An unparalleled archeological adventure awaits you in the northeast of Chiapas

Palenque, a city and municipality located in the north of the state of Chiapas, Mexico, is the region’s economic center. In Spanish, Palenque means “wood stake fence,” referring to a fortified or fenced place. The city was named nearly 200 years before the famous nearby Palenque ruins were discovered in the eighteenth century,

This exciting part of Mexico is a great place to explore and gain a deeper understanding of archeological gems. The area surrounding Palenque offers excellent transportation options, interesting landscapes, and local customs that are sure to delight visitors.

The Palenque archeological site, one of the most important destinations in the state, is five miles from the city. Located on the first rise of the Tumbalá mountains, the site looks out over the Usumacinta River floood plain. Here, visitors will find the largest Mesoamerican step pyramid, the Temple of Inscriptions, with hieroglyphics that have contributed significantly to studying the ancient Maya. The site is surrounded by beautiful natural areas, including the Misol-Há waterfall with a drop of more than 100 feet that forms a large pool where visitors can swim.  

Other areas of interest are the Toniná archeological site, 82 miles from Palenque (and 53 miles from San Cristóbal de las Casas); the Agua Azul waterfalls, 40 miles away; and the Bonampak archeological site with impressive murals illustrating Mayan social organization. The site is in Northwestern Chiapas in the Montes Azules Biosphere Reserve, which can be entered via the Southern Border Highway that begins in Palenque.

Palenque, Chiapas, is situated 190 miles from the state capital Tuxtla Gutiérrez and 135 miles from San Cristóbal de las Casas, a beautiful town that is part of Mexico’s “magical towns” program.

Both places offer hotels, restaurants, and tourist services that ensure a comfortable stay. Palenque hotels include Hotel Plaza Palenque, Calinda Nututún Palenque with a river running through its grounds, the colonial style Ciudad Real Palenque, and the Chan-Kah located near the ruins, to name a few. If looking for a quick bite, try Don Mucho’s for its pizza. Or,  check out Taco Palenque, a Mexican restaurant chain famous for its chicken. In San Cristóbal de las Casas, Casa Felipe Flores, an eighteenth century mansion, and Casa de los Arcangeles, a beautiful small hotel, are examples of lodging available in this charming town.

An ideal complement to a trip around the state of Chiapas is to relax in one of several Palenque spas, featuring personalized service and comfortable facilities enhanced by beautiful scenery. Spa options include rejuvenating treatments, massage, lymphatic drainage, and temazcal steam baths as practiced in ancient indigenous traditions.

At the end of a day’s hiking, kayaking, or rafting, Palenque, with its lively bars and cafes, is a wonderful place to relax with friends and listen to live music.


  • Rafting
  • Archeology
  • Hiking
  • Traditions and Festivities
  • Village Tours
  • Cuisine
  • Museums and Cultural Centers
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