Ever wished to journey the rails on the model new Maya Practice however wanted a journey information to assist?

I’ve been curious in regards to the Maya Practice since plans for its building had been first introduced in 2018. I’ve a sure nostalgia for the trains I took into Chicago as a toddler and have at all times wished Mexico had extra practice journey choices out there. I’ve adopted together with the numerous controversies and discussions across the practice, with detractors saying it will likely be the worst factor to occur to the Yucatán peninsula and supporters saying it will likely be the very best. Ultimately, the outcomes will most likely be combined, which is what I discovered on my journey to trip the complete open route from Cancún to Palenque.

After eight days and 7 stops, I can inform you that the most important challenge I confronted was not the practice itself, however the transportation infrastructure from the stations to the locations the place we stopped. This journey information ought to show you how to keep away from a few of the pitfalls I skilled.

The practice is fashionable, trendy option to get across the Yucatán, but it surely nonetheless has some teething issues. (Isabel Mateos/Cuartoscuro)

I like to recommend shopping for your tickets on-line prematurely to keep away from any points. Remember the fact that on each stretch of the practice — besides the one from Valladolid to Mérida — the air con began out nice and obtained progressively worse as we went alongside. It was by no means utterly off however there have been loads of occasions that I needed for extra.


The station in Cancún feels grand, like one of many basic European practice stations you see in films from the early twentieth century. There was a great crowd the day I boarded, because the part from Cancún to Mérida is without doubt one of the hottest routes. On the practice I met Lucy and Javier, two retirees who had been touring everywhere in the Yucatán by way of the Maya Practice, stopping in Valladolid, Mérida and Campeche.

“We bear in mind when there was a practice from Guadalajara to Mexico Metropolis,” Lucy advised me. “We used to take it on a regular basis.” The couple had been trying ahead to seeing what this new practice was like. 

That first trip to Valladolid was thrilling. The practice was gleaming — model new, clear and tremendous clean. I purchased a drink on the snack counter and chatted with the opposite riders. The view out the window this time of 12 months was largely dry jungle, however inside riders appeared blissful to only chat and chill out. There was no Wi-Fi on board, one thing I might come to find was true of the complete route. Staff advised me that a few of the automobiles had been outfitted with Wi-Fi, however regardless that on a number of sections the community did seem on my telephone, it was at all times with out web.

Cancún Maya Train station
Cancún station has an air of opulence to it, akin to the good stations of Europe. (Elizabeth Ruiz/Cuartoscuro.com)

Attending to and from the practice

Arriving on the Cancún airport, there are free shuttles that carry you to the practice station from terminals 2, 3 and 4, departing 5 occasions a day.

Make sure that to get one in every of these shuttles, as a result of if not the taxi drivers will rip you off, charging at minimal 800 pesos, or US$50, for a 10-minute trip to the station.


The town of Valladolid is old-world stylish, with a rising variety of boutique retailers and really first rate regional eating places. It’s an amazing base for exploring the wonderful wildlife on the close by Ría Lagartos biosphere reserve, significantly their flocks of electrical pink flamingos, or visiting Las Coloradas, the realm’s well-known rose-colored salt flats. I stayed in one of many attractive nature villas at Oriundo Lodge outdoors of city, however a lot of the lodges and eating places are proper within the middle of city. There are additionally many pretty cenotes close by to whereas away a day swimming and picnicking.

Attending to and from the practice

There are not any taxis that wait on the station as of but — although with growing arrivals I feel there might be — so arriving in Valladolid your choice is the ready bus that takes you to the ADO bus terminal within the middle of city. The journey prices 35 pesos and lasts about 20 minutes. The truth that Valladolid is a small city and a lot of the motion is downtown made this probably the most handy connection of the entire journey. I stayed in a single day in Valladolid and took the identical bus again the subsequent day and the ADO ticket counter folks had been totally knowledgeable in regards to the bus’s schedule.


Ermita de Santa Isabel, Merida, a yellow church
Mérida has a simple allure which makes it an important cease for any Maya Practice itinerary. (Mario Morales Rubi/Wikimedia)

With its crumbling mansions, sultry local weather and beautiful eating places and bars, Mérida is one in every of my favourite cities in Mexico. I stayed at The Diplomat, my favourite lodge, and took benefit of its proximity to the Santiago market to strive some native fare. Mérida lastly has a inhabitants prepared and in a position to assist its dozens of nice consuming and ingesting choices in addition to some very advantageous artwork galleries and buying.

Attending to and from the practice

Arriving in Mérida within the night there have been no taxis however a number of e-trams — a part of Mérida’s public transportation system — had been ready to take arrivals to each the La Plancha and Paseo 60 stations for 45 pesos. The journey took about half-hour. The bus driver knew little about the remainder of the connecting route by town, so I took a 70 peso taxi from the drop-off station to my lodge. Mérida has Uber and Didi, and each apps are cheap and work properly — though wait occasions are typically longer than in a giant metropolis like Mexico Metropolis. This makes getting across the metropolis a breeze, and whereas I’m a giant fan of public transportation I gave up attempting to determine it out in Mérida and simply took cabs or walked.

Getting again to the station was simple, however I needed to go to the La Plancha tram cease the day earlier than and ask in regards to the practice occasions which aren’t introduced wherever on-line that I may discover. After I obtained there, the occasions had been written on a tiny piece of paper taped to the ticket counter. After I requested the lady there if the occasions had been printed wherever she stated no; they “weren’t set but.” Anybody eager to know needed to come to the station to examine. I got here again the subsequent day and the bus to the practice station did depart on time. It value 45 pesos, like my journey into city.


Edzna archaeological site, Mexico
The traditional Maya metropolis of Edzná in Campeche. Be warned – reaching it from Edzná station is just not simple! (Soft_light/Shutterstock)

Leaving Mérida I made a decision to go all the best way to Edzná to see if it could be potential to see the ruins there earlier than they closed for the day. On the best way I met Paulina who was touring with two different ladies again from Mérida to Palenque the place they lived. I requested her how the journey was going and she or he stated their journey on the practice was cheaper than the bus and took 4 hours much less time so for them it was no no-brainer. They appeared a contented group, even when by this time we had been all sweating on this leg of the journey. 

The archaeological ruins at Edzná, a former highly effective regional capital on the Yucatán Peninsula from AD 400 to 1000, had been beautiful. The positioning is small, the buildings dramatic and there have been solely a handful of different vacationers. I like to recommend going early within the day, as there may be little tree cowl and strolling round within the noon warmth virtually did me in.

Attending to and from the practice

After I obtained to the Edzná station issues kind of fell aside, and I needed to remind myself to flow and embrace the chaos. I had beforehand requested about transportation in Edzná from different practice staff and was advised there could be taxis there, however once I arrived there was nothing however me, a sizzling breeze, some sad-looking palm bushes and a stray canine. Zenaida, the lady working on the station, was extraordinarily form however a bit shocked by my assumption that there could be transportation.

Zenaida advised me {that a} bus line is within the works however hasn’t been developed but as a result of “the station isn’t completed,” which was why there have been no shops there both. I’m unsure how unfinished a station is when it’s already receiving passengers, however I stored my opinion to myself. Zenaida referred to as a bike taxi for me who may need been the one one on the town and in addition supplied automotive service from one of many station’s staff who makes use of his automobile as a form of Uber for vacationers who wish to get to the Edzná ruins there. 

The ruins — the one attraction in Edzná as there is no such thing as a city to talk of and solely a single retailer alongside the freeway — are 15 kilometers away and the recent wind at the back of the mototaxi made the journey really feel like driving in a microwave. Abram, my driver, was a brilliant good man and talked to me in regards to the lodge that the federal government was constructing close to the positioning that might permit folks to spend the evening there as soon as it opens on the finish of June — the identical date Zenaida stated that the Edzná station could be completed.

So down the street, it seems like there might be transportation and lodging; for now, be sure you carry water and meals, as there are not any retailers on the ruins both. Because the practice solely arrives in Edzná within the afternoon and doesn’t depart till the subsequent morning I took a combi — a small shared van — again to Campeche. The employee on the ruins stated it got here at 3:30 p.m. at a cease down the street. As a substitute, it confirmed up at 3 p.m., proper on the entrance to the ruins. I virtually missed it.


Take within the colours of the Mexican Caribbean in sunny Campeche, a great midpoint in your journey southwards. (Enrique Amaya/Unsplash)

Campeche is one other gem. Yucatán’s walled metropolis was usually attacked by pirates in the course of the colonial years, and town’s multi-colored facades and the remaining sections of its nice wall make for a captivating ambiance. The seafood right here can also be top-notch. Make sure you amble down Calle 59 with its cafes and bars lit up with twinkling lights within the night. If you wish to see Edzná, I like to recommend staying in Campeche and making it a day journey.

Attending to and from the practice

Since I didn’t arrive in Campeche on the practice, I didn’t get the expertise of coming into city from the station. I now know that buses await every arriving practice to take passengers into town middle. They drop you off on the oceanfront, the place the huge letters that spell out Campeche stand., From there, it’s a brief stroll to the eating places and lodges of the Historic Middle.

Getting again to the station was painful. There’s no info on-line aside from a number of articles from December 2023 that say there are stops at 4 totally different factors all through town. I ended up going to the bus station and being advised there was a bus that picked up riders at 6:30, 10:30, and 11:30 on the similar spot because the drop-off. I arrived there at 11:10 and waited till 11:34, however no bus got here. 

“Generally they arrive early and typically they arrive late!” a person carrying a Maya Practice hat advised me. “That’s how we do issues in Campeche, every part backwards!” stated his buddy. My recommendation for Campeche is to take a cab to the practice station, which is able to value you 150-200 pesos from the Historic Middle.


The tomb of Pakal, in Palenque
Palenque provides spectacular ruins and beautiful waterfalls to vacationers who’ve reached the top of the road. (Lousanroj/Wikimedia)

The house of one in every of Mexico’s biggest archaeological websites can also be identified for its waterfalls and swimming holes, in order that’s what I selected to do on this a part of the journey — I’d already seen the ruins earlier than. The waterfalls of Misol Ha, Roberto Barrios and Agua Azul are all attractive locations to spend a day staving off the warmth and communing with nature, particularly in the course of the week, when there are fewer vacationers. The city of Palenque itself has by no means held a lot draw for me, but it surely’s a great base for exploring the area.

On the practice, the panorama from Campeche to Palenque was a bit of extra thrilling, passing small farms, cattle ranches and greener jungle. The Palenque station was most likely probably the most grandiose and wonderful of all of the stations alongside the route, and plenty of passengers I met alongside the best way had been making the journey from Campeche or Mérida straight to Palenque, so I envision this station getting a number of use sooner or later.

Attending to and from the practice

The day earlier than going to Palenque, I ended off in Escárcega, the place, as soon as once more, there was no public transportation. The station staff referred to as me a cab. Coming again the subsequent day they advised me the practice was having technical difficulties and it could be a minimum of an hour and half late. We lastly obtained into Palenque 2.5 hours late, and regardless of the station supervisor assuring us that there was a public bus that might take us to the ADO bus station within the middle of city, it by no means arrived. 

As a substitute, there have been taxis, which charged 150 pesos to the lodge zone on the town and 200 to the lodges on the street to the ruins. From the ADO station on the town, I discovered that the buses to the Maya Practice station depart at 6 a.m. on daily basis and await the arrivals on the 5 p.m. practice each afternoon. After I talked about to him that once we arrived late there was no bus ready, he stated, yeah, typically in the event that they inform us practice is late we don’t wait. 

Reflections on my journey

Apart from Edzná, all of those cities are main stops on the practice, and so are the most definitely to have transportation. Nonetheless, as you possibly can see, it wasn’t properly organized at lots of the stops. A few of the small stations alongside the route aren’t totally operational but, and plenty of lack primary infrastructure. It’s extra seemingly that these smaller stops might be helpful for locals touring across the peninsula than vacationers like the 2 ladies driving from Campeche I met going to see their mom within the tiny city of Carrillo Puerto.

I do suppose a few of the operational kinks are sure to be fastened because the practice heads in direction of its first anniversary, however for worldwide vacationers who don’t converse Spanish, a lot is required to make journey smoother together with informational indicators, a map of the route at stations, dependable and easy-to understand-public transportation and English-speaking workers. Whereas it was an journey and I did love driving on a practice once more, I feel I’ll maintain off on one other journey on the Maya Practice till it’s a bit of additional down the observe.

Lydia Carey is a contract author and translator primarily based out of Mexico Metropolis. She has been printed broadly each on-line and in print, writing about Mexico for over a decade. She lives a double life as a neighborhood tour information and is the writer of Mexico Metropolis Streets: La Roma. Observe her city adventures on Instagram and see extra of her work at www.mexicocitystreets.com.

Don’t miss our exclusive travel offers, news and tips!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.

Don’t miss our exclusive travel offers, news and tips!

We don’t spam! Read our [link]privacy policy[/link] for more info.