Pacabtún Merida: Off-the-Beaten-Path District Guide

Pacabtún is a non-gentrified, predominantly residential barrio in the eastern part of Merida, Yucatan. As a tourist, you are not likely to accidentally wander into Pacabtún, and even if you are someone who is considering moving to Merida, the area isn’t really on most people’s radars. (Most expats tend to move to North Merida or the historic center). 

Still, Pacabtún has several points of interest that are worth looking out for should you ever find yourself in the area. I live in Merida, in the Colonia Los Reyes neighborhood next to Pacabtún, and I often pass through the area. Since there is basically zero information available online about Pacabtún, I wanted to share some insight as a local resident. 

Pacabtún Merida 

Pacabtún sits between Avenida Fidel Velazquez and Calle 21 in East Merida, bordering the colonias of Manuel Ávila Camacho and Colonia Los Reyes. Calle 21 is essentially the main street, home to several great casual eateries and street food stands as well as the Unidad Deportiva Pacabtún stadium where a local baseball team plays. 

A couple of interesting parks and walking trails run through the area, and some of the best street art in Merida can be found here. Pacabtún is a relatively low-income barrio, whose streets look a little less polished and more rough-around-the-edges than in neighborhoods like Santiago and Santa Lucia.

However, it is safe, and property prices in the area tend to be lower than in the north or the historic center of town. 

The central stepped pyramid at the Archeological site Chen Ho

Archeological site Chen Ho 

If you like Mayan history and archeological sites, you will find it interesting to know that there are some cool ruins in the Fraccionamiento Del Parque recreational space on the edge of Pacabtún. Here you will find the Chen Ho archeological site – one of the Yucatan’s lesser-known Mayan archeological sites

The sunbleached ruins here are all that remains of the city of Chen Ho/T’ho which is the city that once stood where Merida is today, before it was destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors. 

There is a stepped pyramid in the center of the park, as well as a handful of other structures that are believed to have been the homes of Mayan nobles. The site is poorly preserved, but it is interesting to visit nonetheless to see how a modern-day city park buzzes around the ruins, with people coming here to walk their dogs and jog and exercise between the various structures. 

If you stop by early in the morning or the evening, you can sometimes have the site all to yourself and the atmosphere is particularly magical when the sun goes down and the pyramids are lit up. 

Look out for the Pok ta Pok monument on the roundabout of Calles 55 and 14 on the northern edge of the park; This huge metal structure resembles a hoop from the Ancient Mayan ball game which required players to whack a sturdy rubber ball through a hoop mounted high on the walls using just their hips. The losing teams were often sacrificed! 

The Fraccionamiento del Parque night market in Pacabtún

Pacabtún night market 

A night market is hosted every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night on calle 10, just beside Fraccionamiento del Parque. (Look for Tianguis de Fraccionamiento del Parque on Google Maps). 

This is a truly local mercado and you won’t find any foreigners or tourists here. Sometimes there are multiple aisles of market stalls set up and Saturday nights are particularly lively. 

You can buy everything from second-hand clothing, accessories, and cosmetics, to artisanal foods, homemade condiments and marmalades, and liquors made by local producers. (I picked up some great artisanal cranberry and grape mezcal made by a local producer called D’Liz who makes a selection of organic fruit mezcals and non-alcoholic juices.) 

The stalls in the food section serve everything from salbutes and panuchos to hamburguesas, tostilotes, and churros. There are often even live musicians and entertainers here on Saturday nights. 

Parque Lineal & Pacabtún street art 

Pacabtún’s Parque Lineal was first opened to the public in 2023 and connects 47th Street in Colonia Manuel Ávila Camacho with Avenida Fidel Velázquez. This leafy green space boasts several walking and cycling trails and was created following the popularity of the larger 25km Parque Lineal of the same name in West Merida. 

As you follow the paths from Foresta Pacabtún to Fraccionamiento del Parque along Calle 57, you will see some interesting street art pieces created by respected Yucatecan mural artists such as Datoer and Ackon. At the intersection of calle 35 and calle 50, note an impressive mural of a spray-can-wielding hip-hop Santa Claus created by Pacabtún resident artist Ackon, along with several other obscure pieces depicting aliens and eccentric creatures. 

Along Calle 57 in the nearby Del Parque district, you will find a mural by Datoer depicting Mexican cyclists riding through the mountains. 

Street food in Pacabtún 

There are no great restaurants in Pacabtún, just a few snack bars, cocina economicas, and street food stalls catered to locals. That being said, there are a few decent, authentic places to check out if you are in the area, most of which can be found along calle 21. 

For delicious, mouthwatering cochinita pibil tortas, check out Dani Cochis Oink Pacabtún (Calle 21 Local #8 por 48 y 50, Nueva Pacabtún, 97159). If you want to try some chicharon (marinated crispy pork skins), you can order a portion from Chicharroneria Pepe´s just across the road.

Locals are constantly lining up outside this spot waiting for their orders of chicharron which should be considered a testament to how great it is! 

Final thoughts on Pacabtún Merida

Pacabtún is not somewhere that you are likely to visit as part of your regular Merida travel itinerary but if you are spending an extended amount of time in Merida or you are considering relocating here, it is worth passing through. (If you are short on time, your time is better spent exploring somewhere a little more charming like barrio Itzimna or Cholul)

Like most neighborhoods in Merida, this is a safe place to explore and live, and you can expect the same warm Yucatecan hospitality from the people here, as you would expect in any other part of the Yucatan. If you are looking to move to the area, you will note that it is pretty good amenities-wise; There is a Willys, a Bodega Aurerra, and an Abarrotes Dunosusa supermarket, and the Walmart Poligono and the Altabrisa mall are just a short drive away. 

Do you have any questions about Pacabtún, East Merida, or living/traveling here in general? As I mentioned, I have been living in the Yucatan for a few years now. 

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have and I will do my best to get back to you as soon as I can.  Safe travels and enjoy Merida!

Buen Viaje! Melissa xo

Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer based in Merida, Mexico and the Editor-in-Chief of Mexico Travel Secrets. She has over seven years worth of experience in working in travel media and has travelled to 57 countries, mostly solo. Throughout her career, Melissa has produced written content for several high-profile publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, the Huffington Post, Rough Guides, and Matador Network.

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