Complete guide: Visiting Palenque


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.

If you are planning your next vacation and are interested in truly authentic experiences, Rutopia has the ideal travel itinerary for you. Request your trip here

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.

Land routes

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. 

The Palace

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

Opening hours

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.

Entrance fees

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)

Disabled people

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.

Are you planning to visit Chiapas? Tell us your travel ideas, and we will design a unique and hassle-free trip for you.

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.


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June, 2022
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Rutopia did an outstanding job with the arrangement and execution of a 9 day tour of Mayan sites in the Yucatan peninsula. We provided Rutopia with the general parameters of the trip we wanted and they suggested an itinerary. After our approval, they set up the hotels, transportation within Mexico, and site tours. The hotels were good quality, and all of the drivers and tour guides showed up on time. We were very impressed with the quality of the tour guides and learned a lot on the trip. Jorge handled setting up the itinerary, and Melina handled the execution of the trip and was readily available via WhatsApp throughout the trip for any questions or issues. Melina was particularly helpful in changing our transportation arrangements to the airport at the last minute per our request. I would recommend Rutopia and would use them again for future trips.
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April, 2022
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Tom and I knew we wanted to go to Mexico. We knew we wanted a little bit of culture, some wildlife, and maybe a splash in the ocean. That's it. With the vague and minimal information we gave them, Rutopia was able to put together a perfect trip for us. We had a flawless itinerary. It's so clear that Rutopia really cares about the communities (animals and humans) in Mexico. Everything we did and everywhere we stayed felt like they were helping us experience Mexico as authentically and respectfully as possible. It's almost impossible to pick a highlight, but top of the list has to be the day we shared with Enrique, a Mayan host who was unbelievably generous with us. He shared the community gardens, including history and background about the families that live in Nuevo Durango and other nearby communities. He showed us the neighborhood cenotes, Punta Laguna, Uma Nojoch Keej (a wildlife reserve), and more. We picked and prepared the plants as Enrique and his wife Blanca showed us the best way to cook them (and rescued us when we were pricked by the nopales!). We saw howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the wild which was very cool. That had to be the very best day, but every day was amazing. Sian Ka'an reserve was lovely, the Mayan ruins were spectacular, the snorkeling in Puerto Morelos was fabulous, the bicycle cenote tour was jaw'droppingly gorgeous. I'm waxing superlative but it really all was like a dream. Beyond the activities, the scheduling and pace was perfect for us. We felt like we really made the most of our six days, but with enough downtime to explore and enjoy at our leisure. From picking up our car at the airport to finding our accommodation, the logistics were very smooth at every interaction. Special shoutout to Melina who pretty much instantly helped us when we had any questions about the trip. We've never used a travel planning service like this before. But after this trip, we'll never go back to the old way!
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November, 2021
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March, 2021
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April, 2021
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September, 2020
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March, 2020
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Discovering wonderful and surprising sites, Mayan communities with an unforgettable welcome, breathtaking landscapes, a very pleasant climate in the middle of March...and smiling people! A big thank you to Rutopia and his team for the elaboration of this ideal circuit, alternating nature, city life, simplicity and comfort. Thanks to Mélina for the follow-up during our trip. We don't speak Spanish well enough, and we appreciated having a French-speaking contact person who could be reached if necessary. We still have a lot to discover and hope to come back very soon, and with Rutopia without hesitation!
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Sabrina N

March, 2020
For those who don't like to manage logistics like hotels, rental cars, activities. And above all, to have someone who speaks fluent French that we can reach at any time for the unexpected... You are in the right place! Thank you to Chloe for the preparation of our trip, to Melina our Ariadne's thread and Teresa for her welcome and help at the arrival and departure. A big thank you to Enrique and Blanca from Nuevo-Durango for their welcome, their smiles, their family, a lot of emotions at the time to leave you. Thanks to Mémo for your teaching of Mexican customs (Sian Ka'an) The Yucatan is a magnificent region. And the population is very pleasant. Only downside Holbox... Too much dust, too much smell of fuel oil, too much tourist. I will keep in memory these wonderful moments!
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