So you’re heading to Chiapas, Mexico? Good choice. But, if you either like to be super organised (I see you!), aren’t keen on leaving things to the last minute or simply prefer someone to take care of the ins and outs of a trip, then you’ve come to the right place. In this travel guide, we’ll give you 10 excellent Chiapas tour options, ensuring you’ll see the absolute best of this beautiful Mexican state, with complete ease and peace of mind.
For more information on planning your Chiapas, Mexico travel itinerary, check out our 15 Wonderful Things To Do In Chiapas, Mexico guide.
Table of Contents
About Chiapas, Mexico
Chiapas is a wonderful place to visit in Mexico. There are natural wonders in abundance, ancient city ruins to intrepidly explore and a rich and diverse cultural heritage to discover. Indeed, it’s easily one of our favourite parts of Mexico.
The political capital of Chiapas, Mexico, is Tuxtla Gutierrez. Although, nearby San Cristobal de las Casas, to its east, is often dubbed the ‘cultural capital’ of Chiapas, Mexico. In fact, it’s from San Cristobal and Palenque that the attractions in this guide centre around. Indeed, these two Chiapas cities have plenty of incredible sites to keep you busy for easily a week or two.
But, where is Chiapas?
Where Is Chiapas, Mexico?
Chiapas is the southernmost state of Mexico, bordering Guatemala to its south. To the north, Chiapas borders the Mexican states of Oaxaca, Veracruz and Tabasco.
Feel free to click on the image below to explore an interactive Google Map of Chiapas, Mexico.
Why Book a Chiapas Tour?
Well, quite simply, Chiapas tours are convenient, and well put together. Given the breadth and scope of some of the top attractions in Chiapas, often a tour works out to be the most cost- and time-effective.
But, I get it. Sometimes opting for a tour over intrepidly finding your way to a place independently can be looked down on. Heck, Dan and I have wasted enough time and effort doing things the hard way to realise that sometimes, it’s just worth it to book the damn tour!
Although, it is true. Some of these beautiful parts of Chiapas can be reached independently and don’t necessarily require a tour. As such, we’ll add links to additional blog posts, just in case you fancy exploring without doing a Chiapas tour. Or at least, you can investigate whether it’s worth flying solo or not.
How to Book Chiapas Tours?
You can book all the Chiapas tours listed in this guide online or at many of the tourist offices in Palenque and San Cristobal. Below, we’ll weigh up a few of the pros and cons to help you decide what’s best for you when looking into your Chiapas tour packages.
Booking Chiapas Tours in Town
The main tourist hotspots for exploring the best of Chiapas include Palenque, San Cristobal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutierrez and Comitan. In each of these towns, you’ll find plenty of tour offices offering pretty much the same trip itineraries for similar prices.
The benefit to booking in town is that sometimes you can barter on the prices. For instance, if you’re booking more than one Chiapas tour with the same company, you might be offered a discount. The same is true if you’re booking a Chiapas tour due to leave the very next day, and the company is keen to get bums on seats.
Dan and I actually booked a number of Chiapas, Mexico tours through tour agencies in town. As we stayed in Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas, we used Tulum Transportadora Turistica and Tours Villa Real, respectively.
The downside to booking in person in the Chiapas tour offices is the cancellation policy. Often, cancelling last minute is not allowed and you’ll be very unlikely to see a refund come your way. Fine for the most part as hopefully nothing unexpected will crop up. But, in the unlikely event that something does happen to affect your trip and you can’t attend your Chiapas tour, then it’s bye-bye money.
That’s where booking online comes in handy.
Booking Chiapas Tours Online
Booking online usually (not always though) offers a much better cancellation policy should something unexpected happen. That’s much better reassurance for you as you just never know. Let’s face it, cancelled buses, flights and even a touch of an upset tum can all affect a strict travel itinerary. So, it’s good to know you can cancel last minute and see a refund.
Booking online also gives you options for taking a private tour, or even smaller group tours, which might be right up your street on your Chiapas adventure. When booking online, our go-to tour agencies are GetYourGuide and Viator. Both of these reputable online companies offer some excellent Chiapas tours, which we’ll show you in the guide below.
10 Best Chiapas Tours in Mexico
Below, we’ll run through 10 of the best Chiapas tours. All tours in this guide generally run from Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas, as they are the most popular places to stay for travellers in Chiapas.
1. Palenque Ruins, Misol-Ha Waterfall & Cascadas Agua Azul
If you’re a fan of ancient Mayan cities (who isn’t?), then the world heritage site of Palenque Ruins has to be up there when it comes to things to do in Chiapas, Mexico. The archaeological site is nestled in the Chiapas jungle and only partially excavated, with the dense trees still keeping much of Palenque’s secrets. There’s a vast complex to explore, as well as a short jungle walk and the Palenque Site Museum at the end.
After the ruins, typical Chiapas tours then head to the absolutely stunning Misol-Ha Waterfall and Agua Azul Waterfalls. At each of these sites, you’ll find stunning cascades dropping into piercing blue pools below. Swim and hike at both of these locations and soak up the Chiapas jungle vibes.
All three attractions can be visited from both Palenque and San Cristobal, though you’re looking at much longer Chiapas tours if you visit from San Cris, as the attractions are much closer to Palenque.
GetYourGuide offers these From San Cristóbal: Agua Azul and Palenque Day Trip and Palenque: Agua Azul, Misol-Ha and Palenque Ruins Day Tour that visit Palenque Ruins, Misol-Ha and Aguas Azul from San Cristobal and Palenque, respectively.
Alternatively, Viator offers the Archaeological Zone of Palenque, Misol-Ha Waterfalls and Agua Azul tour from Palenque.
Transferring Between Palenque & San Cristobal (& Vive Versa)
It’s worth mentioning you can use the Palenque Ruins, Misol-Ha and Aguas Azul Chiapas tours as a way to transfer between the cities of Palenque and San Cristobal. Simply put, the Chiapas tours will start from one city, visit the attractions, and then drop you off in the other city. It’s a fantastic way to transit through Chiapas, and all you need to do is take your luggage with you.
Viator offers this From Palenque Zona Arq. Misol Ha, Agua Azul and Transfer to San Cristóbal Chiapas tour.
2. Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins
If you want to see more ancient Mayan cities then consider heading to Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins. Located around three hours south of Palenque, visiting these ruins on a Chiapas tour involves a boat trip down the Usumacinta River, which separates Mexico from Guatemala. In fact, given the remoteness of Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins, seeing them on a Chiapas tour is really your best option.
Luckily, GetYourGuide offers this incredible Palenque: 2-Day Lacandon Jungle, Yaxchilan, & Bonampak Trip into the Lacandon Jungle to see the ruins. Indeed, it’s one of the most highly rated Chiapas multi-day tours. Or, if you’re short on time, the 1-Day Yaxchilan & Bonampak Ruins and Lacandon Jungle from Palenque trip might suit you better.
Alternatively, you can book this Lacandona Jungle, Yaxchilan and Bonampak Day Trip from Palenque with Viator.
3. Roberto Barrios Waterfalls
If you enjoyed the Agua Azul Waterfalls, but want to experience a much quieter version, then head to Roberto Barrios Waterfalls (Cascadas Roberto Barrios). Here you’ll discover an array of waterfalls to enjoy in a less visited part of Chiapas, although really not far from Palenque. There are even plenty of swimming holes to enjoy and cool off at. With a fraction of the number of visitors that Agua Azul sees, you’ll get a real sense of the Chiapas jungle tranquillity on these tours.
GetYourGuide offers this From Palenque: Roberto Barrios Waterfalls Excursion which is a full-day Chiapas tour from Palenque.
Viator offers these Roberto Barrios Waterfalls and From Palenque to Zona Arq. Palenque and Roberto Barrios Waterfall Chiapas tours.
4. Los Aluxes Ecopark
On the outskirts of Palenque, is the Aluxes Ecopark. Aluxes is a wildlife rescue centre that helps to rehabilitate animals, many of which have been victims of trafficking and cruelty. The team at the eco-park also aims to reintroduce natural ecosystems into the area. As such, they have worked hard to plant trees and wetlands, giving new homes to an incredible amount of wildlife, which can be viewed during a visit.
There are many different tour options and chances to help feed the animals. So, it’s a great experience. You can check out their official website for more in-depth information. Or, it’s easy enough to book the Tour of Los Aluxes Ecopark and Roberto Barrios Waterfalls with Viator.
5. Metzabok Lagoon Chiapas Tours
The breathtaking Metzabok Lagoon is well worth a visit for avid nature lovers. Part of the Nahá–Metzabok Biosphere Reserve, the Metzabok Lagoon is a peaceful area of cenotes, caves, forests and rivers. It’s a beautiful off-the-beaten-track part of Chiapas and of course, a great day trip to make from Palenque.
Metzabok Lagoon is another activity that is worth doing via Chiapas tours from Palenque, given its location. Viator offers this great Metzabok Lagoon Day Trip From Palenque tour which will take care of all the logistics.
6. San Juan Chamula
San Juan Chamula is a pretty little town some 3km north of San Cristobal de las Casas. The population of San Juan Chamula is almost entirely made up of indigenous Tzotzil people. Certainly, it’s a wonderfully cultural visit. Be sure to check out Templo de San Juan. It’s a quaint and colourful church where pine needles carpet the floor and incense fills the air.
It’s easy to take half-day Chiapas tours to San Juan Chamula. GetYourGuide offers this Chamula and Zinacantán Day Trip from San Cristóbal.
7. El Chiflon Waterfalls & Lagos de Montebello
Cascadas El Chiflon (El Chiflon Waterfalls) are a series of five outstanding waterfalls located 100km south of San Cristobal in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. They include Cascada Suspiro, Cascada Ala de Angel, Cascada Velo de Novia, Cascada Arcoiris and Cascada Quinceañera.
Indeed, each of the waterfalls at El Chiflon will blow you away. The brilliant turquoise blue of the water is rich and intense in colour. As well as marvelling at the stunning waterfalls, there’s also the opportunity for a spot of swimming and ziplining.
Then, after enjoying this stunning place, you’ll head to Lagunas de Montebello National Park, simply known as Lagos de Montebello. It’s one of the most tranquil, picturesque and naturally beautiful places you can visit in Chiapas, and certainly worthwhile doing as a tour. Within the national park is an array of pretty lakes and woodlands. Indeed, you can hike, kayak and swim at Montebello. So, it’s the perfect spot to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of Chiapas, Mexico.
8. Sumidero Canyon & Chiapa de Corzo
Cañon del Sumidero (AKA Sumidero Canyon) is one of the most breathtaking natural landmarks you can see in Chiapas, Mexico. Towering vertical walls and a deep winding river cut through this incredible scar on the earth’s crust. It’s truly magnificent and, of course, an absolute star attraction in this area of southern Mexico.
One of the best ways to explore the canyon is by taking a Chiapas tour from San Cristobal. The Chiapas tours involve a 2-hour boat ride along the Grijalva River. In addition, you’ll also visit some excellent miradors along the top edges of the canyon walls. All this before finishing with a stop in Chiapa de Corzo.
Chiapa de Corzo is a lovely pueblo magico that sits at the southern end of the Sumidero Canyon. Wander through the main central square – Plaza de Armas Angel Albino Corzo and enjoy its clock tower and fountain. The grand plaza is also surrounded by trinket stalls, souvenir shops and places to grab some food. It’s a place of colour and culture within easy distance from San Cristobal.
With GetYourGuide, you can visit Sumidero Canyon and Chiapa de Corzo on this Sumidero Canyon Excursion from San Cristobal de las Casas Chiapas tour.
Or, you can book Cañon Del Sumidero From San Cristobal de Las Casas or Tour Sumidero Canyon and Magic Town of Chiapa de Corzo Chiapas tours with Viator.
9. El Arcotete Eco Park & Grutas de Rancho Nuevo
El Arcotete Eco Park is a quick 20-minute ride away from San Cristobal and features an outstanding natural limestone arch. This grand archway has been carved out by the freshwater river that flows through it, and it’s truly beautiful. At Arcotete, you can enjoy short hiking trails, caves, ziplining and quaint picnic spots. So, it’s an attraction not to miss as you explore Chiapas.
In addition, many Chiapas tours combine El Arcotete with Grutas de Rancho Nuevo. These caves (grutas) are explored along a carved pathway. Here, you can admire impressive stalactites and likely spot a few of the resident bats. You can also go horse riding and ziplining and most importantly, enjoy the adult-friendly giant slides too!
With GetYourGuide, you can book the San Cristobal: Arcotete, Mamut & Rancho Nuevo Caves Day Trip Chiapas tour.
10. Las Nubes Waterfalls Chiapas Tours
Lastly, why not visit Las Nubes Waterfalls along the Santo Domingo River? This site of tumbling turquoise waters and numerous rocky cascades will take your breath away. Located close to the Guatemala border, and visited along with the small pueblo magico town of Comitan, it’s a great day out.
Given its distance from Palenque and San Cristobal, it’s almost certainly easiest to visit Las Nubes as a Chiapas tour. With GetYourGuide, you can book Las Nubes Waterfalls & Comitan Magical Town Chiapas tour.
How to Get to Chiapas, Mexico
So, now you know about the 10 best Chiapas tours to take in Mexico, let’s take a look at how to get to Chiapas in the first place.
Certainly, one of the most convenient ways to get to, and around, Chiapas in Mexico is by taking the bus. Specifically, the ADO bus company is one of the safest and most reliable ways to travel in Mexico and is the transportation of choice for many travellers, including Dan and myself.
Tickets can be purchased directly on the ADO website, using Busbud or by booking directly at the ADO bus terminal of the town you’re travelling from. If your only two bases in Chiapas, Mexico, are Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas, then expect some long bus journeys. But, that’s why you’ll want to use the services of a comfortable bus company like ADO.
By Rental Car
Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to, and around, Chiapas, Mexico is one of the easiest ways to visit. If you want to hire a car in Mexico, then we recommend using DiscoverCars.com. You’ll find a variety of cars on Discover Cars, which are very easy to book online, with a great cancellation fee if needed.
FYI – if you’re driving yourself to Palenque from San Cristobal, you’ll just need to be mindful of the road between the two cities, that passes Ocosingo. That’s because the road between Palenque and San Cristobal, via Ocosingo, is notoriously dangerous. Armed gangs frequently patrol the road, often demanding cash or even robbing tourists as they pass through. Dan and I even saw a police escort accompany a tourist minibus as it headed that way. So, think very carefully about taking this route if you’re driving yourself between San Cristobal and Palenque, and vice versa.
If you’re travelling by air to Chiapas, Mexico, then you’ll be pleased to know that Palenque has an airport. Palenque International Airport is located in the northwest of the city and you can take many domestic flights from other parts of the country to get here. The nearest airport to San Cristobal is Angel Albino Corzo International Airport located outside of Tuxtla Gutierrez.
Where to Stay in Chiapas, Mexico
Dan and I stayed in Palenque and then San Cristobal de las Casas as we explored Chiapas, Mexico. The two small cities are perfectly positioned to see many of the main natural attractions, as well as offer some cultural and historical gems. As you’ll have seen from this guide, many of the best Chiapas tours are centred around Palenque and San Cristobal.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options for accommodation in both Palenque and San Cristobal in Chiapas, Mexico.
Where to Stay in Palenque
- Budget – Hotel Naj Kin: you’ll find that Hotel Naj Kin is well-located and features budget-friendly private rooms, which are equipped with bathrooms.
- Mid-range – Hotel Maya Rue: the very reasonably priced Hotel Maya Rue offers simple yet comfortable decor and a great breakfast to start the day.
- Luxury – Casa 5 Bed & Breakfast: luxury doesn’t break the bank balance in Palenque, with a stay at Casa 5 Bed & Breakfast providing guests with a garden, air-conditioned rooms and a private bathroom.
Where to Stay in San Cristobal de las Casas
- Budget – La Abuelita Hostal: San Cristobal de las Casas has some wonderful hostel options, with La Abuelita Hostal one of the best. Guests love the location, the cleanliness of the facilities and the speedy wifi.
- Mid-range – El Hostalito 14: Dan and I stayed at El Hostalito 14 and can highly recommend it. The location is fantastic, the rooms and separate private bathrooms are comfortable and the price is very reasonable. Of course, if you’re happy to share a dorm room, then El Hostalito 14 becomes a very budget-friendly option too.
- Luxury – Hotel Bo: if you want to visit San Cristobal, Mexico in luxury, then look no further than Hotel Bo. This beautifully designed hotel in the historic centre of San Cristobal de las Casas comes with its own restaurant, private parking and on-site gym.
Travel Essentials For Chiapas Tours
These are our travel essentials for exploring Chiapas, Mexico.
- Swimming gear: you’ll definitely need your swimmers for some of the waterfalls.
- Towel: a small lightweight microfibre towel is also much better than sneaking the hostel/hotel’s bath towel out.
- Insect repellant: you’ll visit the jungle after all!
- Anker PowerCore 10000 Portable Charger: if self-guiding yourself around San Cristobal and Palenque, you’ll want to make sure your phone has plenty of battery life.
- Osprey Skarab 30L Day Backpack: a great backpack for day tripping, which has plenty of space to store your gear.
- Nikon DSLR Camera: you’ll definitely want to document the wonderful things you’ll see on your Chiapas tours. Also, a GoPro is a great addition for filming at the waterfalls.
- The North Face Venture Jacket: a waterproof jacket is handy to keep you dry from the waterfall spray. Unless you need the refreshing cool down, of course!
- Merrell Moab Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots: you’ll benefit from a sturdy pair of hiking boots to walk along the waterfall paths and Mayan ruins.
- The North Face TKA Glacier Fleece Jacket: an excellent warmth:weight ratio fleece jacket because believe it or not, San Cristobal can be quite chilly.
Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.
SafetyWing is an excellent budget-friendly travel insurance provider. Personally, Dan and I have used SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance many times to insure our trips. The Nomad Insurance is fantastic value for money with a smaller additional cost to add a partner. Unlike most other insurance companies, there’s an option to pay on a monthly basis, similar to having a prepaid phone plan. Better yet, there’s no lock-in contract. In addition, you can cancel at any time, which will take effect the month after.
For shorter trips, it’s also possible to use Nomad Insurance for trips lasting just days or just 2–3 weeks. Indeed, SafetyWing is cheaper than almost all other travel insurance policies and covers just as much and sometimes more.
SafetyWing is a modern travel insurance company that is certainly leading the way in terms of how travel insurance should work in the future.
Chiapas Tours Travel Tips
- Carry cash: it’s a good idea to carry plenty of pesos when exploring Mexico.
- Best time to visit: if you plan on swimming in the waterfall pools in Chiapas, Mexico, then be sure to visit during the dry season (November to April). Swimming is often prohibited during the rainy season (May to October) and the blue waters become much murkier.
- Beat the crowds: sites like the Palenque Ruins can become very busy, so aim to arrive early for a quieter visit.
- Where next after Chiapas, Mexico: Dan and I visited many places in the Yucatan, Quintana Roo, Oaxaca and Mexico City. There’s plenty to see and do along this tourist trail.
If you have any more trip ideas or tips for travelling through Chiapas, Mexico, drop them in the comments below for other travellers.