Mexico tour

I have been living in a van part-time for a few months. I think it's time to finish my kit-out and take it on a big trip. I have been brainstorming a tour of Mexico. I realize I know very little about this country as compared to say, Canada so I'm asking for advice and tips on what to see or do. I want to check out Guatemala and Belize too, not sure if further Central Am is unique enough to be worth seeing as well. I am American and speak little Spanish.

Current plan
>Enter by the California border
>Leave by the Texas border
>3-4 weeks timeframe
>from December into beginning of January

I am interested in
>History, architecture, learning
>authentic cultural experiences
>meeting people
>eating tacos

I am not interested in
>taking Instagram pictures (I don't have Instagram)
>hookers
>spending big
>getting robbed at machete-point

On previous travels I've mostly used buses and trains. The van saves me on transport and accommodation, but it's also a worry regarding crime and police. I havent had any problems in the US at least parking at suburban Walmarts etc overnight. Looking for tips on what I can get away with down here and avoid getting my shit broken in to.

  1. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    On the road down, maybe just stick to the coast (Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Puerto Escondido). The air pollution in Guadalajara is really, really bad. I was there for a two week period last month and was having dizzy spells due to the horrible air.

    • 3 months ago
      Anonymous

      Alright, yeah, the red line is very rough and not my exact path. I will try to go to Puerto Vallarta at least.

      I don't know, man. You're scaring me. I've done a long road trip in Mexico in a rental car years ago to the places the poster mentioned above, but I was with people who could speak Spanish, and it was still a pretty sketchy trip.

      I would try to stick to the touristy areas. That's where all the historical and architecture stuff is anyway. And I would avoid places like Michoacan where the cartels are known to hang out.

      I was just in Cozumel a couple weeks ago. Very safe there.

      Thanks for the tip

      You should consider driving down Baja and putting your van on a ferry to the mainland, maybe Mazatlan.

      You definitely need to be careful driving alone through Guerrero and Michoacan alone. Most violence seems to happen in the middle or north of those departments so stick to the coast if you do drive through them.

      If you only have 3 or 4 weeks you can definitely rule out Central America and I'd be doubtful that you'd eben get to the Yucatan what with there being so much to see before you reach that area.

      >You should consider driving down Baja and putting your van on a ferry to the mainland, maybe Mazatlan.
      Great idea.
      >I'd be doubtful that you'd eben get to the Yucatan
      I have some Mayan temples I want to see there so I'll definitely make sure to budget time for it. I'm starting to think you're right about further south though.

      yeah, never been to the mainland but I've driven around baja a bunch and it was sick as fuck. very remote though, know your vehicle's range.

      It really is. I've only been to Baja Sur but after traveling around a lot of Mexico it's one of my three favorite states. Drove from Cabo to Mulege and back twice now. Ran out of gas halfway between Loreto and Mulege once but the people who live there are all well-prepared and kind enough to help out an idiot like myself so fortunately didn't ruin the trip but it'll never happen again.

      Might go back for a third time in February to see the grey whales.

      I'll bring some gas cans, thanks

      >Guatemala
      The best way to get there is from Tapachula (Chiapas), take a private shuttle to either Guatemala City or Quetzaltenango (Last time it costed me 25 dollars one way), a lot more expensive than public chicken buses but ten times more secure, and a lot more comfortable
      Alternatively, you can take a bus from Tapachula to El Carmen border, then you have to take another bus to either Quetzaltenango (As a hub to go somewhere else or stay for some days) or Retalhuleu (Mediocre beaches, nothing to see besides a really good amusement park), from there you can go to Antigua or Atitlan (The more common touristic destinations), the capital city (Cool place, not a lot to do, kinda dangerous) or stay in Quetzaltenango (Small city, lots of stuff to do, way cheaper than Antigua or Atitlan)
      Most places will accept dollars but at bad rates, so use local currency instead (Cheapo budget is about 20-50 dollars per day including lodging, middle of the road is 50-70 dollars)
      The rest of Central America is... bland, besides one or two touristic cities, you're not going to find anything, El Salvador is 8-10 hours on bus from Quetzaltenango, avoid Honduras, and Belize is cool too, but really expensive, that's most of what you need to know

      >bus
      >lodging
      Reread op... Thanks for the location tips though

      • 3 months ago
        Anonymous

        I missed the van part, sorry
        Also, more tips
        If you go to Guatemala, it might be a small country, but trust me, it's going to take quite a while to go anywhere due to the mountains and general geography (Quetzaltenango to Panajachel in Atitlan lake is about 2 hours, Quetzaltenango to Guatemala City is 3 hours if there's no traffic)
        You might have trouble finding parking in Panajachel and will absolutely have trouble finding a big parking spot in Antigua (Parking on the street costs 20-25 quetzales (Around 3-4 dollars) per day i think, and you need a special tag, the transit police sells it), but both have private camper zones if you need
        If you don't know much spanish, stick to Antigua and Atitlan, it's rare to find anyone over 20-25 that knows english outside the cities i've mentioned
        That's most of what you need to know, if you need more tips, just ask, i've been living in Guatemala since the coof started

      • 3 months ago
        Anonymous

        >I have some Mayan temples I want to see there so I'll definitely make sure to budget time for it.

        Great, there are some very cool ruins down there and just from looking at your rough outline I would say that the stretch from the Yucatan to Puebla will be pretty dull so you could make up time by hauling through there. Same with everything north of Mexico City, don't think there's much there so you can focus on other parts of the country. While in the Yucatan I would also think about parking your van in Chiquila and taking the ferry over to Isla Holbox.

        • 3 months ago
          Anonymous

          Alright, I'm thinking I'll take the west coast slow, get into Yucatan, see my sights there, then Veracruz, Mexico city real quick and then fuck off.
          >Isla Holbox
          What's there?

          I missed the van part, sorry
          Also, more tips
          If you go to Guatemala, it might be a small country, but trust me, it's going to take quite a while to go anywhere due to the mountains and general geography (Quetzaltenango to Panajachel in Atitlan lake is about 2 hours, Quetzaltenango to Guatemala City is 3 hours if there's no traffic)
          You might have trouble finding parking in Panajachel and will absolutely have trouble finding a big parking spot in Antigua (Parking on the street costs 20-25 quetzales (Around 3-4 dollars) per day i think, and you need a special tag, the transit police sells it), but both have private camper zones if you need
          If you don't know much spanish, stick to Antigua and Atitlan, it's rare to find anyone over 20-25 that knows english outside the cities i've mentioned
          That's most of what you need to know, if you need more tips, just ask, i've been living in Guatemala since the coof started

          I didn't realize it was so mountainous but I see now. Is there good nature in Guatemala? Have you been to Tikal? My van isn't like a big Mercedes sprinter type, it fits in normal parking spots, thanks for the parking info.

          • 3 months ago
            Anonymous

            Holbox is a few hours drive west from Cancun.

            Veracruz only requires a day or two at most if you're talking about the city. The only other places I've been to are Xico and Coatepec and they were ok but wouldn't bother after seeing so much of the country.

          • 3 months ago
            Anonymous

            Pretty much everywhere is covered or at least circled by forests, you're going to find a lot of national parks and forest trails, one of the best is El Aprisco trail in Totonicapan (30-50 minutes from Quetzaltenango)
            Tikal it's cool, can't say much about it, last time i was there was like 5-7 years ago, you can park in El Remate as there's close to no parking in the island of Flores, but you should visit it, it's pretty cool, carry cash, there were no ATMs last time i was there

    • 3 months ago
      Anonymous

      No problem fren. Although GDL was a hellscape, I do recommend Oaxaca. It's the "postcard" picturesque Mexico that you want to visit.

  2. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    I don't know, man. You're scaring me. I've done a long road trip in Mexico in a rental car years ago to the places the poster mentioned above, but I was with people who could speak Spanish, and it was still a pretty sketchy trip.

    I would try to stick to the touristy areas. That's where all the historical and architecture stuff is anyway. And I would avoid places like Michoacan where the cartels are known to hang out.

    I was just in Cozumel a couple weeks ago. Very safe there.

  3. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    Make sure to go down every side road you can to find the true adventure

  4. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    You should consider driving down Baja and putting your van on a ferry to the mainland, maybe Mazatlan.

    You definitely need to be careful driving alone through Guerrero and Michoacan alone. Most violence seems to happen in the middle or north of those departments so stick to the coast if you do drive through them.

    If you only have 3 or 4 weeks you can definitely rule out Central America and I'd be doubtful that you'd eben get to the Yucatan what with there being so much to see before you reach that area.

    • 3 months ago
      Anonymous

      yeah, never been to the mainland but I've driven around baja a bunch and it was sick as fuck. very remote though, know your vehicle's range.

      • 3 months ago
        Anonymous

        It really is. I've only been to Baja Sur but after traveling around a lot of Mexico it's one of my three favorite states. Drove from Cabo to Mulege and back twice now. Ran out of gas halfway between Loreto and Mulege once but the people who live there are all well-prepared and kind enough to help out an idiot like myself so fortunately didn't ruin the trip but it'll never happen again.

        Might go back for a third time in February to see the grey whales.

  5. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    >Guatemala
    The best way to get there is from Tapachula (Chiapas), take a private shuttle to either Guatemala City or Quetzaltenango (Last time it costed me 25 dollars one way), a lot more expensive than public chicken buses but ten times more secure, and a lot more comfortable
    Alternatively, you can take a bus from Tapachula to El Carmen border, then you have to take another bus to either Quetzaltenango (As a hub to go somewhere else or stay for some days) or Retalhuleu (Mediocre beaches, nothing to see besides a really good amusement park), from there you can go to Antigua or Atitlan (The more common touristic destinations), the capital city (Cool place, not a lot to do, kinda dangerous) or stay in Quetzaltenango (Small city, lots of stuff to do, way cheaper than Antigua or Atitlan)
    Most places will accept dollars but at bad rates, so use local currency instead (Cheapo budget is about 20-50 dollars per day including lodging, middle of the road is 50-70 dollars)
    The rest of Central America is... bland, besides one or two touristic cities, you're not going to find anything, El Salvador is 8-10 hours on bus from Quetzaltenango, avoid Honduras, and Belize is cool too, but really expensive, that's most of what you need to know

  6. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    before you exit out to Texas. Go to El Reale Catorce. If you need to check it out before hand, there are afew YT vids on it. But also, the movie "The Mexican" starring Brad Pitt and Julia Roberts has alot of footage of the small town. Might be able to see ball lightening at night (looks like one big flash from an olde styled camera).

  7. 3 months ago
    Anonymous

    If you are in Mexico City you can hit me up, I'm a grad student living here. We can hang out and go to some local places. My telegram is @JCCA11

  8. 2 months ago
    Anonymous

    PLEASE BE CAREFUL, DO NOT GO IN THE TAMAULIPAS ROAD TO TEXAS AT NIGHT PLEASE ANON

    • 2 months ago
      Anonymous

      and why? Chupacabra?

      • 2 months ago
        Anonymous

        North east routes in Mexico at night are really dangerous. There's cases of Narcos stopping you in the middle of the road, taking only your car if they are benevolent, if not, you will be a goner along with your car.

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