The Rough Guide to Mexico

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9781848364875: The Rough Guide to Mexico
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"The Rough Guide to Mexico" is the essential travel guide to this vast, extraordinarily varied country. From the deserts of the north to the tropical jungles of Chaipas; from ancient pyramids to Mexico City's sophisticated club scene; and, from colonial cathedrals to spring break in Cancun; the Rough Guide provides comprehensive coverage of it all. The guide offers detailed and practical advice on the best places to stay, where to sample some of Mexico's tastiest food and where to go to order the finest margarita for all budgets. The guide is packed with informed description of Mexico's archeological sites and museums and their fascinating historical and cultural background. Readers will find the coverage of hundreds of beaches, excursions and activities indispensable, while richly illustrated colour sections explore the wonders of Mexican cuisine and the country's dynamic festivals. Informative and inspirational, with dozens of maps, handy languages tips and site plans, "The Rough Guide to Mexico" is your essential companion to this vibrant, unforgettable country. Make the most of your holiday with "The Rough Guide to Mexico".

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About the Author:

John Fisher was one of the authors of the first-ever Rough Guide to Greece, published in 1982 and has been inextricably linked with the series ever since.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Where to go

The north of Mexico, relatively speaking, is a dull land, arid and sparsely populated outside of a few industrial cities - like Monterrey - which are heavily American influenced. The Baja California wilderness has its devotees, the border cities can be exciting in a rather sleazy way, and there are beach resorts on the Pacific, but most of the excitement lies in central and southeastern Mexico.

It's in the highlands north of and around the capital that the first really worthwhile stops come, with the bulk of the historic colonial towns and an enticingly spring-like climate year-round. Coming through the heart of the country, you'll pass the silver- mining towns of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, the historic centres of San Miguel de Allende and QuerŽtaro, and many smaller places with a legacy of superb colonial architecture. MŽxico itself is a choking nightmare of urban sprawl, but totally fascinating, and in every way - artistic, political, cultural - the capital of the nation. Around the city lie the chief relics of the pre-Hispanic cultures of central Mexico - the massive pyramids of Teotihuac‡n; the main Toltec site at Tula; and Tenochtitlan, heart of the Aztec empire, in the capital itself. Guadalajara, to the west, is a city on a more human scale, capital of the state of Jalisco and in easy reach of Michoac‡n: between them, these states share some of the most gently scenic country in Mexico - thickly forested hills, studded with lakes and ancient villages - and a reputation for producing some of the finest crafts in a country renowned for them.

South of the capital, the states of Oaxaca and Chiapas are mountainous and beautiful, too, but in a far wilder way. The city of Oaxaca, especially, is one of the most enticing destinations in the country, with an extraordinary mix of colonial and indigenous life, superb markets and fascinating archeological sites. Chiapas was the centre of the Zapatista uprising, though visitors are little affected these days, and the strength of indigenous traditions in and around the market town of San Crist--bal de las Casas, together with the opening-up of a number of lesser-known Maya cities, continue to make it a big travellers' centre. East into the Yucat‡n there is also traditional indigenous life, side by side with a tourist industry based around the magnificent Maya cities - Palenque, ChichŽn Itz‡ and Uxmal above all, but also scores of others - and the burgeoning new Caribbean resorts that surround Cancœn. The capital, MŽrida, continues its provincial life remarkably unaffected by the crowds all around.

On the Pacific coast, Acapulco is just the best known of the destinations. Northwards, big resorts like Mazatl‡n and Puerto Vallarta are interspersed with hundreds of miles of empty beaches; to the south there is still less development, and in the state of Oaxaca are some equally enticing shores. Few tourists venture over to the Gulf Coast, despite the attractions of Veracruz and its mysterious ruins. The scene is largely dominated by oil, the weather too humid most of the time, and the beaches, on the whole, a disappointment.

Climate

To a great extent, the physical terrain in Mexico determines the climate - certainly far more than the expected indicators of latitude and longitude. You can drive down the coast all day without conditions changing noticeably, but turn inland, to the mountains, and the contrast is immediate: in temperature, scenery, vegetation, even the mood and mould of the people around you. So generalizations are difficult.

Summer, from June to October, is in theory the rainy season, but just how wet it is varies wildly from place to place. In the heart of the country you can expect a heavy but shortlived downpour virtually every afternoon; in the north hardly any rain falls, ever. Chiapas is the wettest state, with many minor roads washed out in the autumn, and in the south and low-lying coastal areas summer is stickily humid too, with occasional spectacular tropical storms. Winter is the traditional tourist season, and in the big beach resorts like Acapulco and Cancœn, December is the busiest month of the year. Mountain areas, though, can get very cold then: indeed nights in the mountains can be extremely cold at any time of year, so carry a sweater.

In effect there are now tourists all year round - sticking on the whole to the highlands in summer and the coasts in winter. Given a totally free choice, November is probably the ideal time to visit, with the rains over, the land still fresh, and the peak season not yet begun. Overall, though, the climate is so benign that any time of year will do, so long as you're prepared for some rain in the summer, some cold in winter, and for sudden changes which go with the altitude at any time.

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