The Palenque Ruins are now firmly cemented as the most picturesque Mayan ruin site we’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s a mysterious & magical place to roam around and this photo essay of Palenque is an attempt to show you why.
You can spend hours wandering this expansive site, popping in and out of the jungle.
It’s no wonder the ruin site was awarded UNESCO status in 1987.
This anthropological marvel in the Mexican state of Chiapas came into prominence between the 700 and 800s AD.
Palenque became abandoned shortly thereafter, in the year 900 AD.
It sat forgotten for nearly a thousand years thereafter as it became swallowed by the surrounding jungle.
Many of these huge ancient structures have been excavated.
Meanwhile, other temples are left as they were found.
Not since touring Cambodia’s Angkor Wat have I seen such beautiful displays of the natural flora intermingling with ancient wonders like this.
The temples are tall!
In fact, Palenque’s Temple of Inscriptions (AKA “House of the Nine Sharpened Spears”) rises out 75 feet high out from the jungle, making it the tallest of the bunch.
But you’ll find not just one tall temple here at Palenque, but rather several.
In fact, there are said to be over 1,000 buildings documented within the 25 square mile site of Palenque. Yet less than 10% of Palenque has yet to be uncovered.
While there is a steady flow of visitors to Palenque, it’s not teaming with hoards of tourists as is common at more popular Yucatan ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum.
Perhaps it’s the grandiosity of Palenque that helps people to get lost in its vastness.
You likely find it’s a very tranquil and peaceful place to roam around throughout the entire Palenque site.
Some of the temples at Palenque include intricate hieroglyphics carved into the stone.
You’re permitted to climb most of Palenque’s temples too, providing for a sense of adventure as you gain a birds-eye view of the grounds below.
You can even enter sacred tombs.
The lush jungle setting of the Palenque ruins is full of life. Tropical birds call out while howler monkeys roar.
Take a stroll through the jungle surrounding Palenque and over the swing bridges.
Wander down one of the side trails around the Palenque ruins. If you don’t spot any wildlife, you’ll at least be treated to some majestic waterfalls.
The Otolum Creek actually runs right through the middle of the Palenque ruin site and into the forested overgrowth that surrounds it.
Hopefully, these photos have attempted to show off how special Palenque is.
Yet Palenque is really one of those places that need to be experienced rather than seen in order to really appreciate it.
Looking at pixelated two dimensions on your computer or phone, simply doesn’t do Palenque justice.
The jungle needs to be delved into. Those ancient steps need to be climbed.
Palenque deserves to be explored.
So what are you waiting for?
Adventure awaits in Chiapas, Mexico.
The Palenque ruins are easily our favorite ruins sites to visit in Mexico and we’ve visited many.
Although if you’re a fan of Mayan ruins, we also suggest a road trip down the Ruta Puuc, which includes another favorite Mayan ruin site in Mexico and a fun experience.
How to Visit Palenque Ruins, Mexico
To visit Mexico’s Palenque Ruins, travelers should plan to spend a day there and hence spending a night in the area is convenient. While it is possible to visit Palenque in a day from destinations, such as San Cristobal de las Casa, it’s best to plan for an overnight stay.
This will help to maximize your time at Palenque without the need to race off to your next destination.
Palenque Costs, Admission, and Entrance Fees
The Palenque entrance fee is $35 pesos to get into the National Park plus a $75 peso entrance fee to access the ruin site, as of 2023. This also includes museum admission.
The Palenque ruins can be explored as part of a guided tour ($95 USD for an English tour) or can be easily traversed on your own. To get from Palenque town to the Palenque ruins, simply take one of the frequent colectivos for $25 pesos per person each way.
How to Get to Palenque, Mexico
Palenque is located in the state of Chiapas in Southern Mexico.
To Palenque By Train
In December 2023, the Tren Maya (Maya Train), is expected to begin operations serving Palenque. The Maya Train will connect Palenque to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Merida and other popular Mexico travel destinations throughout the Yucatan peninsula.
To Palenque By Flight
A very small airport, Palenque International, once had regular direct flights from Mexico City. As of 2023, there is only a seasonal flight from Monterrey to Palenque.
Instead, to reach Palenque by flight, visitors can fly into Villahermosa, which has many connections throughout Mexico. From Villahermosa, there are frequent ADO buses that depart directly from the Villahermosa airport to Palenque. This bus trip takes just over two hours.
To Palenque By Bus
Buses from other regional cities also make it a perfect stopover on any Mexico or Central America itinerary. Popular ADO bus routes connect Palenque to each of the following cities that are all worth a trip themselves (click the links for more info on each city):
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Very good practical information. Ruins inside of real jungle – that’s amazing correlation 🙂
Heather Widmer says
Right!? Wandering around the ancient ruins surrounded by jungle really makes one feel like an explorer. It’s such an amazing place and our photos just don’t do it justice!
Great photos. During our honeymoon in Belize we saw some pretty amazing ruins. However, I believe that these may be even more impressive!
John Widmer says
There are lots of great ruins all over the Yucatan and Central America. Those ruins in neighboring Belize can be impressive too! 🙂
Nice pics & cool post! We’ll be going there in a couple months. Looks like it’s going to be worth it.
John Widmer says
It’s a beautiful ruin site! One of the best in our opinion. I think you will enjoy 🙂