Mayans in Cancun, Mexico | Exploring Mayan History Steps from the Beach

The most well-known Mayan ruins and archaeological sites are in the interior of Mexico and Central America which can be difficult to visit, often requiring long car or bus rides.  The nearest airport to Chichen Itza is Cancun and then it is still several hours travel by car.  There are two noteworthy Mayan sites located within Cancun.

El Rey
El Rey
El Rey
El Rey

El Rey is located along the Hotel Zone of Cancun, tucked away behind large trees and a small sign.  For 43 pesos (per person) this hidden gem is an old Mayan village for exploration.  The area surrounding the structures is cut back leaving very little shade.  The site opens at 8 AM for the coolest temperatures.  There are plenty of signs in both Spanish and English translation.

View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site
View of modern hotel in the distance at the El Rey site

The entire site takes less than an hour to walk and take a few photos.

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The Mayan Museum, Museo Maya de Cancun, is just down the street from the El Rey site.  The museum opens at 9 am, one hour later than El Rey, allowing for a full morning of Mayan history. At a mere 57 pesos, the entrance fee is one of the best bargains in Cancun!

The museum was built in part to protect the San Miguelito archaeological site. It is a much smaller site than El Rey but the 1,000 square meters is a lush jungle with meticulously maintained gravel paths to walk around the site.  The jungle cover provides shade all day.  2014-08-30 09.41.16

The site is included in the museum entrance fee and well worth the visit.

Restored wall inside the museum

Restored wall inside the museumInside the museum are restored pieces of wall, artifacts, interactive videos, and plenty of exhibits in a large glass wall building.

Museo Mayan
Museo Mayan

Most of the exhibits have signs in both Spanish and English providing for a more educational experience, if your Spanish is as rusty as mine.  This is the side of Cancun that many tourists miss out on, and the locals are quite proud of.

28 thoughts on “Mayans in Cancun, Mexico | Exploring Mayan History Steps from the Beach”

  1. Wow, this is incredible. I definitely need to add this to my travel bucket list. I want to visit Mexico badly!

  2. I’ve been to Cancun several times and have never made it to either of these! Next time I’ll definitely have to check it out – I have been to the Tulum ruins a few times, which I loved 🙂

    1. Your kids would love it! There are tons of kid friendly activities and exhibits in the Mayan museum and it is really neat to walk among the ruins.

  3. The Mayan culture has always fascinated me and I can’t wait to be able to visit these world famous ruins! Thank you so much for all these super useful tips!!

    1. Tamz, these ruins are in North America and there are many more Mayan sites in Central and South America – they really got around! It is exciting so see the similarities and vast differences in each location. I hope to visit them all in my lifetime!

  4. I’ve always been fascinated and intrigued with Mayan Culture, and the ruins of the Maya Temples have always been something I wanted to visit. Don’t ask me why, but as soon as I read your post I was ex tactic and so amazed by the photos and all of those information you’re providing! Great post!

  5. Sounds like there’s a lot of interesting sites there in Cancun. I’d only ever heard about Chichen Itza before so this was an interesting read!

    1. Chichen Itza is spectacular! And there are many other fantastic Mayan ruins nearby for the ultimate combo trip. Yet, so many people miss out on the ruins right in Cancun!

  6. I remember learning Mayans during college, and I am amazed about their discoveries and early works! The early geniuses.

  7. I went to Chichen Itza this February and loved it! It was so exciting to see the center of this fascinating civilization. I missed the museum though! I went on a guided tour because I can’t drive.

  8. I would love to visit a Mayan ruins site someday soon! The history is just so fascinating. Thanks for sharing this, will definitely check back when I make the trip. 🙂

  9. I am always fascinated by the Mayan Ruins and cannot seem to have enough of them. The ancient culture is so incredible that i love to read about it again and again. Hope to get there some day to see in person.

  10. This post is right in time! We are planning our trip and I was just laughing how expensive is entrance fee to Chichen Itza, and all the other ruins in Mexico are under $70 MX. Great tip for this place, thank you!

  11. This is awesome! Is it bad I had no idea this was in Cancun? Will have to go there someday 🙂 educational and interesting!

  12. I remember learning about the Mayans in school. This village is a nice place to see to explore and learn more about them.

  13. Wow that’s really beautiful. I think I need to add Mexico to my places to visit for sure. Plus the prices are amazing to visit this stuff.

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