Ruins

The ruins (X 568-03-16 admission Grupo de las Columnas 6 Grupo del Norte M 35 h 8am-5pm) date mostly from the final two or three centuries before the Spanish conquest. At this time Mitla was probably the most important of the Zapotec religious centers, dominated by high priests who performed heart-wrenching human sacrifices. It's thought that each group of buildings we see at Mitla was reserved for specific occupants - one for the high priest, one for lesser priests, one for the king and so...

The Mennonites

In Cuauht moc, Nuevo Casas Grandes and Chihuahua, you'll likely do a double take when you first encounter Mennonite men in baggy overalls and women in American Gothic dresses and black bonnets speaking a dialect of low German to blonde children. The Mennonite sect, founded by the Dutchman Menno Simons in the 16th century, maintains a code of beliefs that puts it at odds with many governments, particularly an extreme pacifism and refusal to swear oaths of loyalty other than to God. And so,...

Creel

Creel, surrounded by pine forests and interesting rock formations, is an unexpected surprise. Oddly, its location and log-fueled architecture feel vaguely reminiscent of an alpine village, albeit a very red, white and green one. Filled with the multi-hued Rar muri, Creel is (at least for now) a perfect little marriage of travelers and tradition and an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area's numerous natural attractions. It fully established itself as a traveler's hub in the '90s,...

Costa Chica

Guerrero's 'Small Coast,' extending southeast from Acapulco to the Oaxacan border, is much less traveled than its bigger brother to the northwest, but it does have at least one spectacular beach. Afro-Mestizos (people of mixed African, Indigenous and European descent) make up a large portion of the population. The region was a safe haven for Africans who escaped slavery, some from the interior, others (it's believed) from a slave ship that sank just off the coast. From Acapulco, Hwy 200...

The Witching Hour

On the first Friday in March each year, hundreds of brujos (shamans), witches and healers from all over Mexico descend on Catemaco to perform a mass cleansing ceremony. The event is designed to rid them of the previous year's negative energies, though the whole occasion has become more commercial than supernatural in recent years. Floods of Mexicans also head into town at this time to grab a shamanic consultation or limpia (cleansing) and eat, drink and be merry in a bizarre mix of otherworldly...

Posada Barrancas

About 5km southwest of Divisadero, Posada Barrancas station is next to Arepon puchi, the only village on the train line that is right on the rim of the canyon. Often referred to as Arepo, this village - made up of just a couple of dozen houses, a tiny church and a handful of inns - is where it all comes together for the first time spectacular views of the canyon dangle precariously under the patios of a few hotels here, making it a don't-miss stopover. Arepo is also a good base for going into...

Tampico The Huasteca

Industrial, developed Tampico contrasts sharply with the verdant Huasteca inland where the coastal plain meets the fringes of the Sierra Madre Oriental. Spread over the states of southern Tamaulipas, eastern San Luis Potos , northern Veracruz and small corners of Quer taro and Hidalgo, the Huasteca is named after the indigenous people of the region. Heading inland from the Huasteca, four steep, winding routes cross the sierra Hwy 70 from Ciudad Valles to San Luis Potos Hwy 120 from Xilitla...

MONEY

Mexico's currency is the peso, usually denoted by the 'M ' sign. Any prices quoted in US dollars will normally be written 'US 5' or '5 USD' to avoid misunderstanding. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. Coins come in denominations of 20 and 50 centavos and one, two, five, 10, 20 and 100 pesos. There are notes of 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos. For exchange rates, see inside the front cover. For information on costs, see p32. The most convenient form of money in Mexico is a major...

Info

Time-travel through Mexican civilizations at Xalapa's Museo de Antropolog a (p679) Climb around gigantic surrealist structures and dip in exquisite swimming holes of Las Pozas in Xilitla (p665) Walk a wistful coastal boulevard early in the morning and dance salsa deep into the night in Veracruz (p684) Gape at the extensive ruins of El Taj n (p672). Exploring the rainforests, volcanoes, waterfalls and deserted coastline of Reserva de la Biosfera Los Tuxtlas (p708) a Reserva de la Biosfera Los...

Daniel C Schechtermexico City

Definitely swimming against the tide, native New Yorker Daniel migrated a otro lado southward in 1994 to take a peso-salaried teaching post at a university in Mexico City. Shortly afterward, Mexico experienced its worst peso devaluation in decades. Rather than cut and run, Daniel found an even less lucrative job as an editor at Mexico's English-language daily newspaper, launching a midlife career as a writer and translator. After more than a decade in Mexico, Daniel and his wife Myra are back...

TOP END

Casa Felipe Flores (X 678-39-96 www.felipeflores .com JF Flores 36 r incl full breakfast US 92-118 n) A dreamy colonial guesthouse decorated with outstanding Mexican and Guatemalan art, crafts and furnishings, the 200-year-old building contains five fireplace rooms set off two flowery courtyards. The fireplace lounge is a wonderful place to have a glass of wine and leaf through some of their terrific library. Room 5 is a cozy rooftop hideaway, with a private terrace looking out over tiled...

Pueblos Mancomunados

The Pueblos Mancomunados (Commonwealth of Villages) are eight remote Zapotec villages in the thickly forested highlands north of the Valle de Tlacolula. For centuries, in a unique form of cooperation, the villages have pooled the natural resources of their 290-sq-km territory, which include extensive pine and oak forests, sharing the profits from forestry and other enterprises. Today seven of the villages (the exception is Yaves a) also cooperate in an excellent ecotourism program that offers...

Vehicle Permit

You will need a permiso de importaci n temporal de veh culos (temporary vehicle import permit) if you want to take a vehicle beyond Baja California, beyond Guaymas in Sonora state, or beyond the border zone that extends 20km to 30km into Mexico along the rest of the US frontier and up to 70km from the Guatemalan and Belize frontiers. Officials at posts of the Instituto Nacional de Migraci n (INM National Immigration Institute) in the border zones, and at the ferry terminal at La Paz, Baja...

Festivals Events

The fantastic Feria de Corpus Christi, in late May and early June, is the big annual event. As well as the bullfights, parades and charreadas that are usual in Mexico, Papantla celebrates its Totonac cultural heritage with spectacular indigenous dances. The main procession is on the first Sunday when voladores fly two or Papantla's other major celebration is the Festival de Vainilla (Vanilla Festival) on June 18, featuring indigenous dancers, gastronomic delights sold in street stalls and...

Sleeping

Barra has fewer beachfront rooms than its neighbor Melaque. The prices listed here are for the high season (between November and May). Hotel Caribe (X 355-59-52 Sonora 15 s M 150-200, d t 200 300) For the low price you get a rooftop terrace, hot water and your pick of 18 clean but worn rooms. Downstairs there's a pleasant garden offering respite on a hot afternoon. Hotel Jalisco (X 355-85-05 mariodiaz468 hotmail .com Jalisco 81 s d M 150 200 ) The jovial proprietor at this simple hotel enjoys...

Contemporary Art In Oaxaca

Inspired by diverse influences ranging from the area's contrasting landscapes to indigenous mythology and contemporary globalization, Oaxaca state's talented artists continue to produce some of the country's most vibrant and pioneering art. Many now spend time, exhibit and sell their work in Mexico City, the United States and elsewhere, but Oaxaca city is still by far the best place to get a feel for their great creativity and imagination. A delight in color and light and a dreamlike feeling...

La Aduana

There are several small historic villages near lamos that make interesting day excur- sions, but La Aduana, the mine that once made lamos rich, is a must, and is often included on guided-tour itineraries. It's a tiny little town with a small main plaza and a rustic feel. The real star of the place is Casa La Aduana Restaurant & Hotel ( 647-404-34-73 www.casala duana.com r with breakfast & dinner for two M 1250 S closed May-mid-Jun). It has basic rooms on the plaza, but the big draw is its...

Gay Puerto Vallarta

Come on out - the rainbow flag flies high over Puerto Vallarta and its formidable selection of gay bars, nightclubs, restaurants and hotels. With ncreasing international awareness of Vallarta as a gay destination, the number of annual gay visitors is on the rise. Sadly, most of the nightclubs cater specifically to gay men, but there are several small bars where women congregate. The Gay Guide Vallarta (www.gayguidevallarta.com) booklet has tons of information and a helpful map for finding...

Getting There Around

San Andr s is the transportation center for Los Tuxtlas, with fairly good bus services in every direction, lst-class with ADO and 2nd-class (meaning no bathroom) with AU. Rickety but regular 2nd-class TLT buses are often the quickest way of getting to local destinations. They leave from a block north of the market and skirt the north side of town on 5 de Febrero (Hwy 180). Regula TLT destinations include Acayucan, Santiago Tuxtla and Veracruz. Frequent colectivo taxis to Catemaco and Santiago...

Parras

X 842 pop 33,000 elevation 1520m A graceful oasis town located in the heart of the Coahuilan desert some 160km west of Saltillo, Parras is the kind of place that puts a smile on your face. It has a historic center of real colonial character and a delightfully temperate climate, but it's most famous for its wine, and even some no-frills restaurants serve it. Underground streams from the sierra surface here as springs, which have been used to irrigate the parras (grapevines) since the late 16th...

Information

Canadian C nsul ate 1 E8 Antiguo Palacio Federal (see 3) Biblioteca Central 8 E7 Capilla de los Dulces Nombres 9 E7 Casa de la Cultura de Nuevo Le n .10 E3 Congreso del Estado. 14 E7 Ixplanada de los H roes 15 E6 La Casa de los Monumento Homenaje al Sol 19 E8 Museo de Arte Contempor neo 20 E8 Museo d e H i sto ria Mexi can a 21 E6 Museo del Museo del Palacio de Gobierno 23 E6 Museo del 11) Museo Metropolitano de Monterrey.25 E7 Palacio de Hotel Palacio Hotel Del Centro Parque Hotel Pinacoteca...

Around uruapan Cascada de Tzararacua

Ten kilometers south of downtown Uruapan, the wild Rio Cupatitzio makes its last act count. It pumps hard over the vine covered, 30m-high red rock cliffs and crashes into a misty turquoise pool. This is the Tzar racua waterfall (g 106-04-41 www.tzararcua.com.mx admission M 10, cars extra M 5 S 10am-6pm). On the meandering hike down the 557 slippery steps to the falls you'll see that the raging river has been dammed a few kilometers downstream. The tame lake set against rolling green hills is...

AIR

The following Mexican airports receive direct international flights. All have flights from the US (some from several US cities, some from only one or two). Only Mexico City and Cancun receive direct scheduled flights from Europe, Canada, Central and South America and Havana, Cuba. Mexico City, Cancun, Guadalajara and Monterrey have the most international flights. Acapulco (ACA X 744-466-94-34 www.oma.bz) Aguascalientes (AGU X 449-915-28-06 Baj o (El Baj o, Le n BJX X 477-713-64-06 guanajuato...

Northern Gulf Coast

It's 500km from Matamoros to Tampico along Hwys 101 and 180. The route begins through checkerboard-flat cornfields, but eventually the land rises into the foothills of the Sierra Madre Oriental, farming changes to ranching and the scenery turns scenic. The principal towns along the way are San Fernando (137km from Matamoros), Soto La Marina (267km) and Aldama (380km), each with budget and midrange hotels if you need to break your journey here. You may also want to stock up on cash in one of...

Michoacan Coast

Highway 200 hugs the shoreline most of the way along the beautiful 250km coast of Michoacan, one of Mexico's most beautiful states. The route passes dozens of untouched beaches - some with wide expanses of golden sand, some tucked into tiny rocky coves, some at river mouths where quiet estuaries harbor multitudes of birds. Several have gentle lapping waves that are good for swimming, while others have big breakers suitable for surfing. Many of the beaches are uninhabited, but some have small...

Tulum Pueblo

You have to use a taxi (or hitchhike) to get to the beach. If you crave sand and surf, consider the Zona Hotelera. I.IIUM Weary Traveler (X 871-23-90 www.wearyt raveler.lnfo Av Tulum dm M 120, r without with bath M 300 350 ) Turn right out of the bus station and walk one block southeast to this fun hostel. A great place to meet friends, the Weary Traveler is known for a full breakfast that includes fruit, eggs, bread, coffee and condiments. There's internet, a shuttle to the beach, and a great...

Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Kaan

Over 5000 sq km of tropical jungle, marsh, mangroves and islands on Quintana Roo's coast have been set aside by the Mexican government as a large biosphere reserve. In 1987 the UN classified it as a World Heritage site -an irreplaceable natural treasure. Sian Ka'an (Where the Sky Begins) is home to howler monkeys, anteaters, foxes, ocelots, pumas, crocodiles, eagles, raccoons, tapirs, peccaries, giant land crabs, jaguars and hundreds of bird species, including chocolateras (roseate spoonbills)...

El Panchan

Just off the road to the ruins, El Panch n (www .elpanchan.com Carretera Palenque-Ruinas Km 4.5) is a legendary travelers' hangout, set in a patch of dense rainforest - the epicenter of Palenque's alternative scene and home to a bohemian bunch of Mexican and foreign residents and wanderers, including a number of archaeologists and anthropologists. Once ranchland, the area has been reforested by the remarkable Morales family, some of whom are among the leading archaeological experts on Palenque....

Xcalak

The rickety wooden houses, beached fishing launches and lazy gliding pelicans make this tiny town plopped in the middle of nowhere a perfect escape. Despite its proximity to Hurricane Dean's Ground Zero in Mahahual, Xcalak (pronounced ish-kah-lak) escaped the brunt of the storm. And blessed by virtue of its remoteness and the Chinchorro barrier reef (preventing the creation of a cruise ship port), Xcalak may yet escape the development boom. After Dean, the inner portions of the coastal reefs...

Pop elevation m

Mazamitla, a charming whitewashed mountain town south of Lago de Chapala and 132km by road from Guadalajara, is seldom fully awake. Shops close at 5pm, restaurants open at 6pm and abuelas (grandmothers) dressed in black wander haphazardly through the hilly cobbled roads, stopping traffic. Mazamitla sports an interesting take on the Swiss alpine theme and you'll see small storefronts selling fruit preserves, cheeses, rompope and cajeta (milk caramel) around the plaza. There's a small but lively...

Palacio De Tetitla Palacio De Atetelco

Another group of palaces lies west of the site's main area, several hundred meters northwest of Gate 1. Many of the murals, discovered in the 1940s, are well preserved or restored, and perfectly intelligible. Inside the sprawling Tetitla Palace, no fewer than 120 walls are graced by murals, with Tl loc, jaguars, serpents and eagles among the easiest figures to make out. Some 400m west is the Atetelco Palace, whose vivid jaguar or coyote murals - a mixture of originals and restorations - are in...

Eating Drinking

Caf Grano (X 766-56-84 Castellanos 15D coffees from M 19 h9am-9pm) The smell of roasting organic coffee will soothe your soul and your conscience too because only organic free-trade beans from Chiapas are roasted and ground here. La Tasca (X 766-52-69 Guerra 22 mains M 100 h 4-10 30pm Tue-Sun) Nestled on a sweet lakefront plot is this Flamenco bar and grill. Locals rave about the food, but on most nights you can also simply come for a drink and listen to live Flamenco music. HIU'IM Ajijic Tango...

Eating

Seafood joints with reasonable prices gather along Paseo Corona. The most popular among expats is Restaurant Cozumel. Coffee Break ( 765-59-31 Madero 413 desserts M 25 h 8am-10 30pm) A young crowd, good tunes, high speed wireless internet and great coffee equals the perfect coffee house. Caf Paris ( 765-53-53 Madero 421 mains M 40) This old school diner with groovy bar counter seating is a Chapala institution. It serves everything from omelettes to tacos to T-bones. Blue Agave ( 765-77-70...

Sights

The pier extends from the end of Av Madero, over marshlands and into the sky-blue lake. Relax on one of the white wrought iron benches and catch an afternoon breeze or some morning sun. A ticket booth at the pier's entrance sells boat tickets to Isla de los Alacranes (Scorpion Island), 6km from Chapala, which has some restaurants and souvenir stalls but is not very captivating. A round-trip, with 30 minutes on the island, costs M 420 per boatload for one hour it's M 480. A better and pricier...

Chapala

X 376 pop 20,700 elevation 1550m Lago de Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake, lies 45km south of Guadalajara. Surrounded by mountains - some of which tumble dramatically to the shore, its beauty is deep and undeniable, but it's not always healthy. Water levels fluctuate due to Guadalajara and Mexico City's water needs and on-again, off-again drought. Commercial fertilizers washed into the lake have nourished water hyacinth, an invasive plant that clogs the lake's surface, blocks sunlight...

Atotonilco el alto

X 391 pop 27,276 elevation 1596m The soil reddens and the blue agave blooms as the road winds about 150km into the high lands east of Guadalajara. The striking red earth signifies a higher concentration of iron and other nutrients that make agave sweeter and the tequila smoother than those distilled and bottled in Tequila. Don Julio, the man who invented aged tequila, is the biggest name, but 7 Leguas and 50 other producers are scattered through the hills that encircle this quaint colonial town...

Tequila

Mexico's national spirit has a past, but the industry itself is quite young. Spanish conquistadors first cultivated the blue agave plant (Agave tequilana weber) as early as the mid-1550s in the state of Jalisco. But tequila, which is only produced in Jalisco, didn't become popular until after the Mexican Revolution when Jos Cuervo introduced the first bottle to the public. It all starts in the agave fields. Plants are cultivated for eight to 12 years then the jimadores come calling. These tough...

Around Guadalajara

Guadalajara's version of the 21st century is enthralling, but you'd be wise to explore the surrounding countryside, where lonely mountain pueblos and lazy lakeshore towns promise an intoxicating shot of old Mexico. San Juan de los Lagos, 150km northeast of Guadalajara, is a small, colorful market city and pilgrimage destination for millions. There are two major tequila-producing towns. Tequila, in the lowlands 50km to the northwest, is the obvious tourist's choice. But the good stuff comes from...

Bus

Guadalajara has a comprehensive city bus system, but be ready for crowded, rough rides. On major routes, buses run every five minutes or so from 6am to 10pm daily and cost M 5. Many buses pass through the city center, so for a suburban destination you'll have a few stops to choose from. The routes diverge as they get further from the city center and you'll need to know the bus number for the suburb you want. Some bus route numbers are followed by an additional letter indicating which route they...

ToFrom the Bus Terminals

To reach the city center from the Nueva Central Camionera, take any bus marked 'Centro' (M 5). You can also catch the more comfortable, turquoise-colored TUR bus (M 10). They should be marked 'Zapopan'. Don't take the ones marked 'Tonal ' or you'll be headed away from Guadalajara's center. Taxis to the city center cost around M 180 unless they let the meter tick (some don't use it). To get to the Nueva Central Camionera from the city center, take any bus marked 'Nueva Central' - these are...

Getting around ToFrom the Airport

The airport is about 17km south of the center of Guadalajara, just off the highway to Chapala. To get into town on public transportation, exit the airport and head to the bus stop in front of the Hotel Casa Grande, about 50m to the right. Take any bus marked 'Zapote' (M 6) or 'Atasa' (M 10) - both run every 15 minutes from about 5am to 10pm and take 40 minutes to the Antigua Central Camionera, where you can hop a bus to the city center. Taxi prices are M 200 to the city center, M 180 to the...

Car

Guadalajara is 535km northwest of Mexico City and 344km east of Puerto Vallarta. Highways 15, 15D, 23, 54, 54D, 80, 80D and 90 all converge here, combining temporarily to form the Perif rico, a ring road around the city. Tolls and driving times to main destinations are as follows Manzanillo ( 24, three hours), Puerto Vallarta ( 26, 3 hours) and Mexico City ( 52, hours). Guadalajara has many car rental agencies. Several of the large US companies are represented, but you may get a cheaper deal...

Getting there away

Guadalajara's Aeropuerto Internacional Miguel Hidalgo (X 3688-5504) is 17km south of downtown, just off the highway to Chapala. Inside are ATMs, money-exchange, caf s and car-rental booths. There's also a tourist office (h 8am-6pm). A multitude of airlines offer direct flights to major cities in Mexico, the US and Canada, including Aero California (Map p521 X 800-237-62-25 www .areocalifornia.com) Aerom xico (Map pp524-5 X 3658-0799 www .aeromexico.com Av Corona 196) American Airlines (Map p521...

Shopping

Handicrafts from Jalisco, Michoac n and other Mexican states are available in Guadalajara's many markets. The Casa de las Artesan as de Jalisco (p528), just outside Parque Agua Azul, has the best selection of quality crafts in the city limits. But Tlaquepaque and Tonal , two suburbs less than 15km from Guadalajara's center, are both major producers of handicrafts and furniture (see p529 for both). You'll find the best value (read wholesale prices) in Tonal . Mercado San Juan de Dios (Map...

Soccer

F tbol flows strongly through Guadalajaran blood. The city has three local teams in Mexico's top league, the primera divisi n Guadalajara (Las Chivas www.chivas.com .mx) - the second most popular team in the country - Atlas (Los Zorros www.atlas.com.mx) and Universidad Aut noma de Guadalajara (Los Tecos www.tecos.com.mx). The seasons last from July to December and from January to June and teams play at stadiums around the city. You can get an up-to-date season schedule at www.femexfut.org.mx....

Gay Lesbian Guadalajara

Guadalajara is one of the gayest cities in the country - some call it the San Francisco of Mexico. It's not nearly as open as SF, however, and discrimination (especially against transgender folks) persists. However, if you know where to go you'll feel comfortable. Guadalajara's so-called 'gay ghetto' radiates out a few blocks from the corner of Ocampo and S nchez, in the city center, but Av Chapultepec's Zona Rosa (just west of the city center) is starting to see upscale establishments aimed at...

Mariachis

You can pay your respects to the mariachi tradition in its home city. The Plaza de los Mariachis, just east of the historic center, is an OK place to sit, drink beer and soak in the serenades of passionate Mexican bands. But you'll be happier at El Pari n (p536), a garden complex in Tlaquepaque made up of dozens of small cantinas that all share one plaza occupied by droves of Mariachi. On the weekends the bands battle and jockey for your ears, applause and cash. Casa Bariachi (Map p521 X...

Nightclubs

Guadalajara's hot spots are outside the historic center. You'll be mingling with a young, pretty crowd of well-dressed locals, so ditch the backpacker gear, put on your smell-goods and let your foreign tongue pacify snarling bouncers. Sometimes the best scene and hottest chicas, can be found at the gay clubs (see the boxed text, opposite) - heteros are always welcome. El Callej n de los Rumberos (Map pp524-5 X 38277490 Chapultepec 287 cover charge men womenM 150 30 S 7pm-1am Wed-Sun) This is...

Entertainment

Guadalajara is a musical place and live performers can be heard any night of the week at one of the city's many venues (including restaurants). Discos and bars are plentiful, but ask around for the newest hot spots. Peruse the entertainment insert, Ocio, in the Friday edition of P blico. It has the current week's scoop on restaurants, movies, exhibits and the club scene. Spanish-language dailies Occidental and Informador also have entertainment listings, as does the weekly booklet Ciento Uno....

Drinking

La Fuente (Map pp524-5 Su rez 78 S8 30am-11pm Mon-Thu, 8 30am-midnight Fri & Sat) La Fuente, set in the old Edison boiler room, is an institution - and a rather friendly one. It's been open since 1921 and is mostly peopled by regulars - older men who start drinking too early. But they treat newcomers like family and women like queens. A bass, piano, violin trio sets up and jams from sunset until last call. Scratch (Map pp524-5 X 3614-7433 Guerra 226 S noon-11pm Mon-Thu, noon-midnight Fri...

Tortas Ahogadas

Last night you drank a few two many tequilas, forgot to chug a liter of water before bed and you're paying for it this morning. Your hair is plastered to your forehead, your eyelids will only open halfway and you have but one choice. It's time to sample Guadalajara's most beloved hangover cure, a torta ahogada ('drowned sandwich'). You've no doubt noticed that Guadalajara is home to countless tortas ahogadas stands, but no matter where you buy it you'll find three major components. A birote...

Tlaquepaque

Just southeast of the main plaza, El Pari n is a block of dozens of restaurant-bars with patio tables crowding a leafy inner courtyard. This is where you sit, drink and listen to live mariachi music, especially on weekends. Waiters are eager but the food is so-so. Order an appetizer, but when it's time to eat a serious meal find one of these delicious kitchens. Cenadur a Do a Victoria (Map p521 Degollado 182 mains from M 9 S7pm-11pm closed Thu) Victoria serves high quality Mexican soul food....

Tortas Ahogadas Hroes Map p Francia

Tortas M 25) The menu is simple there's only tortas ahogadas, Guadalajara's beloved and famous hangover cure. Crunchy baguettes are filled with chunks of pork and drenched in a searing chili sauce and a squeeze of lime. Take a bite and your tongue will burn, your stomach unwinds and your head will clear almost instantly. Bisquets Guadalajara (Map pp524-5 X 3827-1616 Libertad 1985 mains M 35-65) A great breakfast spot, with baskets of fresh pastries - from pan chocolate to pecan rolls to sugary,...

Plaza de las Nueve Esquinas

Half a dozen blocks south of the city center is this small and untouristy triangular block where several small streets intersect. It's a little neighborhood popular with eateries specializing in birria, meat steamed in its own juices until it is so tender it melts in your mouth. Birrier a las Nueve Esquinas (Map pp524-5 g 36136260 Col n 384 mains M 59-79 S 8 30am-10pm Mon-Sat, 8 30am-7 30pm Sun) This is a can't-miss meal. The open, tiled kitchen, with its in-house tortill-er a is as beautiful...

Centro Histrico Around

All fancy hotels sport equally fancy restaurants. The ones at Hotel Franc s and Hotel de Mendoza are magnificent old dining rooms. More adventurous stomachs can head to the Mercado San Juan de Dios (Map pp524-5), home to endless savory food stalls serving the cheapest and some of the tastiest eats in town. El T o (cnr Corona & Ferrocarril mains M 3.50-6 S 7 30am-1 30pm) Once the savory, spicy aroma wafts over you, you will not be able to ignore this humble taco stand. All it serves are bean...

Top Five Meals In Jalisco

Take Jalisco's best fine food distributors, an old, converted Zona Rosa mansion and an ethos to make haute cuisine affordable and you have, Cocina 88 (opposite), Guadalajara's best restaurant. Choose your cut of steak and seafood from the butcher case, pay a small kitchen fee, pluck a bottle of red from the cellar and bring a date If you crave tradition over innovation then step into Birriena las Nueve Esquinas (opposite). It serves what could be considered comida tipica, but it's anything but...

Midrange

Posada Regis (Mappp524-5 X 3614-8633 http posadar egis.tripod.com Av Corona 171 s d MS365 430) The rooms at this funky posada are spacious with high, detailed ceilings, but choose wisely those facing the street are noisy and others are just not clean enough. Hotel Consulado (Map pp524-5 X 3563-2287, fax 3827-2287 Lopez Cotilla 1405 s d tw MS470 540 610 ) At first glance this place feels like your modern Zen oasis. In reality the clean, modern rooms aren't fabulous, but they are the best deal in...

BUDGET

Hostel Guadalajara (Map pp524-5 X 3562-7520 www .hostelguadalajara.com Maestranza 147 dm with without ISIC card M 115 145 ) If you like a good party and a better deal then nest at this fine HI hostel, decorated by contemporary paintings and old-world stone columns. The six private and dorm rooms surround one giant loft. Parties are frequent, excursions (think tequila factories, salsa dancing) are a good value, breakfast is free and the crowd is attractive international. The two private rooms...

Tours

Panoramex (X 3810-5057 www.panoramex.com.mx Federalismo Sur 944) runs tours with English-, French- and Spanish-speaking guides, leaving from the Jard n San Francisco at 9.30am. Tours include visits to Guadalajara's main sights (M 136, five hours, Monday to Saturday), to Chapala and Ajijic (M 174, six hours, Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday) and to the town of Tequila, where you'll roam agave fields and Sauza's tequila distillery before sipping (M 207, 6'A hours, Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday,...

Shopping In Tlaquepaque

Large home decor boutiques are stocked with ceramics, exquisite light fixtures and handmade wood furniture. Guadalajara's best interior designers are based here and if you take your time you'll discover some rare and creative pieces. At Antigua de M xico (Map p521 X 3635-2402 Independencia 255 S 10am-2pm & 3-7pm Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm Sat) gorgeous furniture showpieces, like benches carved from a single tree, are displayed in expansive, old-world courtyards. Or...

El Soconusco

Chiapas' fertile coastal plain, 15km to 35km wide, is called the Soconusco, and is named for the Aztecs' most distant 15th-century province, called Xoconochco. It's hot and humid year-round, with serious rainfall from mid-May to mid-October. The lushly vegetated Sierra Madre de Chiapas, rising steeply from the plain, provides an excellent environment for coffee, bananas and other crops. This sweaty, bustling town on Hwy 200 is the jumping-off point for Puerto Arista. There's a helpful tourist...

Around Creel

The area around Creel is rich in natural wonders, offering everything from waterfalls and hot springs to massive speckled boulders and expansive parklands, all of which are only a day's hike, bike ride or drive from town. Local guides offer a variety of guided tours, or, even better, you can venture out on your own on a rented bicycle, scooter or truck. Just 2km outside town is the Valle de los Monjes, where vertical rock formations inspired its traditional Rar muri name, Bisab rachi, meaning...

California Gray Whales

The migration of gray whales from Siberian and Alaskan waters to the lagoons of Baja is one amazing animal event. In calving grounds such as Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Scammon's Lagoon below), southwest of Guerrero Negro, and Laguna San Ignacio, southwest of San Ignacio, 700kg calves will draw their first breath and begin learning the lessons of the sea from their ever-watchful mothers. Peak months to see mothers and calves in the lagoons are February to early April, but the official whale-watching...

Around San Miguel De Allende Hot Springs

The surrounds of San Miguel are blessed with hot mineral springs. Their original spiritual significance, if any, seems to have been lost they've been developed as commercial balnearios, swimming pools. Here, you can soak amid pleasant surroundings, including landscaped gardens and picnic grounds. Most places are crowded with local families on weekends but muy tranquilo (very peaceful) during the week. The balnearios are accessed via the highway north of San Miguel and all are clearly...

San Ignacio

Sleepy San Ignacio seems out of place after the endless Desierto de Vizca no - the town's lush, leafy date palms and quiet lake are almost shocking. Lazy mornings, hikes in the mountains along El Camino Real, whale-watching day trips and excursions to the spectacular pre-Hispanic rock-art sites in the Sierra de San Francisco (opposite) make this a great place to stay. Jesuits located the Misi n San Ignacio de Kadakaam n here, but Dominicans supervised construction of the striking church...

Palenque Ruins

Ancient Palenque (admission M 45 S 8am-5pm, last entry 4 30pm) stands at the precise point where the first hills rise out of the Gulf Coast plain, and the dense jungle covering these hills forms an evocative backdrop to Palenque's exquisite Maya architecture. Hundreds of ruined buildings are spread over 15 sq km, but only a fairly compact central area has been excavated. Everything you see here was built without metal tools, pack animals or the wheel. As you explore the ruins, try to picture...

Reserva De La Biosfera El Cielo

An incredibly rich UN-listed biosphere reserve, El Cielo encompasses a 1445-sq-km chunk of steep-sided forested mountains ranging from 200m to 2320m. Marking a transition zone between tropical, temperate and semidesert ecosystems, its diversity is incredible. There are 97 species of reptile and amphibian and 430 bird species (255 resident, 175 migrant) including Tamaulipas pygmy owl and yellow-headed parrot. Though seldom seen, black bear and jaguar live in the reserve. There are also dozens of...

Guadalajara In Two Days

Breakfast at Chai (p535) then check out the visceral Orozco murals at Instituto Cultural de Caba as (opposite). Stroll through Mariachi Plaza (p528) and visit the sandalwood shrouded Templo Santa Eduviges (opposite). Explore the stellar Mercado San Juan de Dios (p540) and stroll the brilliant Plaza Tapat a (opposite) to the Cathedral (p523) and Plaza de Armas (opposite). Duck into the Museo Regional de Guadalajara (opposite) for a taste of Guadalajara's past then get your modern art fix at...

Costa Esmeralda

The Emerald Coast's waters - more accurately described as semi-precious - are various shades of azure, though not crystalline, and its waves crash on 20km of grayish-blond beaches. It's a raging summer and holiday spot. The rest of the year, especially midweek, it's tranquilly yours and is a lovely match for the beach-lovers and crowd-haters. You can throw down cash for upscale digs or do it on the cheap. Advertised and unadvertised campgrounds proliferate. Approaching Casitas from the north,...

Around Hidalgo Del Parral

East of Parral, the village of Valle de Allende is lush with trees and offers a lovely look at a simpler life. Much of its early wealth came from walnut orchards. Transportes Ballezanos has hourly 2nd-class buses (M 15, 30 minutes) from Av Flores Mag n near 20 de Noviembre north of the river. The dusty village of Canutillo, 75km south of Parral and just over the Durango state border, is where Pancho Villa, a Durango native, spent the last three years of his life. His decaying hacienda, given by...

Transport

Local Bus Stop 17 B2 Local Bus Local Bus Local Bus be spectacular, and there are many sites to explore - either off the beach or out on the bay. Try Underworld Scuba (Map p475 g 333-36-78 www.divemanzanillo.com Hwy 200, Km 15). Its complete PADI dive center charges M 873 for two-tank dives, including equipment, or M 3275 for PADI certification. Another good choice is Neptune's Diving & Sports Center (Map p475 g 33430-01 www.neptunesdiving.com Hwy 200, Km 14.8), which offers similar dives,...

Aexa Buses Palenque Timetable

For information on transportation along the Carretera Fronteriza (for Lacanj Chansayab, Bonampak, Yaxchil n, Guatemala and other destinations), see opposite. Taxis wait at the northeast corner of El Parque and at the ADO bus station they charge M 40 to El Panch n or Mayabell, and M 50 to the ruins. BONAMPAK, YAXCHIL N & THE CARRETERA FRONTERIZA The ancient Maya cities of Bonampak and Yaxchil n, southeast of Palenque, are easily accessible thanks to the Carretera Fronteriza, a good paved road...

POST

Main post office (cnr Constituci n & Revoluci n S 8am-3pm Mon-Fri, 9am-1pm Sat) TOURIST INFORMATION State tourist information booth (g 124-01-03 Obreg n S 8am-3pm Mon-Sat) Brochures and pamphlets are available in English. Some of the staff speak English too. The Museo Regional de Antropolog a e Historia (g 122-01-62 cnr Calle 5 de Mayo & Altamirano admission free S 9am-6pm) is a large, well-organized museum chronicling the peninsula's history from prehistory to the revolution of 1910 and...

Acapulco

Before Canc n and Ixtapa, Acapulco was Mexico's original party town. With stunning yellow beaches and a 24-hour nightlife, it was dubbed the 'Pearl of the Pacific.' During its heyday, Acapulco was the playground for the rich and famous including Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline honeymooned here. It was immortalized in films like Elvis's Fun in Acapulco and TV's The Love Boat. Acapulco's gorgeous arc of beaches that sweep around...

Around patzcuaro Lago de Patzcuaro

About 3km north of central P tzcuaro, you will come over a rise to find a lake so blue that its edge blends seamlessly with the sky. Within it are a few populated islands. It is stream fed, natural and though pollution is a concern, it's still damn beautiful. To get to the muelle dock , take a bus marked 'Lago' from P tzcuaro's Plaza Chica. The dock caters to tourists in a profoundly cheesy way - with cheap fish eateries and souvenir shops. The ticket office is about 50m down on the right-hand...

Around Ensenada

La Bufadora is a popular tidewater blowhole 40km south of Ensenada. Technically just a notched rock, it sends a jet of water up to 30m into the sky, drenching cheering onlookers. Catch a taxi M 100 per person round trip or a shuttle tour M 150 , or drive south on the Transpeninsular to the 'Bufadora' sign, then follow the road all the way around to the Pacific side. Parking is M 20. PARQUE NACIONAL CONSTITUCI N DE 1857 At the end of a fun 43km dirt road out of Ojos Negros east of Ensenada at Km...

Indigenous Peoples Of Chiapas

Of the 4.2 million people of Chiapas, approximately 1.25 million are indigenous, with language being the key ethnic identifier. Each of the eight principal groups has its own language, beliefs and customs, a cultural variety that makes Chiapas one of the most fascinating states in Mexico. Travelers to the area around San Crist bal are most likely to encounter the Tzotziles and the Tzeltales. Their traditional religious life is nominally Catholic, but integrates pre-Hispanic elements. Most...

Hotel Motel Quinto Sol X wwwhotel quintosolcommx Av Hidalgo San Juan Teotihuacn sdt from M Admittedly this

Is where most tourist groups stay and it's not exactly a boutique place, but the Quinto Sol is still the most comfortable option in town, with its excellent facilities including a decent-size pool and large, well-appointed rooms. Villa Arqueol gica Teotihuac n X 55-5836-9020 www.teotihuacaninfo.com r Sun-Thu Fri amp Sat M 875 1000 B S By far the best option in the area is this Club Med-run complex just outside the site grounds. While it's not cheap, the place has plenty of charm and the rooms...

Daily Buses From Zacatecas

Frequent Futura hourly Estrella Blanca, Transportes de Guadalupe 13 daily mnibus de M xico, Transportes del Norte 6 daily Estrella Blanca hourly Transportes del Norte hourly from main bus station Estrella Blanca, Camiones de los Altos hourly mnibus de M xico, Chihuahuenses, Transportes del Norte hourly Estrella Blanca, Rojo de los Altos

Tamiahua

Tamiahua, 43km north of Tuxpan by paved road, is at the southern end of Laguna de Tamiahua. During the local Carnaval the second week in May, Semana Santa and summer vacations, there can be a fair amount of Mexican tourists here. If you visit any other time, you'll be immersed in the warm culture of a small Mexican fishing town. You can rent boats from the docks for fishing trips 3 hours M 400 , excursions out to the lagoon's barrier island, or to get to the ocean and pretty Playa Tamiahua....

Guelaguetzas Large And Small

The Guelaguetza is a brilliant feast of Oaxacan folk dance staged on the first two Mondays after July 16. The only time the dates vary is when July 18, the anniversary of Benito Ju rez' death, falls on a Monday. Guelaguetza then happens on July 25 and August 1. The main event takes place from 10am to 1pm in the open-air Auditorio Guelaguetza Map p715 on Cerro del Fort n magnificently costumed dancers from the seven regions of Oaxaca state perform a succession of dignified, lively or comical...

Drinks Of Chiapas

Comiteco A unique variant of mezcal made with a mix of maguey and piloncillo cooked sugarcane , it's smoother and more syrupy than tequila, with a clear appearance or a greenish tint. Traditionally made in Comitan, it's making a big comeback in popularity. Tascalate A cold sweet concoction prepared from ground cacao, pine nuts, toasted corn, cinnamon and achiote annatto . Very interesting and super delicious Pox Inexpensive grain alcohol made from sugarcane, it's pronounced and sometimes...

Tapijulapa

This pretty riverside village of red-tile-roof white houses, presided over by a 17th-century church, sits among the lushly forested hills of far southern Tabasco, 36km from Teapa. Several shops sell local wicker and wood crafts. The beautiful jungle park Villa Luz admission free h 8am-5pm is a five-minute boat ride per person one-way round-trip M 15 25 along the R o Oxolot n from the village's embarcadero boat landing - you may have to get local boys to whistle a boat up for you. From the...

Living With Mojigangas

Mojigangas often called gigantes, marmotas, monos, papa g evos and - inaccurately - giant puppets are massive caricature figures 11-13ft high. They were brought to Mexico by the Spanish conquerors around 1600 to represent respected public figures and to cheer along local religious festivities. According to Guanajuato artists Felipe Olmos, 41, and Japanese-born Mika Matsuishi, 35, the tradition of high-quality mojigangas, while heralded in Spain, had languished in Mexico over the years. Felipe...

Bus Pesero Trolleybus

Mexico City's thousands of buses and peseros also called microbuses or combis operate from around 5am till 8pm or 9pm daily electric trolleybuses until 11 30pm. Only a few routes run all night, notably those along Paseo de la Reforma and the metrobus along Av Insurgentes. This means you'll get anywhere by bus and or metro during the day but will probably have to take a few taxis after hours. Peseros are generally gray-and-green minibuses operated by private firms. They follow fixed routes,...

La Ventanilla

Some 2.5km along the road west from Mazunte a sign points left to Playa Ventanilla, 1.2km down a dirt track. The small settlement here includes a handful of simple homes, a couple of decent comedores dishes M 25 to M 80 and the palapa of Servicios Ecotur sticos La Ventanilla www.laventanillamx.com 1f hr lagoon tours adult child M 50 25, under 6yr free S tours 8 30am-5pm . Servicios Ecotur sticos is Ventanilla's successful conservation and ecotourism cooperative. Most popular are its...

Ret C

Sitio Parque M xico 145 B7 C3 Ticketbus Condesa 147 C7 Ticketbus Reforma 148 B3 Ticketbus Roma Norte 149 F4 United Airlines 150 C4 Hospital ngeles Cl nica Londres Map pp132-3 X 5229-8400, emergency 5229-8445 www.hospital angelesclinicalondres.com Durango 64, Roma M Cuauht moc The pharmacies in Sanborns stores are among the most reliable, as are the following. Farmacia de Ahorros Map pp132-3 X 5264-3128 Yucat n 40 S24hr lvaro Obreg n Farmacia Par s Map pp128-9 X 5709-5349 Rep blica de El...

Street Markets

In most neighborhoods, you'll find a tianguis from the Nahua tianquiztli at least once a week selling the freshest fruits and vegetables, with vendors shouting out ' Que le damos ' What can we give you . Tianguis generally set up by 10am and break down around 5pm. Bazar Artesanal de Coyoac n Map p140 Plaza Hidalgo, Coyoac n SSat amp Sun Viveros Has handmade hippie jewelry and indigenous crafts, jugglers, fortune-tellers and incense. Bazar de la Roma Map pp132-3 Jard n Dr Ch vez amp lvaroObreg...

Xpujil

Caba as de Don Jorge X 871-61-28 caba as M 100 Don Jorge's rustic but perfectly acceptable clapboard cabins sit up on a hill behind his store-eatery, Cocina Econ mica Xpujil, which is opposite the entrance to the Xpuhil ruins. Hotel Calakmul X 871-60-29 2-person caba as without bathroom M 200, d with air-con M 450 g About 350m west of the junction, this sterile roadside motel has standard tiled units plus a handful of cramped bungalows out the back. The restaurant, though, comes highly...

Sleeping Eating

Most accommodations and eating spots are found on the ostera also known as Calle 1 , which winds south several kilometers along the lakeshore from Bacalar town to Hwy 307 at Cenote Azul. The following places are listed from north to south. Los Coquitos campsites per person M 40 A nice camping area on the lakeshore, run by a family who live in a shack on the premises. You can camp in the dense shade of the palm trees, enjoy the view of the lake from the palapas and swim from the grassy banks....

Edgar Alvarez

This 30-year-old surfboard shaper and hotel owner lives at Boca de Pascuales. When did you take up surfing I learned to surf about 15 years ago and have been doing it ever since. I used to play football soccer on the beach and I'd watch the California guys surfing and thought it looked like fun. So I started practicing, little by little, until I could ride the big swells. Boca de Pascuales has some of the best surfing in the world. The waves attract surfers and professionals from as far away as...

Pop

The important late-Olmec center of Tres Zapotes is now just a series of mounds in cornfields. However, interesting artifacts are displayed at the museum in the town of Tres Zapotes, 23km west of Santiago Tuxtla. The trip to this tiny town is not convenient, but might be worth it if archaeology floats your boat. Tres Zapotes was occupied for over 2000 years, from around 1200 BC to AD 1000. It was probably first inhabited while the great Olmec center of La Venta Tabasco still flourished. After...

Reserva De La Biosfera El Pinacate Y Gran Desierto De Altar

Northwest of Rocky Point is the Reserva de la Biosfera El Pinacate y Gran Desierto de Altar Pinacate Biosphere Reserve X 638-38490-07 admission M 40 S8am-5pm , containing extinct volcanic craters, a large lava flow, vast sand dunes and other surreal landscapes. To get there for a hiking adventure, head 45km northeast in a high-clearance, 4WD vehicle only on Hwy 8 and register at the sand-toned ranger station at Km 52. From there, you'll really be on your own, as there's no food, water or fuel.

Nevado De Toluca

The long-extinct volcano Nevado de Toluca also known as Xinant catl , Mexico's fourth tallest peak at 4690m, lies across the horizon south of Toluca. A road runs 48km up to its crater, which contains two lakes, El Sol and La Luna. The earlier you reach the summit, the better the chance of clear views. The summit area can be snowy from November to March, and is sometimes good for off-piste cross-country skiing, but Parque Nacional Nevado de Toluca is closed during the heaviest snowfalls. From...

The Raramuri

At least 50,000 indigenous Rar muri do not refer to them as the Tarahumara it is considered politically incorrect live in the Sierra Tarahumara's numerous canyons, including the Barranca del Cobre. You will see them - mostly women, dressed in colorful skirts and blouses, peddling beautiful hand-woven baskets and carrying infants on their backs - as you travel deeper into this region. The women are known for their bright apparel, while most men wear Western jeans and shirts except in more remote...

Viveros De Coyoacn

A pleasant approach is via the Viveros de Coyoac n Map p140 5554-1851 admission free S 6am-6pm M Viveros , the principal nurseries for Mexico City's parks and gardens. The 390,000-sq-meter swath of greenery, 1km west of central Coyoac n, is popular with joggers and great for a stroll, but watch out for belligerent squirrels From metro Viveros, walk south right, as you face the fence along Av Universidad and take the first left, Av Progreso. A block south of Viveros is the quaint Plaza Santa...

Monterrey

81 pop 3.6 million metro area elevation 543 m Self-confident Monterrey is Mexico's third-largest city, second-largest industrial center and numero uno in per capita income. You may never have heard of it, but 'La Sultana del Norte' is bold enough to have made a bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. With sprawling suburbs of gargantuan, air-conditioned malls, manicured housing estates and the nation's first new Taco Bells, Monterrey is one of Mexico's most Americanized cities, but those who bypass it...

Popocatpetl Iztacchuatl

Mexico's second- and third-highest peaks, Popocat petl po-po-ka- e -pet-l, N huatl for 'Smoking Mountain' 5452m , also known as Don Goyo and Popo , and Iztacc huatl iss-ta-see-wat-l 5220m , form the eastern rim of the Valle de M xico, which is 43km west of Puebla and 72km southeast of Mexico City. While the craterless Iztacc huatl is dormant, Popo is very much active a December 2005 explosion catapulted ash 5km into the sky. Between 1994 and 2001, Popo's major bursts of activity triggered...

The Parthenon Of Zihuatanejo

High on a hilltop above Playa Ropa, partially obscured by the encroaching forest, is a crumbling marble mansion that resembles a certain famous Greek temple. Known locally as El Parthenon, it was built in 1982 by Arturo El Negro Durazo Moreno, Mexico City s former police chief. His official salary was a paltry US 400 per month, but Durazo lived like a king, collecting vintage cars and building gaudy houses across Mexico. He spared no expense on the Parthenon, fitting it with Italian marble,...