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Old 08-28-2012   #1 (permalink)
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First time visitors! Would love advice!

DH and I will be leaving in a few weeks for 6 nights at The Royal PDC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary! This will be our first visit to Mexico and we would love advice on what tours and excursions are must dos for our first visit. We are considering a Tulum Express tour, a full day at Xel-ha and an "ultimate adventure tour" at Hidden Worlds.

We are also thinking about taking the ferry to Cozumel and are wondering if we should book a tour or excursion or try to wing it on our own.

Anyway, we would love any advice, feedback or suggestions on how to make our first visit very memorable. Also would love to hear from people who have stayed at the Royal PDC recently and how the food and other amenities were at that time.

Thanks all!

Ann Marie
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Old 08-28-2012   #2 (permalink)
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My advice would be to skip Cozumel and head south instead. Akumal and Tulum are great and checking out a cenote or two is fun. sorry didn't realize the excursions that you were looking into. I would say Isla Mujeres over Cozumel.
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Old 08-28-2012   #3 (permalink)
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I would skip the "big box" tour to Tulum and do the Yucatreks tour instead. I dislike big group tours, big busses full of people, stops at other hotels to pick them all up and being on their time schedule. Yucatreks is a small group, does more than just walk around the ruins and is a lot of fun!

You don't need to take a tour to Xel Ha either. You can hop in a taxi or colective and pay at the entrance. Again, your time schedule, come and go when you want.

Cozumel is ok, really doesn't have anything that Playa doesn't have but it's not necessarily a wasted trip if you REALLY want to go there. I too would go to Isla Mujeres over Cozumel but it's a much longer day and quite a bit further away. If you go to Coz, you do not need a tour - you just take the ferry.
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Old 08-28-2012   #4 (permalink)
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Also, if you use Yucatreks they not only restrict the number of passengers to I believe no more than 12 but they will pick you up at the Royal PDC so you don't have to go elsewhere to get to them. By the way, they are great, you would have a good time.

Jorgy
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Old 08-28-2012   #5 (permalink)
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Yuckatreks Tulum and beyond tour is a great introduction to the area. You get a the Tulum ruins , beach and some cenotes in one tour. Don't try to get a tour in every day, just spend a day walking the beach and the town.
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Old 08-28-2012   #6 (permalink)
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I think Cozumel is a worthwhile day trip- we have done it several times and never tire of going there. We rent a vw bug from Isis and drive around the island, stopping wherever we want to snorkel, eat, and just enjoy the beautiful east side of the island. It is so much fun. You can also hire a driver if you do not want to drive yourselves, but it's very easy to do.

Driving around Isla Mujeres for a day on a golf cart is also a lot of fun but it's a little simpler to catch the ferry from Playa over to Cozumel. If you are not going to sight see around the island though I would probably skip it and spend more time checking out Akumal, Tulum, etc.
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Old 08-29-2012   #7 (permalink)
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been to cozumel.. never been to isla... prefer pdc to cozumel any day... i have read that isla is beautiful but need time to dedicate....

i am sure you will love whereever you go...its playa baby.. cant go wrong

enjoy and let us know what you decided
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Old 08-29-2012   #8 (permalink)
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...we've done coba and tulum by private van transfer...really enjoyed doing things on "our time" schedule and not a whole tour bus full of folks...we've done coba and tulum in a day...and then a second trip to coba...so much to see, and so beautiful...have fun whatever you decide...it's tough to go wrong in this beautiful and magical land...
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Old 08-29-2012   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jeffandann1 View Post
DH and I will be leaving in a few weeks for 6 nights at The Royal PDC to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary! This will be our first visit to Mexico and we would love advice on what tours and excursions are must dos for our first visit. We are considering a Tulum Express tour, a full day at Xel-ha and an "ultimate adventure tour" at Hidden Worlds.

We are also thinking about taking the ferry to Cozumel and are wondering if we should book a tour or excursion or try to wing it on our own.

Anyway, we would love any advice, feedback or suggestions on how to make our first visit very memorable. Also would love to hear from people who have stayed at the Royal PDC recently and how the food and other amenities were at that time.

Thanks all!

Ann Marie
My math skills suck, but if you have 6 nights in Playa, and you have a day of travel getting there and a day of travel heading home...that means you will only have 5 full days in PDC and you've identified 4 all-day excursions in your post (Tulum, Xel-Ha, Ultimate Adventure Hidden Worlds tour, Cozumel). I need a nap just thinking about all of that.

My advice? With only 5 full days I would pick maybe two full-day excursions outside of Playa, reserving the other 3 days for the beach and exploring PDC itself.

So for two all-day excursions, I'd definitely keep Tulum as one, and definitely with Yukatreks as others have recommended (and their "Tulum and Beyond" trip that Shammy linked to above includes a cenote swim).

I agree with others that for a day trip, Isla Mujeres gets my preference over Cozumel - although honestly, neither one is a "bad" choice and for PDC first timers, Cozumel is easier to get to. Then again, getting to Isla Mujeres isn't difficult, it is just that you would need to go to Cancun to catch the ferry.

We've done Xel Ha and Xcaret with the kids. Spendy, but decent enough places, well-manicured grounds, lots to see and do at each. If you want to do one of these parks, I'd recommend that you consider Xcaret if for the only reason to stay for the night time show. See here.

And don't worry about not getting it all in on your first trip. You WILL be back!

Have fun!
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Old 08-29-2012   #10 (permalink)
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So true!

"And don't worry about not getting it all in on your first trip. You WILL be back!"
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Old 08-29-2012   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gingele View Post
My math skills suck, but if you have 6 nights in Playa, and you have a day of travel getting there and a day of travel heading home...that means you will only have 5 full days in PDC and you've identified 4 all-day excursions in your post (Tulum, Xel-Ha, Ultimate Adventure Hidden Worlds tour, Cozumel). I need a nap just thinking about all of that.

My advice? With only 5 full days I would pick maybe two full-day excursions outside of Playa, reserving the other 3 days for the beach and exploring PDC itself.

So for two all-day excursions, I'd definitely keep Tulum as one, and definitely with Yukatreks as others have recommended (and their "Tulum and Beyond" trip that Shammy linked to above includes a cenote swim).

I agree with others that for a day trip, Isla Mujeres gets my preference over Cozumel - although honestly, neither one is a "bad" choice and for PDC first timers, Cozumel is easier to get to. Then again, getting to Isla Mujeres isn't difficult, it is just that you would need to go to Cancun to catch the ferry.

We've done Xel Ha and Xcaret with the kids. Spendy, but decent enough places, well-manicured grounds, lots to see and do at each. If you want to do one of these parks, I'd recommend that you consider Xcaret if for the only reason to stay for the night time show. See here.

And don't worry about not getting it all in on your first trip. You WILL be back!

Have fun!
Gingele is right on the money - there's far more to see than you'll have time for, so give yourselves a break - you'll be back!
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Old 08-29-2012   #12 (permalink)
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[quote=jorgy;1924576]Also, if you use Yucatreks they not only restrict the number of passengers to I believe no more than 12 but they will pick you up at the Royal PDC so you don't have to go elsewhere to get to them. By the way, they are great, you would have a good time.

Jorgy[/quote

I would second using Yucatreks but I would do either Coba or Chichen Itza.... you can always do Tulum on your own using the collectivos. Tulum can be done in a hour or two... Coba and Chichen Itza are all day events.. Mitch will provide sandwiches and drinks.. and the lunch at a Mexican restraunt and a swim in one of the cenotes. As was stated they will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. We have used them 4x and have never been disappointed. Either way have fun!!!!
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Old 08-30-2012   #13 (permalink)
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Happy holidays enjoy your trip !!!!!! We've done different things each trip. the best was just day trip by bus to Cancun, ferry to Isla Mujeres, rent a golf cart an tour around the island. Have fun & safe holiday !!
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Old 08-30-2012   #14 (permalink)
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You'll have lots to do in your short time in Playa, so Cozumel is something to put on the "maybe" list. I wouldn't make it a "must," seeing as how there is so much else to do.

Altho Hidden Worlds has become a famous brand, we actually thought their adventure tours were lame. They still have fine snorkeling-only tours in some of their cenotes (like Tak-be-ha) but their include-everything tour left us cold. The sky-cycle is a lot of hard work to see very little, the zip lines are minor (with one that you simply repeat backwards) the rappel is short, etc. They've got an OK place to eat and a store proclaiming "authenic Mayan art" (as the seller described it) with junk that looked like it came from China. We thought Hidden Worlds was is in serious need of a make-over and cannot recommend it in light of the other (better) places to do the same things. However, Hidden Worlds does have one special attraction called "Avatar"---the world's first roller coaster zipline. It's basically a short zipline with drops and turns and when we were there (2010) it was more like a prototype than finished attraction. There's potential, but we're not sure Hidden Worlds knows how to achieve it. Sorry, Hidden Worlds! Apart from specific cave snorkeling tours, you should be so much better than you are.

If you want to zipline, you need to go to Xplor just south of PCD. No other zipline outfit can compare. It might be crowded when you are there, and hot, but it's not to be missed. The cave swim is absolutely fantastic and should be preferred over the cave rafting.

The ruins of Tulum make a good visit and they are easy to do on your own. The ruins are pretty ruined, and you can no longer go on or in most structures, so don't expect to do much or see great carvings etc. It's the gorgeous setting that makes it so popular---and popular it is. Go before 11AM or after 3 to beat the huge crowds that come by the busload from Cancun and the cruise ships. Allow 1/2 day.

A more atmospheric bet would be to visit Coba and rent a bike to explore. For an all-day tour consider one to Ek-Balam, with some of the most intact carvings there are. It's still in the process of being excavated and is expected to rival Chichen Itza. Allow a full day for either.

We've done Xel-ha and Xcaret (several times) and prefer Xcaret. There simply isn't much to do at Xel-ha for the price, altho the water is gorgeous. There's so much more to do at Xcaret (the Epcot of Mexico) with the river float being a top attraction. Just remember, you have a choice of 2 routes and you want the one that forks left at the junction on the path---it leads through a tunnel and into a pretty area with a waterfall. The other route is mostly in the dark and simply doesn't compare. The folk art cemetery at Xcaret is quite wonderful too (if you like Mexican folk art). Allow a full-day. You can get a specially priced combo ticket for Xcaret and Xplor (or with Xel-ha added)

We always recommend Rio Secreto too, right outside PDC. This is a combo swim and walk through cave tour and is simply wonderful. We've done the tour 3 times (different routes) and always think it's great. Allow half-day, and it includes lunch.

A tour of the dry cave Aktun Chen is humid fun. Since we were there last (2009) they added a zip line and cenote swim too. Like many outfits, they now try to appeal to those tourists who want to do a little of everything in 1/2 day, meaning that in order to fit them all in the attractions don't amount too much individually. Kind of like what we think happened to Hidden Worlds.

The town of PDC is an attraction in itself. Walking along 5th Ave at night is thrilling. Be sure to allow time to explore it.

Weather and crowds permitting, you should have a great time. There's a reason we (and those who responded above) keep going back!
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Old 08-30-2012   #15 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stace View Post
You'll have lots to do in your short time in Playa, so Cozumel is something to put on the "maybe" list. I wouldn't make it a "must," seeing as how there is so much else to do.

Altho Hidden Worlds has become a famous brand, we actually thought their adventure tours were lame. They still have fine snorkeling-only tours in some of their cenotes (like Tak-be-ha) but their include-everything tour left us cold. The sky-cycle is a lot of hard work to see very little, the zip lines are minor (with one that you simply repeat backwards) the rappel is short, etc. They've got an OK place to eat and a store proclaiming "authenic Mayan art" (as the seller described it) with junk that looked like it came from China. We thought Hidden Worlds was is in serious need of a make-over and cannot recommend it in light of the other (better) places to do the same things. However, Hidden Worlds does have one special attraction called "Avatar"---the world's first roller coaster zipline. It's basically a short zipline with drops and turns and when we were there (2010) it was more like a prototype than finished attraction. There's potential, but we're not sure Hidden Worlds knows how to achieve it. Sorry, Hidden Worlds! Apart from specific cave snorkeling tours, you should be so much better than you are.

If you want to zipline, you need to go to Xplor just south of PCD. No other zipline outfit can compare. It might be crowded when you are there, and hot, but it's not to be missed. The cave swim is absolutely fantastic and should be preferred over the cave rafting.

The ruins of Tulum make a good visit and they are easy to do on your own. The ruins are pretty ruined, and you can no longer go on or in most structures, so don't expect to do much or see great carvings etc. It's the gorgeous setting that makes it so popular---and popular it is. Go before 11AM or after 3 to beat the huge crowds that come by the busload from Cancun and the cruise ships. Allow 1/2 day.

A more atmospheric bet would be to visit Coba and rent a bike to explore. For an all-day tour consider one to Ek-Balam, with some of the most intact carvings there are. It's still in the process of being excavated and is expected to rival Chichen Itza. Allow a full day for either.

We've done Xel-ha and Xcaret (several times) and prefer Xcaret. There simply isn't much to do at Xel-ha for the price, altho the water is gorgeous. There's so much more to do at Xcaret (the Epcot of Mexico) with the river float being a top attraction. Just remember, you have a choice of 2 routes and you want the one that forks left at the junction on the path---it leads through a tunnel and into a pretty area with a waterfall. The other route is mostly in the dark and simply doesn't compare. The folk art cemetery at Xcaret is quite wonderful too (if you like Mexican folk art). Allow a full-day. You can get a specially priced combo ticket for Xcaret and Xplor (or with Xel-ha added)

We always recommend Rio Secreto too, right outside PDC. This is a combo swim and walk through cave tour and is simply wonderful. We've done the tour 3 times (different routes) and always think it's great. Allow half-day, and it includes lunch.

A tour of the dry cave Aktun Chen is humid fun. Since we were there last (2009) they added a zip line and cenote swim too. Like many outfits, they now try to appeal to those tourists who want to do a little of everything in 1/2 day, meaning that in order to fit them all in the attractions don't amount too much individually. Kind of like what we think happened to Hidden Worlds.

The town of PDC is an attraction in itself. Walking along 5th Ave at night is thrilling. Be sure to allow time to explore it.

Weather and crowds permitting, you should have a great time. There's a reason we (and those who responded above) keep going back!
Well done !!
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