Mexico – Belize – Guatemala – Cuba Backpacking Route 2016

After an amazing holiday with my family at United States I decided to stay in the Americas to learn a bit of Spanish and see the culture. I had $4500 (AUD) or $3400 (USD) to last me 2 months. I flew from Miami to Cancun and traveled down the Caribbean coast to cross the border to Belize and then to Guatemala. I had a last-minute decision to ditch Spanish school at Guatemala and head back to Mexico via Chiapas to fly from Cancun to Cuba.

This is just a quick itinerary route with hostel recommendations and some quick tips on how to get there and must see places. I traveled from mid August to mid October.

See Map Here

MEXICO
My favourite country in this trip and I only got a little taste of it! I will definitely be back to explore more of the country.

Cancun – 1 day, can be skipped.
Getting there: From airport arrivals go outside to the right there is an ADO booth, Take the ADO bus to Downtown Cancun (P66).
Hostels: Quetzal, Mundo Joven, Hotel Kin Mayab – All walking distance to ADO Bus Stop
Must see/do: Take the R1 bus to Playa delfines, Walk to Parque de Palapas for cheap eats and live entertainment, Mercado 23.

Isla Mujeres – 1-2 Days
Arrival: From Downtown Cancun take a Collectivo (outside McDonalds) to Puerto Juarez and catch a ferry to Isla Mujeres.
Hostels: Poc-na, Azucar
Must see/do: Playa Norte, Snorkeling, street food cheap eats near the basketball and church.

Playa Del Carmen – 6 days 
Arrival: Take the ADO bus from Downtown Cancun to Playa Del Carmen
Hostels: Loft10, The Yak, Quinta Playa
Must see/do: Playa Acar, Take a collectivo (P30) to Akumal (swim with turtles), Tulum Ruins, Playa Paraiso (Tulum), Cenotes (Grand Cenote, Azul, Dos Ojos etc) Coba Temple.

Note: My original plan was only 2 days here and then 2 days Tulum I decided to skip Tulum and stay at Playa del Carmen because it was my birthday week and I met some really cool people. It was also a great base for me to other places as the collectivo is only 30 pesos to all cenotes and playas. The place is very touristy I recommend Tulum for a more backpacker feel.

Bacalar – 1-2 days
Arrival: ADO bus from Playa del Carmen to Bacalar. Tip –  you can save half price if you buy the ticket the day before.
Hostels: Green Monkey, Yaxche
Must See/Do: A quiet town with a beautiful lake and cafes, sunrise paddle board, cenote negro.

See Chiapas and Yucatan further below.

 

BELIZE

Caye Caulker – 5 days 
Arrival: Take a bus to Chetumal (ado or mayab), from nuevo mercado bus stop take a bus to Belize City walk to the terminal and ferry to Caye Caulker.
Hostels: Bellas, Tropical Oasis, Dirty McNasty, Yumis
Must see/do: Swim with shark and rays tour, the split, kayak, snorkelling, fishing, raggamuffin 3 days sailing tour* (Expensive)

San Ignacio – 2 Days
Arrival: From Ferry Port take a taxi (4USD) or walk to Belize City Bus Stop take the chicken bus to San Ignacio $2(USD). There are also air-conditioned buses from ferry port to San Ignacio.
Hostel: Bellas, The old house
Must see/do: ATM Caves, Xenuntunich Mayan temple, Crystal Caves, Saturday Market

Other Places in Belize to visit are: San Pedro, Hopkins, Orange walk.

GUATEMALA

Flores: 1-2 days
Arrival: From San Ignacio town, take a collectivo to the border (5USD), after immigration from the Guatemalan border after the bridge take another Collectivo to Santa Elena (30-45Quetzales) then take a Tuktuk from Santa Elena to Flores (5Q). Tip: have some quetzales ready the conversion if you give USD is horrible.
Hostel: Los Amigos
Must See/Do: Tikal, cheap street food at the waterfront, boat ride at the lake, hike up a mountain to have the best view of the island (have to ask locals where)

Semuc Champey: 1-2 days
Arrival: Bus booked from hostel
Hostel: El Muro, Zephyr Lodge
Must See/Do: Semuc tour, explore Lanquin

Antigua – 7 days
Arrival: From Flores take an overnight bus to Guatemala city then a van to Antigua buy tickets for both all at once. From Lanquin take a bus/van to Antigua.
Hostels: Somos, Tropicana, Jacaranda,
Homestay: Isabelles $100 USD for a week including 3 meals. *contact me for details.
Spanish School: San Jose El Viejo $100 USD 20 hours
Must see/do: Acatenango, Cerro De La Cruz, Santa Catalina Arch, Cathedrals, Art, Markets, Pacaya, Mayan Museum and many more.

Lake Atitlan (San Pedro) – 2days
Arrival: Taka the van Panajachel and take a boat to San Pedro
Hostels: Mr. Mullet, I stayed at Hotel Mansion de Lago because the private room there is the same price as a dorm room (75-80Q)
Must see/do: San Pedro Hike, Indian Nose Sunrise, Paddleboard/Kayak, Cheap Spanish Schools

 

 

BACK TO MEXICO

San Cristobal De Las Cases – 4days
Arrival: Take a transfer from San Pedro to San Cristobal de las Casas (180Q). 6am ferry to Panajachel and van to San Cristobal de las Casas 4pm arrival.
Hostels: De Ja vu, Luna Nueva
Must See: Churches/Cathedrals, Chiapas tours to waterfalls and Canyon.

Palenque: 1 day
Arrival: I did the day trip tour to see the waterfalls and palenque ruins and decided to stay at palenque instead of heading back to San Cristobal de las Casas.
Hostels: Posada Nacha`n – Ka`an, Yaxkin
Must see: Mayan Ruins, Town

Merida: 3 days
Arrival: ADO bus to Merida, take a uber or taxi to city centre (4op)
Hostel: Catedral, Zocalo
Must See: Events at the Plaza and Santa Lucia, Chichen Itza and Uxmal Mayan Tours, Cenote Ikkill , Yellow City. Free walking tour everyday 9am at the information centre.

Isla Holbox: 2 days
Arrival: Take the 11pm overnight bus from Merida (2nd class bus station) to Chiquila then take the ferry to Isla Holbox take a seat upstairs where you can watch the beautiful sunrise.
Hostels: Book before getting there – Ida y Vuelta, Tribu.
Must See/Do: Find the flamingoes, sunset at playa, swim with whale sharks, hammocks on the Caribbean.

Head back to Cancun on ferry and Bus to Fly to Cuba.

CUBA

Havana – 4 days
Arrival: $25 Tourist Visa Card at Mexico Airport and from Havana airport a taxi should cost no less than 25CUC to your hostel.
Hostels: Book before flying to Cuba – Mango (Havana Vieja) Paradise, Ronaldos Backpackers (Central Havana).
Must see: Malecon, Museums, Old Havana, Central Havana, Vedado.

Trinidad – 5 days
Arrival: Viazul bus $25CUC or taxi with other people for shorter time $25-30CUC PP
Homestay: Hostal Albertico
Must see: Playa Ancon, Waterfall and Horse-riding tour, Salsa Classes, Markets, Cave Party.

Vinales – I didn’t have time so I did a day tour from Havana it was $60US you can book this on any big hotels in Old Havana. Includes: Tobacco farm, Limestone Mural, Lunch and walk and boat inside Indian Cave. If I had time I would have stayed in Vinales for a couple of days.

More time? – Add in Santa Clara, Santa Maria, Cienfuegos and of course the West side. 


I hope this helps your planning, feel free to ask me any questions.
Check out my Instagram Page for some photos 🙂

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