7 EPIC Things to Do in Palenque + Itinerary

by | Nov 11, 2021 | Mexico, Travel

Palenque is one of those underrated destinations in Mexico. People don’t realize it has so much to offer travelers. I’ve put together a list of 7 epic things to do in Palenque. You’ll also find a suggested itinerary that you can adjust to fit your Mexico itinerary as well as loads of other practical travel tips.

So, let’s get started!

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Whenever I tell people I stayed ten days in Palenque, they think I’m crazy.

What’s there to do in Palenque for ten days?

It’s true.

Palenque is not the most charming or beautiful city like Merida, San Cristobal, or Oaxaca.


the seven things you can do in Palenque are pretty darn spectacular.

You’ve got three of the best ancient Maya ruins in Mexico: Palenque, Yaxchilan, and Bonampak.

Three gorgeous waterfalls: Agua Azul, Misol Ha, and the fabulous Roberto Barrios.

And if you’re a digital nomad, you’ve got stable and relatively fast WiFi–enough to teach classes on Zoom.

Plus! There are some great places to stay in the city of Palenque as well as on the outskirts of the city.

I had my own bungalow with my own private terrace surrounded by the jungle. I could work outside on my laptop while listening to the birds chirping and the howler monkeys howling and watching the iguanas scampering around and the peacocks strutting their stuff.

Oh, and with a swimming pool a few feet away. All for around US$30 to $40. Dorm rooms were even cheaper! Jump to the section Where to Stay in Palenque for all the details.

Can you find that in Oaxaca?


In San Cristobal?

No, way!

In this post, you’ll learn exactly what you can do in Palenque. Not for ten days, of course. Unless you need somewhere soothing to work. But at least three or four or five.

About Palenque

Map of Palenque

All of the ruins, waterfalls, and museums are outside of the city of Palenque. To get to them, you’ll need to take a colectivo (white van) or taxi or join a tour.

You can stay inside the city or outside on the road to the Palenque ruins. Jump to the Section Where to Stay for info on the best hotels and hostels in Palenque.

How to get to Palenque

In this section, I’ll explain all the different ways to get to Palenque. It can be a bit complicated due to highway robberies and nosey immigration officials.

Getting to Palenque by plane

If you’re going by plane, you’ll fly to the airport in Villahermosa, and then from there take a bus or private car to Palenque. There are buses that go directly from the airport to the ADO Bus Station in Palenque.

Check the ADO Bus schedule for buses from the airport to Palenque.

How to get to Palenque by bus

a large bus

For those traveling to Palenque by bus, there are nice and comfy first-class ADO buses from Merida, Campeche, San Cristobal, Villahermosa, and other cities.

You can also get to Palenque by colectivos (white vans) and by tours, which I’ll get into more detail below.

Here is a timetable of the ADO Buses traveling to Palenque as of November 2021. However, check the current first-class bus schedule on ADO’s website.

Here is a timetable for ADO first-class buses going to Palenque:

Departure Schedule for ADO Buses going to Palenque

Here is the timetable for buses leaving Palenque to other popular destinations around Mexico:

ADO Bus Schedule for buses going to Palenque

You can buy your tickets on the ADO website as well. Tickets will be emailed to you. Just save them to your phone and show the ticket’s QR code to the bus driver when getting on the bus.

If you buy your bus tickets online AND in advance, you can sometimes get a discount.

How to get from Merida to Palenque by bus

You can take a first-class ADO bus from Merida to Palenque during the day and in the evening. It takes nine hours.

The Merida bus passes through Campeche.

On the night bus, there have been incidences of theft. It might be better to travel during the day.

How to get from Campeche to Palenque by bus

I took a first-class ADO bus from Campeche to Palenque during the day. It took five hours. For me, it was perfectly comfortable and safe. The roads were in perfect condition.

On the night bus, there have been some incidents of theft.

How to get from San Cristobal to Palenque

There are 3 ways to travel between San Cristobal and Palenque.

Route 1 – Via Ocosingo:

This route travels directly between San Cristobal and Palenque via the town of Ocosingo.

At 5 hours, it’s the quickest route.

However, it’s unsafe, so ADO buses were not doing it while I was there.

The reason it’s unsafe is that gangs often stop vehicles and rob passengers. The government can’t do much about crime on the route because this part of Chiapas is an autonomous indigenous area and the government has no control over it.

Colectivos were still doing the route, though. You can get a colectivo to San Cristobal from this transportation service company.

Route 2 – Tour Company Route:

A few tour companies in both Palenque and San Cristobal do this route.

They pick you up at your hotel in  San Cristobal or Palenque, stop at the Misol Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls for sightseeing and swimming, and end by dropping you off at your hotel in Palenque or San Cristobal.

For those leaving from Palenque, there’s an option to add the ruins to the itinerary in the morning.

Tulum Tours was doing this route for MXN$500 (US$25). I know people who did this route and were perfectly happy.

I knew someone who did this route and arrived safe and sound in San Cristobal.

Route 3 – Via Villahermosa

ADO buses avoid Ocosingo and instead take a detour and stop in Villahermosa before heading to Palenque or San Cristobal. You don’t need to change buses.

It takes 9 hours total.

You can do the route during the day or overnight.

I sort of did this route. I traveled from Palenque to Villahermosa, stayed overnight to see the Olmec heads at an outdoor museum (it was closed due to the pandemic, unfortunately), and then grabbed a bus to San Cristobal.

This route was comfortable and safe.

My bus from Palenque to Villahermosa was stopped three times by armed immigration officials to randomly check people’s identification.

Pro Tip: I used Tulum Tours, located next to the ADO Bus Station for all my tours. I was more than happy with their service, and prices. They are also cheaper than other travel agencies. Here is a list of the tours they had and their prices in July 2021:

Tulum Tours schedule for Palenque tours

Best Things to do in Palenque

For Indiana Jones wannabees and history nerds and for just people who want to see something beautiful, Palenque has three of my favorite ruins in Mexico. The most famous is Palenque, and it’s just a 30-minute colectivo ride from the ADO Bus Station,

The other two, Yaxchilan and Bonampak, require joining a tour group, which is easy and not too expensive.

1. Ancient Ruins of Palenque

  • OPEN: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM (last admission is at 4:00 PM)
  • COST: MXN$80 (US$4) for the park + MXN$90 (US$4.50) for the archaeological ruins
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

During my six months in Mexico, I visited over 15 ancient ruins.

Hands down!

Palenque was my absolute favorite.

Temple of Inscription at Palenque

Palenque may not have the tallest or grandest pyramids, but what they do impress visitors with is their craftsmanship. They have some of the most unique and beautiful pyramids in Mesoamerica.

But Palenque’s beauty is more than its temples and pyramids. It’s also in its setting. It’s in how the lush and verdant jungle towers over the ancient ruins as if it wants to swallow them up.  If you get to the ruins early enough, you can see the early morning mist shrouding the pyramids. As you’re walking through the ruins, you can hear the sound of a stream and perhaps a waterfall off in the distant jungle and the howling of monkeys and the chirping of birds somewhere in the trees above you.

Temple of the Crosse at Palenque

Get to the ruins when they first open at 8:30 AM to avoid the crowds that come in at 10:00 AM or 11:00 AM. When you get there early you’ll also get to see the ruins covered in a beautiful mist.

How to get to the Palenque Ruins:

You can easily get to the ruins by taking a colectivo (white van) from in front of the ADO bus station and across from Glorieta de la Cabeza Maya (the Maya Head Statue in the center of a roundabout). 

white van going to the Palenque ruins

The van should say “Ruinas” on the front and “Chambalu” on the side.

how to get to the Palenque ruins

The ride to the ruins is not so straightforward. The van stops at the entrance to the national park. It will wait while you get out and pay the MXN$90 park (US$5.50) entrance fee.

Then the colectivo stops a second time for tourists to pay the fee to the archaeological zone, which is MXN$80 (US$4).

Then it drives about 5 more minutes to the parking lot and entrance to the ruins.

Make sure you keep your tickets because you’ll have to show them to enter the ruins.

In July 2021, the trip to the ruins cost MXN$20 and took 30 minutes. Pay when you leave the colectivo. The last colectivo is at 6:00 PM, but that is not consistent (I found out the hard way), so shoot for 5:30 PM instead.

2. Palenque Museo de Sitio

  • OPEN: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM (Tu – Su)
  • COST: Free with your Palenque archaeological zone ticket
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

Not many people make it to this fantastic museum, probably because it’s not in the best location and it’s also not advertised very well. However, it’s definitely worth a stop.

A stone tablet covered in Maya writing

The Palenque site museum of “Alberto Ruz L´Huillier” contains the tomb of the Red Queen, the wife of Pakal and the mother of two rulers. Archaeologists named her the Red Queen because her corpse was covered in cinnabar.

There are also some intricately carved incense burners, a beautiful stone piece covered in Maya writing, stelae still holding the original blue and red, and a copy of the lid of Pakal’s sarcophagus.

And unlike in most museums in Mexico, you’ll find detailed explanations of the artifacts in English.

You shouldn’t have to pay extra for the museum as the museum is included in the Palenque Archaeological Zone ticket.

How to get to the museum:

The museum is located at the ticket booth for the archaeological zone.

To get to it from the ruins, take a colectivo.

I walked from the ruins to the museum. This wasn’t the most pleasant or safest walk. It took 15 minutes and was along a narrow windy semi-busy road without any space on the side to walk to avoid the cars speeding up and down the hill.

How to get from the museum to Palenque city:

After you leave the museum, you’ll cross the road (the same road you took to get to the ruins) and wait on the side for a colectivo to pick you up (the same one that brought you to the ruins). Expect to pay MXN$20 (US$1).

3-4. Yaxchilan and Bonampak

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM (every day)
  • COST: No entrance fee for Yaxchilan (Nov 2021) and MXN$75 + fee for transport to Lacandon community
  • TOUR: 5:30 AM pick up and returned at 9:00 PM
  • TOUR COST: I went on a tour with Tulum Tours and it cost me MXN$950 (US$48). This price included transport, breakfast and lunch, and entrance fees.
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

The two other Maya ruins that you should definitely make time for are Yaxchilan and Bonampak. These are fantastic ruins but for two very different reasons.

An ancient structure with 3 doorways topped with a roof comb at Yaxchilan

The Classic (400 – 900 AD) archaeological site of Yaxchilan is famous for its location, historical importance, elaborate and beautifully crafted temples, and illuminating stelae.

The setting is as special as Palenque’s. It’s located on a horseshoe bend in the Usumacinta and is surrounded by a lush jungle. You can hear the howler monkeys making their dinosaur-like sounds off in the distance. They never seem to stop. You can also see spider monkeys jumping from tree to tree.

Historically, Yaxchilan was one of the most important cities in the Classic period. Its location along an important river allowed it to control trade between the Peten and the Gulf of Mexico. During ancient times, there was a bridge that connected the two sides of the river.

stone carving on ceiling of doorjamb at Yaxchilan

The temples are also stunning in their design. Structure 33 with its beautiful roof comb is found on a hill above the ancient city. It’s worth the climb as you’ll find some intricate carvings in the doorjambs and a row of carvings on the steps in front of the temple.

Yaxchilan has some of the best stelae in Mesoamerica. Two of the most famous ones (stelae 24 and 25) portray blood-letting rituals in which the king pulls a rope through his penis and another one in which the wife pulls a rope through her tongue. Unfortunately, you have to travel to the British Museum to see them. The Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City has several as well but not the bloodletting ones.

murals at Bonampak

Located in the Lacandon jungle, Bonampak is most famous for its colorful frescos. There are three rooms of murals. Room 1 shows a celebration for a king’s heir. The second room depicts a war with a rival kingdom and the capture of their enemies and the presentation of the captured enemies to the king. The last room is a victory celebration. People are dancing on the temple steps and there is a bloodletting ceremony. These are the best-preserved and most illuminating frescoes of the Maya world. They give us a really good idea of what court life was like, how people dressed, and how the Maya celebrated victories and births.

How to get to Yaxchilan and Bonampak:

I went to Yaxchilan and Bonampak with a tour group called Tulum Tours (Google Maps). The cost was MXN$950.

white tour bus van to Yaxchilan

The tour company picked me up from my hotel at 5:30 AM in a white van.

We stopped for a terrific buffet breakfast with all the other tour groups at 7:30.

We got to the banks of the Usumacinta River at around 10:00 AM. Here we hired a guide who spoke English. We split the cost between the five people on the tour. Unfortunately, I don’t remember how much we paid. The guide was pretty friendly and knowledgeable but we also didn’t see everything in the park.

If I had to do my tour over again, I wouldn’t hire a guide for Yaxchilan. Just do some research before visiting the ruins and I think you’ll see more. We wasted too much time waiting for others to take photos and the guide spoke Spanish most of the time anyway.

the front of a blue and yellow boat in the middle of a river

It took about an hour to reach the ruins by boat.

We got a couple of hours to explore the ruins before we had to get back in the boat at 1:00 PM.

After that, we had a pretty good lunch near the boat docks. It wasn’t until 2:00 PM that we left the border area to drive to Bonampak.

At 3:20 PM we arrived at a place where we needed to change vehicles to enter Bonampak. The Bonampak ruins are located in an area controlled by the Lacandon community. They have experienced incidences of outsiders coming into the archaeological park and stealing artifacts and pieces off the structures, so to control the access, you can only enter when one of their members drives you in.

It took 15 minutes to get to the entrance of Bonampak, arriving at a bit after 3:35 PM. They stop allowing people in at 4:00 PM.

We had around an hour to see the murals, stelae, and temples.

Finally, we dropped one member of our group at an Ecolodge and picked up two other travelers from the same lodge and drove back to Palenque.

Can you get to Yaxchilan and Bonampak on your own?

You can take public transportation to Frontera Corozal, a city on the border with Guatemala. Then hire a boat and guide to take you down the Usumacinta River to the ruins.

However, it might be harder to get to Bonampak on your own given the uncertainty of public transportation to Bonampak and the security concerns the Lacandon have about outsiders.

You need to get to Crucero Bonampak (Google Maps), where you’ll pay to enter the town and pay to be driven to the ruins of Bonampak by a member of the Lacandon community. Lonely Planet Mexico says MXN$30 per person to enter the town and MXN$250 for the transport (that was a few years ago).

I think you’ll have a hard time seeing both sites on the same day. You’ll have to stay overnight somewhere. Lonely Planet has information about accommodations.

5. Roberto Barrios Cascades

  • OPEN: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • COST: MXN$30 (US$1.50)
  • LOCATION: Google Maps

If you can only make it to one waterfall while in Palenque, visit Roberto Barrios Cascades. It’s the most fun waterfall to visit as there are tons of crystal clear pools to swim in. The water is this beautiful greenish-blue juxtaposed against beige-colored rocks, making it just as beautiful as Agua Azul.

Roberto Barrios cascades

Unlike Agua Azul’s plethora of shops, restaurants, and people just hounding you to buy something, Roberto Barrios has none of that once you enter the park. The facilities consist of someone selling lifejackets, one restaurant that I’m not even sure is open, and bathrooms.

The rest of the park is a maze of unpaved trails that go from one cascade to another. You can easily find yourself the only one at a cascade.

 I’m not sure how many levels the cascades are but there are a lot. One moment you think, you’ve seen all the cascades, and the next you’ve spotted another one.

The park gets busier in the afternoon.

How to get to Robert Barrios Cascades:

You can check out my detailed post on how to get to the Roberto Barrios Waterfalls by public transportation here. You’ll find step-by-step instructions on where to get the colectivo to get to the falls and how to get back to Palenque.

6. Misol Ha Waterfalls

Misol Ha Waterfalls

Located about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Palenque is the waterfall of Misol Ha. The waterfall is worth a visit as long as you combine it with a trip to Agua Azul waterfalls.

The best thing about the waterfall is when I took the path behind the waterfall to a secret cave. Inside the cave, you’ll find another smaller waterfall and a lot of bats hanging from the ceiling. Guides hang out at the entrance to the cave and will bring you in for a tip (MXN$20). You’ll need to take off your shoes as you’ll be walking through the water. It’s best to wear water shoes.

How to get to Misol Ha and Agua Azul

Most people combine a visit to Misol Ha with one to Agua Azul. Some people even combine the two waterfalls with a trip in the morning to the Palenque ruins and/or a one-way ride to San Cristobal. I think it’s the best way to get to San Cristobal. You can read more about in the section on Getting to Palenque.

I went to Misol Ha with Tulum Tours. It cost MXN$350 and included transportation to Misol Ha and Agua Azul as well as the entrance fees for both tours. There were only eight of us on the tour.

The tour started at 12:00 PM. Everyone was picked up from their hotels. By the time we left Palenque, it was 12:30 PM.

We arrived at the waterfall at 1:00 PM. We were told we had 40 minutes at the waterfall, which turned into 50.

Then we drove over an hour to Agua Azul, arriving at around 3:00 PM. We had 2.2 hours to explore Agua Azul.

On the trip back to Palenque, the van stopped at the intersection for the turn-off for Agua Azul and the people who were going on to San Cristobal got into a new van. We had to wait over 30 minutes for their van to arrive before we could take off back to Palenque. Luckily for them, the tour company didn’t leave them waiting alone on the side of the road.

I’m not a fan of tours because I often feel rushed and never given enough time to see everything. On this tour, I didn’t this way, maybe because I didn’t swim at either of the waterfalls. If I had both swam and eaten, I might have felt rushed.

How to see Misol Ha and Agua Azul on your own

You can get an Ocosingo-bound colectivo that stops at Misol Ha from Autotransportes de Pasaje y Turismo Brisas de Agua Azul (Google Maps) next to Trota Mundos Restaurant (photo below).

Colectivo station for vans to Agua Azul

According to the staff at the colectivo station, it cost MXN$40 to get to Misol Ha and another MXN$50 to get to Agua Azul. Plus, the colectivo doesn’t drop you off right at Agua Azul. You need to hire a taxi from an intersection on the main road going to Ocosingo. The taxi costs at least MXN$50 one way (MXN$100 round trip).

Then you need to get a taxi back to the main road where you wait for a Palenque-bound colectivo. That is at least MXN$50. In addition to transportation fees, you’ll need to pay the fees to the waterfalls.

In the end, you’re probably paying more to do both waterfalls on your own than with a tour.

Plus! Chiapas is known for its blockades (bloqueros) where locals block the road and won’t let vehicles pass until the driver and passengers pay a fee. That can add to the cost and time.

7. Agua Azul Cascades

Ideally, combine a trip to Misol Ha with a visit to the gorgeous waterfalls of Agua Azul.

The water of Agua Azul is supposed to be a beautiful blue, hence the name “Blue Waters.” I went during the rainy season and the water wasn’t the blue as advertised. But the layer upon layer of cascades is stunningly beautiful and well worth the visit.

Agua Azul Waterfall

The facilities are very developed. Unlike Roberto Barrios’s dirt pathway, you’ll find yourself walking on paved paths. To the right is the fall and to the left are restaurants, shops, restaurants, shops, and on and on. Then you’ve got the children after children trying to sell you snacks and trinkets. Eventually, if you walk up far enough to the higher level of cascades you’ll lose the vendors and restauranteurs.

There are so many restaurants that it’s hard to choose where to eat. I thought that the food would be fresher at the restaurants in the parking lot since it seemed that most people ate there. Prices vary by a lot, so shop around. One restaurant was charging on average MXN$140 for a dish, while the restaurants next to it had the same meal (whole fried fish or chicken) for less than MXN$100. I had one of the best meals in Chiapas here.

How to get to Agua Azul:

I combined a tour of Agua Azul with Misol Ha. Please see the section on Misol Ha on how to get to Agua Azul with a tour..

How to get to Agua Azul on your own:

Please see the section on Misol Ha to find out how to get there on your own.

Suggested Palenque Itinerary

Depending on how much time you have, you can see everything on this list of things to do in Palenque in four days. However, I recommend adding an extra day to relax.

Day 1 – Palenque ruins and museum

Day 2 – Roberto Barrios Waterfalls

Day 3 – Yaxchilan and Bonampak ruins

Day 4 – Rest and relax

Day 5 – Misol Ha and Agua Azul Waterfalls

Where to stay in Palenque

You can either stay inside the city of Palenque or in the jungle outside the city. I stayed in both places during my ten days.

Staying in the city has some benefits. First, there are some great hotels and hostels located in the La Canada neighborhood, a quiet, safe and pleasant area with narrow streets and lots of trees. The area is also just a five-minute walk from the ADO bus station. Perfect especially for those arriving after 6:00 PM>

Second, you have far more options for places to eat, pharmacies, lavanderias for washing your clothes, grocery stores, tour companies, and banks than if you stayed outside the city.

The downside is that the town of Palenque doesn’t inspire much in the traveler.

For my first five days in Palenque, I stayed in a private room at Casa Janaab Palenque.

When people stay outside of the city, they usually stay along the road going to the ruins. The most famous place is El Panchan, but it has no WiFi. There’s a better place that I’ll tell you about later.

Staying outside the city is all about the experience of being surrounded by the jungle and wildlife. You can hear the sounds of howler monkeys and insects and spot colorful tropical birds and exotic lizards. It’s a wonderful way to just relax and experience a tropical forest but with modern conveniences.

There are, however, some downsides. First, you have few (often just one or two) choices for restaurants, lavanderias, and tour companies. All of these places might even be more expensive than the ones in town.

You can get to these hotels and hostels by colectivos that ply the route from early in the morning to 6:00 PM at night. After that time, you can get a taxi for MXN$75 – $100 (US$4 – $5).

Staying on the road to the Palenque ruins is not going to get you within walking distance of the ruins, though. You’ll still need to stand on the side of the road and catch a colectivo, join a tour group, or arrange for a taxi to pick you up from your hotel.

1. Casa Janaab Palenque

(Booking.com | Agoda)

Located just five minutes by foot from the ADO Bus Station in the safe and quiet La Canada neighborhood, this wonderful hotel has both dorm rooms and private rooms with baths. The facilities in the private rooms on the second floor are better than the ones on the third floor. They’re spacious with comfy beds and big clean bathrooms. I paid US$35 a night.

Credit: Agoda
Credit: Agoda

It’s also got a kitchen and the only self-service washing machine and dryer in all of Mexico! It was expensive, though. I paid MXN$120 for one load of laundry. They also charge you to refill your water bottle.

The WiFi was fast and stable enough for me to teach my classes on Zoom.

2. Cabana Kin Balam

(Booking.com | Agoda)

Located halfway between the ADO Bus Station and the Palenque ruins, this wonderful hotel has both dorms and private cabins, some of which have bathrooms and some without and some with air conditioning and some without. Cabins cost between US$30 and $50.

Credit: Agoda
Credit: Agoda

My private cabin was in a secluded area surrounded by trees, a stream, and wildlife. I spent several days on my private veranda working online and teaching classes over Zoom. As I was working, I would see colorful tropical birds flying by and lizards sneaking around in the forest. Plus there were two peacocks that live on the property and that love to come up to your veranda and plop down right next to you. It’s fabulous!

In the morning, late afternoon, and evening I could hear the howler monkeys. If you’ve seen the movie Jurassic Park, then you know what these monkeys sound like because the film’s creators used their howls for the sounds of the dinosaurs in the movie. Yes! Howler monkeys sound like dinosaurs! Or at least what we think dinosaurs sounded like.

There’s a swimming pool, hammocks, a not-so-good restaurant, and a tour agency.

From the city, expect to pay between MXN$70 and $100 for a taxi or take a colectivo from in front of the ADO Bus Station for MXN$20. Tell the driver the name of the hotel and they’ll know where to drop you off. Pay when you exit the van. The last van is at 6:00 PM.

Where to eat in Palenque

The La Canada neighborhood is where you’ll find medium-priced to upper-priced restaurants serving decent to pretty good food. Here are the ones that I tried.

Café Jade (Google Maps) – (Mexican; Excellent breakfasts) This restaurant has excellent set breakfasts that come with your choice of typical Mexican egg dishes like huevos ranchero, huevos Mexicana, etc. The huevos ranchero was the best one I had in Mexico. The set breakfasts also come with coffee, juice, fruit, and toast.

Hotel Xibalba (Google Maps) –  (Mexican) If you want simple food at a cheaper price than Café Jade, then head to the restaurant attached to Hotel Xibalba. They have outdoor seating that offers you good views of the comings and goings of the La Canada neighborhood.

Casa Antoliana (Google Maps) – (Mexican) Casa Antoliani serves some creative dishes, many of which are seafood-based. Get the tostadas topped with shrimp.

Trota Mundos (Google Maps) – (inexpensive Mexican, specialty is chicken) Trota Mundos was recommended to me by the hostel staff as a place with really good and inexpensive local food conveniently located about 10 minutes from the hostel. Dishes are less than MXN$100. The restaurant specializes in chicken dishes.

Don Mucho’s (Google Maps) – (Italian; good pizzas) Don Mucho’s is located right across the street from Cabana Kin Balam. It’s got a huge menu of items like pizza, pasta, and steak dishes. The pizza is actually quite good. In the evening, they have live music.

Palenque Essentials

ATMs in Palenque

Finding an ATM turned out to be harder than I’ve ever experienced in my travels. I ended up calling my bank for help.

The best ATM I could find within walking distance from the ADO Bus Station was the one inside Chedraui (Google Maps), similar to Target or Walmart that sells food, clothes, and everyday items. The ATM is near the exit.

The ATM inside the ADO Bus Station doesn’t take foreign credit cards.

Other banks like Banco Azteca don’t take foreign cards either.

There is a Banco Norte ATM (Google Maps) on Benito Juarez street in front of the general hospital, but I was worried that because of how open it is, it might have been easily tampered with.

Pharmacies in Palenque

There is a large and well-stocked Farmacia Ahorro near Trota Mundos Restaurant on Benito Juarez Street. You can find insect repellant and suntan lotion.

When going to a pharmacy in Mexico, bring your original medication container and show them the name.

Grocery Stores in Palenque

There’s a great grocery store within walking distance of the ADO Bus Station called Chedraui (Google Maps).


I really hope you find the time to visit Palenque. It might not be as beautiful as San Cristobal or San Miguel, but I think there are more spectacular things to do and see in Palenque than in those two cities. The opportunity to spend the night somewhere listening to the howler monkeys is worth more than you can imagine.

SAFETY TIPS: Don’t travel anywhere without bringing these essential items with you to keep you safe and secure:

Combination lock – You MUST bring a combination lock with you if you’re staying in hostels. Hostels provide lockers and you provide the lock.

Money belt – Even though these are not the most comfortable things to wear, a money belt is essential. I’ve tried both these traditional travel belts and ones that runners use.

Anti-Theft Purse –  Travel-on Anti-theft purses are great because they’re made of a material that’s difficult for thieves to slash. They’ve got lots of pockets as well and a way to lock the zippers.

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Palenque ruins and waterfalls pin
Palenque ruins pin



  1. I must admit I hadn’t heard of Palenque before but this is such a useful and detailed post I’d love to visit having read it.

  2. Sold! Palenque sounds & looks amazing. I love the sound of all the ruins & the waterfalls. I am mulling over a return to Mexico & when I do you have added Palenque to my itinerary! Really comprehensive guide, thank you!

  3. Palenque does sound like a good deal! Mexican archaeological sites are in my bucket list (sigh, someday!) so I would be interested in sites that are high value but lesser known like these.

  4. this is a great post. I am in Mexico right now and have been for a month in Puerto Escondido and Mexico City. We plan to come back next year and I am definitely going to add this to our itinerary. Thanks for all this great info.

  5. I’ve been to several places in Mexico, but l have never heard of Palenque. Looks like l am missing out on a delightful little place. Thanks for the detailed itinerary.


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About the Bamboo Traveler

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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