Slowly Melting Away in Palenque, Mexico

Palenque Ruins from the top

Palenque, Mexico (Chiapas, Mexico) during the summer is hotter than two rats making love in a wool sock. It is advisable to stay far, far away during April and May as they are the hottest months. Being budget travelers, we stayed in a 3 person private room (since we were still traveling with Jaime from Breakaway Backpacker) that was only cooled by a ceiling fan and two windows in the same wall. Unfortunately, this design didn’t allow much of the hot air to escape the room. Instead, it just stewed when we cranked the fan up to the highest setting- which also made us fear for our lives due to vigorous shaking of the spinning, bladed appliance.

Additionally, Palenque doesn’t cool off much even after the sun goes down. At 10pm it felt like 112 degrees fahrenheit (44 celcius) with the humidity factored in to the heat index. Even stripped down to our skivvies and freshly out of a freezing cold shower, we would be dripping in sweat within minutes. This made it very difficult to get any worthwhile sleep.

Weather in Palenque

Although, the heat did lead us to find some amazing places to cool off. The obvious places were Agua Azul and Misol Ha. However, while trying to find other places nearby, we were pointed to a nearby river where the locals go to escape the heat. The river was wonderfully cold and teeming with plecostomus (algae suckers). There were also some smaller fish that loved to nibble on Erica. She never failed to let us know when they got personal by splashing, flailing, and shrieking.

Palenque RuinsEven with the sun making chicharrones out of our skin, we were determined to see the Palenque ruins. Staying in town, this meant we were only a short colectivo ride away. One thing to note is that on the way to the ruins the colectivos will likely stop at the Parque Nacional where they will try to sell you wristbands to allow you access to it. While I’m sure it is a lovely place to visit, you do not need to buy these wristbands to go to the ruins (and they aren’t pretty enough to justify the $25 peso cost).

When we got to the ruins we quickly found out that guides were very expensive. You may be able to talk them down or get a decent rate, but some of them were starting the bids at $900 pesos. Having a guide can be quite a learning experience, but should you opt out (like us) you can navigate the ruins quite easily on your own as the paths flow nicely.

In Palenque, we discovered that we LOVE jungle ruins. The shade, flora, and fauna only added to amazing views and atmosphere of traversing the ancient ruined city. Very few of the buildings are blocked off so we were able to explore some of the buildings Indiana Jones-style, crawling through dark hallways.

Also included in your $51 peso entrance cost is access to the museum. Wandering around inside will definitely add to the day’s experience and not just because it was so much cooler inside.

While we may have been slowly melting, we highly suggest spending a few days in this area. This may not be the most extreme weather we will be experiencing on our trip, but it definitely made an impression. What weather conditions have you put yourself through to see the sights you want to see?

Palenque Ruins - Morning

Palenque Ruins - Inside the Palace

Palenque Ruins - Inside the Palace

Palenque Ruins - Overview

Palenque Ruins - Off the beaten path

Probably my favorite picture that I have taken on this trip so far.

Palenque Ruins - Museum carving



31 Responses to “Slowly Melting Away in Palenque, Mexico”

  1. Sarah Wu June 10, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    Look at this amazing ruin. Really nice photos. Did you had fun hanging out and sharing room with Jamie? Even though it’s that hot. I started to worry because I want to have wedding in May, I think I’ll be so hot in my dress. I need to find something much cooler lol

    • Erica June 10, 2011 at 10:32 am #

      @Sarah: I think the reason it was so hot is because we were in a room with no air conditioning. A resort will definitely help out.

  2. megan June 10, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    Some amazing photos there! I always find ruins really difficult to photograph, particularly when it’s as humid and gross as it sounds like it was at Palenque! It looks like you got some beautiful light – did you go really early?

    Wow, 44 degrees C…insane!! I went to upper Egypt last summer and in Luxor it was 50 degrees (which seriously makes you feel like your chest was on fire), but it was a dry desert heat, thankfully. Humidity just sucks the life out of you!!

    • Erica June 10, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

      @Megan: They are super difficult. At Tulum, my lens kept fogging up and it drove me insane.

  3. Phil June 10, 2011 at 10:18 am #

    Great photos as always, and I love shaun’s writing. Very descriptive and hilarious. Love how you guys both offer a unique voice here 🙂

    • Shaun June 11, 2011 at 10:25 am #

      @ Phil – Aww, thanks! <3

  4. Jaime June 10, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    Oh man that heat was killer!!! Good times though & I loved that river we spent hours just sitting there doing nothing!!!

    • Shaun June 11, 2011 at 10:27 am #

      @ Jaime – Lets just get A/C next time.

  5. Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista June 10, 2011 at 1:27 pm #

    Awesome pictures! I was in Ixtapa Mexico one July and it was 115 with 115% humidity. Completely miserable. . . I feel your pain 🙁

    • Shaun June 11, 2011 at 10:29 am #

      @ Debbie – Since we’re from Texas, we’re used to heat. But apparently we rely on air conditioning more than we realized.Quite a wake up call.

  6. Punkoatl Rasposo June 11, 2011 at 12:43 am #

    The black tshirts dont help so much!! =P

    • Shaun June 11, 2011 at 10:30 am #

      @ Rey – I keep meaning to buy light colored clothing… hopefully something breathable too. 😛

  7. Micamyx|Senyorita June 11, 2011 at 6:00 pm #

    That is really hot! I’m glad there is a nearby river to save you from the heat temporarily. Even the weather here in the Philippines is kinda crazy these days.

    Btw, the photos are amazing. I wouldn’t mind the heat much in that case 😛

    • Erica June 12, 2011 at 12:09 am #

      @Mica: YES it kills me when it gets that hot because my body does a crap job trying to cool down. The river was a saving grace. Thanks for your sweet comment. <3

  8. Andrea June 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Wow – that’s some hot weather! We’re about to head to Colombia on Monday and are looking forward to some summer weather. But hopefully not that hot!!

    • Erica June 12, 2011 at 12:12 am #

      @Andrea: I think Colombia is MUCH more mild. Best of luck with your summertime! 😀

  9. Mark E Tisdale June 11, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    I was there in January and I was ready to be carted away after visiting the ruins, I can’t imagine going there right now! My sympathies for your stewing souls! Whew!

    I forgot my water when going to the ruins and I thought it would be like Chichen Itza where you couldn’t walk two feet without someone trying to sell you water.. hah… Not in January anyway, all the vendors inside were selling trinkets. I didn’t care what the water cost when I came out and saw the row of vendors there, they had me at agua!

    • Erica June 12, 2011 at 12:13 am #

      @Mark: Yeah – honestly I have never felt that hot in my entire life. I think that is what sparked my 2 week case of heat rash. It was intense! Luckily we started using our Camelbaks again so the water thing wasn’t an issue. They make me remember to drink water!

  10. Laura June 12, 2011 at 9:13 pm #

    Glad to hear you enjoyed Palenque. The jungle ruins at Tikal in Guatemala are pretty spectacular as well! 😉

    • Shaun June 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      @ Laura – Agreed! We should have our Tikal post up soon! 😀

  11. Bluegreen Kirk June 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm #

    I don’t know which is worst the $900 for the guides or the temp that feels like 109 at 9pm! Hope you too are able to enjoy yourselves. Love the photos as usual.

    • Shaun June 13, 2011 at 2:09 pm #

      @ Kirk – For us, the weather was much worse. But we still had an awesome time and loved Palenque. 🙂

  12. jill- Jack and JIll Travel June 13, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Ack! I’d die there – Can’t stand heat and I can’t remember being in a place hotter than 100 F!

    • Erica June 13, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

      @Jill: Living in Austin gets hotter than 100F lol! It is the lack of A/C that kills me.

  13. Robert McKay June 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm #

    First, I LOVE the weather graphic. SMOKE?! Seriously, wtf.

    Oh, wait, my wife had to look up the definition of SMOKE.

    “Small particles produced by combustion that are suspended in the air. A transition to haze may occur when the smoke particles have traveled great distance (25 to 100 miles or more), and when the larger particles have settled out. The remaining particles become widely scattered through the atmosphere. It is reported as “FU” in an observation and on the METAR.”

    It’s reported as “FU” ? LOL. Seriously.

    Aaaanyway, my most extreme weather was in Mexico as well when I went there in High School. It was over 105 in the shade with 100% humidity. We would by two bottles of water for any trip out. One was regular and the other was frozen. Within and hour the frozen one would be ready to drink. It was craziness.

    • Erica June 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm #

      @Robert: I couldn’t help but screenshot it… I mean REALLY? I don’t think that even with that definition that it should be considered part of the WEATHER. If so, I think we are in for bigger problems lol! Yeah – we have to have our water bottles and stuff ready to go every time we leave the hostel.

  14. Robyn June 16, 2011 at 11:15 am #

    My ex got to go to Palenque twice while we were dating. Unfortunately I was never able to accompany him. But he told me his favourite thing about Palenque is that there are so few tourists there and its like you have to place to yourself. You really get to explore the ruins there too unlike ruins in the more tourist areas of Cancun, etc.

    • Erica June 28, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

      @Robyn: Palenque was cool because if you went early enough in the morning, you had entire buildings to yourself. I totally dug it. Teotihuacan on the other hand was a crazy mess!

  15. Roberto March 9, 2015 at 5:34 pm #

    Hi, I am going to Palenque and surrounding areas in the last week of May through first week of June. I think this is around the same time you guys were there right? Other than super humid and hot, was rain an issue? I understand that this is the rainy season there. Did it ruin your vacations? Any input on the weather would be great.


    • Erica March 11, 2015 at 11:35 am #

      Hey Roberto! I think it was raining a bit but we don’t ever have an issue going out in it – especially if the weather is SO HOT. I know that the rainy season is at its peak in June/July so it will probably be raining a bit, but it shouldn’t stop you if you have some rain gear.


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