Visiting Uaxactún Ruins: Top Tips & How To Get There

If you plan to visit Tikal, we think the Uaxactún ruins are worth visiting.

Even though the Tikal ruins are significantly more extensive and more impressive, the Uaxactún ruins provide a different atmosphere and experience that, we feel, cannot be had at Tikal.

The biggest downside of Tikal is the crowds. Every year, over 100,000 visitors crowd into these ruins. This can make visitors feel rushed and stressed.

But Uaxactún only receives a fraction of those visitors annually. This makes visiting the Uaxactún ruins feel much more intimate and magical. The ruins are also smaller, allowing you to take your time to explore each of the ruins and to soak in the jungle of the Tikal National Park.

Visiting the Uaxactún village is also a highlight to see and experience a bit of the daily life in a Mayan village. Watch the children play in the streets, see all the different animals wandering the village roads, and grab a delicious lunch at ‘Restaurante Uaxactún’ during your visit.

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How Much Does the Uaxactún Ruins Cost?

Tickets for visiting the Uaxactún ruins cost 50Q.

And tickets for Uaxactún are conveniently sold at the same place where you can purchase your Tikal entrance ticket. Like Tikal, you will need your passport to buy your ticket to visit Uaxactún.

How To Get to the Uaxactún Ruins?

By Private Vehicle

By far and away, the best way to visit the Uaxactún ruins is with your vehicle, either with your own car or a rental.

With your car, you can visit Uaxactún on your own time and schedule, instead of depending on a tour shuttle or the public bus (called a ‘colectivo’).

To get to Uaxactún by car, drive to the main Tikal ticketing entrance. At this entrance, the park officials also sell tickets to Uaxactún (50Q).

With A Tour Agency

Visiting Uaxactún with a tour is probably the most popular way tourists explore these northern ruins.

Most tours combine BOTH Uaxactún and Tikal and can be easily arranged at hotels in either Flores or Tikal.

By Public Transportation

Visiting Uaxactún by public transport is doable, but it takes time, and you’ll need patience.

From Flores: From the main bus terminal in Santa Elena (near Flores), catch the only Pinito/Colectivo bus to Uaxactún. This bus will pass through Tikal at 5 PM before finally arriving at Uaxactún by around 6 PM.

From Tikal: Catch the same bus that left Santa Elena for Uaxactún at the Tikal bus stop, heading north at around 5 PM.

When leaving Uaxactún by public bus, the same bus to get to Uaxactún will leave the town the next day at 7 AM. This makes it very difficult to visit Uaxactún in only one day. You will likely need to spend two nights in Uaxactún village.

Best Ways To Visit the Uaxactún Ruins

The best way to visit the Uaxactún ruins is in conjunction with your visit to Tikal. We visited Uaxactún before Tikal and slept the night in Uaxactún village before driving back south to Tikal.

Read Also: Tikal Guatemala: Travel Guide & Expert Tips

Banner Link To Tikal Guatemala Travel Guide

Uaxactún Ruins Layout

The Uaxactún ruins are divided into three site groups, and the modern-day Uaxactún village is situated between these groups. We recommend basing yourself in Uaxactún village and walking to each site group (approx. 1km away from the town).

A great way to visit the Uaxactún ruins is to visit the Group A/B ruins in the morning, then return to Uaxactún town for lunch. Then, head out to the Group E ruins on the opposite end of town in the afternoon.

Group A/B

Visiting The Uaxactún Ruins - Group A Uaxactún Ruins
“Group A” – Uaxactún Ruins

Located 700m northwest of the Uaxactún village center, the Group A/B ruins are a 10-12 minute walk away. Group A is the more impressive set of ruins of the two site groups, and it was hypothesized that the major stone structures here inspired Tikal’s North Acropolis.

To get to Uaxactún’s A & B ruins, find the “Restaurante Uaxactún” and start walking on the northwest road. The road gets steep and rough with several low-hanging branches. The direction signs are poorly placed, but it is the right direction.

For the best navigation, we recommend using the ‘’ offline map app to guide your way.

Group E – Major Astrological Significance

Visiting The Uaxactún Ruins - Astrological Sign Board
An Astrological Sign Board At “Group E”

Group E ruins are located 800m east of the Uaxactún village center. The signs pointing you to these ruins are poorly placed, so we recommend using the app to guide you there.

Although smaller than the main A & B groups, we enjoyed Group E more because of the site’s astrological significance. Several other Mayan ruins have sites with astrological significance, but we thought Uaxactún had one of the best (if not THE best) iterations.

Group E ruins in Uaxactun, Guatemala
Overlooking the group E ruins in Uaxactun, Guatemala

Group E consists of three small temples and a viewing platform. During the winter solstice, equinox, and summer solstice, you can view the sunrise behind their respective temples when you stand on the viewing platform. Though we did not visit Uaxactún during sunrise, we thought looking over the three temples from the viewing platform was still an excellent sight.

Do You Need a Guide To Visit the Uaxactún Ruins?

Visiting The Uaxactún Ruins - Group A Ruins
At The “Group A” Ruins At Uaxactún

If it’s in your budget, we usually think getting a guide is good. A guide can help you better understand the history of the Mayan civilization and each of the specific ruins you’re looking at.

When visiting the Uaxactún ruins, however, we think the magic of this site is really felt when you can slow down and take your time exploring the ruins within the jungle of the greater Tikal National Park.

In addition, we’ve found that the information boards placed around the Uaxactún ruins were sufficient to learn about the history and culture of this ancient city. Usually, the information boards at archeological sites leave much to be desired, but not at Uaxactún.

Top Tips When Visiting Uaxactún

1. The Uaxactún Ruins Are Best Explored Slowly

Yuko sleeping at the viewpoint of the group E ruins in Uaxactun, Guatemala
Yuko taking a break from the heat in Uaxactun

The Uaxactún ruins are considerably smaller than Tikal, and if you rush through, you can technically “see” Uaxactún in only 2 hours.

But what Uaxactún has that Tikal doesn’t are considerably fewer crowds and a much more tranquil environment. We recommend strolling, finding a peaceful place to sit in the jungle amongst the ruins and soak in the atmosphere.

We spent about 2 hours at the Group A/B ruins and another 2 hours at the Group E ruins. We felt that that was the perfect time to visit the Uaxactún ruins appropriately.

2. Look Out for the Many Ruin Information Signs

Unlike many other Mayan ruins in Guatemala and Mexico, we thought the Uaxactún information signs were well-written and informative. While exploring the ruins at each individual site, look for these information signs.

3. Use the Right Map App To Navigate the Uaxactún Ruins

In Uaxactún village, the signs directing you to each site group are abysmal. The signs are poorly placed, and there is no map to guide you. There is no cell data in the village, and Google Maps doesn’t work well.

In our experience, the offline map app works very well. The village roads and walking paths in the jungle are accurate enough to get you to each Uaxactún archeology group site. is also very handy to find Group A when you’re at Group B because the path, in reality, is a bit tricky to find.

4. Tread Carefully Among the Uaxactún Ruins

Unlike other Mayan ruins in the region, there are almost no signs prohibiting you from scrambling up each of the stone pyramids and structures.

While climbing ancient pyramids is fun, please treat carefully when walking along the stone walls. Weather and time have loosened many stone pieces, and many are just barely hanging on to the greater ruins structure. This is important for your safety and the preservation of the Uaxactún ruins.

5. Bring Strong Mosquito Repellent

The mosquito problem can be bad or even MUCH worse depending on when you visit. Wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt helps but can be uncomfortable in the heat.

Bringing along a strong mosquito repellant makes a huge difference when visiting the Uaxactún ruins. Spend time exploring and not worrying about all the mosquitoes flying around you.

6. Hitch Hike Between Tikal and Uaxactún

If you plan to travel to and from Uaxactún with public transportation, know that only one bus each day leaves and arrives. So, it is very limited in flexibility.

If you want to move faster, try hitchhiking along the single road between Tikal and Uaxactún. Few vehicles pass through this road on any given day, but there’s a good chance one will stop for you.

Where To Sleep in Uaxactún

Campamento El Chiclero: Just northeast of Restaurante Uaxactún, this little hotel has ten rooms with decent mattresses and mosquito nets.

The town is small, and the locals are friendly. When in doubt about where to sleep, ask around when you get off the public bus, and they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.

Where To Eat in Uaxactún

There are several informal eateries spread throughout Uaxactún village. But for a proper sit-down meal, we’ve found that the Restaurante Uaxactún is probably the best food option in town. The food is delicious, and the bathroom is impeccably clean.

Restaurante Uaxactún is located on the north side of the large grassy field in the center of the village. There is also a large sign out front, so it’s difficult to miss.

Ford Transit camper van camped next to a restaurant in Uaxactun village, Guatemala
Overnight camping next to the Restarante Uaxactun

Camper Van Tip: It is possible to park your camper and sleep just outside the restaurant. We asked the owner for permission with the understanding that we would eat breakfast there the next morning.

History of Uaxactún

Uaxactún’s Original Name

Did you know that Uaxactún is not the original name of this Mayan city? The original name was Siaan K’aan, which roughly translates to ‘Born In Heaven’. The name ‘Uaxactún’ was given to the site in 1916 by the American archeologist Sylvanus Morley, who discovered the site. The name ‘Uaxactún’ means “Eight Stones” and was given this name because the earliest inscription found at this site dated back to the 8th Baktún of the Mayan Calander, which, at the time, was the earliest known Mayan date.

Uaxactún’s Defeat And Prosperity

Because of Uaxactún’s physical proximity to Tikal, the two cities were perpetually at war. By 378 A.D, Uaxactún was utterly defeated by Tikal’s greater forces.

However, instead of destroying Uaxactún, Tikal allowed the defeated city to grow and prosper. Uaxactún maintained a certain level of autonomy from Tikal and was allowed to continue to build temples and conduct monument carving rituals.

Throughout the next few centuries, Uaxactún continued to grow in population and expanded the construction of new structures. At the city’s height by the early 1700s, Uaxactún had erected residential areas, plazas, and temples. Builders had even constructed a series of temples with important astronomical significance (Group E ruins).

Uaxactún’s Final Demise

But by the mid-to-late 1700s, Uaxactún began its steady decline into abandonment. In the Late Classic period, this decline coincided with the demise of their neighbor, Tikal.

Our Uaxactún Ruins Itinerary

Animals grazing on the grassy field in Uaxactun village, Guatemala
Horses grazing on the grass fields in Uaxactun village

We arrived at Uaxactún village just before 11 AM in our camper van. We parked next to Restaurante Uaxactún, located right in the middle of the town, and had lunch in the restaurant.

After lunch, we visited the Group A & B archaeology sites located 700m northwest of the village. The path first took us to site B, which consisted of several smaller structures and a well-preserved ball court. Using the offline map, we continued to the Group A structures, which were impressively large and complicated. We could explore all around, on top, and in between the structures.

We spent about 2 hours at the Group A & B sites.

Afterward, we found our way back to the village and continued to the Group E ruins on the east side of town. We spent another two hours exploring and resting among these astrologically significant structures. Just before sunset, we returned to our camper van and spent the night sleeping beside the restaurant.

The following day, we ate breakfast at the restaurant and left the village on our way to Tikal by 9 AM.

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If you have any questions about visiting the Uaxactun ruins in Guatemala, please let us know in the comments section below.

Happy traveling!

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