Central America, Trips and Destinations

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

What is Ruta Puuc – How to plan your trip on Ruta Puuc – Museo del Mundo Maya – Labna – Xlapak – Sayil – Kabah – Where to have lunch on Ruta Puuc – Uxmal

There are several routes that go through ancient Maya cities around Merida, but one of the most popular and possibly the most interesting is Ruta Puuc. “Puuc” means “hills” in Mayan, and the terrain is, indeed, made of many hills. It is also the name of the region and of the architectural style that predominates here.

Ruta Puuc map

Ruta Puuc map

Start In Merida

If you are staying in Merida, take your time and visit Museo del Mundo Maya before the trip. It is rather far from the downtown area, but you can easily get there by Uber. It will give you the insight of the Maya world, especially of this region, and make the Ruta Puuc experience a lot more interesting. You will learn why Chac, god of rain, was the most important god for people in this area and how they collected water in huge underground cisterns, called chultunes. You’ll also learn about history of Yucatan, its flora and fauna from dinosaurs to the modern world and about the catastrophic meteorite that forever changed this place.

Museo del Mundo Maya is located at Calle 60 Norte, N. 299 E, Unidad Revolución Cordemex, C.P 97110 Merida.

Maya Museum in Merida

Drive Ruta Puuc

To enjoy the route to the fullest, it is recommended that you start early (the sites close at 4:30 – 5 pm), go to the end of the road and slowly make your way back, culminating in Uxmal. Use comfortable shoes, take plenty of water and insect repellent! The road is narrow, but pretty good all the way and the signs are big and easy to read. You will not miss the entrances! At one point there was a large tree branch that recently fell across the road, but the team of workers moved it out of the way in about 10 minutes.

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

Following the recommendations online, we drove all the way to the farthest city, Labná, and made our way back. It was fabulous: at all the sites, except for Uxmal, we were completely alone, which added to the wonderment and magic. Make sure you give way to passing jaguars!  LOL

Beware of Jaguars!

The entrance fees are as of September 2018.

Labná.

Entrance fee: 55 pesos per person.

Here, like everywhere else, there is extra charge for professional video and photo equipment, but a small camera or a phone are ok. Basically, the site consists of a big palace and several smaller structures nearby. It is nice to walk around and look at the well-preserved scary faces of gods on the walls…

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Labna

Labna

Labna

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Labna

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Labna

Xlapak

Entrance: free.

It is less excavated than the other sites, therefore the entrance is free. The site is organized as several hiking trails through the woods, where you discover the ruins among the trees. The trails are well-maintained and made as a circle, so you don’t have to come back the same way.  

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Xlapak

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Xlapak

Sayil

Entrance fee: 55 pesos per person

It is a bigger complex and consists of several buildings. If you follow a small trail, leading away from the Palace, you will discover some more temples and a statue of a Mayan fertility god. While I was looking at the statue, I sensed movement in the woods and it totally spooked me! LOL, I don’t want to meet a jaguar, but it was perhaps only a bird.

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Sayil

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Sayil

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Sayil

Kabah

Entrance fee: 55 pesos per person

This city is bigger and better excavated than all the other sites, and all the buildings are located together at a big plaza. You can take the stairs up and walk on top of stone terraces. You can also see how exactly a chultun was built.

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Kabah

Kabah

Kabah

Kabah Ruta Puuc

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

Kabah Ruta Puuc

The best place for lunch: The Pickled Onion

By this time you will surely be hungry. Between Kabah and Uxmal lies a small town of Santa Elena, and there is a perfect place for lunch, located right on the highway – The Pickled Onion. The owner is a sweet British lady, and she offers a fantastic menu at reasonable prices. Here was the first place where I saw the idea of using pasta as drink straws !  Pretty innovative!

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

Pickled Onion

Pickled Onion

Pickled Onion

Uxmal:

Entrance fee: two separate tickets are needed: 57 pesos for the ticket itself plus a 125 pesos state fee.

It is the biggest complex of all, used to house about 20,000 of Maya, and by far the most impressive.There are concessions and gift shops, but even in the busiest time of the day it seemed amazingly uncrowded, especially comparing to other Maya sites in Mexico.

Uxmal Ruta Puuc

Uxmal

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

After a couple of hours of walking through and discovering the city, to climb on top of the Governor’s Palace, to observe the beautiful grounds and to think for a long time about great civilizations and lost worlds was probably the most natural thing to do… I think we sat there for quite a while, up until the guards started their whistling, announcing that the park was closing and it was time to move to the exits.

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc - Uxmal

Conclusion

All in all, this was a great full day of exploring. We are glad to have done it in this particular order, because after Uxmal the other sites would not have seemed impressive. This way the excitement gradually builds up, and ending in Uxmal is a perfect culmination of this fabulous journey.

A Complete One-Day Itinerary for Exploring Maya Cities on Ruta Puuc

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