We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

Level Contributor
578 posts
16 reviews
Save Topic
Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

We've decided on Placencia - staying in Maya Beach! Now we have lots of questions:

1. RUINS: What are the best ruins to do if we're spending the week in Placencia? I'd really like to see Tikal but it seems like its just too much and too far - we're only going to be in Belize for a week and I want to ensure we have time to relax! Is it really worth the trip up there? I found a day trip to Xunantunich - would that be OK? We just want to see impressive Mayan ruins.. Doesn't have to be the MOST impressive ones! Any other ruin recommendations?

2. Caves - Is there cave tubing in the area? Are there any caves we have to see?

3. How is Monkey River? Should we go there?

4. Getting from Belize City to Placencia - we are thinking of renting a car and driving as we would like to have a car while we are down there, and think the drive might be pretty. Are we crazy? Is this safe?

Level Contributor
33 posts
2 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

I can't speak about Tikal, but Xunantunich was pretty good. You get a great feeling of the size of it all standing on the largest structure. It'll take you longer to get there (from Placencia) than to go through it all, though. Still it's probably a lot shorter trip than trying to do Tikal in a day.

Monkey River I'd give a C+ to. It was a nice day trip, but nothing I'd do a second time. We did see a few monkeys, a crocodile, and some nice stands of bamboo. Our guide looked on the way back for manatee in the flats, but the water was pretty murky, so no luck there.

just my 2¢ worth.

Destination Expert
for Belize, Placencia, Ambergris Caye, Cayo, San Ignacio
Level Contributor
7,281 posts
10 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

I'd visit the sites in the area, Nim Li Punit and Lubaantun, which are both interesting. Tikal is an overnight trip from Placencia. Cave tubing on the Hummingbird hywy, little under two hrs drive from Placencia, at Caves Branch. Or you can visit Blue creek Cave and one of the sites I mentioned above on a combined day trip. Very pretty, nice place to swim, lovely bush, in the Maya villages of the Toledo district. MR is nice, you'll see howlers, crocs, manatees and waterbirds. Have lunch in a small creole village, noce trip. Very scenic 3 hrs drive thru jungle covered mts, citrus and banana, villages. The peninsula road is is rough, especially during the rainy season. Its safe, I drive back and forth all the time from Belize City.

Bruceton Mills...
Level Contributor
2,526 posts
3 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

Here's a link to our trip to Placencia. We stayed at Kitty's (now Sak's) so ignore those parts. We did several tours from there.


Xunantunich is a nice ruins and is an all day trip from Placencia. Its worth it because you get to see so much country side.

Nim Li Punit isn't worth the trip on its own merits (in my opinion) because its so small. Combined with other things its OK. Again you get a look at the countryside.

In 2004, I found Monkey River disappointing. Lunch at Alice's Restaurant was interesting.

I'd fly down, myself.

Tikal is very impressive but too far from Placencia. You need to save something for next time anyway and you'll enjoy it.

I enjoyed some simple things like seeing the banana fields and seeing them being brought in for processing. Many of the guides like to stop there.

Pictures of all the above are at the link. I don't have any comments on Placencia other than we enjoyed it. I don't know how much its changed since we were there.

Still have questions?Post your own question so other travellers can help.
Ask a question
Belize, CA
Level Contributor
38 posts
Save Reply
4. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

LOCATION IS EVERYTHING!! If you are staying in Maya Beach, you will be in Maya Beach, NOT IN PLACENCIA.. You will be on Placencia Peninsula, but not in Placencia Village! A lot of people get mislead when they book through people who don't know what they are doing! If you want local culture, stay in Placencia Village!

Ithaca, New York
Level Contributor
680 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

Hey CaboGirl, we did a very similar trip and stayed at the Green Parrot in Maya Beach. Loved it.

Our group of 11 had a car for the week and some of us flew down & back from belize city. The car was useful since we had an overnight on the way down at Banana Bank, but other than that, we didn't get much use out of the car- 2 drives into Placencia, tops, and there is a bus that will take you there anyway if you want to go to town. The tours will all be escorted and they pick you up. The drive was pretty, but remember there are only 3 paved roads in Belize. And Placencia isn't one of them... those bumpy roads are a nightmare if they haven't been graded recently, and I think the grading is about once a year.

We had a day trip to Xunatunich. It was a 3 hour drive & we stopped for swimming at the inland Blue HOle on the way back. We enjoyed it there, but we had a good guide and got there early- for a while we were the ONLY people there, which was amazing. Even by the time we left it wasn't very crowded. Be sure you don't go on one of the cruise ship days.

We loved Monkey River. We saw so many birds and amazing wildlife. Bring buckets of bug spray and don't make the mistake of wearning shorts- you will get eaten alive.

Cave tubing was the one thing we wanted to try but didn't.

We also did a day of snorkeling/scuba diving which was great and the Jaguar Reserve, which we also really enjoyed- we went tubing on the creek in the Reserve.

I think you are ok without a car. I think you really don't need it if you are going on tours for most of the week.


Level Contributor
578 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

Thanks everyone for the tip.

I think we are going to skip the car and just fly down.

We bought a great Fodor's book on Belize and it suggests that Lamanai (sp?) is the best Mayan site to go to in Belize. Has anyone been there? Are there any tours that go there from Placencia? It looks not far as the crow flies, but I can't tell how direct the roads are.

Level Contributor
578 posts
16 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

And what about Caracol? Anyone know anything about that?

8. Re: Questions - Ruins (Tikal vs Xunantunich), Caves, Car?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 19 August 2009, 05:24