Yucatan and second class buses also include service to small towns and villages and often stop along the way to their destination.

From Tulum:

Go to the ADO bus terminal in Tulum and purchase a first or second class ticket to Valladolid.

First class buses cost around $108 MXN (about $5.50 USD) one-way from Tulum to Valladolid. There are multiple departures throughout the day. Getting there takes around one hour and forty minutes.

The schedules are typically the same every day, but I would recommend always buying your bus ticket a day in advance. This way you are sure to leave at the time you want and you will also pay less than same day purchases. Less popular times to travel, like midday, usually offer cheaper prices than early morning.

You can always check the ADO bus schedule website for times and fares as they are subject to change.

Second class buses cost around $84 MXN (about $4.50 USD) one-way. They take about two hours and five minutes to arrive in Valladolid, because second class buses stop in small towns, villages and along the highway to drop off and pick up people along their journey.

From Cancun:

There are no direct buses from the Cancun Airport to Valladolid. You can however, take a bus from the Cancun Airport to the Cancun city bus terminal or the Playa del Carmen terminal and then take another bus to Valladolid.

From the city of Cancun, first class buses cost around $186 MXN (about $9.50 USD) one-way and they take two. There are multiple departures throughout the day.

Second class buses from Cancun to Valladolid cost around $105 MXN (about $5.25 USD) and they take around three and a half hours. There are buses running throughout the day.

From Playa del Carmen:

Playa del Carmen’s main ADO bus terminal is located on Avenida 5 and Avenida Benito Juarez. First class buses to Valladolid cost $186 MXN (about $9.50 USD) and take around two hours and forty minutes to get there.

Second class buses cost less than first class buses but they also take longer to arrive, because they stop at towns and villages along the way.

During my time in Mexico I used first class ADO buses as well as second class buses. In my eyes, second class buses are not worth it. The amount of money you save is not worth the extra time it takes as well as the comfort you give up on the first class buses. The ADO buses are always clean, comfortable and air conditioned (sometimes a little too air conditioned so bring layers). I traveled on first and second class buses as a solo female traveler and always felt completely safe.

You can check ADO first class bus schedules on their website at http://www.ado.com.mx and second class bus schedules on http://www.ticketbus.com.mx.

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