Valladolid isn’t the most well-known place in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, but it has been one of my favourite spots in the whole country.
It it is only small, so it has a more friendly feeling than the other cities I’ve visited. Valladolid is also perfectly located for seeing a lot of the ancient Mayan sites in the region: Chichen Itza, Ek Balam and Coba.
The city is unsurprisingly centred around the central square: Parque Francisco Cantón. This is definitely the spot to see and be seen. Both day and night have an awesome vibe, but night time is typically pretty busy.
Each night I was there, bands were playing, street performers (clowns and mimes) were entertaining passer-byers and many little food carts offered churros, ice cream and sweets.
Only a few blocks away from the central square is Cenote Zací. Cenotes are natural sink holes from where limestone has fallen away. This creates a convenient little pool, perfect for taking a relaxing dip. The Yucatan has thousands of cenotes sprinkled around.
It was only a couple of dollars to enter (30 pesos). Each cenote a bit different, but Zací has a cave around the back of it and is reasonably big. The water is super clear and goes to a depth of over 100 metres. Around most of the edges it is shallow enough to stand.
Such an ideal way to cool off from the hot Mexican sun!
As I mentioned, Valladolid is close to some of the major Mayan sites of the Yucatan. I decided to visit Coba, which is about 60km from Valladolid, halfway to Tulum.
Getting the bus there was no worries. Getting back was a NIGHTMARE (more on that later).
The town of Coba is tiny; a few restaurants, tour operators and the odd hotel. From the bus, it was a short walk along the lake to the acheological site. This lake is home to many crocodiles, unfortunately I didn’t spot any.
Once inside the site, there is an option to rent a bike to cycle through the complex. There are also bike taxi’s if you’re feeling a bit lazy. I went on foot to look around, it really wasn’t such a huge area, especially compared to some other sites I’d recently been to.
The pyramids at Coba are a bit different to those at Palenque and Tikal. They have a more rounded appearance and are also less neat looking. Many of them have small altars or carved stones in front or near by them.
The Coba site was so much fun to cruise around. There are lots of sneaky paths leading off to different sections of each complex. For this I’m glad I went for the foot option over the bike.
The last part I saw is the biggest pyramid which is actually itself called Coba. You’re able to climb up to the top and will be rewarded with fantastic views of the jungle.
As timing would have it, I was at the top as a storm was rolling in. Very cool to see!
After seeing everything at the site, I hired a bike so I could ride to a cenote for an arvo dip. I was also filling a bit of time until the bus back to Valladolid was ‘apparently ‘ meant to come. I’d already waited for two that didn’t arrive but was told that 4pm one was ‘definite’. So off I went for a ride.
Ther are quite a few cenotes around Coba. I chose cenote Tamcach-Ha
as it was recommended to me by the man selling the tickets. This cenote was about 20 minutes riding from town.
After dip and chill out in the cenote, I rode back into town. I was back in time for the 4pm bus. It didn’t show. Neither did the ones that were meant to be there at 4:30pm and 5pm. I decided to just get a cab back to Valladolid, even though the price would have been outrageous. Unfortunately for me, the taxi rank was empty so that option was eliminated. I had no choice except to walk from town (2ish kilometers) to the highway and hope to get a cab along there. A few funny looks en route, I got to the highway intersection which was where turn offs were for Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancún and Valladolid. Thankfully it didn’t take long to grab a cab heading my way. Not so thankfully, I was crammed in the back with three men, absolutely smashing down beers. Surprisingly, even after about 4 per 30 mins, they behaved very well and were pretty quiet.
My remaining days in Valladolid I kept pretty low key. I opted out of venturing too far away, worried I’d have a repeat of the Coba ordeal. I checked out the local market, wandered the streets, sampled some delicious food, went running, did some HiiT workouts in my room, chilled by the pool with beer and cocktails.
Definitely one of the highlights of my time in Mexico, Valladolid was a pleasant surprise.
My next destination is the little island of Holbox. White beaches and sun await!