The weekend after moving to the Yucatán, we decided to go on a quick trip to meet up with our friends who were going to be traveling through Chiapas. Chiapas had been on my brain for a while so I was excited to go even though it would only be for a few days. We took an early morning flight from Cancun to Villahermosa (1.5 hours flight), then a 2 hour ADO shuttle bus to the small town of Palenque.
We arrived in Palenque and went to our hotel, Mayabell, which is the closest hotel to the Palenque ruins (about a 30 minute walk away). The hotel is located on beautiful grounds and we stayed in a 2 level palapa hut. You can hear howler monkeys each night and the hotel also has a great restaurant/bar (veggie options available) and temazcal which you can spend your time in the evenings. For those who don't know, a temazcal is a type of sweat lodge where volcanic rocks are used to heat the room and a concoction of medicinal herb-infused water is then poured over them to create the steam. There are different stages in the temazcal and with each stage, the room becomes hotter and you are guided with different songs, chants, stories and personal reflection to really give you a unique experience. The tradition of using a temazcal originated in pre-hispanic Mesoamerica to help aid in cleansing the body, heal the sick, help women during labor and to promote overall wellness.
After resting up, we left for the Palenque ruins early on that second day. We found a father/son guiding duo near the entrance of the ruins and we were glad to have them around to tell us about the history, different medicinal plants found in the area and what each ruin represented. Though everything seemed grand in size, the ruins you see are only those of the elite as the middle class and poor lived in huts which did not withstand the test of time. Only parts of the city have been excavated (about 15 sq km) so you get a compact idea of what the city looked like. Even in our hotel we found piles of stones which could easily be part of a greater building. Our guide also told us that all the buildings were painted bright red with yellow and blue accents (similar to the Tulum ruins) so you can imagine just how vibrant this city in the jungle used to be.
*Pro Tip: If you are planning a visit, I'd recommend that you go as close to opening as possible (you can visit starting at 8am) because Palenque is an incredibly hot and humid place, despite having shade from the jungle.
For our last full day, we knew we wanted to see the incredible falls in the area and decided to check out Cascada de Roberto Barrios. We chose to go here instead of the more popular Agua Azul and others because we wanted to be around less people and not feel like we were in a water park. Roberto Barrios had just recently opened so it was said to have a lot less traffic than some of the other beautiful waterfalls. We were incredibly happy to have found this place and could easily have stayed all day. It is a perfect place to relax, escape the heat and bring a book. To get here from Palenque, we took a van which was about 45 minutes away from the town and you can easily find a tour group to take you if you are not renting a car.
That's it! Let me know what you think in the comments below and I hope you get the opportunity to spend more time in Chiapas if you get a chance to visit;)