Welcome to the Places To Visit in Mexico guide.

Header photo Temple of The Inscriptions – Palenque. Credit photo : Olivier Bergeron

Table of contents

Teotihuacan

Teotihuacan is a must in this Places To Visit In Mexico guide. We gone to Teotihuacan on a one day trip from Mexico City. The site is around one hour from Mexico.

Two imposing pyramids dominate the site : The pyramid of the sun and the pyramid of the moon.

pyramid of sun (Pyramide du Soleil) – mexico – teotihuacan – mexique

Don’t forget to visit the temple of Quetzacoatl with his impressive head of feathered serpents and his heads of the god Tlaloc with 4 eyes and 2 fangs.

The construction of Teotihuacan took place mainly from the first century to the 7th century after Jesus Christ.

teotihuacan – mexico pyramid – mexique

several buildings along the causeway have frescoes to explore between 2 pyramid climbs.

fresque – teotihuacan – mexico

If you have the time, there is small archeologic satellite around the main site for the fans like me.

Oaxaca

Oaxaca is my favorite city in this Places to Visit In Mexico guide. I go there twice and i burn to come back here again, maybe as digital nomad, why not !!!

The trip from Mexico City by bus took around 6 hours and half. the road in mountain is impressive with deep ravines. During my first trip in 1999, we stop to look at a bus fallen in a ravine !!

Let’s come back to Oaxaca, Oaxaca is a vibrant city, full of life with a colonial style. Many colorful houses dot the town. The zocalo with its arcades is effervescent.

pink hotel - Oaxaca - Mexico
pink hotel – Oaxaca – Mexico
restaurant Oaxaca
restaurant Oaxaca

Among the remarkable elements of the city: the cathedral

Catedral Metropolitana de Oaxaca - mexique - mexico
Catedral Metropolitana de Oaxaca – mexique – mexico
TEMPLO DE LA COMPAÑÍA DE JESUS OAXACA
TEMPLO DE LA COMPAÑÍA DE JESUS OAXACA
colored houses - Oaxaca - Mexico
colored houses – Oaxaca – Mexico
Saint John of God Parish Parroquia de San Juan de Dios - Oaxaca
Saint John of God Parish Parroquia de San Juan de Dios – Oaxaca
yellow house - Oaxaca
yellow house – Oaxaca
fountain Oaxaca
fountain Oaxaca

Do not forget to take a tour of the local markets, variegated and colorful, in particular the typical « Mercado suarez » or « Mercado 20 Noviembre » market which offers various products ranging from chocolate, fruit and vegetables, Moles sauces to flowers etc….

market Oaxaca
market Oaxaca

In Oaxaca I like to buy the black and lustrous pottery from San Bartolo Coyotepec , also called barro negro. The surface of the pottery is lustrous with quartz crystals.

Try some mole sauce dish in restaurant during your stay. I remember in my first trip in 1999 to ordered a chicken with Mole Negro sauce. I was surprised in this time to taste a chocolate flavored sauce !

mole Oaxaca
mole Oaxaca

You can drink too some delicious hot milk chocolate.

Don’t miss the « grill » alley, fragrant and smoky, in the « 20 noviembre » market, a paradise for the meat lovers, the hell for the vegans, it’s an opportunity to sit down with the locals!

barbecue grill alley - Oaxaca
barbecue grill alley – Oaxaca

I have to admit that usually when leaving Oaxaca, my luggage is weighted with a bottle of Mezcal Anejo!!

From Oaxaca, it’s easy to do some day trips like Monte Alban , Hierve El Agua, Mitla, visiting Mezcal distilleries and the Tule Tree.

mezcal distillery - Oaxaca
mezcal distillery – Oaxaca
mezcal distillery - oaxaca
mezcal distillery – oaxaca
mezcal distillery - Oaxaca
mezcal distillery – oaxaca
tule tree - Oaxaca
tule tree – Oaxaca
tule tree - Oaxaca
tule tree – oaxaca

My favorite stay in Oaxaca :

Hotel las Golondrinas with its lush floral garden.

las golondrinas hotel - oaxaca - mexico - mexique
Las Golondrinas hotel – Oaxaca – Mexico – Mexique
grafitti - Oaxaca
grafitti – Oaxaca
house - Oaxaca - Mexico
house – Oaxaca – Mexico

Monte Alban

Monte Alban - Mexico - Mexique
Monte Alban – Mexico – Mexique

This archeological site worth the visit in the Oaxaca state. This impressive site is surrounded by arid mountains.

Monte Alban - Mexico - Mexique
Building M as seen from the South Platform – Monte Alban – Mexico

The best is to take an organized trip from Oaxaca , the site is just a few kilometers outside the city.

When I gone there in 1999, we were only 2 or 3 frenchs on the site. Now, it’s a pleasure to see a lot of medium classes mexicans , visiting Monte Alban, eager to discover their own culture.

Danzantes - Monte Alban - Mexico
Danzantes – Monte Alban – Mexico

Tips : The sun can be very harsh on Monte Alban, i advise you to use suncream , otherwise sunburn !!

Ballgame court - Monte Alban - Oaxaca
Ballgame court – Monte Alban – Oaxaca

Hierve El Agua

Around 70 km east of Oaxaca, Hierve El Agua is a really lovely site with nice landscape and made up of beautiful petrified waterfalls.
The rock formations and the blue, green, turquoise ponds sit on a cliff that overlooks the valley below.

We came to Hierve El Agua on a day trip from Oaxaca.

hierve el agua - oaxaca - mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico
Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico
Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Mexico – petrified river

And yes it’s possible to take some baths.

Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico
Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico
Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico
Hierve El Agua - Oaxaca - Mexico
Hierve El Agua – Oaxaca – Mexico

Mitla

Around 50 km from Oaxaca, Mitla is a pre-Columbian archaeological site of the Zapotec culture with some influence of Mixtex culture too.

Despite the site is small, it is famous for the geometric patterns that adorn the structures.

Palace - Mitla ruins - Oaxaca - Mexico - Mexique
Palace – Mitla ruins – Oaxaca – Mexico – Mexique

We went to Mitla on a one day trip from Oaxaca.

Church of San Pablo and Mitla ruins - Oaxaca - Mexico - Mexique

Church of San Pablo and Mitla ruins – oaxaca – mexico – mexique
Palace column room -Mitla ruins - Oaxaca - Mexico - Mexique

Palace column room – mitla ruins – oaxaca – mexico – mexique

San Cristobal De Las Casas

San Cristobal is a charming city of Chiapas, with its colorful houses and picturesque markets, a peaceful stopover before Palenque and the Yucatan.

Catedral de San Cristóbal Mártir - San cristobal de Las Casas
Catedral de San Cristóbal Mártir – San cristobal de Las Casas
House - San cristobal De Las Casas
House – San cristobal De Las Casas
pink house - san cristobal de las casas
pink house – san cristobal de las casas
market - San Cristobal de Las casa
market – San Cristobal de Las casa
market - San Cristobal de Las casas
market – San Cristobal de Las casa
indian woman - San Cristobal De Las Casas
indian woman – San Cristobal De Las Casas
indian woman - San Cristobal De Las Casas
indian woman – San Cristobal De Las Casas
market - San Cristobal de Las casa
market – San Cristobal de Las casa

Blue hour is a great time for take photohgraphy inside city of San cristobal with colorful houses.

San Cristobal De Las Casas - Mexico - mexique
Blue Hour – San Cristobal De Las Casas – Mexico – mexique

One of our favorite game in Mexico, is to take photography of beetle inside cities.

Bettle - San Cristobal De Las Casas - Mexico - mexique
Beetle – San Cristobal De Las Casas – Mexico – Mexique

From San cristobal , you can make excursions to the El chifflon waterfall and the lagunas Of Montebello.

Lagos De Montebello

Lagos de Montebello is a series of lakes in a remote region of Chiapas near the Guatemalan border.

The region is a bit mountainous and a bit cooler than San Cristobal or Palenque and offers beautiful landscape.

On some lakes it is possible to go rafting. They have beautiful colors : from deep blue to turquoise .

Lagos de Montebello - Mexico
Lagos de Montebello – Mexico

We went to Lagos De Montebello on a one day trip from San Cristobal De Las Casas. We enjoyed the rather wild road and the crossing of small villages. The road is long from San Cristobal and we had a short time to visit the lakes. For a next trip here, renting a car, to take our time and admire the beauty of these lakes is an option that I am considering.

Lagos de Montebello - Mexico
Lagos de Montebello – Mexico
Lago Pojoj - Lagos de Montebello - Mexico
Lago Pojoj – Lagos de Montebello – Mexico

Waterfall El Chiflon

El Chifflon is a serie of waterfalls in the state of Chiapas. The river also forms magnificent basins of turquoise blue water.

waterfall El Chifflon
waterfall El Chifflon

We went to El Chiflon on the same day trip than Lagos de Montebello from the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas.

waterfall El Chifflon
waterfall El Chifflon
waterfall El Chifflon
waterfall El Chifflon

It is possible to take baths in calmer pools, however beware of weather conditions and rainy weather where the current could be stronger

waterfall El Chifflon
waterfall El Chifflon

Palenque

This archeological site is magical, it is so beautiful and so mythical that during my first stay I went back there 2 days in a row.

Temple of the Inscriptions  - Palenque
Temple of the Inscriptions (Templo de las Inscripciones) – palenque

The descent into the Tomb of Pakal from the Temple of Inscriptions is steep and suffocating, the humidity is oppressive

Temple of Sun - Palenque - Mexico - Mexique
Temple of Sun – Palenque – Mexico – Mexique
The Palace - Palenque - Mexico
The Palace – Palenque – Mexico
Ballgame court - Palenque
Ballgame court – Palenque
Temple of-Sun - Palenque
Temple of-Sun and temple of the Cruz on the right – Palenque

The atmosphere is so enchanting that during my first stay I sat at the top of the stairs of the Temple of the Cross for more than an hour, just gazing at the lush jungle and its shades of green in the treetops and listening to the howler monkeys.

Bas-relief of the mayan king Pakal in Palenque
Bas-relief of the mayan king Pakal in Palenque
Palenque bridge
Palenque
waterfall - Palenque
waterfall – Palenque

Archeology Corner : Recently in may 2022, INAH of Mexico just announces the discovery of a stucco head of the young Maize god at Palenque.
https://www.inah.gob.mx/boletines/11262-a-stucco-head-of-the-young-maize-god-associated-with-a-ritual-deposit-unearthed-in-palenque

Maize god - Palenque
Maize God – Palenque – Credit : INAH

If you want to eat cheap and on the go, don’t miss the « polo carbon » gargotes (a french word for cheap and small restaurant), succulent charcoal-grilled chickens scattered in the town of Palanque.

A small anecdot, during my first stay, I was not very used to eating spicy food, seeing some magnificent tacos not very far from my hotel in Palenque, I decided to buy one, it was so spicy that I ran to my hotel room quench my thirst and put out the fire !! I have since learned that a milk product is much more effective against hot pepper fire, hence the famous yogurt lassi in Indian restaurants.

The city of Palenque has nothing sensational in itself, except for its extraordinary archaeological site. Nevertheless, it constitutes a good base to go to Agua Azul, Misol-Ha and their beautiful waterfalls flowing into magnificent turquoise blue basins. It is also possible to make excursions from Palenque to the archaeological sites of Yaxchilan and Bonampak.

The site of Palenque is very very hot, the atmosphere is moist, do not forget to take water and sunscreen even if it will end up dripping

Yaxchilan

Coming from Palenque, the arrival by boat on the archaeological site of Yaxchilan, surrounded by a verdant jungle and very remote near the guatemala border, was impressive, a good little scent of adventure. As the boat got closer to the pier, my Indiana Jones heart, sleeping inside me, beat faster and faster, the excitement of discovering this new site taking over me , after observing wildlife along the river « Rio Usumacinta »..

Structure 19 - Yaxchilan -  The Labyrinth
Structure 19 – Yaxchilan – The Labyrinth
Stele 35 of temple 21 - Yaxchilan
Stele 35 of temple 21
structure 33 - Yaxchilan
structure 33 – Yaxchilan
yaxchilan structure 33
yaxchilan structure 33
Yaxchilan tree
Yaxchilan tree
stele – yaxchilan
The trip by boat to Yaxchilan
The trip by boat to Yaxchilan
Yaxchilan
Yaxchilan

Agua azul

On the same day trip from Palenque with the waterfall Misol Ha, Agua azul is serie of nice waterfalls with beautiful turquoise ponds in the state of Chiapas. Agua Azul meanings blue water in spanish language.

The calcium bed of the river « Rio Xanil » is responsible of the turquoise color.

Agua Azul waterfall - Mexico
Agua Azul waterfall – Mexico

The site is famous and you will find some foods and drinks shops along the river.

eating along the Rio Xanil
Eating along Rio Xanil
Agua Azul waterfall - Mexico
Agua Azul waterfall – Mexico

Some ponds have more quiets waters and that’s possible to take a bath. Be careful however if weather conditions aren’t good and if the flow of the waters is strong.

swimming Agua azul
agua Azul waterfall – Mexico
Rio Xanil – Mexico

Misol Ha

Misol Ha is a waterfall in the state of Chiapas, we combined its visit with Agua azul. You can walk behind the waterfall.

Misol Ha waterfall - Mexico
Misol Ha waterfall – Mexico

Bonampak

We went to Bonampak on the same day trip than Yaxchilan , both in the east of the state of Chiapas near the Guatemala border. Despite the site is small, it is very famous for its magnificent mayan frescoes very colorful and fresh.

The site also has several interesting steles.

Bonampak
Bonampak
stele 2 – Bonampak – Mexico
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
stele 3 - Bonampak
stele 3 – Bonampak
Bonampak
Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak
fresco Bonampak

Chichen Itza

One of the most famous archeological site in this Places to Visit In Mexico post, Chichen Itza is situated in the Yucatan peninsula between the cities of Merida and Valladolid.

The name means « At the mouth of the well of the Itza ».

The city was establish by the Mayas around 2 natural cenotes, a source of water around 415-455 AD , abandoned and then reinvested by the Toltecs after their migrations from the Mexican plateau to the south during the 10th century.

Following this conquest , a fusion style emerge, mixing maya ans toltec elements, by exemple with the stellar observatory Caracol.

Temple of Kukulcán - Chichen Itza - Mexico
Temple of Kukulcán – Chichen Itza – Mexico
The observatory temple - El Caracol - Chichen Itza - Mexico
The observatory temple – El Caracol – Chichen Itza – Mexico
House of the deer - Chichen Itza
House of the deer – Chichen Itza
Osario pyramid - Chichen Itza - Mexico
Osario pyramid – Chichen Itza – Mexico
Venus platform - Mexico - Chichen Itza
Venus platform – Mexico – Chichen Itza
Cenote - Chichen Itza - Mexico
Cenote – Chichen Itza – Mexico
Chichen Itza Tzompantli - The Platform of the Skulls
Chichen Itza Tzompantli – The Platform of the Skullss
ballgame court - Chichen Itza - Mexico
ballgame court – Chichen Itza – Mexico

Tulum

Tulum is a postcard image. the archaeological site is located on the edge of a cliff overlooking a turquoise blue sea.

God of winds temple - Tulum - Mexico
God of winds temple – Tulum – Mexico
palace of the great lord - Tulum
palace of the great lord – Tulum
El Castillo -  The castle - Tulum
El Castillo – The castle – Tulum
seascape - Tulum
seascape – Tulum
Temple of the Frescos - Tulum
Temple of the Frescos – Tulum

To the north of Tulum, it is possible to find beaches for swimming. We went there with bikes rented at our hotel

beach Tulum - Mexico
beach Tulum – Mexico
Tulum - Mexico
Tulum – Mexico

Going more far

Bonampak INAH

Reference to Places To Visit In Mexico

Chichen Itza Unesco

National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico INAH

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