Cancun can be an easy escape, a place where all-inclusives rule and you might never leave your hotel grounds (or beach chair). Your most vexing decision might be your next cocktail choice. But if you get restless from the non-stop relaxation it’s still possible to get a hit of Mexican culture within spitting distance of Cancun– just take a day trip.
Quick Content Guide
Day Trip to Valladolid from Cancun
For a culture-based day trip within quick driving distance of Cancun (and conveniently right on the way to the Chichen Itza pyramids) consider Valladolid.
Valladolid isn’t just an “authentic” Yucatan city– it’s also an artist community and expat hub (annoyingly, the New York Times recently christened it “cool”). So while you’ll still find locals dressed in traditional embroidered huipils, you also find newer shops and restaurants in restored haciendas. So far, everything seems to coexist harmoniously.
I’d hope to take a tour of all the Valladolid shops, old and new, and report on my finds. But it wasn’t meant to be. When we pulled into Valladolid we were hit with sheets of rain, the kind of rain so torrential that all you can do is wait it out.
Eventually, we made a break for it– running from awning to awning, getting soaked all the while. My carefully plotted shopping map would never make it out of my bag. There was just no way we could make it any farther. So we ate lunch instead.
As we wandered the main food hall, filled with different stalls. I wondered which stall to pick as the vendors all waved us over. My friend Anne though ignored their entreaties and headed straight for the stall manned by a sullen staff that barely acknowledged our existence (Anne’s theory was that the stall that looks like they give no f*cks doesn’t have to try, so they must have the best food).
Theory proven. In fact the food was so delicious (and we were so ravenous) that I am forbidden from posting the insanely unflattering photos of us scarfing it down.
Finally: Souvenir Shopping in Valladolid
After lunch the rain cleared up, but we needed to get back on the road to our final destination, Chichen Itza. While navigating the streets back to our car, we came across an inconspicuous leather sandal shop, Artesanias Articulos de Piel. I made everyone stop and head in.
The shop was amazing– rows and rows of leather sandals, all handmade on site, and priced dirt cheap.
Because I’m dedicated to sharing the shopping experience with my readers, I might have accidentally wandered into the backroom where the cobblers were at work, camera in hand. Fortunately, I was welcomed in (at least no one complained).
None of us left empty handed– we picked up leather bracelets, bags and my favorite purchase, leather sandals (about $20 US). They are so comfortable (and stylish) that I wore them to death all summer. If I ever head back (and I hope to) I would pick up multiple pairs and styles. There are plenty of great options for men, women and children too.
While the rain stopped me from getting many photos in Valladolid, I was able to capture this gem on the way out– and witnessed first hand the priority given to my favorite topic, souvenirs.