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“The White City of T'ho”
Review of Merida

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Vancouver Island
Level 6 Contributor
28 reviews
63 helpful votes
“The White City of T'ho”
Reviewed 5 May 2009

T’ho (Merida) was settled in 1842, by Fransicisco de Montejo (the younger), which his father was unable to do. As Merida grew into a succesful city, the wealthy began to fear inteference from outside forces, such as Mexico City. The hacienda owners armed their Mayan servants to protect them, and of course, it backfired. In 1847, the “war of the castes” broke out, and lasted until 1853 when the Mayans took control of the entire peninsula with exception of Merida and Campeche. They remained in control until 1901.

Driving into the city through the outskirts, you’ll notice men working horses with carts. As you get closer to the centro, the traffic gets thick and crazy with double-wide bikes, motorcycles, buses, trucks that stop in your lane with no notice to unload, horse carraiges for rides, and toxic diesel fumes. As the streets are narrow, and the buildings tall, beeping horns are amplified. Two lanes are best described as three weaving in and out, and never straight.

If staying in close proximatey to the city zocolo and centro area, you will enjoy the evenings for festivities in the parks, music, dancing in the streets, sitting on narrow balconies of coffee shops, or down in the alley where Peon Contreras has good location for beers and guacamole. (Please read reviews!) Daytime can be spent exploring historical churches, galleries, museums and of course, artesan shops, juice-stands, bakerias and grocerias. Day trips outside of the city include Dzibilchaltun, Uxmal, Mayapan and the Puuc Route, to see Mayan ruins, Celestun to see Flamingos, and Progresso to swim in the Gulf, and visit a town catering to Mexican tourists. There is a Convent route, Hacienda route, and Yaxcopil, to visit a henecken plantation museum.

I was in Merida during Carnival 1996. Over five days, different sections of the city were closed each day, so staff could enjoy celebrations.

May 3 2006: Carlos at the front desk says we’ll have a wonderful few days there, enjoying the shops, and sites. 1st corner, a salesman says “only one half hour left to shop then mercado closed for a week.” I get us lost, and we see a sports team, with parent-coaches, and approach one of them. He won’t give us directions, but insists on delivering us. He sits down at another table, and the hotel serves him a drink. He takes groups of people away to his “brothers” store. (Didn’t see that one coming!) - we get to his “brothers” store, and when we repeat that we have no money, they tell us everything will be closed for a week for “Cinqo de Mayo.” I remind them it’s only the 3rd, they insist the 4th is to get ready for the 5th. We end up across the street in another shop, and the young boy pulls out a Lplanet g-book, to show us a review (from about 1983) claiming their store is good. (LP warns about this pitch)

Next day, everything was open! Please don’t let this discourage you while you’re in Merida. The heat can be unbearable, so the games can eat away at your patience, but just relax and remember these are the ones who are unlikely to ever travel….I’m grateful.

The following year, my friend asked if we could drive directly to Merida from Cancun, and I was stunned. Most people stay in the fancy resorts, of the beach-cities. I guess we prefer inland Yucatan, due to the culture, excitement, restaurants, people, historical sites, and all the craziness one experiences when out of the "little America" areas. Hope you enjoy Merida as we always have - I love it so much, I always look at their real estate!

1 Thank CopperMoonGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Needville, Texas
Level 6 Contributor
51 reviews
40 helpful votes
“Not touched by Tourists....”
Reviewed 8 April 2009

Being from Texas and knowing what its like near the border with violence, etc.... Merida is a break from the chaos. Not many know about this small town, in fact most of the Americans I talked to happen to find it through the internet. Some Americans know about it because the Cruise ships stop at Progreso and have an excursion into Merida.

If you want to see Mayans in their daily lifestyle and hear the dialect, this is the place to be! Its very relaxing and among the three safest cities in Mexico. Police are constantly on the streets yet you never seem to worry about your safety at any hour. Tons of markets, food in almost every plaza... and there are plazas everywhere! Then take a bus ride 30 minutes to Progreso to chill on the beach for a day.

Sundays are the best because the whole town turns into one big fiesta. People dance on the streets, you feel as though you have been casted in a movie. Make sure you stop by The Church of Jesus on the main plaza. You'll recognize the door from the picture!

1 Thank flipmexi17
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
12 helpful votes
“Merida mistakes”
Reviewed 26 February 2009

I arrived in Merida at night during Carnival and the main streets were closed. A taxi driver told me just to walk. since it would cost a lot to drive around the closed streets. It took forever to find Casa Ana hotel. You must have the street address in full because you need both cross streets. I didn't have this and got terribly lost. When I got to the hotel ,Ana didn't show any sympathy. She was rather cold and distant. Over time she warmed up. I hated Merida at first but discovered that the people were really nice and happy as a whole. They love their town and Carnival and I admire their sense of community and love of culture. The streets are very narrow with tiny sidewalks and cars and buses speeding by. All the store fronts were shut for Carnival so it felt like I was wandering around an abandoned city. Everyone lives behind shuttered gates and doors so it feels cold to an outsider.This was my intro to Merida. I would say,avoid Carnival. It is not very good and all the usual cultural events seem to be canceled for the Carnival activities. If you want Carnival go to Rio. I have to say that this city has wonderful and kind people that seem happy. I don't feel that it is a good tourist destination. I much prefer Tulum and Cozumel.

1 Thank waterblueIthaca
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Barrie, ON
Level 3 Contributor
4 reviews
20 helpful votes
“Sunday in Merida”
Reviewed 16 February 2009

We took a bus from our Villa near Pregreso to Merida one Sunday as there is an open market all day. Wonderful local arts and crafts as well as all day music, dance and intertainment. We bought fresh fruit, had ice cream and ate lunch near by, no one got sick. We went to the art gallery which is a former Governors Palace. There was no fee to go in. The murals depict the local history and are amazing. We also went to the Museum of Anthropology, our daughter is a history major so she was thrilled to visit both locations. We did however get tricked by a server where we at lunch that "this is not the market, follow me and I'll show you where it is." We followed him to an indoor market where he no doubt gets a kick back or perhaps he owns the place. But no harm done, we just laughed that we got sucked in and actually the stores were quite nice. All in all it was a good day and the city although busy is beautiful.

2 Thank TheJohnstons0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
2 helpful votes
Reviewed 14 February 2009

We chose Merida for a 2 night stay because of it's description in guide books. I found the city overdeveloped with giant malls, ie Sears, auto dealerships etc. The central historic area is overcrowded and bus fumes make walking the streets unappealing. Much better were the smaller cities, ie, Valladolid, Izamel and Campeche. They have the charming old Spanish building without the congestion and constant harrassment by vendors in the streets of Merida.


Thank bdsv18
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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