Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins

Welcome to your Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins!  One of the coolest things about travel, is finding off-the-beaten path places ~ set right in the midst of high-tourist areas, like Cancun.  The Ek Balam ruins are one of those places.  Just two-hours from Cancun’s International Airport, these ruins give you a chance to explore & feel like Indiana Jones…or Jane!  Compared to nearby Chichen Itza, which receives over 2 million visitors per year: Ek Balam receives just a fraction of this.

So for people who truly love the adventure of travel….this is a fantastic place to visit.

Ultimate Guide to the El Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

The coolest thing about the Ek Balam ruins: you can CLIMB them!!  At most other ruins, you can’t…

Map of Ek Balam

Cancun International Airport

Ek Balam Ruins

Zentik Project Hotel & Spa

Quick Facts about Ek Balam Ruins

  • Is Ek Balam Worth Visiting?  If you’re in the Cancun area for longer than five days, & enjoy history & architecture: then YES, I think it’s worth it. It’s also worth it if you’ve already rented a car, & will combine a visit to Ek Balam with other nearby attractions ~ such as the Pink Sea (two hours north), or Chichen Itza (an hour south-west).
  • Do You Need to Rent a Car to Get to Ek Balam?  YES. Unless you join a tour from Cancun, you’ll need to have your own wheels. I drove ALL over the Yucatan during the two months spent there: & I found it easier than driving in the States. Because there are so many toll roads, there’s very little traffic. The only thing you really need to worry about is SPEED BUMPS!! They’re soooo bad in the Yucatan, especially near any town. For more reassurance on renting a car in this region, read my complete guide to renting a car in the Yucatan. 

And if you’re set on renting a car, I use Discover Cars to search prices beforehand. You ALWAYS get a better deal if you rent in advance (trust me…I’ve tested this theory in countries everywhere around the world). Check rental car rates in Cancun here.

  • Can You Still Climb Ek Balam in 2023 & 2024?  YES!! That’s what makes these ruins so special. Chichen Itza, for instance, doesn’t allow you to climb any of its pyramids; Uxmal (by Merida) allows you to climb some. Take advantage of the fact that you can still climb the pyramids at Ek Balam, the tallest of which is 95 feet tall.
  • How Much Does it Cost to Enter Ek Balam Ruins?  180 pesos (about $10). The entrance fee must be paid in CASH, & there’s no ATM on-site ~ so come prepared! Use an ATM in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or wherever you’re coming from! It’s always good to have extra cash in Mexico: for tolls, entrance fees, restaurants that don’t accept credit cards, or if you get pulled over (you can usually pay your way out of it).
  • How Much Time Do You Need at the Ruins?  About two to three hours. And more if you plan to swim in gorgeous Cenote Xcanche, which is located about 10 minutes from the ruins (you can walk or bike there).
  • Is There Anywhere to Stay by Ek Balam?  If you want to be right by the ruins, there are a few hotels situated right by the entrance: 1) Unajil Ek Balam (cozy cabana-lodging run by local Mayans, $40+), 2) Cabana Magica & Yoga (another intimate cabana-loding experience; Arturo, who teaches yoga & massage here has “Magic Hands!” $126+), & 3) Genesis Eco-Oasis (jungle lodgings with outdoor showers, a beautiful garden, & pool, $75+).  All three of these accommodations are very peaceful: less like staying in a hotel, more like staying with locals.
  • Where to Stay if You Also Want to Visit Chichen Itza & Cenotes = Valladolid is a good place to base yourself if you’re interested in taking in many area sights; it’s a good central location. Hotel Zentik Project ($317+) has a gorgeous, cave-like indoor pool ~ & an outdoor one too! They offer spa services & authentically-decorated rooms: this is more upscale than the hotels right at Ek Balam. Or there’s Le Muuch Hotel ($240), with a good location right in town ~ & an indoor & outdoor pool. Free breakfast is served, & there’s a nice rooftop terrace.

Zentik Cave Pool, Where to Stay by Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico? Girl Who Travels the World

This AMAZING indoor cave pool at Zentik Project Hotel is like being in your very own cenote!

Photos of the Ek Balam Ruins

Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the WOrld

This is the road that leads you to Ek Balam: nice & easy driving.

Don’t be afraid to drive in the Yucatan Peninsula! Most of the driving looks like the photo above: traffic-free & easy going. It’s easiest to rent a car in Cancun, where most people fly into. The International Airport is located outside of town, & it’s easy to hop right on the highway & avoid crowds in Cancun. 

Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the WOrld

One of the first views I got within the ruins…

Photos of the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

You can actually climb most of the ruins here, which sets it apart from Chichen Itza & most of the other Mayan ruins.

Photos of the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

Interesting sculptures at the main building..

Photos of the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

The view from up top.

Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

More interesting art….perhaps a former queen’s throne..?

Ultimate Guide to the Ek Balam Ruins in Mexico, Girl Who Travels the World

Another interesting perspective: with the former thatched roof framing the ruins in the distance.

Photos of Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam

Cenote Xcanche was totally worth taking a one-hour detour from the ruins.  I rented a bike right by the main entrance, & biked ten minutes to reach the cenote…which is one of the most beautiful in the Yucatan.  And yes, you can swim .  It was late afternoon when I arrived, & a large group had just left, so I had the cenote practically to myself….

Photos of Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam Ruins, Girl Who Travels the World

Welcome to Cenote Xcanche, a five-minute walk from the ruins.

Photos of Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam Ruins, Girl Who Travels the World

Gorgeous.

Photos of Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam, Girl Who Travels the World

Walk all around the cenote…& the water will change color from different vantage points. Photo by Our Escape Clause.

Photos of Cenote Xcanche at Ek Balam Ruins, Girl Who Travels the World

Cross this bridge & you’ll feel like Indiana Jones…

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