Maya Train To Tulum Delayed Indefinitely: 4 Destinations You Can Still Visit From Cancun This Summer

Maya Train To Tulum Delayed Indefinitely: 4 Destinations You Can Still Visit From Cancun This Summer

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This the last piece of news we wanted to break to you, guys:

Regrettably, if you’re expecting to take the scenic Maya Train from Cancun to Tulum this summer, following the promise that it would launch after the presidential elections, that will no longer happen.

The long-awaited southbound section of the Maya Train, which travels not only to Tulum, but Lake Bacalar, Chetumal, and a number of up-and-coming sunny spots in the south of Quintana Roo, is now delayed indefinitely.

Young Woman Walking The Historical Archaeological Zone In Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Delays have become almost synonymous with the Maya Train at this point, but we understand some Mexico-bound travelers may be feeling disappointed, particularly when authorities reiterated, time and again, Tulum service would launch for the season.

So what is happening, and can you go somewhere else instead if you’re already booked to fly to Cancun?

The answer is a resounding yes, there are at least 4 other incredible destinations you can already visit if you’re based in the Caribbean Hotel Zone, and we’ll go through each one of them, but first, what in the actual heck is happening on the construction front?

Why Has The Maya Train To Tulum Been Delayed Indefinitely?

View Of The Tulum Ruins In The Mexican Caribbean, Mexico, Latin America

According to Judge Adrián Fernando Novelo from the First District Court of Mérida, the Mexican Government and companies involved in the construction of the Maya Train ‘have not respected the environmental impact authorization’ issued by the relevant environmental bodies.

As a result, the judge has issued an immediate suspension of construction on the railway between Playa Del Carmen, a coastal town south of Cancun, and Tulum––as for reasoning, the decision states that the preservation of underground cavern and cenote systems in the area is under threat.

Maya Train Tracks In Mexico, Latin America

It seems we’re back to square one on the Tulum section, as even prior to the kickstart of the Maya Train last December, environmental groups had voiced their concerns that construction pillars would sink directly into the area’s unspoiled cenotes and damage them.

Cenotes are bright-blue sinkholes the Ancient Mayans once believed acted as gateways to the underworld, and they may even have staged sacrificial offerings in some of them; nowadays, they’re mostly open as tourist attractions.

Cenote Dos Ojos In Mexico, Riviera Maya, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Long story short, if you’re planning on traveling to Tulum by train for the day and ticking off the stunning archeological site, with its ancient temples perched on small cliffs overlooking the bright-blue Caribbean, you will have to wait for a little… longer.

In any case, you can always take an ADO bus or private transfer, but if you’re really keen on having your inaugural journey on the Maya Train, you should know not all hope is lost with the indefinite delay of the Cancun-Tulum route.

How about you try these 4 alternative destinations instead that are just as awe-inspiring?


Town Square In Valladolid, A Colonial City In The Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, Latin America

At only 1h46 from Cancun, Valladolid is the nearest stop you can visit on a day trip from the coastal metropolis, and it’s all the ‘vacation within a vacation’ you need, especially if you’re craving something more than just poolside cocktails and endless buffet.

Cancun does not have much to offer on the culture front, compared to its world-class hospitality and entertainment scene, but Valladolid, on the other hand, is a well-preserved 16th-century town with traditional architecture, ethnic museums and casual restaurants.

The most striking monument in town is San Gervasio, a fortress-like convent still in perfect condition, but you could spend hours on end exploring the winding, cobbled lanes, lined by eye-catching facades and colorful houses, and never exhaust Valladolid’s colonial treasure trove.

Chichén Itzá

A Young Couple Embracing As They Gaze At The Mayan Pyramid In Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

The second destination in line is the UNESCO-listed World Wonder that is Chichén Itzá, a pre-colonial settlement now mostly lying in ruins, but that still offers a glimpse into life in a wealthy Mayan city prior to the arrival of the Spaniards.

The monumental Temple of Kukulcan, a step pyramid that’s as symbolic of the Mexican Caribbean as its white-sand beaches, is the most-visited site in Chichén Itzá, though you shouldn’t miss the impressive ball court, and the eerie Wall of the Skulls.

Chichén Itzá is 2h21 away from Cancun, and as daily departures are limited, you will want to plan your visit carefully if you intend on returning on the same day: it’s perfectly feasible, but we’d recommend you to check current timetables on the official Maya Train website.


Yellow Houses In Izamal, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

At just over 3 hours away with the train, Izamal is a postcard-ready town in the Yucatanese hinterland that’s best-known for its bright yellow colors and quaint atmosphere, that offer day visitors a much-needed escape from Cancun’s hustle and bustle.

If you’re looking for that perfect spot to sample actual Mexican food, without all the resort fluff, there’s no better place than Izamal, where there’s a plethora of affordable restaurants serving the traditional panucho tortillas and the native Mayan, pork-based poc chuc.

Other than going in the gastronomic journey of your life, it’s in Izamal you’ll find the historic San Antonio de Padua Monastery, with an open atrium second in size only to the Vatican’s, and the offbeat Kinich Kak Mo pyramid, which most visitors to Mexico don’t know exists.


Vibrant Street In Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

You could attempt to visit Mérida as a day trip from Cancun, but we’re warning you, it’s 4 hours away and it will be tight. Chances are you’ll barely have time to explore beyond the surface level, so instead, we’d advise you to stay overnight to truly take in this state capital’s boundless cultural wealth.

It stands among the oldest European-built cities on this side of the pond, with the third-largest Historic Quarter in the continent, filled with Baroque shrines and historic plazas, and dominated by an imposing cathedral that is, in fact, the oldest still standing in the American mainland.

Other than the amazing history, the capital of Yucatán has been traditionally considered the safest city in Mexico, owing it to its low levels of crime, compared to larger conurbation zones like Mexico City and Guadalajara, and slow-paced living.

How To Buy Tickets For The Maya Train This Summer

A Young Female Digital Nomad Working From Her Computer In An External Setting In Europe

Trains to all of the destinations above depart directly from the Maya Train terminal at Cancun International Airport, and tickets can be purchased either online on the official website, which gets more user-friendly by the day, or directly at the station.

We would recommend you purchase them online in advance, as there are usually two to three departures per day, and seats can fill up fast; advance tickets are also generally cheaper, starting from 954 Mexican pesos, or roughly $52.68 if you’re a foreigner.

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