11 Tips for Visiting the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal
Travel is a way to learn about places and cultures, and that does not exclude the ancient kind! At this point, we have visited five different Mayan sites (four in Mexico, one in Belize), and the scenery never gets old. Wandering through temples and pyramids was something I had always dreamed of doing, basically because I was always obsessed with Wonders of the World.
There’s just no way to describe seeing the buildings and temples from this ancient culture in person, and the Uxmal ruins in Mexico are an incredible site to see! The size of some of the structures will take your breath away! Plus, these buildings are somewhere around 900 years old.
Our biggest obstacle while visiting was the heat. If you visit the area via cruise ship, like we did, you may take that cool sea breeze for granted while you’re somewhat near the shore. The further inland you go, the hotter it gets. And oh man, it was HOT.
To make your visit more pleasant, we wrote down some tips that are sure to help you out!
Top Tips for Visiting the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal:
1. Protect yourself from the sun!
Slather on your sunscreen, wear a hat, and take your sunglasses. There is very little shade around many of the main buildings. Our tour guide attempted to find us shade as we stopped to listen to the history, but many times we found ourselves standing out in the open.
2. Consider wearing long pants and long sleeves.
Cover your body? On vacation in Mexico? YES! I realize that vacation usually means swimsuits, shorts, and flipflops, but that is not always the smartest attire. Or the coolest. Don’t believe me? Just check out what the locals are wearing.
I wore thin jeans and a t-shirt with three-quarter length sleeves, and a cap. It’s a bit gross, but the cloth caught my sweat and helped me to stay cool. Plus, I was more protected from the sun’s rays. Mark, on the other hand, wore short sleeves and shorts and overheated.
3. Ditch the sandals!
Again, this is not the beach! I’ve worn sandals or flipflops to Mayan ruin sites before, but opted for good walking shoes this time. As we climbed through the temples (some not fully reconstructed), over the uneven terrain, and up the pyramid, I didn’t have to worry about losing my shoes and the grip really helped.
4. Double-check your shoelaces!
On the topic of shoes, I felt this was so important that it needed it’s own number in the list. Walking shoes are great, but, if they have laces, double-check them before climbing ANYTHING! Double-knot them. Pull them as tight as you can.
Some areas of Uxmal are still open (as of this writing) for climbing, and I’m not sure you’d survive if you tripped on untied laces and fell to the bottom. Well, that was grim, wasn’t it? Tough love, yall. I’d rather you be safe.
5. Minimize your load.
The archaeological site of Uxmal is quite large. Massive even. There’s a lot of walking, stairs, climbing, etc., so definitely minimize what you are carrying with you. Take a bag that leaves your hands free, and keep the weight down as much as possible. It’s hot enough carrying your own body weight. You don’t want any more, trust me.
6. Don’t forget your camera!
I realize forgetting a camera is almost impossible these days since everyone uses their phones, but if you opt to leave backpacks or bags behind, make sure you or someone in your party has at least one camera. This place is gorgeous, and you’ll want to remember it with plenty of selfies!
See Related: 6 Unforgettable Experiences in Cozumel
7. Take plenty of water in with you!
This is one thing you do want to carry. The heat will drain you so quickly, probably before you realize you’re getting dehydrated. Definitely take water and drink it regularly to stay hydrated. The park does allow visitors to bring water, but our tour guide told us that food is NOT allowed. Follow the rules, you guys!
8. Watch your head!
We’ve talked about watching your footing, but some areas have low archways and openings, so be sure to watch your head as well.
9. Be on the lookout for iguanas.
The iguanas have claimed this place as their kingdom. And they are everywhere! They do blend in, so look carefully!
10. CLIMB! (At your own risk!)
At the time of this writing, Uxmal allowed visitors to walk right up to and in some of the structures as well as climb one of the huge pyramids. If you’re visiting soon, we urge you to climb! Why? Because our tour guide informed us that the park will soon no longer allow climbing at all. There are only a couple of temples left where you can actually climb the stairs, so if this is one of your bucket list experiences, you better do it now!
I have a serious fear of heights, and even though the stairs are narrow, I was able to climb with no problem. Coming down, on the other hand, was rough. I’ll be super honest and admit that I did cry. But, I’m so glad that I had the experience.
Why will they no longer allow climbing? Well, I would guess for many reasons. I’m sure they want to preserve and protect the structures themselves, but also to prevent injuries and deaths of visitors. Jenni, why do you keep mentioning dying? BECAUSE IT’S SO HIGH AND THE STAIRS ARE SO SMALL AND THERE’S NO HANDRAILS OR ANYTHING. Again, I urge you to be super careful and super safe.
No less than three people tripped over their own feet while climbing. With me watching. No one fell, but I think I had a small heart attack each time it happened. Crawl up the stairs if it helps. Just don’t fall.
11. Take a little cash for some food and souvenirs.
The Yax-Beh Restaurant at Uxmal served us THE best Mexican meal we’ve ever had. Ever. The dish we ordered was the Panuchos de Pollo. The tortillas are handmade, fresh, and oh-so-tasty, and the shredded chicken was absolutely bursting with flavor. We scraped the plate. And I may or may not have taken the leftover tortillas with me. Too good to leave behind!
The restaurant as well as the artisans on site all take US dollars as well as Mexican pesos, so get your belly full after all that walking and climbing, and be sure to take home a memento of the trip!
Have you been to Uxmal? What did we miss? Have you visited any other Mayan ruins? Is it on your bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!
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Jennifer is the founder of Just Chasing Rabbits travel blog. She lives in Mississippi with husband/travel companion, Mark, and three fur babies. After obtaining a BA degree in studio art and working in the field of photography for years, Jenni has combined her love of travel and photography to form this blog. Mark and Jenni share their experiences in hopes of inspiring others to have wonderful adventures and see the world.
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