Choose from 14 Fun Things to Do in Chiapas
ShowingFilter 1-14 of 14 listings.
Once a worthy rival to nearby Palenque, today the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Toniná are among the least visited of Chiapas’ many Mayan sites, but its remote location and minimal crowds make a tour all the more impressive. Toniná’s importance as a ceremonial center was at its height between 600 and 900 AD and the vast archeological site encompasses more than 90 excavated buildings dating back to this period, spread over seven hillside terraces, as well as an on-site museum.
Highlights include the Great Pyramid, the Temple of Prisoners, the War Palace and the Temple of the Earth Monster, famous for its well preserved ‘Mural of the Four Eras’, but the star attraction is the towering hilltop Acropolis. A 70-meter high pyramid reached by 260 steps, the Acropolis ranks as one of Mexico’s highest Mayan temples and offers spectacular views over the Ocosingo Valley below.
Toniná is located 14 km east of Ocosingo in Chiapas and is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am-4pm. Adult admission to the archeological park is MEX$46.
Address: Toniná, Mexico
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 9am-4pm
From $ 100
Located on the Usumacinta River and surrounded by the dense Lacandon Jungle, the archeological area of Yaxchilán is reachable only by boat, a 40-minute cruise from the border town of Frontera Corozal. Getting there is all part of the experience and the journey is as spectacular as the destination, with howler monkeys swinging overhead, colorful birds swooping low over the waters and crocodiles crawling along the river banks, before scaling a grand riverside stairway to the site entrance.
An important Mayan city between 681 and 800 AD, Yaxchilán is an impressive site, with more than 120 structures dotted around the sprawling plot. The ruins are grouped into three main areas—the Great Plaza, the Grand Acropolis and the Small Acropolis—and are renowned for their unique architectural design, featuring monolithic limestone columns, elaborate stucco facades, decorative lintels and ornamental roof combs.
Yaxchilán Archeological Park is located about 30 kilometers north of Bonampak on the Mexican-Guatemalan border and is reachable by boat from Frontera Corozal. The site is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the park is 49 pesos, and due to its remote location, Yaxchilán is best visited as part of a guided tour.
Address: Yaxchilan, Chiapas, Mexico
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: 49 pesos
From $ 91
The Pomona Ruins are a lesser-known archaeological site in the far eastern part of Tabasco. Set into the fertile plain along the Usumacinta River, the ancient settlement was at its peak from around 600 to 900 AD. And while the entire site occupies roughly a square mile, only a handful of structures have been uncovered. Standing atop the stacked-stone pyramids, visitors can look out at the surrounding jungle covered hills to imagine what must lie beneath them. Temple IV is the most spectacular built for the sun god Kin. An on-site museum contains artifacts recovered from the site, including stelae and sculpted panels from the temple.
The Pomona Ruins are remote, so driving is the best way to reach them. They sit about 155 miles away from Villahermosa, and about 36 miles form the more popular ruins at Palenque. Entry is free and visitors will likely have the site mostly to themselves.
Address: 203 Emiliano Zapata-Tenosique, 86989, Mexico
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
From $ 98
With a population that’s 99.1 percent Tzotzil Maya, Zinacantan is a destination for travelers who want to witness and explore the lifestyle and history of Mexico’s indigenous people. Visitors can learn about animist traditions and Catholic influence on a visit to one of the town’s churches or visit local artisans creating traditional clothing. A small market selling handmade Mayan goods proves a perfect place to purchase souvenirs or sample local fare. And while this village is worth a visit any time of year, visitors say a guide can help ease the feeling of being an outsider during non-festival seasons when travelers are few and far between.
Zinacantan is located in the southern part of the Central Chiapas highlands. The Feast of Sain Lawrence, the town’s patron saint, takes place each year from August 8 through August 10. Guided tours are a popular option since public transport between Chamula and Zinacantan is nearly impossible to find.
Address: Zinacantan, Mexico
From $ 19
Thousands of green parakeets inhabit the trees at the bottom of this massive plateau, giving rise to its namesake—Sinkhole of Parrots. Each morning between 5:30 and 6 a.m., as well as each evening from 4 until 5 p.m., these colorful birds dart through the sky as they depart for and return from the outside world. Travelers can bear witness to this spectacle, which is unlike any other, and which hits its peak between March and October. Sinkhole of Parrots attracts more than 80 other species of birds, including honeycreepers, thrushes and woodpeckers, making it a destination for avian aficionados.
In addition to an am impressive array of birds, travelers will find close to 50 ancient rock paintings nearly 70 meters below ground level. Visitors can climb down rocky cliffs to check out these images left by unknown artists between 5,000 and 10,000 years ago.
La Sima de las Cotorras is located in the Karst plateau in the municipality of Ocozocoautla. It is about a 90-minute drive from Tuxtla Gutierrez. Stone cabins are available for travelers who want to stay overnight and a restaurant with a limited menu is located on the sinkhole edge.
Address: Ocozocoautla, Mexico
From $ 188
A popular day trip from the state capital of Tuxtla, the small colonial town of Chiapa de Corzo lies on the Rio Grijalva and is the starting point for boat rides through the Sumidero Canyon National Park. Although inhabited since prehistoric times, Chiapa de Corzo is best known as the region’s oldest Spanish settlement, founded in 1528, and traces of its past can be seen in its exquisitely preserved colonial architecture. The red-brick mudejar-style La Pila Fountain (Fuente Colonial) is the grand centerpiece of the central Plaza Ángel Albino Corzo, dating back to the 16th century and shaped like the Spanish crown, while one block south, the Santo Domingo Church (Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman) is famous for its original copper and silver bell and now houses a traditional handicraft museum.
The town is also renowned for its annual Feria de Enero festival, a colorful carnival held each January in honor of the feast of San Sebastian, when marching bands and dancing troops take to the streets for a vibrant procession and the city hosts an enormous street party. The highlight of the festival is the performance of the Dance of the Parachicos, a cultural tradition so important it’s been added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Chiapa de Corzo lies on the north bank of the Rio Grijalva about 12 kilometers east of Tuxtla.
Address: Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas, Mexico
From $ 23
In a country that attracts tourists from around the world, Comitan, a thriving city in the southern state of Chiapas, proves a popular destination for a local set of travelers. Mexicans looking to get away from the day-to-day find Comitan’s charming colonial architecture, clean, narrow streets, perfect temperatures and close proximity to home ideal for a weekend escape. And increasingly, visitors from other parts of the globe are flocking to this unsung destination in search of a more authentic Mexican experience, too.
The city’s popular central town square comes alive at night, when locals and travelers gather in surrounding streets to watch live music and performers dance to traditional beats. Visitors to Comitan can tuck into plates of traditional or continental cuisine at one of the city’s numerous restaurants, or spend a day exploring nary attractions, like Parque Nacional Lagunas de Montebello or Zona Arquelogica de Chinkultic. From art museums to outdoors, travelers agree, Comitan is calling.
Comitan is the fourth-largest city in Chiapas and is located near the border of Guatemala.
Address: Comitán, Mexico
From $ 26
The relatively flat trails, lush countryside, well-kept picnic areas and crystal clear waters of the 100-meter El Chiflon Waterfall offer travelers in search of a city escape a natural wonderland in which to relax and unwind. Visitors can wander pathways to four different levels of El Chiflon—each more impressive than the last—and look out over vast landscapes while listening to the sounds of thundering waters. And while lower level trails prove an easy walk, be advised they do become steeper. Intrepid travelers can zip line past the lower falls, while less adventurous visitors can swim in the cool blue rivers.
The waterfalls of El Chiflon are located about 30 kilometers outside of Comitan de Dominguez and two hours away from Cristobal de las Casas. Both cabs and public buses are available. There are entrances on either side of the river. The falls open at 8 a.m. and camping and grilling facilities are available.
From $ 18
With its remote location, hidden away in the Lacandon Jungle, it's not surprising that Bonampak was only discovered by explorers in 1946. Encompassing a mere 2.4 square kilometers, the ancient Mayan settlement pales in comparison to the sprawling ruins of nearby Yaxchilán, but despite its diminutive status, Bonampak still stands out.
The undeniable highlight of Bonampak is its remarkably preserved murals, which rank among the most important of all Mayan artworks, dating back to 800 AD. The series of colorful frescos inside the Templo de las Pinturas are the most famous, featuring detailed depictions of court rituals, ceremonies and human sacrifice previously unseen by archeologists.
Bonampak Archaeological Park is located in the Chiapas rainforest, about 30 kilometers south of Yaxchilan, and is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the park is 45 pesos, while a further 25 peso fee is payable to enter the Ejido. Due to its remote location, Bonampak is best visited as part of a guided tour.
Address: Bonampak Archeological Park, Chiapas, Mexico
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Admission to the park is 45 pesos, additional 25 pesos to enter the Ejido
From $ 84
Formed by a geological fault some 40 million years ago, the immense Sumidero canyon is one of the most impressive natural wonders of Chiapas, with the canyon walls reaching heights of up to 1,000 meters and the Grijalva River dotted with waterfalls and caves.
While a number of lookout points offer a view of the canyon from above, the most popular way to explore the Sumidero Canyon National Park is by boat, cruising downstream from Chiapa de Corzo and winding through the gorge towards the Chicoasén Dam and lake. Hemmed in by towering cliffs and dense jungle, this is one of Mexico’s most dramatic cruises and there are a number of key attractions to look out for en route, most notably the aptly nicknamed Cueva de Colores or Cave of Colors and the Árbol de Navidad or ‘Christmas Tree’ waterfall, where the series of algae covered rocks really do resemble a Christmas tree.
Sumidero Canyon National Park is located between Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Chiapa de Corzo and is typically visited by boat from Chiapa de Corzo for about 160 pesos per person.
Address: Sumidero Canyon National Park, Chiapas, Mexico
From $ 23
San Juan Chamula, with its scenic streets, traditional architecture and indigenous people is one of the highlights of any visit to Chiapas. The church of San Juan is a popular site, with ornate wooden statues covered in tiny mirrors to ward away evil. Visitors will find a unique mix of Spanish Catholic traditions and old Mayan ways inside the church, which is free of pews and instead covered in carpets and pine boughs. As many healing ceremonies as Sunday services take place here.
A local market showcases traditional clothing, blankets and items from Zapatista. Travelers say it’s best to hire a guide to explore this town, since locals are suspicious of visitors and protective of age-old traditions and indigenous ways.
San Juan Chamula is located 10 kilometers from San Cristobal de las Casas. Approximately 99.5 percent of people here speak an indigenous language—typically Tzotzil.
Address: San Juan Chamula, Mexico
From $ 19
A slim cascade tumbling 35 meters from the cliff edge into the turquoise waters below, the Misol-Ha waterfall makes an arresting sight, set against a backdrop of lush jungle in the Chol tribe area of Chiapas.Often visited en-route to the Mayan ruins of Palenque, Misol-Ha and the nearby Agua Azul falls are two of the region’s most popular natural landmarks.
While the scenery is undeniably photogenic, the main highlight of a visit to Misol-Ha is the chance to swim beneath the falls and the deep, cool waters offer welcome relief from the muggy heat of the rainforest. A walkway also passes behind the falls, revealing a series of hidden caves that can be explored with the services of a local guide.
The Misol-Ha waterfall is located off Highway 199, 25 kilometers south of Palenque, and is open daily during daylight hours. Admission is 20 pesos per person.
Address: Misol-Ha Waterfall, Chiapas, Mexico
Admission: 20 pesos per person.
From $ 38
With its dazzling lakes bordered by dense pine forests and a seemingly endless network of hiking trails, the Montebello Lakes National Park is an idyllic spot to explore, sprawling along the Guatemalan border. Now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Montebello was Chiapas’ first national park and boasts an impressive 59 lakes, each naturally formed cenotes (sinkholes) caused by erosion of the limestone terrain. Notable highlights include Tziscao Lake, the largest and deepest lake, the Emerald Lagoons, the Enchanted Lake and the Tinted Lake, celebrated for their startling multi-colored hues, the effect of minerals in the water catching the sunlight.
Hiking is the best way to soak up the magnificent scenery and wildlife of the Montebello Lakes, with cabins dotted around the park for campers, but there are also plenty of other outdoor activities to be enjoyed. Horseback riding and canoeing tours are increasingly popular, but swimming, rafting and even scuba diving is possible in the lakes.
The Montebello Lakes National Park is located 61 kilometers east of Comitán in southeastern Chiapas, close by the Guatemalan border. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is about 10 pesos.
Address: Montebello Lakes National Park, Chiapas, Mexico
Hours: Daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: About 10 pesos
From $ 18
A multi-tiered waterfall of fast-flowing waters tumbling down a series of natural limestone steps, the Agua Azul (Blue Water) waterfall stands in striking contrast to the lone cascade of the nearby Misol Ha Waterfall and is often combined with a tour of Palenque. Named for its startling turquoise-blue waters created by minerals in the limestone bed, the waterfalls make a popular photo spot, but be aware that if you visit during the rainy season (June through October) the excess flow and silt can result in a rather less-appealing murky-brown shade.
At the foot of the falls, a series of pools and bathing holes make an ideal spot for swimming and during the weekends the area is filled with both locals and tourists, picnicking by the waterside, buying food and handicrafts from the cluster of market stalls set up nearby and cooling off in the shallow waters.
The Agua Azul waterfall is located off the Highway 199, 35 kilometers south of Palenque and is open daily during daylight hours. Admission is 25 pesos.
Address: Agua Azul Waterfalls, Chiapas, Mexico
Hours: Daily during daylight hours.
Admission: 25 pesos
From $ 25