Chacchoben Ruins


Chacchoben is located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Chacchoben stands as a testament to the rich history and architectural prowess of the ancient Mayans. Situated about 177 km south of Tulum, this archaeological site is accessible also from Costa Maya and Chetumal.

The small village of the same name is located 11 km from the ruin site.

For many centuries the Chacchoben ruins remained silent as evidence of the greatness of the mystery of ancient Mayan civilization. But today Chacchoben has become one of the most visited ruins sites in Costa Maya.

The Chacchoben archaeological zone is surrounded by lush, tropical rainforests.

The surrounding landscapes provide a picturesque backdrop to the ancient ruins. The site covers an area with impressive structures, pyramids, and ceremonial platforms that once served as the epicenter of Mayan life.

The natural setting enhances the sense of mystery that envelops Chacchoben.

Chacchoben invites travelers to step back in time and immerse themselves in the wonders of Mayan history and promises a journey into the heart of ancient times, surrounded by the beauty of Mexico’s natural landscape.

Chacchoben, once reserved for elaborate ceremonies and now yours to discover.

The best time to visit Chacchoben ruins

The region is characterized by warm temperatures and wet and dry seasons.

  • The wet season, extending from June to October brings occasional rainfall.
  • The dry season from November to May ensures comfortable temperatures.

Visitors can expect temperatures ranging from 21°C to 32°C around the year.

The best time to visit Chacchoben

The ideal time to explore the Chacchoben archaeological site and surrounding areas is during the dry season, from November to May, when the weather conditions are predictable, and the site is easier to traverse.

The months of December to February offer particularly pleasant temperatures, making it an excellent time for a leisurely exploration of the ruins. Avoiding the peak of the wet season will ensure an enjoyable visit.

History & Timeline

Chacchoben in the Mayan language means “the place of red corn”.

The first human settlements in the area have been dated to around 1000 BC.

By 360 AD Chacchoben had become the largest community in the region of the lakes and consolidated as the most prestigious ceremonial center boasting Gran Basamento as its most important ritual plaza.

In the 1940s a farm was established near the site, but the ruins were officially reported to the Mexican government in June 1972 by an American archaeologist who made the first maps of the ruins of Chacchoben.

He stumbled upon this site while flying a helicopter, noticed numerous hills in predominately flat lands, and realized there were temples beneath these hills, which were naturally covered over a period of 2,000 years.

The site was excavated and restored in 1994 but remained closed until 2002.

Chacchoben is characterized by large temples and massive platform groups, its structures date from 700 AD. Temple One, soaring above the canopy of the tropical forest, still expresses the glory of ancient sophistication.

Chacchoben today

Visitors to the site today follow a circular path that includes three excavated and restored pyramids, as well as many walls and stairs. Excavations continue at several mounds that are known to contain more buildings.

Some of the ancient pyramidal structures still show traces of the red paint they were originally coated with, and INAH has installed shaded areas to prevent further degradation of this pigment by exposure to the sun rays.

At the base of the largest pyramid is a large stela with Mayan hieroglyphs.

The surrounding jungle is characterized by an abundance of fauna such as deer, peccaries, armadillos, gray foxes, spider monkeys, and howler monkeys. Deeper in the jungle you can find jaguar, ocelot, puma, and tapir.

How to get to the Chacchoben ruins

Chacchoben is approximately 150 km north of Chetumal.

You can hire a guided tour take a taxi or rent a car for a more flexible and comfortable journey. Follow Highway 186 will take you directly to Chacchoben ruins. The scenic drive allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Yucatan.

Chacchoben is about 300 km southwest of Cancun.

The most common way to reach Chacchoben from Cancun is by taking a bus or driving. The journey typically takes around 4-5 hours by car. Alternatively, guided tours from Cancun to and from Chacchoben are available.

Playa del Carmen is approximately 240 km northeast of Chacchoben.

You can take a bus or arrange for private transportation. Driving is another option, and the journey usually takes around 3 to 4 hours. Guided tours departing from Playa del Carmen, include transportation and guide.

Tulum is about 70 km northwest of Chacchoben.

The drive from Tulum takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours. You can either rent a car, hire a taxi, or take a bus to get to Chacchoben. Guided tours from Tulum provide an informative way to explore the archaeological site.

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