If you’re looking to continue exploring the ancient Mayan world, you can head west from Bacalar towards Palenque. Located in southern Mexico, there’s really not much to see in Palenque town, its jungles is another story.
Palenque’s real attraction lies in the archaeological ruins hidden within the rainforest, just 20 minutes outside of town. Its grandness is a testament to how Palenque became one of the most powerful cities in the ancient Mayan civilisation, alongside the likes of Chichen Itza, Tikal and Calakmul.
The Palenque ruins are the second most-visited in Mexico, and some of the largest and most well-preserved.
New to Palenque? Our compact Palenque guide shows you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Palenque!
The most popular way to travel the 486 km (301 miles) from Bacalar to Palenque is an 8.5-hour bus ride that costs around 736 MXN ($36).
The bus company AU offers one direct bus trip from Bacalar to Palenque every night. You can expect a comfortable ride with spacious seats – good enough for a few hours of sleep in the overnight journey. Although it’s an 8.5-hour ride, you won’t lose a lot of daytime for exploring and you can also save one night in accommodation.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there was also an option to take a shared minivan from Bacalar to Palenque. But even if it were still available, we don’t recommend it. A minivan ticket costs around 1,750 MXN ($85), double the price of a bus ticket, and you don’t get a lot of legroom or space for your luggage.
A minivan journey does take 2 hours faster though. If you prefer a shorter journey, you can check the Maya Shuttle website for the latest updates!
Bacalar to Palenque buses are operated by AU. A sub-group of Mexico’s most popular bus operator ADO, AU offers comfortable buses that include air-conditioning, a toilet and reclining seats.
The bus trip from Bacalar to Palenque takes around 8.5 hours. That already includes short stops at Chetumal, Escarcega and Emiliano Zapata towns to pick up and drop off passengers. The bus isn’t allowed to make any other unannounced stops along the way.
The first bus of the day is also the last bus so if you miss this or find out at the bus station that tickets are already sold out, there is no more next trip on that day. This is why we highly recommend that you buy your tickets online beforehand. You can get cheap bus tickets via ClickBus, which often offers discounted rates.
Bus departure in Bacalar
Bacalar to Palenque buses depart from Bacalar’s ADO Bus Station. This terminal is located on the town’s main road, several blocks away from the beach area.
Depending on where your hotel is located, you can walk or take a short taxi ride. Keep in mind that taxis in Bacalar are not metered. Agree on a rate before getting in! Taxi fares range from 60 MXN ($2.90) to 130 MXN ($6).
Bus arrival in Palenque
In Palenque, buses make their final stop at the central bus terminal, from where the main square is just a 10-minute walk away.
If you’re staying outside of town or just prefer not to walk around with all your luggage, you can get a taxi with rates starting from 60 MXN ($2.90).
You’ll really feel like you’re treating yourself at this hotel, but without paying an extortionate price. You can speed up the relaxing process with a delightful massage at the onsite spa facilities or simply enjoy a drink at the bar.
As you splash around in the lagoon-style pools, you’ll be able to hear the monkeys cry in the jungle trees all around you. Alternatively, you can enjoy the jungle symphony whilst enjoying dinner in one of the two restaurants.
The central courtyard of the hotel truly feels like a magical oasis with its palm trees and flourishing greenery. In amongst these you’ll find not only a swimming pool, but also a hot tub. You won’t ever want to leave with their on-site restaurant that serves both delicious international and local dishes.
Located a short walk from the bus station, you won’t need to be dragging your luggage all around town. It also makes your visit to Palenque ruins super convenient.
The hotel owners steal the show here, making you feel at home straight away. The resident cats and dogs also add to the friendly atmosphere of the place. If you need any help with your visit to Palenque ruins, the owners will be more than happy to help.
Palenque can get pretty hot, which makes having a pool almost a necessity. Thankfully Casssa Vlanca has one for you to cool down in after your day of sight-seeing.