Valladolid, its tranquility and cozy ambience surrounded by pastel toned colonial buildings, is much like its people, the gentle, genuine, and friendly locals. Travelers mostly tend to skip Valladolid and head over to Quintana Roo or Mérida; however, staying at least two days in this humble but vibrant city would be highly recommended to color your mind. Here’s a simple day tour option for busy travelers!
For coffee lovers who start every day with a cup of great morning coffee, kick off your day tour at Coffee Bike Station (Calle 40 x Calle 43). This tiny coffee shop serves the best and freshest coffee and horchata water. One of their signature coffees is El Dirty Happy Hippie, made from chai latte, espresso shot, and good quality local Maya chocolate. Friendly baristas happily assist you with recommendations and customization of your drinks. On my second visit, I asked for my own coffee invention that was made of horchata water, chai, and an espresso shot – absolutely boosted my happy tummy and happy day.
A block away you will find the central plaza and Francisco Cantón Park. The fragrance of fresh flowers and trees are transported on cool breezes, bringing a smile to your face. On weekends, the central plaza hosts a big market and has live music performances on Sunday nights. The park area is always vibrant, with many local vendors and craft merchants. The Maya women in their beautiful traditional dress often approach you with their products that you should never underestimate. Maya clothes and hairbands for women and children are all handmade by these local women who sit on the streets all day, sewing with their traditional spirit and cultural pride. They try to keep and pursue Maya values through the traditional fashion and customs despite the huge influx of modern fashion culture and European boutique designer shops in Valladolid. So, you are actually walking through history and seeing it come alive in the central plaza of Valladolid.
If you haven’t been to a cenote in Yucatán, this would be the perfect time to check out Zaci Cenote (Calle 37 x Calle 36), located in the heart of downtown Valladolid, just a couple of blocks from Francisco Cantón Park. The entrance fee is $30 pesos, and rental fee of a life vest is $30 pesos. After a very short walk into a cave, you will be astonished by the clean emerald water and big beautiful waterfall. Cool down your body from the sizzling sun! It’s such a gorgeous hidden jungle that refreshes the body and mind of all visitors.
Walking along Calzada de Los Frailes is a must, with its unique shops, and I consider it the most beautiful street in Valladolid. It eventually leads you to the Convent of San Bernardino of Siena and its park. To satisfy your hunger or quench your thirst, try local fruit popsicles or coconut ice cream from street vendors, or have a quick lunch break at La Ville Bistro (Calle 40 x Calle 37), on the way to Calzada de Los Frailes. Their smoothies and cakes are extraordinary and you will have a perfect excuse after burning so many calories strolling the streets and swimming!
Don’t miss the opportunity of taking great photos on Calzada de Los Frailes! The beautiful colonial buildings and rustically or modernly decorated artistic shops will make your photo like a professional blogger’s or lifestyle magazines. Tresvanbien is such a lovely snack & tea / coffee place, you’ll definitely want to look at details of its interior, decorations, and style.
For those who love archaeology and history, visit Ek Balam, a beautiful Maya ruin surrounded by jungle, in the morning, and spend the rest of your time in town with great food and live music or performances near the central park. You can find Ek Balam collectivo taxis a few blocks from the ADO bus terminal. Drivers frequently shout ‘Ek Balam’ at every corner to find riders. It costs 50 pesos per person, for a one-way ride; usually up to four people share it. The archaeological site entrance fee for foreigners is $413 pesos and $153 pesos for Mexican national; the cenote entrance fee is $50 pesos. You also can rent a bike to wander around the jungle area of the site and cenote. The cenote is gorgeous and well set up for adventurous people. If you want to be wilder, try rope diving and zip-line, too; the time will fly by!
Contributed by traveler AJ Kim
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