For years, we have been visiting Mexico and checking out different Mayan Ruins. On our last trip, we stayed in Valladolid, and made the trip out to see Ek Balam. Ek Balam is just over 30 miles from Chichen Itza, and about 30 minutes from Valladolid.

Ek Balam can be translated as “the black jaguar” or “bright star jaguar.” This city was built starting around 100 B.C., and continued to grow for many years before ultimately being deserted.

It is easy to get to the site of Ek Balam, as the roads are good and there were signs along the way.

We drove our rental car from Avant Car Rental, and took Google Maps to get there.

There is a nice big parking lot and plenty of signs.

The ticket counter is not far from the parking lot.

I love this beautiful mural that is near the entrance.

The prices were posted at the ticket counter. We visited in July 2021, so these were the prices. We also hired a guide, which we have done at other Mayan Ruins like Coba. Our guide spoke wonderful English and had a binder of photos to use as a slideshow. I definitely recommend hiring a guide, but if not, there are maps posted around the property as well.

There is a decent amount of walking here, but not like other sites like Coba. There are no bikes for rent or bike chariots like we have seen at other places. Once we were done visiting the archaeological portion, we visited Cenote X’Canche on the Ek Balam premises.

These were the first buildings that we saw, built along the walls that surround Ek Balam. To the right in the photo is the Oval Palace.

The ruins were not busy at all, especially compared to Tulum, Chichen Itza, or Coba.

We were able to explore the different structures at Ek Balam. This is one of the lower pyramids (not the main pyramid).

There are various stelae around the property. This one is thought to depict one of the rulers of Ek Balam, possibly Ukit Kan Leʼk Tokʼ (according to Wikipedia).

We enjoyed not only the ruins, but the surrounding jungle.

The Mayan ball courts are always a highlight of the Mayan ruins. This game is such a neat part of the history of the Yuctan, and it is interesting to see a display of this sport if you ever get the chance. These games were a very serious part of Mayan culture and religion, as there was often a lot of sacrifice as part of the game.

The main temple is El Torre, the main tower located in the Central Plaza. We were able to climb to the top, which is a great experience. It was quite hot, although it doesn’t look that hot in the photo below. I was definitely feeling it by the time I got to the top of the pyramid.

We were able to climb the temple, and the view is beautiful. This is a great place for photo opportunities!

There are a lot of wonderful carvings right on the temple.

We enjoyed visiting and exploring the Ek Balam ruins. The walk was comfortable and it was nice to be able to walk up the pyramids. This was not very crowded at all, and was easy to find with plenty of parking. The view from the main pyramid was wonderful! After visiting Ek Balam, we went to Cenote X’Canche right at Ek Balam, and it was a great way to cool off.

What to bring:

~ sunscreen
~ bug spray
~ swimwear & towels for the cenote
~ comfortable shoes
~ good camera

~ water and snacks

Check out our other Mexico blog posts.

Our visit to Coba and Muyil.


About the Author: Marysa

Busy blogger and mom of two girls! We love traveling and the great outdoors, and are always looking for our next adventure!