Located an hour and a half from Cancun, Ek Balam is one of the best Mayan Ruins you can visit in the area. The ruins here were opened to the public 13 years ago, and because of that, they are much less busy than their many counterparts. Ek Balam is one of the few remaining ruins that you can fully interact with as well, meaning you can climb to the top of the pyramid, scale and explore the other ruins and walk into the buildings. It is one of the most fun historical experiences you can have in Cancun. Here is all the information.
- 197 peso to enter
- 45 pesos to bring in a camera
Ek Balam Ruins
When you arrive, there is a large parking lot, and you will walk about 150 feet to the building that sells the tickets. This entire experience seems a lot less commercial then Chichen Itza which is nice.
After getting your tickets, you will walk about a quarter-mile past vendors and through a small forest before you make it to the start of the ruins.
The ruins of Ek Balam include pieces of the old wall, lookout towers, the main pyramid, ball court and a few smaller buildings that you can climb.
We headed into the area with all the smaller buildings first and traveled inside the buildings to see the interior of the ruins. Most of these rooms are not much more than an empty space with nothing left of value in them.
Continuing outside, you can climb the largest of the buildings in this section, and I recommend you do it as it gives you a great view of the area and the taller pyramid, you will eventually climb.
Traveling down from here, be sure to walk through the ball court. While this one is only a 20th of the size of the one in Chichen Itza and it doesn’t even have the rings for scoring, it is still a fun spot to see.
Again, you can even walk around on this part of the ruins as well if you wanted to see something closer up. From here you will walk through another small forest before arriving at the base of the building which is usually referred to as The Acropolis.
You will then need to decide if you want to try tackling the 100 plus roughy hewn steps to make it to the top. I highly recommend this, but it is not for the faint of heart as the steps are very steep. Many people often even tackle them on all fours as they can be difficult to maneuver.
That being said, nearly everyone from my group that set out to the climb them (young and old) made it to the top.
Getting to the top provides you with a view that feels like something out of an Indiana Jones movie. You get to look out 360 degrees over the jungle and see no other touches of modern humans. You can’t even see the parking lot that you arrived at, making it a truly humbling experience.
I spent a good amount of time up here just taking it all in as it is not very often that you get to look out over something like this.
On the way back down, be sure to stop off on the platform halfway down on the right. This section has a marvelously preserved plaster entrance to the tomb of the King Ukit Kan Lek Tok. I was shocked by how amazing this was, as it appeared like a jaguar’s face with teeth in the front, which housed the door to this famous structure. You can’t go in, but it is worth seeing from the outside. Take your time going down the steps as they are steep, but you will no doubt be on an adrenaline high from all the cool stuff you got to see on this structure.
On the way back, consider heading to the right of the stairs (looking out from the base), and you can see a few more old rooms in the structure, then wind your way along the backside of the wall before arriving back at the start of the ruins.
Ek Balam is one of the most impressive experiences I had in the Cancun area, and while I recommend you see Chichen Itza if you can only see one, it is really great to juxtapose the two during a trip as it gives you a real appreciation for the area and its history. Let me know what you think in the comments.