Valladolid, Mexico is a city located in the Yucatan peninsula, 150 kilometers west of Cancun. I visited here In March 2017 as a solo female backpacker…and loved it 😁
This City has lots of really nice places to stay for the budget traveller. There of course lots of options for those that don’t like sharing their room. You can also find some cool places to eat or grab a cold drink. The streets are lively with lots of stores and venders…..and loud music playing from everywhere.
I always felt safe here even after dark….Nice Vibe!
Here are my Top Five Things to Do in Valladolid:
1) CENOTE ZACI
This is by far my favorite thing to do here. This is a Cenote (Partial sinkhole/Cave) almost in the center of Town. You can walk here from most places, and it is very easy to find. There are also signs in town to show you the way. When you make you way through the parking area you are able to look down into the Cenote. It is Amazing! There is also a restaurant here overlooking Cenote Zaci.
For $30 pesos you get admission to the Cenote for the Entire day. That’s a great deal. Its like the local Swimming Pool. And believe me, you will be dying to go for a swim most days. This is a truly amazing place to explore and swim at. There are lots of catfish swimming around the turquoise water, and water pours down off the overhang above. Magical Really.
Jump in, Swim out under the sun and just float on your back. There is also a rope that is tied on either side of the pool, you can rest here in the water by holding the rope.
The roof of this partly collapsed Cavern is covered in some very cool stalactites and is about 95 ft from the water level (Varies). This is always an awesome spot to come visit on a hot day. Come back a few times a day……
There are also a couple more Cenotes just outside the city. There are Collectivos and Taxis to take you anywhere for very good prices. Or you can Rent a bike and go exploring!!
2) EXPLORE THE CITY
This is a great city to walk around and explore, or rent a bicycle and cruise the streets. There are tons of brightly colored buildings and old Cathedrals, including “San Servacio o Gervasio” that stands in the center of town with a palm tree on either side of the main door. Impressive against the blue sky.
Keep wandering around for some great picture opportunities especially in the morning and late afternoon; Children playing futbol, dogs sleeping in doorways, on sidewalks, Pretty Flowers, and Palm trees against the tropical blue sky.
Walk around and visit the neighborhoods of the city; Sisal, Candelaria, San Lucia and San Juan. They all have their own parks and Churches, and cool neighborhoods to wander through.. Come have a look.
Head over to Mercado de Artesanias or Centro Artesanel Zaci if you’re in the market for some local made souvenirs.
Try a Paleta (Fresh Fruit popsicle), or another frozen treat at a nearby Neveria….My favorite is Pina(Pinapple). Fabulous way to cool off!
I also enjoyed at least one cold pina colada each day at different spots throughout the city.
There are quite a few shoe and clothing stores in this city and the prices are Amazing! So if you enjoy shopping, Valladolid may be the place for you. Also, most of these stores have air conditioning and this is almost worth making a purchase on a hot day.
Then there are the street venders along Calle 44, sitting at their carts polishing and displaying the brightly colored fresh produce, or flavored drinks and chocolate. Some Kids wander around selling fresh-baked treats from the tray they hold, while another carries the bag of sugar to sprinkle on top.
Oh Yes the food carts in town… OMG they smelled amazing and were always surrounded by locals during mealtimes.
I didn’t get to try anything from the cart but did enjoy some (authentic to the area) food at a place just outside the city called CARNE CONCEPCION. Everything was so Fresh and Delicious….Muy Bueno! I could not believe how little it all cost.
There are a lot of cool places to stop for something to eat all over the city; and Again your choices are budget friendly and or adventurous, as well as some fancier type restaurants to sit down and relax while enjoying your meal. Whatever you like, I’m sure you will find plenty of options for food and drinks in Valladolid, Mexico
Enjoy the Beauty, History, Culture and hot weather in this wonderful and friendly city.
3) EK BALAM
These Mayan ruins are only 23 km from Valladolid. So why not come here? It would be a shame to miss this.
You can take a Taxi(Cheap) or a collectivo or even a tour…….or like me, Bum a ride with your roommates from the hostel. If you’re driving, there is free parking. Bonus! Whatever mode of transport gets you there, you will not be disappointed.
The price to get in is $160 pesos for the day. You can also hire a guide or just go it on your own. We winged it but eavesdropped a little on other guides for interesting details, Like
Ek Balam Means Black Jaguar in Maya, and that the cement for the buildings was made from trees that are now extinct, and the “cottonball” trees make silk?
The Ruins are set back in the jungle, meaning YES to mosquitoes. I was lucky and There were none at all when I was there. The ruins are super cool and in great shape. Visitors are allowed to explore and Climb. This is amazing fun, And great for photos.
There is an amazing view for those who dare to make the climb up the steps on the side of the biggest building, The temple where Ukit Kan Le’k was buried. El Trono. You can see all the ruins surrounded by jungle…..spectacular! The Jaguar Mouth Doorway is about half way up.
I suggest you bring lots of water for this adventure, as it is hot. Did I say hot? I mean Fucking Hot! Bring WATER!! You can buy water there but you will need more. Bring water!! and Sunscreen!!
After all the learning, exploring, climbing and water drinking….it was time to go swimming!!
As you exit the ruins and start down the path, you will come to the cenote road. Here I paid my admission fee, I think $30 pesos and I was also given the option to rent a bicycle to ride to the cenote or a bike taxi to sit back and enjoy the cruise through the jungle. All great options but I’m a budget traveller and opted to walk the 1.5 km to the cenote. It would make the cool reward that much sweeter.
You arrive, take the obligatory shower and make your way down a set of fairly steep steps down into the cenote. We were quick jumping in and found the water a bit cold at first, but super refreshing. I floated and swam while looking all around at this giant hole in the ground that I was happily swimming in. I took a few swings on the Tarzan rope… up into the air and out into the blue lagoon.
The Best way to end an adventure!!
Gracias Diana Y Miguel
4) HANG OUT IN A PARK
The Main Park “Francisco Canton Rosado” who donated the parks fences in 1900, is kind of in the center of the bustle of Town.
The Cathedral San Servacio o Gervasio , El Loncheria El Amigo Casiano (FoodCourt), the Artisan Market, and many other business surround the park. So grab your lunch and come chill here on a bench for a while.
There is always something going on around you. I sat here one morning watching a marching band practice. I couldn’t figure out how they were not melting in their matching jeans and shirts….it was like 30 degrees. When they turned around to face me and saw that I was taking pics….2 of the boys looked down blushing at their feet and started to giggle in embarrassment.
The park is big space with some interesting seating. Scattered through the park are old white two seaters. But the seats face each other….freaking cool!
The park is also home to The fountain of “La Mestiza” (Mixed race women) in honor of the Yucatan women. It sits in the center of the park.
There are a few venders around through the week…. but on Sunday the Park comes to life with All kinds of venders from everywhere as well as tourists and locals that come to make purchases. There is usually music and its fun for everyone.
5) THE LIGHT SHOW
OMG This is so cool!! and it’s totally Free!!
Every evening at 9 pm at The Convent of San Bernadino de Siena, an amazing light show is projected on to the front of the old monastery. The show lasts 15 minutes and is played twice, first in Spanish and then in English. You will want to stay for both.
Super easy to find, there are signs all over town pointing the way, depending on where you are. Or simply ask someone, everyone knows of the show and San Bernadino de Siena and will be happy to point you there.
Visitors, Locals, families and couples all come to watch the show in the evenings. Some lined along the wall and others with their blankets laid out on the lawn. A few local food venders pedal up selling cold drinks and snacks. Its kinda like going to the movies but outdoors on the side of an old building. A fun way to spend an evening!
The show depicts the story of Valladolid, City of Heros…. with colorful tigers slinking across the front of the building and parrots flying through the night. Then Soldiers, fire and suspense. Especially suspenseful if you don’t speak Spanish, but don’t worry, English next…..so exciting to watch.
I found it so cool the way it fit to the shape of the building, the way the animals moved and how vivid and colorful it was. Wow just Wow!
I came 2 nights to watch this show, I enjoyed it so much and I kept seeing new things.
Hope you Enjoy your stay in Valladolid, Mexico 🙂