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7 of Mexico’s best kept secrets

7 of Mexico's best kept secrets

If there’s anything I’ve learnt over the past 3 weeks, it’s that there is so much more to Mexico than the tourist hot spots.

Yes, the Mexican coast is pretty great (as you’ll see in some of my examples below) but did you know there’s also a bunch of crazy amazing stuff inland?

Once you decide to explore the parts of Mexico that don’t appear in the glossy travel brochures, you’ll discover some adorable townships, some majestic landscapes, and the true cultures of traditional Mexican people.

I’d like to share my discoveries of Mexico’s best kept secrets with you, in the form of 14 of my best Instagram pics!


Teotihuacan Pyramids

Teotihuacan Pyramids

1. The pyramids

Mexico isn’t usually the first thing to come to mind when pyramids are mentioned, but stand aside, Egypt! As I explained in everything you need to know about Mexico City, the pyramids are (in some ways) much better than their Egyptian counterparts.

You can find pyramids at most of the Mayan ruins scattered throughout Mexico. Pictured above are the monstorous ancient step pyramids that make up Teotihuacan, which is only an hour out of Mexico City.

Cholula, Mexico

Cholula, Mexico

2. The small towns

Mexico is packed full of super cute small towns. The pretty coloured buildings and boutique souvenir stores will have you squealing in delight (…yes, this may have happened to me).

Above is the small town of Cholula, where you’ll find over 365 churches and some of the best helado (Mexican ice cream) your taste buds have ever dreamed of sampling.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Oaxaca, Mexico

3. The mountains

Mexico does have some of the classic desert/cactus/rattlesnake landscapes that you’ve seen depicted in every movie that includes Mexico, but contrary to popular belief, that’s not all it is.

In the area around Oaxaca (pronounced wa-ha-ka… I know, right) you’ll find some pretty sexy looking mountains. Hidden away between them is Hierve El Agua, a solidified waterfall made from deposits of carbon from underground water sources, slowly created over thousands of years.

San Cristobal, Mexico

San Cristobal, Mexico

4. The highland towns

In the mountain range that heads right down through the middle of Mexico, you’ll come across San Cristobal.

Traditionally dressed Mexican women are everywhere you look, as well as pastel houses with the cutest window frames you’ve ever laid eyes on. Wander through the narrow streets of this mountain town and you can experience the highland town’s charm for yourself.

Cenotes of Yucutan

Cenotes of Yucutan

5. the Cenotes

The state of Yucutan has thousands (that’s right, thousands) of sink holes known locally as cenotes. Created by the deterioration of the surrounding limestone, the sink holes are filled with water from underground sources.

To sum it up, you get to swim in a crazy awesome cave with the clearest blue refreshing water you’ve ever had the honour of dipping your body in. Sound’s great, right? It was. It really was.

Jungle, Mexico

Palenque, Mexico

6. The Jungle

Another thing that isn’t usually associated with Mexico – the jungle. But seriously, Mexico is way up there on the scale of awesome jungles, if such a thing exists.

I posted footage of my jungle walk in Palenque earlier this week. No need to head to the expensive Amazon for your fair share of monkeys, toucans, boa constrictors, and (apparently) jaguars. You can find them all here in southern Mexico!

Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

Akumal, Mexico

7. the beaches

You might have heard of Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, Acapulco, and Puerto Vallarta. Those places where you (… and every other tourist) would like to spend a week drinking cocktails by the beach. But What about Akumal, Bonfil, or Xph Ha?

Head 15 minutes down the coast from any tourist hot spot, and you’ll likely be treated with your choice of smaller beaches that are so much quieter and nicer than the popular ones. And yes, you can still drink cocktails on these beaches, you’ll just have less tourists to elbow out of the way.


Mexico itinerary

How to see the best of Mexico:

We decided to visit Mexico on this Geckos Adventures Mexico Highlights tour. It was honestly an amazing way to see all that the country had to offer, as the tour took us to places that we would never have visited if we had have done Mexico independently. I would definitely recommend it!


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Ashlea Wheeler

This post was written by Ashlea, a colourfully clothed and excitable vegetarian who loves photography and exploring the world. Find out more about me.

31 Responses to “7 of Mexico’s best kept secrets”

  1. Sarah

    I’m planning a trip to Central and South America next year and was all set to skip Mexico. Safe to say you’ve convinced me otherwise and now I have a lot more planning to do…

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m glad I was able to convince you otherwise, Sarah! Mexico is super amazing and I guarantee you won’t regret including it in your itinerary 😀

      Reply
  2. Katie

    I miss Mexico! My favourite places were Palenque, San Cristobal, Isla Mujeres, Tulum, the small beach town of San Agustinillo on the Pacific Coast, the small villages of the Sierra Norte mountains and the white sand bottomed lake of Laguna Bacalar. I can’t wait to go back to discover more 🙂

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      There is just so much to see, I didn’t even get to touch some of the smaller towns around Mexico City and the Pacific Coast! I also loved Palenque and San Cristobal, Mexico is full of such charming places 😀

      Reply
  3. Paola

    You need to go to the center of Mexico, you will love it, cities like Guanajuato, Tequila, Guadalajara, Puebla, etc.

    Next time you visit Mexico, try to check this places, so lovely they are.

    Pao,
    http://unfoldedgirl.com

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks for your comment Paola! I did stop at Puebla, but I’m sure there are many other places in central Mexico that I missed on this trip. Definitely a reason to go back someday 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jo

    Inspired me to look into Yucutan. The mexican living with us at the moment said it’s the best place and he wanted to move there!
    Photos are way cool Ash. Looks like you’re having the best time. Miss you guys.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      You can find some cenotes in Quintana Roo as well (there are some down the coast near Tulum) but the ones in Yucutan will be waaay less touristy (except for the one near Chitzen Itza, which is probably very crowded). Not sure what your Mexico itinerary plans are, but if you need any suggestions, let me know 😛 We miss you too! x

      Reply
  5. Denise

    I visited some of these places a long time ago already. Loved Isla Mujeres! No time for Tulum, but still want to go there. Already in 1999 people said you really had to go there, but I think it’s still nice.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I think Tulum has become a lot more popular over recent years! Mostly because of its proximity to Playa Del Carmen, but it’s also a lovely place!

      Reply
  6. Jess (JessOnThames)

    Gorgeous pictures! I’m planning to travel to Mexico for the first time next April and I’m beyond excited. Have taken note of your recommendations! Any additional resources you recommend, I’d be all ears!

    Reply
  7. Corinne

    Everytime I read a post on Mexico, it reminds me it’s high time I return. I love your photos.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      I’m already thinking about returning and I’ve only been gone a week! It’s a special kind of place 😀 Thanks Corinne!

      Reply
  8. Maaike - Travellous World

    I never was sure whether Mexico would be the thing for me. I mean with all the beach destinations and things like that. If I want to go to the beach, I could just as well go to Spain, Italy or Turkey (as I’m based in Europe). Looking at this post however, I’m not so sure anymore. It actually looks pretty incredible and diverse to be honest! Thanks for sharing! Maaike – http://travellousworld.com

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      This was exactly the reaction I was going for with the post, Maaike! Sure, you can go to beaches anywhere, but Mexico is so much more than that! Once you stray from the tourist hot spots, you find out what Mexico is really about 😀

      Reply
  9. Brittany

    Mexico holds such a special place in my heart! I have traveled there four times now (three with family, and once solo) and am planning on returning this fall. The country is so diverse and there are so many different things to do and landscapes to see. I spent time in Tulum and Valladolid and plan on checking out Merida and Campeche next time, seeing some of the surrounding cenotes and ruins. Awesome blog post! I love seeing people promote Mexico as a wonderful country to visit. The media tends to generalize violence along the border towns to the entire country, which is completely untrue. I felt so safe traveling solo in the Yucatan and Quintana Roo and I hope blogs like this encourage and inspire more people to visit Mexico. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Brittany! You’re right about Mexico being so diverse, it could quite easily fill multiple trips. There’s just so much to see and do, especially once you head a little inland. I know exactly what you mean about the media focusing on violence – after travelling around many parts of the country, I can confidently say that it’s not nearly as dangerous as the media makes it out to be. In fact, I felt very safe the entire time!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Thanks Emma! I did not see any personally, only heard about them through our guide. I think it’s a very rare occurrence, so I wouldn’t be too worried!

      Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Good question, Jackson! I think the advertising is targeted towards people who want a beach vacation, and advertising is often spread by word of mouth so the people who have been to the beach spots will tell their friends about those spots, and all the other great destinations don’t get talked about. It’s sad because Mexico has so much more to offer!

      Reply
  10. Aijika

    nobody dont want to visit pyramid and to see it personally the perfect view.. and i also to try the cenotes swimming inside the cave 🙂 but i wish if the time i visit it .. i hope not very crowded..

    Reply
  11. Angea

    Akumal is wonderful for snorkeling with sea turtles! We also loved going to the cenotes to cool down from the heat.

    Reply
    • Ashlea Wheeler

      Oh I’m so jealous, we weren’t able to snorkel with the turtles due to the weather conditions 🙁 Aren’t the cenotes just amazing? I’d never seen anything like them before Mexico!

      Reply
  12. Estefi

    Hi! I really like your post and how it has motivated other people to travel to Mexico. I am originally from Mexico City and I love it when other people write such pretty reviews about my country. I feel that many people do not realize what a true jewel Mexico is. Another great town to visit near Mexico City is Taxco de Alarcon, it is very famous little town and very colorful . Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  13. Armando

    Amazing post! I am glad you got to see a more complete picture of my country. Mexico is, indeed, beautiful. Next time you are here, try to visti Michoacan, you won’t regreat it.

    Reply
  14. Michael Quesada

    It seems like the only reason people go to Mexico is for the Mayan “ruins”, I wasn’t aware that theres so much more to the country! Thanks for enlightening me 🙂

    Reply

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