The first thing I looked for when I opened this "Fodors Cancun and the Riviera Maya 2012" travel guide was the Casa Tequila in El Centro. This wonderful (yet badly named) little restaurant is my must-go place in Cancun, and the one restaurant I recommend to everyone making the trip.
But it wasn't here. That is a mark-down for this guidebook.
Cancun and the Riviera Maya is kind of the go-to destination for my wife and I. We love to travel, and Cancun is the only destination we have been to repeatedly. Mainly because it is so affordable; a trip to Cancun is about a third of the price of a trip to Belize, which is a stone's throw away. But also because there is so much to see and do. We have been to Mayan ruins and villages, snorkeled in cenotes, swam with dolphins and manatees, gorged ourselves from little taco and tamale joints, and danced and drank till dawn.
About the only thing we haven't done in Cancun is played golf, gone to any beauty spas, or eaten at any high-end restaurants with small portions on fancy plates.
And that is the difficult point about making a guidebook to Cancun. There are distinct sets of travelers. There are the high-end, luxury travelers who stay at the classy resorts, sniff the rarified air, and never get into town unless it is part of an organized tour. Then you have the college kids, who couldn't really care less where they are so long as they can drink and ... party. And then you have people like us, budget-minded travelers who actually care about being in Mexico, who want to get away from the tourist strips and out to see some of the interesting sites of the country.
This guidebook can't possibly satisfy all of those different travelers, so it aims for the high-middle. The books assumes you are coming to Cancun with some cash, and most of the restaurant recommendations are $$$ and up. There is an emphasis on expensive organized tourism and activities, on safe places to play and shop. There isn't much practical advice: nothing about how to deal with the aggressive time-share sellers that you will meet the instant you depart, nothing about haggling the price of your taxi first before you get in, nothing on how to leave the tourist strip and get into the city.
And I can understand that. Those high-end travelers are the ones more likely to buy a packaged guidebook to go along with their packaged tours. I have to admit, as often as I have been to Cancun I have never bought a guidebook; I always just look stuff up on trip advisor and swap tips and recommendations with other like-minded travelers.
So this is a nice guidebook if you are a certain type of tourist. If a large gathering of dollar signs before a restaurant's name doesn't frighten you. If skipping a jungle hike in favor of a day at the spa getting a massage and aromatherapy sounds like heaven. Then this is the guidebook for you.
But rich or poor, spa or adventure, I do recommend Casa Tequila in El Centro. And look for the waiter with the broad smile and gold teeth.
I ordered this book from Vine because we are traveling to Cozumel for the first time this June. Cozumel is a small island and is therefore under-represented in most Mexico travel guides that I have seen. I was excited to see it in the title of this Fodor's guide. In my opinion, Fodor does some of the better guides.
This book is full of pictures, maps and information. It has a detailed dining guide with tips like "don't follow the cab driver's dining suggestions; they are often paid to recommend restaurants". It also has a nice shopping and lodging section. The shopping section includes grocery stores, markets and more. There is also a very detailed diving and snorkeling guide that has a dive site map.
I don't love the layout since it is sometimes confusing. There are pages on Cozumel that have the name of a city or location (such as San Miguel) at the top of the page. At first, I thought the guide had moved on to another area. Then, I realized San Miguel is in Cozumel. It also has the history of Cozumel in the middle of the chapter instead of the beginning. These things are annoying at first, but not bad once you learn how to use the guide. The other fault I had with this tour guide is that the sections on the attractions are small. The focus seems to be on the beaches and diving. I am going to see the Mayan ruins (as many other tourists do) and there is not a lot of information on them. Unfortunately, this seems to be the norm in all travel guides I have read.
Overall, the book has a lot of great information and is a decent guide. It has 44 pages on Cozumel; which is the most I have been able to find in any guide (I have checked out 4 other guides from the Library). I would definitely recommend this book.
Nice Info on local spots for entertainment, food, and lodging. Fodor's gives pros and cons of hotels, places to visit, and even has comments from trip adviser, something that you should always check before you book. It is a paperback sized book as opposed to its larger versions which myself I prefer (the larger ones). IT has little maps to get around and explore. Fodor's is not comprehensive, meaning it does not have everything for everyone and focuses more on the best it has to offer, meaning usually the more expensive and not budget minded entries. it laid out well and excellent quick reference. Check out the things that look cool and research more online. Be wary that the violence has crept into all cities in Mexico so take your families safety into account when you choose to venture off. I have been to many of the places it has listed and found it to be quite accurate. Staying out of the area for awhile though. The people of Mexico are great and friendly, but there is an element that is ruining it for everyone. Hope things get back to normal soon.
A quick dive into the possibilities of travel to the Yucatan, mostly focusing on Cancun and Playa Del Carmen. The guide lacks some detail, spends too much time on hotel listings, and a few of its facts are outdated, but the comprehensive look at the area provides more than enough information to plan a trip, and enough detail to bother taking the book along for the vacation.
I'm a frequent traveler, but have only been to Cancun once. I'd been planning a return trip in the near future when I got this guide, which seriously whetted my appetite. (and made my "wish I had time to see" list much longer!) There's good detail on a number of archaeological sites (but less detail about what they mean), info on water-sports, and a lot of mouth-watering restaurant and beach descriptions. If you don't know your Riviera Maya from your Cancun from your Playa Del Carmen, this guide will sort you out without having to wade through dozens of ad-filled results from google. The sections on "the rest" of the Yucatan (about 1/3 of the total book devoted to areas besides Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Cozumel) helped fill in the gaps in my knowledge and made me wish I was going for longer than 5 days.
There's randomly interspersed sections (literally in the middle of other sections) on Mayan architecture, local history, tequila, etc. There's interesting information on the animosity between Mayans and Spanish-bred Mexicans (including wars) that existed until only decades ago, but not much discussion on how the natives view the tourists who flock to their tropical paradise. More information on how to respect/honor the natives' culture would have been welcome. I'd have also liked more about avoiding guided-tour scams, timeshare sales, etc-- those constant sales pitches grow tiresome on a vacation.
On the negative, there's too much in the way of hotel listings (the least useful part of such a guide unless you're a backpacker!), and not very much detail about the sorts of local markets, bodegas, etc that an adventurous traveler would seek out (I don't want an outdated listing, but rather detail on the category of eatery or shop). For it being affordable Mexico, most restaurants listed are expensive-- good for the honeymoon set, but not where a normal traveler would eat every day. There's not much about seeking out or avoiding Spring Break festivities, despite Cancun being a major destination for youthful party-goers.
I noticed a few errors, which make me suspicious the volume needs a fact-checking. They mention a Hilton Cancun that doesn't exist any longer, but don't mention the major Westin Lagunamar resort in their comprehensive Zona Hotelera list for Cancun. There's a mention of traveling to Mexico with a birth certificate (not allowed for several years now). Errors of this sort may imply editors have been lax.
I'm generally fond of Fodor's guides, and this one is no exception despite my quibbles-- it does a nice job capturing the feel of being on the peninsula. The descriptions will have you yearning to travel. The guide I recommend with reservations, but the Yucatan without hesitation, by all means Go!
As a frequent traveller to the Yucatan I was excited to see this book offered on the Vine program.
This book was very disappointing.
Most of the pages are devoted to the expensive touristy hotels/spas/restaurants and attractions. I know a LOT of people who will read this book will be typical Cancun tourists who want to stick to the americanized parts of the country, but there are others who want to actually visit the Yucatan and know they've left the U.S.
Other than a few of the Mayan archeological sites I don't feel like this book devotes any real attention to helping a tourist get a feel for the beauty of the people and places of the Yucatan. It's also disappointing that there are few budget options listed. Should have been marketed as a Cancun guide with the attractions outside Cancun being mostly day trips.
on February 7, 2012
Bought this book to take to Cancun. The information it contains is nothing that I didn't already know. I was hoping to use it to find good restaurants, but no luck. Every restaurant it recommended in the hotel zone we were at was $$$ or $$$$, and I can't afford fine dining at every meal. Every time I pulled out the book on the trip I was disappointed at the lack of useful information. The book is geared toward retirees with lots of money to burn. I am a 30 something with a taste for adventure so this book was useless for me.
Fodor's is my top choice for travel guides. Beyond safety tips and recommendations on the usual what to see, where to stay/eat/shop/dance/scuba, etc, they're packed full of secondary information about the area, its history, customs, and other interesting or fun facts. While not necessary, they add to the enjoyment and understanding of one's travel destination. Fodor's believes that a rich travel experience involves interacting with local people, not just seeing the sites.
Among the things I learned in here is that Patron, my favorite tequila maker, has only been around since 1989. A little chapter tells readers about the grades of tequila (blanco, reposado, añejo), what drinks it goes in, how it's produced, and even the origin of the worm.
Prices for hotels and restaurants are denoted on a scale of ¢ to $$$$. It's really easy to look at how many $'s are next to a listing and pick one that fits your travel budget. The listings are a good variety and offer choices that accommodate a range of prices, not just $ or $$$$. Flipping through the book, I see lodgings and restaurants that are on either side of the scale, with many in the middle.
Lots of maps (23) and beautiful photos to go with the listings. Lots of historical sites. Lots of fun facts and sidebars. Some of the maps lack enough street level detail for foot travel, so you'll have to supplement with local tourist bureau maps.
In the back is a few pages of useful vocabulary and phrases in Spanish. After that are important safety tips and smart travel advice collected together in 24 pages. Everything from health emergencies and contact numbers to electricity to tipping expectations from service industry workers. Very reasonably priced and highly recommended.
Mexico's top tourist destination is the eastern coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, with its world-famous beaches cluster around Cancun, Cozumel, and other locations along the Riviera Maya, only a few hours by air from most US cities. The area offers miles of beautiful sun-soaked beaches, excellent opportunities for diving and snorkeling, a variety of comfortable to luxurious accomodations, unique dining, and a healthy slice of Mesoamerican history in the monumental remains of the Mayan civilization. "Fodor's Cancun and the Riviera Maya 2012 is just the guide for planning a fun and safe vacation to the area.
This Fodor's Guide offers a travel intelligence format, with lots of color photographs, graphics, reviews, and recommendations on what to see, where to stay and eat, and how to get to and around the Yucatan Peninsula. The guide has sections on Cancun, the Caribbean coast, Isla Mujeres, Cozumel, and the rest of the Yucatan Peninsula, including Merida and the Mayan ruins in the interior. This reviewer particularly enjoyed special features on Tequila and Mezcal, Cancun and Riviera spas, Mayan architecture, diving and snorkeling, and the great Mayan ceremonial center at Chichen Itza. The Yucatan even offers underwater adventures in its Cenotes, great limestone sinkholes thought to be sacred to the Mayans.
The guide offfers realistic advice on the range of possible hazards in the region, from the mundane (sunburn and dehydration) to the expected (low levels of crime and corruption) to the less likely (the civil war raging in distant northern Mexico). Practical tips include when to go, how to exchange currency, renting cars and buying gasoline, and touristing outside the resorts.
"Fodor's Cancun and the Riviera Maya 2012" is very highly recommended as a planning guide to the Yucatan.
This Fodor's guide mainly focuses on the coastal beach resorts of the Yucatan - Cancun, Isla Mujeres, et al - but also covers the interior and some of the less touristy beach towns. Disclosure - while I am an experienced traveller, I have never been to this part of Mexico. Hence, it can always be a bit harder to review without being able to compare to personal experience. What I did notice is that it has plenty of big glossy pictures to inspire you to travel.
The book focuses heavily on the beach resorts along the coast, describing resorts, spas, and beaches in detail. Most people going to this area will be spending at least some time on the beach, and will appreciate knowing where to go. It's important for families to avoid Spring Break crowds, for example. Couples may want to go to a romantic adults-only resort. The book covered the different areas, and within the areas, different types of experiences. For example, certain bars to avoid if you aren't looking to be on "Tourists Gone Wild" this year. Or, of course, if you are - they are all described here.
I did like that they covered a driving trip to different Mayan sites, and places to stay in the smaller towns. I liked dthat they discussed driving and safety. Some books, geared towards package tourists, will not cover driving or driving safety, let alone have realistic maps, because they assume their consumers will be on a tour bus. I appreciated that this book made time for the independent traveler!
As a lover of Mayan sites, I liked that the book described the Mayan sites in detail, and even had a small section describing the Mayan timeline, and showing which sites belonged to which periods.
You don't hear much about Merida, but this book gave it plenty of pages. It's a colonial town on the interior of the Yucatan, and I think it's going to be the destination of my next vacation. This book talked all about its restaurant and entertainment scene - lots of live concerts, dancing, and great Mexican and Middle Eastern food.
Another Plus - if you are looking for high-end food and luxury lodging, this book reviews that sort of thing. It's Fodors, after all. I liked reading the descriptions of Merida's best restaurants or Cancun's nicest spas. If I had the money to spend, I'd use this book as a reference guide.
My spouse commented that the book is poorly laid-out, and she found it hard to find information.
Overall, I didn't find it myself as readable as a Moon book or a Lonely Planet.
on January 3, 2012
If your trip is primarily to Cozumel, this book is vastly more useful than the Frommer's guide due to containing about three times as many pages on the subject. The Frommer's guide contains a useful road map for the mainland that the Fodor's guide lacks.