Mexico Vacation Ideas
November 1, 2012 11:09 AM   Subscribe

18 days in Mexico, divided between the DF, Oaxaca City and the Oaxaca coast - what should I not miss?

I've been doing a ton of research for this trip (including reading all the previous AskMes!), but there's just so much to see, especially around Oaxaca and the DF, that my head is swimming a bit. I'll have roughly 5 days in Oaxaca City, 6 days on the coast, and 5 in Mexico City.

I'm more of a cultural traveler than anything else - I like exploring markets, interesting neighborhoods/villages, street art, and street food, and I'm always looking to meet and talk with interesting people, both locals and other travelers. But I have a low tolerance for museums, and ruins and churches start to blend together for me after a few. For instance, the high point of my trip to the Taj Mahal was not the building, but the Indian medical students I met there when I sought out some shade. I'm also really interested in political and social movements, but fairly reticent to be a "cause tourist."

Things already on my to-do list:

Everywhere: eat lots of street food, check out ALL THE MARKETS, practice my Spanish.

DF: Zocalo, Anthropology Museum, Coyoacan (for the Frida Kahlo Museum)

Bonus round: any recs on where I should stay? Either neighborhood or specific hotel/hostel?

Oaxaca: Zocalo, Santo Domingo, Hierve El Agua, Monte Alban, 1-2 of the village markets and maybe one of the villages known for crafts, but I'm not sure which one.

The Coast: I'll be staying in a nice-ish hotel near Playa Carazillo in Puerto Escondido for three days, but then I'd like to spend 3 days someplace a bit more rustic, right on the beach (a basic hut is fine). I'm thinking about either Mazunte or Lagunas de Chacahua. Thoughts? Mazunte seems easier to get to but Chacahua seems like more of an adventure and an interesting cultural experience.

My budget is around $60-70/day.
posted by lunasol to Travel & Transportation around Mexico (12 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
In Oaxaca City, I highly recommend Las Golondrinas. It's a beautiful hotel and (as most things are) a quick walk to the Zocalo/Santo Domingo. The interior plaza is so lush that you feel as though you're in the jungle. It is very clean inside.

I do see from your profile that you identify as female. Are you going by yourself? Are you American? Oaxacan women dress very modestly, so I would keep that in mind. You should probably keep the same level of mindfulness towards dress that you did in India. It is not a tourist-y state, and you should expect to speak Spanish nearly everywhere that you go. Taxis are your friend, and will probably be your main mode of transportation.

I'm so envious and excited for you! Oaxaca was one of the best places I've ever been! The food is phenomenal. Also, make sure to take a few liters of mezcal back home with you. ;)
posted by semaphore at 11:28 AM on November 1, 2012

I did virtually this exact trip when I visited Mexico. We stayed three nights in Puerto Esconido and three nights in Zipolite, which I would highly recommend. It's right next door to Mazunte.
posted by mannequito at 11:39 AM on November 1, 2012

Oaxaca is also one of my favorite places. One neat thing to see is El Tule. The drive out there is peppered with little mezcal factories where you can stop by and taste; they are small, local producers and interesting to talk to.

Also, when you are in transit between DF and Oaxaca, and if you have a little extra time (a few hours), two places to stop off are Taxco (which is kinda touristy, but also pretty lovely -- lots of silver mining and silver artisans there -- very picturesque with narrow, steep cobbly roads and spanish roofs) and Puebla, which I found to be really beautiful, almost like a European city.
posted by bluefly at 11:45 AM on November 1, 2012

in DF I stayed at La Condesa and liked it a lot
posted by rmless at 12:17 PM on November 1, 2012

DF is great. I had a great time just walking around and shooting photos of things. Don't miss the Palacio Nacíonal for the murals. In general, try to see as many murals as you can. They're amazing and photos do not do them justice. Teotihuacan is an hour or so by bus from DF and worth seeing.
posted by chrchr at 12:32 PM on November 1, 2012

Teotihuacan is cool not only because of the actual structures and history, but because it's a destination for other Mexicans. You'll see tons of little kids on school trips, families from all over, young lovers kissing on the top of the pyramids. And the sense of space there is phenomenal - expansive, eerie and altogether impressive. You can combine a trip to Teotihuacan with a visit to the Basilica - again, not only because of the actual building but because it's a national icon and the Virgin de Guadalupe continues to be an incredibly important figure in contemporary Mexico. The rose garden is worth seeing.
posted by barnone at 12:40 PM on November 1, 2012

Also, I recommend Mexico City: An Opinionated Guide and Good Food in Mexico City. They'll answer a lot of your questions about what to eat and where to stay and how to get around.
posted by chrchr at 1:02 PM on November 1, 2012 [2 favorites]

Casa Arnel is where we have always stayed in Oaxaca. It is about a mile off the Zocalo and a few blocks below the highway. Right across from a very old church (although you could be plopped anywhere in Oaxaca and be across from an old church).

Mitla, some "minor" ruins, on the road towards Salina Cruz (south or east) are interesting.

Villages - Teotitlan de la Valle, or the rug village, in the same direction. There is a restaurant that makes a squash flower soup that I still hanker for, about 20 years after I have last tasted it.

On the road out to the coast, Coyotepec is the "black pottery village."

If you take the San Felipe bus uphill, at the end of its line, there is a trail that takes off up into the hills and it's really pretty, if a bit dry, hiking.

Puerto Angel is a little harbor town on the coast, South of Pto Escondido. We have usually based ourselves there. You can walk to Zipolite from there.
posted by Danf at 1:12 PM on November 1, 2012

Echoing semaphore. . .when my wife and I go down there, a modest skirt is her default garmet, on the bottom. Pants are handy at times, but you blend in, as a female, with a nice loose skirt.

Shorts, not so much.
posted by Danf at 1:16 PM on November 1, 2012

My wife and I spent a few days in Mexico City in 2007. Here's what we did.

Seconding Zipolite, but watch out for the mosquitoes and the dangerous ocean currents.

Terrific country, Mexico. Have fun!
posted by ZipRibbons at 1:49 PM on November 1, 2012

I'm so envious. Mexico city is probably my favorite city on earth. So alive, so full of delicious food.

If you're going to Coyoacan, go see Trotsky's house. Its only a couple blocks from Frida's place and, in many ways, much more interesting.

In Mexico city, my favorite neighborhoods to just wander are Roma, Condesa and, of course the Center itself. Head up to Plaza Garibaldi at night, where all the mariachi hang out. Check out the murals at the Colegio San Ildefonso. Walk down Calle Donceles where all the old bookshops are. And, finally, just walk. Mexico City is a place where the unexpected seems to always spring up, in a good way.
posted by vacapinta at 3:27 AM on November 2, 2012

Response by poster: Belated thanks for all the advice! I'm leaving tomorrow and this was very helpful!
posted by lunasol at 9:40 PM on November 11, 2012

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