A group of 12 women are meeting in Oaxaca on January 20th, 2005. Three of us would like to arrive earlier than the rest and travel to and from Palenque. Does anyone have suggestions for accomplishing this on-the-cheap? We are a gutsy bunch but see no sense in tempting fate. Rent a car? Maybe a bad idea with all the admonitions posted on loneyplanet. Public transport:? Can it be pre-booked? Price? Fly? Carriers? Cheap??? We exhausted our other resources. Then I thought of all you helpful people in VirtualTourist.
Dear Ladies: Palenque is not a little side trip from Oaxaca. It is a long time since I made this trip, so I did a little checking. It is still 12 hours by bus from Oaxaca de Juarez to San Cristobal de las Casa. I recall a miserable night trip when I was young during which I could not sleep due to the curves. Then there is another maybe 2-4 hours (I really do not remember) of a road from San Cristobal to Palenque recently described by one VT member as a nightmare. And then you have to return. Pre-booking is not generally necessary for buses away from holidays. NO, do not even think about renting a car and trying to drive this yourself. I have a map with a little picture of a plane near Tuxtla Gutierrez but I do not know if comercial planes fly there from Oaxaca. Alternatively, you might be able to fly to Villahermosa and travel by bus to Palenque. If you plan to fly consider doing it from Mexico City rather than going to Oaxaca first. It won't be cheap. You did not say how long you will be in Oaxaca, nor what your interests are, but I would bet you do not have enough time. I would suggest that you get there early and go with your gutsy bunch to some of the small Oaxaca valley towns not on your larger group schedule. Most little towns have a craft specialization, (one specializes in ice cream -- do not try "burnt milk" leche quemada). There are also many ruins rarely visited by tourists. Also check for little local festivals. A group of 3 could easily hire a taxi for these trips without busting a reasonable budget. You might even hire a guide or just find a friendly and hopefully knowledgeable taxi driver who speaks enough English if your Spanish is limited. (Remember negotiate all prices.) good luck, Bob
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