Wondering how to get to Ek’ Balam ruins from Valladolid, or even beyond? We have ALL the details for you. Also read our Ek’ Balam guide for the entrance fees, the opening hours & MORE!
The Ek’ Balam ruins are one of the most stunning Mayan archaeological sites found in the Yucatan Peninsula and they are SUPER close to Valladolid. So if you’re planning a visit to Valladolid then you might want to consider making the day trip to Ek’ Balam. (I’ll let you in on a little secret… the Ek’ Balam ruins are my favourite of all the ones we visited in the Yucatan.)
Below we explain everything you need to know about getting from Valladolid to Ek’ Balam. We’ll help you understand the difference between Chichén Itzá ruins and Ek’ Balam… what sets them apart. But most importantly we explain in detail the options for getting there: group tour, private tour, scooter and car rental, collective and taxi.
Ek’ Balam is one of the lesser visited Mayan archaeological sites found in the Yucatan Peninsula. This gives it a tranquil quality, as it gets only a fraction of the visitors when compared to Chichén Itzá and the Tulum ruins. This means that the Ek’ Balam ruins are a peaceful place and a somewhat quieter experience…also due to the lush jungle in which they are located.
So, if you’re thinking of going, then do it! You will not be disappointed. And don’t miss our self-guided tour of Ek’ Balam, complete with a free printable map.
* This post may contain affiliate links that may earn me a small commission should you decide to click through and make a valid purchase (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for your support!
Table of Contents
Where is Ek’ Balam
Ek’ Balam Archaeological zone is located only 27 km north of Valladolid, in the Yucatan Peninsula, of Mexico. Not far from the Highway 295. In fact Ek’ Balam is an easy drive and can be reached in under 40 minutes from Valladolid.
Alternatively, if you’re planning a trip from Cancun or the Riviera Maya, then it’s 2 to 2 ½ hours, depending on which location you’re coming from.
Zoom in and out on the map above to locate Ek’ Balam in relation to which part of the Yucatan you plan on visiting.
How to Get to Ek’ Balam from Beyond Valladolid
There are several options for getting to Ek’ Balam from the Mayan Riviera. So if you’re staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum then it’s close enough to visit as a day trip.
The drive time to Ek’ Balam from Cancun is around 2 ½ hours, from Playa del Carmen it’s 2 hours 15 minutes and from Tulum it’s just over 2 hours. If you are visiting from Merida to the west then it’s a 2 ½ hour drive. If you are super keen on visiting both Chichén Itzá and Ek’ Balam ruins, then it’s also possible to fit both in. Below we have selected tours for both options.
Guided Group Tours from Cancun & the Riviera Maya
Group guided tours from Cancun and the Riviera Maya to Valladolid and the surrounding cenotes and ruins, are very popular.
While most visit only Chichén Itzá ruins, some also include a visit to Ek’ Balam. See the links above for day trips available to Ek’ Balam from the Riviera Maya. Each is slightly different based on where the pick up is from, but also whether the trip includes a visit to a cenote OR Chichén Itzá.
Be sure to read what is included and not included in terms of meals and so on. For example the first and third guided group tours, do not include the entrance fees to Ek’ Balam while the second does.
These group guided tours are an excellent choice, especially if you don’t have your own transport and prefer a stress free option. However if a group tour isn’t your buzz, then read below for the private guided tours.
Private Tours from Cancun & the Riviera Maya
If you’re looking for a little more flexibility and don’t want to be part of a large group tour. Then a private tour may better suit your travel style.
Our top picks for private guided tours come from Viator. Click to read the details for each of the guided tours we have shared above. The fees are all inclusive, in other words the entrance to Ek’ Balam ruins is covered, meals, cenote entrance and so on. Just note that the third option doesn’t include the guide for the archeological site of Ek’ Balam. But don’t worry about that because we have created a self-guided tour for Ek’ Balam for you.
The first option above, provides a pick up from Cancun only, but what we like about this one is that it includes a visit to Cenote Saamal.
Rent a Car
Another great option for those travelling by themselves, or in a small group, is to rent a car for the day. Car rental in Mexico is very reasonable, and the roads are easy to navigate. We have rented cars several times while travelling long term around Mexico and we can confirm that driving is no major challenge.
What’s more, the beauty of renting a car is that you have the option of getting to Ek’ Balam ruins earlier than the tour buses. You can also visit a couple of the best cenotes in the region – read our guide on the best cenotes near Valladolid.
We love the Qeeq rental car platform for finding the best rental car deals on the market.
Getting to Ek’ Balam From Valladolid
Valladolid is your quintessential Mexican colonial town. It’s so pretty, and honestly one of our favourite Mexican towns in the Yucatan Peninsula. Therefore, we definitely recommend you stay for a couple of days to explore Valladolid and the surrounding sights and sounds.
As mentioned above, Ek’ Balam ruins are less than 40 minutes from the centre of Valladolid, and Chichén Itzá is only 45 minutes from Valladolid. This makes it’s an ideal location for visiting both!
The town itself has so much to offer. From picturesque streets, a lively town square, shops, cafés and restaurants. We loved the 16th Century Convent of San Bernardino of Siena which you can easily spend a couple of hours admiring. Also from Monday to Thursday, you can catch the free evening light and sound show. It starts at 9:00 pm in Spanish and then 9:20 pm in English. Not to mention the plethora of cenotes where you could easy spend a week exploring.
But I get distracted! You want to read about how to get from Valladolid to Ek’ Balam. Below we answer all your transport related questions.
🌮 Read our full guide on things to do in Valladolid (post coming soon).
Collective Transport – Colectivo
What is a colectivo I hear you ask… simply put it’s a mini-van, or shared transport system that runs between Valladolid and the Ek’ Balam ruins throughout the day. In my opinion, it’s one of the most efficient and cheapest options for travel in Mexico. As such, you’ll find collectives are the locals’ main transport mode of choice.
The colectivo to Ek’ Balam is super easy to catch, and the first bus leaves around 7:00 am. However, each vehicle will only leave when it’s full. It’s a good idea to arrive slightly earlier than 7:00 am to ensure you get one of the first seats.
The Ek’ Balam pickup point in Valladolid, is on Calle 37, between highway 295 and Calle 44. It’s called Sitio Taxis Ek Balam, and we’ve marked it on the map above.
In terms of price, a one way journey from Ek’ Balam to Valladolid is 80 MXN pesos per person, so 160 MXN return.
Private Taxi from Valladolid to Ek’ Balam
We recommend you grab a taxi if you want to make sure you’re one of the first to reach Ek’ Balam, you’re travelling as a bigger group, or you don’t like the idea of sharing transport. A private taxi is the most convenient way to get to Ek’ Balam.
The cost of a one way taxi is around 300 – 400 MXN pesos. Remember to always agree a price before accepting a taxi ride in Mexico. It may also be a good idea to ask a few taxis before agreeing to one, this way you ensure you are getting a fair price.
Small Group & Private Tours from Valladolid to Ek’ Balam
From Valladolid you also have the option of a small group tour or private tour. We have hand selected the above tours through Viator which visit Ek’ Balam and include other destinations and sights that we recommend visiting near Valladolid.
The first private tour to Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas, is a tour with something just a little different. Located on the northern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, this is one of our favourite areas to visit that is off the beaten track. The focus of the tour aside from Ek’ Balam, is nature and wildlife as it includes a river tour to see crocodiles and flamingos. But note that this trip is cheaper as it doesn’t include the entrance fees or lunch.
The second private tour on our list includes both Chichén Itzá and Ek’ Balam ruins and the price is inclusive of entrance fees and a buffet lunch.
While the third half day tour is a small group tour and an excellent budget option. It includes a visit to X’Canche cenote, as well as a visit to a tequila and agave distillery. Note that the price doesn’t include lunch or the Ek’ Balam ruins entrance fee.
Rent a Scooter to Get to Ek’ Balam
Another fun and economical way of getting to Ek’ Balam is on Scooter and this was how our family of four decided to go.
You can rent scooters for a half or whole day. And at 500 – 550 MXN pesos for a full day, then it’s a great option, especially given that the scooter can take two people. We thoroughly recommend exploring Ek’ Balam and the Cenote Route by scooter… it becomes an adventure and an extremely memorable trip!
🛵 Check the prices for scooter rental here on Viator.
Parking at Ek’ Balam
A note on parking at Ek’ Balam – If you are self-driving then parking is no trouble. There is plenty of space and you can virtually park right at the main entrance.
Tickets & Prices for Ek’ Balam Entrance Fees
In comparison to Chichén Itzá, purchasing tickets at Ek’ Balam is very relaxed. There are no long lines to wait in, and no pre-booked ticket options.
Simply buy your tickets on arrival and you’re done.
The Cost to Enter Ek’ Balam
Entrance fees for Ek’ Balam is 494 MXN pesos per person, which covers both the INAH and the Yucatan State fees.
Tickets for children between the ages of 4 and 12, cost 85 MXN pesos. While Mexican citizens pay a total of 198 MXN pesos each.
Should You Pre-Book Tickets
Not only is it not necessary, it is currently not possible to pre-book tickets for Ek’ Balam ruins.
Opening Hours & Best Time to Visit Ek’ Balam
Ek’ Balam Archaeological Ruins are open 7 days a week, from 8am to 5pm. Note: the ticket office closes at 4pm.
The best time of the year to visit Ek’ Balam is from late October to mid-December, or from February to March. This is either side of the busy season. And the best time of the day to visit Ek’ Balam is when the site opens early in the morning, or a couple of hours before it closes. This allows you to enjoy Ek’ Balam at a quieter time of the day, with cooler temperatures.
As for how long it takes to visit and walk around Ek’ Balam ruins, well this depends on your situation and interests. If you’re visiting with kids, or have included a visit to Chichén Itzá on the same day, then you could get around the park in 1 ½ hours. However, 2 to 3 hours is a more comfortable pace.
You will find an option to pay for a private guide at the Ek’ Balam entrance. And this may be an option you want to consider.
Alternatively we share two audio guide options above. The second audio guide includes Chichén Itzá, so purchase that one if you’re planning on visiting both ruins.
And the third option is to use our awesome self-guided tour of Ek’ Balam ruins.
Tips to Visiting Ek’ Balam Ruins
So now we have gotten through the main need to know items, we have put together the following extra tips which could be useful to know before your visit.
- If you are coming from the state of Quintana Roo – Which includes Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum, then be aware that during winter, November to March there is a 1 hour time difference to consider.
- There are no ATM’s onsite at Ek’ Balam – Nor are cards accepted. So make sure to take plenty of cash.
- On Sunday Mexican citizens and residents get free entrance to Ek’ Balam. So keep in mind, Sundays could be a little busier.
- There are toilets at the entrance but none within the site – So if you have little ones with you, it might be worth a stop before you proceed with your visit.
- No drones – As with other archeological sites in Mexico, you’re not allowed to fly drones within Ek’ Balam.
- Check the weather and dress accordingly – A good pair of walking shoes, light clothing, hat and sunscreen is definitely a good idea. If rain is expected a coat and cover for your back pack is a must.
How is Ek’ Balam Different Than Chichén Itzá
- Climbing the ruins at Ek’ Balam is permitted – Unlike Chichén Itzá, you are allowed to climb and explore a lot of the site. Including the Acropolis which is 32 metres high.
- The carving at Ek’ Balam is different than Chichén Itzá – Unlike most other Mayan sites, Ek’ Balam’s detailed, intricate facades and artworks were produced by stucco, rather than carved into stone.
- Ek’ Balam is no Wonder of the World – But it is wonderful! Given that Ek’ Balam isn’t a wonder of the world it means that it’s a much quieter place to visit.
- The lush forest and overhang – Ek’ Balam still feels like it’s in the heart of the jungle. That gives it a powerful kind of energy as you meander around the grounds.
Visiting X’Canche Cenote from Ek’ Balam
If you want to check out a nearby cenote and cool off with a swim, the X’canche Cenote is nearby. Entrance is an additional cost of 80 MXN pesos and the cenote is a 1.5 km walk. You can also rent bikes if you’re not up for the extra walk, or you can pay to get a ride there.
We didn’t go, as we had other nearby cenotes that we preferred to visit. However, we have heard some good things about the cenote which has a couple of jumping platforms and a Tarzan swing. There is even a rappel and zipline, if you wish to try experience a cenote with a little more adrenaline.
More on Ek’ Balam and Visiting Valladolid
We have prepared more posts to help you on your visit to Ek’ Balam ruins, Chichén Itzá ruins and to the best cenotes in Valladolid.
👆 Click through to read our in-depth guides below –
- Self-guided tour to Chichén Itzá – Get our awesome little map and self-guided tour!
- Self-guided tour to Ek’ Balam – Get our awesome little map and self-guided tour!
- All you need to know about getting from Valladolid to Chichén Itzá!
- A complete guide to the best cenotes near Valladolid
- Where to stay – a review of the Oryx Hostel in Valladolid
And hey, while you’re here… save or pin this blog on getting from Valladolid to Ek’ Balam!
We now travel full-time and have plenty more itineraries and guides to share on all the destinations we visit. Sign up to follow our journey! (And don’t worry we won’t spam you with unnecessary emails.)