Mexico Family Holiday
Whisk yourself away to a slice of Mexican paradise on this adventure, taking you to sunny beaches, lush forests, lost ruins and colonial townships along the way. Discover the culture and the history of the Maya at the temples of Chichen Itza, Xel-ha and Coba; take a dip in the turquoise waters in the cave at Xkeken; sunbake on the beach by Tulum and watch the flamingos paint the sky pink at the Celestun Bird Sanctuary as you experience the best that the Yucatan region has to offer.
Start: Playa del Carmen
Ages: 5 - 99
Accommodation: Hotels (7 nights)
Welcome to Playa del Carmen, Mexico! Today is an arrival day and there are no activities planned until the Welcome Meeting at 5pm this evening. Look out for a notice in the hotel reception for more details on this meeting. After the meeting, consider going out for an optional dinner at a nearby restaurant to get to know your fellow travellers. If you’ve arrived early and have some time to kill, there’s plenty to see and do in Playa del Carmen. You and your family might like to spend some time snorkelling among the mangroves, diving into underground caverns or strolling along the white sandy beaches. For an adventure further afield, consider taking a ferry across to Cozumel and enjoying some of the famous reef diving it has to offer.
Begin travelling towards Merida, the vibrant capital of the Mexican state of Yutacan. En route, take a stop off at Chichen Itza, possibly the most famous Maya temple site in all of Mexico. Marvel at the temple of Kukulkan standing high over the ruins, then explore the nearby ‘ball court’. Disputes were typically settled here by way of a ball game that only used the elbows, hips and wrists – stone carvings depicting violence suggest that it wasn’t a casual or friendly sport. After a guided tour of the site, get back on the bus and continue to Merida. Merida has a rich Maya and colonial heritage, serving as a bridge between two very different cultures. The city’s focal point is the Plaza de la Independencia, bordered by the fortress-like Merida Cathedral and the white limestone Iglesia de la Tercera Orden; both colonial-era churches built using relics from ancient Maya temples. Once you check in to the hotel, explore this colourful city at your own pace.
After waking up and enjoying your breakfast, head out on a half day tour of Sotuta de Peon. Built in the late 1800s, this large estate or hacienda is a restoration project of a landmark located deep in the heart of what was once an ancient henequen plantation. You’ll get a true glimpse into the historical practices, styles and traditions of this period before heading back to Merida for the afternoon. With a free afternoon at your disposal, perhaps consider visiting the impressive Regional Anthropology Museum of the Yucatan or strolling the city streets to soak in the arts and culture. Spend some time relaxing in the green and shady Plaza Grande with the 16th-century cathedral sitting on one side and City Hall, State Government Palace and Casa Mantejo on the other.
In the morning travel west to the coast before taking a boat ride to visit the Celestun Bird Sanctuary and Biosphere reserve, home to vast flocks of flamingos, herons and more than 200 different bird species. Near the extensive beaches lined with coconut trees, you’re likely to be able to witness the magnificent sight of thousands of flamingos painting a pink streak across the landscape. Once you return to Merida, you’ll have some free time to relax. Perhaps take a swim in the hotel pool or embark on one last walk around the town.
Say farewell to Merida and continue on to Valladolid (2hour drive) Upon arrival you will check into your hotel and enjoy a guided walking tour around the town’s charming colonial era churches and architecture. You will visit a local market which will give you a taste of how the locals shop. Why not try some local fruits and sweets! The rest of the afternoon will be free to further explore
Take a short drive towards the beautiful coastal town of Tulum. Along the way you will stop off at the Coba archaeological site. This vast Mayan archaeological site dates from 600-900 A.D. and there were an estimated 100,000 people living in its domain. We explore the grounds of the site with the opportunity to ride bikes from one site to the next. Today we will also have a local experience and have lunch with a local family. Our final stop of the day in the beautiful area of Tulum, a place of gorgeous seas, blindingly bright sand and ancient ruins. Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya and stood at the height of its progress during the 13th and 15th centuries. It offers a perfect combination of total relaxation, tranquillity and seclusion, yet you can easily run out of time just by engaging with the interesting activities in the area. Once you check in to your hotel, the rest of the day is free to further explore or swim in the pool.
Today is a free day to explore and do as you wish as a family. Take a swim, shop and eat some delicious food before the trip comes to an end tomorrow. One option is to head to the Tulum Archaeological site. The ruins are located on tall cliffs and was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico.
Today marks the final day of this Mexico adventure and you’re free to depart with your family at any time. If you want another day by the beach, consider booking additional accommodation. Alternatively, the airport in Cancun is a 2-hour drive away and we can pre-book a departure transfer for you and your family.
- Tulum – Coba Archaeological site bike tour
SC Hotel Playa del Carmen
# 33 Avenida 20 between 2nd & 4th streets
Playa del Carmen
Phone: +52 (984)8730467
Fax: +52 (984)8733177
Mestizo Gallery Boutique Hotel
Coba Avenue MZ 36 LT 4 & 5, Center.
Phone: +52 998 275 1013
Please note that these trips are for adults and children travelling together and there must be at least one child under 18 with you.
Minimum age for children on this trip is 5 years old.
A discount of 10% applies on this trip to children 17 years and under at time of travel.
A Single Supplement is available on this trip, please ask your booking agent for more information.
All Intrepid Family trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to assist your family take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for fun things to do and see- for both kids and parents, recommend great local eating venues that will even get the kids trying new things, and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects.
Our leaders are not babysitters on this trip - we leave that to you (the experts), but they will make sure that group members of all ages are able to explore their destination safely and with as much fun as possible. Our group leaders are not responsible for looking after children at any time and children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times throughout this itinerary.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
WATER SAFETY: Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD: Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY: While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.
Mexico - Passport holders from Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand and The United States of America are not required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mexico for the most up to date information. You will be required to fill out a Multiple Immigration Form (FMM) upon arrival. This FMM form must be stamped by Mexican immigration and kept until you leave. The maximum stay is 180 days, but they may sometimes put a lower number unless you specify otherwise.
Why we love it
Explore Mexico's amazing Yucatan Peninsula
Revel in the beach vibe of Playa del Carmen
Explore incredible Maya pyramids at Chichen Itza
Discover the colonial history of charming Merida. Loaf around in leafy plazas, get cultural at a museum or just stroll the city streets which are alive with art and culture
Swim in the crystal clear, azure water in the limestone cambers outside of Valladoliod.
Bask in the tranquility and seclusion of the seaside town of Tulum, and explore the archeological site of Coba by bike
Is this trip right for you
Mexico's climate is sultry and tropical, so can get really hot and humid. Wear loose clothing and always carry plenty of water with you and stay hydrated, especially on walking tours.
Try to learn as many Spanish words as you can. Locals are very friendly, but also shy, so you'll need to make plenty of effort to break the ice. Attempting to communicate in Spanish is a great way of showing you care.
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about three litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Food and dietary requirements
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).
Mexico currency information - The official currency of Mexico is the Mexican Peso (MXN). You can pay with major credit and debit cards at many hotels, restaurants and stores but otherwise plan on making cash purchases with pesos. You can use major credit cards and some debit cards to withdraw pesos from ATMs and over the counter at banks. Few businesses accept US dollars however this is the easiest currency to exchange.
Mexico - If you enter Mexico by air, the MX$500 immigration fee is included in your airfare. If you enter Mexico overland, the immigration office will arrange for you to pay this fee at a nearby bank. You will receive an FMM card upon entry which you need to retain and present upon exiting the country. If you exit Mexico overland, there is a Mexican Tourist Fee (DNI - Derecho de No Inmigrante) of MX$558 (US$30).
We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved.
The recommended amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.
Optional Tipping Kitty:
On Day 1 your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips for drivers, local guides, and hotel staff (excludes restaurant tips). The leader will keep a running record of all monies spent which can be checked at any time, and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Participation in this kitty at your own discretion, and you are welcome to manage your own tipping separately if you prefer. Please note the tipping kitty excludes tips for your tour leader.
Unfortunately, commissions in exchange for recommending particular shops or restaurants are an ingrained part of the tourism industry. Rather than turning a blind eye, we’ve tried to legitimise the practise with a centralised fund. Moneys are collected from recommended and fully vetted suppliers and funnelled back into our business. This keeps the trip cost low (for us and for you) and makes sure you only get the best experiences.
If you’re unhappy with any places your leader recommends, or feel the quality of the trip is being compromised in any way, please let us know in your feedback.
The recommended tipping amounts are listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers. We do however recommend that you tip in the local currency and suggest that you hold on to your smaller notes and coins to make tipping easier. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
- Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$5. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% of your bill.
- Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We suggest US$3-6 per day for drivers.
- Local guides: There might be times during the trip where you’ll have a specialist local guide alongside your trip leader. We suggest tipping these guides about USD$2-3 per day.
- Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline USD$3-6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx USD$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes). Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are also convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips. Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:
WATER BOTTLE: Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.
Climate and seasonal
Please note hurricane season is June to November when landslides, mudslides, flooding and disruptions to essential services can occur. Intrepid monitors situations as they arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to these natural weather occurrences.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for our travellers. Our philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader or local representative has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
GENERAL ISSUES ON YOUR TRIP
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
For general contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/
In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, please contact our local office:
Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel.
Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting:
When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.
Intrepid and Playground Ideas.
Playground ideas was started in response for a worldwide need for more playgrounds. Using largely locally found materials means these playgrounds are cheap and can be put together by local people. Children provided with the opportunity for stimulating play in early childhood have improved ability and desire to learn leading to long term outcomes such as higher rates of employment and increased wages. Research has proven play interventions to be powerful, cost effective poverty reduction tools with sustained impact.
We are also proud to have Playground Ideas as a partner of The Intrepid Foundation, where our financial support will go directly towards building playgrounds. Every donation to The Intrepid Foundation from our travellers is matched by us dollar for dollar. To find out more or to make a donation, visit The Intrepid Foundation website https://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/playground-ideas
GENERAL ROOMING CONFIGURATIONS:
Family of two - All family groupings of two will be put into a twin room.
Family of three - Wherever possible we will put you in a triple room. Please be aware that in a handful of places triple rooms are in short supply. This means that, in practice, a triple room will often simply be a twin room with a mattress on the floor or a further bed squashed in. Where it is impossible to provide a triple room, you will have to decide which of your party takes the single room.
Family of four or more - You will most likely stay in two twin rooms. If and wherever possible we will aim put you in a quadruple room. Whilst we will do our very best to ensure that families are roomed close together (in some cases, we can arrange adjoining rooms), we can’t guarantee this. Most family holidays occur during peak season and we sometimes have little to no control over where you will be put. You need to come prepared for this.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Your fellow travellers
You will travel in a group with other like-minded families who may have come from all over the world. We find that the kids of all ages usually bond really well and act as a catalyst for the rest of the group. If you are keen to know the ages of other children on the trip then please ask. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only and are subject to availabilities. For our families we have priced an all inclusive package including entrance fees, transport and local guide where relevant to assist you with budgeting the exact amount required on tour. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. The optional activities listed in your itinerary are activities that are available to you as a guideline and have been checked locally.
The decision to partake in any activity not listed above is entirely at your own discretion and risk. If you do have any complaint about or problem with, any such optional activity your claim should be directed to the activity provider and not to Intrepid Travel.
Hotels (7 nights)