Tonina is one of those places you don’t want to share with anybody. You want to protect them from massive tourism. While writing this text, I still wonder if I really want more people to know about this magical spot. When a place becomes touristy, it loses some of its charms and also becomes “in danger”. Massive tourism destroys the most beautiful spots. Hopefully, nowadays, it is a real concern, and some measures are taken by local authorities. Anyway, I think this article could help people like me, who travel responsibly and still want to visit Tonina Chiapas but don’t know how to get there.
What is Tonina Chiapas?
Tonina is a Maya archeological area located in Ocosingo. It is where you can find the highest pyramid of México. This structure of more than 70 meters is divided into 7 levels. It is very impressive from below. Once you climb it, you will enjoy an unforgettable panoramic view.
The site is divided into different parts. And unfortunately, the highest area was not accessible when I was visiting. I recommend reading this short Lonely Planet article to learn more about the different areas.
When to go to Tonina?
It is better to visit Tonina Chiapas from November to May since the rest of the time, the rains could bother the visit.
On sunny days, the sun can hit very strongly, so you would prefer to visit early in the morning. The site opens at 8 am. If you take your time, 3 hours is enough to visit the place and regularly stop to appreciate the view.
The site is open from Monday to Sunday. Like many touristy sites, the entrance of Tonina is free for Mexicans and residents on Sundays. It means more people are visiting, so if you can, you might want to skip this day.
How to get to Tonina?
Very few agencies offer a tour of Tonina, so it can be quite complicated to reach the site with them.
However, you can go on your own. It is not easy, but doable. I did it myself from San Cristobal de las Casas, so I will explain how to do the same.
How to go to Tonina from San Cristobal de las Casas?
First, you need to reach the Juan Sabines Boulevard, close to the ADO bus station. It is a very big street where you will find buses, colectivos, shared taxis, and taxis to go literally everywhere. You just have to walk until you hear somebody screaming Ocosingo, or you can ask any driver if they go there. If it is not the case, they will send you to the right place.
Once you find your shared taxi to Ocosingo, you just have to enjoy the ride that normally lasts 2 hours. You will travel with Mexicans, so take this opportunity to speak with them and learn more about their lives if you speak the language. The cost is 90 pesos.
You will certainly arrive at the Carretera Pereferico Oriente Sur in Ocosingo. There, some taxis might want to make you believe there is no colectivo to go to the ruins. Your only option is to have your own taxi. It is a lie!
Go to the market Tianguis Campesino. Ask people to find your way because there is almost no phone signal, so it will be a hard task to use Google Maps. Once you are in the market area, look for the shop Modatelas. The colectivo stops is just in front of the shop.
Take the next available colectivo for 15 pesos. You may have to wait, as usual, for it to be full before the driver starts the engine. He will let you right at the entrance of Tonina. Ask the driver to stop you there, since you won’t know where to ask for the stop.
That’s it. Obviously, you will have to do the same thing to come back.
How much does the Tonina entrance cost?
The general entrance costs 70 pesos. I was lucky enough to enter for free the day I was there because the person in charge of giving the tickets was not there, but it is not a common thing.
There are guides at the entrance who can give you a tour. They charge around 400 pesos.
Tips to visit Tonina
- Dressed comfortably and have good shoes. You are going to climb a lot.
- Bring water. It can become pretty hot there, and you will spend at least 2–3 hours exploring the site.
- Bring a hat. There is no place for shadow. ¡Be careful!
- Arrive early to avoid the strong sun and high temperature.
- Get a guide for a better understanding of the site.
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Visit Tonina responsibly
Like everywhere, you should behave responsibly when you visit Tonina Chiapas. Don’t litter, keep your bottle and snack packages with you until you find garbage to throw it away.
Don’t try to bring a souvenir from the site, and don’t leave a trace of your visit on the pyramid.
Tonina Chiapas is a unique and magical spot to learn more about the Mayas and admire its amazing construction and the surrounding nature. I hope this article will help you to enjoy this place. If you like it, please, share it on Pinterest!