Valladolid, Mexico, is one of the most convenient bases for a trip to Chichén Itzá, but it's also a relaxing place to spend a couple of days. Locals and travelers hang around in the colonial-style square, nearby cenotes offer beautiful swimming, and everything seems to move more slowly than in Mérida or Cancún.
Cenote Zaci, right in town, is an open cenote, big and darker than most. Leaves drift lazily on the surface and big, black fish swim below it. You might even see a turtle. Visibility varies, but though you'll clearly see your feet, you won't see the bottom. That may be because it's two hundred sixty feet down. You can go swimming or just walk the pretty green path that surrounds the cenote.
More impressive but less convenient are the cenotes at Dzitnup, about seven kilometers from town. X'kekén and Samulá cenotes are underground, full of stalactites and lit spectacularly by holes in the ceiling. X'kekén is particularly impressive, one of the most photographed cenotes in the Yucatán. It's lit colorfully by electric lights and has ropes strung across the water so those fearful of the depths can still go exploring, holding tight to the ropes. The water is clear and beautiful, and the cave atmosphere almost mystic. Samulá is shallower, and not as beautiful, but the tree roots dripping down from the hole in the ceiling showcase the adaptability of nature.
Chichén Izta, with its fantastic and quintessential central pyramid, El Castillo, should not be missed. Explore the ball court and many other ruins. Go early -- when it opens -- because it fills later with hoards of tourists in tour groups.
Back in Valladolid, try some local street food, such as huevos motuleños (a breakfast dish made of tortillas, eggs, black beans, and cheese) at the little food and jewelry court on the square.
Though hostels in Valladolid are somewhat limited, most are within easy walking distance of the square and the bus station. Wander the streets, chat with some locals, and enjoy a quiet stay in Valladolid.
Hi, I'm Melinda Brasher,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Valladolid hostels. Welcome.