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1st long trip for me and im traveling alone through Mexico for 3 weeks or so. Then back up into the US for another couple of weeks. Leaving in a week or two, so just looking for some places to go. No exact plans set yet.
Traveling on a GSXR 750 so no off roading for me. Mostly sticking to the pavement
1 what are some must see sites in mexico?
2 ocean-side towns that arent so touristy(expensive) to relax and have a few cerveza's
3 best place to get road maps of mexico, so i can try to figure out which route to take and stay on mostly paved roads
4 here in the US there are travel warning's for mexico(plus relatives saying im crazy to travel alone in mexico) is it really that bad? and what should i watch out for
Any help would be appreciated. This is my first big trip and i cant wait to leave and finally get out of the US
When do you plan to travel? Mexico is safe as any other place IMHO. Cross the border early am, go south, stop before dark, eat, drink, and be happy. I have been several times but looking to go further south this summer. I have a choice between Alaska and Mexico and with the cold weather I am experiencing now, Mexico is tilting the scale. Motels can range from my cheapest $5 to $100's. I prefer small clean $10-20 accommodations. Farthest south I have been is Mazatlan on a street bike, Batapillas on a DS. I would like to go as far south as Oaxaca, and visit the colonial towns and hit a few beaches as well. Maybe see you down there, GSXR will be easy to spot. BTW most roads are excellent and you and your bike will love them.
Thanks for the tips
My plan is to leave around May 10 from Wisconsin and be in mexico around the May 15 till mid June. No exact plans yet. Just kinda winging it when i get down there. Maybe even go to guatamala to check out the tikal ruins.
It has been said that one can ride any bike anywhere, but I do think that you are limiting yourself with a sport bike, as far as getting out and about. You will have to stick to the modern, well-paved and maintained roads, and will not see the smaller towns and such. For instance, the entire peninsula of Baja is best seen on the back roads. Sadly, I have not made trips too deeply into Mexico by bike, and am currently bike-less, but people I know and people I have come across who have made the trip, as well as the scores of people on Horizons I have read about, have done it on more off-road worthy bikes such as enduros, adventure tourers, etc. and from the photos they have shown me, or I have seen on-line, getting off the well-traveled path is the way to see Mexico.
But if the GSXR is the only bike you have, then don't let me discourage you. Mexico is big, and I am sure you will get a good taste of it on the main roads, but keep in mind, that while the US can be experienced 95% or more by sport-bike, Mexico's percentage is a lot less, but that doesn't mean you couldn't go back!
First things first. Mexico's main roads and many secondary roads are just fine for any bike. The biggest challenge I've found are the dang topes, where my overloaded 650GS keeps bottoming out. I'm on the return leg of a Victoria, BC to Yaviza, Panama and back trip. Currently I'm in Ocotal, Nicaragua and crossing back into Honduras tomorrow morning.
It's hard to talk about "must see" sites without knowing your tastes. Most of mine are in the south, which might be a bit of a challenge if you only have 3 weeks (3500km's from one end of Mexico to the other).
In the north:
Barrancas Del Cobre (Copper Canyon). Spectactular! and doable on any bike, But Batopilas is along sa bumpy dirt road. So you'll miss some parts of it but absolutely worthwhile through Creel and south towards Hidalgo Del Parral.
Espino Del Diablo (Mexico Hwy 40) from Durango to Mazatlan. Kickass curves and switchbacks with stunning views for about 150km's. Watch out for trucks coming at you in your lane in the tight curves.
Quiet Beach towns:
Mazunte. Little surfer town with cheap accommodations and food.
In the south:
San Cristobal De Las Casas (Including the awesome ride up from Tuxtla). Low key touristy with lots of local tourists and plenty of budget accommodations. Escape from the heat in this mountain city.
Coba and Chitzen Itza (Yucatan/Quintana Roo) ...Maya ruins. Make sure to arrive first thing in the morning before the hordes of turistus autobus show up. If you have time walk along the road by the lake to watch the crocodiles waiting for some inattentive heron or stray cat/dog too close to the lake.
I think you're pushing it trying to fit in Tikal in 3 or 4 weeks but it's a must see if you make it that way. There is accommodation (expensive) and cheap camping right at the entrance to the park. Otherwise you can stay cheaply in Flores. It's awe inspiring, humbling and energizing all at the same time. The best way to experience it is to stay overnight and walk around after all the turistus autobus obnoxius have left. The experience was quite powerful for me when I was up there a few years ago on a bicycle trip. For incredible scenery and twisty roads, the western highlands of Guatemala are amazing.
I can't comment on central Mexico since I haven't been there yet. But friends have recommended Taxco.
(Susan was asking why people aren't using the horizons unlimited board for their blogs. Lack of support for the HTML flickr links is the main reason why I don't use it! I will try to fix these image links later...)
For maps buy a Guia Roji, before you go.
I'd recommend going to Palenque over Chichen Itza, if you are tight on time. Chichen itza will not allow you to climb/explore the ruins, Palenque will. Nicer setting too.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4251797191/" title="Way out West-4527 by antontrax, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2713/4251797191_3fac86e410.jpg" width="500" height="335" alt="Way out West-4527" /></a>
I second the San Cristobal recommendation! My favourite Mexican city.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4235825196/" title="P1280414 by antontrax, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2540/4235825196_38d6ced69d_o.jpg" width="400" height="600" alt="P1280414" /></a>
Puerto Angel is a great "undiscovered" surf town on the south coast.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4251682900/" title="Way out West-1280256 by antontrax, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4070/4251682900_2b0596b486.jpg" width="500" height="281" alt="Way out West-1280256" /></a>
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4250939683/" title="Way out West-1280289 by antontrax, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2800/4250939683_9dc9b7c564.jpg" width="500" height="281" alt="Way out West-1280289" /></a>
One last thing, careful to keep the speed down on the GSXR, sweet,sweet twisty coastal roads, but MANY surprises await around those blind corners!
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4293613137/" title="Way out West-1290391 by antontrax, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4005/4293613137_74c8ddf80c.jpg" width="500" height="281" alt="Way out West-1290391" /></a>
After climbing the Espina del Diablo from Mazatlan to Durango (or before going down it) visit Zacatecas and tour the gold/silver mine there. The mine was started in the 1500's with local slave labor and opened for tourists in the 1970's.
Also visit the town of Tequila near Guadalajara (for obvious reasons) and tour a tequila distillery.
Visit some of the "Colonial Citeis" of which Guadalajara is one. Guadalajara has a huge mexican market building with multiple floors of tiny booths selling everything from fine mexican handicrafts to chinese plastic junk. In the center is a huge food court. You wander down the narrow passages looking at all the stuff for sale. In some ways it reminded us of an Arabic souk, but in other ways it was also very different.
Stay away from the drugs and Mexico is a safe and interesting country to travel in. Just watch out for the topes (pronounced toe-pays) that are speed bumps from hell. They are at the entrance and exit of most small towns on the "libre" roads and in the streets of larger cities to slow down traffic. The freeways are expensive. The tolls to ride them are expensive but they are nearly empty and fast. The free roads, known as "libre" are much slower and crowded with poor drivers. But this is where you will meet the local people in their shops, cafes, hotels and gas stations as you travel. Most gas stations have an attendent per pump or island. He will help you and expect a tip, usually you round the bill up to the next peso or two and give him the money. A Mexican peso is about 8 US cents. (And they use the $ sign to show prices in Pesos, in fact Mexicans invented the $ sign and we adopted it from them for our dollar.) Close to the border the souvenier shop may try to tell you those are dollar prices not peso prices. Don't buy it.
Go and enjoy good times and good food. (Our American vision of "Mexican Food" is only true of the very north.) Mexico has two seacoasts and many local customs of food styles. Sea foods are a particular treat most anywhere.
Since your planned start date is already here If you are still looking for a good source of roadmaps for Mexico ,I can suggest that you enter Mexico and at the first OXXO convenience store you see, usually in conjunction with a modern PEMEX station .These nearly all now have a rack of GUIA ROJI road atlases on the counter .
As to recommended cities /towns to visit for a short stay and walking tour - Puebla, Morelia, Patzcuaro, Uruapan. just a few.Then ther e are zillions of curvy mountain roads to enjoy at sedate paces. Mex 105 north of Pachuca, Mex 85 Cd Valles to Tamazunchale and into the mts, Mex 120 to Xilitla and beyond, Mex 175 north from Oaxaca city thru Ixtlan de Juarez. or south to the coast ... the list is endless.
Again 3 weeks is not much once you get slowed down into the real exploring and enjoying even wit a sportbike. Just go down the middle of Mexico , see how far you get and if you think the turn around point/time has arrived either head back or cancel the plan for US tour part and extend that in Mexico travel
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