What is it like to visit Calakmul Mayan ruins?

Mayan train stop
A view from the tallest pyramid of Calakmul ruins looking out over the jungle.

What is it like to visit Calakmul Mayan Ruins?

Calakmul ruins are not known to many people. The amount of daily people sure gives evidence of this. Compared with Chichen Itza which gets over 3,850 people a day visiting, Calakmul ruins gets about 60 people a day! This is pretty amazing because the site of Calakmul is larger and in some ways more amazing. Here is why.

If you think the iconic “castillo” or main pyramid of Chichen Itza is big, well compare it to Calakmul. The pyramid in Chichen Itza is 98 feet tall or 30 meters. The main pyramid of Calakmul is 148 feet or 45 meters tall. This makes the pyramid in Calakmul 30% taller!

Other interesting things about Calakmul are:

  • The amount of wild animals you can see. You can see wild turkeys, tropical birds, tarantulas, foxes, monkeys, and more!
  • You are in the Reserva de la Biosfera Calakmul which is a nature reserve.
  • Most likely you will never feel so remote from civilization.
  • There are many structures here including tall pyramids. In the video below we point them out to you.

Guides and history of Calakmul

Since these ruins are not visited that much, you most likely will not find a guide available to take you around. It is best then if you read up on the history ahead of time. Also take note of the map at the entrance so you can plan your walk through these Mayan ruins. 

Calakmul ruins in Campeche Mexico

What is the entrance cost of visiting Calakmul ruins?

There are three fees you need to pay for entrance to Calakmul. Here is the total cost.

  1. The first fee you pay is at the entrance of the 186 Highway. This is 40 pesos per person. This fee goes to the local community.
  2. After driving 20 kilometers down the road, you will come to the entrance booth to the ruins. This is the national park fee. This is 65 pesos per person.
  3. Once you get to the ruins, there will be a small welcome center. Here you pay the entrance to the ruins and get the official ticket. This is 55 pesos.

So, the total cost per person of entrance is 160 pesos.

Calakmul Mayan ruins in Campeche Mexico
The visitors center at Calakmul Mayan ruins.

How to get to Calakmul ruins?

These Mayan ruins are not the easiest to get to, but they are rewarding for those that make the trip. As you can see from the map below, Calakmul ruins is almost in Guatemala and near the bottom of the Yucatan Peninsula. At any rate, you will take the 186 Highway to Calakmul ruins.

What this map below does not show you, is the small road from 186 that parallels 269 from Xpujil. Do not take the 269 route. You will find the turn to Calakmul ruins closer to Chicana town (also spelled Chicanna). There will be large billboards next to the entrance.

You will see a toll booth and here is where you pay the first entrance fee for the community (40 pesos per person). After this toll you will go 20 kilometers to the next toll where you pay another fee for entrance. After this toll booth you will travel another long 40 kilometers to the visitor’s center of Calakmul ruins.

The 60-kilometer road from the 186 Highway has recently been paved! This makes visiting here much easier. It was a very bad road and made the trip really slow. You still can drive slowly to watch nature here. You can see many animals and birds if you keep your eyes open.  

Where to stay or plan your visit to Calakmul

Since Calakmul ruins are so far from most things, you will need to do a little planning. Here are some suggestions to you for routes or plans to incorporate when planning a visit.

  • If you are staying in Bacalar, this can make for a full day trip. Be sure to visit nearby ruins of Kohunlich, Dzibanche and Kinichna.
  • Perhaps you are driving from Quintana Roo state to Campeche, this can be a stop or overnight stay.
  • If you are coming from the coast, you can stay overnight at some of the hotels that are around the entrance from the highway or camping which is a little closer to the entrance to Calakmul ruins.

It should be noted that the hotels and places to stay are not near the entrance of Calakmul ruins. It is best to have a car so you can get around. From some of the hotels it still can be over one hour in transportation time to the Mayan site. To see what hotels are nearby and prices, see the link below. This area has some very affordable options.


What are the hours of Calakmul ruins?

The ruins are open daily from 8:00am-5:00pm. Bearing this in mind, you need to get to the turn from the highway at least by 3:00pm because the road is so long to the entrance it will not leave you much time to see the ruins.

If you are interested in visiting more Mayan ruins in Mexico, see our guide here to see more options.

Have you visited Calakmul Mayan ruins? Let us know what you thought in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

Calakmul Mayan ruins in Campeche Mexico
One of the pyramids at Calakmul peeking out from the jungle.

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  1. Is there a shuttle bus still from the highway entrance near Conhuas to the ruins? If not how much is the cost of a taxi from Conhuas to the ruins, return trip?

    • We do not know of any shuttle bus because there are so few people that go per day, it would be more like a private taxi. Since it is 60k in and out, a taxi would cost somewhere around 500-700 pesos. That is just a guess and there is not official prices, so you would have to negotiate. The same taxi would have to wait for you at the ruins a well since it does not make since for him to leave and then there would be no other taxis there to take. You might just try hitchhiking in or pay a passerby some money for taking you.

    • Hello

      One of the biggest questions is, where are you going to be based for your vacation? Uxmal is on the west side of the peninsula and Calakmul on the south end. Getting to each one is going to take some time. Both ruins are good to visit so it does depend on where you might be and what is closer. Calakmul is more remote and less people. It can be a more spiritual experience. Uxmal is on the Ruta Puuc which is a tourist route that has haciendas, churches and other things to see. Uxmal can be a day trip from Merida or overnight. Calakmul can be a day trip from Bacalar or overnight, but there are very limited hotels nearby.

  2. I just wanted to say that your guide was super helpful in going to these remote ruins. It was amazing climbing to the top and knowing that we were following in your footsteps. Keep up the good guides.

  3. Hello,
    How long did it take you to walk from your parking spot to the actual bottom of the ruins ?
    And is the path to get there well specified ?

    Thanks in advance!

    • The parking lot is pretty close to the edge of where the ruins start. There is a path around the ruins. It is a well made path but there are several paths and o good map. So take time to explore a little. Take panchos for rain and water with you. these ruins are deep in the woods.

    • You can drive on the road with your own car. Just take your time and count down the 60km. If it has been raining a lot it might be better to wait because the potholes will be hard to see and full of water.

  4. We are driving in our Jetta from Cozumel. I think we will stay first night in Bacalar, will go to Calakmul second day, and our second night stay in Xpujil. Does this work? If we would like a guide, where would we pick one up? Thank you! You’re recommendations are always spot on!

    • Hello Cris

      Thanks so much for following along. Bacalar is a good place to stop since it is on the way some cizilization before you get off the beaten path. Xpujil is a small town with only basic restaurants. So it can be nice to stay but dont expect too much. Staying here can allow you to take in one more ruin site before you go back to the Riviera Maya. As for guides, there is usually no one around to pay for a guide. Expect to walk around by yourself when you arrive.

  5. Hi, we┬┤re in Bacalar at the moment and think about stopping one night in Xpujil to see Calakmul. Afterwards we will go on to Palenque.
    But we heard, that the entrance fees are about 6-700 Pesos per person. Are you sure that your 160 Pesos per person are still valid?
    How many hours would you suggest to spend in Calakmul?

    • We are not sure what the current fee is but this should be the same or similar. Prices to ruins only go up a little each year or two. We also have not heard of them closing off climbing it. It takes an hour there of course the drive in and out takes a while, so plan your meal and snacks.
      Perhaps the price you heard is for a guide.

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