30 amazing things to do in San Cristóbal, Chiapas (San Cris travel guide)
Nestled in the highland forests of Chiapas, a departure from the sweltering jungles and ancient ruins that abound in Mexico’s southernmost state, the little mountain town of San Cristóbal de las Casas (or San Cris, as it’s affectionately known) is a true gem.
This beautiful colonial town is a haven for conscious travellers and nomads, drawing expats from every corner of the globe and as many Mexican from around the country to its cobbled lanes, organic markets, co-working cafes, and simple living at 2,200m. With an abundance of traditional culture, holistic wellness practices, beautiful nature, and a truly unparalleled international food scene, San Cris is a popular stop on backpacker itineraries through Mexico— but there’s really no describing the energy of this place and just how deeply it draws you in.
After falling hopelessly in love with San Cris on my 6-month roadtrip through Mexico in 2022, I ended up coming back and renting an apartment at the end of 2023, calling San Cris home for a few magical months. This post is a collection of all my favourite places and experiences around San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, including the best things to do in and around town, can’t-miss local culture, fantastic restaurants & bars, and the best day trips across the state!
What's in this travel guide
1 | Free walking tour in San Cris
One of my favourite things to do when I arrive into any city is a free walking tour— this is the best way to get an overview of San Cris, learn a little about the local culture and history, and discover places you want to go back for a longer visit!
This 3hr walking tour runs in English twice a day (10am and 4pm) and, although “free”, operates on a donation-basis: expect to tip at least 100p ($5USD) per person, but of course more is always appreciated. There’s no need to sign up, you can just meet the group at the wooden cross in Plaza de la Paz.
During my time living in San Cris, I became good friends with the guys who run the free walking tour (Claudio and Carlos), so this recommendation also comes with the assurance that you will be among the BEST people who have so much love for this town. These guys also coordinate traditional temazcales, pub crawls, and day trips to neighbouring communities and natural attractions around San Cris, so just chat them up and they will help you out with endless recommendations!
2 | San Cristóbal Cathedral & Plaza de la Paz
One of the most iconic spots in San Cris is the bright yellow San Cristóbal Cathedral located within Plaza de la Paz (which you would have seen at the start of the Free Walking Tour described above). The cathedral was constructed in 1528 and renovated several times in the 18th and 19th centuries following large earthquakes, the baroque façade and gilded interior a nod to the town’s colonial roots.
The plaza in front of the cathedral is always abuzz with activity, acting as a popular gathering place for locals and travellers alike, but it’s at its most lively during the night markets that take place every day from 6pm. This is a great place to stock up on local souvenirs or simply enjoy the festive atmosphere!
3 | Real de Guadalupe
To experience some instant San Cris magic, head to Real de Guadalupe, which is without cars for several blocks between the Zócalo and Guadalupe Church. This pedestrian-only street street is lined with colourful restaurants and bars that spill out onto the cobblestones, a mix of artisan and souvenir shops, and is always bustling with activity.
There are dozens of spots I could recommend along this street (see my restaurant recommendations below), but a San Cris classic is Viña de Bacco, a wine & tapas bar that offers the perfect people-watching vantage point!
4 | Templo de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe
Perched on a hill at the far end of Real de Guadalupe, climb the 80 yellow steps up to Guadalupe Church for sweeping views over San Cris. This is an incredibly popular sunset spot, but it’s worth a visit any time of day!
The church was built in 1834 to honour Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, who is said to have miraculously appeared to an Aztec man near modern-day Mexico City several hundred years ago.
Although religious in origin, Our Lady of Guadalupe has become an incredibly powerful symbol of Mexican identity, with cultural significance that extends well beyond Catholicism; head bowed and hands pressed together in prayer, she is seen as an eternal symbol motherhood, feminism, and social justice that has become ubiquitous across Mexico. And if you happen to be in San Cris on 12 December, you’ll witness massive local celebrations in her honour!
5 | Catch live music in the Zócalo
San Cristóbal’s lively Zócalo (central square) is another of the town’s popular gathering spots.
Benches in the leafy park make for a great place to sit and people-watch during the day and most Thursday-Saturday nights feature some form of live music, often with a group of revellers dancing up in the gazebo. My first week in town, a local woman grabbed me by the hand and pulled me up the stairs to join in the swirl of activity and it remains one of my favourite memories here in San Cris!
6 | Yoga at Ananda
San Cris attracts a very spiritual, mind-and-body sort of traveller, so it’s no surprise that there are also a number of yoga studios around town. The most centrally located of these is Ananda Yoga, a beautiful studio right on Real de Guadalupe that offers a range of different classes throughout the week.
Single classes are 150-200p ($9-12USD), but if you’re sticking around for a while, multi-class passes offer a substantial discount (around 100p or $6 per class)!
7 | Rock climbing at El Arcotete
Right on the outskirts of San Cris (just 10-15min from the centre of town), the sprawling grounds of El Arcotete Parque Ecoturístico are a nature-lover’s paradise, replete with hiking trails, limestone caves, natural arches, and fantastic sport climbing routes.
Although you can absolutely visit El Arcotete on your own for an afternoon of exploring (entry 20p; get here in a colectivo for 15p or a taxi for about 80p), it’s incredibly fun to climb on the feature-heavy limestone! The local climbing shop La Roca heads out to Arcotete a couple times a week on half-day excursions and you can join a guide for just 500p ($29USD) per person, including gear hire!
8 | Parque El Encuentro
Another of the beautiful eco-parks surrounding San Cris, Parque El Encuentro is even closer to the centre of town (4km) and can easily be explored on foot; entry is just 20p ($1.2USD). There are heaps of trails and picnic areas along the river, as well as community yoga classes and permaculture workshops, but if you’re really lucky, the park also hosts a number of music festivals throughout the year and this is my absolute favourite way to experience El Encuentro! Check their schedule of events here.
Other eco-parks around San Cris worth checking out: Reserva Huitepec, Grutas de Rancho Nuevo & Grutas del Mamut
9 | Moxviquil Orchid Garden
One of the lesser-known but perhaps most spectacular natural areas to explore around San Cris is Moxviquil, a vibrant botanical garden home to hundreds of species of orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and cacti, as well as a network of hiking trails that wind through the reserve.
Chiapas is the most biodiverse state in all of Mexico, home to over 700 species of orchid, and Moxviquil has worked hard to preserve that diversity by rescuing flowers near extinction in their natural areas, cataloguing the range of species, and planting those orchids and other epiphytes (plants that live on other plants) into the mossy arms of endemic oak and manzanillo trees to create a sort of ‘living museum’.
You can walk to the Reserva Ecológica y Jardín de Orquídeas Moxviquil in about 30min from the centre of town. Entry is 50p ($3USD) for the gardens only or 90p ($5.2USD) for the gardens and the hiking trails, which I’d highly recommend!
Following the signed dirt trail up into the hills, you’ll pass mossy caves (which you can crawl through for a hair-raising distance) and an incredible array of plantlife before popping out of the trees to an aerial view of San Cris. In all likelihood, you’ll have it entirely to yourself.
10 | Kinoki
This small but passionate local cultural centre hosts frequent documentary screenings, typically focused on the experience of indigenous communities and cultural traditions around Chiapas. It’s a fantastic opportunity to discover a little more about this incredibly rich and diverse region of Mexico!
In addition to the cinema, Kinoki also has a rooftop terrace with a great view over town, serving a surprisingly extensive menu of food and drinks. Stop by to pick up the monthly schedule in print or visit their website to see what’s on when you’re in town.
11 | Panteón San Cristóbal de las Casas
A cemetery may seem a strange travel recommendation, but there’s perhaps no better way to understand the relationship that Mexicans have with death, and therefore to appreciate their entire philosophy of life, than to walk among the tombstones in the local Panteón de San Cristóbal de las Casas.
On weekends and particularly in the weeks approaching Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), the cemetery erupts with activity as entire families pile in to honour their dead with lively taco cook-ups, free-flowing pox or mezcal, and energetic cumbia mexicana. As long as you aren’t shoving your camera in people’s faces, it’s perfectly acceptable for foreigners to do some casual spectating of these festivities— you might even get invited over for a drink!
12 | Sweat in a traditional temazcal
Temazcal (meaning “house of heat” in Nahuatl) refers to a type of rustic dome-shaped sweat lodge that has been used by indigenous communities in southern Mexico for thousands of years as a means of cleansing the spirit and connecting with Madre Tierra (Mother Earth).
Much more than just a sauna, there is a powerful ritual surrounding temazcal and it can be an amazingly transformative experience, something to be undertaken with intention and respect. Most ceremonies last about 3hrs and include 90min within the temazcal, during which time you’ll be singing, chanting, sweating, and connecting with yourself in the darkness; the rest is in honour of the elements and in acknowledgment of your intentions.
This is truly one of the most authentic experiences you can have in Mexico and I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in indigenous tradition and ancient spirituality! There are a few local families in San Cris who operate group temazcales; the guys who run the free walking tour can help coordinate a shared experience with other travellers OR you can send me an email if you’d like contact details for the local Mayan shaman who also hosts community/private temazcales in her yard. Expect to pay 500-1000p ($30-60USD) depending on how many people are sharing.
13 | Cacao ceremony with a Mayan shaman
During my time living in San Cris, I visited a Mayan shaman on several occasions— it might sound like airy-fairy nonsense (and as a scientist, I certainly don’t subscribe to things like moon signs), but Xmal, the third in a lineage of local Tzotzil shaman who’ve spent their entire lives learning and practicing ancient Mayan spirituality, was an amazingly insightful woman who actually helped me so much on the journey to reconnect with myself after trauma.
Cacao has been used in ritual practices by the indigenous Tzotzil people of Chiapas for thousands of years as a means to reconnect the heart and spirit with the earth, believed to be a powerful catalyst for internal and external harmony. During a cacao ceremony, which typically lasts 2-3hrs, you’ll create a sacred altar that honours the elements, perform a lot of singing and dancing, revisit memories of past trauma and reprocess them in present time, and finally prepare and drink the raw cacao.
The shaman worked with me prior to the ceremony to really understand what I was hoping to gain from it and guided me through the process; it was incredibly transformative and extremely personalised. If you want to tap into some of the ancient Mayan wisdom that has guided natives for thousands of years and gain a deeper appreciation for local indigenous culture, a cacao ceremony is very special. Send me an email and I’ll pass on contact details for Xmal (who does speak some English)!
14 | Visit local indigenous communities
Chiapas is home to one of Mexico’s largest and most diverse indigenous populations and, as you’ve probably ascertained from some of the previous entries on this list, it’s an extremely important part of the culture around San Cris! One of the best ways to gain an appreciation for the unique and fascinating customs of local indigenous peoples is to visit a few of the communities in the surrounding area.
Visiting these communities with a local guide is incredibly valuable, as they will be able to provide information and insight into the regional traditions beyond what you might learn just by walking around. My friend Cesar at Like A Local San Cris coordinates day trips out to the communities that can be customised based on your itinerary and interests; popular options include:
- San Juan Chamula (more on this one below)
- & dozens of others within easy distance of San Cris!
15 | San Juan Chamula
Among the most fascinating indigenous communities near San Cris is the small town of San Juan Chamula, the principal settlement and religious centre of the Tzotzil people, with a population around 80,000. Chamula has fought fiercely over the years to retain its autonomy, resisting the Spanish colonisers in 1524 and later staging a fierce rebellion against local government in 1869; to this day, no outside police or military are permitted to enter the town, which has its own laws and police force.
What makes San Juan Chamula so uniquely interesting is its religion, a blend of Catholicism and ancient Mayan Ritual quite unlike anything else in Mexico. No photos are allowed inside the church, but foreigners can visit during the day to walk through the smoke-filled Temple of San Juan and witness some of the local mysticism.
As thousands of candles flicker, revellers kneel on the bed of pine needles that cover the floor to perform ritual cleansings involving homemade pox (the local corn spirit), eggs (which are used to collect, and then ceremoniously broken to release, bad spirits), and even live chickens (whose throats are cut right inside the church for the same purpose). It is one of the oldest living examples of ritual sacrifice that exists within Mexico and a pretty incredible thing to behold. I would highly recommend going with a guide to get more out of your experience!
16 | Mercado Municipal de San Cristóbal de las Casas
Markets are always a fantastic window into local life and the Mercado Municipal de San Cristóbal de las Casas is an excellent place to delve deeper into local culture!
Beyond the stalls selling embroidered handicrafts and amber necklaces (extracted in Chiapas since pre-hispanic times), you’ll also discover drums of dried chiles, sachets of every conceivable spice, rows of freshly-slaughtered chickens, local produce piled high in small buckets, enormous crystals of copal (a tree resin burned widely throughout the region), and aisles overflowing with candles in a kaleidoscope of colours, used to build altars honouring the dead or in important spiritual rituals, such as cacao ceremonies. It’s a spectacular place to get lost for an hour or two.
17 | Cooking class with El Tzitz
One of my favourite things about Mexico is how inextricably connected food and culture are, every dish a celebration of local heritage and uniquely representative of the area from which it was born. Dig dipper into Chiapaneca cuisine with a traditional cooking class at El Tzitz!
Classes begin with a walking tour through the Mercado Municipal de San Cristóbal de las Casas to source fresh ingredients and then group preparation of several dishes; the exact menu is chosen by whomever signs up for the class first, so try to secure your dates early if you have something specific in mind. After all your hard work, you’ll get to sit down to your own delicious meal! Classes are $45USD and run 3-4hrs.
18 | Chocolate workshop with Jangala
So much more than just a delicious chocolate shop in town (which, WOW, it really is), Jangala is a bean-to-bar cacao project dedicated to the ethical and sustainable production of chocolate with a focus on the environment and the community.
With the ballooning international demand for chocolate (forecasted to exceed supply in the near future), huge swathes of forest around the world have been destroyed to make way for densely planted cacao trees, but the founders of Jangala have been working with local farmers to develop more environmentally-conscious cacao farming practices, utilising knowledge of symbiotic plant relationships and resource distribution to minimise deforestation while also maximising yield. They have also provided support and resources to local communities in the implementation of these practices in an effort to create jobs with fair wages.
The project is admirable and you should absolutely swing by the shop for a hot drink, homemade ice cream, or some of their incredible chocolate, but if you’re interested in learning more, you can also sign up for a chocolate making workshop that includes a detailed look at the production process, a professional tasting, and the opportunity to make 2 of your own chocolate bars.
I’m not even the biggest chocolate person, but I absolutely LOVED this experience and the opportunity to support a very important local project! The class was 3hrs and cost 1150p ($68USD), including a drink at the shop and 2 chocolate bars to take home.
19 | Sample the local spirit pox
Much like mezcal in Oaxaca, Chiapas has its own regional spirit with thousands of years of history: pox (posh).
Spring water, sugar cane, corn, and wheat bran are combined within a wooden still, stirred every couple hours for an entire day before being left to ferment for a week to create the pre-hispanic drink chicha, which is also popular in Andean cultures of South America. Chicha is then further distilled to create pox, the local spirit that you’ll see throughout Chiapas, from the trendy bars of San Cris to the candle-filled Templo de San Juan in Chamula (widely used in ritual practice and believed by the Tzotzil to have medicinal qualities).
If you’re keen to sample a bit of pox, head to La Espirituosa, which stocks a range of flavours from the local brand Poxna, owned by my lovely friend Sofi. This is the final stop on the free walking tour mentioned earlier in this list and does include a short guided tasting, but you can also try pox anytime just by popping in!
20 | Best local artisan shops to support in San Cris
A few of my favourite local small businesses to support around town:
- Espabilo Studio: this female-owned shop on Real de Guadalupe stocks beautiful prints, shirts, mugs, jewellery, and a range of other art from a selection of local female and queer artists; Ana also has a tattoo studio behind the shop (I’ve gotten several amazing fine-line tattoos from her) and, along with her partner Maria, occasionally hosts second-hand market days with used goods, food, and drinks
- Casa Boho: not far from Espabilo, this little shop has simple and beautiful handmade outfits and homewares
- La Espirituosa: the last stop on the free walking tour and a lovely cafe, La Espirituosa also stocks a range of products from local artists and brewers, including shirts, glasses, kombucha, craft beer, and more
- Ainhoa Jewelry: gorgeous and unique handmade jewellery
- Rojo Pitaya: a small boutique selling clothes, homewares, organic beauty products, and some small-batch consumables, like salsa and tea
21 | Best organic markets in San Cris
San Cris is home to several great organic market and health food shops where you can stock up on fresh local groceries:
- Rancho Lum Ha: located right next La Espirituosa, this is a small farm-to-shop project that sells amazing kombucha, fresh produce, herbs, cheese, and other healthy treats; the owners also coordinate visits to their farm if you’re interested in learning more!
- Rincón Coleto: small shop with a range of regional health food products, including nuts, seeds, apple cider vinegar, and the like
- Tianguis Market: every Saturday, this small courtyard space transforms into an organic market with local produce, dairy, meat, kombucha, tortillas, eco-friendly cleaning products, and even a few stalls selling hot food
- Mento Pitaya: fantastic range of sustainable beauty products, including shampoo bars, by-the-mL soaps and lotions, chapstick, etc
22 | Best restaurants in San Cris
In a city renowned for its incredible food scene, I went on a personal mission to eat at 1 new restaurant EVERY day for the entire 2 months that I lived in San Cris in order to assemble a “best of” list for my blog! The full post is imminent, but here’s a look at some of my rankings!
- best authentic local food: Comal
- best gourmet Mexican: Xut
- best street tacos: Achiote Cochinita Pibil
- best seafood tacos: Taquería El Bony
- best healthy brunch: Aguacate Veggie Bar
- best bakery: Panadería Artesanal Roots
- best chilaquiles: Astro Cafe (salsa verde con aguacate)
- best Italian: Trattoria Catanzaro (homemade pasta!)
- best Labanese: Malaak al Horno
- best Indonesian: Casa Jasmine (vegan!)
- best Thai: Bangcook
- best Indian: Cardamomo
- best Korean: Casa de Ahn
- best ice cream: Jangala (bean to bar chocolate)
23 | Best bars in San Cris
A few of my favourite spots to drink around town:
- La Viña de Bacco: beloved wine & tapas bar on Real de Guadalupe where you can get a glass of house red for just 28p ($1.5USD)
- Naufragio: large brewery with multiple bars serving a variety of beers and other spirits, always lively in the evenings and on weekends— very popular with locals!
- Nostalgia: Oaxacan restaurants serving excellent cocktails in their charming outdoor courtyard
- Ginger Lab: trendy rooftop cocktail bar above El Caldero with excellent drinks and even better views
- La Xangarra: in a town as small as San Cris, there are somehow 3 tapas bars, but this is my next favourite, a teeny little spot next to Kinoki that also serves excellent empanadas
24 | Best cafes for digital nomads in San Cris
Home to a huge digital nomad population, San Cristóbal is overflowing with trendy cafes where you can post up to work for the afternoon. These are some of my personal favourites in town; every single spot on this list has good wifi and comfortable tables!
- Aguacate Veggie Bar: fantastic food and fast wifi in this intimate little cafe with indoor seating (the ultimate brunch menu for 180p on weekends)
- Casa Jasmine: this Indonesian restaurant slash co-living space is a great place to hang out and get work down while enjoying some of the best food in all of San Cris (menu del día 140p)
- Frontera/La Espirituosa: 2 cafes share this leafy courtyard space with fast wifi; menu options are extensive, from chilaquiles and sandwiches to coffee and smoothies
- Sarajevo Cafe: indoor cafe with a fantastic menu del día (lunch served 1-6pm; 150p) and lots of tables
- Kukulpan: bakery serving up some of the most reasonably priced brunch/lunch and fresh juice in town, with nice outdoor seating
- Astro Cafe: charming outdoor courtyard with cozy seating and the best chilaquiles in town
~ Best day trips & overnighters from San Cris
25 | Sumidero Canyon & Chiapa de Corzo
distance from San Cris: 1.5hrs
Carved by the powerful Río Grijalva some 5 million years ago, Sumidero Canyon is a spectacular natural wonder and the second-most visited site in all of Chiapas, following the ruins of Palenque (#30 on this list!). The canyon is accessible from several spots, including the Pueblo Mágico Chiapa de Corzo— as one of Mexico’s specially designated ‘Magic Towns’, it is a beautiful place to explore either before or after your journey onto the river.
Although the canyon is a mere 13km long, its steep vertical walls soar as high as 1km above the water’s surface and support a vibrant array of vegetation and wildlife, including hundreds of plant species, dozens of orchid varietals, herons, spider monkeys, butterflies, and the delightful river crocodile. The canyon is best explored on a 2hr boat ride, which is like a mini-safari!
You can expect to pay around 250p ($15USD) for the boat tour in Chiapa de Corso or around 50op ($30USD) for a half-day tour from San Cris that includes the boat and a stop in town.
26 | El Aguacero waterfall
distance from San Cris: 2hrs
North of San Cris, this incredible waterfall deep within the Cañon Río La Venta is a true adventure, with the opportunity to scramble all over the grippy rock in search of warm pools, mossy ledges, and hidden cascadas. El Aguacero is part of an underground river within the El Encanto cave system, and both the geology and ecology of this area are incredibly unique.
As of mid-2022 (last I visited), entry to El Aguacero was 54p ($3USD). Tours are possible from San Cris, but it’s perhaps best reached with your own car.
27 | El Chiflón waterfalls
distance from San Cris: 2.5hrs
Among the most visually striking of Chiapas’ many cascadas, El Chiflón Ecotourism Park protects a large section of river and 5 spectacular turquoise waterfalls (as well as countless other smaller waterfalls throughout). It’s one of the most magical places and absolutely perfect for an entire day of swimming, lounging, and picnicking!
As of early 2024, entrance to El Chiflón is just 80p ($4.75USD) per person.
After entering the park, a dirt path follows the river for about 20min to reach the first falls, Cascada El Suspiro (The Sigh), right near the cabañas and tent camping area. On this walk, the river becomes gradually deeper and more striking in colour, collecting into massive aquamarine pools— this is where I’d recommend stopping for a swim and afternoon picnic!
From the first falls, it’s only a short distance to reach the second, Cascada Ala de Ángel (Angel Wing Falls), equally spectacular in colour and power. Continuing upwards, the third and most famous waterfall at El Chiflón finally comes into view: Cascada Velo de Novia or Bridal Veil Falls (which must be one of the most popular waterfall names worldwide).
Very few tourists venture beyond this point, but you can also hike to viewpoints of the final 2 falls: Cascada Arcoíris (Rainbow Falls) and Cascada Quinceañera (named for the traditional celebration in Mexican culture of a girl’s 15th birthday). Both of these upper waterfalls are absolutely spectacular and, on your way down, there’s even a zipline around Cascada Velo de Novia! In warm weather, you can easily occupy a full day at El Chiflón and a visit to the nearby Cenote Chukumaltik.
28 | Lagunas de Montebello National Park
distance from San Cris: 3hrs
Home to 59 lakes of various sizes and in a kaleidoscope of colours, the Lagunas de Montebello National Park in southern Chiapas also protects hundreds of species of orchids, bromeliads, birds, and fungi, making it among the most biodiverse areas in state. Enjoy a network of hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, paddlesports, and even a quick trip across the border into Guatemala! As of early 2024, entrance fees are just 58p ($3USD) per person.
Some of my favourite lakes to check out in the park include:
- Cinco Lagos: interconnected series of lakes visible from a mirador (Tip: if you walk down to the lakes, you can hire a small boat to visit interesting natural features, including a cenote!)
- Lago Pojoj: one of the prettiest lakes, with abundant flowers and a small island in the middle, which you can visit by kayak or wooden raft!
- Lago Montebello: somewhat underwhelming lake from which it’s super easy to organise horse riding tours into the surrounding forest to see additional hidden lakes!
- Lago Tziscao: large and very deep lake with plentiful camping and cabañas, and one of the only spots where you’re permitted to launch your own kayak/SUP in the national park!
- Lago Internacional: the international border between Mexico and Guatemala runs right through the middle of this little lake, and it’s even possible to walk across to Guatemala and explore a lively market! (Tip: Lago Internacional is just a short walk from Tziscao, so explore these together)
- Lagunas de Colores: these 5 lakes of varying colours (from bright green to deep blue) can be explored on a short hiking trail
29 | Arco del Tiempo
distance from San Cris: 3.5hrs
Arco del Tiempo (the Arch of Time) is the largest natural rock arch in the world, but due to its remote location in northern Chiapas, it is almost completely undeveloped and below the tourist radar. It forms part of an ancient karst cave system that is more than 87,000 years old, its limestone walls extending for 84km and rising up to 500m above the Río La Venta, and it is considered one of the most spectacular natural adventures in the area.
This is the only thing on this list that I haven’t done personally; water levels were not high enough during the time I lived in Chiapas to visit Arco del Tiempo, but I was assured by numerous local friends that this is THE adventure! Look for tours offering a mix of hiking, kayaking, and camping along the river over 2 or 3 days!
30 | Palenque Ruins & National Park
distance from San Cris: 5.5hrs
The most visited tourist site in Chiapas, Palenque is a spectacular Mayan site inhabited from roughly 200-800CE, with the city-state at the height of its power around the 7th century. The ruins here are incredibly striking, a real work of art and a staggering snapshot of Mayan civilisation. Howler monkeys sound in the distance and cheeky spider monkeys swing in the branches overhead— it’s a real jungle out here and you can almost imagine the wild conditions of life!
Venturing into Palenque National Park, you can also explore hiking paths like the Motiepá Trail, which meanders past “forgotten” ruins lost to the vines and roots of the jungle— only 2% of the Mayan ruins around Palenque have actually been excavated, so there exists a great deal of history and mystery to the area surrounding this spectacular 3rd-century city in the jungle.
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