Palenque, located in the Chiapas region of Mexico, is some of the finest architectural ruins in Mesoamerica. This Ancient Maya site is unbelievably large. You can only hope to cover the main areas in a day of exploring but lying deep in the jungle, unknown to most visitors, the ruins sprawl for hundreds of kilometres.
The main part of the ruins can be explored in a day but if you’re in to ancient history and you really want to go deep into the jungle, try and contract a local guide to take you on a multi-day trek. I’ve only heard of a few people doing this but every one of them said it’s worth the journey!
How to get there:
Palenque is generally a stop over between the Yucatan Peninsula and San Cristobal de las Casas. You can get an ADO bus from most major cities in these areas.
It is also possible to visit Palenque on a day trip from San Cristobal although this would mean spending most of your time on the bus and very little time actually exploring the ruins.
Palenque bus station also has services to Flores, Guatemala. Worth a look if you want to cross the border.
Where to stay:
You have two options for sleeping when it comes to staying in Palenque. Palenque town is located right outside the bus station and has plenty of options for hotels and guesthouses. There are a lot of food options in town, making food cheaper but the price of accommodation is much more than your second option.
Option number two is to stay in El Panchan. Panchan is a small jungle town right outside the gate to enter Palenque National Park. You can get a collectivo from out the front of the ADO station in town to Panchan for 20 MXN pesos.
There are only a few options for accommodation here but most range from $100-150 MXN pesos per person, per night depending on your comfort levels. There are even cheaper options available if you want more basic!
I stayed at Jungle Palace in El Panchan. There’s only two restaurants here but the accommodation was perfect for our stay in Palenque.
Palenque can be done in one full day of exploring. You will have to pay 32 MXN pesos to enter the national park and another 70 MSN pesos to enter the ruins. It says they charge for video camera but no one was implementing this rule when we visited.
If you have the time on your Mexican Itinerary I would recommend making a stop at Palenque. The ruins are extremely impressive and far less touristy than Chitzen Itza, it’s neighbouring ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula.