Cancun has consistently broken tourism records nearly every month this year, and the trend isn’t slowing. However, an ambitious project is underway that will take tourism in the area to heights never before seen, The Maya Train. A sprawling 1500 km (≈932 mi) long railway will connect Cancun to the entire Yucatán Peninsula, allowing travelers access to over 190 tourist attractions and a total of 5 Mexican states. There will be 18 stops along the route, and the train will travel at a top speed of 160 km/h (≈100 mph).
What It Means For Cancun & Travelers
Although Cancun needs no help bringing in more tourists, The Maya Train will undoubtedly ramp up tourism in the area. With a direct connection to the train right from Cancun International Airport, travel to other areas will be easier and faster than it’s ever been. For instance, the first three stops out of the Cancun airport station will be Puerto Morelos, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum.
Incidentally, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are two more areas that have been breaking records. The new Maya Train will offer travelers an easier and faster way to reach these highly sought areas. As a result, Cancun International Airport should expect even more record-breaking in its future. Currently, it takes 1.5 hours to drive 118 km (≈73 mi) from Cancun Airport to Tulum. The Maya Train will connect Cancun to Tulum with a 110 km rail section with two stops in between.
Speed and Comfort
With a top speed of 160 km/hr and an assumption of 5 minutes at each of the two stops in between, travelers will still reach Tulum in under an hour. More specifically, it would take about 51 minutes. Aside from the significant time savings, the journey itself will be much more comfortable. The Maya Train will feature large comfortable seats, train cars that offer dining experiences, and even cabins with a place to lie down for those taking the train long distances.
For Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, The Maya Train means they can each expect their visitor counts to grow exponentially. Easier access to these already-popular areas will make them more enticing to travelers looking to experience something new in the region. The adventurous traveler could plan an entire trip around the 18 stops along the route and utilize the cabins with resting areas for long-distance legs.
When Can Travelers Expect To Ride The Maya Train?
Due to environmental concerns over section 5 of the railroad track, which connects Cancun with Tulum, the project was temporarily halted. However, work on the section has started again, and tourists can expect to be able to ride The Maya Train by the end of 2023.
What’s Along The Route?
There will be many opportunities for tourists to explore more of the peninsula. Indeed, there will be access to nearly 200 tourist attractions along the route. Access to 5 Mexican states in the area will also make it easier for locals to connect with bigger cities. The 18 stops planned for The Maya Train are below, with four stops of particular interest to tourists bolded.
- Palenque, Chiapas
- Boca del Cerro, Tabasco
- El Triunfo, Tabasco
- Escárcega, Campeche
- Xpujil, Campeche
- San Francisco de Campeche, Campeche
- Merida Aeropuerto, Yucatan
- Izamal, Yucatan
- Chichen Itza, Yucatan
- Valladolid, Yucatan
- Nuevo Xcan, Quintana Roo
- Cancun Aeropuerto, Quintana Roo
- Puerto Morelos, Quintana Roo
- Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo
- Tulum Aeropuerto, Quintana Roo
- Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo
- Bacalar, Quintana Roo
- Chetumal Aeropuerto, Quintana Roo
Travelers will have easy access to various activities and attractions along the route. Historical sites will now be a quick train ride away rather than a lengthy taxi ride. Travelers will be able to explore more independently with ease rather than feeling the need to book a guided tour. Some of the sites that will become more accessible along the route include:
- Mayan Ruins in the National Park of Palenque
- Mayan sites of Izamal
- The Chichén Itzá Ruins (TikTok Below)
- Puerto Morelos Reef National Park
- The Xibalba Cenote
@drewhacks i love that dog at the end 🇲🇽 welcome to Chichén Itzá! #mexico #travel #drewhacks ♬ original sound – DrewHacks
How Much Will It Cost? (Updated 9/16/22)
No official cost has been announced for the Maya Train to date. However, in a recent announcement, the Mexican Federal Government said that nationals and tourists would pay different rates to ride the train. It was estimated that locals living near the train would pay around 50 pesos to ride, which is about $2.50 USD. The price could be up to 20 times higher for tourists, amounting to an estimated cost of $50 USD. Travelers should keep in mind, however, that these are just estimates. Likewise, the price will likely vary based on how far visitors intend to ride the train.
The Bottom Line
The Maya Train is a massive project that will benefit tourists and locals throughout the Yucatán Peninsula. Areas already majorly popular such as Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum, will all see increased visitor counts due to how accessible the train will make these locations to all travelers. The train will open up the region to a whole new kind of traveler who may have passed on the area before its introduction. It will also give the travelers who come back every year a brand new way to see more of this beautiful slice of the world.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com