Hidden in the heart of the Chiapas jungle is one of the most emblematic archaeological sites in Mexico. Palenque is a Mayan city that was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1987, and in this post you will find a complete guide if you are looking for what to do in Palenque.
The state of Chiapas is characterized by its impressive tropical landscapes, its wild fauna, and its valuable cultural richness.
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Is Palenque worth visiting?
Although until 2005 the discovered area covered about 2.5 km², it is estimated that not even 2% of the totality of the great Mayan city had been found, so today most of its architectural heritage is hidden under the jungle. So without a doubt, Palenque is an unmissable destination that you must visit on your trip to Chiapas.
Palenque is located in the north of Chiapas, 6 hours by car from the capital Tuxtla Gutierrez and 5 hours from the magical town of San Cristobal de las Casas. Although its access was somewhat limited in the past, today, there are multiple ways to get to Palenque that fit all kinds of needs and budgets.
How to get there
The archaeological site is located only 7 km from the municipality of the same name. A bus leaves regularly and picks up passengers along the road to finally arrive at the archaeological site entrance. It couldn’t be easier.
To reach the municipality of Palenque, several bus routes depart from different parts of the country, such as Cancun, Campeche, or Merida;. However, it must be considered that land transfers in a country as large as Mexico hardly take less than 5 hours from one destination to another.
Thanks to the recently inaugurated airport, it is very easy to fly to Palenque from Tuxtla Gutierrez, Cancun, and, of course, Mexico City. Although the routes are few and far between, it is an efficient option to save time during your vacation…
Where to stay
You will choose inns and hotels of different characteristics and prices in the city, such as La Casa Janaab, which offers simple but very comfortable rooms.
If you feel like something more adventurous, there are also more secluded accommodations.
You can stay overnight at a hotel on the way to the ruins, where you can experience sleeping at the mercy of the sounds of the night jungle. The Hotel La Aldea del Halach Huinic is an excellent option for this.
What to do in Palenque?
The archaeological site offers guides to take advantage of the tour in the best way, they are optional, but there will be those who find them very helpful because they are people prepared to solve all your doubts. Here are some temples you can’t miss if you don’t know exactly what to do in Palenque.
Templo de las Inscripciones
This is the largest temple and the one that will catch your eye as soon as you enter the archaeological site since its characteristic architecture and large size will immediately capture your attention. It was built approximately in VII A.D. with the purpose of housing the tomb of the Mayan king, so it is full of inscriptions.
Among the different sets of temples, there is one you definitely can’t miss: the beautiful Palace, built over time and modified by several rulers. It turns out to be an incredible labyrinth of rooms, subway chambers, tunnels, and viewpoints. Fortunately, its structures are very well preserved and ready to welcome you. So prepare your camera and let yourself be enveloped in this historic place.
Grupo de las Cruces
This group of temples, perched high on a pair of hills, offers the best views of the Maya city and faces a central plaza. You can climb to the top to enjoy this natural reserve to the fullest.
Palenque Site Museum
It is the main museum of the archaeological zone. A good idea is to visit it at the end of your tour, because here you will find a lot of information about the Mayan civilization, both in its beginnings and in its fall.
You will also appreciate impressive findings and archaeological pieces that were found when the temples were discovered and restored.
Frequently Asked Questions
The archaeological zone is open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with the last entrance at 4:00 p.m.
The entrance fee is 80 Mexican pesos, and the following persons are exempt from payment:
Students and teachers
Retired persons, pensioners with a valid ID card, and senior citizens (INSEN or INAPAM cards must be shown)
Inhabitants of the city of Palenque (must show INE credential)
Children under 13 years old
Please note that access with cameras is controlled, so you will have to pay an additional fee if you wish to enter with one. The use of a non-professional camera has a cost of 41 Mexican pesos in addition to your entrance ticket.
What to bring?
Being in the middle of the jungle and having a regularly hot climate, it is essential to pack a water bottle, a good hat or cap, sunscreen, and insect repellent. In addition, try to bring a light backpack and comfortable shoes or sandals suitable for walking and climbing.
How much time do you need to tour Palenque?
You will need about 4 hours to make the tour calmly; we suggest you arrive early before the entrance is crowded and the heat rises to the maximum. This will give you advantages to enjoy your stay even more.
Nearby places of tourist interest
Suppose you have the opportunity to spend a couple of nights in the city of Palenque and you are still wondering what to do. In that case, the best thing to do is plan an itinerary that will allow you to visit other nearby places with beautiful attractions.
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Agua Azul Waterfall
An hour and a half from the city of Palenque is this beautiful waterfall with several levels and vibrant blue colors, as its name suggests. This waterfall is surrounded by jungle and has some regional Mexican food establishments, making it a famous day trip for those who have heard about the eccentric wonders of Chiapas.
In the Ejido de San Miguel, the municipality of Salto del Agua stands this impressive waterfall with a drop of approximately 30 meters high, which collects its abundant water in a pool in which it is even possible to practice swimming with caution, as it is considerably deep.
Yaxchilan and Bonampak
Another spectacular set of archaeological sites, even deeper into the depths of the jungle, and that call to the most adventurous souls for its challenging but exciting access.
To get there, it is necessary to go to Frontera Corozal and take a 40-minute boat ride on the Usumacinta River. Do you dare to live this experience?
This tropical jungle paradise has a lot to offer its visitors, and now that you know what to do in Palenque, you can start planning your next vacation.
Among howler monkeys and singing crickets, your stay in Palenque will undoubtedly be unforgettable.