If you’re interested in Mayan history and archaeological ruins, you will love Palenque.
The Palenque Archaeological Complex is the second most visited in the country and dates back to 226 B.C. Another great thing about the ruins is that they’re only 15 minutes outside of town.
The Palenque ruins are set amongst the jungle, giving the whole complex an Indiana Jones feel to it. Although the structures are impressive, they are unfortunately not as well-preserved as Chichen Itza. Still, some people actually prefer Palenque’s ruins as you’re able to climb on them, literally taking the experience to whole new heights.
After an archaeological adventure, you can visit some waterfalls and lagoons, the perfect place to relax and provide a welcome relief from the heat. Some of our favourites are the impressive Misol-Ha waterfall, the stunning Agua Azul waterfalls and Catazaja Lagoons.
New to Palenque? Check out this compact Palenque guide to show you the best areas to stay, restaurants you don’t want to miss and many more tips for your visit to Palenque!
The main way to travel the 530 km (329 miles) from Merida to Palenque is a 9-hour bus that costs 1,030 MXN ($49.50). Alternatively, you can take a 5.5-hour flight (including a 2-hour bus and waiting time at the airport) with combined rates from 1,385 MXN ($65).
The bus is hands down the easiest way to get from Merida to Palenque. Direct buses are available 3x a day and if you take a night bus, you can save not only on day time but also one night in accommodation.
If you want to avoid sitting on a bus for 9 hours, you can also take a flight. However, there is no airport in Palenque so you can only take a flight to Villahermosa and then take a bus or private transfer from there to Palenque. Also, direct flights from Merida to Villahermosa are only available on Mondays and Fridays.
So that’s a 1-hour flight, 2-hour bus, and if you add the airport transfers and waiting time for your flight, travel time will take around 5.5 hours. Given the schedules and the number of transfers, we think that it will be much more comfortable and convenient to take a direct bus from Merida to Palenque.
If you still prefer to fly though, consider including a carbon compensation fee to reduce your impact on the environment.
Despite the long 9-hour journey, we still think the bus is the better way to get from Merida to Palenque. You can just sit back, get a good night’s sleep, and wake up in Palenque.
Step 1: City Centre to Merida Bus Terminal
Duration: 5 minutes Cost: 50 MXN ($2.40)
Buses from Merida to Palenque depart from the main bus station called CAME. This station is conveniently located in the city centre and within walking distance of many hostels and hotels.
It’s faster and easier to get to the bus terminal by taxi with fares from 50 MXN ($2.40).
Step 2: Merida to Palenque by Bus
Duration: 8 hours 50 minutes Cost: 920 MXN ($44)
Buses from Merida to Palenque depart three times a day, with one departure in the morning and two in the evening. Because the journey takes almost 9 hours, we recommend taking a night bus. Note though that the buses only come with reclining seats, not sleeper beds. Still comfortable, but may not be suitable for some travellers.
ADO, Mexico’s largest bus company, operates the buses for this route. ADO is known for its great service, with buses equipped with AC, reclining seats and a toilet.
The bus journey from Merida to Palenque takes 8 hours 50 minutes, including a few stops for food and bathroom breaks. A bus ticket costs 920 MXN ($44).
Once you arrive in Palenque, the bus will drop you off at the Central Bus Terminal, where you’ll find the main square just a 10-minute walk away.
If you’re staying outside of town, or just don’t want to walk around with all your luggage, the best option is to take a taxi with rates starting from 60 MXN ($3).
Merida to Palenque by Flight
Duration: 5.5 hours (including waiting time for your flight) Cost: from 1,385 MXN ($65)
When taking a flight from Merida to Palenque, you can only fly up to Villahermosa. From here, you’ll have to travel another 145km southeast by land to Palenque.
Step 1: City Centre to Merida Airport
Duration: 20 minutes Cost: from 200 MXN ($9)
Flights depart from Merida Airport, located 10km southwest of the city and only accessible by taxi.
Taxi rates from the tourist area to Merida Airport range from 200 MXN ($9) and 250 MXN ($12), depending on the location of your hotel.
Step 2: Merida to Villahermosa by Flight
Duration: 1 hour 10 minutes Cost: from 835 MXN ($40)
Again, from Merida, the nearest airport to Palenque that you can fly to is Villahermosa Airport. However, it’s important to keep in mind that direct flights from Merida to Villahermosa depart only on Mondays and Fridays.
Viva Aerobus is the only airline flying direct for this route. If their flight departures don’t fit your schedule, the only alternative is an indirect flight with a layover in Mexico City.
Taking an indirect flight doesn’t make sense though as it will take at least 4.5 hours. Your total travel time will then take about 7 hours plus a 2-hour waiting time at the airport – longer than a direct bus.
Ticket prices for a direct flight from Merida to Villahermosa start from 835 MXN ($40) and the journey takes about 1 hour 10 minutes.
TIP: Book your flights from Merida to Villahermosa a few weeks in advance to get better deals!
To get to Palenque from Villahermosa Airport, the cheapest option is to take a direct bus. The bus departs from the terminal right outside of the airport and takes you straight to Palenque city centre.
This bus service is provided by ADO Aeropuerto, a sub-branch of ADO that specialises in airport transfers at affordable rates. They have several departures throughout the day, but there are only 2 trips that you can take after an early evening flight to Villahermosa. All buses have AC, reclining seats and a toilet.
A bus ticket costs 350 MXN and you will arrive in Palenque after a little over 2 hours.
Bus schedule from Villahermosa to Palenque
19:50 – 22:00 20:50 – 23:00
2 hours 10 minutes
350 MXN ($16)
As bus trips are limited, we highly recommend that you book your ride beforehand. ClickBus is a reliable booking platform that also often offers discounted bus rates when you book in advance.
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.