The biggest favor you can do yourself is to get up early at get to Chichen Itza when they open and before the hordes of tourists and pushy vendors arrive…that would be 8am so leaving Merida at 6.30. Otherwise do it at the end of the day when the buses start leaving for Cancun and other points east.
From Chichen Itza you can go to the ¨Disney World of Cenotes¨ aka Ik´Il or you can head back toward Merida and go to the cenotes at Cuzuma. But I recommend you head to Valladolid or to Izamal the great little Pueblo Magico of the Yucatan.
Valladolid feels more like a cowboy town and it´s much smaller than Merida and less restored and refined than Izamal. If you are going then take the libre road and stop and shop for hammocks at the prison just before you get to town. They are the among the very best in quality and quantity you´ll find. On the way in or on the way out of town go to the town of Uayma and visit one of the most unusual and beautiful Franciscan mission churches of colonial Yucatan. Visit the leather shops around the zocalo in Valladolid and in fact there is a couple of good craft stores on the square and a good restaurant the very classic old hotel Maison del Marques. Coqui Coqui is a great place to shop or have a spa treatment they opened a barbershop and hat shop across the street from the perfumery. They even have a new home furnishing shop. If the main attraction to Valladolid isn´t Coqui Coqui then it´s the convent of San Bernadino de Siena and there is a very good little Mexican vegetarian restaurant on the park called Yerbabuena de Sisal. It can also be fun to wander around the market which is smaller than Meridas and less overwhelming.
Izamal is a different experience altogether. The town has been almost completely restored around the Franciscan convent San Antonio de Padua which has the largest cloister in Central America. In addition to being a Pueblo Magico it is a Unesco World Heritage Site. The first thing you´ll notice is the buildings are all painted yellow ochre and then you´ll see the many examples of chinking around the door and window lintels. It´s a very beautiful town to walk through but you may also choose to take the horse and buggy tour to see the artisans. I loved the herbalist, the pinata maker and the tin smith. But there are wood carvers and jewelry makers as well. Get a map at the Centro Cultural y Artisanal. Kinich is the place to eat in Izamal before you climb on the pyramid of the same name. But it is also very nice to stop at the hacienda San Jose Cholul for a drink or meal if you take the back road home to Merida. The nearby town of Tixkokob is where most of the hammacks you see for sell in Merida are made. There is soon to be a new Coqui Coqui in Izamal, it is now under construction.