Xunantunich is a town in the Cayo region 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.
- 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 $1Bz. Cross the river 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 $10B. Park closed at about 4PM. The ferry takes only one car 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.
- 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 guys selling pieces at the handcranked 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 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), ☎ 011-501-823-2323. 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. $25 - $85 US.
- To return to San Ignacio, simply catch any bus from the other side of the street. They will all head to San Ignacio.