Category Archives: Mexico

Palenque, Mexico

Mayan Ruins of Palenque – Transport, Accommodation & Agua Azul

After recently visiting the stunning Mayan ruins of Palenque and the nearby waterfalls of Agua Azul, I just knew I had to share about how I got there, where I stayed (and why) and about a separate activity, Agua Azul.

First of all, it is possible to visit the ruins and Agua Azul in one day. I did it and it wasn’t too rushed, although you need to start early.Palenque

How to get to the Mayan Ruins of Palenque

When you exit the main bus station in Palenque (this is where you will arrive by bus), you will see a roundabout which leads in a bunch of directions. For the purposes of this post, the main road in Palenque refers to the road which runs directly away from the bus terminal. Collectivos (shared minivans) come down this main road looking for passengers and one will find you as you set off at about 8am. So just wait anywhere along this road and a van will stop and ask if you’re going to “ruinas”. If you really want to be certain, just look at the sign in the window which also says “ruinas”. But seriously, they’re so desperate for passengers that they will find you. They’ll pick you up, maybe do a lap of the town and then head straight to the ruins.PalenqueFirst stop is to pay the National Park entry fee which is MX$65. Get back on the same collectivo and you will be taken to the ticket office for the ruins (there is one ticket booth for the national park and one for the ruins in separate locations). Pay the driver MX$20 per person for his services and get on your way.

After buying your entry ticket for MX$65 (this is the second entry fee — 65 for ruins + 65 for national park), you can enter the ruins area. I read one post which said you can spin through it in an hour. And while that’s true, you will be missing a lot of the ruins because some of them are a fair hike up and down lots of steps. I think it took me about 2 hours and I was done by then. Collectivos returning to town are waiting where they dropped you off. Just hop on one and it will leave within 5 minutes and drop you wherever you want along the main road in Palenque.Palenque

How to get to Agua Azul

Because at this stage it’s just before midday, it’s a good opportunity to grab a quick bite to eat in Palenque itself. I thought Las Tinajas was good. Massive portions big enough to share between 2 people. Seriously. After this, head back down the main road and look for the collectivo station. You’ll notice a bunch of collectivos, a bunch of guys and lots of offers of collectivos to places like Agua Azul. Pick one guy (there are different operators), pay your MX$40, hop on the collectivo and wait for it to fill up with other passengers. The ride out to Agua Azul takes about an hour and a half along a road known for banditry at night. In the daytime it seemed pretty normal and safe.Agua AzulYou’ll be dropped off at the turn off to Agua Azul where there are pickup trucks waiting to take you to the entrance. Pickup trucks are MX$20 per person which is a ripoff, but walking isn’t really an option unless you arrive really early in the day, have heaps of time and no money. Entry to the waterfall is MX$40. The waterfall is a stunning blue and it’s worth having a dip in the pristine waters. Sadly, much of the area is off limits for reasons unknown, but rumoured to be related to safety.

Getting back to Palenque is exactly the opposite of what you just did. Pickup back to the top, wait for a collectivo to pass by and you’re on your way.

It’s actually worthwhile doing this as a one day trip if you don’t have that much time and don’t intend to spend hour upon hour at the ruins. That way you can catch the night bus from Palenque to some place like Tulum, Playa Del Carmen or Cancun. It all matches up quite nicely.

Accommodation in Palenque

One of the big decisions when in Palenque is to toss up between staying in the jungle near the ruins or staying in town. I decided to stay in town. Initially I had wanted to stay in the jungle because it’s cheaper and more towards my style of accommodation — something a little unique. But I read online story after story of countless hippies with bongo drums partying the night away. If you’re not a hippie, you are going to hate that. Nothing worse than a drum circle when you’re on the outside of it. Pretty sure there would have been fire twirlers, hoola hoops, lots of festy hair and plenty of weed.

I stayed at Hotel Maya Rue which was pretty expensive really. Most of the hotels in town are. But I think it’s a better option to stay in town. Especially because you then have a wide range of food choices which are miles cheaper than the monopoly in the forest. So yeah, you spend more on accommodation, less on food. Works out pretty similar in the end, especially if your hotels gives a free brekky.

Check the price of Hotel Maya Rue on Agoda.

Check the price of Palenque hotels in general on Agoda.

Check the price of Hotel Maya Rue on Booking.com.

Check the price of Palenque hotels in general on Booking.com.

So there you have it. My mini guide to Palenque and Agua Azul. It’s a pretty nifty spot well-worth a visit on your trip through southern Mexico.

Visiting Teotihuacan Independently

How to get to Teotihuacan Independently Without a Tour

One of the things you’re going to want to do when you’re in Mexico City is go to Teotihuacan. Located about 1 hour out of town, it’s an easy place to visit on a half day trip by public transport. Why visit Teotihuacan independently vs taking a tour? Because it’s much cheaper and much quicker. Tours generally cost about 300 pesos, take all day and include lots of stops at shops. Visiting independently costs 167 pesos including entry tickets and all transport to and from your hotel in Mexico City.Teotihuacan

How to visit Teotihuacan from Mexico City Without a Tour

  1. Catch a metro train to Autobuses del Norte for 5 pesos. This metro stop is right at the northern bus station, so you don’t need to worry about walking anywhere. Just get out of the metro station and you’re at the bus station. You can also catch an uber there from central Mexico City for about 50 pesos.
  2. From Autobuses del Norte, search for the Teotihuacan counter. It’s located right next to gate number 8 inside the bus terminal building. Ask for a ticket to Teotihuacan (there will probably be other people asking too) and they will give you a return ticket as well. It costs 46 pesos each way and the price is clearly marked on the ticket they give you and the sign behind the counter. This price will rise as time goes by, so don’t be surprised if it’s 60 pesos each way by the time you read this.
  3. Go through gate 8 and look for the Teotihuacan bus. I didn’t know which exact platform my bus was at so I had to ask. It turns out it was about 5 platforms away from the very end of the terminal (the end that gate 8 is located). There will be a sign on the front of the bus which says Teotihuacan.
  4. Hop on the bus and it takes about an hour to get to Teotihuacan. Staff will shout out that you’re at Teotihuacan when you arrive at Gate 1 so you don’t have to worry about missing your stop. You will know.
  5. Get off the bus and pay your entrance fee of 65 pesos. This price is continually rising and is displayed at the front so you don’t get ripped off. Again, prices will probably have gone up by the time you read this.
  6. Enjoy the day at Teotihuacan. Plan on minimum of 1 hour, maximum of 2 hours.Teotihuacan without tour
  7. Find your return bus. This is where things can get confusing. My ticket stated that the bus picks up from gate 2, but this isn’t true. The bus actually picked up from gate 3 because there was roadwork blocking access at gate 2. Whatever the case, go to either gate 2 or 3. If gate 2 isn’t operating, the touts will tell you go to gate 3, 300m up the road. Buses will come by every 12 minutes and will have “Teotihuacan” in big writing on the side. There will be other people waiting for the bus.
  8. From here, the bus will travel into the nearby town and pick up a bunch of passengers before heading down the freeway to Autobuses deal Norte.Dogs at Teotihuacan

And there you have it. An independent visit to Teotihuacan without taking a tour!

Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

If you want to add to your daytrip, you can get off your return bus at Deportivo 18 de Marzo and catch the metro 1 stop to La Villa – Basilica (in the direction of Martin Carrera) where you can see the fantastic Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Note: you will walk about 500m inside Deportivo 18 de Marzo station because you will be catching the train on the red line whereas the entrance you will come in through is closer to the Olive line. This is easy to follow as it is well signposted inside the station – simply follow the signs to Martin Carrera. No problemo! Deportivo 18 de Marzo is 1 stop on the bus after Indios Verdes. If you miss this stop, don’t worry. You can also catch the Metro from Autobuses del Norte, but it takes just a little bit longer.Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe

Teotihuacan is a top day trip from Mexico City. With a side trip to Basilica Guadalupe, it’ll be awesome and cheap because you did it without a tour.