Ancient Maya archaeological site in western Belize

Xunantunich is an archaeological site outside the town of San Jose Succotz, in the Cayo District of Belize.


It is known for the 9th century Maya ruins, which are Belize's most-visited Mayan site. Set on a hilltop overlooking the Mopan River, they form six groups with about 25 temples and palaces.

Get inEdit

  • To get there by bus, catch a bus toward Benque Viejo del Carmen at the main terminal. Tell the conductor that you are heading here, and they will drop you off for BZ$1. If you don't want to wait for the bus, flag down a taxi (indentifiable by its green license plate). The fare to the ferry should be BZ$2-3, depending on where the cab is from (plates starting with "SVO" are rumoured to be the cheaper ones). Cross via free hand cranked ferry, and then walk 1 mile to the site. It is also easy to hitch a ride from the San Ignacio vicinity. Admission to the park is about BZ$10. Park closes at about 4PM. The ferry takes only two-three cars at a time, so sometimes there is a line up to leave (if you wait until 4PM). It is the only way across the river.

Get aroundEdit


  • El Castillo is the tallest building in Xunantunich. It stands 40m (131') tall, with a 360° view at the top of jungle, ruins, and Guatemala.



  • Expensive souvenirs at the onsite giftshops
  • If you're interested in buying some slate artwork, there are some vendors selling pieces at the hand-cranked ferry for very reasonable rates.


Follow the signs to Benny's Kitchen for a relaxed meal, and read the local newspapers while you enjoy Pibil (delicious pork) or stewed chicken with rice and beans.



  • In the border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen (you can walk there from Xunantunich) you will find a burgeoning tourism industry that includes a variety of river and jungle adventures, stunning Mayan archeological ruins, horseback riding excursions, bird and wildlife watching and more. Otherwise Xunantunich makes a good halfday trip from San Ignacio. Consider spending the day and night relaxing in Benque before heading to Guatemala and Tikal.
  • Benque Guest House, 22 Riverside Street (along the Mopan River), +501 823-2323. The new Benque Guest House, located in the quaint little border town of Benque Viejo del Carmen, welcomes you to a world of tropical wonder. Built in 2008, this eco-friendly guest house offers all the comforts of home and business, great food, fun, character-rich conversation and a sense of community. US$25 - $85.

Go nextEdit

  • Guatemala and Tikal. Getting across the border is quite the experience.
  • To return to San Ignacio, simply catch any bus from the other side of the street. They will all head to San Ignacio.
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