Mexico

Posted: Dec 2022
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Mexico is a huge country (nearly 2 million sq km, compared to Singapore at 700+ sq km) – it’s difficult to explore the whole country on a trip! As such, we focused on the Yucatán Peninsula this time – in the south east part of Mexico which included Chichén Itzá, Cancun and many more highlights!
Chapters

At-A-Glance

I visited Cancun on spring break as a young adult and it was a place of hidden adventures – cenotes off the beaten path and pyramids in full glory! I couldn’t wait to bring the family to Cancun and the broader Yucatán Peninsula to explore its different highlights. When we share that we are headed to Mexico, the first thing people ask is whether it is safe – and the truth is, the people here are friendly, the food here is delicious, the cost to travel is cheap. Yes, there is the occasional black sheep who looks at us like walking bags of pesos, so we got to watch for petrol kiosk scammers and corrupt police blockades, but fortunately some local love and common sense got us through!

Main Highlights

Chichen Itza: Can you imagine that this has lasted a thousand years? Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities and was likely built in the Late Classic period from AD 600. One of the highlights at Chichen Itza is the El Castillo which is the temple that sits in the centre of the entire site.

Rio Lagartos: Drive a few hours north of Valladolid and we got to a small quiet town in the north of Yucatán – we came here to ride into the lagoons on a private boat to see beauty tucked away in every corner. Pink flamingos, herons, vultures, pelicans, woodpeckers, turtles, crocodiles… the list goes on!

Las Coloradas: A striking pink lake awaits us (and our cameras) – it’s in fact a man-made salt lake. It gets its pink from the red shrimps that live in the lagoon (including the flamingos that feed on them). Go at noon for the brightest pink as the sun shines hard down on the beautiful lake

Valladolid: We called this city our “base” as it was east of touristy Cancun and offered a central vicinity towards the beautiful lakes of the north, historical Chichen Itza to the west and the exciting cenotes all around us (we went to Oxman, Agua Dulce and Ik-Kil). Food was also cheap and awesome and plentiful!
Tulum: We explored the beautiful beaches of Tulum, but our highlight was further south as we floated down Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve in our private tour. It is hard to imagine these fresh waters have been around for centuries as an actual trading route for the Mayans!

Playa del Carmen: We headed underground into the mystical world of Río Secreto… where a magical underground river with crystal-clear turquoise water flows through caves and past amazing geological formations, far from the light of day. During our 3.5-hour expedition, we hiked and swam our way through this ancient natural wonder with dramatic stalactites and stalagmites. Río Secreto is truly nature’s masterpiece!

Cancun: Touristy – think of this as a giant Sentosa. That said, we wrapped up our trip by visiting Xcarets across Cancun and Playa del Carmen. Think of these as the Mexican version of Disneyland – it’s a theme park, water park, zoo, museum, water sports… all thrown into several theme parks!

Photo Reel

Valladolid Tulum Rio Playa Las Chichen Cancun
Valladolid Tulum Rio Playa Las Chichen Cancun
Chichen Itza:

One of the New 7 Wonders of the World

Mama:

Full of sunshine

Muaks:

Feeling on top of the world

To greater heights:

Behind every nice photo is a great photographer

Skulls:

Roadside stalls that charge touristy prices

Life of the Papa:

Leading the pack

Shade:

Chilling for a bit

Balance:

Better together

Sacred Cenote:

Also known as the “Well of Sacrifice”… a water-filled sinkhole in limestone

Down memory lane:

Bean there, done that!

Suytun Cenote:

A cave cenote which has a hole in the roof that allows natural light to beam down into the middle of the cave

Down:

Steep stone staircase down to the cenote

Up:

Looking up and being awestruck

Carry:

He ain’t heavy, he’s our son-shine

Do-Re-Mi:

Suytun – Bean there, done that!

Quiet little coastal town:

Rio Lagartos for our Mangrove boat tour

Our little cocoon:

Finding his little nap while waiting for our boat

Birds all round:

Soaking in nature

Coming up close:

Wild crocodiles creeping up on us

Mama gone mad:

Just because the locals said the crocodile ain’t interested in eating humans

Pink:

Up close with the wild flamingoes

Our little one:

With wind in his hair

Our little ones:

With sun in their faces

Bye:

Bean there, done that!

Day trip:

Finally here after 2hrs drive from Valladolid

Yucatan:

Reminder of how big the
entire Mexico really is

No filter:

Amazing pink salt lakes of Las Coloradas

Hot:

Braved the noon sun to catch the full glory of the vibrant pink lakes.

Shade:

The lake immediately looked darker when a cloud covered the sun

Mama:

Under a shade of white blue pink

Cheeky:

Having fun with salt bubbles

Sibling talk:

Deep in conversation as they walk down the hot lanes of the salt lakes

Cloud:

Catching clouds (of salt)

Salt hill:

Climbing up a salt hill left to dry

Supper:

Enjoying ice-cream at main square of Valladolid after dinner

Yummy:

Stomach bursting but couldnt resist freshly made hot churros bursting with Nutella

Cenote Oxman:

Exploring one of the many cenotes around Valladolid

Bikini:

Dressed down

Wet:

Swing and splash

Jump:

Our little one has no fear

Jump:

Our big boy, pressured to follow suit

Jump:

Jie jie jumped, only with Papa by her side

Mama:

Reaching for the heights

View from the bottom:

Hole in the sky

Cenote Oxman:

Bean there, done that!

Cenote Agua Dulce:

 Off-the-beaten-path, we had the entire cenote to ourselves

Down:

Almost as if we were walking into a dragon’s lair

Still waters:

Exactly how I thought Dumbledore would be rowing the boat across the cave

Family:

Fun shot before we dived into the cold waters

In:

Swimming across to the centre platform

Up:

And we realized, there is a rickety stairway on the platform…

Up and up:

… and there’s a path to the top

Climb:

Of course, we had to climb it to explore where it led to (and it brought us back to the surface)

Off we went to the next cenote:

… Ik-Kil!

Jumping platform:

Spot mama, the bikini babe!

Family:

Bean there, done that!

Kaan Luum Lagoon:

Row row row your boat

Hammock:

A good workout to get into the hammocks

Swing:

Staying dry as mama paddled to her spot

His little swing:

Papa and his boy

View from the top:

Can you spot our little Beans in the background?

Twinning:

Monkey business

Kaan Luum Lagoon:

Bean there, done that!

Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve:

Heading further south to explore the reserve

Clear waters:

Dipping into fresh water

Meandering river:

Ducking below the branches

Fish:

Clear waters, fresh waters

Kaan Luum Lagoon:

Floating down a natural mangrove channel

Splitting image:

She’s growing into mama bit by bit

Back to the boat:

Sir, yes sir!

Wrapping up our day:

With some sandy fun

Moana:

Loving the sun, sand and the sea

Fun:

Team work makes great work

Sunset:

Dinner at Tulum – Bean there, done that!

Ritual:

A Mayan priest performed a ritual to bless us before our expedition.

Rio Secreto:

Where a magical underground river with crystal-clear turquoise water flows through caves and past amazing geological formations

Apprehension:

Entering the underground river. Water was really cold!

Crystal clear turquoise water:

Soon the water got so deep that we had to swim our way through

Into the caves:

Surrounded by countless dramatic stalactites and stalagmites …. stunning!

Our little explorer:

With lights on the head

Bloop bloop bloop:

… and into deep waters again

All smiles:

Laughter echoing around the caves

Tomb raider:

Jumping between rocks

Family photo:

Rio Secreto – Bean there, done that!

Xcarat Mexico:

Colours

Water works:

Crystal-clear, turquoise waters of rivers and lakes flow throughout the park…

Surprise:

… with cliffs and waterfalls at every corner

Giant sea turtles:

One of 100+ animals on display!

History:

We can also find ancient Mayan ruins within the park

Waterfall:

There was a bird sanctuary (the size of Jurong Bird Park!) nestled in one section of XCaret

Papa and his Beans:

Love the candid smiles that shine through

Afternoon show:

Traditional dances in a real cave! Super cool!

End of the show:

Beans invited up to hit a giant Mexican Piñata

Chilling:

Short break before we embark on the next adventure

Mexico:

Watching traditional horse riding under a Mexican flag

Spot the difference:

Some chilled, some fell

Exciting aquatic sports:

We simply didn’t have time to do everything!

Smiles:

Camera spots everywhere – just need to wave our tags to trigger the selfies

Ancient Mayan game:

Mix of soccer and basketball. Kicking ball through hoops to score

Breathtaking:

The moment everyone lit up the candles given to us

Ended the day at Xcaret Mexico Espectacular:

a spectacular entertainment show that brought us through the history of Mexico with music, dances and other stunning performances

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