This Mexico

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Enjoying Mayan ruins at Mayapán without the crowds

Mayapán was a Mayan city, located 50 km south of Mérida, in the Yucatán. While it was an important Mayan city (it was their political and cultural capital during late Post-Classic period in the 13th and 14th centuries), it’s one of the best-kept secrets among the archeological zones in the Yucatán.

Although it hasn’t been excavated or restored as extensively as Chichén Itzá, nor have the decorative elements been preserved as well as those at Uxmal, nevertheless Mayapán has a lot going for it.

First, it’s so far off the standard tourist routes that you avoid all the crowds. In fact, when we were there, there was only one other pair of tourists. They left shortly after we arrived, so for much of our visit, we had the entire grounds to ourselves. (Compared to Chichén Itzá where you’re always surrounded by dozens of large tour bus groups.)

Second, all the structures are open for climbing and touching (again, as opposed to Chichén Itzá where everything is roped off). This lends itself to a much more enjoyable experience. From the top of the various pyramids, you get incredible views of the grounds allowing you to understand the organization of the city and clearly see the outlines of the various structures.

(As a bonus, it’s also the cheapest of the archeological sites at MX$35, as of December 2013.)

How to get there? I’m guessing there may be buses from Mérida, but we visited Mayapán as part of our cenote day with Lawson’s Original Yucatan Excursions. Ask them to take you to Mayapán then for a swim in the cenotes in Pixyah–you won’t be disappointed! Climbing the pyramids at Mayapán in the hot sun makes the cenotes all the more refreshing.

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