The Best Maya Ruins You've Never Heard Of
|WITHOUT PEER: The view from Edzná's majestic Temple of Five Stories (Liza Prado)|
Chichén Itzá. Uxmal. Palenque. For anyone headed to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula and interested in seeing Maya ruins, these are the "must-see" sites on any itinerary. Dig further and you'll uncover more favorites, like Tulum, Cobá, and the series of sites that make up the Puuc Route south of Mérida.
If you've only got a few days to spend on Maya ruins, by all means get the biggies under your beltthey're terrific. But if you've got extra time, or are back for a second or third round of ruin-hopping, consider visiting some of the area's lesser-known zonas arqueológicas (archaeological zones). And by lesser-known we don't mean less impressivenot by a long shot. Visit the largest pyramid, and the tallest pseudo-pyramid, in all of Maya Mexico. Admire some of the best-preserved stucco and stone artwork anywhere in Mesoamerica. Trek deep into a nature reserve, where you'll spot birds, monkeys, maybe even a jaguar or mountain lion. Or just skip Cancún's distinctly 21st-century bustle for a day to journey back to the ninth-century heyday of the Maya empire.
And going off the beaten path doesn't necessarily mean traveling through crocodile-infested waters (well, except in one case). The sites mentioned here are easily reached by bus, car, or boat.
Liza Prado and Gary Chandler are the authors of numerous guidebooks to Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, including Yucatán Peninsula and Cancún & Cozumel, both published by Moon Handbooks.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication