Chetumal is different. The city somehow is cool although it is hard to put a finger on it. You’ll see very few tourists here and that’s how the town looks like. There are hotels and lots of shops but they are not exactly prepared for western tourists. Their most important customers are visitors from Belize. If you got a Spanish phrase book bring it. You’ll get plenty of opportunity to use it here.
There are few things to do in Chetumal. You can relax. One thing I’d recommend doing is the local museum. It’s just sweet. There aren’t many original pieces but a lot of models of famous Mayan sites and a number of copies of original Maya art.
In the museum they tried to recreate a jungle with all the noises and a few trees. They have touch screens that explain the Mayan calendar for example. They also recreated a Mayan underworld. It’s hard to tell why but I liked the museum. It’s sweet.
The other big thing to do in Chetumal is window shopping. Just walk around and enjoy. Most of the shops sell cheap imported goods. Belize is just around the corner. Since Belize is even more expensive than Yucatan, so people come across the border from there and do their shopping here.
If you are planning on going to Belize next keep in mind. You can only bring one liter of alcohol and no fruits at all cross the border. Belize custom most likely will check your luggage.
In the neighbourhood
There are a few interesting things to see around Chetumal in Mexico. You can manage al in one day assuming you get out of bed early and don’t get lost to often. In order to get there you need to hire a car. It’s a bit of an adventure. Chetumal lacks any kind of street signs that would give you directions. I totally got lost. My advise. Follow the Av. Obregon west to get out of town until you hit the highway. It’s easy from there. Go west.
There is a car rental place at the Holiday Inn but it is expensive and they’ll try to rip you off. There is more places in town, one if you walk up the “Heroes” where the Holiday Inn is. Walk past the museum and for another may be 200 – 300 metres. The name of the place is Pericos. Another one is across the street from the Caribe Princess but I only saw that after I rented the car.
- Kohunlic – large complex, best is the temple of the masks
- Dzibanché– interesting complex in the middle of nowhere
- Kinichná – spectacular view from the pyramid, it’s huge
Getting there: From Chetumal head west on Route 186 towards Francisco Escárcega. The sites are signposted from the highway. Kohunlich is just under 60 kilometres from Chetumal
Bacalar and Cenote Azul
Getting there: Head towards Cancun on Route 186. The Cenote is signposted. When you get of the highway it is to your left. Don’t follow the road. The entrance is right at the beginning.
From the Cenote Azul it is only a couple of kilometres to Bacalar. It’s a nice village with a Spanish fort. It’s kind of pretty but nothing spectacular. The view over the lagoon is beautiful.
Places to stay
After getting almost no sleep in the mosquito infested hostel in Tulum I decided on a proper hotel this time. The Caribe Princess in Av. Obregon 168 turned out to be a good choice. A room with private bath, tele and air condition costs about 45 Dollars. Good value for money and the place is spotless with private parking.
Places to eat
Just across the street from the hotel is the Cactus Grill. The place is hilarious. It looks a bit funny, the food is OK and not particularly expensive. The reason I recommend it is because it has the most useless waiter I’ve ever seen. He cracked me up. For a while I thought he was high or drunk. It turned out he was just useless. At some stage he tried to carry a tablet with 4 empty glasses and an empty bottle. On the stairs he started to panic and simply froze. I had to come to his rescue. When I tried to order food he didn’t even understand the Spanish menu. What can you do? I got my food at the end and it was good. At least he did well with the beer orders.
Also around there is Sergio’s Pizza; good food and quite reasonable. The service is outstanding and although the place looks a bit posh it is OK. They got decent Fettucini for under 7 Dollar!
Info: There is a daily bus to Flores in Guatemala , that goes via Belize City. The bus is surprisingly cheap but not particularly “modern”. Exiting Mexico will cost you 100 Pesos, in Belize you pay another 15 USD. The bus leaves 5 AM at the bus terminal. The whole trip will take about 9 hours.
FACTS ABOUT CHETUMAL:
- Chetumal is situated in Quintana Roo.
- Chetumal is at the border to Belize.
- There is a direct bus to Flores in Guatemala from here.
- The “exit fee” to leave Mexico is 100 Pesos.
- Approximately 136.825 people live here.
- The area code is: 983, 912.