The Maya Sites – Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest – 2nd Edition

What I missed in all my travels through the world of the Maya, was a book that concisely explained where the interesting Mayan ruins are located, how to get there, a short guide which otherwise was limited to the description of the Maya sites and lacked the overload of restaurant and hotel descriptions. Because something similar was simply not on the market, I sat down and wrote such a book myself:

>>> find a list of bookshops in the US, where you can order a printed copy the book here >>>

This is a compact guide that contains the 15 main archaeological ruin sites of the ancient Mayan civilization on the Yucatán peninsula and also explains the optimal route for visiting these sites. A perfect guide for those travelers who are primarily interested in the most important Maya sites.

Map of Yucatán with the most important Maya sites
Map of Yucatán with the most important Maya sites


The Maya Sites – Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest

A Traveler’s Guide to the Maya Sites on the Yucatán Peninsula, in México and Guatemala

ISBN-13: 978-3000601422

The Maya sites to be visited in this way and described in the book:

  • Tulum
  • Chichén Itzá
  • Cobá
  • Ek Balam
  • Izamal
  • Uxmal
  • San Gervasio
  • Edzná
  • Palenque
  • Toniná
  • Bonampak
  • Yaxchilán
  • Tikal
  • Yaxhá
  • El Mirador

Additionally, I included the La Venta Museum Parc in Villahermosa in the book, where the traveler will find several monolithic structures of the Olmec culture. The Olmec culture is famous especially for the giant stone heads which they left behind when their civilization disappeared.

Yaxchilan Temple 33
Yaxchilan Temple 33


The perfect route through the land of the Maya

I divided this route into three sections, which can be visited either sequentially or divided into individual stages. The three sections are:

  • Northern Yucatán Peninsula
  • Chiapas and Campeche
  • Petén in Guatemala

The modern cities, which are  approached on these routes  are

  •  Tulum / Playa del Carmen
  •  Valladolid
  •  Merida
  •  Campeche
  •  Palenque
  • Villahermosa
  •  Flores

From these starting points or “base camps” you can explore the world of the Maya. From a leisurely day trip to a 5-day walk through the Guatemalan jungle, all levels of difficulty are available.

Maya pyramid - Yaxha - 3
Maya pyramid – Yaxha – 3

Light, short, crisp

I didn’t include lists of hotels or restaurants because I wanted to avoid the inclusion of short-lived information. During my travels I found that common travel guides can become a reason for frustration because such accommodation related information is outdated. In contrast, I think that the internet is a much better information source for hotels in a certain city than any printed travel guide.

Therefore, I do not exaggerate if I state that this is the perfect book for all kind of travelers and explorers: Light, short, crisp.

Uxmal – The Non’s quadrangle and the pyramid of the Magician.



Each of the Maya sites is documented with numerous color photos. Altogether there are about 100, which I have inserted at appropriate places in the book. For each (almost) of the Maya sites discussed I included a sketch map (a total of 14 maps), so that you can find the path along the site in the ruins. I have visited each of these sites on several trips and all photos are my own.

Map Yaxchilan
Map Yaxchilan

For the modern traveler who tries to keep his luggage lightweight, an eBook makes the most sense. And viewing it on a modern tablet allows to zoom in the photos. Therfore I used a fixed-size layout, similar to the printed version. A print version can be purchased as well.

The “Maya Sites – Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest” is suitable for any “variety” of tourist, for backpackers, luxury travelers, and explorers. It is available in English and German language so far and contains 155 illustrations (91 color photos).

El Castillo in Chichén Itzá
El Castillo in Chichén Itzá


Additional sections and chapters in the second edition

I added three additional sections to the second edition, to satisfy the request of many of my readers.

  • Section 3 describes the history and culture of the ancient Maya
  • Section 4 is solely about the Maya calendar
  • Section 5 talks about the Mayan languages and the writing system
Symbols of the Haab Calendar
Symbols of the Haab Calendar

Content directory of “The Maya Sites”

Introduction    9
Section 1 – Routes and Short Descriptions    11
The Standard Route – Yucatán and the Riviera Maya    14
The Exotic Route – Campeche and Chiapas    18
The Adventurous Route – Petén – Guatemala    22
Section 2 –The Maya Sites    25
Region: Yucatán and Quintana Roo    25

Tulum – Turquoise Sea and Temple Ruins    25
Cobá – Ruled by women?    33
Cozumel – Pilgrimage to Ixchel – San Gervasio    39
Ek Balam – The Black Jaguar    43
Chichén Itzá – The star among the Maya sites    48
Izamal – The Magic City    59
Uxmal – Built in One Night    63
Region: Chiapas and Campeche    72
Edzná – The House of the Itzá    72
Palenque – Mysticism in the Mist of the Rainforest    81
The Olmec – La Venta Parc Museum in Villahermosa    93
Toniná –In the Ocosingo-Valley    99
Yaxchilán – On the banks of the Río Usumacinta    105
Bonampak – Murals in the Selva Lacandon    110
Region: Petén in Guatemala    117
Tikal    117
Yaxhá    131
El Mirador – The Jungle Adventure    139
Section 3 – History and culture of the Maya    149
The Homeland of the Ancient Maya – the Mayab    149
Natural Resources in the Ancient Maya World     157
The History of the Maya Civilization     160
The Collapse of the Classical Centers    169
Society and everyday life of the classical Maya    172
Section 4 – The Maya Calendar    175
Introduction     175
Haab – a Calendar for the Solar Year    179
The Tzolkin Calendar    185
The Calendar Round    192
The Long Count in the Maya Inscriptions    194
Numbers and mathematics of the ancient Maya    199
The date in the Maya inscriptions    208
Section 5 – Language and Writing System of the Maya     216
Mayan Languages and their Distribution     216
Cholan – The Language of the Inscriptions     220
Some Features of the Mayan Languages     220
The Writing System of the Maya     229
Epilogue    238
Appendix    239
Further Reading     239
Planning your Travel     241
Index of Figures     244
Index of Tables     246
Index of Maps     246
Acknowledgment     247
The Author    247

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>>> find a long list of bookshops, where you can order a printed copy of the book in the USA here >>>

Christian Schoen

Christian Schoen is a globetrotter, travel writer and author of the very successful travel guide "The Maya Sites - Hidden Treasures of the Rain Forest". He loves to visit temples, pyramids and any kind of ancient ruins. The SLR in his hand, he can be met on adventurous hiking tours in tropical jungle landscapes - sometimes - or just somewhere in his neighbourhood, the Black Forest Mountains in Germany.

3 Responses

  1. Sushil Joseph says:

    I got an interesting insight into the origin of the Mayan civilisation from
    an ancient Indian Palm Leaf reading which said that the Mayans came from the south of India along with some people from the Himalayas. This explains how the Mayan women platted their hair and wore Hibiscus flowers in their hair like the people in Kerala. Also they worshipped the monkey God like they worship Hanuman in India etc. …..

  2. Alvin wisley says:

    Interesting post.Love reading this post.Thanks for sharing.

  3. situs domino says:

    It’s nearly impossible to find well-informed people on this subject, however, you
    seem like you know what you’re talking about!

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