Skip to Content

Palenque Ruins: Things to See & Do

If you are an individual that feels comfortable getting off the beaten track, then the ruin of the ancient city of the Palenque in Chiapas Mexico is a must-see sight for you.

Although the most well-known ruins include the Mayan structures throughout the Mexican Peninsula, the Palenque was located in an ancient Mayan city-state, and today it offers travelers some of the most exquisite and intricately designed architecture in all of Mexico. While the site is still being unearthed there is much you can learn by visiting it.

During your visit, you will get to experience the Mayan world and walk in the footsteps of the ancient priests and rulers of the time.

There are several pyramids located within the city most of which were used for ceremonies and rituals. The tranquility of the site will be lost in the emotions you may feel when you visit Palenque ruins and imagine its distant inhabitants who vanished off the Earth.

History of Mayan Ruins of Palenque

The Mayan Ruins of Palenque are a Mesoamerican site in southern Mexico in the Chiapas state of Mexico. They are believed to have been built sometime between the 7th and 8th centuries AD, although the exact date is uncertain.

These Mayan ruins were once the center of the Mayan city of Palenque founded by an ancient Maya ruler known as Pakal the Great, who ruled from 615 to 683 AD.

The site was first settled in the Early Classic Period, and the earliest evidence of Mayan occupation at the site comes from around 600 CE.

By the Late Classic Period, Palenque had become one of the most powerful Mayan city-states, and its influence extended throughout Mesoamerica. Archaeologists date the ruins of Palenque back to the year 226 BC. The city was smaller than Chichen Itza and Tikal.

The Palenque Ruins are particularly notable for their well-preserved stone architecture, which includes temples, palaces, and other public buildings. The site was abandoned in the 9th century CE, and the site was first discovered in 1787 by a group of Spanish explorers led by Alberto del Rio. They were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

As a visitor, you will have to journey by car for nearly 7 ½ hours to the site. Once there you will be overwhelmed by both the beauty and the humidity of the site as it is located in the heart of the Tumbala Mountains.

How to get to this Ancient City

The ruins of Palenque are located in Palenque town, inside the National Park of Palenque, which is about a 7-hour drive from Mexico City. Several bus companies operate daily services from major cities like Mexico City, Oaxaca, and Villahermosa.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the bus terminal. It is also possible to take a taxi from any of these cities, although this will be more expensive than taking the bus.

If you are coming from Guatemala, there is a daily bus service that operates between Palenque and Flores. If you are coming from Belize, there is a bus service that operates between Palenque and Benque Viejo del Carmen.

Once you are at this archeological site, there is a modern visitor center that offers exhibits on the history and archaeology of the site, as well as a museum shop.

There is also an archaeological zone that can be visited, which contains most of the excavated structures of the ancient city.

Tips for Visiting Palenque ruins

Overview of the Palenque Palace

Palenque is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Mexico. Located in the state of Chiapas, it is home to several well-preserved Maya ruins. If you’re planning a visit to Palenque, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • First, the site is located in a tropical climate, so be sure to pack sunscreen and insect repellent.
  • Second, there is a lot of walking involved, so comfortable shoes are a must.
  • Third, these Mayan ruins are spread out over a large area, so you’ll need to plan your time accordingly.
  • And finally, be sure to take plenty of water and snacks, as there are few places to purchase food or drink at the site. With these

Best time to visit Palenque

The best time to visit Palenque typically falls between the months of December and April. This timeframe offers the most pleasant weather conditions, with average temperatures sitting around 27 degrees Celsius. It should be noted that rainfall is common in Palenque, so visitors should come prepared with appropriate footwear and clothing.

The months of December and January tend to see the heaviest rains, while February and March offer more moderate conditions. In terms of crowds, the period between Christmas and New Year’s is the busiest time of year, so those looking for a more tranquil experience may want to consider visiting during the shoulder season.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Palenque depends on the individual’s preferences, but taking weather and crowds into consideration is a good place to start.

Cost of Visiting Palenque Ruins

Palenque Ruins

Palenque is one of the most popular archaeological sites in Mexico, and it is not hard to see why. The ruins are set in a beautiful jungle setting, and the ancient Mayan city has a fascinating history. However, visiting the Palenque ruins can be expensive, particularly if you are not familiar with the local currency. Here is a breakdown of some of the costs associated with visiting Palenque:

  • Admission to the archeological site: This costs MXN75 per person (approximately USD4). 
  • Photography permit: If you want to take photographs at the site, you will need to purchase a permit for MXN30 (approximately USD1.50). 
  • Guide charges: Although it is possible to explore the site on your own, many visitors choose to hire a guide. Guides can be hired for MXN400 (approximately USD20) per day.
  • Tip for guides: If you choose to hire a guide, it is customary to tip them at the end of their service. A good rule of thumb is to tip 10-15% of the total cost.
  • Tours: There are day tours and half-day tours, as well as tours that focus on the history, architecture, or mythology of Palenque. Some tours include visits to other nearby Maya ruins, such as Bonampak and Yaxchilan. These tours allow up to seven people and charge between MXN1400 – MXN1700 (USD70-USD85).

So, what does all this mean? In short, if you are looking to visit Palenque, be prepared to spend around USD50 per person on admission, photography permits, and guide services. Of course, costs will vary depending on your travel arrangements, so it is always best to do your research before embarking on your trip.

See Related: Best Travel Shorts

What to see at Palenque Ruins

Exploring the beauty of Palenque ruins is an amazing experience filled with so many questions. From the moment you step on the site, it’s an amazing experience. Here are some of the things you will see at the ruins:

The Palace

Palenque Palace and Scenery
Image by Arian Zwegers, used under CC 2.0 License

The Palace was used by the rulers of Palenque and is one of the largest buildings on the site. It is also one of the most well-preserved buildings, and you can still see many of its features, such as its roof comb and stucco decoration.

The Palace at the Palenque ruins is an impressive structure that is well-preserved and intricately designed. The palace is made up of a series of rooms and corridors that are connected, and it is believed that it served as both a residence and a place of government for Pakal the Great. It also includes a four-story tower

The building features many impressive carvings and sculptures that are typical of Maya art, and it is considered to be one of the finest examples of Maya architecture. be sure to explore all of the rooms and corridors when you visit the palace, as there is a lot to see.

The Temple of the Inscriptions

Palenque Ruins Temple of the Inscriptions
Image by Tjeerd Wiersma, used under CC 2.0 License

The Temple of the Inscriptions is another impressive structure in the Palenque ruins, and it is named for the many inscriptions that are carved into its walls. The temple was built in honor of Pakal the Great, and it is one of the most important temples at the site.

The temple is a tall pyramid-shaped structure that is covered in carvings and inscriptions, and it is thought to have been used as a tomb for Pakal the Great. be sure to explore all of the carvings and inscriptions when you visit the temple, as they are very interesting and provide a lot of insight into the Maya world.

The Temple of the Sun

Palenque Ruins Temple of the Sun
Image by Arian Zwegers , used under CC 2.0 License

The Temple of the Sun is a magnificent structure that is sure to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits it. It’s an incredibly well-preserved ruin that was built sometime in the 7th century AD, and it’s still awe-inspiring today.

The temple is dedicated to the sun god, and it’s one of the most important structures in Palenque. It’s a large pyramid that rises high above the surrounding jungle, and it’s covered in intricate carvings and hieroglyphic inscriptions. The views from the top are stunning, and it’s worth climbing to the top for a panoramic view of the Mayan ruins below.

If you’re lucky, you might also be able to see a few monkeys swinging through the trees or hear the howler monkeys calling in the distance. It’s an amazing experience that you’ll never forget, and it’s one of the reasons why Palenque is such a popular destination for tourists.

The Temple of the Cross

Palenque Ruins Temple of the Cross
Image by Arian Zwegers used under CC 2.0 License

This temple is dedicated to the Maya god Chac, and it features several interesting carvings, including a sculpture of Chac himself.

It’s a small temple that is dedicated to the god of rain and agriculture and depicts scenes from Maya mythology. The temple is also home to some of the most famous Mayan murals, which are some of the best-preserved examples of Mayan art. You can also find bas relief carvings on the inside of the temple.

If you’re visiting Palenque, make sure to visit the Temple of the Cross. It’s one of the most impressive structures at the site, and it’s well worth taking the time to explore. You’ll be able to see some of the best examples of Maya art, and you’ll get a better understanding of Maya mythology. Plus, it’s a great place to take some photos!

The Temple of the Foliated Cross

Palenque Ruins Temple of the Foliated Cross
Image by Rob Young, used under CC 2.0 License

The Temple of the Foliated Cross is a must-see for anyone visiting Palenque. This ancient ruins site is full of history and mystery and is said to have the power to change your life.

The Temple of the Foliated Cross is so named because of the cross carved into its facade. This temple is one of the most important in Palenque and was once used as a place of worship. It’s said that if you visit this temple and make a wish, it will come true.

The Grupo de las Cruces

The Grupo de las Cruces is a Mexican archaeological group that specializes in the excavation and restoration of Mayan ruins. The group was founded in 1944 by Alberto Ruz Lhuillier and is considered to be the most important Mexican archaeological group. The group’s name is derived from a sculpture of the Maya god Chac found in Palenque.

The Grupo de las Cruces has excavated and restored many Mayan ruins, including Palenque, Yaxchilan, Bonampak, and Toniná. The group’s work has been praised for its attention to detail, and its excavations have resulted in the discovery of many new artifacts and hieroglyphs.

The Grupo de las Cruces’ work at Palenque is considered to be some of the most important work ever done at the site. The group’s restoration of the Temple of Inscriptions is particularly notable, as it was the first time that the roof of a Maya temple had been reconstructed.

The Grupo de las Cruces’ work at Palenque and other Mayan ruins has helped to shed light on Maya culture and history. Their excavations have revealed new information about Maya religion, art, and architecture, and their work has helped to preserve these ancient Mayan ruins for future generations.

Miscellaneous Structures

Stone Structure in Palenque Ruin
Image by Dennis Jarvis, used under CC 2.0 License

The Palenque ruins are a breathtaking sight, and there is so much to see. One of the most interesting aspects of the ruins is the variety of miscellaneous structures on the site. These include everything from small, nondescript buildings to grandiose temples and palaces.

The Temple of Skulls

The Temple of Skulls is a small, nondescript building located near the Temple of the Foliated Cross. This temple is so named because of the skulls carved into its facade. This temple is dedicated to the Maya god Chaac, and it is home to a number of skulls that were supposedly taken from defeated enemies.

Temple of the Count

The Temple of the Count is a temple at the archaeological site of Palenque, Mexico. It is located in the northeast of the Palenque ruins. The temple was constructed in honor of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, who ruled Palenque from 615 to 683 CE.

The Temple of the Jaguar

This is one of the most popular and well-known structures in Palenque. It’s located in the central area of the ruins and is easily recognizable because of its distinctive roof comb, which rises to a height of thirty-three meters.

Temple XIII

This is also known as The Tomb of the Red Queen. The temple is made of limestone and is decorated with intricate carvings and hieroglyphics. The tomb of the red queen was found inside the temple and is believed to be the burial place of a Maya queen. The tomb contains several valuable artifacts, including jade jewelry and pottery.

Palenque Museum

Exhibit at Palenque Museum
Image by Ovedc, used under CC 4.0 License

The Palenque Museum is a museum that is dedicated to the archaeological and historical heritage of the Maya civilization. The museum has a large collection of art and artifacts from the ancient Maya city of Palenque. The museum also has a large collection of murals and stelae from other Maya sites.

The museum has a wealth of information about the ancient Maya city of Palenque, and it also offers a great overview of Maya art and culture. The museum is also a beautiful building, and it is located in a picturesque setting next to the Palenque ruin.

Where to Stay

There are many places to stay near the Palenque ruins, and most of them offer excellent services and amenities. Some of the best places to stay near the ruins are:

  • The Lodge at Palenque – The Lodge at Palenque is a luxury hotel that is located just a few minutes from the Palenque ruins. The hotel has a beautiful setting in the jungle, and it offers a variety of excellent services and amenities, including a swimming pool, a spa, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Mayaland Hotel – The Mayaland Hotel is another excellent option for those looking to stay near the Palenque ruins. The hotel is located in the town of Palenque, and it offers a variety of services and amenities, including a swimming pool, a spa, and free Wi-Fi.
  • Posada de Don Valentin – Posada de Don Valentin is a great option for those on a budget. The hotel is located in the town of Palenque, and it offers a variety of services and amenities, including free Wi-Fi.

Other attractions near Chiapas Palenque

If you’re looking for more ancient ruins to explore, the Palenque Ruins are worth a visit. However, there are also other places to check out near Palenque that are well worth your time. The Yaxchilan Ruins, for example, are located just a few hours away from Palenque and are home to some of the most impressive Mayan architecture in all of Mexico.

If you’re looking for something a little more modern, the city of San Cristobal de las Casas is a great option. This charming city is full of colonial architecture and offers plenty of great restaurants and shopping opportunities. It’s also a great place to go if you’re looking to learn more about the culture and history of the region.

No matter what you’re looking for, visiting Palenque National Park is a great place to start your exploration of the Chiapas region of Mexico. With so much to see and do, you’ll want to come back for more!

Final Thoughts

Palenque is the most studied and written about ancient Mayan city in history and even though its whereabouts have been known for over a century it still has only been excavated about 10% of its entire surface. Once you have visited Palenque ruins, you will immediately add them to your list of the best places to see before you die because of their exotic beauty and mysterious past.


Is Palanque a Mayan City?

Yes, Palenque is a Mayan city. It was one of the most important cities in the Maya empire, and it was home to many notable Maya kings, including K’inich Janaab’ Pakal.

What is Palenque famous for?

Palenque is most famous for its ancient Maya ruins. The Palenque ruins are some of the most well-preserved and beautiful Maya ruins in Mexico, and they are a must-see for anyone interested in Maya culture and history.

When was Palenque first discovered?

Palenque was first discovered in the late 1700s.

What does Palenque mean in Spanish?

Palenque is a name derived from the ancient Maya language, and it means “fortified hill.”

Is Palenque a Yucatan?

No, Palenque is located in the jungle of Chiapas, Mexico. It is not located in the Yucatan peninsula. Because their locations are not the same, this means the people who lived in Yucatan Peninsula are different.

What is the temperature like in Palenque?

The temperature in Palenque varies depending on the time of year. In general, the temperature is hot and humid year-round.