Adoration 4 Adventure’s 2-day budget itinerary for Copan Ruinas, Honduras.
While on my 9-week backpacking trip in Central America, I wanted to visit Honduras. I didn’t know much about the country, so I began to research different options and asked around for other traveler’s opinions.
There were many glowing recommendations for the quaint little town of Copan Ruinas, with its proximity to the Mayan site of Copan as well as its reputation for being a very safe town to visit. I only spent a few days there, however, could have easily stayed longer.
This is my two-day itinerary including budget breakdown.
The Maya Site of Copan
The main reason that most people come to the area is to visit the Copan Archaeological Park. From downtown, it is quite easy to get there by Tuk Tuk or even by foot.
Copan Ruins are unique to the other Mayan sites that I have explored, including Chichen Itza in Mexico and Tikal in Guatemala. What I found most striking about the ruins is the amount of detail in the statues and structures.
This site played a very important part in the Mayan culture and is now protected by UNESCO. Unfortunately, the damage was sustained by natural elements, including erosion from the Copan River. However, there is much work being done to preserve the remaining temples and sculptures.
Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve
A short distance from the archaeological park is Macaw Mountain. A haven for rescued native birds, including the park’s mascot, the Scarlet Macaw. This park acts as a nature reserve for birds who have been injured in the wild, rehabilitating them with the ultimate goal of setting them free. To date, over forty Macaws have been released back into the wild with the majority of them living in the ruins.
In addition to the birds that the reserve cares for, there are plenty of native birds in the area. While exploring the park, it can be fun to spot the different birds hanging out in the trees above.
The best way to see Macaw Mountain is with a guide. This is included in your admission price and enhances the experience. My guide, Isaac, was extremely knowledgeable, genuinely friendly, and more than happy to answer questions. After my tour, which lasted at least an hour, I enjoyed sitting in the park’s cafe, drinking icy cold frappes, and chatting to Isaac. Overall it was a very enjoyable way to spend the afternoon.
Happy hour at Don Udo’s
While in Copan Ruinas, I stayed at Don Udo’s Hotel & Restaurant. Udo, a native of the Netherlands who has been living in Honduras for many years, owned a very successful restaurant with the same name in San Pedro Sula. In 2000 he decided to relocate to Copan Ruinas, building the hotel and restaurant here. Udo is also a chocolatier, making and selling delicious chocolate onsite.
Don Udo’s restaurant is one of the more upscale restaurants in the area. The signature dish is the tenderloin steak and visitors can enjoy 2 for 1 cocktails from 5 to 7 pm. I enjoyed sipping on my drink and listening to the soothing music while working on my laptop in the courtyard.
Strolling around town
Copan Ruinas is a pretty town with cobbled streets begging to be explored. Take a stroll, stopping in one of the many cafes for some delicious Honduran coffee. Hang out in the town square and if you get hungry, duck into one of the many local restaurants that offer traditional meals for as low as USD $2.50. I loved the Carne de res a la Plancha with beef, beans, sour cream, cheese, pico de gallo, and tortillas.
About an hour outside of town, are natural hot springs which have been constructed into an Eco Spa with Mayan-styled elements. The naturally hot water that comes out of the stream, is over 80C (176F) and therefore Luna Jaguar Spa has created various pools which reduce the heat to pleasant temperatures.
The series of pools range from around 45C, 30C and 20C with instructions given to move from the hottest pools to the coldest after 10-15 minutes in each. In addition to the hot spring pools, there is also a mud pool where you can give yourself a mud mask and a sauna. Massages are also available upon request and cost extra.
At the front of the spa, are two larger pools with water from the hot spring. These are a cheaper admission price at 60 Limpiras however do not provide the full experience.
Don Udo’s Hotel & Restaurant
Don Udo’s is a family-run hotel and restaurant tucked away in a side street of Copan Ruinas. The location is just a few blocks away from the town square, however, is enough distance away to feel secluded and tranquil.
I stayed in a double room with a private bathroom. The room was very clean, spacious and comfortable. Amenities included cable TV, telephone with international dialing, hot water, extra blanket and complimentary bottled water upon arrival.
Don Udo’s Hotel & Restaurant has “colonial ambiance with European style”. The grounds are well-laid out with many places you can find solace including a sundeck, sauna and reading room. Massages can be requested via appointment at reception.
Location: Avenida Mirador, Barrio El Centro, Copan Ruinas, Honduras, C.A.
Budget breakdown: Copan Ruinas
All costs are quoted for two people and in the local currency (Honduran Lempiras). See below for the average daily spend per person including currency conversion to USD and AUD. I always try to find and negotiate the best prices to share with my readers. If you know of a better deal, tell me about it in the comments below.
Accommodation: Don Udo’s Hotel & Restaurant offers budget, double, deluxe and deluxe king rooms as well as a suite which has a separate living area, refrigerator, and private balcony. Guests at Don Udo’s receive a complimentary breakfast menu. For the full list of accommodations and current prices, please refer to Rooms & Rates.
Food: As it was very hot I wasn’t very hungry and only had two meals per day.
Day 1 – Coffee at Don Udo’s Restaurant (65 Lempiras), Breakfast of baleadas at local restaurant (60 Lempiras), coffee and water at Macaw Mountain (85 Lempiras), Dinner and soda at a local restaurant (170 Lempiras), Happy Hour drinks at Don Udo’s (81 Lempiras), Popsicles (30 Lempiras), 2 bottles of 1.5L water from a local supermarket (32 Lempiras).
Day 2 – Coffee at local cafe (60 Lempiras), Breakfast of baleadas at local restaurant (50 Lempiras), Dinner at a local restaurant (140 Lempiras), 2 bottles of 1.5L water from a local supermarket (32 Lempiras).
Activities: Tuk Tuk to the ruins (40 Lempiras), The Maya Site of Copan (660 Lempiras), Tuk Tuk from the ruins to the bird sanctuary (50 Lempiras), Macaw Mountain Bird Park & Nature Reserve (440 Lempiras), Tip for the guide (40 Lempiras), Luna Jaguar Spa and tourist shuttle (880 Lempiras).
Average daily spend: 728.75 Lempiras each* ($31.78 USD / $44.05 AUD, the exchange rate as of 20 May 2016) excluding accommodation costs, transport into and out of Copan as well as entrance fees into Honduras ($3 USD each).
*This daily amount could be reduced by walking from downtown to the ruins and taking a local bus to the Luna Jaguar Spa (around $3 USD round trip). The bus only runs in the morning so check the timetable the day before. You could also choose to skip certain activities or spread them out over a longer period of time to reduce the daily cost.
I was a complimentary guest of Don Udo’s Hotel & Restaurant, however, my opinion is my own and will always remain unbiased in order to provide the best recommendations to my readers.
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