Guadalajara is an easy 3-4 hr flight from California and great for a quick getaway. See my trip details on my travel blog monterreyandbeyond.wordpress.com.
I just returned from 5 days in Chiapas and it was as beautiful as I imagined. Here is my recap, as well as my tips for traveling to this region. Our itinerary was 2 full days in Tuxtla and 3 full days in San Cristobal.
Let me start by saying Tuxtla is not a tourist town. There is really nothing to do there. However, it is a good base to visit Cañon del Sumidero and Chiapa de Corzo. Cañon del Sumidero is beautiful. We took a tour of the canyon from above and a 2 hour boat trip through the canyon. Definitely a sight to see, including the crocodiles!
The next day we went to Chiapa del Corzo. This is a small puebla of Indians and Mexicans with a tourist area of restaurants and Mexican goods. My advice is that if you are also visiting San Cristobal, visiting Chiapa del Corzo is not necessary.
The next tour we took was of a village of the Chamula Indians near to San Cristobal. The Chamula Indians do not appreciate photographs, so I have no pictures. I found these indigenous people fascinating. The tour was basically of their church. The church is catholic and they pray to Mary and the catholic saints, but with their own rites and rituals. Though it was brief, this visit was worth it.
The next village we visited on this tour is of the Zinacantán. These Indians are major producers of fruits, vegetables, and flowers. In fact, many of their flowers are shipped to Canada and the USA. It’s a beautiful area because we are now in the highlands. I am not sure, but I believe we are around 6000 ft above sea level. Men, women, and children all work.
Again, this was a brief tour simply to a textile shop to purchase handmade goods. I would have liked to have spent more time here and walked around a bit.
Now, on to San Cristobal. This is a pueblo mágico meaning the façade of the buildings cannot be reconstructed to maintain their historic values. It is definitely a tourist area with a lot of restaurants and shopping, but I still felt a strong sense of the city itself. I saw very few Americans here. I had the sense more of the tourists come from Europe and South America.
In the center is the Diocesis de San Cristobal.
Walking up the 400 steps for San Cristobal views.
The last tour was of Lagos de Montebello. Gorgeous blue lakes and waterfalls.
The best meal I had was in Lum Restaurant. I highly recommend this place. The food was excellent.
My Chiapas recommendation recap:
In less than a month, I will be visiting Chiapas Mexico for a wedding. We are taking 5 days to see this beautiful part of Mexico bordering Guatemala. Everyone has told me the beauty there is unsurpassed. I cannot wait to see it for myself!
When buying travel souvenirs for myself, I stay away from the souvenir trinket stores. Inevitably, the sombrero from Mexico ends up in the garage sale, the metal Eiffel tower disappears and I couldn’t care less, or the sarongs bought from a beach vacation go into a drawer….forever.
I usually do some research. What the country/area is known for. I will often have one or two things that I want to buy for sure. But mostly, what I buy just happens. You’re walking down the street and see an artist painting a pic that captures the moment. Or you stroll into a shop and see something that you love. My advice is when this happens, to buy. I find I rarely go back when I say I will. And then I’m back at home regretting the non purchase.
Here are some things I’ve bought from my travels that I love.
The best part of buying a souvenir is when I’m at home and I walk by the painting, or wear the piece of jewelry I bought from another part of the world, there is a memory flash of my time there.
Fresno California in the Central Valley gets a bad wrap. Sure it doesn’t come compare to Southern California or the Bay Area, but it has some good qualities. And it’s my home town!
The Central Valley is an agriculture epicenter. You cannot beat the farmers markets Fresno offers.
Madera Wine Trail
No need to travel to get to wineries, they’re right around the corner.
The Tower District is an area of theater, breweries, tattoo parlors and vintage stores.
Old Town Clovis
Old Town maintains a western atmosphere with restaurants, bars, and a great place to go if you like shopping for antiques.
Lakes & Mountains
And if you like outdoor recreation and beauty, it’s less than an hour away.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is an easy day trip!
Fresno is not a vacation destination by any means. However, if you find yourself in the area there’s no need for dread. It’s not as bad as you think.
I love to travel and try to have a “big trip” once a year. However, travel is not cheap. A website I have found and have used twice is Tripmasters.com. I have scoured the internet for the cheapest flight and hotel and still could not beat Tripmasters price. They offer not only flights and hotels, but also transportation and activities.
Another option I use for budget travel is Skyscanner.com. This website searches all airlines for the cheapest flights available. You can also set up an alert to your email and everyday you will receive that days flight price for the trip you are interested in. I have a set price in my mind of what I want to pay and when I receive the alert at that price or lower, I book it.
When I book my own flight, I then go to Homeaway.com for an apartment to rent. Renting an apartment is much cheaper than a hotel. I rent apartments with good reviews and make sure the area is near to the attractions I am interested in. The downside to renting an apartment is there is no concierge. So you don’t have a local to help you with transportation and general information.
Lastly, travel off season/shoulder season. You can get better rates on everything from flights to food. Always check weather conditions and whether attractions are still open during that time.
Tips: Don’t think traveling within your country is automatically cheaper than international. I often find that I can get a better deal (or just a few hundred dollars more) internationally (after adding in lodging/transportation/etc) than within the U.S. Check money conversion too. The dollar is strong in Mexico. The UK is cheaper now than it has been in years. Eastern Europe and third world countries are always a good bargain.
I will be in Playa del Carmen in less than two weeks!!! I am fortunate that the Riviera Maya is a quick and economical trip from Monterrey, not to mention the unbelievable beaches. I know it’s early, but I’m already thinking of what I will be bringing for this six day vacation.
Since I have been there before, I know this for sure: It’s humid no matter what time of year. Cotton, linen, and gauze reign supreme. I also know that most days will be hanging out on the beach, and evenings will be spent strolling down 5th Ave for drinks and dinner. A day or two spent in Tulum is mandatory, and maybe a trip to Valladolid/Chichen Itza. With this in mind, here is my preliminary packing list.
Let the countdown begin!
I live in Monterrey Mexico. It’s an industrial city about 2 1/2 hours from Laredo Texas. It’s considered the most “Americanized” city in Mexico with HEB, Home Depot, Costco, and shopping malls. Now that I have a friend coming to visit for a few days, I am thinking of touristy things to do. What would be fun for a tourist to do here? Here are five places I will be showing her (with exception to the last one sadly).
Macroplaza and Barrio Antiguo
This is el centro de Monterrey with great architecture and restaurants with a more Mexican feel.
This is the posh area of Monterrey where you can shop till you drop and have a nice upscale meal. Side note: This beautiful area comes with a beautiful price tag too.$$$
Pueblo de Santiago
A pueblo magico is a town in Mexico considered historically significant.
Parque Fundidora/Paseo de Santa Lucia
A huge park including Plaza Sesamo, museums and restaurants.
Tecate Brewery Tour
I recently found out this tour has been closed until 2017 for remodeling.
As a doggie parent flying for the first time with my Shih tzu Samantha, I learned a few things to pass on to those of you considering taking your babies up in the air with you.
Would I travel with her again? The jury is still out on that one.
I’m getting ready to say good-bye to California and return to Monterrey Mexico. I was able to spend some time on the central coast: Cambria, Pismo, Morro Bay, and drove Highway 1 through Big Sur. For many who have never been to California, I’m sure images of Los Angeles and San Diego beaches are flashing through your mind. However, the central coast is nothing like it. The central coast has a much more small town, cozy, laid back vibe. One strip towns of shops and restaurants, cool breezes and chilly evenings in the summer. The stunning scenery of the ocean and redwoods are amazing.
Morro Bay/Cambria/ Highway 1/Henry Miller Museum, Big Sur/ La Ventana Restaurant Big Sur