Tell Me About Oaxaca (or Mexico in general, for that matter)

I’m in the middle of planning a trip with Mumsy Dearest to celebrate her 60th birthday. We’re planning on doing a week-long getaway, just the two of us, sometime in November.

Mumsy is very keen on going to Mexico, since she hasn’t been in many many years, and she’s leaning heavily towards Oaxaca (the city) and surrounding areas in Oaxaca (the province). I haven’t really heard much about the area, besides seeing a few glossy ads in travel magazines… so I’d like to get the Straight Dope, so to speak, before we make a final decision to go there.

I know that Mexico can be a variable place to visit as a tourist, depending on where you’re staying and what your vacationing style is (ie. lie on the beach vs. explore old ruins), so here’s what I’m hoping Dopers can help out with:

  1. Can I expect Oaxaca to be a generally safe place for two women travelling alone? Language isn’t an issue, BTW… Mumsy is fluent in Spanish and can pass for a native speaker, while I’m semi-fluent and can usually get by as long as people don’t speak too quickly.

  2. Will we be limited to resorts as far as accomodations are concerned, or would we be able to find something a little more interesting? (I’d like to find something B&B-ish… or really, something that has a little more charm than a cookie-cutter hotel/resort)

  3. Are there any can’t miss activities or sights that we absolutely must do? Nothing that would require more than a day trip, preferably, since Mumsy generally prefers to sleep in the same hotel rather than bouncing around from one place to the next.

  4. Is there are lot to do there for people who aren’t inclined to sit around a resort all day? Or will basically burn through the interesting stuff before the week is through?

Alternative recommendations are more than welcome, assuming the popular opinion is that Oaxaca is an overprice hellhole where we’ll be kidnapped by Marxist rebels and sold into white slavery. :slight_smile:

Trip advisor is my vacation planning best friend.

Thanks, Wilbo. I’m familiar with Trip Advisor (it’s my usual go-to as well), but I tend to find it’s more useful once I’ve got a rough idea of where I want to go, what I want to do, and what sorts of places I’d like to stay.

Right now, I’m still trying to decide all those things, so what’s more valuable to me is the stuff that Trip Advisor won’t cover.

Basically, stuff like this:
Is it better to stay in the city or are there any neighbouring towns that would be more interesting?
Will I be able to find a nice B&B or guest house, or am I basically limited to resorts and cockroach-infested youth hostels?
Is there a risk I’ll get mugged, killed, kidnapped or the like? How corrupt are the local authorities, in general?
What kinds of tourists will this area attract, for the most part? Are they outdoorsy adventuring types, lie-on-the-beach types, hardcore partiers, something else?

Once I have a rough idea of what to expect, I’ll be doing a lot more research… but right now, I’d like to get just enough information from someone who’s been to let me decide if it’s someplace I even want to go.

Have you tried the forums on Trip advisor? They have specific forums (by city) with postings by other traverlers. I just think your sample of people that have traveled to that region or actually live in that region may be greater there than here on the SD.

Happy vacationing.


Can’t help you there, as when I traveled there we were doing it vagabundo style and living in a van.

The Guelagetza festival is in July, and it’s pretty much what Oaxaca is known for. If you really want to go to Oaxaca specifically, that would be the time to go.

If you go during the festival I’m sure you’ll manage to keep yourself entertained but if you don’t, running out of things to do might be a reality.

Edit: almost forgot to mention, the World’s Largest Tree is in Santa Maria del Tule in Oaxaca. I forget how far exactly it is from Oaxaca city but you might wanna check it out, it’s a big gnarly thing worth seeing if you’re at least reasonably closeby.

Three things stand out:

-Food- it has a very unique flavor. You MUST try the cheese. If you see little plastic bags filled with something that looks like dough, it is the cheese. The flavor deteriorates with refridgeration (sp), so you can’t really get good Oaxaca cheese anywhere else.

  • the market - especially if you like Mexican folk art.

  • pyramids- Monte Alban is nearby.

I don’t know anything about resorts.