Tailor-Made Holiday

Mexico - The Southern Route

Mexico City, Oaxaca, Chiapas and Tulum

20 days

from £6,975pp (excluding flights)

Mexico is a vast and varied country with a great deal to offer the traveller. While it cannot always be possible to visit the length and breadth of these large countries in one go, there is a wonderful route, and a particular favourite of ours, covering the majority of southern Mexico; ideal for those wanting an in depth discovery of this fascinating country.

  • Culture in Mexico City
  • Cooking lessons in Oaxaca
  • Birdwatching in the hills above San Cristobal
  • Visit fascinating Mayan Villages
  • Explore remote archaeological sites
  • Stay in Luxury Haciendas
  • Spend time on the beautiful white sand beaches of Tulum

This journey begins in Mexico City staying in the fashionable Polanco District.  Visit the historic centre and the fascinating anthropology museum as well as the incredible site of Teotihuacan home to the world’s 3rd and 4th largest pyramid structures. Why not treat yourself to an unforgettable tour by hot air balloon.

From Mexico continue to Oaxaca, a delightful colonial city with a great atmosphere and some interesting archaeological zones in the Oaxaca Valley. Take a cooking class with a famed Oaxaca chef who will accompany you to the market and help you cook a local delicacy for lunch.

Continue to the state of Chiapas and take a boat ride through the spectacular Sumidero Canyon. Stay at Hotel BO in the charming highland town of San Cristobal de las Casas.  Potter the cobbled streets, spend an early evening in the Huitepec Reserve to observe many endemic species of birds.  Not far from San Cristobal are the traditional Mayan villages of Chamula and Zinacantan which offer visitors a fascinating insight into their local architecture and customs.

Travelling deeper into the jungles of Chiapas, travel to Palenque stopping off at the incredible Agua Azul waterfalls and the remote site of Tonina.  From Palenque embark on memorable day trip towards the Guatemalan border to visit the sites of Yachilan and Bonampak in the heart of the Lacandon Forest. Few make the effort to visit these sites, but those that do are greatly rewarded.  Discover ancient frescos as troops of Howler Monkeys call overhead.

From Palenque your journey continues to the Yucatan Peninsula and the beautiful Hacienda Uayamon.  Visit the walled city of Campeche, a fortified town, protected from pirates, now a world heritage site.  Visit Uxmal, one of the best restored and maintained Mayan sites on the peninsula before driving across to Merida in the heart of the Yucatan.

Your journey ends via the mighty Chichen Itza on the beautiful Caribbean coast of Tulum.  Stay in a waterfront suite at Jashita on the shores of Soliman Bay.  White coral sands meet your terrace while the crystal clear waters of the bay invite swimming, snorkelling, paddle boarding and kayaking. 

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 6975 £ 800
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • All accommodation and meals as stated in the itinerary
  • Voyage gratuities
  • All transfers

PLEASE NOTE THE COST SHOWN INCLUDES INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK, BASED ON AN APPROXIMATE AIR FARE. PLEASE ASK YOUR TRAVEL EXPERT FOR AN ACCURATE INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT QUOTE. INTERNATIONAL FLIGHTS DEPARTING FROM THE UK ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Mexico City


When the Aztec observed an eagle perched on a cactus devouring a snake, they believed this was a sign to stop their wanderings and build an empire. Today Mexico City is one of the largest capitals in the world, a city of contrasts and one that encapsulates all that is Mexican - it is vibrant, overwhelming, captivating and bursting with energy.


You will be staying at Las Alcobas, Bed & Breakfast

Day 2

Full day City Tour
You will be picked up at your hotel this morning for a full day guided tour of the world renowned National Anthropology Museum and the Historic city centre. Visit the Zocalo flanked by Mexico's most important buildings including the National Palace and the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Temple Mayor Aztec archaeological site (does not include entrance or museum) and the Palace of Fine Arts. This great square, called the Zocalo, represents the centre of the world and was the ceremonial centre of Mexico-Tenochtitlan. Time for lunch at one of the many fine eateries (can be included at additional cost). Mexico City hosts some of the finest restaurants in the world, and Mexican cuisine is excellent. You will be dropped back at your hotel late afternoon.


You will be staying at Las Alcobas, Bed & Breakfast

Day 3

Full day exploring Teotihuacan
You will be met at 09:00 to start the exploration of Teotihuacán. This full-day experience takes you to one of the most important Mesoamerican sites in the Americas, Teotihuacán. With your expert, bilingual guide, explore the archaeological zone while learning about the rituals, cosmology, beliefs and everyday lives of the Aztecs and the inhabitants of Teotihuacán before them. Lunch is included at a local mid-range restaurant.


You will be staying at Las Alcobas, Bed & Breakfast

Day 4

Fly Mexico City to Oaxaca


Capital of Oaxaca State, this is one of the prettiest towns in Mexico and was deservedly nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust Site in 1987. Founded by the Spanish in 1521 on a pre-existing Zapotec and Mixtec settlement, the town gracefully combines colonial charm with its ancient pre-Hispanic roots.

Imposing churches, airy plazas and hidden convents blend with busy markets, traditional craft stalls and local music makers. Relax in the zocalo and enjoy a locally produced Mezcal while absorbing the feel of this vibrant and colourful town.

Oaxaca is also one of Mexico's major handicrafts and arts centres with a vast range on offer guaranteed to keep even the most dedicated souvenir shopper happy.


Oaxaca City Half Day Tour
Half day tour of Oaxaca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founded by the Spanish in 1521 on a pre-existing Zapotec and Mixtec settlement, the town gracefully combines colonial charm with its ancient pre-hispanic roots. Imposing churches, old plazas and hidden convents blend with busy markets and traditional craft stalls. Oaxaca is one of Mexico's major handicrafts and arts centres. Learn about the city’s cultural and historical heritage, while visiting markets, chocolate makers, museums and art galleries. On this half-day experience, you will have a chance to try some of Oaxaca’s regional delicacies like hot chocolate and grasshoppers. Possible additional inclusions: Museo de Arte Prehispanico Rufino Tamayo, Iglesia y ex-convento de Santo Domingo & Casa de Cortés ( Modern Art Museum).


You will be staying at Casa Oaxaca, Bed & Breakfast

Day 5

Monte Alban Half Day Tour
Half day tour of Monte Alban. The ancient Zapotec capital Monte Alban ('White Mountain') stands on an artificially flattened site 400 m up a steep mountain with tremendous views. Without immediate access to either water or cultivable land, Monte Alban's unique location remains something of a mystery. First occupied in 500 BC, at the height of its influence between 300 and 700 AD Monte Alban had a population of approximately 25,000 and showed all the signs of a well-organized urban society with a powerful priest-dominated ruling elite. Monte Alban is one of the oldest cities of Mesoamerica, known for its importance to the Zapotecs and the Mixtecs and still considered a sacred site by shamans today. Explore the site with your personal bilingual guide who will lead you around the site explaining what is known about Monte Alban and what still remains a mystery.


Mitla & Tule Tree Half Day Tour
Half day excursion to Mitla, thought to have been the most important Zapotec religious centre prior to the Spanish conquest. Dominated by the ruins of four great palaces, Mitla is best known for its magnificent bas-reliefs, the Hall of Mosaics, the Hall of the Columns and La Colomna de la Muerte (Column of Death). The Tule tree is estimated to be over 2000 years old. This tour includes lunch.


You will be staying at Casa Oaxaca, Bed & Breakfast

Day 6

Cooking Class
Oaxaca is known for its delicacies, some perhaps more inviting (mole) than others (grasshoppers), so a morning's cookery lesson is a wonderful way to get to know some fantastic recipes. Join famed Oaxacan chef Alejandro Ruiz for a master class. Your day will begin in the market, selecting ingredients before heading to his kitchen to create a wonderful dish combining traditional and modern techniques which will be served for lunch.


You will be staying at Casa Oaxaca, Bed & Breakfast

Day 7

Fly Oaxaca to Mexico City

Fly Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez


Tuxtla Gutierrez is the capital of Chiapas state. It’s a large, modern city, crossed by wide avenues and dotted with parks and green spaces. The central square is Plaza Civica, overlooked by the sixteenth century San Marco Cathedral. The city contains a number of museums and cultural centres, including the important Museum of Anthropology and History.


Sumidero Canyon
Transfer on arrival at Tuxtla Gutierrez Airport to Chiapa de Corzo (30mins) for a boat journey through the 1,000m deep Sumidero Canyon spotting caiman and exotic birds on the way. Following this 2 hour boat trip, head into Chiapa de Corzo for lunch (included) before continuing to San Cristobal de las Casas (1 hour).


You will be staying at Hotel BO, Bed & Breakfast

Day 8

San Cristobal de las Casas Half Day Tour
Half day city tour of San Cristobal de las Casas that charmingly blends colonial buildings and local indigenous culture. All round the central plaza are buildings from the 16th and 17th centuries and just beyond the plaza is the dramatic church and ex-convent of Santo Domingo with a stunning baroque façade. There are many co-operatives from the local Indian villages selling colourful textiles, age-old handicrafts and beautiful wooden dolls.

Stunningly located in the fertile Jovel Valley with mountains all around, San Cristobal de las Casas is a charming blend of colonial buildings and local indigenous culture. All round the central plaza are buildings built from 16th and 17th century rich in architectural variety. Just beyond the plaza is the dramatic church and ex-convent of Santo Domingo with a stunning baroque façade. Also in San Cristobal are many co-operatives from the local Indian villages selling colourful textiles, age-old handicrafts and beautiful wooden dolls.


Bird Watching in Huitepec Reserve
Embark on a privately guided bird watching and hiking tour this morning. The tour lasts around 5 hours and includes the services of a specialist birding guide, transportation, entrance fees to this little visited reserve and snacks and water.


You will be staying at Hotel BO, Bed & Breakfast

Day 9

Half Day visit to the villages around San Cristobal
In Zinacantán and San Juan Chamula, the Tzotzil-speaking Indians still practise their ancient religious rites and pagan rituals. The region is also famous for the colours of its local embroidery and textiles with each village having a unique costume. Explore these towns with your guide before returning to San Cristobal for a guided tour of this charming city. Lunch is included.


You will be staying at Hotel BO, Bed & Breakfast

Day 10

Travel from San Cristobal to Palenque via Agua Azul


Full day transfer/tour to Palenque. On the way visit off-the-beaten-path Mayan archaeological site of Tonina and the impressive cataracts at Agua Azul. Journey time will be around 8 hours, including the stops. Lunch will be included today at the town of Ocosingo.


The temples and palaces of Palenque emerge from the thick jungle bearing historical texts and inscriptions that refer to ancient rulers and significant historical events. Time to immerse yourself in the fascinating Mayan culture and learn about the ways their society developed.


You will be staying at Quinta Cha Nab Nal, Bed & Breakfast

Day 11

Yaxchilan and Bonampak
Depart early this morning for the remote Mayan Archaelogical sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak, located deep in the Lacandon Jungle. The drive from Palenque is a couple of hours followed by a one hour boat ride to the Mayan site of Yaxchitlan. This site is renowned as much for its incredible setting as it is for its ornamented building façade and impressive stone lintels that depict battles and ceremonial events. This ancient city’s unique position on the mighty Uscumacinta River meant that it controlled all the trade of the region and hence was one of the most important sites in the Mayan world. The calls of howler monkeys are a reminder of the site’s remoteness in the Lacandon forest. On your return to Palenque you have the opportunity to stop at the Mayan site of Bonampak, famous for its frescos in the Templo de las Pinturas, which are unmatched throughout the Mayan World. Lunch is included today.


You will be staying at Quinta Cha Nab Nal, Bed & Breakfast

Day 12

Half day visit of the ruins
The temples and palaces of Palenque emerge from the thick jungle bearing historical texts and inscriptions that refer to ancient rulers and significant historical events. Time to immerse yourself in the fascinating Mayan culture and learn about the ways their society developed.

Drive from Palenque to Campeche (Road Journey)


Plagued for 200 years by pirate attacks from the Gulf of Mexico, Campeche became walled in to protect itself from such unwanted attention. Today this pretty colonial fort town is a UNESCO site and hosts ornate churches, baroque architecture, narrow cobblestone streets and a selection of excellent seafood dishes in the many specialist restaurants.


You will be staying at Hacienda Uayamon, Bed & Breakfast

Day 13

Half Day City Tour of Campeche
Pick up: 09:00 from your hotel Duration: 4-5 hours

This private tour of Campeche takes you from one end of this colourful walled city to the other on a journey through its history of trade and pirate attack. Visiting fortresses, museums and churches as well as wandering the city's quiet streets, learn about the port city of yesteryear and the Campeche of today.


You will be staying at Hacienda Uayamon, Bed & Breakfast

Day 14

Campeche to Merida via Uxmal


Full day transfer/tour from Campeche City to Merida, stopping on the way for a guided visit of the archaeological site at Uxmal.
Uxmal became one of the most influential and important urban centres of the time, valuing wealth, culture, science and religion. The city was founded around AD700 and had some 25,000 inhabitants at its peak. The layout of the buildings, which date from between AD700 and 1000, reveal an in-depth knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer dominates the ceremonial centre, which is replete with buildings decorated with symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the God of rain. Also see the Pyramid of the Magician, The Nunnary, The Palace of the Governor and the House of the Turtles.


Merida, the capital of the Yucatan state, is a charming, bustling city. There are many beautiful colonial buildings, interesting museums and airy plazas. The central Zocalo is a continual stage for colourful dancers and loud mariachis. Numerous markets and artisan shops make Merida the ideal place for any holiday shopping, particularly as it is the centre for the region's hammock making industry.


You will be staying at Rosas & Xocolate, Bed & Breakfast

Day 15

Half Day City Tour
Tour of the historic centre of Merida (3-4 hours) including the main plaza (zocalo), markets, Museum of Mayan World, the Cathedral, the Monumento a la Patria (Monument to the Fatherland) and Paseo Montejo, the design of which is based on French boulevards.


You will be staying at Rosas & Xocolate, Bed & Breakfast

Day 16

Drive from Merida to Tulum (Road Journey)


Tulum, like neighbouring Playa del Carmen has found its way into the tourism sector from the slow paced life of the fishing trade. Today Tulum is a trendy beach resort for the affluent and elite, with many a Hollywood star choosing Tulum as their holiday destination. Shabby chic and barefoot luxury is the name of the game at the many boutique hotels on offer. Perched upon a cliff top overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, the Pre-Columbian site of Tulum has arguably the most stunning setting of all the Mayan ruins and is an interesting contrast to the inland archaeological complexes. With substantial 5m high ramparts on three sides and a watchtower, its believed that in its heyday Tulum was an important port town.


Chichen Itza Tour
Morning Tour of Chichen Itza: The archaeological site of Chichen Itza is not a large site and it can become crowded. Nonetheless the buildings rise above the fray, impressive in their stature, beguiling in their symbolism and significance, they leave you wondering at and in awe of the Mayan civilisation.

The magnificent Pyramid of Kukulkán, was designed with the heavens, all nine of them, in mind. The Mayan astrologers were so ingenious that the temple acts as a calendar, designed with such exactitude that during the spring and autumn equinoxes the shadow of a snake, a revered animal, slithers from the top of the temple to the bottom and back again.

In another amazing trick of engineering, the 365 steps of the temple have been constructed so that when you stand in front of them and clap, the echo sounds like a quetzal, a bird venerated by Mayans. What is all the more surprising about such precision is that the shape of the pyramid is not uniform, it is in fact a trapezoid and many of the edges of the pyramid are not aligned.

The Great Ball Court is a 450 feet arena where the Mayans played the onomatopoeic pok ta pok, a game that involved two teams of seven, with the captain on each side being the only one able to score by shooting a large rubber ball through a hoop high on one side of the wall. More than a game, pok ta pok was a life ritual that involved the winning captain having the ‘honour’ of being decapitated, taking him nearer to the gods.

The most famous and well preserved of all the Yucatan's Mayan sites, Chichen Itza comes highly recommended to all visitors. The Maya people built Chichen Itza in the classic period only for it to be abandoned shortly afterwards. It is believed the Toltecs re-established the area at a later date adding their own particular architectural style and introducing their blood-thirsty beliefs in human sacrifice. Dominating the vast site is the outstanding pyramid structure of El Castillo, built during the height of the Toltec occupation, and which can still be climbed for far-reaching views across the flat Yucatan plains. There is also a well-preserved ball court, a substantial natural sinkhole (cenote) of sacred importance to The Maya and a large observatory indicating the great significance the Maya attached to astronomy.


You will be staying at Jashita Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 17

Choice of Excursions
Days at leisure to enjoy the beautiful white beaches of Tulum. If you would like to explore further afield, there are some fantastic options, including the wonderful site of Coba, swimming in Cenote, visiting Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, exploring the undground river system of Rio Secreto or visiting a local Maya community.


You will be staying at Jashita Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 18

You will be staying at Jashita Hotel, Bed & Breakfast

Day 19

Day at leisure in Tulum

Day 20

Fly Cancun to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Hacienda Uayamon

Hacienda Uayamon

Hacienda Uayamon is an old 18th Century ranch and henequen plantation characterised by its imposing stone archways and towering columns....

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Las Alcobas

Las Alcobas

Las Alcobas is located in the lively and fashionable district of Polanca....

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Casa Oaxaca

Casa Oaxaca

Casa Oaxaca is a cozy boutique hotel in a carefully restored traditional house in the heart of Oaxaca - just a couple of blocks from the centre on a street that is peppered with inviting bars, galleries and restaurants....

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Hotel BO

Hotel BO

Hotel BO is a design innovation in San Cristobal....

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Jashita Hotel

Jashita Hotel

Jashita is a beachfront boutique hotel, set on the shores of Soliman Bay, just 15 minutes from the small town of Tulum on the Yucatan Peninsula....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

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"The expertise that John has really gave us faith in where we were going, the regions, the hotels, the trips. John knew about it all, he described them in detail, and when we asked for different regions he was straight in there with suggestions and ideas. The way the whole trip was planned and presented to us, never any pressure to book or any problem to change plans /ideas."

"John Faithful was wonderfully helpful and conscientious in arranging the itinerary and was always ready to suggest alternatives or rearrange matters without any hesitation; this and his detailed knowledge gave one great confidence."

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Sue Grimwood, Travel Expert

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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