Yucatán has always been one of the most unique places in Mexico, if not on earth itself. It’s home to beautiful jungles and beaches as well as some geological oddities such as the famous “blue holes”.
However, the state is even more notable for its people. The inhabitants are mostly living descendants of the Mayans are, in fact, today called the Maya. The Maya have inherited thousands of years of living tradition from their ancestors despite having their culture actively suppressed by the Spanish, and later on, the Federal Mexican government.
As a result, you will find that the state is mostly unlike the rest of Mexico in terms of its culture, cuisine, and general attitudes. It’s already a beautiful and enjoyable place to be as it is, but we’ve got a few tips that will help you enjoy this beautiful state a bit more.
1.) Learn a few key Yucatec Maya phrases
While Spanish is the official language and enough of the locals know English that you should be able to get by just fine, we’d highly recommend that you learn some important Yucatec Maya phrases. While Spanish is the majority language in Yucatán and the rest of Mexico, the native Yucatec Maya language and its dialects are spoken by almost half of the population as a first language, and they’re understood by a majority of the population.
Yucatán natives are also generally quite proud of their heritage, and see themselves as different from other Mexicans. As a matter of fact, the state has been an independent republic twice, which is testament to how fiercely the Maya protect their own culture and way of living.
Check out this list of useful Yucatec Maya phrases. You don’t have to speak them perfectly, but the people you meet will appreciate it if they see you trying.
2.) Experience it by bike or motorcycle
Traveling by a closed-off tour bus can easily isolate you from your surroundings. Sure, you can see outside, but you won’t be able to feel and smell your surroundings. And as avid travelers will tell you, every single place has its own vibe. Traveling by bike or motorcycle give you a better connection with your surroundings and allows you to easily access the thousands of sites that are not infested by tourists who got bookings from big tour companies. Thankfully, rentals are quite easy in most Yucatán towns and cities.
There are some risks to traveling this way though, so be sure to get coverage from a specialized insurer like Now Health International before your Yucatán trip.
3.) Try the unique local cuisine
The ancient Mayan influence is pervasive in the state’s unique cuisine. There are also unique takes on general European and Latin American dishes you won’t get elsewhere. Try the Tamales yucatecos, Frijol con Puerco, Relleno Negro, Pollo Pibil and more.