Discover the forgotten ancient city of Yaxunah -overshadowed by Chichen Itza

Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
Some of the details on a temple at Yaxunah Mayan ruins.

Yaxunah Mayan Ruins today

Most people have never heard about Yaxunah Mayan ruins or even see photos of them. This Mayan site gets overlooked because the famous site of Chichen Itza is just 13 miles away. While thousands of people visit daily the nearby ruins of Chichen Itza, virtually no one goes to visit Yaxunah.

Yaxunah (which means turquoise house in Mayan) is an older site than nearby Chichen Itza. Yaxunah is also not as restored. so it is not as attractive to tourist. But for those that like to get off the beaten path and explore a little more, you will find this site interesting to see.

Interesting facts about Yaxunah Mayan ruins

  • If you see on the map below there is a sac-be and an arrow to Coba. A sac-be is an ancient road that was built between two points. It was slightly raised from the ground level and flat. Here at Yaxunah there is a road that went all the way to Coba some 66 miles away. This is believed to be the longest road built by the Maya.
  • There are over 650 structures at this site.
  • Yaxunah is about 500 years older than Chichen Itza.
Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
A map showing the layout of the ancient city.

What can you see at Yaxunah?

The actual ruins are just off the road that passes by them. There is not a guard house or person there. These are just ruins out in a field. Some of the larger pyramids are completely covered in trees so you might not even think they are pyramids. Yaxunah ruins were partially excavated in the past but have laid dormant for years now.

As we mention below, it is best to ask in the town of Yaxunah for someone to show you around. Many of the ruins are off on trails, hidden in the brush and trees. Only about two medium pyramids are easily accessible from the dirt road. It will also be harder in the wetter season to find some of the ruins since the trees and brush is much thicker.

We have added a lot of photos here because we know many people will never get a chance to visit this ancient city.

Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
One of the medium size pyramids at Yaxunah.


Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
One of the medium size pyramids at Yaxunah.


Yaxunah Mayan ruins
Two large pyramids that are hidden by overgrowth.


Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
Here you can see a large pyramid through the trees.


Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
Some of the details of a temple at Yaxunah.

See the small town of Yaxunah just past the Mayan ruins

Just about one kilometer past the Yaxunah Mayan ruins is the town of Yaxunah. Here you can find a small Mayan community. There has been a somewhat concerted effort to tur this area into a cultural preservation area with a  small museum.

In the town you can find the small museum, a cenote, and an old colonial church.

The cenote is open for swimming and is supposed to open each day at 10:00am.

Yaxunah cenote
The cenote Lol Ha in the town of Yaxunah.

The small museum in town has a few artifacts and photos of the excavation. It also highlights some of the local traditions of the Mayan community. Entrance to the museum is 25 pesos.

Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
Artifacts inside the small museum in Yaxunah village.

How to get to Yaxunah ruins

To get to Yaxunah you will need to be on the old 180 road, that is not the toll 180 Highway. The turn for Yaxunah is just west of the town of Piste. The road is marked in both directions with a blue and white sign “Yaxunah”. It is about 22 kilometers down the road to the ruins. You will pass through two small communities. Watch for topes (speed bumps) and some potholes. The ruins of Yaxunah will be on your left. Look for the sign ” Z.A Yaxunah”. This stands for Archeological Zone of Yaxunah.

Yaxunah Mayan ruins Yucatan
The sign that marks the turn to the Mayan ruins of Yaxunah.

The pull off is a dirt road. On the map below you see the site marked off the main road. This is a very basic road with only a little room to pull over and park..

Our recommendations for visiting Yaxunah

This set of ruins is not visited very much. In fact you might be the only ones here. This is not the place that many first time visitors to the area would venture to. For those that have seen some of the larger Mayan ruin sites, this will be more like an adventure to you. We do advise that you go to the town of Yaxunah first. Here you can visit the museum and possibly ask if there is someone that can show you the ruins. Many parts of the ruins are off on trails and it is very easy to miss a lot of it. You will also be helping support the local community by paying someone to show you around. It will also help show the importance of preserving history and this, is something people are interested in.

If you would like to read more about other Mayan ruins in the Yucatan Peninsula, see our guide here which includes some videos at selected Mayan ruin sites. If you like off the beaten path ruins, check out Kuluba ruins which is near Tizimin, Yucatan. 

Have you been to Yaxunah ruins before? What did you think? Or do you have questions? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

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  1. You are always finding cool Mayan ruins in the area. Keep up to good writing. I never knew there was so much in the Yucatan. I must get there to explore more.

    • Thank you Stephanie. We hope you get to go here. There are many places like this in the Yucatan. We have some articles like this on the site and even if not every person is interested, we love it when someone finds it helpful.

  2. Yes…it is best to arrange a guide at the community center in the pueblo and the main reason: snakes! You truly do not want to step on a Yucatan rattler. The community wants to keep you safe and out of harms way. Your guide will most likely carry a machete.(I personally saw vultures feeding on a dead fer de lance in the road. Now there’s a truly nasty viper!)
    Also: When exploring tuck your pants/jeans cuffs into your socks to discourage chiggers, whose bites are horrendous. Bathe yourself later and wash your hiking clothes. Last, wear a hat to keep bot flies from landing on your bare head.
    I lived in Yaxunah for 6 weeks several years ago and taught English there. The villagers are friendly and welcoming to travelers. You can find out more here at their web site =

  3. Visited this site yesterday. It was a very interesting tour. There is an admission fee now, and there are gravel trails to follow to the different buildings. The step Pyramid was quite interesting to see. No, it is not as “glorious” as Chichen Itza, but if you love ancient history and ruins, then it’s certainly worth your time. It took us about 2.5 hours to thoroughly explore the site. We were the only people there, abs we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

    • Thank you for the update. How much did they charge for the entrance? and was this in town or at the entrance to the ruins?

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