How to get and what to do in Palenque
In any travel agency in San Cristobal you can hire the tour to Palenque. The tour leaves at 4 in the morning, makes a stop at the waterfalls of Agua Azul, Misol-Ha ending in the ruins of Palenque and returns to San Cristobal at 10 at night, which I consider mortal and acceptable only in cases of those who do not have time. (Although, for those who do not have time, I would recommend staying in the Cancun, Playa de Carmen and Tulum areas and not going down to Chiapas!) To everyone else, I definitely recommend taking a trip of several days to this magical area to enjoy its unforgettable beauty.
How to get there: You have probably heard that the Ocosingo area, on the San Cristobal-Palenque route, is not safe and for this reason you will doubt which route and which transport to take to get to Palenque. Due to the problems in the area, which are occasional and unfortunately coincide with high tourism seasons, big transportation companies, such as OCC and ADO, take a long 9-hour route by highway. In this case, I recommend you travel at night so as not to waste the whole day on the bus. The shortest direct route is by local mini-buses (the colectivos that leave in front of the OCC station). First, take a bus to Ocosingo: 2 hours, 80 pesos. In Ocosingo, at the same bus stop you will take another bus to Palenque: 2 hours and a half, 100 pesos. We travelled in low season in collective transport and in our car and at no time do we suffered from any worrisome situation. The route is spectacular but difficult due to the endless curves all the way.
Lodging: Palenque appears on the list of magical towns. The town itself has nothing to do with magic, so I recommend you get some snacks and fruit and follow the route to the archaeological zone since the main attraction of reaching the Palenque area is to stay a few nights in the jungle. There are several lodgings on the road between the town and the archaeological zone: from cheap cabins to luxury hotels.
- Budget accommodation: Normally backpackers stay in the famous Panchan. El Panchan, km 4 (there are 8 km between Palenque and the archaeological zone) in the jungle, is made up of about 5 owners, offering the cabins from 120 pesos/person (Jungle Palace, where it seems that it has not been cleaned since its construction …) to much more beautiful, even with air conditioning and private bathrooms (Margarita & Ed). Panchan’s hit is the Don Mucho restaurant: rich, abundant and cheap with very fast and efficient service. There are also other cheap and rich places to eat inside the Panchan. To consider: very good for social life, too noisy to connect with the jungle.
- Medium range: Our clients were very happy with the recommendation of Hotel la Aldea, road to the ruins km 2.8, price around 1,000 pesos / room.
- Personally, we have stayed at MayaBell, kilometer 6. See our next video where I show you and explain why I consider the Maya Bell to be an excellent option for all tastes and budgets. (I am not paid for advertising: it is simply my choice and that is why I recommend them).
Archaeological zone: You will surely start at the main point of your stay: the archaeological zone (called the ruins) – it opens at 8:30 a.m. and I recommend that you cross the entrance at this time to be able to enjoy the splendor of the temples in the jungle in tranquility. The entrance costs 80 pesos. On Sundays, entry to the ruins is free for Mexicans. Only some part is intended for visitors. Now, in the time of covid, the visit is limited to 2 hours for 2,000 people / day and you cannot go up to the temples. The areas around the main temples are deforested, so bring sunscreen, a cap or hat, and plenty of water.
What else to do: apart from the ruins, don’t miss:
- a magical walk along the Motiepa Trail located between the entrance of Baños de la Reina and the main entrance to the ruins,
- excursion to the Roberto Barrios waterfalls (the video and how to get there in the following publications)
- visit to the archaeological sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak with at least one night with the locals in the Lacandona jungle and walks in the area (our video and tips in the following publications).