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Mexico: Chiapas, San Cristobal and Palenque

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In the southern state of Chiapas, San Cristóbal de las Casas, 2,100m, along with its surrounding villages - traditionally a focal point of political rebellion - is now a stronghold of indigenous lifestyle. The landscapes are savage, with jungle, rivers, canyons and lakes a backdrop to traditional settlements and some fine pre-Columbian ruined temples. The kilometre-deep Sumidero Canyon has vertical limestone cliffs plunging into trapped green waters of the river below; the rim road is punctuated with viewpoints. Further east is the religious centre at Mayan Palenque, once throttled by the surrounding jungle but now revealed in all the glory of its intricate masonry - vaults, pyramids, pillars and sculptures, all constructed on a series of terraces. 

Our holidays to Chiapas, San Cristobal and Palenque

View all holidays

Highlights of the Mayan world

Private journey

13 days from £2,657pp

Taxis in Mexico City

Eagle: Aztecs, Mayas and conquistadores

Group tour

15 days from £2,698pp

El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza

Signature Mexico: Cultural heartlands to Caribbean coast

Private journey

14 days from £2,553pp

Things to do in Chiapas, San Cristobal and Palenque


Walking tour of San Cristobal de las Casas

Mayan city

Visit remote Mayan ruins


Swim in the Agua Azul waterfalls


Visit Palenque, ruined Mayan city

Our insider tips for Chiapas, San Cristobal and Palenque

Alex Walker

Alexandra Walker

Wandering the cobbled streets in Bohemian San Cristóbal and coming across little bars, craft stalls or live music in the city’s intriguing nooks and crannies, with crouching, whitewashed houses and elegant baroque and neo-classical public buildings. 

Ben Line

Ben Line

Touring the villages around San Cristóbal on a Sunday, when there is often a market, or during a fiesta. Be discreet though: these are deeply traditional, religious and proud places.

What our experts say

I like history and love ruins so, on visiting Mexico, I wanted to see as many as possible, the world famous ones, the lesser known and those still hidden in the jungle. Of these, the one that caught my imagination and made me feel like a old-time explorer was Yaxchilán, by the river Usumacinta in the border with Guatemala. This was proper Indiana Jones-hidden-in-the-jungle-moss-covered style ruins. It takes ages to get there, first by road and then by boat but once you arrive this old citadel is slowly revealed amidst the dense vegetation, with toucans and howler monkeys looking at you from all directions. It looks as if there is still much discover and you wish it was you the one who got there first.

Mary Anne

Mary Anne Nelson

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