How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (2024)




OverviewCompareBusFlight + BusTo Stay

How to get from Merida to Palenque

If you’re interested in Mayan history and archaeological ruins, you will love Palenque.

The Palenque Archaeological Complex is the second most visited in the country and dates back to 226 B.C. Another great thing about the ruins is that they’re only 15 minutes outside of town.

The Palenque ruins are set amongst the jungle, giving the whole complex an Indiana Jones feel to it. Although the structures are impressive, they are unfortunately not as well-preserved as Chichen Itza. Still, some people actually prefer Palenque’s ruins because you’re able to climb on them, literally taking the experience to whole new heights.

After an archaeological adventure, you can visit some waterfalls and lagoons, the perfect place to relax and provide a welcome relief from the heat. Some of our favourites are the impressive Misol-Ha waterfall, the stunning Agua Azul waterfalls and Catazaja Lagoons.

New to Palenque? Our compact Palenque guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Palenque!

2 ways to get from Merida to Palenque

Transport ModeDurationCostsAvailability
Bus9 hours1 MXN ($59.00)Check Bus Tickets
Flight + Bus5.5 hours1 MXN ($80.00)Check Flights

The main way to travel the 530 km (329 miles) from Merida to Palenque is a 9-hour bus that costs 1 MXN ($59.00). Alternatively, you can take a 5.5-hour flight (including a 2-hour bus and waiting time at the airport) with combined rates from 1 MXN ($80.00).

The bus is hands down the easiest way to get from Merida to Palenque. Direct buses are available 3x a day and if you take a night bus, you can save not only on daytime but also a night in accommodation.

If you want to avoid sitting on a bus for 9 hours, you can also take a flight. However, there is no airport in Palenque so you can only take a flight to Villahermosa and then take a bus or private transfer from there to Palenque. Also, direct flights from Merida to Villahermosa are only available on Mondays and Fridays.

So that’s a 1-hour flight, 2-hour bus, and if you add the airport transfers and waiting time for your flight, travel time will take around 5.5 hours. Given the schedules and the number of transfers, we think that it will be much more comfortable and convenient to take a direct bus from Merida to Palenque.

TIP: If you decide to travel by plane, please consider including a carbon compensation fee to help reduce your impact on the environment.

Merida to Palenque by Bus

Duration: 9 hours

Cost: 1 MXN ($59.00)

Duration: 9 hours

Cost: 1 MXN ($59.00)

Despite the long 9-hour journey, we still think the bus is the better way to get from Merida to Palenque. You can just sit back, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up in Palenque.

Step 1: City Centre to Merida Bus Terminal

Duration: 5 minutes

Cost: 50 MXN ($2.90)

Duration: 5 minutes

Cost: 50 MXN ($2.90)

Buses from Merida to Palenque depart from the main bus station called CAME. This station is conveniently located in the city centre and within walking distance of many hostels and hotels.

It’s faster and easier to get to the bus terminal by taxi with fares from 50 MXN ($2.90).

Step 2: Merida to Palenque by Bus

Duration: 8hrs 50m

Cost: 920 MXN ($53.00)

Duration: 8hrs 50m

Cost: 920 MXN ($53.00)

Buses from Merida to Palenque depart three times a day, with one departure in the morning and two in the evening. Because the journey takes almost 9 hours, we recommend taking a night bus. Note that the buses only come with reclining seats, not sleeper beds. Still comfortable, but may not be suitable for some travellers.

ADO, Mexico’s largest bus company, operates the buses for this route. ADO is known for its great service, with buses equipped with AC, reclining seats and a toilet.

The bus journey from Merida to Palenque takes almost 9 hours, including a few stops for food and bathroom breaks. A bus ticket costs 920 MXN ($53.00).

Bus schedule from Merida to Palenque

Bus OperatorSchedulesCosts
ADO08:30 – 17:20
14:00 – 22:50
22:00 – 06:50
23:30 – 08:20
920 MXN ($53.00)
Check Bus Tickets

Night buses do tend to sell out quickly, especially on weekends, so it is better to book ahead online. We recommend doing so via BookAway because they do not add any hidden fees.

If you prefer to buy your tickets at the bus station, make sure to get there at least 30 minutes before departure time.

Step 2: Palenque Bus Terminal to City Centre

Duration: 5 – 10 minutes

Cost: 60 MXN ($3.40)

Duration: 5 – 10 minutes

Cost: 60 MXN ($3.40)

Once you arrive in Palenque, the bus will drop you off at the Central Bus Terminal, where you’ll find the main square just a 10-minute walk away.

If you’re staying outside of town, or just don’t want to walk around with all your luggage, the best option is to take a taxi with rates starting from 60 MXN ($3.40).

Merida to Palenque by Flight

Duration: 5.5 hours (incl. waiting time for flight)

Cost: 1 MXN ($80.00)

Duration: 5.5 hours (incl. waiting time for flight)

Cost: 1 MXN ($80.00)

When taking a flight from Merida to Palenque, you can only fly up to Villahermosa. From here, you’ll have to travel another 145 km southeast by land to Palenque.

Step 1: City Centre to Merida Airport

Duration: 20 minutes

Cost: 200 MXN ($11.50)

Duration: 20 minutes

Cost: 200 MXN ($11.50)

Flights depart from Merida Airport, located 10 km southwest of the city and only accessible by taxi.

Taxi rates from the tourist area to Merida Airport range from 200 MXN ($11.50) and 250 MXN ($14.50), depending on the location of your hotel.

Step 2: Merida to Villahermosa by Flight

Duration: 1hr 10m

Cost: 835 MXN ($48.50)

Duration: 1hr 10m

Cost: 835 MXN ($48.50)

Again, from Merida, the nearest airport to Palenque that you can fly to is Villahermosa Airport. However, it’s important to keep in mind that direct flights from Merida to Villahermosa depart only on Mondays and Fridays.

Viva Aerobus is the only airline offering direct flights for this route. If their flight departures don’t fit your schedule, the only alternative is an indirect flight with a layover in Mexico City.

However, taking an indirect flight doesn’t make sense because it will take at least 4.5 hours. Your total travel time will then take about 7 hours plus a 2-hour waiting time at the airport – longer than a direct bus.

Ticket prices for a direct flight from Merida to Villahermosa start from 835 MXN ($48.50) and the journey takes a little over an hour.

Check Flights with Skyscanner

TIP: Book your flights from Merida to Villahermosa a few weeks in advance to get better deals!

Step 3: Villahermosa Airport to Palenque by Bus

Duration: 2hrs 10m

Cost: 350 MXN ($20.00)

Duration: 2hrs 10m

Cost: 350 MXN ($20.00)

To get to Palenque from Villahermosa Airport, the cheapest option is to take a direct bus. The bus departs from the terminal right outside of the airport and takes you straight to Palenque city centre.

This bus service is provided by ADO Aeropuerto, a sub-branch of ADO that specialises in airport transfers at affordable rates. They have several departures throughout the day, but there are only two trips that you can take after an early evening flight to Villahermosa. All buses have AC, reclining seats and a toilet.

A bus ticket costs 350 MXN and you will arrive in Palenque after a little over 2 hours.

Bus schedule from Villahermosa to Palenque

Bus OperatorSchedulesCosts
ADO Aeropuerto19:50-22:00
350 MXN ($20.00)
Check Bus Tickets

Bus trips are limited, so we highly recommend that you book your ride beforehand. ClickBus is a reliable booking platform that also often offers discounted bus rates when you book in advance.

Bus arrival in Palenque

The bus from Villahermosa will drop you off at the central bus terminalin Palenque. There are a number of accommodation options within a short walking distance from the bus station.

If you’re staying outside of town, or just don’t want to walk around with all your luggage, the best option is to take a taxi with rates starting from 60 MXN ($3.40).

Alternative option: Private transfer from Villahermosa to Palenque

If for some reason you missed the bus from Villahermosa to Palenque, your only alternative is to take a private transfer. They’re quite expensive though with rates from 4 MXN ($245.00).

A cheaper option if you have the extra time is to just spend the night in Villahermosa and then take the bus the next day.

Our favourite places to stay in

Hotel Chan-Kah Resort Village -

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (1)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (2)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (3)

If you’re looking to treat yourself, Chan Kah Resort is one of the best places to do that in Palenque. You can give yourself the gift of relaxation without the expensive price tag. Plus, you can speed up the relaxation process with a delightful massage at the onsite spa facilities, or by enjoying a drink at their bar.

Possibly the best part, as you splash around in the lagoon-style pools, you’ll be able to hear the monkeys cry in the jungle trees all around you. Alternatively, you can enjoy the jungle symphony whilst enjoying dinner in one of the two restaurants.

  • Bungalow-style rooms
  • Situated within the jungle
  • Spa facilities
  • Large swimming pools

Double rooms start from$80per night

Check Latest Price

Hotel Chablis Palenque - Mid Range

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (4)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (5)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (6)

The central courtyard of the hotel truly feels like a magical oasis, with its palm trees and thriving greenery. And you’ll find not only a swimming pool, but also a hot tub. You won’t ever want to leave, and don’t have to, with their on-site restaurant that serves both delicious international and local dishes.

Located a short walk from the bus station, you won’t need to be dragging your luggage all around town. It’s location also makes your visit to Palenque ruins easy and convenient.

  • 15 minutes from Palenque ruins
  • Close to the bus station
  • On-site restaurant
  • Outdoor swimming pool and hot tub

Double rooms between$40-$80per night

Check Latest Price

Cabañas Bambután - Budget Friendly

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (7)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (8)

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (9)

When you think of Palenque, the ruins surrounded by jungle immediately come to mind. Staying at Cabanas Bambutan is the perfect way to experience Palenque, surrounded by nothing but nature and wildlife.

Their bamboo-style buildings help you to feel connected to nature, whilst still providing ultimate comfort and a good nights sleep. Enjoy a drink at their onsite bar or chill out in the lush gardens.

  • Unique accommodation
  • Friendly and helpful staff
  • Onsite bar
  • Surrounded by nature

Double rooms start from$15-40per night

Check Latest Price

How To Get From Merida to Palenque | Gecko Routes (2024)


How do I get to Palenque? ›

Getting there:

Fly into Villahermosa and take a first class bus to Palenque (2.5 hours). Buses are the easiest, most economical way to get to Palenque and they leave from all major cities in Mexico including Cancun (13 hours), Merida (10 hours), Mexico City (16 hours), Playa del Carmen and Tulum (12 hours).

What is the distance between Palenque and San Cristóbal de las Casas? ›

How far is San Cristóbal de las Casas from Palenque? San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque are 69 miles (111 km) apart.

How long does it take to drive from San Cristobal to Palenque? ›

It takes approximately 3h 15m to drive from San Cristóbal de las Casas to Palenque.

How much time do you need in Palenque? ›

The accessible Mayan ruins that have been excavated are concentrated in a small area within the UNESCO World Heritage Site – many more remain hidden by the jungle still. For visitors planning a trip to Palenque, that means you only need a day to actually explore the ruins and visit the museum.

How long do you need to visit Palenque? ›

Take water with you, there are some vendors in the ruins, but they are only selling trinkets. Expect to visit the ruins for about 2 hours, more if you like climbing over everything. You can crawl around and through most of the ruins so they are super fun if you love exploring.

Is it safe to drive from San Cristóbal to Palenque? ›

The road Between the Mayan city of Palenque and San Cristobal De Las Casas is one of the only places where you need to take additional precautions when traveling in Chiapas. The road does not have the best reputation and is known for being somewhat sketchy.

Is San Cristobal de las Casas worth visiting? ›

San Cristobal is worth visiting if you want to have more laidback cultural tours. There are also a few fantastic places that nature lovers and adventurers will love.

Why is Palenque so special? ›

The archaeological site of Palenque in the state of Chiapas is one of the most outstanding Classic period sites of the Maya area, known for its exceptional and well conserved architectural and sculptural remains.

How long should you stay in Chiapas? ›

This Chiapas Mexico travel itinerary will equip you with everything you need to have an amazing time in this incredible state. So how long should you stay in Chiapas? Some say 10-12 days are enough but Courtney and I think 3-4 weeks is the perfect amount of time to see everything you want to see.

Is it safe to drive to San Cristóbal de las Casas? ›

It's possible but not recommended to drive to San Cristóbal de las Casas. The drive from Brownsville, Texas, is over 1000 miles (1609 km) and passes through states such as Tamaulipas, which have been affected by drug cartel violence. Roads within Chiapas itself are often poorly maintained and badly congested.

What do you wear to Palenque? ›

Tips for Visiting Palenque Ruins

Wear repellant and cover your limbs as much as possible. Wear shoes adequate for climbing temples, exploring ruins and hiking through the jungle. Prepare for heat and humidity. As usual, bring water.

Are there mosquitos in Palenque? ›

The risk for mosquito activity is extremely high. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when spending time outdoors to prevent bites.

What is the best month to go to Chiapas? ›

The best time to visit Chiapas is from November to May.

The landscape varies from mountain views to lake views and everything in between. If you are trying to find the best time to visit Chiapas and take advantage of what they have to offer – plan your trip around the months with the least rain.

What does Palenque mean in English? ›

Palenke references the Spanish word “palenque”, as a platform, ring, arena or the like, used for different forms of entertainment, surrounded by seats for spectators and made with posts or stakes.

What does Palenque mean Mayan? ›

Located in the foothills of the Chiapas altiplano of modern Mexico, Palenque was an important Maya city which flourished between c. 600 and 750 CE. The name Palenque derives from the Spanish, meaning 'fortified place', but the original Maya name, we now know, was Lakamha.

What are the safest driving routes in Mexico? ›

Cuota Roads Vs Libre Roads

I always recommend taking the cuota roads, but especially if you need to drive after dark. In general, these are considered the safest option when traveling around the country and often there is no other option to get to your destination.

How safe is Palenque Mexico? ›

Is Palenque safe? Yes. Palenque itself has generally avoided the drug violence that has affected other parts of Mexico. Take the usual precautions, especially at night, and keep your valuables in room safes.

What is the safest route to drive through Mexico? ›

The Pacific Route

There are several east-west, north-south links as you journey south through Mexico. The Pacific Coast route is the hands-down favorite among travelers and surfers. The roads are better overall, drivers don't have to circumnavigate Mexico City, and there are plenty of beautiful sites along the way.

Is Palenque in a jungle? ›

Where is Palenque? Located in the subtropical rainforest jungles of northeastern Chiapas (Mexico's southernmost state) you'll find one of the most important and beautiful Mayan ruins in Mexico: atmospheric Palenque.

Is Palenque in Chichen Itza? ›

Further south in Mexico, a six hour drive from Chichen Itza, is Palenque. During the 7th century, Palenque was a flourishing Mayan city. The UNESCO site contains some of the finest sculpture and carvings the Mayans ever produced.

Why was Palenque abandoned? ›

What ultimately felled the Maya? Archaeologists can't point to one sole reason, hypothesizing that Palenque was probably done in by a combination of overpopulation, deforestation, drought and power disputes among a growing class of nobles.

Where to stop between merida and San Cristóbal de las Casas? ›

The top stops along the way from Merida to San Cristobal de las Casas (with short detours) are Zona Arqueológica de Uxmal, Zona Arqueológica Palenque, and Agua Azul Waterfalls. Other popular stops include Edzna Archaeological Zone, Cam. a Cascada de Misol-Ha, and Central Park.

Is San Cristóbal or Santa Cruz better? ›

The attractions listed for both islands of San Cristóbal and Santa Cruz are far from exhaustive, but they are the most popular and unmissable ones. Santa Cruz being bigger, it has more attractions than San Cristóbal, but is also more expensive, and San Cristóbal's attractions are also very interesting.

Is Tehuantepec worth visiting? ›

Located in Oaxaca, Mexico, Tehuantepec is home to an impressive selection of attractions and experiences, making it well worth a visit. Located in Oaxaca, Mexico, Tehuantepec is home to an impressive selection of attractions and experiences, making it well worth a visit.

When did Palenque collapse? ›

Between the late eighth and early 10th centuries, the ancient Maya civilization collapsed (although the descendents of the people live on today). Palenque was no exception with archaeological evidence indicating that the city was abandoned by A.D. 850, if not earlier.

Why did the Mayans leave Palenque? ›

Scholars have suggested a number of potential reasons for the downfall of Maya civilization in the southern lowlands, including overpopulation, environmental degradation, warfare, shifting trade routes and extended drought. It's likely that a complex combination of factors was behind the collapse.

Did the Mayans build Palenque? ›

Palenque: Located in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas, Palenque was built by the Maya civilization. Political center: Palenque was an important political center for the Mayan, and the city flourished between 226 and 799 CE.

How many days do you need in Merida Mexico? ›

From eating traditional Yucatecan food to absorbing Merida's wonderful history, you'll love exploring Merida in three days! Your Merida itinerary will include experiencing history and culture in the city centre, visiting ancient ruins just outside of the city and taking trips to the nearby Yucatan coastline.

What is the best town of Chiapas Mexico? ›

Colorful San Cristobal de las Casas is the most-visited and top Chiapas travel destination. Cities in Chiapas: The best time to visit the cities (including San Cristobal de las Casas, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Comitan and Palenque) is from November to May, during the dry season.

What food is Chiapas known for? ›

The most prominent and popular dish in Chiapas is tamales, found in many varieties. Chiapas's main herbs of chipilín and hoja santa can be found in many of these. Most varieties are wrapped in banana leaves, but they can also be found wrapped in corn husks and even in the leaves of hoja santa.

Can you drink the water in San Cristóbal de las Casas? ›

People have reason to be wary of the drinking water: According to a recent study, every water distribution point in San Cristóbal de las Casas was found to have fecal contamination. There are no water treatment plants; the rivers receive all wastewater.

How long should I stay in San Cristóbal? ›

You're sure to want at least three days in San Cristóbal, and most travelers would have no trouble staying twice that long, or more. Take a day or two to hit the city's “obvious” sights, including museums, churches, plazas, and markets, which are numerous and fascinating.

Does San Cristóbal have Uber? ›

Thousands of riders request rides with the Uber app every day. You can use your vehicle to generate earnings to drive in San Cristóbal while getting riders where they need to go.

Where do you fly into for Palenque? ›

Those flying to Palenque could potentially find better pricing at Villahermosa Capitan Carlos Perez Airport (64 mi from Palenque city center), Ciudad Del Carmen Airport (80 mi from Palenque city center) or Tuxtla Gutiérrez Ángel Albino Corzo Airport (95 mi from Palenque city center) depending on the month and departure ...

Can i fly to Palenque Mexico? ›

You have several options for which airline you choose to travel with to Palenque. There are 10 airlines flying into PQM: Aeromexico, Viva Aerobus.

What is the closest airport to Palenque Mexico? ›

The closest international airport to Palenque is in Villahermosa (2 hours away by car). -- Fly into Villahermosa and take a taxi to Palenque (around $100), or if you're joining a MayaSites tour you will be met by a MayaSites driver at the Villahermosa airport and transferred to Palenque.

How to get from Cartagena to Palenque? ›

To get to Palenque, you can travel to the bus terminal in Cartagena and catch a bus from there, though it is difficult to do so, and then upon arrival to one of two towns outside of Palenque (San Juan or Mahates), you must catch a moto taxi into the town.

What to wear in Palenque Mexico? ›

Tips for Visiting Palenque Ruins

Wear repellant and cover your limbs as much as possible. Wear shoes adequate for climbing temples, exploring ruins and hiking through the jungle. Prepare for heat and humidity. As usual, bring water.

Do you still need a Covid test to fly in Mexico? ›

To this day, there are no entry restrictions in Mexico and no obligation to carry a COVID test or to do quarantine. Check the current status of the pandemic in Mexico and follow the sanitary rules to prevent contagion (information only in Spanish).

Do you need Covid test to enter US from Mexico by air? ›

COVID-19 testing and vaccine rules for entering the U.S.

As of June 12, 2022, people entering the U.S. no longer need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

Is Palenque a Mayan city? ›

Palenque, ruined ancient Mayan city of the Late Classic Period (c. 600–900 ce) in what is now Chiapas state, Mexico, about 80 miles (130 km) south of Ciudad del Carmen.

How to get to Oaxaca from Palenque? ›

The quickest way to get from Palenque to Oaxaca is to taxi and fly which costs $1700 - $3300 and takes 5h 38m. Is there a direct bus between Palenque and Oaxaca? No, there is no direct bus from Palenque to Oaxaca. However, there are services departing from Palenque and arriving at Oaxaca via Villahermosa.

How far is Campeche from Palenque? ›

Yes, the driving distance between Campeche to Palenque is 361 km. It takes approximately 4h 39m to drive from Campeche to Palenque.

How to spend 24 hours in Palenque? ›

How to Spend 24 Hours in Palenque: The First Free Town in the...
  1. Check out the Statue of Benkos Bioho…
  2. …and of world-famous boxer, Kid Pambelé
  3. Learn about revolutionary hairdos at Belleza La Reina del Congo.
  4. Meet the music legend Rafael Cassiani Cassiani.
  5. Pay a visit to Kombilesa Mi's studio.

Is Cartagena a tourist trap? ›

The Rosario Islands near Cartagena are one of Colombia's biggest tourist traps, and popular beaches like Playa Blanca can be absolutely swamped with people, particularly during the Colombian holiday season.

Is Cartagena very touristy? ›

Cartagena is an unmissable place to visit and Colombia's most popular city for tourists, thanks not only to the colonial buildings but also to the sandy beaches, mouth-watering cuisine, and raucous nightlife. If you're wondering what to do in Cartagena, you've come to the right place.

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Last Updated:

Views: 6046

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (56 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Sen. Ignacio Ratke

Birthday: 1999-05-27

Address: Apt. 171 8116 Bailey Via, Roberthaven, GA 58289

Phone: +2585395768220

Job: Lead Liaison

Hobby: Lockpicking, LARPing, Lego building, Lapidary, Macrame, Book restoration, Bodybuilding

Introduction: My name is Sen. Ignacio Ratke, I am a adventurous, zealous, outstanding, agreeable, precious, excited, gifted person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.