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    Mayan city of Edzna
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    The Parque-Museo la Venta
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    The pyramid of Kukulkan in Chichen Itza
Special Interest - History and Archaeology
History & Archaeology

Mayan Treasures of the Yucatán

Mayan Treasures of the Yucatán


  • A car with a tick VIP door to door
  • A plate with a knife and fork All breakfasts and more

Discover one of the new world’s greatest ancient civilisations...

Astronomers, mathematicians, builders, metal workers – the extraordinary achievements of the Mayan culture gave rise to it being considered in the past as one of the new world’s greatest ancient civilisations. On this archaeology-themed tour you’ll visit the ‘lost’ city of Palenque, which lay shrouded by jungle for some 1,000 years until its discovery in the 18th century. Watch the sun rise over the famous site of Chichen Itza – one of the greatest Mayan cities – with its mighty step pyramid, and venture into the jungle to visit the site of Kohunlich with its famous temple of masks.

You’ll also visit museums where you can discover more about these ancient people, see the artefacts they used and learn about their culture. During your tour you’ll also be accompanied by your expert archaeology host as you unlock the archaeological mysteries and treasures of one of the world’s most enigmatic peoples.


12 nights in hotels and 1 in flight

22 meals: 12 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 8 dinners, plus

Two soft drinks, beer or house wine with each lunch or dinner

Excursions and visits

  • Visit the site of Ek Balam and a nearby cenote
  • Sunrise tour of Chichen Itza
  • Visit the Gran Museum of the Maya in Merida
  • Visit the Museum of Anthropology and History in Merida
  • Visit the archaeological site of Edzna
  • Visit Campeche Archaeological Museum
  • Boat trip watching for dolphins
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Uxmal
  • Visit the Parque-Museo La Venta
  • Tour the Mayan ruins of Palenque, a UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Explore the unique ruins of Kohunlich
  • Visit to Chicanna ruins
  • Visit the site of the Mayan city of Dzibanche
  • Visit the old Mayan port of Tulum
  • Visit the Mayan Museum of Cancun

Plus all this…

Use of audio headsets on guided tours

View Full Itinerary

Day 1 UK-Mexico

Fly to Cancun, Mexico and transfer by coach to the locally rated 4-star Hacienda Chichén (4Q) where you stay for two nights. The hotel has a restaurant, bar, library-lounge, outdoor pool and spa (charges apply), and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 28 air-conditioned rooms has a hairdryer. D

Day 2 Ek Balam and cenote

Acropolis, the largest structure at Ek Balam ruins, Yucatan

This morning set off for your first archaeology visit as you travel to Ek Balam.

The ancient city of Ek Balam was established around 600 BC and was at its height during the late 8th and early 9th century. By the start of the 17th century however, it had been abandoned and lay undiscovered until the late 20th century. The site is made up of some 45 structures, including the impressive Acropolis just under 100 foot high, with its famous jaguar sculpture and steep steps, the temple of El Trono with its monster-mouth shaped doorway, preserved wall paintings and defence walls.

After your visit head for a nearby cenote (a naturally occuring water filled pit) where you can cool off, or just relax. Afterwards, return to your hotel, a colonial farmhouse originally built in the 16th century and set within tropical gardens, where you can enjoy the afternoon at leisure. B, D

Day 3 Cancun-Merida

Chichen Itza at sunrise

A thrilling experience awaits you early this morning as you enjoy private access to the pre-Colombian Mayan site of Chichén Itzá and watch the sun rise over the ruins before the crowds arrive.

This extraordinary and sacred site is regarded as one of the greatest ancient Mayan cities and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amongst its structures is the Step Pyramid of Kukulcan or ‘El Castillo (the castle). Built during or after the 8th century AD on top of an earlier building, the pyramid is considered to be a representation of the Mayan calendar, with a total of 365 steps – one for each day of the year. There are 18 tiers on each side, equivalent to the number of months in the Mayan calendar, together with other features, representing the mathematical and astronomical skill of the Mayan. Contained within the pyramid also lies an altar in the form of a jaguar with eyes of jade. Other buildings at the site include the ball court, Temple of Warriors and the Well of Sacrifices.

Please note for conservation reasons there's no access inside the pyramid.

Afterwards, continue to the city of Merida, regarded as the cultural heart of the Yucatan region, with its colonial architecture, museums and pleasing city spaces, and where you will stay overnight at the colonial style, locally rated 4-star Mision Merida Panamericana Hotel (3Q), in the heart of the city. The hotel has a swimming pool, restaurant, and cafe. Each of the 110 air-conditioned rooms has a television and safe. B

Day 4 Merida

Mayan artifacts

Explore the culture and history of the Mayan people in depth as you visit two important museums today – the El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya (the Grand Museum of the Mayan World) and the Campeche Archaeological Museum.

The Museum of the Mayan World housed in a state-of-the-art building in Merida, is home to some 1100 exhibits ranging from textiles to sculpture. Explore the geographical and territorial influences on the cultures that span some 3,000 years, their customs, agriculture and ceremonies, together with their history through the artefacts, exhibitions and displays in both permanent and temporary exhibitions. You’ll also visit the Anthropology and History Museum in Merida housed in an impressive mansion. The museum provides insight into Mayan history with artefacts from ancient sites, photographic gallery, textiles and more, as well as temporary exhibitions. 

Afterwards transfer to the locally rated 3-star Sotuta de Peon (4Q+), where you’ll stay overnight. This village-style resort lies within a plantation zone and facilities include a restaurant, lounge bar, outdoor pool and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 30 rooms are situated in bungalows in the grounds and have air-conditioning, television and telephone. B, D

Day 5 Tecoh-Champoton

Uxmal, an important Mayan site

Depart for Tecoh in the heart of Yucatan’s henequén plantation zone.

Learn about the making of henequen fibre and how it is used for making traditional rugs and ropes on a guided tour of the hotel’s working farm. Next travel to Uxmal, considered one of the most important sites in Mayan culture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Covering some 150 acres, the site is regarded as the epitomy of late Mayan architecture. The crowning glory is the Pyramid of the Magician, with its unusual construction formed of three concentric parts. Close by lie a quadrangle of buildings believed to have once been a palace or house. The site is also home to other buildings including the Governor’s Palace, the Houses of Turtles and Pigeons and further pyramids, all in the distinctive Puuc architectural style particular to Mayan architecture of the 7th-10th centuries.

Afterwards continue to the locally rated 4-star Tucan Siho Hotel (4Q) where you stay for two nights. The hotel has a beachfront setting and facilities include an outdoor pool, restaurant, lounge-bar, and gym. Each of the 74 air-conditioned rooms has a telephone and television. B, D

Day 6 Champotón

The archaeological site of Edzná

This morning head to the Mayan archaeological site of Edzna, discovered in 1907 and comprising important buildings around a central plaza.

Occupied from around 400 BC until its abandonment around 1500 AD, Edzna is made up of a series of building complexes, one of the most important being the Gran Acropolis, home to an impressive five-storey temple. Highlights include the main Plaza, the Platform of the Knives, the Temple of the Masks, as well as a host of other buildings together with an impressive drainage and irrigation system.

After exploring this lesser known, important archaeological site, you’ll visit the Campeche Archaeological Museum situated in the eighteenth century colonial Fort of San Miguel, with collections that include Pre-Hispanic artefacts ranging from sculpture to stone implements and jade masks. You can also enjoy fine ocean views from the fort and its grounds. B

Day 7 Villahermosa

Dolphins in the lagoon

Drive to Villahermosa, stopping en route at Laguna de Términos, the largest tidal lagoon on the Gulf of Mexico, where you can enjoy an included boat trip and watch for dolphins.

Stay overnight at the locally rated 4-star+ Marriott Hotel (3Q) in Villahermosa. This contemporary hotel has a restaurant, lounge-bar, outdoor pool, fitness centre and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 267 air-conditioned rooms has a television, telephone, safe, hairdryer and free Wi-Fi. B, D

Day 8 Palenque via La Venta

An Olmec head

Visit Parque-Museo la Venta to see a collection of Olmec artefacts rescued from the site of La Venta.

The Olmecs were the oldest known civilisation in Mexico, prospering on the Gulf between 1200 BC to 400 BC. Walk along a sculpture trail where you’ll find a number of stylised monumental stone carvings of heads up to two metres high, as well as steles and other works, many of which date to around 1000BC.

Stay two-nights at the locally rated 4-star Villa Mercedes (4Q) in Palenque. Facilities include a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool and spa (charges apply). Each of the 92 air-conditioned rooms are set within thatched buildings and have a television, telephone, safe and hairdryer. B, D

Day 9 Palenque

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palenque

Enjoy a guided tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palenque.

This 8th-century Mayan City vanished into the jungle for over a thousand years and it is estimated that only around 10% of the city buildings have as yet been explored. It contains some fine examples of Mayan architecture such as the Palace, the Temple of Inscriptions and the Temple of the Sun, as well as fine examples of relief carving.

At the museum, view a reconstruction of the tomb of K’inich Janaab Pakala, the Mayan ruler responsible for much of Palenque’s architecture, along with some 300 artefacts discovered here. B, L

Day 10 Kohunlich via Chicanna

The ruins of Chicanna

Depart for your two-night stay at Kohunlich, pausing to explore the ruins of Chicanna. This intimate site features intricate carvings on unique low-rise architecture, with the ‘House of the Serpent Mouth’, believed to represent a doorway to the underworld.

Stay at the locally rated 4-star+ Explorean Kohunlich (4Q+) in Chetumal, where facilities include a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, spa (charges apply) and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 40 air-conditioned rooms are contained in thatched buildings and have a telephone, safe and hairdryer. B, D

Day 11 Kohunlich

Temple of the Measks at Kohunlich

Brave dense sub-tropical jungle inhabited by howler monkeys to explore the Maya site of Kohunlich. Scale the Temple of Masks with its central staircase lined by eight-foot stucco masks, and marvel at the complex of pyramids, citadels and courtyards designed to drain water into a system of cisterns.

This afternoon head for the site of Dzibanche, once a large Mayan city associated with the Kan dynasty of rulers. Explore this fascinating site wth its monolithic Temple of the Owl pyramid, Cormoranes Pyramid, Temple of the Lintels, and more. B, L, D

Day 12 Kohunlich-Cancun

Mayan ruins, Tulum

Pause for a photo opportunity at Bacalar lagoon, know as the ‘lake of seven colours’ because of its crystal clear water of varying depths. Enjoy a guided tour of Tulúm, a Mayan port ruin occupying a bluff on the Caribbean. This was the last Mayan city to be built but only survived the Spanish occupation by 70 years. Enjoy a packed lunch during your journey.

Continue to Cancun for an overnight stay at the locally rated 4-star+ Presidente Intercontinental Cancun (4Q). Facilities at this beachfront hotel include a restaurant, bar, outdoor pool, gym, spa (charges apply) and free Wi-Fi. Each of the 300 air-conditioned rooms has a television, telephone, safe and hairdryer. B

Day 13 Cancun to UK

El Rey Ruins, Mayan Museum, Cancun

This morning head for the Mayan Museum of Cancun. This modern museum houses one of the region’s most significant archaeological collections with important artefacts from various sites, displayed in the museum’s exhibition pavilions and halls. From the museum you can also access the San Miguelito Archaeological Zone with its pre-conquest buildings.

Afterwards, you’ll transfer to the airport for your overnight flight to the UK. B

Day 14 UK

Arrive back in the UK and to your VIP travel service home.


Mayan Treasures of the Yucatán