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Palenque, Chiapas: 10 Excellent Things To Do On Your Mexico Trip

Palenque, Chiapas: 10 Excellent Things To Do On Your Mexico Trip

If you’re looking to explore some of the exciting jungles, ancient Mayan cities, breathtaking waterfalls and general natural beauty of Chiapas, Mexico, then Palenque is the place to be. Truly, the surrounding area of Palenque, Mexico, will take your breath away. The white sand beaches and turquoise coastal waters of the Yucatan Peninsula are replaced with lush green jungle canopies, bustling waterfalls and mesmerising blue swimming holes. Indeed, exploring Chiapas and the Palenque area shows off a more rugged and wild Mexico, and one we absolutely loved!

To make life simple, in this guide, we’ll run through 10 excellent things to do from Palenque, Chiapas, ensuring you visit some of the top attractions and tick off some of the best things to do around Palenque, Mexico.

Check out 21 Wonderful Things To Do In Valladolid Mexico

About Palenque, Mexico

Palenque is a small city in the heart of Chiapas, Mexico. If you think there’s a hub of activity within the city, then wait until you explore what’s on the outskirts. Indeed, surrounding the city of Palenque are some of the most spectacular natural attractions in Mexico. If you love to chase waterfalls, go wild swimming, explore ancient Mayan cities or simply sit back and relax within nature, then Palenque, Chiapas, is going to blow you away.

Despite being a less travelled tourist destination in Mexico, Palenque is very easy to get to. In fact, Palenque town is more than geared up for visitors, with plenty of hotels, restaurants and tour offices to choose from. And, given Palenque doesn’t come with the same notoriety as popular places like Tulum or Playa del Carmen, you’ll likely find prices to be a little more reasonable too.

Of course, the big ace card for Palenque, Mexico is the Mayan Ruins of the same name. Indeed, Palenque Ruins in Chiapas is one of our favourite ruins in Mexico and we saw a lot of Mayan ruins in Mexico. Enjoy venturing into the Chiapas jungle as you intrepidly set about exploring this fascinating world heritage site and national park.

Where Is Palenque Chiapas, Mexico?

Palenque is located in southeastern Mexico in the state of Chiapas. Located along the main Highway 199, it’s a very easy destination to get to, whether you choose to use public transport or drive there yourself. Feel free to click on the interactive Google Map below to see where exactly Palenque is in Mexico.

Palenque, Chiapas map

10 Best Things to Do in Palenque, Mexico

Below, we’ll give a brief overview of 10 of the best things to do in Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico. They include ancient Mayan city ruins, waterfalls, natural wonders and cultural delights. But, we’ll kick things off with a map showing the locations of all 10 things, so you can see where they are in relation to Palenque in Chiapas.

Things to Do in Palenque, Chiapas Map

The below map shows the locations of each of the 10 best things to do in Palenque, Chiapas that we’ll discuss in this travel guide.

1. Palenque Ruins, Chiapas

Palenque is an ancient Mayan city located in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. Although smaller than other well-known Mayan sites like Chichen Itza and Tikal, the city of Palenque was still a vast metropolis with great importance, controlling large areas of modern Chiapas. The archaeological site is nestled in the Chiapas jungle and only partially excavated, with the dense trees still keeping the temple secrets of King Pakal – the most prominent ruler of the ancient city.

  • Entrance fee: $195MXN ($11USD)
  • Opening hours:  8am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 9km // 15 minutes

Read more: Palenque Ruins, Mexico: The Complete Visitor’s Guide

Palenque Ruins Mexico

2. Palenque Site Museum (‘Alberto Ruz Lhuillier’)

Whilst at Palenque Ruins, you should visit Palenque Site Museum (Palenque Museo de Siteo) too. You’ll wind back at the museum after visiting the ruins. Entry is included in the price of your Palenque Ruins ticket. Certainly, the artifacts and information on display are fascinating. In fact, many of the carvings from the Palenque Ruins site have been moved into the museum for preservation purposes.

  • Entrance fee: $195MXN ($11USD) [same ticket as Palenque Ruins]
  • Opening hours:  8am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 9km // 15 minutes

3. Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins

If you love the Palenque Ruins and want to see more ancient Mayan cities close to Palenque, Chiapas, then consider heading to Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins. Located around three hours south of Palenque, Mexico, visiting these ruins involves a boat trip down the Usumacinta River, which separates Mexico from Guatemala. The ruins are visited on the same tour and are some of the most remote Mayan cities to visit in Chiapas.

GetYourGuide offers this incredible Palenque: 2-Day Lacandon Jungle, Yaxchilan, & Bonampak Trip into the Lacandon Jungle to see the ruins. Alternatively, if you’re short on time, the Yaxchilan & Bonampak Ruins and Lacandon Jungle from Palenque 1-day trip might suit you better.

Alternatively, you can get to Yaxchilan and Bonampak Ruins independently, though we think a tour is much more straightforward. But, from Palenque, Chiapas, take a bus or colectivo to Frontera Corozal. You’ll pay an entry fee of around $30MXN ($1.75USD) to the town, before hopping in a taxi to the boats. The boat will set you back around $1300MXN ($76USD) unless you’re willing to wait for the boat to fill with other tourists and you split the cost. You’ll then pay the entrance fee to Yaxchilan.

You can only get to Bonampak via official vans. You cannot drive there yourself. The area is protected by the indigenous peoples of the Lacandon and so monitored. Although, this is great for the preservation of the land and indigenous community. Transportation will set you back around $150–200MXN ($8.50–12USD) per person. Then, you’ll pay the $55MXN ($3USD) entrance fee.

So, as you can see, with all the complications, it’s much easier to see these Mayan ruins on an organised tour.

  • Entrance fee: cost of a tour
  • Opening hours: 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 146km // 3 hours

4. Misol-Ha Waterfall

Misol-Ha Waterfall is a spectacular single-drop cascade set in the luscious Chiapas jungle in Mexico. The tumbling water thunders into a clear blue pool below, which is also perfect for a swim, so remember to pack your bathers. A true highlight of a visit to Misol-Ha Waterfall is the chance to venture behind the dramatic cascade. Prepare to get more than a little spray to the face as you wander into the cave beyond.

  • Entrance fee: $30MXN ($1.75USD)
  • Opening hours:  8am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 21km // 30 minutes

Read more: Misol-Ha Waterfall, Chiapas: The Ultimate Travel Guide

Misol-Ha near Palenque, Chiapas

5. Agua Azul Waterfalls

The Agua Azul Waterfalls (Cascadas de Agua Azul) are a set of extraordinary waterfalls in the state of Chiapas, Mexico. The name comes from the beautiful colour of the water, directly translating in English to blue water waterfalls.

One of the interesting features of Agua Azul, Chiapas is the water’s effect on the surrounding plant life. Because Agua Azul, Chiapas, has such a high concentration of calcium carbonate in its water, a thick layer of limestone creates a shell-like coating around the debris of trees and plants at the river’s edge. But don’t worry, the same won’t happen to you when you take a swim!

Certainly, it’s easy to visit Cascada de Agua Azul and Misol-Ha Waterfall as part of a day trip from Palenque, Chiapas.

  • Entrance fee: $40MXN ($2.50USD)
  • Opening hours:  8am to 8pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 64km // 1.5 hours

Read more: Cascadas de Agua Azul, Chiapas: How To Visit The Blue Waterfalls

Cascadas Agua Azul

6. Roberto Barrios Waterfalls

If you want a much quieter version of Cascadas Agua Azul, then head to Roberto Barrios Waterfalls (Cascadas Roberto Barrios). Here, there is an array of waterfalls to admire at a truly beautiful spot in Palenque, Mexico. Additionally, there are plenty of swimming holes to cool off. You’ll see a fraction of the number of visitors at Roberto Barrios Waterfalls than you do at Agua Azul. And, you’ll get a real sense of the tranquillity of the Chiapas jungle here.

  • Entrance fee: $20MXN ($1USD)
  • Opening hours: 8am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 32km // 1 hour

7. Welib Ja Waterfalls

The Welib-Já Waterfalls (Centro Eco Turístico Cascadas Welib Hå), located along the Río Chancala (Chancala River) is an oasis of beautiful cascades, dense rainforest and general Chiapas beauty, just 40 minutes outside of Palenque. Here, you can swim, hike and even zipline. And, if you love it so much you don’t want to leave, you can even camp!

  • Entrance fee: $25MXN ($1.50USD)
  • Opening hours: 7am to 6:30pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 30km // 45 minutes

8. Metzabok Lagoon 

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, caverns, forests and rivers. It’s a beautiful off-the-beaten-track part of Chiapas and a great day trip to make from Palenque.

Metzabok Lagoon is another activity that is worth doing via a guided tour from Palenque, Chiapas. Viator offers this great Metzabok Lagoon Day Trip From Palenque tour.

  • Entrance fee: price of a tour
  • Opening hours: 8am to 6pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 90km // 2 hours

9. Visit Aluxes Ecopark

On the outskirts of Palenque, Chiapas, 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. It’s a great experience. Be sure to check out the official website for more in-depth information.

  • Entrance fee: $150MXN ($9USD)
  • Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week
  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 3.5km // 7 minutes

10. San Cristobal de las Casas

Lastly, we highly recommend spending some time in San Cristobal de las Casas. Dan and I headed there after our stay in Palenque, Chiapas, and loved the city itself even more than Palenque, Mexico. There’s a wealth of natural attractions to see from San Cristobal, including Cascadas El Chiflon and Cascada Velo de Novia, Montebello Lakes and the Sumidero Canyon.

  • Distance from Palenque, Chiapas: 213km // 5.5 hours

Read more: Top 15 Things To Do In (& Around) San Cristobal De Las Casas

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico

How to Get to Palenque, Chiapas

So, now you know 10 of the best things to do in Palenque, Mexico, let’s take a look at how to get to Palenque, Chiapas in the first place.

By Bus

One of the most convenient ways to get to Palenque in Chiapas, 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. Dan and I actually travelled down from Merida via a nine hour bus journey. Travelling from the town of Campeche is closer still. But, given the length of the bus journey, you’ll want to travel in relative comfort. So, we recommend using the ADO buses.

Booking Buses


Busbud is one of the best online bus booking platforms. Wherever you’re travelling, you can easily compare bus tickets from different companies and book the best option for your trip. We highly recommend using Busbud to find the cheapest bus fares.

By Rental Car

Of course, renting a car and driving yourself to Palenque, Chiapas from wider Mexico is one of the easiest ways to visit. Palenque, Chiapas, is very accessible from major towns and cities in the Yucatan Peninsula, like Merida and Campeche, as well as nearby Villahermosa, San Cristobal de las Casas and Tuxtla Gutierrez. If you want to hire a car in Mexico, then we recommend using You’ll find a variety of cars on Discover Cars, which are very easy to book online, with a great cancellation fee if needed.

Car Hire

If you don’t have your own car, you should hire one using Discover Cars. Personally, we use Discover Cars and highly recommend them for finding your ideal car hire at an affordable price. Booking online is super easy and the free cancellation policy is great.

Note: if 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. Think very carefully about taking this route if you’re driving yourself between San Cristobal and Palenque, and vice versa.

By Plane

If you’re travelling by air, then you’ll be pleased to know Palenque, Mexico 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.

Dan and I typically get the ball rolling with a search on Skyscanner for some of the best flight deals around. You can check flights to and from Palenque, Mexico here.

Agua Azul Waterfalls in Palenque, Chiapas
Cascadas Agua Azul

Where to Stay in Palenque, Chiapas

Palenque is an excellent base for exploring the natural beauty of Chiapas, Mexico. So, below we’ll take a look at some of the best budget, mid-range and luxury options in the city.

  • Budget – Hotel Naj Kin: Dan and I stayed at Hotel Naj Kin and enjoyed the location and the private room, which is equipped with a bathroom.
  • 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 Eat in Palenque, Chiapas

Mexican cuisine is some of the best in the world (well, we think so anyway) and Palenque does not disappoint. Below, we’ve hand-picked some great eateries to get you through the day.

  • Breakfast– Café Molienda Arte Floral: one of the best places in Palenque, Chiapas for breakfast/brunch. Café Molienda Arte Floral is well located, has comfortable decor and the food is wonderful.
  • Lunch – Restaurante Xkatsime: close to the central park is Restaurante Xkatsime. If you want some good quality, reasonably priced Mexican food, then head here.
  • Dinner – Restaurante Maya Cañada: excellent food, service and ambiance at Restaurante Maya Cañada. Sometimes, the Howler Monkeys come for a visit in the surrounding trees.
Palenque Ruins Chiapas
Palenque Ruins, Chiapas, Mexico


Is Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico Safe?

Yes. On the whole, we found Palenque and Chiapas to feel quite safe. Of course, we didn’t take any unnecessary risks either. So, with that being said, stick to busy and well-lit areas, don’t be flashy with your gear and always keep an eye on your personal belongings.

Is Palenque Worth Visiting?

Absolutely. I mean, Palenque Ruins alone are worth heading to Palenque town to see. But, add to that the wealth of waterfalls and natural attractions and you’ll find Palenque, Chiapas, to be one of the most exciting places to visit in Mexico.

Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas
Misol-Ha Waterfall

Travel Essentials For Palenque, Chiapas

These are our travel essentials for visiting Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico.

Anker Portable Power Bank
Anker Portable Power Bank

Keep your phone, laptop and other accessories charged while you’re on the go with the Anker Portable Power Bank. We wouldn’t travel without this high-quality portable charger.

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel
Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is the best quick-dry microfibre towel. This compact, lightweight and super-absorbent towel is perfect for travel.

EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter
EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter

Having an EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter is one of the best accessories to travel with, especially if you’re travelling to multiple continents during your trip.

Noise Cancelling Headphones
Noise Cancelling Headphones

If you’re looking for the most budget-friendly yet high-quality noise-cancelling headphones for travel, then look no further than the Anker Soundcore Space Q45.

Wise Multi-Currency Card
Wise Multi-Currency Card

We use the Wise Multi-Currency Card to pay online and when we travel abroad. It’s really easy to use and a lot cheaper than using bank cards. To order a free card, click the button below.

To find out more about all of the gear that we use and recommend, read our guides about our favourite travel gear, camera gear and hiking gear. Otherwise, read our comprehensive travel packing checklist.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a real necessity, especially when travelling through Central America and getting a little off the beaten track.

Heymondo is one of the best budget travel insurance providers on the market. They provide comprehensive travel and medical insurance that won’t break the bank. Whether it’s single trip insurance, annual multi-trip insurance or long stay insurance, Heymondo offers affordable travel and medical insurance to suit all of your needs. Personally, we use Heymondo travel insurance and highly recommend it. To find out more about Heymondo travel and medical insurance, read our Heymondo travel insurance review.

Travel Insurance

Heymondo Travel Insurance

Don’t leave for your trip without booking travel insurance. We all know accidents can happen and having Heymondo travel insurance could save you thousands of dollars if something goes wrong. Click the button below to receive a 5% discount!

Palenque, Mexico Bonus 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 around Palenque, Chiapas, then be sure to visit during the dry season (November to April). Swimming is often prohibited during the rainy season (May-October) and the blue waters become much murkier.
  • Where next after Palenque, Mexico: Dan and I visited San Cristobal de las Casas and Oaxaca before reaching Mexico City. There’s plenty to see and do along this tourist trail.

For more incredible Mayan Ruins like Palenque in Mexico, then please check out our guides on the Coba Ruins and the Tulum Ruins.

Beck Piggott

With an art and design based background, Beck uses photography and writing to help inspire readers to climb mountains, hike coastal trails and chase waterfalls around the globe.

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