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Cancun marks the entrance point to a historic region known as the Mundo Maya, or the Mayan World. Archeological research shows that the Mayan people have inhabited the area that covers parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador since as early as 1800 bc. The area around Cancun was once an area of highly populated settlements. Today, evidence of these settlements can be experienced right in the heart of Cancun, at the El Rey Ruins.
The El Rey Ruins are all that remains of an ancient Mayan city, abandoned following the arrival of the Spanish settlers. As you explore the 47 stone structures and let your imagination fill in the details and color of ancient Mayan life. Climb to the top of the highest structure to find a Mayan temple and the burial site of an important Mayan figure.
Some of the stone walls are still adorned with ancient paintings. While the murals have deteriorated with time, it is still possible to make out images resembling kings and other significant members of the community. While not as grand as other Mayan cities, El Rey is still highly atmospheric and offers an accessible introduction to the original inhabitants of Cancun.
The ruins have another, less expected attraction. Today, El Rey is inhabited by a huge colony of iguanas. The iguanas have become accustomed to human interaction, and are confident around people. Bring some fruit or bread to feed these fascinating creatures as they crawl between the ancient ruins.
El Rey Ruins are located in the center of Cancun’s hotel district, on the edge of the lagoon. They are best reached by bus or taxi, and paid parking is available in the hotel district. Entrance to the ruins is available daily for a very small fee, although this is waived on Sundays. The ruins offer little shade, so pack an umbrella, hat or sunblock.
Get the most out of your visit to El Rey Ruins. Below is a list of the most popular things to do:
Want to know what other things there are to do at this celebrated attraction? We recommend purchasing a Teotihuacan Pyramids & Guadalupe Shrine Full-Day Tour.
If you're looking for more activities, peruse our Cancun things to do page.
Located in Zona Hotelera, this beachfront property is in the city center and within a 10-minute walk of El Rey Ruins and Delfines Beach. Aquaworld and Maya Cancun Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).
This family-friendly Cancun property is located on the Strip, within a 15-minute walk of El Rey Ruins and Delfines Beach. Aquaworld and Maya Cancun Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Located in Zona Hotelera, this beach resort is within 1 mi (2 km) of Ballenas Beach, Aquaworld, and Delfines Beach. El Rey Ruins and Maya Cancun Museum are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Zona Hotelera property is within 3 mi (5 km) of Delfines Beach and Aquaworld. Ventura Park Cancun and Cancun Interactive Aquarium are also within 6 mi (10 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Zona Hotelera property is within a 15-minute walk of Delfines Beach, El Rey Ruins, and Maya Cancun Museum. Aquaworld is 1.2 mi (2 km) away.
Nestled on the beach, this Zona Hotelera property is within a 10-minute walk of Delfines Beach and El Rey Ruins. Aquaworld and Maya Cancun Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).
Nestled on the beach, this Zona Hotelera hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Aquaworld and Maya Cancun Museum. Delfines Beach and El Rey Ruins are also within 2 mi (3 km).
Located in Zona Hotelera, this family-friendly Cancun property is within a 10-minute walk of Delfines Beach and Maya Cancun Museum. El Rey Ruins and Aquaworld are also within 1 mi (2 km).