Lonely Planet Writer

You could soon explore every Mayan ruin in the Yucatán Peninsula on a new train

If it’s Mayan ruins you’re looking for, Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula is one of the best places to go. And the country is planning to make it even easier for tourists to access them.

Cancun, the start of the new railway, sits 1600 km away from the country’s capital, Mexico City. Photo by agcuesta/Getty Images

The project for the high-speed “Mayan train” is supported by president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who wants to connect more famous places like Cancún to lesser known places in the southern part of the peninsula. The line will connect the states of Quintana Roo, Campeche and Chiapas and allow easier access to Mayan archaeological sites.

Cancun lies on the Caribbean Sea, just north of Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Photo by agustavop/Getty Images

According to early designs, the “Mayan train” will start in Cancún, a beloved destination that attracts millions of tourists each year, and reach as far south as Bacalar and Palenque. The objective of the whole project is to get people off-the-beaten track, and boost tourism by visiting areas that don’t see many visitors but still have a lot to offer in terms of archaeology and natural wonders. That doesn’t mean that more famous archaeological sites like Chichen Itza will be left out.

The ruins of Chichen Itza date back as early as 600 AD and are a Unesco World Heritage Site. Photo by Mickael Rouze/Shutterstock

While the first stretch of the railway, from Cancún to Tulum, has received widespread approval and will be ready in a couple of years. According to the Associated Press, there are some doubts concerning the southern stretch which goes from Tulum to Bacalar as plans are still developing.

Palenque was a Mayan city-state that flourished around the seventh century. Photo by Jon Davison/Lonely Planet

Construction on the massive infrastructure project, which should cost around US$5.2 billion(€4.56 billion) and end up being around 1500 kilometers-long, should begin in early 2019.