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Riviera Maya Travel Guide

Exploring Riviera Maya’s Hidden Gems

When people think of Mayan culture, the first thing that comes to mind is often the ancient ruins scattered throughout Mexico and Central America. While these sites are certainly impressive and worth visiting, there’s much more to Mayan culture than just the ruins.

But Mayan culture is beyond only ruins. So, let’s explore the hidden gems of Mayan culture in Riviera Maya, from traditional crafts and medicinal plants to temazcal ceremonies and local communities.

Traditional Crafts

One of the best ways to learn about Mayan culture beyond the ruins is through their traditional crafts. In Riviera Maya, there are several communities where visitors can see artisans at work and purchase handmade crafts.

Another must-visit is the Mayan local community, where visitors can see traditional weaving and embroidery techniques. Here, artisans use natural dyes and cotton or sisal fibers to create intricate patterns and designs.

There are also several cooperatives in the area that support local artisans and provide fair wages for their work.

Medicinal Plants

Mayan culture has a deep connection to nature, and many traditional medicinal practices involve the use of plants and herbs.

In Riviera Maya, visitors can learn about these practices by visiting botanical gardens or taking guided tours of the jungle to learn about the traditional uses of plants and herbs, including how they were used for medicine, food, and ritual purposes.

Visitors can also participate in a traditional Mayan sweat lodge ceremony, known as a temazcal (some kind of steam bath), which uses medicinal plants and steam to promote physical and spiritual healing.

Local Communities

Beyond the tourist destinations, there are several Mayan communities in Riviera Maya that offer a glimpse into daily life and traditions.

One such community is the village of Pac Chen, which is located near the ruins of Coba. Here, visitors can participate in traditional ceremonies, learn about the local way of life, and even go on a jungle hike to explore the local flora and fauna.

Another option is the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which is known for its Mayan language and culture. Visitors can explore the local markets, where traditional foods and crafts are sold, and even take a language class to learn some basic Mayan phrases.


Mayan culture is rich and diverse and extends far beyond the famous ancient ruins. In Riviera Maya, visitors can explore traditional crafts, medicinal plants, and local communities to gain a deeper understanding of this ancient culture.

Whether you’re interested in learning about traditional weaving techniques or participating in a temazcal ceremony, there’s something for everyone to discover beyond the ruins.

So next time you visit Riviera Maya, be sure to venture off the beaten path and explore the hidden gems of Mayan culture.

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