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The New Maya Train Will Launch From Cancun To This Mega Popular Beach Town By The End Of February

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The Maya Train has forever changed the way tourists approach travel in the Mexican Caribbean since launching last December.

In a way, it's greatly diversified transportation options in the region, where taxi monopolies operate and local buses cannot always be trusted to be on time.

Mayan Portal In Playa Del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexican Caribbean, Mexico

Prior to the launch, we expected all lines to open simultaneously, but as you should know by now if you've visited Mexico since, that did not materialize.

Thanks to construction delays, the train is being inaugurated in steps, and service from Cancun to Palenque is the only one available.

Luckily, some progress is being made, and starting February 29, a second line will be added to the Maya Train, linking Cancun to this mega-popular beach town:

A Beautiful Laid-Back Town In The Caribbean

woman on a beach on Playa del Carmen

Playa Del Carmen is one of the trendiest destinations in the Mexican Caribbean.

Located only an hour south of Cancun, it is traditionally seen as a more laid-back alternative to the bustling resort city that captures nearly half of all foreign arrivals to the country.

While Cancun's greatest strength is its all-inclusive, family-friendly resorts, Playa's appeal lies in a youthful, full-of-character beachfront, with its hippy markets and a myriad of casual beach bars and well-frequented discotecas catering to a more diverse audience.

If you're hoping to meet like-minded travelers or locals and chat over cheap drinks in an internationalized, safe environment, or simply relax on the white sands as you sip on some fresh coconut and admire the tropical view, this is the place to be.

Aerial View Of Playa Del Carmen Bounded By The Caribbean Sea, Mexico, Latin America

Playa's days as a quaint settlement on the shores of the Caribbean may be long gone since the first luxury resorts and American expats arrived some decades ago, but as it is much smaller than Cancun – 304,942 permanent residents against 888,797 – it can feel less chaotic.

With the exception of Quinta Avenida, the main pedestrian thoroughfare and busiest street in town, lined by restaurants, quirky art galleries, and souvenir shops, the town is relatively quiet, with verdant residential areas and endless miles of coast begging to be discovered.

playa del carmen, mexico

Some of the top attractions in Playa are Parque Fundadores' Mayan Portal, possibly the most beautiful gateway to a beach you'll ever see, the club-packed Calle 10, your nightlife spot after sundown, and Mamitas Beach, where the white sands unfold along a turquoise ocean.

Why Is The Maya Train To Playa Del Carmen Delayed?

Seeing it is one of the trendiest spots in the Mexican Caribbean, it's no surprise it's been added to the Maya Train railway map, but like many Playa-bound travelers, we were negatively surprised late last year upon learning the route wasn't opening as planned in time for the tourist season.

Maya Train Tracks In Mexico, Latin America

Since December, the only service available is westbound, traveling towards Merida, then down to San Francisco de Campeche, two of the most traditional colonial cities in Mexico, before terminating in Palenque, the furthest stop from Cancun.

Strangely enough, the most highly-anticipated route, the one traveling along the southeast coast of Yucatan, calling at the nearby leisure destinations of Puerto Morelos, Playa Del Carmen itself, Tulum, and many more gorgeous beach zones, did not launch this winter.

Maya Train Construction On A Bridge, Mexico

We know as well as you do that waiting for ADO inter-municipal buses that may, or may not depart on time, or booking overpriced private transfers from Cancun International Airport can cause a lot of stress, especially when you've flown all the way to sunny Mexico for a relaxing vacation.

The train is set to make multi-destination trips across the Mexican Caribbean easier and safer to plan, as trains typically run on time, and the Maya Train in particular has been touted as one of the safest transportation modes in the world.

Happy Traveler Walking Into A Train, Unspecified Location

Regrettably, the wait has been longer than predicted, and this has led to some confusion among regular tourists who do not follow every single Maya Train development daily, and landed in Cancun only to find out some rail links are still unavailable.

From February 29, the long-delayed line is finally opening, at least partially.

On The Downside…

From this date onward, the train will depart from Cancun, calling at Puerto Morelos, before coming to a halt in Playa Del Carmen. For those hoping to continue the journey toward Tulum, however, the news isn't nearly as exciting.

Mayan ruins Tulum Mexico

The other service was originally set to be up and running by June 2 at the earliest, coinciding with Mexico's general elections, but as reported by local news outlets, a judge has ordered ‘stop‘ to an extension from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum.

The new blow to Maya Train enthusiasts comes after a number of environmental groups revealed cenotes and underground waters were being polluted as a result of the driving of pillars along the planned railway, and it's unlikely construction will resume anytime soon.

woman on a swing in Tulum, Mexico

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) himself conceded ‘section 5 south', namely the stretch from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum, is ‘one of the most challenging‘ due to the nature of the terrain, and pushbacks on the part of environmentalists.

For now, trains from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen are going ahead, with an inaugural journey set for later this month and complete operationalization this spring.

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