It is estimated that Sayil was settled around AD 800 and at one point had a population that reached upwards of 10,000. Visitors to Sayil can soak up this ancient history and get a feel for what life was like during the time of the Maya, while steering clear of the larger crowds at more popular Maya sites such as Uxmal. The site's jungle location also adds to the exotic, off-the-beaten-path allure. Here, visitors can wander through the ruins, as well as make a stop at the observatory, another of Sayil's top sites. Guided tours of the ruins are available from Mérida, along with multi-day tours from Cancun.
Things to Know Before You Go
Sayil consists of four fully and partially excavated structures that are spread out through the jungle, connected by gravel paths.
It can take a couple hours to walk about 3 miles (5 kilometers) through the jungle to reach the other ruins at the site, recommended for active travelers and enthusiasts only.
If you’re interested in bird watching, plan to arrive earlier in the day when they’re most active.
How to Get There
Sayil is about a 2-hour drive south of Mérida and is part of the Ruta Puuc, a route in Yucatan state that connects five Maya sites. If traveling from the larger Uxmal site, take Highway 261, which winds past the ruins of Sayil, Xlapak, and Labna. From Playa del Carmen or Cancun, your best option is to rent a car and stay overnight or book a multi-day tour.
When to Get There
You can easily combine Sayil with other nearby sites on a day trip from Mérida. This is especially true in winter, when the temperatures are milder and you’re able to explore outdoors for longer periods of time. You’ll run into the biggest crowds during high season, which starts around the Christmas holiday and ends after Easter week. But overall Sayil is typically less crowded than Uxmal.
Also found along the Ruta Puuc, Labna is a small but significant site that is thought to have been a Maya ceremonial center. It features an impressive gateway arch and El Palacio, a wide structure with well-preserved carvings built in the ancient Puuc style. Labna is located about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Sayil.
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