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All about Ek' Balam in Mexico

Updated: April 6, 2024

Main Category: Day Trips


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Author: Tobias

The excavation site "Zona Arqueológica de Ek' Balam" is located in the jungle, about 30 km north of Valladolid. Ek' Balam is about 180km away from Mérida. The journey by car takes about 2h 30min from the city center of Mérida and the place is most of the time tranquilly. The admission fee for foreign adults is about 500MXN. Different prices may apply for residents or children.


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Ek Balam, Ekbalam, Yucatán, Mexiko







180km from Mérida

Travel Time:

2h 30min from Mérida


Mex$ 500

Price Level:



100-300 AD

Google Rating:

average rating is 4.7 out of 5, based on 9003 votes, Ratings

Opening Hours:

• Monday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Tuesday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Wednesday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Thursday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Friday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Saturday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
• Sunday: 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM

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Ek' Balam

The excavation site "Zona Arqueológica de Ek' Balam" is located about 30 km north of Valladolid. It is one of the lesser known Mayan ruins and, like many other ruins, Ek' Balam is surrounded by jungle.

The name Ek' Balam is Mayathan and means "black jaguar". Depending on the pronunciation, however, "Ek" can also mean "star".

Compared to Chichén Itzá, the site is much less crowded and there are fewer hawkers who can be annoying. A guided tour can be booked on site if desired.

Most of the buildings can be entered and the pyramids can be climbed. This is a great advantage, especially if you have children with you, because they will have much more fun. From the top of the "acropolis" you have a great overview of the site and far into the jungle.

The world of archaeology

Some interesting figures about Mayan archaeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula:

Figures about Mayan archaeological sites
Figures about Mayan archaeological sites

History and structures

The earliest traces of the settlement date back to the period between about 100 and 300 AD. The settlement experienced its heyday in the years 700 to 1000. The decline of the cult centre probably began around the year 1200.

The centre of Ek' Balam, enclosed by a double ring of walls, is about 1.25 km² in size. Outside the walls, the settlement extends over an area of just under 12 km²:

Ek' Balam was excavated in the 1990s and opened to the public in the early 2000s. The site is dominated by the building that is now usually called the "Acropolis". It is the largest preserved building of the Maya culture in the north of the Yucatán Peninsula.

The Acropolis has an area of 160x70m and is about 30m high (it was originally about 6m higher). Ek' Balam is also known for its stucco facades, which are considered the largest and best-preserved relief in the Maya world.

Admission and further tips

Unfortunately, the entrance fee has been raised several times in recent years and is now 500 pesos. There are also some beautiful cenotes near Ek' Balam, for example cenote Hubiko, a few kilometres away.

We have more background information and travel tips on Mayan archaeological sites.

How do you get to Ek' Balam from Mérida?

By car, take Highway 180 towards Valladolid, then continue north on Highway 295 to Ek' Balam. There are plenty of parking spaces available. There’s no direct public transport from Mérida to Ek' Balam. From Valladolid you can take a collectivo to Ek' Balam.


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Best Mérida Day Trips

If you would like to explore the Yucatan Peninsula and Mérida with a guided tour, there are wonderful experiences from Viator. We have selected the three best tours for you.

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Chichen Itza, Private Cenote, Food Experience & the magic Izamal

My Top Recommendation (likely to sell out)

Chichen Itza, Private Cenote, Food Experience & the magic Izamal

The very best Chichén Itzá tour and free cancellation. It starts from US-$97

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Another very special experience

Tour to Cenote of Santa Barbara and Acanceh area from Merida

This! Super beautiful cenotes! You have free cancellation. It starts from US-$114

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Not either/or, but also!

Celestun Beach Mangrove Boat Ride from Merida

One more must-have. You also have free cancellation. It starts from US-$122

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