A jewel in the crown of Yucatan's queen, colonial Merida
How to Get Here
Getting Here by Flying to Merida
United Airlines and almost all Mexican airlines fly to Merida. Merida is a big and prosperous city with about a million people. It is the economic and cultural center of southeastern Mexico. It has a very nice international airport and the immigration and customs people are polite. It is okay to travel here via Cancun or Mexico City. Often flights are much cheaper to either of these staging points and then it is just a matter of getting a connecting flight to Merida. The United flight leaves from Houston at about 7:00 pm and arrives here shortly after 9:15 pm. The nice thing about a round-trip United flight is that the return trip gets you out of Merida early in the morning and you are back home, if you live in North America, in daylight.
Once you get to Merida and get through immigration and customs, there are two ways to get to us at Casa Santiago:
OPTION A: You can arrange with Casa Santiago a pickup by a driver from Meri de Merida, a licensed livery service. The driver will be holding a sign with your name. This firm has never failed our guests. The driver will charge you about $35 US in cash payable to him. This charge covers up to four people in the van. He knows where he is going and almost certainly will speak English and Spanish.
OPTION B: There is a taxi stand right outside the front door of the Merida airport to the left. Go to the kiosk and give the person there a copy of our business card below. It has our address: 562 Calle 63 x 70 y 72, Centro (Santiago). The taxi ride will cost around $20 US. There will be a long line of people from your plane doing the same thing. It is dark and about 10:30 pm. We are patiently waiting for you at Casa Santiago with your refreshments. Please take another look at OPTION A.Penny wise, pound foolish is not wise,
Getting Here by Flying to Cancun
Many of our guests have figured out that there are amazingly cheap direct flights from Europe, Canada and the United States to Cancun, which is 200 miles from Merida and connected by a divided superhighway. For instance, there are nearly daily round-trip charter direct flights to Cancun from the American Midwest for under $300US. Try USA3000, Apple, Ryan Air and the like. No layovers, very big planes and you arrive in the daytime.
Now that you are in Cancun after your very inexpensive and direct flight, you have three choices:
OPTION A: Your international flight has arrived at Cancun's Terminal 3. Go through immigration and customs. After you leave customs, change some money into pesos at one of money changers. All the rates are lousy at airports so just use the first one you see. Don't change more than $100US per person in your party. Your ATM card would work but the screens are all in Spanish and there is always the fear that if you make too many mistakes too many times, the machine will seize your card. Most folks therefore just use the moneychangers. Exit the building. You are outside. Go left through the turnstile, past the Meeting Point cafe and go approximately 150 feet. There is a blue tall sign post that tells you that this is where the free airport terminal transfer bus stops. The free little bus shows up every 10 minutes or so, even though the sign says 20 minutes. If you're uncertain or nervous, just ask a luggage porter outside where to catch the free bus to Terminal Two. Take the free bus to Terminal 2 and tip the driver for handling your luggage. Now you are at Terminal 2. Go to the left about 200 feet. You are looking for the spot where the ADO busses come and go. It is pronounced Aah-Dey-Oh. You can ask anybody who is working as a porter outside for help. Now you are in the roofed, open air area where the ADO busses are to be found. Buy a ticket from the English speaking ADO employee to go to Cancun's bus station. It will cost about $3US (pesos required), much cheaper than the $50US standard Cancun taxi ride. The bus you are on is very elegant, clean and air-conditioned. When you arrive at the bus station, exit the bus, show your luggage checking stubs and collect your luggage, and then go to the right to enter the inside of the bus terminal. Catch your breath. There is no rush. Just stand there for a second. Now you need to buy your first class ADO bus ticket to Merida. The very first set of windows in front of you is where you want to go. Look up at the schedule on the wall above the ticket windows. You want the next ADO first class, non-stop bus to the CAME station in Merida. Make sure that the ticket you are buying will give you a trip that will take just four hours to get to Merida. That's the non-stop one. You can buy the ticket in pesos or with most credit cards. The ticket will cost under $40US. You will be given a seat reservation. Don't lose your ticket. Now walk to the very end of the terminal and you will see a separate, air-conditioned waiting room for first class passengers. Go sit there until your bus leaves. There is a first class bus to Merida from Cancun nearly every hour. If you have too much time on your hands, there is a nice hotel restaurant right across from the front of the bus station. The bus leaves exactly on time. In four hours you are in Merida. The bus is clean, air-conditioned and has a restroom. You will watch two Spanish language movies and you will wish that your Spanish was better. Bring snacks and drinks from the bus station shops. Don't lose your luggage checking stubs. You will need them to claim your luggage in Merida. When you get to the Merida bus station, you can walk 3 or so blocks down 70 to Calle 63 and turn left to Casa Santiago, but the better idea is to take a taxi with your luggage. You're tired, the sidewalks are problematic. Just show our business card which you have dutifully printed out and let the taxi take you to us. It will cost about 50 pesos. And now you are here. You've seen the jungle of the Yucatan's interior in comfort, you've saved a boatload of money, you've had an adventure and it's still daylight.
OPTION B: Above we mentioned that flights to Cancun are sometimes wildly cheaper than flights to Merida. That's because of volume. Some of our guests have us arrange with Roberto Lara, the star of our website's Daytrips with Roberto, to pick them up at Terminal 3 in Cancun at the Meeting Point right outside the exit from Terminal 3 and drive them directly and quickly on the toll road to Merida. Nothing could be easier and more pleasant. Roberto is one of nature's true gentlemen and is a delight and our good friend. His Spanish, Mayan and English are great, his French less so. Rather that OPTION A's four hour bus trip, taxi rides and waiting at the Cancun bus station, you are at Casa Santiago three hours after your arrival in Cancun. It costs $300US one-way and this price covers up to three people. We can add this fee on your deposit and give the money to Roberto. You can cancel 24 hours in advance but not later. That is because Roberto needs to travel from Merida to Cancun to pick you up. His fee covers the cost of the tolls on the superhighway, about $50 US each way.
OPTION C Take Mayair to and from Cancun and Merida. It costs about $105 US each war. As of January, 2012 the flight to Merida leaves at about 7:30 am and arrives in less than an hour. The flight from Merida to Cancun leaves Merida at about 5:30 pm. It is effortless and you can make your life less hectic by just booking a cheap night on the beach in Cancun via Expedia or the like, get up the next morning, take the flight and be at Casa Santiago for breakfast.
Getting Here by Driving a Car
In our view, renting a car is a particularly dreadful way to experience Merida and the Yucatan. For goodness' sake, you're on vacation. Taxis are plentiful and cheap. Day trips arranged through us are neither touristy nor expensive. Yucatecan traffic can be pathologically exhilirating. Internet-quoted rates for rental cars collide upon arrival with vexing news about undisclosed insurance requirements and costs. But testosterone can sometimes poison judgement, despite the most kindly expressed avuncular advise, and therefore we provide the following information:
Casa Santiago B&B is located on Calle 63 No. 562 between 70 and 72, Centro (Santiago), 2 blocks south of Santiago church.The house is capuccino and cantaloupe, kind of tan and orangish-yellow. It is marked with a plaque CASA SANTIAGO and we proudly fly the Mexican flag.
The following are brief instructions on how to get to Casa Santiago by car:
From the airport
If you rent a car, drive out of the airport and turn right on Avenida Itzaes/Aviacion.Continue on this avenue until you reach Calle 59.As soon as you see the park on your right, get into the rightmost lane and make a right turn. You will see the Centenario Park entrance.Stay on 59 until you reach a small park and an old church on your left.Next traffic light is Calle 70. Make a right turn and drive past Calle 63, our street. Make a right turn on Calle 65 and drive around the block and once you are on Calle 63 look for us on your right hand side in the middle of the block on the right hand side.All your turns are to the right.Please remember streets in Centro are all one way.“Centro” means center of the city.”
Driving from Cancun or Chichen Itza
Once you get to Merida go across the Periferico, outer loop, you should be on Calle 65. Streets in Centro are one way. Stay on this street all the way across. You will notice that the streets are numbered.You are on an odd-numbered street and will pass ascending even-numbered streets. One section between Calle 50 and 62 will be very busy with buses and all kinds of vehicles. After 62 go five more blocks and you will find Calle 72, make a right turn, and go one block make another right turn and you are on Calle 63. About two thirds down this street is Casa Santiago.After you unload, there is street parking available on Calle 72 or paid parking at nearby walled lots. We have one covered parking spot, quite a rarity in Centro. It is available for free use by our guests but it is first come, first served and its use must be reserved.