As the first routes of the Maya Train have begun operations, two magical towns are set to welcome more visitors than ever before thanks to the highly anticipated transport service.
Both Valladolid and Izamal experienced a mightily successful year with tourist activity in 2023, with the trend of visiting magical towns still registering high up on tourists’ to-do lists.
Yes, of course, Mexico is synonymous with pristine coastlines and crystal blue waters, but there is, in fact, so much more to the country that so many of its visitors don’t even realize.
Thankfully, the Maya Train is set to change that, traveling throughout the Yucatan Peninsula and unlocking all the hidden gems it has to offer, from its ancient cities to its stunning natural landscapes and its many, many magical towns.
A Quick Round Up Of What The Maya Train Is
For anyone who isn’t in the know, the Maya Train is the new revolutionary transport system that has just begun operations in the past two weeks.
The trains will stop at 34 stations throughout southeast Mexico, traveling through five states: Campeche, Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Tabasco and Yucatan.
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What would have only been reachable in most cases by private transfer, hiring a car, or paying for a taxi, will now be reachable for tourists and locals by train, with prices that rival that of other public transport services.
Set to enhance tourism in some well-known areas of the region and bring many destinations out of the shadows, the Maya Train has undoubtedly made history and helped solidify southeastern Mexico as one of the top destinations in the world.
The Magical Town Of Valladolid
This provincial town is majestic in stature and has an impressive cultural identity, making it the perfect place to visit.
Situated near the tourist destinations of Rio Lagartos, Chichen Itza, Ek’ Balam, and several popular cenotes, this magical town has attracted a large number of visitors and is set to welcome more thanks to the Maya train.
Its appeal comes from its laid-back nature, offering a more authentic Mexican experience – something which Cancun and Playa del Carmen sometimes lack due to its cookie-cutter vacation vibe.
Perhaps the most iconic landmark in the town is the Iglesia de San Servico (or Cathedral San Gervasio), a Spanish-built cathedral from the 16th century that was erected over a demolished Mayan pyramid.
Valladolid is full of stunning architecture and pastel-colored streets that make it stand out from its neighboring magical towns and close to so many other popular tourist attractions.
Chichen Itza is the number one archeological site in all of Mexico and attracts millions of visitors each year, with the overspill usually landing in Valladolid due to its close proximity to the area.
Another honorable mention is Cenote Zaci.
This giant swimming hole was once believed to be a passageway to the underworld by the ancient Mayans, who used the naturally formed pools as religious and ritualistic locations.
This one, in particular, is a mere 10-minute walk from the city center and is the perfect spot to escape the hot Mexican sun and have a refreshing swim.
Now set with its own Maya train stop, Valladolid’s popularity is only expected to rise.
The Magical Town Of Izamal
Known as the Yellow City, Izamal has been nominated for the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list and is another must-see stop on the Maya train route.
If you are staying in Cancun, Tulum or Playa del Carmen, this magical town is a perfect day trip or overnight stay destination, offering plenty of great accommodation, ancient Mayan pyramids and swimmable cenotes that will be sure to make it worth your while.
The city offers an interesting blend of eras, from Mayan influences to Spanish Colonial influences and even modern-day Mexican culture, making it an extremely unique destination.
Be ready to be immersed in Mayan culture by witnessing locals still wearing traditional dress and speaking the language in the streets to preserve ancient traditions and keep hold of the city’s identity.
Under the Mexican sun, the city shines bright, with many of its buildings painted bright yellow, which makes for some brilliant photoshoot locations.
Though nobody knows the real reason why it is painted yellow, some believe it has to do with honoring the Mayan Sun God, Kinich Kai Moo, while others believe it is a practical way of deterring mosquitoes.
Whatever the reason, the bright color will surely brighten your day when visiting!
Once again, you have the stunning architecture to visit here, from the Convent de San Antonio de Padua, one of the oldest Catholic monasteries on the Americas Continent, to El Atrio Del Convento De Izamal, the atrium to the convent, which is the second largest in the world only after the Vatican!
A must-see is the impressive Kinich Kakmo Pyramid, the tallest in the Yucatan state, which overlooks all of the city and the jungles beyond it.
Other Mayan ruins included Izamatul, El Congo, Chasten Ha, Habit and Kabul Ruins, all dating well over 1,500 years ago, giving tourists an insight into an ancient world that is a seminal part of human history.
It would also be remiss of us not to mention the food here, which offers traditional Yucatecan cuisine.
Completely unique to the region and only available to try in places like Izamal, be ready for your tastebuds to go on a journey they have never been on before.
Using local ingredients like naranja agri (sour orange), chaya (tree spinach), and achiote (annatto), the restaurants in Izamal are going to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one you should not miss.
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