Girl’s trip to Mexico: Tulum + Cancun

Only two days after coming back from Thailand, I was on a plane again to Mexico for a girl’s trip through Memorial Day Weekend. Despite fighting jet lag and still having a lot of reflecting to do from Thailand, I was beyond stoked to top off this month of traveling with seeing Mexico for the first time. #gobigorgohome

Day 1: Travel day + coolest hostel ever + crazy night out in Cancun

The trip consisted of me, Rene, and her two friends from home/Guam. I was meeting the two others for the first time on this trip, but the girls were instantly so welcoming and I knew this would be a super genuine group of girls to spend the weekend with. 🙂

We all flew in from different parts of the country around 5pm and went straight to our hostel, Senor Frog’s. I’ve stayed in so many hostels in the past month, and this was by FAR the coolest and nicest one yet, and for only $15/night! The common area was so festive and there were tons of nooks and corners to chill in – it even had a slide that went straight into the ocean.

We all had a lot of pent-up energy after a long travel day, and so we dropped off our stuff in our dorm room and went straight to the bar for mojitos.

Then we got ready for our first and only night out in Cancun – we were only staying in Cancun for one night since it was really just a jumping point to Tulum, where we would spend most of our trip. So of course we were going to make it count :).

4 broke girls traveling to Mexico = we bring our own alcohol in sunscreen bottles 😉

After being well-liquored up from pre-gaming, we hit the town. I was super surprised how lit-up and CRAZY the nightlife in Cancun was…it almost felt like Vegas. Every bar was offering open bar specials so we opted for that, despite totally not needing more alcohol in our systems :P.

We spent most of the night partying at one club with lots of drinks + dancing -> a much crazier night than anticipated.

Tacos to end the night = a must.

Day 2: Slow start + off to Tulum + beach day and tacos

A combination of jet lag and never being able to sleep-in after drinking meant I was up at 7am. I had some breakfast at the hostel and watched “The Kissing Booth” on Netflix while I waited for the girls to wake up.

We had a slow start to the morning between all waking up hungover, packing, checking out of our hostel, and getting our rental car, but we were finally on the road to Tulum around 1pm. McDonald’s on the go for lunch was such a good idea.

Two hours later, we made it to Tulum! We checked into Habitas, a super nice hotel right on the oceanfront that also was in the midst of the wilderness. The property was filled with large nice, tent-rooms with A.C., outdoor showers, ours even had a hot tub! My first “glamp-ing” experience 😛

After getting situated, we opted for a lazy beach day to kick off Tulum. Our hotel had a private beach where we ordered smoothies, lounged in the nice large beds, and enjoyed the beach-front views.

For dinner, we went into downtown Tulum and found a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant. We shared guacamole and all ordered 5 tacos each (can you tell we were hungry?).

Some ice cream afterwards.

The evening ended early as we watched 13 Reasons Why in our pj’s. A tame night was definitely needed after our crazy last night in Cancun.

Day 3: Tulum ruins + Grand Cenote + biking feels real

How oh-so refreshing it felt to wake up NOT hungover!

We were out the door by 8:30am to snatch our hotel’s first-come-first-serve rental bikes. We biked over a few doors down to grab breakfast first thing.

Then we were off to explore Tulum! The roads were wide open and traffic-free which made biking super easy (except being in the rain for half of it, but that just added to the adventure) 😛

After 20 minutes we made to the Tulum ruins, a huge park that preserves a Mayan city. We walked around and enjoyed the tons of beautiful archaeological sites left and right.

We did a short hike to the top of the park where there was a gorgeous viewpoint of the ocean and all the ruins – my favorite spot.

After the ruins, we were off on our bikes again. We tried to take a break at a random hotel and buy some drinks, but ended up running into some issues with them trying to charge us more than was advertised…up until this point we were “scammed” several times already – taxi drivers charging more than the meter, bouncers misleading us, our hotel making up excuses to heavily fine us…I was so fed up that I ended up losing my cool and throwing a fit at the hotel (I tend to get really defensive when I feel like people are taking advantage of me and my friends). Luckily, Rene was calmly dealing with the issue with the manager on the side, but nevertheless we ended up not feeling comfortable doing business there and we left.

To be honest, all these scams really took me aback and turned me off to the dishonest culture towards tourists in Mexico. A big lesson for me is to learn how to [calmly and nicely] stand up for myself, since I definitely look back and regret the times I didn’t speak up versus the times I did.

We shook off that experience and ended up grabbing a quick bite at a gas station which ended up being a HUGE blessing in disguise since 1) the tacos were surprisingly delicious, and 2) drinking would not have been smart while biking in heat.

Our next stop was the Grand Cenote – a beautiful swimming hole surrounded by limestone rocks. We were dying to cool off after being in the heat all day and so we jumped right in!

The scenery around the cave was stunning, but even more amazing was underneath it. You can’t tell from the picture but underneath these rocks was a beautiful underwater cave and it felt like a whole new world – I rented a snorkel and got straight to exploring!

After swim-time, we lounged in the sun for a bit, and then biked our way back to our hotel. We had a few hours to kill before dinner and so we chilled in our tent area – hot tubbin’, listening to music, and popping open some rosé…have I mentioned how much I love “glamping”? 🙂

Goofing with Rene ;).

For dinner, Rene made us a reservation at an upscale, contemporary Mexican spot that had shrimp tacos to DIE for. Tulum is a very newly popular vacation spot – lots of celebrities have been visiting and making it popular – and so all the restaurants and hotels are very new (and pricey). This spot had a super modern vibe with its dim-lit, artsy decor. It was our one “treat yourself” meal of the trip. 🙂

Afterwards, we grabbed drinks at a bar next door. Mescal shots combined with some live music…when in Mexico 😉

We were all pretty tired after a productive day, and so we went home just slightly buzzed and popped on another episode of 13 Reasons Why. Rene and I reflected on how fun our day was biking around Tulum and seeing all the sights we did. Biking felt so “real”, carefree, and like the locals experience – it was hands down my favorite part of the trip.

Day 4: new hotel + shopping + beach day with massages + full moon party!

Rene and I woke up early to sneak in the free morning yoga class offered by our hotel. The instructor introduced a new type of yoga called kundalini yoga, which focuses on awakening our inner kundalini energy through meditation, chanting mantras, and dynamic yoga poses. It was definitely a less physical and more spiritual exercise. We on a sunny rooftop and could hear and smell the waves of the ocean…a truly special experience.

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Afterwards, we packed up our room and checked out of Habitas and ventured right next door to Papaya Playa Project (say that three times fast), where we would be spending our last night. We switched hotels since the full moon party was taking place at the hotel and it would make our lives that much easier to also stay there.

We were greeted with papaya mimosas, and I immediately could tell that Papaya Playa Project had a much more young, fun, lively vibe than Habitas. We were put up in an adorable adobe house steps away from the beach.

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We had nothing on our agendas until the full moon party, and so after dropping off our things, we went into town to grab some lunch, shop and stroll around.

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We scoped out a chill restaurant by the beach and plopped ourselves down for another lazy beach afternoon.

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We saw a sign for cheap massages and all got one. Between Thailand and Mexico, I’ve gotten 4 massages this month which has been SUCH a treat.

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After some beach time, we went back to our hotel and watched the sunset in the hot tub which was on the roof of our adobe house…amazing.

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Then it was time to get ready and pregame for the full moon party!!

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The full moon party actually originates in Thailand and is one of the biggest parties in the world – I was pretty bummed about not being able to make it on my Thailand trip, and so I was super excited for this smaller version in Tulum. But…I’m not gonna lie, it was pretty different from what I expected. It honestly felt like a scene-y LA night club where everyone was just there to be seen and take pictures. I guess I was expecting it to be more real and full of laid-back backpackers like in how I heard the full moon party was like in Thailand.

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Nevertheless, the girls and I found our way to have fun as we met some new friends and danced the night away – it was definitely worth checking out for the experience.

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Day 5: back home + overall thoughts

The next day we checked out of our hotel, drove back to Cancun, and all said our goodbyes before flying back home.

Overall, I’m glad I went on this trip – I’ve been dying to check off Mexico once and for all and it was a good cushion to going back to “real life” after my 3-weeks in Thailand. My overall thoughts on Tulum is that it’s super cute and much more manageable than Cancun which is just party-party…although I feel it is still pretty pricey and bouge-y given its up-and-coming nature. And I as I mentioned before, I was super turned off to the attitude towards tourists in Mexico in general. So to be honest…after seeing Cancun and Tulum, I don’t think it’s my scene.

Although, I do need to give some weight to the fact that I was in, and still am, in an emotional spot after Thailand since it was such an amazing, transformative trip, and having that back-to-back with Mexico does make me a bit biased.

Nevertheless, I can’t put a price tag on the quality time I got to spend with Rene on the trip. She is one of my closest friends at this point, and I feel like we got so much closer after travelling these few days together. So many quality moments sharing stories about our lives, reflecting about my Thailand trip, getting pumped for her 6-month solo trip starting in a month…I’m so glad we got this time together before she jet sets around the world <3.

I know that not every trip will be as absolutely life changing as Thailand; so I’m taking from this trip as much as possible and grateful for the all the experiences, chance to relax on the beach, feel so carefree biking around Tulum, meet some new friends, see new places…lots of amazing moments to treasure from Mexico ❤


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