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Mexico Travel

August 20, 2009

Guide to the World's Best Resorts & Lodges

Cayo Espanto, a private luxury all-inclusive in Belize (courtesy, Cayo Espanto)

For the past 12 months, I have been neck-deep in one of the toughest assignments a travel editor can expect: Scouring the globe for the world's best destination resorts and lodges. I know, it's a hard job gazing at images of unspoiled, faraway places (like the one above), but I wasn't alone for my journey. We assigned a crack squad of travel writers with clips in publications including National Geographic Adventure, Travel+Leisure, and Lonely Planet to track down the cream of the crop, including their selections for the best family resorts, beach resorts, national park lodges, all-inclusive resorts, and six other distinct travel categories. One year later, with my list of must-visit places in a state of morbid obesity, we're excited to announce the launch of's new Resorts & Lodges Guide, featuring 200 of the world's ultimate destination-resort experiences. If you're looking for inspiration about where to stay next, this is the place to start.

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · All Inclusive Vacation · News · Beach Vacation · Eco-Tourism · Exotic Escapes · Family Vacation · Hawaii Vacation · Mexico Travel · National Parks · Outdoor Adventures · Places to Stay · Skiing & Snowboarding

May 01, 2009

The Best Mexican Food? It's in Mexico.

By Karen Chen

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A chile relleno at Siempre restaurant in Pueblo Bonito Pacifica, Cabo San Lucas (Karen Chen)

Every now and then I get a craving for Mexican food.  Maybe it's the melty, savory cheese, or the free unending chips and salsa, or just the strong margaritas, but it's a pretty constant thing, like the full moon, or a May 6th (Seis de Mayo) hangover.

But even if I've waited days to go out for Mexican, or skipped lunch so I can order the three enchilada platter rather than with just two, no matter what happens, the food always sort of disappoints.  Either the meat is kind of dry or under-seasoned, or I feel like eating salad for the next week because I've just done a serious disservice to my body—or unfortunately, both.

That is, until I traveled to Mexico and tasted authentic, honest-to-goodness Mexican food. I recently went to Baja California Sur, the long stretch of land that dangles off the western side of Mexico, dividing the royal blue Pacific Ocean from the aquamarine Sea of Cortez. Though inland the landscape is a bit harsh and barren, with its vast expanses of cactus-dotted desert, the food I ate there blew away all the Mexican food I'd ever had in the States.

Continue reading "The Best Mexican Food? It's in Mexico." »

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Related Topics: Food and Drink · Mexico Travel

April 30, 2009

Airlines Ease Reticketing Restrictions for Mexico Travel

By Kate Chandler

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The swine flu outbreak has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid all non-essential travel to Mexico. Most major airlines have eased their otherwise-strict reticketing policies in the face of this threat. Orbitz has pulled together links to major airlines' policies on reticketing to Mexico, a useful resource for those of you who already have tickets booked. Happy travels (just maybe not to Mexico right now).

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Related Topics: Air Travel · Mexico Travel · Travel News

April 17, 2009

Top Travel News Stories This Week

By Karen Chen

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Time for a roundup of this week's biggest travel news stories.  I spend tons of time reading blogs, news sites, and Twitter so you don't have to!

- President Obama announced on Monday that he will be allowing Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba, and send gifts and money to the Caribbean nation as often as they like, as long as recipients aren't senior government or Community Party officials. The President described the policy shift as a showing of America's good faith and a step towards leaving behind the attitudes from the Cold War that have tensed relations over the last 50 years.

- As a result of a week of anti-government protests and political turmoil in Bangkok, many governments, including the UK, Australia, and Russia, issued travel warnings against visiting the Thai capital.  As of Thursday, the British Foreign Office has ended its warning against all but essential travel to Bangkok.

- United Airlines joined Southwest and others on Wednesday by imposing stricter rules for "seatmates of size," saying that if a passenger cannot fit into a single seat, buckle their seatbelt with an additional seatbelt extension, or put the seat’s armrest down, the airline will ask that passenger to pay for an extra seat or stay behind.  The rather controversial policy prompted US Airways and Southwest to clarify their policies regarding overweight fliers, emphasizing leniency and willingness to accommodate passengers. 

- President Obama made another important travel announcement, saying on Thursday that he plans to create a high-speed rail system interconnecting many of the country's larger cities. Though a step in the right direction for the environment and cutting foreign oil dependency, Slate magazine takes a hard look at how the proposed rail lines would affect American taxpayers.

- Despite the recent travel warnings made by the U.S. State Department and universities across the country, The Los Angeles Times reports that Mexico's top tourist destinations are up to 26 times safer than similar cities in the U.S.

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Related Topics: Air Travel · Asia Travel · Caribbean Travel · Mexico Travel · Travel News

February 11, 2009

Cancun's Beaches: Will They Ever Recover?

By Gary Chandler

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HURRICANE HIT: Can Cancun's beaches return to their pre-Wilma conditions? (Corel)

People love to critique Cancun—'too Americanized', 'not the real Mexico', etc—but the city's trump card has always been its beaches. For all of Cancun's excesses and contradictions, it's hard to beat mile after mile of wide, glorious, talcum powder beaches.

Then came Hurricane Wilma in October 2005. The biggest storm of the longest hurricane season was bound to cause serious damage—and it did. Wilma pummeled the northern Riviera Maya, destroying houses and hotels, flooding streets, and stranding locals and tourists for days. But the region bounced right back, rebuilding in record time, and in many cases better than before. Three years after Wilma, Cancun is as good as new.

Except for the beaches, that is.

Continue reading "Cancun's Beaches: Will They Ever Recover?" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Mexico Travel

December 30, 2008

Spending the Holidays in Mexico

By Gary Chandler

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RUNNING OF THE BURROS?: Colorful streets in San Cristóbal de las Casas (Glow Images)

I'm living in Chiapas, Mexico, right now, and had recently left my house when I saw a burro galloping down the street right at me. Chiapas has its rural areas, to be sure, but this was in the middle of San Cristóbal de las Casas, a city of 150,000 people and not a place you normally see livestock in the street. Chasing after the burro were two boys with faux beards and dressed in tunics, and that's when I understood: It's Christmastime and the burro was evidently part of a posada—a musical reenactment of Joseph and Mary looking for shelter in Bethlehem, and a popular holiday tradition in Mexico.

Continue reading "Spending the Holidays in Mexico" »

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · Mexico Travel

December 17, 2008

Confessions of an Ex-Haggler

By Gary Chandler

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Dolls and other crafts in a Mexican market (Corel)

I was at an indigenous handicraft market in Chiapas, Mexico, the other day when I spotted a little stuffed animal I thought my daughter would like. I asked the price: 40 pesos, or about four dollars. I offered 30, rather pathetically, then promptly handed over the whole amount. The seller flashed a huge smile when I did so, and I walked away wondering if I'd been had.

I've stopped bargaining. After a decade and a half of frequent travel, mostly to Latin America, I'm still drawn to the handmade toys, elaborate masks, and other market treasures, but I no longer have the heart to bargain on the price. I pay more for other things too—a US$50 hotel isn’t out of the question, nor is hopping in a cab to get there from the bus station. I remember the first time I took a suitcase instead of a backpack (gasp!) as if it were the Kennedy assassination.

Continue reading "Confessions of an Ex-Haggler" »

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · Mexico Travel

November 25, 2008

Cozumel: East vs. West

By Gary Chandler

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CRUISE CONTROL: Cruise ships docked in the city of San Miguel de Cozumel (Wikimedia Commons)

Six days a week, Cozumel's west side—where the cruise ship and ferry ports are located, as well as most of the island's tourist and residential development—teems with people: cruise ship passengers, daytrippers from Cancun and Playa del Carmen, taxi drivers and luggage handlers, freelance guides, and the employees of the innumerable shops crammed along the main drag. Meanwhile, just a few miles away, Cozumel's east side—which has virtually no development, not even telephone or power lines—is practically empty. On Sundays, however, it's reversed. That's the day no cruise ships arrive in Cozumel, leaving the west side all but deserted, while the east side beaches are packed—not with tourists, but with local families enjoying their day off.

Continue reading "Cozumel: East vs. West" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Dispatches from the Road · Mexico Travel

November 13, 2008

San Cristóbal de las Casas: Where are all the Americans?

By Liza Prado

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San Cristóbal de las Casas is one of Mexico's most beautiful colonial towns. It's located way up in the mountains (close to 7,000 feet) in the southernmost state of Chiapas; it boasts the red tile roofs, cobblestone roads, brightly painted one-story homes, and ornate churches that are common to towns like these.

What distinguishes it from other colonial beauties, though, is the meeting of cultures here. San Cristóbal is one of the only cities in Mexico where the indigenous population has visibly maintained its independence. They still dress in the centuries-old style garb, primarily speak Maya dialects, and beyond selling their handicrafts or produce, remain quite autonomous. On the other side of the spectrum, San Cristóbal is a place filled with artists and political activists. It's got a great live music scene, art galleries, tons of cafés and independent movie houses—not to mention the language schools and NGOs. And the two sides co-exist seamlessly, if mostly separately.

San Cristóbal is a special place. And as such, attracts a visible foreign presence: French B&B owners, Swiss artists, Italian restaurateurs, German tour groups, Israeli backpackers—everybody, it seems, but Americans. And that's what I don't get. Where are they? San Cristóbal is an easy one-hour-flight from Mexico City—a city whose airport receives dozens of direct flights from the US every day.

Continue reading "San Cristóbal de las Casas: Where are all the Americans?" »

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August 12, 2008

Cenote Excursions: Perfect Rain or Shine

By Liza Prado

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LIGHT IN THE TUNNEL: Cave diving, Riviera Maya, Mexico (courtesy,

The Riviera Maya is world renowned for its spectacular white sand beaches, where you can spend weeks on end laying in the sun, margarita in one hand, trashy novel in the other. But there will be days when it rains. Or simply days when you want a break from the beach. Cenote diving or snorkeling is a perfect alternative if you're looking to do something different.

Cenotes are sinkholes that are carved out of the Riviera Maya's extensive underground river system. They line the coast from Playa del Carmen all the way to Tulum. All are filled with crystalline water and often are connected to one another by tunnels. Some are open air, but the best, at least in my opinion, are those in caves and caverns.

Continue reading "Cenote Excursions: Perfect Rain or Shine" »

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Related Topics: Beach Vacation · Mexico Travel · Scuba & Snorkeling

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