Cancuen archaeological site

Located on the banks of the Pasión River, in Sayaxché, Petén , Cancuen archaeological site was an important commercial hub during the late Maya Classic Period, when it connected the highlands of Guatemala and the lowlands of Petén and México. The site offers excellent eco-friendly tourist infrastructure .


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During the late Maya classic period (650 – 810 A. D.) this site was a remarkably affluent and influential commercial hub. Strategically located at the southern-most navigable point of the Maya world, the site controlled the traffic of valuable jade, quetzal feathers and obsidian materials between the highlands of Guatemala and the lowlands of Petén and Mexico. The palace of Cancuen is considered to be one of the largest and most impressive of the Maya world. The architectural style is unique, featuring a meticulous aesthetic touch often unseen in the Maya world. Recent findings include jade workshops, royal burial sites, stucco relief's, three ball court markers and one of the most well preserved panels ever found in a Maya site. This pioneer archaeological project in Cancuen allows tourists to observe and share experiences with archeologists (depending on the season) and understand the importance of restoration and protection of cultural heritage while enjoying beautiful scenery and contributing to the socio-cultural development of three local communities.


The site offers excellent eco-friendly tourist infrastructure. It has a Visitors' Center with fascinating archaeological information, elevated wooden trails with interpretative signs, a camping area, clean toilets and showers, and a small restaurant.

The “Development and Tourism Association” of La Unión (Chisec) provides daily boat services to the site. The community also has a shaded parking lot and a small convenience store where they sell beautiful models of carved Maya art replicated with perfect precision. Local guides from the communities of El Zapote, Santa Isabel and La Unión provide interpretative guiding services for the site.

How to get there:

You have to drive 36 kilometers from the town of Chisec to the town of Raxruhá. In Raxruhá you make a left and drive 12 kilometers more on an unpaved road until you reach La Isla community. Keep driving straight 4 kilometers more until you reach La Unión Visitors' Center. There you can park your vehicle and walk one kilometer until you reach the Passion River where you take a small boat (30 minutes) to the archaeological site. The tour of the site takes about an hour and a half (low effort).

Suggested equipment

  • Comfortable light clothes
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Water shoes for the tubing tour
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun screen
  • Hat or cap
  • Sun glasses

Its remarkable history, archaeology and mystic environment make your visit to Cancuén an extraordinary experience


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