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Travel west of Belize City and you'll discover a cluster of ancient Mayan sites, rolling hills, gorgeous sunsets, tranquil butterfly gardens and verdant jungles. In the heart of the Cayo District sits San Ignacio, a small town that boasts traditional culinary dishes and affordable hotels.
Start your tour just 6 miles south of the town at the ancient Mayan ruin Xunantunich. Set along the Mopan River and less than a mile from the Guatemalan border, the temple at Xunantunich was once a civic ceremonial center for the Mayan people.
From there you'll likely want to drive about 60 miles south on the George Price Highway (also known simply as the Western Highway) to the expansive Caracol Archaeological Reserve. The largest Mayan ruin site in Belize, Caracol dates back to 1200 B.C. and served as a home to as many as 120,000 people. The grounds cover 30 square miles and include five plazas, an observatory and more than 35,000 identified buildings, although not all are full excavated.
The region is free to visit 24 hours a day, but most of its sites are only open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Each costs 10 to 15 Belize dollars (about $5 to $7.50) to access.