Chacchoben Mayan Ruins

How to Visit the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Mexico (2022 Visitor Guide)

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Do you want to visit the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in Costa Maya Mexico? You’ve come to the right guide!

As a Playa del Carmen resident and local travel blogger, I’ve been to the Chacchoben Ruins, which are some of the least well-known ruins in Mexico. 

In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about visiting the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins including an overview of the Mayan archaeological site, how to get there, visitor info, and top tips for visiting.

Read on for my complete Chacchoben Mayan Ruins visitor guide.

Chacchoben Ruins near Costa Maya

What are the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins?

The Chacchoben Mayan Ruins are an ancient archaeological site located in southern Quintana Roo on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Today, the site is a popular tourist destination, and is open to the public for tours, excursions, and exploration.

Situated in the midst of tropical rainforest, the site offers visitors a unique glimpse into the ancient culture and history of the Maya people with several well-preserved pyramids, temples, and other architectural features. 

Visitors to the Chacchoben Maya Ruins can explore the site on their own, or take part in guided Chacchoben Ruins tours that are led by knowledgeable local guides. 

Whether you’re a history buff or simply looking for a unique adventure, the Chacchoben Maya Ruins are definitely worth a visit!

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins

Where are the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins?

The Chacchoben ruins are located on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in the southern part of Quintana Roo, and about 3 hours south of Playa del Carmen. 

And less than 1 hour away from the popular cruise port of Costa Maya, the site is a popular destination for cruise ship visitors.

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Map

Why visit the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins?

The Chacchoben Mayan Ruins are a fascinating place to visit for anyone interested in history, archaeology, or learning more about the secrets of the ancient Mayan civilization.

Visitors can explore the impressive pyramids, temples, and other main buildings that remain from the ancient civilizations–many with distinctive architecture and unique curved lines.

Chacchoben is one of the less-visited sites, so it’s a great option if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. The Mayan site is also surrounded by lush rainforest, making it a beautiful place to explore.

Basically if you want to see some impressive Mayan ruins and have them all to yourself, then the Chacchoben ruins are definitely worth a visit!

Temple of the Vessels Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Mexico

How do you pronounce Chacchoben?

Chacchoben is pronounced “Chak-cho-ben”. 

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins History

Meaning “place of the red corn” in the Mayan language, Chacchoben’s history begins with the arrival of the first inhabitants to the Los Lagos region (Region of the Lakes). 

The first structures at Chacchoben were built around 2000 years ago, and by 600-900 AD, the city had reached its peak. 

Due to its strategic location, Chacchoben became a hub for commercial and political exchange between the north and south regions of the Yucatan peninsula. The site remained populated until the arrival of Spanish conquistadores. 

The site was officially discovered by American archaeologist Dr. Peter Harrison in 1972, who then reported his findings to the Mexican government and the excavation began several years later.

In recent years, Chacchoben has become more popular as Costa Maya tourists and cruise ship visitors flock to see its well-preserved ruins. It is now considered one of the biggest Pre-Columbian cities found in the Los Lagos region.

Temple of the Vessels Chacchoben

How to Get to the Chacchoben Ruins

There are a few different ways to get to the ruins depending on your car situation and where you’re coming from: 

Drive to the Chacchoben Ruins

The easiest way to get to the Chacchoben Mayan Ruins site is by driving or renting a car.  Driving times from nearby destinations are as follows:

  • Cancun to Chacchoben: 4 hours
  • Playa del Carmen to Chacchoben: 3 hours
  • Tulum to Chacchoben: 2 hours
  • Mahahual to Chacchoben: 1 hour
  • Costa Maya to Chacchoben: 55 minutes
  • Bacalar to Chacchoben: 35 minutes

I personally drove to Chacchoben on the way from Mahahual to Bacalar and it was an easy trip and took less than 1 hour of travel time. 

ℹ️ One important thing to note is that you’ll want to plug in “Chacchoben Archaeological Area” into your GPS navigation.  We incorrectly navigated to “Chacchoben”, which is the nearby town and about 15 minutes from the actual archaeological site. Luckily we ran into a friendly taxi driver to point us in the right direction!

Travelista Tip: Make sure to start your navigation before departing as you will likely lose cell service along the way. 

👉 For a hassle-free experience, book your car through my favorite rental service Discover Cars by clicking here!

Chacchoben Entrance Path

Parking at Chacchoben Ruins

A large parking lot is available at the Chacchoben Ruins and costs $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) to park your vehicle.

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Chacchoben Ruins Entrance

Book a Tour to the Chacchoben Ruins

If you don’t have a car or don’t feel comfortable driving, the best way to get to Chacchoben is by booking a tour with transportation included. 

If you’re staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, or Tulum, it will be a lot of driving so be prepared for a long day!

👉 Book a Chacchoben Mayan Ruins tour from Riviera Maya by clicking here!

Chacchoben Ruins at Costa Maya

Cruise Excursion to Chacchoben Ruins

If you are visiting Costa Maya on one of the cruise lines, the Chacchoben Mayan ruins is a popular shore excursion. 

Tours can be arranged with roundtrip transportation in an air-conditioned bus from the Costa Maya port and include a bilingual tour guide and meals, and are commonly combined with a visit to nearby Bacalar, the Lagoon of Seven Colors. 

👉 Book the best Chacchoben Mayan Ruins excursion from Costa Maya by clicking here!

Temple of the Vessels Chacchoben Ruins

Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Visitor Info

Here is all the basic information for visiting Chacchoben:

Chacchoben Ruins Opening Hours

The Chacchoben Ruins are open daily from 8AM-5PM. 

Chacchoben Ruins Entrance Fee

The Chacchoben Ruins entrance fee is $70 pesos (~$3.50 USD) per person.  There is also an additional fee of $50 pesos for the use of video cameras or professional photography equipment. Be sure to have cash on hand as credit cards are not accepted. 

Best Time to Visit the Chacchoben Ruins

If you want to have the ruins all to yourself, try to visit when there are no cruise ships docked in Costa Maya. 

These are the most popular Mayan Ruins near Costa Maya making it a popular shore excursion for cruise ship visitors so there will be more crowds and tour buses during this time.

You can check out the Costa Maya cruise ship schedule online here

Chacchoben Temple of the Vessels Pyramid

Exploring the Ruins at Chacchoben

Here’s what to expect when visiting Chacchoben:

Chacchoben Arrival Experience

Once you arrive at the Chacchoben Ruins, you’ll be able to park and then head to the ticket counter to purchase your admission tickets. 

At the entrance, there is also a small restaurant, souvenir shopping area, restrooms, and a wifi station (not working when I was there!).

Chacchoben Ticket Office

Tour Guides for Hire

Tour guides are available for hire at the entrance at the following rates for 50 minute guided tours.  Some guides are even of Mayan descent for a truly authentic experience!

  • Small Group of 1-5 people: $40 USD ($750 pesos)
  • Groups of 6 or more: $8 USD per person

Chacchoben Archaeological Site

After purchasing your tickets, you’ll be able to explore the archeological site at leisure. 

These are the main structures at Chacchoben that are open to the public:

  • Gran Plaza (Grand Plaza)
  • Templo 1 (Temple 1)
  • Las Vasijas (Temple of the Vessels)
  • Los Gemelos (The Twins)
  • Gran Basamento (Great Basement)
  • Plaza B (Plaza B)
  • Las Vias (The Ways)
  • Edificio 24 (Temple 24)
Chacchoben Ruins Map

The ruins are spread out over a few different plazas and ceremonial centers, and the whole site has a tropical jungle setting with sounds of nature and abundant wildlife. There’s lots of shade, which is great, but be prepared for some sun in the surrounding area too.

Temple of the Vessels Chacchoben Mayan Ruins Mexico
Chacchoben Las Vias

One of the site’s most unique features is the curved lines of the pyramids, which is representative of the Peten style of architecture–one of the 5 styles of Mayan architecture that have been classified.  The pyramids are well preserved and it was impressive to see!

Chacchoben Temple

Another highlight for me was seeing all the spider monkeys and howler monkeys swinging in the trees!

But probably the most impressive part of the Chacchoben Ruins is climbing up the steep set of stairs to reveal the Gran Basamento, which is one of the largest pyramids.

Chacchoben Steps to Gran Basamento
Chacchoben Gran Basamento

The ruins are roped off and climbing the pyramids is not allowed–however you are able to climb up the first few steps to look around and take pictures.

Overall, walking around Chacchoben is a more peaceful and relaxing Mayan ruin experience.  It’s much more enjoyable than battling the crowds at the more famous sites like the Tulum Ruins or Chichen Itza

Tips for Visiting the Chacchoben Ruins

Follow these tips to make the most of your experience when visiting the ruins:

  • Make sure to navigate to the “Chacchoben Archaeological Area”: When I visited we made the mistake of navigating on Google Maps to “Chacchoben” which is the nearby town and about 20 minutes from the actual ruins.  Make sure to navigate to “Chacchoben Archaeological Area” to get to the right spot. 
  • Add Chacchoben to a Mahahual or Bacalar itinerary: Chacchoben is located within close proximity to Mahahual and Bacalar, which makes it an easy day trip if you are visiting these towns. I personally visited Chacchoben on the way from Mahahual to Bacalar. 
  • Try to avoid the cruise ship crowds: If you really want to have the ruins to yourself, check the cruise ship arrival schedule to avoid the crowds and tour buses with cruise ship guests. 
  • Bring biodegradable sunscreen: There is a lot of shade at the ruins but there are also several areas of direct sunlight so you’ll want to bring biodegradable sunscreen to avoid a sunburn. 
  • Bring bug spray: The Chacchoben Ruins are nestled into the jungle and the mosquitos and insects can be intense.  Bring some insect repellent to avoid bug bites. 
  • Bring an umbrella: It’s also a good idea to bring a compact umbrella in case of a rainstorm.  When I visited, a heavy rainstorm came on quickly!
  • Be on the lookout for monkeys: One of the coolest things about visiting the Chacchoben Ruins Costa Maya is that you’ll likely get to see wild monkeys swinging from the trees.  If you hear a rustling of leaves, be sure to have a closer look to catch a glimpse of a howler monkey!
Chacchoben Ruins Steps

FAQs about the Chacchoben Ruins

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the Chacchoben Costa Maya Ruins:

Can you climb the Chacchoben Ruins?

No, you cannot climb the Chacchoben Ruins.  However, there are ropes designating the areas that are off limits to tourists and in many of the structures you can still climb the first few stairs.

How old are the Chacchoben Ruins?

The Chacchoben Ruins were first built about 2000 years ago. 

What is Chacchoben known for?

Chacchoben is known for its unique curved architecture, which is representative of the Peten style of architecture, one of the 5 types of Mayan architecture that have been classified.

This less well-known Mayan ruin site is a hidden gem and worth a visit if you want to avoid the crowds and learn about the Mayan culture.

How much time should you spend at the Chacchoben Ruins?

Expect to spend around 1 hour exploring the Chacchoben Ruins. 

Chacchoben Pyramid

Final Thoughts on Visiting the Chacchoben Ruins

So are you ready to visit the Chacchoben Ruins?!  I hope this visitor guide was helpful in providing all the information you need to visit these Costa Maya Mayan ruins, which offer a fascinating glimpse into the history and culture of the Mayan people.

I had a great experience and was honestly so impressed with the Chacchoben ancient ruins–the pyramids were large with unique architecture and the jungle setting makes it feel much more natural and untouched. 

But the best part was that there were no crowds and we had the site pretty much all to ourselves.  Quite a difference from the highly trafficked Tulum Ruins and Chichen Itza!

The Chacchoben ruins make for an easy day trip and are definitely worth a visit if you are planning a Yucatan road trip and visiting the nearby towns of Mahahual or Bacalar.

Even if you’re not a history buff, you won’t be disappointed!

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