Palenque in just one hour! Should you do it? (video)

The weirdest thing happened. Even though I’m full a time traveler and I should have sufficient time at each location to explore and enjoy the sites that I’m visiting, I found myself one day with only one hour to visit Palenque. What is one hour worth when visiting a Maya Ruins site which under normal circumstances takes a couple of hours to explore?

If you had just one hour, should you still go? 

Check out my very first selfie video and you’ll see what I managed to see in Palenque in this short time.

So, yes! Even if you have just a short time to visit Palenque, I think you should totally do it. The atmosphere there is special. The jungle is still very close, you can hear the howler monkeys, exotic birds, crickets, see bats and the Mayan architecture is well preserved and reconstructed. It’s almost like time traveling back to Pacal the Great’s time (previous ruler of Palenque).

Good to know

  • It’s estimated that only 10% of whole Palenque is discovered by now. Check out this map that shows explored and unexplored structures of Palenque.
  • The jungle entrance is less crowded than the main entrance. I read everywhere that the main entrance is better. So that makes the jungle entrance an insider tip. It’s quiet, it has impressive trees and jungle is everywhere. It’s magical. While the main entrance is crowded.
  • There are food stands and souvenir shops at the main entrance.
  • You’ll find some vendors with Maya related items in the park.
  • It’s always worth looking at the ceiling in the temples, there are a lot of bats there.
  • Palenque is definitely fun for kids too. So much to climb on and so many hidden paths to explore.
  • The weird sound all around is most likely coming from howler monkeys. Or jaguars which make the same sounds as howler monkeys.

Opening hours

Tuesday – Sunday 8:00 – 17:00, and they’ll let you in till 16:30.

The cost

Entrance fee to the park itself is 31 pesos which is collected on the road. The entrance fee for the archeological site is 70 pesos (around 3.40 USD) and that includes the entrance fee for the Museum. There are many guides available on both entrances (jungle entrance and main entrance) and you can discuss the price for their service with them. Don’t forget to tip your guide.

The ride with the collectivo (small bus) from or to Palenque Town costs around 20 pesos.

What to bring?

Bring water, good walking shoes, your camera, no tripod and if you’re staying longer than 1 hour, bring food. Also bug spray.

How to get there by car / RV?

Palenque is located in Chiapas, Mexico. Here is how to get there by car!

Coming from West many people visit San Cristobal de las Casas before going to Palenque. It’s a cute town and quite colorful. From San Cristobal there are a couple of options to get to Palenque. 

The direct route from San Cristobal de las Casas

The first one is what seems to be the quickest tour. It’s a free road (meaning it’s not a toll road) so the road surface isn’t super duper. No idea how google comes up with those ‘4 h 40 min’ travel time here since this is the road with the most topes in the world. A tope is a speed bump. Some of them are easily seen, others are hiding in the shadows. This road has 361 such topes! And that’s not an exaggeration, my friend and fellow traveler Sam had the patience to count them all. (If you want to know about food in North and South America, definitely check out her blog: !)

This road took us more than 7 hours (including lunch break) and it was really rough on the breaks. The hills and the stop and go around the topes gets them glowing. Also be warned that there are repeatedly road blocks here. Those road blocks are set up by locals with the purpose to raise awareness for some pressing topic. They simply don’t let you pass for a while, sometimes for hours.

SanCristobal - Palenque


The detour could be faster

What looks like a massive detour could be the fastest route. Even though you’re going in the opposite direction for a while, this route promises a smooth ride since it’s taking the toll road. Which means not much traffic and good street surface plus no topes. If the direct route mentioned above is blocked, this route here would be the fastest.

There are a couple of streets going straight North from San Cristobal, but those are free roads and the trip would take longer do to topes, and speed limits in small towns.

San Cristobal de las Casas - Palenque via Villahermosa

Coming from Campeche

The road coming from Campeche is good, includes paid parts and is an easy ride.

Campeche - Palenque
There are also roads coming from Guatemala but we haven’t taken those so, I can’t comment on them.

Have you been, or do you plan to go? Let me know in the comments!

Now hop over to instagram and follow us there: @pictheamericas so you can see where we are!


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  11 comments for “Palenque in just one hour! Should you do it? (video)

  1. Travelgal Nicole
    February 1, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Looks like a really cool place to explore – even if you only have an hour!

  2. February 1, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Nice post with a lot of useful information. Yes, unfortunately we don’t always have as much time at an attraction as we would like to. Just have to try and make the most of it!

  3. February 1, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Well done for taking the time to do this. There have been so many times in the past when I could have seen something during a layover in a different country I didn’t take the opportunity, and then live to regret it. ~~ Jay @BirdsOAFpress

  4. February 1, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I have never been here, but it looks awesome. It sounds like you were able to get a lot in, in the short amount of time. I can’t believe only 10% is discovered. I hope they uncover it all.

  5. February 1, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    I think 1 hour is better than nothing but it is a race against time! But always good to have a reason to go back. I like how you mapped out the different possible routes. Amazing that such a detour could be quicker than the direct route!

  6. February 1, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    I run into this issue while I am road tripping! It can be so frustrating, but I like that you went for it anyway. I need to start doing that. I almost missed the Kennedy Center because I didn’t think that I had time, and I would have really missed out.

  7. Karen
    February 2, 2017 at 3:55 am

    Good to know about the jungle entrance, thank you. The bats were actually cute!

  8. February 2, 2017 at 10:34 am

    I would have had similar thoughts about how much can really be seen in one hour but if the choice is ultimately see something or nothing I know which one I would prefer, especially if I wouldn’t necessarily be returning again.

  9. February 2, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    This is such a fantastic guide! It is definitely worth the visit and I love your video 🙂 One hour is better than nothing for sure!

  10. February 2, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing such an incredible place! I wonder, what was your favorite part of Palenque?

    • February 2, 2017 at 10:00 pm

      My favorite part was the feeling of being in the jungle and in this ancient place that is still so well preserved. I felt like I time traveled and it was easy for me to imagine the Mayan people in the plazas and temples. Thank you, Robyn, for stoping by!

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