During my Central and South American travels in 2018, I was able to visit quite a few Mayan ruins in Mexico and Honduras.
Here is the breakdown of which Mayan places I visited while traveling through Cenral America:
Teotihuacan is an ancient Mesoamerican city located in the State of Mexico, just east of Mexico City. This site is well known today as one of the most architecturally significant Mesoamerican pyramids built in the Americas. You enter the historical site at La Avenida de los Muertos, or the Avenue of the Dead. This main street connects all to all the pyramids, as well as other ancient Mayan structures, such as ball courts and residential areas. And their Anthropology Museum is one of the best in the world. Teotihuacan was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 and is the visited archaeological site in Mexico.
Tulum is a pre-Columbian Mayan port city located in the state of Quintana Roo. The ruins are built upon a 39 ft high cliffside along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum beach is one of the finest, with crystal clear blue water and white sand. Being close to Cancun and the Riviera, Tulum s one of the most visited due to the close proximity to Cancun and Riviera Maya hotel zones.
Next to Tulum are the ruins of Coba. The main attraction in Coba is the Ixmoja Pyramid, which as of this date, is still open for the public to climb the 130 steps it takes to reach up to the top.
Chichen Itza (Mexico)
Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian city built by the Maya people but most people remember it from Star Wars. Located close to tourist places like Cancun and Merida, Chichen Itza is federal property, and the site’s stewardship is maintained by National Institute of Anthropology and History. Unfortunately, its most famous landmark, the Kukulcan pyramid is closed to the public due to an accident. It is still one of the most interesting pieces of ancient architecture and is a sight to behold.
Uxmal is considered one of the most important archaeological sites of Maya culture. It is located close to Merida in Yucatan state and has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in recognition of its significance.
Palenque is located in the middle of Mexican state of Chiapas. Some of the finest Mayan architecture can be find here. It is smaller than Chitzen Itza or Copan but not to be missed.
Copan is a municipality in the Honduran department of Copán. The town, located close to the Guatemalan border, is a major gateway for tourists traveling to the ruins of Copán. The Copán ruins house a UN World Heritage site and are renowned for the hieroglyphic staircase, stellae, and museum.
One of the more amazing opportunities I’ve experienced was while in Guatemala, where I was involved in a “homestay” program sponsored by The Planterra Foundation, which seeks to improve indigenous communities while preserving their heritage and culture. This program places people live with a local family and experience life on their terms, if only for a few days. You learn the language, customs, and culture and see how the community is from the view of the people, not a brochure. This opportunity is one of the most rewarding experiences when you travel as you learn how much you can help these communities and families just by participating in the program. Their goal is to help kids, women and communities around the world by bringing tourists from throughout the world. In Guatemala, I have spent a couple days in a village by Lake Atitlan and participated in multiple activities with the people, like meeting local painters and artists, learning more about women’s roles in the community and observing their day-to-day tasks and way to make money to support their families.