When most travelers hear the Yucatan Peninsula, their minds instantly think of the cities and towns around the Mexican beach resort destination of Cancun.
However, that is now changing as another town in Yucatan rapidly grows in popularity due to five different factors that will make Merida a more popular destination as well.
Merida recently ranked the safest city in Latin America. It was second only to Quebec City in Canada for the safest city in North America.
The crime survey found that Merida ranked “low” to “very low” on every level of crime tracked by local, state and federal authorities.
It even ranked low for narcotraffic activity which has been accelerating across Mexico.
The safety of Merida has been drawing tourists to the area looking for an authentic Mexican travel experience with the peace of mind of low crime.
That is only expected to continue and expand as other amenities, such as the Maya Train, easily connect Merida to other destinations across the Yucatan Peninsula.
The recently announced third section of the Maya Train project linking Cancun to other cities and areas on the Yucatan peninsula will be targeting the connection extending from Izamal, Yucatan near Merida to Calikini, Campeche.
Because of this critical link, a critical corporate building for the train is being built in Merida to facilitate the marketing and maintenance operations in the area.
A significant train station for facilitating passenger connections across the Yucatan peninsula is also being planned for Merida.
The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism in Mexico is poised to take over the expansion project for the Cancun to Merida highway to four lanes with plans to complete the Highway 180-D project by the end of 2023.
The highway will ultimately connect to the Cancun-Tulum highway, which will provide tourists fast and easy access to the entire section of road from Tulum, through Cancun and on to Merida.
The expansion of the roadway is expected to increase tourist interest in Merida, making the 306-kilometer (190-mile) drive, which is now a little over four hours, much faster.
Cultural Experiences Trending
Visitors to Merida can get up close and personal with some native individuals that link back generations to the first Mayan tribes.
Tour guides can bring travelers to meet with individuals that use traditional methods to create fantastic meals using traditional items such as metates and pestles to grind grain.
They also demonstrate traditional dances for travelers and can provide them with tours of their homelands.
The cultural experience also includes traditional Mayan storytelling about the history of Merida and the entire Yucatan peninsula.
Unique Yucatec Foodie Experience
Travelers visiting Merida looking for traditional Mexican food are finding something very different and unique instead.
Foodies are delighted at the more Mayan influences of the cuisine in Merida. It also borrows Lebanese, Middle Eastern, Caribbean and even some European influences for the food.
For example, the food relies a lot on some unique flavors. Dishes incorporating tropical fruits such as mango, coconut, tamarind, mamey sapote and plum are common in the unique cuisine of Merida. Pumpkin seeds is also a commonly used ingredient.
A popular dish found in the area is a black bean and pork soup called Bul Keken which is commonly served with radishes, tortillas and onion.
Another one is Cochinita Pibil which is a suckling pig generously rubbed with achiote chile paste and wrapped in banana leaves which is then cooked in an earthen pit until tender.
Mercado de Santa Ana in Merida is a fantastic place for visitors to enjoy several different vendors providing traditional Yucatec cuisine.
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