A Visit to the Mayan Ruins of Tonina

Tonina Mayan Ruins Cow

The cow didn't care about Mayan ruins or gringos with cameras. From the parking lot there is about a 10 minute walk into the ruins.

In the heartland of Chiapas located several hours from Comitan de Dominguez or San Cristobal de las Casas there are some amazing ruins at a place called Tonina. This place was called Po by its original Maya inhabitants. One of the things Tonina is known for is having the last date of the long count calendar ever inscribed in the Classic Mayan world. It corresponds to AD909 and marks the end of the classic era.


Some official history of the site. Not all archaeological sites in Mexico have English language signs.

A tree grows out of a Mayan temple

Give your self plenty of time and wear comfortable sneakers for these ruins. There is a lot to climb on, in and around.

Palace of the underworld

Palace of the Underworld. This is at the base of the temple. It's dark and really cool inside. A great place to escape the heat and take a break before returning to your car or bus after climbing around the ruins.

The drive to Tonina is on pretty good roads most of the way. About 8 miles before you get to the site the road gets a bit rough, but just drive with some caution and any car should be able to make it in just fine. I have not been there in the rainy season (Late May – August), so I am not sure if the roads have a problem with flooding or not.


Mayan stucco work

These reliefs are both terrible and beautiful at the same time.

Level of Temple

This complex has multiple levels and lots of climbing. Go easy and you'll be fine.

Stucco of Mayan Gods and sacrifice

These stucco reliefs were some of my favorite things in these ruins. They are about 8 feet tall.


The base of Tonina temple complex

These are really big ruins. Take your time to climb all around and through them and you might be rewarded with a few surprises.

Passage to mystery

Climb the through the same passage ways used by Priests, Kings and sacrificial victims.

Window to history

Was this window used to mark where Venus rose on the summer solstice or where the moon set at the end of a katun?

Window to history

Was this window used to mark where Venus rose on the summer solstice or where the moon set at the end of a katun?


These ruins are a great place to visit if you are staying in San Cristobal de las Casas and your time is limited. Palenque is another couple of hours drive past this, depending on road conditions. There are limited services here. There is a nice little museum at the parking lot where you pay your admission and a snack bar just before you enter the complex after your walk in. The snack bar has nice big bottles of very cold water, buy one.  The town of Ocosingo is about 20 minutes from the entrance and has plenty of services.

Top of the temple complex

A view out over the farmlands of central Chiapas.


A Visit to the Mayan Ruins of Tonina — 3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Tonina Mayan Ruins in Chiapas Mexico Revisited | Travel & Mayan Ruins in Mexico and Guatemala

    • Sharon, pretty far. The trip here would take about 2 and a half days by bus. Guyabitos is north west of Mexico City and we are on the southernmost end of Mexico.

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