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Reviewed on 12 Nov 2019
Famed for its ancient origins as much as its current-day bustle, Cancun's Mayan Ruins take in striking architecture, spectacular art, and culturally diverse structures. Between the 1980s and the present, Cancun has transformed itself from a jungle village into a diverse holiday resort comprising ancient relics and sandy beaches, and providing a haven for water sports fanatics and beach holidaymakers alike. Buttressing south-east Mexico's coastline, this part of the Yucatan Peninsula contrasts Caribbean-facing luxury hotels with bars and restaurants overlooking the romantic Nichupte Lagoon.
Ancient Mayan Cancun has more than left its mark on the modern incarnation of the city - most obviously in the form of Chichen Itza, the cultural centre of Cancun. The Kukulkan Pyramid forms a striking figurehead, standing at a height of over 75 feet as part of the ancient mysterious city. It's also worth spending some time at the archaeological site so that you can experience the less obvious points of attraction, such as the Cenotes (sinkholes), an ideal setting for a solid day's freshwater swimming.
Enjoy views of the Cancun jungles with some horseback riding --it's the freest way to explore the matchless destination of Cancun, a truly different taste of the Mexican way of life. And why not swim with dolphins? You can be a part of their aquatic world, and experience their serenity and benevolence face-to-face. And if that's still not enough then why not visit Xcaret, an ancient Mayan village which now comprises an underground river, aquarium, and aviary? It's a truly unique experience - an otherworldly paradise.
If thinking outside the box is your thing, spend some time in Tulum; set atop a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, Tulum is home to Xel-Ha, the world's largest natural aquarium. Tulum's structures date back more than seven centuries, and the 40-foot high El Castillo pyramid is the aesthetic focus.
Downtown Cancun gives a taste of the local way of life with a plethora of regional specialities ready and waiting. Be it indigenous cuisine, live music, or local handicrafts you're after, it's all there; it's a taste of the true Mexicana to contrast with the Americanized city centre.
Accommodation can mainly be found in the famous Zone Hotelera, an area shaped like a '7' featuring bridges connecting to the mainland. Rough beaches envelop the vertical side of the '7', while the horizontal end provides a tropical paradise for surfers and sun-seekers alike. The 14-mile beach stretch is where the city comes alive at night; the vast selection of bars and clubs means there is bound to be one to suit your taste. The area undertakes the great feat of transforming itself from the world's second largest coral reef during the daytime to a lively party city at night.