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Local Top List

Top Local in YAH Global

Best Places To Get Spiritual In Mexico


This list is NOT about religion even if some of the recommendations involve churches of specific denominations. YAHglobal.Com does not endorse any specific sect, not because we want to avoid trouble or lost ad revenue, but because we respect most (except ones that promote violence or intolerance) everyone's belief system.

Whew, that was probably the most intense two sentences on this whole site. Ok, moving forward. The key word in the title "Best Places To Get Spiritual In Mexico" is "Spiritual". This refers to an empowering feeling, one that inspires, puts you into a contemplative trance or simply gives you a feeling that you can't quite put your finger on. It can happen on a lush mountainside for some, for others on the ocean. Heck some of you might find enlightenment on the golf course (we don't doubt that for one minute!). What we tried to narrow down with this list are places that seem to be unanimously revered by locals and travelers to Mexico alike to provide that sense of serenity or connection to another power of sorts, regardless your beliefs on the matter. So put your differences aside and soak up these spiritually uplifting sites. If anything, they'll make for some pretty cool additions to your photographic library that someone you know will appreciate.

Disclaimer: We're pretty sure that this is about as deep as we will get on the site so please continue to keep your expectations of us low in regards to matters such as this ;)



Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Mexico City


The history of Our Lady Quadalupe goes back to Dec 12, 1531 when Aztec Juan Diego claimed to have a vision of the Virgin Mary appear before him en route to Mexico City. He ran and told his tale to a Spanish Bishop who dismissed his accounting as delusion and demanded proof. Defeated, Juan set to return home when the Virgin Mary appeared to him once again, blooming roses at his feet. Juan rushed back to the Bishop to show him this proof as roses were no where near in season at this time of year (and FTD Flowers had yet to opens its doors some 400 years later). When Juan presented the roses, the bundle inside of his apron fell to the floor revealing a glorious icon of the Virgin Mary. The Bishop immediately ordered the church to be built in Mexico City in her honor. Don Juan's experience, with the help of Spanish Missionaries, aided in a multitude of Aztecs being converted to Catholicism.


To further add to the mystique of Our Lady Quadalupe, on November 14 1921, a factory worker in defiance of the Catholic church placed a bomb within a few feet of the image imprinted apron of the Virgin Mary, with the blast destroying marble stairs, exploding windows from across the street, bending brass ornaments and melting away other fixtures. The cloth apron was left unscathed.


In 1976, a second basilica was built nearby to accommodate the continually growing congregation and although much grander in scale, we recommend still visiting the original church, Antigua Basilica, to truly feel the sense of history and then proceed to the new Basilica to view the image of the Virgin Mary, hanging encased in bulletproof glass above the alter.


Studies of the image have been conducted over recent decades, using infared tools and the like, only to increase the validity of Juan Diego's story in the eyes of the Vatican. Analysis has indicated that the image was not, and could not have been painted (no brush strokes or pressing of any kind) and that the colors had not come from an identifiable source (mineral, vergetable or animal). Juan Diego was declared by the Vatican in 2002 to be a named a saint, thus becoming the first Mexican to receive this honor.


Basilica of Our Lady Guadalupe is the most visited Catholic shrine in the world to date.


Historical Source Material: Our Lady Guadalupe Website


Teotihuacan Ruins


Teotihuacan ("teh-oh-tee-wa-KHAN") means "place where gods were born". The Aztecs bevlieved that the gods assembled here to create the universe and so this city was built around 300 AD to honor, worship, and lay sacrifice to these deities. The main monuments erected within Teotihuacan are the Pyramind of the Sun (depicted on the left and is the third largest in the world), the Pyramid of the Moon, and the Temple of Quetzalcoatl.


In a country full of esoteric places of worship built by ancient civilizations, Teotihuacan is among the most mysterious, while at the same time has proven to be as important to the region as Rome was on the other side of the world. In fact, at it's grandest around 500 AD, Teotihuacan surpassed Rome in population as well as with sheer size and structure. However, unlike the gradual and well documented plight of Rome, this civilization seemed to disappear suddenly and without explanation around 700 AD. A second population appeared in the early 1300's with the arrival of the Aztecs which gave Teotihuacan its actual name. However the Aztec tenure as citizens of Teotihuacan was also shortlived and surrounded in uncertainty. The speculation of the demise of the two populations are part of what makes the ruins so interesting to visit, and is sure to spark engaging conversation with your travel partners or within your own cerebral cortex. Explanations run amuck with theories ranging from epidemic disease brought by ship from the Spaniards around 1520 (in regards to the Aztecs) to other world alien interference. The monuments built within Teotihuacan were created for human sacrifce to the gods, to stave off the end of the world, which was impending according to the ancient's belief in the cycle of the sun. However the thousands of skeletons left from ritual killings found within the ruins did little to save these civilizations. 


The magnitude of both the architecture of the site and its history is enough to enthrall even the most jaded enthusiast of ancient peoples and culture.


The Teotihuacan Ruins are 30 miles north east of Mexico City. You can arrange/hire a car through your hotel in Mexico City or take one of the frequent (every 30 min between 5AM and 10PM) buses from the Terminal Central de Autobuses del Norte. Keep an eye out for the AUTOBUSES SAHAGUN sign at the northwest end of the terminal and board bus 8. Make sure you stay in communication with the driver in regards to delays and especially the departure time of the last bus.


Historical Source Material: Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacan - UNESCO World Heritage List


Capilla del Rosario

Church of Santo Domingo, Puebla, Mexico


Walk into the Capilla Del Posario and try not to drop to your knees when you look upon the beautifully constructed interior of this Baroque chapel in Puebla, Mexico. The walls and dome above are decorated with the smallest attention to detail in gold leaf and plaster, creating elaborate dimensional images of angels, cherubs, and saints with additional golden vines serving as frames for exquisitely painted depictions of the rosary. So organic are these creations it seems as if they are moving as your eyes pass from one image to the next. You'll wonder how something so intricate could have been built way back in 1690, only to realize that places so elegant with ornate detail could only have come from periods centuries ago.



Yucatan, Mexico


Kabah is yet another fascinating Mayan Ruins site in the Yucatan Peninsula. What makes this one so unique is the Palace of Masks, where the same mask is repeated over and over again on the walls of this well detailed stone monument. The mayans have not shown this style of repetition on any of their other structures or works of art, thus making the site evn more curious. The face depicted on each is that of Chac, the God of Rain & Lightning. So not only does Kabah provide you with the chance to soak in and question the reason for existence of this rare Mayan find, it will give those of you that live anywhere near the infamously wet Pacific North West (North America) a face to voice your gripes to.


Kabah is close to Mérida-Campeche road and just over 12 miles south of Uxmal, 75 miles from Campeche and 85 miles from Merida, both on MEX (hwy) 261.


Pyramid Kukulcan

Chichen Itza Archaeological Site, Yucatan


David Copperfield, David Blaine, and Chris Angel have got nothing on the Ancient Mayans. Without the aids of smoke, mirrors, and TV land trickery, the Mayans were able to take their immense knowledge of the weather, sun/lunar patterns, and the environment around them to manipulate the masses through predictions that saw fruition and illusions that made gods come to life.


The Kukulcan Pyramid, found on the ruins of Chichen Itza was a very significant tool for the Mayan priests and was the site for both spiritual ceremony and sacrifice, human sacrifice. Mayans, the tricky bunch that they were, built the steps of Pyramid Kukulcan in such a manner that during Spring and Fall equinoxes (March 21 & September 21) the setting sun light cascading upon the steps creates the appearance of a massive serpent descending down from the top of the Pyramid. Thousands of visitors every year flock to Chichen Itza to see this mastery of illusion.


Ok, in reality upon witnessing the semi-annual event, one might find the results to not be as impressive looking as seeing Chris Angel floating above the Luxor Pyramid in Las Vegas, but given the constraints they had at the time, you have to give the Ancient Mayans their due.


Eitherway, when you visit the Pyramid Kukulcan in Chichen Itza and spend enough time, alone if possible, in contemplation of what this mysterious civilization accomplished, you cannot help but feel a sense of total and complete awe.


Cubilete Hill


Cubilete Hill is marked by the 65 foot Cristo Rey del Cubilete (Christ the King Shrine) statue, said to be at the exact geographic center of Mexico. It is one of the most visited spiritual sites in all of Mexico. In January, there is a pilgrimage to the shrine in celebration of the Epiphany. Thousands can be seen on horseback riding up to the site to pay homage. As far as your personal experience on Cubilete Hill is concerned, it can depend upon and be skewed by your religious affiliation, but it still makes quite the impression on your psyche. If you're into feeding off of the "energy" of large crowds, we recommend going during the pilgrimage, otherwise sitting in solace at the center of Mexico can be quite uplifting on its own.

Best Mazatlan Watering Holes To Mingle With Locals


What could be better than collecting groups of friends from all around the world in your favorite travel destinations AND forming long term, family tie type of relationships with these individuals to the point that you always have a place to lay your head when visiting these foreign lands? Imagine no longer having to spend countless online hours trying to find a deal within your budget and having to settle for dates that dont fit your life/work schedule or itinerary. Imagine not having to coordinate travels with those select few you know at home, everyone having conflicting schedules themselves making it a virtual obstacle course or gauntlet in the way of getting to your destination of choice. Instead the freedom is yours to take off solo and on a whim to go see friends in that very same destination. Well, Mexico is one of the best places in the world to find those amigos. The people of Mexico are some of the warmest, accommodating, and welcoming individuals around, if you let them be (learn some spanish!). Whats the best case scenario for ice breaking conversation leading to long term relations? Sharing cervezas at a local watering hole. So download your favorite spanish to english translator app and head on down to one of these neighborhood canteens while in Mazatlan.

All you have to do now is shmooze with flight attendants (bonus!), pilots, baggage people, airport maintenance, or anyone affiliated with a major airline in order to score a good deal on flights and you're pretty much set for $5/day travels for the rest of your life.

"Buena Suerte!" ("Good Luck!")


Latitud 23

401 Playa Gaviotas, Golden Zone, Mazatlan


Latitud (minus "e") 23 Restaurant Bar, is located in the Golden Zone of Mazatlan and is named for its GPS/GoogleMap position in Mexico, which is appropriate since it is without question the location most frequented by those that live within those same coordinates. Given that it is located in the Golden Zone, the tourist hub of Mazatlan, most everyone (employed or otherwise) speaks enough english to get by quite well. For those struggling with the local dialect but still want to mix it up with Mazatlan's finest in a wide open party atmosphere, Latitud 23 is the place to find yourself on the map.


Mango's Restaurant & Bar


On top of serving the best mango margartitas in the area (they better be with that name), Mango's is a great place to Tango with local Amigos. Latin Dancing is the feature of the night, every night, at Mango's and if you cant find a partner of local persuasion or otherwise, a staff member may just join in to lend an hand, or full body, and give you so much salsa that you'll feel like a tortilla chip. In fact, the staff is the biggest reason for inclusion on this list. Consumately friendly with service performance beyond the call of duty, you are just as likely to hit it off with an employee at Mango's as you are with a patron.  


Mr. Tony's

Camaron Sabalo Avenue, Mazatlan


The problem with some bars that cater to a predominant local demographic in a foreign country is that you may be left feeling out of place by both the staff "No hable ingles. Veta De Aqui!" (Google translate it) and those in attendance. Well Mr. Tony's Bar in Mazatlan is known for being the go to place to avoid a heavy influx of vacationing gringos BUT welcomes them in with open arms should they venture on in. So basically the local "over it" crowd at Tony's congregates here to avoid all the hoopla that comes with being a major tourist destination but will give you kudos-a-plenty for seeking out an authentic Mazatlan nightlife experience for yourself.


Photo: Apparantly our YAH Travel "Team" couldnt be bothered to bring a camera to Tony's so if ANYONE has a better photo, please send it on over to content@yahglobal.com. Gracias Amigos!


Senor Frogs

Av. del Mar s/n,cCol. Palo Prietov, C.P. 82000, Mazatlán 


Why do people assume that because an establishment is a well known franchise, located in a tourist driven economy with a solid tourist base that locals don't go there? We at YAHglobal.Com are also guilty of excluding such venues when creating lists about local favorites because of those three facts, so allow us to break the barriers of this separatist social (corporate) injustice. Sure Senor Frogs lures in tourists like a flies to a bug zapper, or lightening quick frog tongue for the sake of an obvious pun, but it also attracts a large local following in Mazatlan. As a local, wouldn't you want to go and witness the "gong show" of drunken passporters? Its better than the 3-D IMAX experience for them, so do your part to support entertainment value options for the citizens of Mazatlan and come on by Senor Frogs.


Mambo Cafe


Authentic (to the region) live music in an authentic looking venue almost always means that local support will be out in force on a nightly basis. Mambo Cafe is also quick to break out the party balloons (are there "non" party balloons?), so how can you not make friends in that kind of atmosphere? Therefore we suggest brushing up on both your spanish AND balloon animal making skills. If you whip into a giraffe balloon making frenzy, who wouldnt want to be your best friend? No one, that's who!

Best Ways To Avoid Being Kidnapped By Cartels In Mexico

Yikes. Not exactly the most welcoming title for a Top List in Mexico, right? We're not going for shock value here folks, we're simply addressing something that your local news loves to rant about. Mexico has gotten a bad wrap from the media over the last year. The over hyped coverage of the so called swine flu epidemic caused more harm to the community of the country than the actual virus ever did. Then, CNN launches into a tirade every time they catch wind of a potential tourist kidnapping in Mexico, throwing around the word "Cartel" in an effort to capture viewers attention with hollywood peppered dialogue. They do the same any time a shark nibbles on someone's toe in Florida. The Jaws soundtrack plays in the background as the reporter gives a gory play by play of the event while beach rental business in those locales dip to an all time low for 2 weeks following.

The media would have you think that there are dark tinted windowed, nondescript, white vans parked outside of any local airport in Mexico ready to whisk away unsuspecting toursists the minute they leave baggage claim, never to be seen again. The truth, is that you are NOT gambling with your life when deciding to vacation in one of the many tourist Mecca's in Mexico and if you were to compare statistics of tourists as victims of violent crime in the U.S. vs that of Mexico, you would ditch any ambitions of an RV roadtrip from Mt. Rushmore to the Grand Canyon and find yourself at the nearest bank teller converting greenbacks to Pesos.

With that being said, we realize that some of you are still discomforted by all the hoopla and we also recognize that to some small extent, there is always reason for concern when you are a "fish out of water" in a foreign country. Thus we have compiled a list of ways to keep yourself free of duct tape bound hands and feet with a sock in your mouth in the back of that dark tinted windowed, nondescript, white van, when in Mexico (or anywhere for that matter).

We also realize that we may be stepping on some Cartel toes here, so uh...if you dont see any updates from us over the next few weeks, please alert the authorities immediately.



Disclaimer: Again, as we mentioned above, the media has painted a misconception of Mexico. This is one of the most welcoming countries we have visited (and continue to visit). The list we provide here is for those that still feel the need for excess caution. 99.999% of the time you will only experience the warm hospitality of the population, but following these rules will all but guarantee avoidance of that .001% so called "potential".


Don't Do The Puzzled Looking Tourist Staring At Map Impression

 We've all been on vacation, turned a corner and all of a sudden it feels like we are on another planet. We lost site of that Starbucks that served as a “You Are Here” landmark and have no idea how to get back to the hotel. Out comes the folded mess of a map from our pocket or backpack and our expression turns like a screw as we try to figure out if we're looking at the top or bottom of what appears to be a blueprint of CIA headquarters, complete with hidden pathways that seem impossible to navigate.

This little "dance" that we do paints a huge bullseye on our person with every street vendor in sight lunging forward to sell us something that may or may not help our situation. That part is acceptable, but it also makes us a target for potential threat from evil doers seeking to take more than advantage of a lost tourist.

Instead, play it cool and plop down at the nearest cafe and casually browse the map as if you're just confirming something that you already know. Always appear confident as if you've been there a dozen times. Do your best to plan your itinerary ahead of time by memorizing the routes and input key points of direction into your mobile phone/pda, which you can check as if you were reading a text, lending further to the appearance that you may in fact be a new expatriate or at least know people in the area.


Don't Flaunt Your Loot


You're on vacation, who are you trying to impress? Part of the reason we vacation is to get away from the same old faces where we can check our pretenses at the departures gate and forget about all the "look at what she's wearing" and "so-and-so bought the new blah blah blah".


Leave the fancy jewelry, posh handbags, and european logo'd paraphernalia at home or hotel room and stick to puka shells, wicker beach bags and local Mexican accessories. Not only does this say "these people are broke....forget it!" but you actually help support the local economy by doing so.


Photo Caption: Attention Cartel - He's all yours, feel free to take him...please.


Don't Ask "Questionable Characters" On The Street For Directions, Etc...


Save your queries for the hotel conceirge or step into any local business establishment and ask for help there. Mexico is home to some of the most hospitable people in the world but as with anywhere, there may be that odd bad seed in the bunch, so selecting individuals working within places that cater to the valued tourist is your safest bet. 


Photo Caption: Spencer never for one second suspected that he was in fact asking two of Mexico's hardest hitting Cartel Enforcers where he could find the nearest bank to convert his cash into traveler's checks. 


Don't Get Into That Dark Tinted Windowed, Nondescript, White Van


You'll notice that in Mexico as well as many other underdeveloped countries, there are quite a few unofficial taxi type services offering to shuttle you from the airport or any other A to B destination at a much lower price than the vehicles with big stickers or painted logos on the sides of their doors. You may also feel some altruistic pride in that you are helping the "small guy" earn a living, thus stimulating the truest form of local economy even further. The cost savings and goodwill are great motivators and you will talk to many people that swear by this method but for the completely risk averse (whom this list was solely created for), throwing caution to the wind here may get you in hot water on rare occassion, and not the kind you find in a large round marble basin at your all inclusive resort.


Not all "scams" will come in the form of shady looking mustachioed individuals offering to give you a ride if you just follow them "over there" to the van where you spy a silhouette ducking into the corner of the passenger side when you glance in their direction. Some will come with big bright smiles, and pictures of family (not theirs) pinned to the dashboard of the transport and offers of cold bottled water supplied for free during the "short" trip. So you can't always trust your sixth sense in this situation.


Pre-book your shuttle ahead of time when possible and stick to reputable taxi services when hitting the road on the fly.


Create your own entourage of local friends, LOTS of them!


Before you make any assumptions about this list, thinking that perhaps its best to stay away from strangers in Mexico altogether, let us nip that thought in the bud immediately.


The absolute BEST way to keep out off the radar of those with undesireable intentions is to mingle with the locals in a fun but safe atmosphere. You will meet and make friends for life by simply spending enough time on and in the local beaches, cafes, eateries, shop, nightclubs and various attractions found throughout all of Mexico. Next thing you know you will have created your own little entourage, a contingent of local friends that may soon become as tight as family. Know the people and you will know the lay of the land and become wise to the ongoings of the community. 


We say this is probably the funnest and most effective "safety" measure out there, so go nuts!