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Pyramid of Inscriptions Palenque Ruins in Chiapas, Mexico

Chiapas Maya Heartland

Example 7 Day Tour
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Chiapas is a central region of the Mundo Maya (Maya World) with traditions and beliefs resembling that of the Maya of earlier centuries. Boasting a diverse landscape with tropical rainforest and highlands, wildlife viewing and birdwatching opportunities abound in Chiapas. This Chiapas trip combines the highlights of this diverse and hospitable region of Mexico in a seven day itinerary that includes visits to Maya sites, including Palenque and modern-day Maya villages. Meet artisans with your local guide and watch them practice their traditional crafts during this experiential Mexico tour.
A view of the Mayan Palenque ruins from above.A couple in traditional marriage attire for the region.Travelers climb to the top of the Tonina ruins.Behind the Misol-Ha waterfall lies an incredible cave.Sumidero CanyonEnjoy markets filled with beautiful textiles.A local artisan in ChiapasChiapasPyramid of Inscriptions Palenque Ruins in Chiapas, Mexico
  • Visit a potters village and see the traditional techniques used
  • Walk through the Maya Ruins of Palenque and Tonina
  • Visit a museum in Villahermosa to learn about the Olmec people
  • Hike back behind the Mishol-Ha waterfall to explore a cave and take a dip
Places Visited
  • Central America & Mexico
  • Mexico
  • Amatenango del Valle
  • Chiapa de Corzo
  • Chiapas
  • Palenque
  • San Cristobal de las Casas
  • San Juan Chamula
  • Tabasco
  • Toninia
  • Tuxtla Gutierrez
  • Villahermosa
  • Zinacantan
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.

Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Arrive Tuxtla Gutierrez | Sumidero Canyon

Arrive to the Tuxtla Gutierrez airport, meet your guide and transfer to Chiapa de Corzo and the Sumidero Canyon for a motor boat trip through the majestic rock walls of the Sumidero Canyon towering thousands of feet above the river. Enjoy opportunities for wildlife viewing, such as crocodiles, cormorants, spider monkeys, and herons. Return to the dock and continue into the highlands to the quaint town of San Cristobal de las Casas and settle into the charming colonial hotel.

Day 2: Maya Villages of Chiapas

Despite current discussion about the disappearance of the Maya civilization, you will find Maya culture very much alive here. Today you explore San Cristobal de las Casas and surrounding Maya villages with your local guide. Begin the day in San Cristobal, admiring the beauty of the colonial streets and alleys lined with red-roof tiles and white-washed walls. Depart by vehicle to Zinacantan, a Tzotzil Maya village outside of San Cristobal, known for its flowers and as the only source of salt in the Chiapas Highlands. Continue to San Juan Chamula, a town famous for its church that is adorned with images and artifacts representing a unique blend of Maya and Catholic beliefs.

Day 3: Pottery of Amatenango del Valle

Today visit Amatenango del Valle, a village of potters high on a hill overlooking the fertile valley. Female artisans here use traditional methods and open their shops and homes for a first-hand experience of their techniques. Peruse their handicrafts and hear their stories and beliefs that are integral to this ancient art form. Return to San Cristobal de las Casas in the afternoon for dinner.

Day 4: Tonina Maya Ruins

Depart San Cristobal after breakfast for a two-hour drive to the Maya site of Tonina. Known as the Place of the Celestial Captives, see numerous sculptures and images of captives thought to be the captured rulers of rivaling Palenque, before their execution. Explore the many temples and terraces of Tonina with your guide. Continue to Palenque in the afternoon and overnight.

Day 5: Palenque Maya Ruins | Mishol-Ha Waterfall

Palenque was an important power center during the height of Mayan civilization that dates back to 100 BC. It is still unclear what led to the important city state’s fall around 900 AD. Nestled deep in jungles at the foot of the Sierra Madre del Sur, Palenque’s setting is as memorable as the site is important for the light it sheds on Maya traditions, ritual, ceremony and spirituality. A massive complex spread over 15 sq. km., only the central area has been excavated. Peruse the Templo de Las Inscripciones, a burial monument that is Palenque’s tallest building, and El Palacio, the residence of Palenque’s rulers built in stages from 400 AD until 900 AD and restored in 1955. The palace’s tower is believed to have been constructed so Maya royalty and priests could watch the falling sun during the winter solstice.

After Palenque, continue to the Mishol-Ha Waterfall that cascades 115 feet into a pool surrounded by lush, green vegetation. An optional path winds behind the main falls that acts as a curtain and leads into a cave. Be prepared to get wet, but it is a nice break from the tropical heat. Bring your swimsuit and take a swim in designated areas during low flows.

Day 6: Villahermosa | Visit to the Parque-Museo La Venta

A two hour drive brings you to Villahermosa, the capital and economic center of the state of Tabasco. Visit the Parque-Museo La Venta to learn about the Olmec civilization. The "People from the Region of Rubber" lived here from 1500 BC to 300 BC and are characterized as influencing the subsequent Mesoamerican societies. Evidence of this is in the Olmec's practice of ritual bloodletting and playing of ball games. The museum contains colossal stone heads that were moved by archaeologists from La Venta to Villahermosa to protect them due to La Venta's oil exploration. A zoo is home to native species from Tabasco including jaguars, ocelots, spider monkeys, deer, and other birds (including scarlet macaws and toucans) and reptiles.

Day 7: Depart from Villahermosa

  • 1 Breakfast
Transfer to the airport for your flight to your next destination in Mexico to continue your Mexico tour or to return home.


Hotel Casa Mexicana

Experience a warm welcome at Hotel Casa Mexicana
Guest rooms open to the private courtyard or gardens
Lush tropical gardens add to the relaxation found at this hotel

Hotel Chan-Kah

Hotel Chan-Kah
Hotel Chan-Kah
Accommodations are provided in tropical cottages, some with private pools

Villahermosa Marriott

Villahermosa Marriott
Villahermosa Marriott
Villahermosa Marriott

Dates & Prices

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Per person starting at
$2,388 2-3 travelers


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  • 6 Breakfasts
  • 6 Nights Accommodations
  • 2 Days Locally Hosted Guide Service
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Park Entrance Fee
  • Gratuities
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Airport Departure Tax


When to Go

Good to ideal period to travel, and many people choose to visit at this time.
Chance for unpredictable weather but with fewer visitors.


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Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!
Meyer Smolen

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