Exploring Chiapas – Palenque to San Cristobal

It was hard to pull ourselves away from the beautiful beaches and amazing kiting in the Yucatan, but the road was calling us, and this time it was calling us to the lush tropical landscapes in the southeastern part of Mexico, the state of Chiapas. If you haven’t noticed by now, Mexico is full of diverse landscapes!

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The lush tropical jungle setting of the Mayan ruins at Palenque

Palenque Ruins

George and I caravaned with Cory and his dog Bones to Chiapas to visit the Mayan ruins of Palenque, our first ruins of the trip! Palenque was a Mayan city that flourished from 500 – 700 AD. Our time spent wandering around the grounds in the rain and mist certainly exceeded our expectations. The place really feels quite magical.

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A truly surreal setting for the 6K mayans who occupied this area. We you visit these ruins, you want so badly to see how life must had been 1500 years ago

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Exploring some ruins. Was cool that they still let visitors get up close

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The courtyard in the administration building. Probably should have waited until the folks cleared out

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Cory gazing up at the spectacular ancient mayan government building

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It was really cool to climb up into the ruins and gaze out and try to imagine how it must have been like 1300 years ago when this was one of the largest civilizations in the Americas

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One of my favorite shots, so many cool areas to explore in Palenque

San Cristobal de las Casas

We really loved being in the rain-forest and mountains, and decided to continue on to a town in the mountains of Chiapas called San Cristobal de las Casas. We were a little leery of the road since we had heard of road blocks set up by the indigenous people who live in the mountains towns along the main road from Palenque to Chiapas, but it turned out to be quite mellow (aside from the 200 topes we encountered, and a couple ropes strung up by some kids looking to sell us things). When we arrived in San Cristobal we got a very distinct hippy feel, and were presently surprised by how much we liked the town. It was great going to an actual yoga class again, and eating our fill of veggies and drinking plenty of jugo verde. There were also an abundance of people dressed traditional indigenous clothing that was quite colorful, however we had heard that it was considered quite rude to take photos without asking, so you won’t see any photos of the dress – click here to see some examples.

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San Cristobal de las casas in Chiapas is this awesome mountain town with fun walking streets throughout the city. We really enjoyed ourselves here

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Top of the city look out at San Cristobal. The city is sort of a granola mountain town, as much as they can be in Mexico. Lots of good coffee and the populist left movement is strong here.

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The best food in Mexico seems to always be inside the local markets. Here Jenine enjoys tacos al pastor in the market in San Cristobal

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We even managed to catch an obra (play/theater performance) in town that was about Pakal, one of the most famous rulers of Palenque during the 6th century. This live performance really gave us an idea of what it was like to live back then, and was a perfect way to wrap up our time in Chiapas.

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The costumes and stage arts was really cool. Plus the show was all done in a local Mayan dialect, not spanish

Our time in Chiapas was quite short, but we do plan to drive back through this area to see some of the more remote mountain areas when we head towards Guatemala (more on why we are doubling back this way in a future post). Right now we are enjoying city life again in Oaxaca and hit the coast tomorrow! Hasta Luego!

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Ready to see some Mayan Ruins with Cory!

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The water / jungle setting of the Mayan ruins at Palenque made the place even more incredible

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Our entrance into the Mayan Ruins in Palenque - Chiapas

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Exploring some ruins. Was cool that they still let visitors get up close

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Palenque Mayan Ruins, view from the hike up

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Cory gazing up at the spectacular ancient mayan government building

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Cory and I taking a ruin break

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Jenine is excited to go explore. She loves ruins!

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The courtyard in the administration building. Probably should have waited until the folks cleared out

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This is an ancient mayan tomb. Clearly someone important was laid to rest here

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It was really cool to climb up into the ruins and gaze out and try to imagine how it must have been like 1300 years ago when this was one of the largest civilizations in the Americas

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The jungle is full of howler monkeys whose howls really add to the mystic of the place. I remember them go crazy when we took this pic.

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In Palenque in the Mayan Ruins, you can climb up them all. The view is really spectacular.

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A truly surreal setting for the 6K mayans who occupied this area. When you visit these ruins, you want so badly to see how life must had been 1500 years ago

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One of my favorite shots, so many cool areas to explore in Palenque

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Agua Azul, Chiapas. This picture was great, but place is ultimately a pretty packed tourist trap

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Finding a swimming hole at Agua Azul

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Agua Azul swimming holes

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San Cristobal de las casas in Chiapas is this awesome mountain town with fun walking streets throughout the city. We really enjoyed ourselves here

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Top of the city look out at San Cristobal. The city is sort of a granola mountain town, as much as they can be in Mexico. Lots of good coffee and the populist left movement is strong here.

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About to buy some good Chiapas beans

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The best food in Mexico seems to always be inside the local markets. Here Jenine enjoys tacos al pastor in the market in San Cristobal

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not interested in the dried salted fish

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In San Cristobal we saw a cool Mayan themed show called Pakal

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The stage setting for the Mayan "play" Pakal

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The costumes and stage arts was really cool. Plus the show was all done in a local Mayan dialect not spanish

Posted in Mainland Mexico, Mexico Tagged with: , , ,
2 comments on “Exploring Chiapas – Palenque to San Cristobal
  1. Emma says:

    Palenque looks amazing. Great post, excited about visiting Chiapas now 🙂 Love the photo of the beams of light through the trees!

  2. Shawna says:

    Wow, I also love that photo of the sunlight hitting the tree and the ruins. Gorgeous.

    Chiapas looks like a great town to spend some time in! So cool that you got to see a cultural play.