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Palenque is in Chiapas, Mexico famous for the ruins of a Mayan city dating from about 600 AD to 800 AD. Set amidst thick trees, Palenque still evokes some of the wonder that the early Spanish visitors must have felt when they first came across the ruins.

Mayan ruins at Palenque


Palenque Mexico[1] is actually a medium-sized archaeological site, much smaller than the huge sites like Tikal or else Copán, but it contains a few of the finest sculpture, architecture, roof comb as well as bas-relief carvings of the Mayan era.

Get in

By air

The closest airport is Villahermosa, about two hours away by road. Tuxtla Gutierrez, the airport for San Cristobal de las Casas is five to six hours away by bus. Both airports are well serviced with flights from Mexico City and other points in Mexico.

By road

The easiest way to get to Palenque is by bus. There are many buses daily from San Cristobal de las Casas (five hours), Tuxtla Gutierrez (six hours), Villahermosa (2.5 hours), Merida (10 hours), Campeche (5 hours), Cancun (13 hours). Daily (one or two buses) also ply from Mexico City (16 hours), Oaxaca (15 hours), Playa del Carmen (12 hours), and Tulum (12 hours).

It is also possible to get to Palenque from Flores in Guatemala by bus (6h, leaving Flores daily at 5am, USD 35.00).

Get around

The ruins are about 6 km from the town of Palenque and minibuses run between the town and ruins every 10 to 15 minutes during the day. Combis - shared taxis - are also available. Just wait at the park gate at El Panchan. A colectivo will pick you up.


View of Palenque ruins
Palenque temple
  • Archeological ruins
  • Falls


Spend a whole day exploring the site which spreads over 15 sq km. Only the central acropolis has been excavated. The Templo de Las Inscripciones, a burial monument, is the tallest building. El Palacio, the rulers' residence, was built in stages from 400 AD to 900 AD and underwent restoration in 1955.

A short hike to the nearby Mishol-Ha waterfall offers a variation on the ruin touring. This is a high waterfall into a natural pool with a path leading behind the falls to a cave. Bring a swimsuit and only swim during low flows.

Many tour operators will offer guided visits of the ruins, providing added background and knowledge regarding Palenque's history.

Day tours only: Na Chan Kan [2] Multi-day tours in Chiapas, including Palenque: Adventure Life [3]


You can get some Maya-style artwork from outdoor vendors who set up unobtrusively at the ruins.


Sleeping accomodation can be found either in the city of Palenque, or just outside the limits on the road to the national park.

Near Ruins

  • El Panchan, [4]. It is relatively near the ruins and has cabanas and small cabins and common sleeping areas with hammocks. A cabana with access to a common showers and bathrooms facility is 80 pesos, approximately 8 USD. The little Otulum river runs through the location.
  • Jungle Palace, (In El Panchan). Offers mixed budget accomodation from camping, dorms, and small cabañas all with shared bathroom. Showers have hot water. Dorms M$70, Camping M$30, Cabaña (for 4) from M$200.
  • Margarita and Ed Cabañas, (In El Panchan). Very friendly, clean, but not super cheap. They have icey cold airconditioned rooms, a bare necessity after hiking through the ruins at Palenque during rainy (and pretty much all other) season(s). Private with A/C from US$30.

In town


Don Muchos is a great restaurant at El Panchan as well. Great stone-oven pizza's and live music. The stone-oven pizza's cost 60 pesos and are very good.


Get out

Other ruins in the general area are Yaxchilán and Bonampak. These can be arranged by day trip or overnighter with any agency in town.

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