The principal Maya sites in the Yucatán are Chichén Itzá , Uxmal , Cobá , and Tulum. In addition to the tourist scene on the coast (Cancún , Riviera Maya , Playa del Carmen ), there are several noteworthy community tourism programs near Chichén Itzá where you can stay in a Maya village and swim in cenotes.
(Though Tulum’s archaelogical site is heavily touristed, it has little significance to 2012 and the Long Count. For more information, consult Moon Cancún & Cozumel .)
Mexico’s Mundo Maya is vast. Far and away, Cancún has the most popular and economical airport for this region. Cancún International (CUN, www.cancun-airport.com ) receives direct international flights daily.
From Cancún, it’s a four-hour bus ride, or a short connecting flight, to Mérida . Mérida is hands-down the best option for serious Mayaphiles who also enjoy pampering. You’ll have immediate access to Uxmal archaeological site and the Puuc Route, plus a fine selection of accommodations, daily music and dance performances, classes, museums, and remarkable architecture.
Many Maya-themed workshops, events, and celebrations will be centered in Mérida. Uxmal, the area’s premier Terminal Classic Maya archaeological site, is only one hour to the south, on the road to Campeche.
The state of Campeche  is up-and-coming, an undervalued and spectacular part of Mexico’s Mundo Maya. Most notable are the ruins in the Río Bec region in southern Campeche, including Calakmul, with the largest known Maya pyramid. Campeche City  itself has excellent museums and nearby ruins.
Villahermosa  provides access to Palenque  and San Cristóbal de las Casas. Devote at least four days to Palenque, one of the finest archaeological sites in the world. Afterwards, book a lancha upriver to Yaxchilán and Bonampak , sites that still feel like lost cities in the forest.
San Cristóbal de las Casas , the main base for exploring the state of Chiapas, is less popular among North American visitors, but a major destination for Europeans. There are fewer impressive archaeological sites in this region; a base here is more about excursions into the Chiapas highlands.
Die-hards will continue to the city of Tapachula  and the nearby archaeological site of Izapa, near the Pacific Coast and the border with Guatemala. Izapa was the seat of a once-mighty Preclassic empire and, based on the evidence, the possible birthplace of the Long Count calendar cycle. Combine a visit here with an incursion into Guatemala, whose highland Maya sites are just over yonder.
Mexico has some of the most relevant sites to 2012 and the Long Count in all of the Mundo Maya, starting with Izapa  on the southwest Pacific Coast, where the Long Count is believed to have originated. Near Villahermosa, Tortuguero (a site that now lies beneath a cement factory) produced the only known inscription of the actual date December 21, 2012, yet found. There are also myriad interesting Long Count and “deep time” dates at sites like Cobá  and Yaxchilán .