Palenque is a must-see on any itinerary of Maya ruins. It is a relatively small site—by no means as large as Chichén Itzá  or Tikal —but considered by many to be the Mona Lisa of Maya ruins, with a particularly graceful design and construction. Its setting, on a lush green shelf at the edge of the Sierra de Chiapas forest, perfectly complements its elegant design and ornate carvings.
The Maya calendar places great significance on the year 2012 and countries throughout the Mundo Maya are planning a yearlong uplifting of Maya culture with events and ceremonies at various Maya archaeological sites.
To learn about what is planned for 2012 at Palenque, please visit the Palenque in 2012 page from our Maya 2012 travel guide .
And unlike many archaeological sites, Palenque’s museum  is terrific, with a small but exquisite collection of stone, ceramic, and stucco artifacts, accompanied by well-written explanations.
The Palenque archaeological site is open 8 a.m.–5 p.m. daily (US$4.75, free after 4 p.m., last entry at 4:30 p.m.). The museum  is open 10 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday only.Guides can be hired at the entrance to the ruins; official trained guides charge US$85 for a two-hour tour in English or US$60 in Spanish, or you can test your luck with one of the freelance guides hanging out near the entrance, who charge US$20–25 for a somewhat shorter tour, and who typically speak Spanish only.
Palenque is technically part of a national park, and there’s a park-service gate a kilometer or so before reaching the ruins; admission is US$2 per person. There is parking at the ruins, although on busy days drivers end up parking well down the access road.
It is possible to enter the archaeological site at a smaller gate just past the museum, but from there it’s a steep uphill walk to the main structures. A better idea, if you’re arriving by combi, is to enter at the main gate and exit through the lower one, where it’s just a short walk to the museum.