Off path explorers headed to Mexico, this one is for you: the Mexican Government has just announced a new cross-country train route linking the popular resort city of Cancun to Oaxaca, connecting eight different states in between.

Since its launch, the Maya Train has provided access among tourists, particularly the more adventurous kind, as it’s helped them travel to a number of hidden gems around the Yucatán Peninsula without paying exorbitant fees on transportation fees and in a much safer manner.

Now, by the end of the year, they will be able to connect to travel from Cancun to as far as the Mexican Pacific without taking a single flight:

Travel From Cancun To The Pacific Coast Will Be Possible By Year’s End

According to Reportur, by the end of the year, the Maya Train currently traveling around the Yucatán Peninsula will connect to the new Interoceanic Train that has launched almost simultaneously, but without the usual ceremonial fanfare.

While the Maya Train links the city of Cancun to a number of historic colonial towns and Mayan ruins, its Interoceanic counterpart––as the name indicates––transports passengers from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean.

Young Woman Tourist Admiring A Colonial Cathedral In Valladolid, Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula, Latin America

Despite being independent infrastructure projects, it’s been confirmed that, by the end of 2024, those traveling from Cancun will be able to connect onward to the Gulf or Pacific coasts at Palenque, in the state of Chiapas, the planned terminus of both the Maya and Interoceanic Trains.

Just this past weekend, current Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO), and newly-elected President Claudia Sheinbaum have traveled on the Interoceanic to supervise work on the railway, which is already partly-active.

Which Towns Will The Cross-Country Train Route Serve?

Colorful Port Town Near Coatzacoalcos In Veracruz State, Mexico

At present, the secondary ‘Isthmus’ route runs from Coatzacoalcos, an important colonial-era port in the state of Veracruz, straddling the Gulf of Mexico, to Salina Cruz, an up-and-coming resort and surfing destination in the state of Oaxaca.

Once the Maya Train link is activated, passengers boarding the train in Cancun will be able to switch to the Interoceanic in Palenque, taking them either to Dos Bocas, in the neighboring state of Tabasco, or further west to Coatzacoalcos, in Veracruz, and Salina Cruz, in Oaxaca.

Salina Cruz is a beautiful place to visit in Oaxaca, where you can find a lot of beaches like Punta Azul, Punta Conejo and others.

Construction is set to resume in October, when the AMLO administration will hand over power to Sheinbaum; though additional planned stops have not yet been announced, the complete Maya-Interoceanic route might look something like this:

  • Cancun Airport, Quintana Roo
  • Valladolid, Yucatán
  • Chichén Itzá, Yucatán
  • Izamal, Yucatán
  • Tixkobob, Yucatán
  • Mérida, Yucatán
  • Umán, Yucatán
  • Maxcanú, Yucatán
  • Calkiní, Campeche
  • Hecelchakán, Campeche
  • San Francisco de Campeche, Campeche
  • Edzná, Campeche
  • Escárcega, Campeche
  • El Triunfo, Tabasco
  • Boca del Cerro, Tabasco
  • Palenque, Chiapas
  • Dos Bocas, Tabasco
  • Coatzacoalcos, Veracruz
  • Minatitlán, Veracruz
  • Acayucan, Veracruz
  • Matías Romero, Oaxaca
  • Unión Hidalgo, Oaxaca
  • Ixtetepec, Oaxaca
  • Tehuantepec, Oaxaca
  • Salina Cruz, Oaxaca

An official start date has not yet been announced, though it’s slated for launch in late 2024.

Other information such as ticket prices and journey duration have not been disclosed, either, but we do know, for example, it takes 11 hours to travel com Cancun to Palenque with the Maya Train.

As there is no overnight service, tourists keen on taking the train from the Riviera Maya to the Gulf or Pacific states will require at least one overnight in an intermediate stop, like Mérida or San Francisco de Campeche.

Top 7 Most Exciting Destinations On The Maya-Interoceanic Train

Tourist woman enjoying Chichen Itzá

As train lines extend from Cancun to the rest of Yucatán, as well as bordering regions, you may be wondering which cities to visit, especially if you’re a fan of the culture, and it’s the off-path gems that make your heart flutter.

As you can see above in the planned route, there are at least 24 destinations to choose from, from archeological zones dominated by imposing step pyramids to centuries-old cities with stunning architecture that looks frozen in time.

Yellow-Colored Convento de Santo Antonio de Padua In Izamal Seen Through The Arched Terraces, Izamal, Mexico

If you’re wondering what our top 7 picks are, this is where we’d go on the train from Cancun once the Maya-Interoceanic train link-up is up and running:

  • Chichén Itzá, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and a historic Mayan settlement lying partially in ruins that continues to inspire awe to this day
  • Izamal, the most Instagrammable small town in Mexico, famous for its bright-yellow colors and picturesque cobblestone streets
  • Mérida, home to a landmark cathedral, the oldest in the mainland Americas, and a well-preserved Spanish quarter
  • San Francisco de Campeche, a UNESCO-listed city distinguished for being one of only two in the Americas that continue to be surrounded by European-built city walls
  • Palenque, yet another UNESCO-protected zone, except this one is a sprawling Mayan terrain littered with temples, pyramids and palatial structures
  • Coatzacoalcos, a vibrant port city with a rich colonial heritage, once home to a booming shipbuilding industry
  • Salina Cruz, a laid-back coastal town known for its unspoiled golden sands, epic waves made for surfing, and affordable beachfront hotels
Temples of the Cross Group at mayan ruins of Palenque - Chiapas, Mexico

Parts Of The Railway Are Already Active

It’s worth noting a number of stations along both the Maya and Interoceanic lines are already functional and hosting Cancun passengers: you can travel to the Maya Train terminus in Palenque, for instance, but you’re not able to change to the Interoceanic train just yet.

Similarly, traveling between Coatzacoalcos (Veracruz) and Salina Cruz (Oaxaca) is also possible, with tickets starting from $23.87 at the most basic, ‘Tourist’ fare, and $33 for a seat in ‘Executive’: you can book your journey here.

Workers install rails for the Mayan Train in Section 4, which runs from Cancun to Mérida parallel to the toll highway.

At this point, we don’t know whether combined tickets for connecting passengers changing trains at Palenque will be sold or whether they will continue to be available separately at Maya and Interoceanic Train stations.

One thing is certain: train travel is back en vogue, and for Mexico, this is only the beginning.

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