Image: Day of the dead parade
Alfredo Estrella  /  AFP/Getty Images file
Take part in the traditional Mexican festival that honors the return of the deceased each fall. Plus, explore sprawling Mexico City and unwind in the surf town Puerto Escondido and the turtle center at Mazunte.
updated 8/1/2008 10:31:33 AM ET 2008-08-01T14:31:33

The Real Deal: Eleven nights' accommodations, some guided tours, and local transportation by bus and plane, from $1,195 per person—including taxes.

When: Depart Oct. 23 or 25, 2008.

The fine print: The starting rate includes a local cash payment of $200, due upon arrival in Mexico City. Taxes, local transportation by public bus and taxi, two local flights, sightseeing excursions, and the services of a G.A.P Adventures leader throughout the trip are included. A one-way airport-hotel transfer can be booked through G.A.P for an additional $25 per person; a hotel-airport transfer is not offered through G.A.P. Your best bet is to take a cab to the airport for about $15-$20 per ride.

Mandatory travel insurance can be purchased through G.A.P; rates depend on various factors, such as the duration of the trip, client's age, and the total value of the vacation, including the cost of airfare. Based on double occupancy; no single supplement. (Solo travelers will be paired with someone of the same sex.) As no meals are included, G.A.P recommends that you allow $240 per person for food and beverages. The average group size is 10. When booking, refer to code CMDD. U.S. citizens must have a valid passport but do not need a visa to enter Mexico. International airfare is not included. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: No deadline; based on availability.

Contact: G.A.P Adventures, 800/708-7761,

Why it's a deal: The $1,195 rate breaks down to about $109 per person per night and covers accommodations, two local flights, transportation by bus and taxi, and several guided excursions. Beyond the monetary value of the package, G.A.P makes all of the travel arrangements for you and offers the services of an English-speaking G.A.P group leader to help you easily get around in a country where English is not widely spoken, thus ensuring an enjoyable, safe, and hassle-free trip.

Trip details: The Oaxaca Day of the Dead trip begins in Mexico City, where you'll stay at the modest, 150-room Hotel Mallorca in the Colonia San Rafael neighborhood.

Aside from a group dinner and an information session, there are no other activities scheduled on the day of arrival. If you're feeling adventurous, you can explore noteworthy attractions, such as the mariachis in Garibaldi Square, the Diego Rivera murals, the ruins of Tenochtitlán ($5 per person), jai alai ($7 per person), or the Museum of Anthropology ($8 per person). You can also go on a guided day trip to the archaeological site of Teotihuacan in the Valley of Mexico ($35 per person).

Next, you'll hop on a public bus and travel about seven hours to Oaxaca, known for its colorful markets and the Zapotec ruins of Monte Albán. The colonial city is known for its food; don't leave without having a taste of the local chocolate, cheese, and mescal, an agave-based distilled liquor with a worm at the bottom of the bottle.

After a night in Oaxaca, you'll take a 40-minute flight (on an Aerovega or Aerotucan carrier) to Puerto Escondido, a Pacific coast town known as "the Mexican Pipeline," where you'll stay two nights. The area's powerful waves attract surfers from around the world. You'll have an opportunity to soak up the sun on one of the town's three main beaches—Playa Principal, Playa Marinero, and Playa Zicatela—see mangroves and marine birds at a nearby lagoon, and hit the local clubs and bars.

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A one-hour bus ride will bring you to Mazunte, a quiet beach town just west of Puerto Ángel. During your two-night stay, you'll visit the National Mexican Turtle Center, where a variety of baby sea turtles live in an aquarium until they are large and strong enough to survive in the ocean, at which point they are released.

A bus will bring you back to Puerto Escondido, where you'll catch a short flight (about 35-40 minutes on an Aerovega or Aerotucan carrier) back to Oaxaca, where you'll spend four nights. A sightseeing tour includes a stop at a market to watch as families stock up on goods in preparation for the Day of the Dead. During the three-day holiday from October 31 through November 2, people honor the lives of deceased relatives and friends and celebrate their return with food and dance. A guided cemetery visit allows you to experience firsthand the rituals of cleaning and decorating the graves and presenting the dead with offerings that range from toys to food to tequila.

The trip concludes with a final night in Mexico City. If you'd like to spend more time in the capital, you can book additional pre- or post-tour nights at Hotel Mallorca for $20 per person for a twin room and $30 for a single.

Before you go, visit Mexico's official tourism Web site.

Getting there: International airfare isn't included. According to a research search on Kayak, the lowest round-trip fares to Mexico City, departing on Oct. 23 and returning on Nov. 3, 2008, were $282 from Miami (American), $322 from New York City (Northwest), $382 from Seattle (Northwest), $400 from Chicago (American), and $459 from L.A. (multiple carriers).

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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