Travel Gems

Mexico: Off the Beaten Track

With its vibrant colours and unique architecture, Mexico is at the heart of the inspiration behind our new Esencia Friendship Collection. We gave travel expert Mark Beken of Scott Dunn the envious job of discovering tips on visiting Mexico off the beaten track.

MEXICO CITY

Where to stay: Las Alcobas

What to do: Attractions such as the Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan and the Anthropology Museum will continue to draw the crowds, but I spent my time in the bohemian quarter of Coyoacan, enjoying churros and hot chocolate and visiting the Frida Kahlo Museum devoted to one of Mexico's iconic artists.

How long do you need: Two or three days.

Don't leave without: Going to a wrestling match at the Arena de Mexico - a fantastic and authentically Mexican occasion, with crowds booing and cheering the masked combatants.

SAN CRISTOBAL

Where to stay: Hotel Bö, superbly located in the heart of colonial San Cristobal

What to do: Head to the highlands of Chiapas to explore San Cristobal de las Casas and its satellite villages. Chiapas is one of Mexico's least changed regions and boasts beautiful cobblestone towns with brightly coloured colonial houses and baroque churches.

How long do you need: One or two days.

Don't leave without: Going to the Sunday market at San Juan Chamula - here I saw a healing ritual taking place in the packed local church involving a sacrificed chicken, burning candles and incense!

  • Scott Dunn shares with Monica Vinader the best tips for exploring San Cristobal de las Casas

    Hotel Bö - San Cristobal de las Casas

  • Scott Dunn shares with Monica Vinader the best tips for exploring Palenque

    Palenque

  • Scott Dunn shares with Monica Vinader the best tips for exploring the Riviera Maya

    Hotel Esencia Beach – Riviera Maya

PALENQUE

Where to stay: Quinta Chanabnal

What to do: Book a guide to lead you through the coffee estates and waterfalls of the Lacandon misty rainforest. Guides can be booked in advance through Scott Dunn.

How long do you need: At least two days.

Don't leave without: Visiting the incredible central palace with its chambers and three iconic temples - a simply magical experience. It's a lot less crowded than, Chichen Itza, and has a truly evocative natural setting, with great tree roots poking through the Maya masonry. Rumour has it that direct flights from the USA to Palenque will commence quite soon, so now is definitely the time to go.

RIVIERA MAYA

Where to stay: Hotel Esencia, which simply put is the loveliest small beach hotel in Mexico.

What to do: Get in a little sneaky beach time on the Riviera Maya.

How long do you need: Two days

Don't leave without: Relaxing! Unwind in the organic Hotel spa, by the pool or on the stunning crescent of white sand lapped by turquoise waters.


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