Palenque is a city and municipality located in the north of the state of Chiapas.
The city was named almost 200 years before the famous nearby Mayan ruins were discovered in the 18th century.
Surrounded by rainforest, the city is the only urban area in a municipality of over 600 communities. It is the poorest major city in the state of Chiapas.
While most of the municipality’s population is highly marginalized economically, working in agriculture, the Palenque archeological site is one of the most important tourist attractions for both the area and the state of Chiapas.
Our guidebook described the town of Palenque as “sweaty, humdrum place without much appeal“, but since we were staying there one night because we bought the guide after booking the hotels we were eager to prove the guidebook wrong.
The main road is a bit dusty and boring, near the Zocalo there is a tree-lined street full of shade with some funky bars and restaurants but nothing that could really make a trip to this town worth your time.
In the end we didn’t find anything particularly good to see or do in the city (damn the guidebook was right) so unless you need the refreshment and rest after visiting the ruins or you plan to go to the Roberto Barrios waterfalls I’d skip staying in Palenque.
But if you decide to stay, make sure you book a hotel with a easily recognizable name. We stayed at “Posada Nacha`n – Ka`an” and although there is nothing wrong with the hotel itself, it has an unspeakable name and sadly a name that is similar to a dozen other hotels in the city. Moreover Google Maps has the numeration for the Posada’s street all wrong and it sent us in the opposite direction where, luckily, a taxi driver pointed us to the hotel just after telling us to go back immediately because that wasn’t a safe area!
More on this Posada here: Accomodation Spotlight: Posada Nacha`n – Ka`an in Palenque.