…an essential part of every visit to this area…
Sometimes I meet tourists on the Playa Del Carmen beach who have done nothing but sunbathe and get drunk for the full two weeks of their vacation.
They look like shriveled prawns.
All they’ve seen is the airport, the beach, the hotel, and the same bar that they go to every night.
I tell them they should do a Mayan tour, and they should appreciate the beauty of the Mayan ruins and culture.
They say that their neighbors went to Cancun and they have to be browner than them.
Sure, the beach at Playa Del Carmen is pretty impressive.
And so is the tequila.
But the region’s greatest attraction is what has been provided by the Mayans.
Why You Need To Understand A Bit Of Mayan History
Before ignorant tourists in speedos came to Playa Del Carmen the area was inhabited for thousands of years.
The Mayans are indigenous to this area, and I think they’re pretty cool.
They invented the calendar, sacrificed humans to the gods, and ate hallucinogenic plants as painkillers.
Most people think that the Mayans were completely wiped out by the colonial Spanish invasions.
But there are still many Mayan villages around Playa Del Carmen.
The best part about the Mayans is that there are lots of different ways you can explore their unique culture.
What Is A Mayan Tour?
There’s not really anything specifically called a Mayan tour.
It’s not like they’re an attraction that you go visit in a zoo or theme park.
In general there are two types of tour you can do.
- One that shows you the great Mayan civilizations of the past.
- And another that allows you to interact with Mayans of the present.
If you ask for a Mayan tour then people will know what you mean.
Tour operators have many different tours that cover parts of the Mayan culture.
The Mayans used to have huge cities and the remains of these cities are open to the public.
Chichen Itza is the largest and has been voted one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Near Playa Del Carmen you can also visit the ruins at Tulum, Coba, and Ek Balam.
Each is impressive in its own way.
All of these ruins show how developed and ahead of their time the Mayans were.
These incredible stone cities were built a long time before any of the Europeans landed in America.
Different tour companies offer slightly different tours and the prices vary.
Usually they include transport, lunch, entrance fees and a guided tour.
This list can give you a general idea about what is available:
However, it’s not just about the old Mayan cities.
Cenotes were incredibly important to the Mayans and there are many that are open to the public.
These are caverns or sinkholes where the landscape has given way to reveal the cool water underneath.
They look great in photos, and you can swim in them.
The cenotes were sacred to the ancients, and it’s where the Mayans conducted religious ceremonies.
Many tours to the Mayan ruins also include a stop at a cenote.
Modern Mayan Culture
Despite the best efforts of the Spanish, Mayan civilizations lived on in the Riviera Maya.
Around Playa Del Carmen there are some tiny Mayan villages in the jungle.
Tour companies offer trips to these villages where you can meet and chat to real Mayan people.
Some even include a home-cooked Mayan feast prepared by the local women.
Others recreate a traditional cleansing ceremony, which is a bit like visiting a witch doctor in a spa.
It sounds weird but it makes you feel amazing.
If you are a religious fanatic, you don’t have to take the Mayan ritual seriously; it’s just for fun.
Don’t worry, God won’t send you to hell!
Different Mayan Tours
As I said there is no one ‘Mayan tour.’
However, there are different companies offering tours that are focused on the Mayan culture.
Here’s a list so you can get an idea of what is available.
All of them include transport, entrance fees, drinks, equipment, and activities.
Anything Else I Should Know?
These are just examples of some tours you can do.
Come to Playa Del Carmen, get off the beach and discover Mayan culture.
I really hope that you’re not another one of those people who is just going to sit on the beach until they shrivel up from the sun.
Just bring an open mind and a camera and go explore!
See you here soon…
Lots of love,
It’s your turn. Do you have experience visiting some Mayan ruins? Tell us about it in the comments section below!