Visiting Chichen Itza on your next trip to Mexico and need the best tips to visit? Read about the best things to do in Chichen Itza including places to visit near to Chichen Itza,travel tips and how to get to Chichen Itza.
I am covering all your questions to visit Chichen Itza, Mexico in this Chichen Itza Travel Guide. If you’re visiting Chichen Itza for the first time, I’ve got you covered everything in this Post.
Chichén Itzá is an ancient Mayan capital and one of the largest Mayan ruins in Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. It has played a significant role in the cultural and economic history of the region. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most visited archeological sites and tourist attractions in Mexico.
There are so many things to do in Mexico with Mayan ruins, beaches, historical cities to delicious food, Mexico has everything! If I have to pick one one place, surely Visiting Chichen Itza would be my top choice.
Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is listed as one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World(listed in 2007) is home to towering temples, sacred sinkholes, and Mayan ballcourts. The site is filled with history, facts and ancient stories!
Being one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico and easy day tripping place from Yucatan Peninsula’s Rivera Maya, the crowds can be daunting in peak season, but worry not! In this post, I am covering all the travel tips to beat the crowds and make the most of your time in Mexico!
This ultimate Chichen Itza travel guide will help you with everything that you need to plan your visit to Chichen Itza in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula including the best things to do in Chichen Itza, how to get there, best time to go, entry fees and recommended tour options.
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- 1 Visiting Chichen Itza Mexico : Travel Guide
- 2 A Brief History of Chichen Itza
- 3 Map of Chichen Itza
- 4 Best Things to Do when visiting Chichen Itza
- 4.1 1. Temple of Kukulkan or El Castillo
- 4.2 3. Plaza of a Thousand Columns
- 4.3 4. Platform of Venus
- 4.4 6. The Skull Platform OR Tzompantli
- 4.5 7. The Platform of Eagles and Jaguars
- 4.6 8. Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote)
- 4.7 9. The Observatory (El Caracol)
- 4.8 10. The Nunnery (Grupo de las Monjas)
- 4.9 11. Cenotes Near Chichen Itza : Cenote Ik Kil
- 5 Practical Information for Visiting Chichen Itza
- 6 Best time to visit Chichen Itza
- 7 How to get to Chichen Itza?
- 8 Parking at Chichen Itza
- 9 Chichen Itza opening hours
- 10 How Much Does it Cost to Visit Chichen Itza
- 11 What to Expect at Chichen Itza?
- 12 Do You Need to Go With a Tour when Visiting Chichen Itza?
- 13 Recommended Guided Tours of Chichen Itza
- 14 Best Travel Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza
- 15 Chichen Itza Travel Frequently Asked Questions
- 15.1 What Is So Special About Chichen Itza?
- 15.2 Is it worth visiting Chichen Itza?
- 15.3 Can I visit Chichen Itza on My own?
- 15.4 How much time do you need in Chichen Itza?
- 15.5 Is Chichen Itza Safe?
- 15.6 Can You Still Climb to the Top of Chichen Itza?
- 15.7 Why can’t you climb Chichen Itza?
- 15.8 Can you visit Chichen Itza for free?
- 15.9 Do you need a guide for Chichen Itza?
Visiting Chichen Itza Mexico : Travel Guide
A Brief History of Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza was likely founded around the 6th century AD, but it wasn’t until the 9th century that it became a major political and economic center of the Mayan Civilization. By the 10th century, Chichen Itza was a sprawling city with a dense trade network that reached as far as the Caribbean coastline.
The name Chichen means “mouth of the well” and Itza refers to those who founded it, the Itzaes. The well in the name refers to a number of underground rivers & Cenotes that run beneath the region and likely served as the source of water for the city!
A center of religious fervor, the city’s temples and sacred cenotes (natural sinkholes filled with fresh water) attracted pilgrims from across the Mayan world. But by the 12th century, it seems to have lost its political importance but it it continued to be a place of pilgrimage and ceremonial importance for the Mayan people.
Today, all that remains of this city are the temples and ballcourts. When the Spanish arrived in the Yucatán Peninsula in the 16th century, Chichen Itza was abandoned and largely forgotten.
In the 19th and 20th centuries onwards, archaeologists began to rediscover Chichen Itza, revealing its historical significance and architectural brilliance. According to history, the buildings at Chichen Itza were built over a period of many years.
The earlier buildings were built by the Mayans in the Puuc style. These include the Church, Nunnery and the Temple of the Jaguars.
The later buildings were built by the Toltecs who invaded Chichen Itza in the 10th centuries. These include the Main Pyramid or the El Castilo and the Ball Court.
Map of Chichen Itza
To help you start planning your tour of Chichen Itza here is a nice map of all the ruins you can visit.
The above interactive map of Chichen Itza gives you idea about the directions within the archaeological park so that you can figure your own best way to see Chichen Itza. So, let’s start with what you can see at Chichen Itza.
The Monuments are divided into two parts : Great Northern Platform(1-10) and Osario group of temples(11-18).
Best Things to Do when visiting Chichen Itza
Wondering what are the best things to do in Chichen Itza?? Well, archeological site of Chichen Itza is filled with so many Mayan ruins occupying an area of 4 square miles(10 sq km) in Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. There’s a LOT to see with just one day, but it’s not possible to cover all the Mayan ruins during your time in Mexico.
Here is list of Best things to do in Chichen Itza, I am highlighting major Chichen Itza attractions and sites to make most of your time during your visit.
1. Temple of Kukulkan or El Castillo
The Temple of Kukulkan is known in Spanish as ‘El Castillo’ (the castle) because this enormous Mayan Pyramid is the most impressive and recognizable structure to see at Chichen Itza. This is the first major sight you’ll see when you walk from the entrance into the archaeological area.
Dedicated to the Mayan feathered serpent god Kukulkan, the temple is the most iconic landmark of the entire Chichen Itza complex.
The pyramid is almost 100 feet tall, with a square base, consisting of four sides, and consists of series of nine terraces on each side, making a total of 18 terraces. You can see the sculptures of Mayan deity, Kukulkan, near the stairs.
El Castillo is renowned for its astronomical precision that shows Mayan people’s love for astronomy! Each of the four staircases on El Castillo has 91 steps, and when combined with the single step at the entrance to the temple at the top, the total number of steps equals 365, representing the days in the year.
The Pyramid of Kukulkan (El Castillo)
During the spring and fall equinoxes, a fascinating shadow cast on the Pyramid staircase. As the sun sets, a play of light creates the illusion of a serpent descending the staircase, symbolizing the feathered serpent god Kukulkan. This is one of the most interesting facts about Chichen Itza.
The pyramid also happens to be built on top of a cenote, a sacred water source for the Maya. And surrounding the pyramid, of equal distance to the north, south, east and west are four more cenotes.
During the night, you can watch the Light and sound show at El Castillo pyramid. It is an exciting show full of history filled with colorful images and Mayan representations. The show begins at 7:00 pm, you can get your tickets at Chichen Itza’s entrance starting at 15:00 hrs.
2. Temple of Warriors
Located right next to El Castillo, the Temple of Warriors is another impressive structure and one of the largest temples in the Chichen Itza complex. It also features a large stepped pyramid surrounded by columns with carvings of warriors.
The Temple of the Warriors is associated with the Toltec architecture influence on Chichen Itza. A statue of Chac Mool (the Mayan Rain God) sits on top of this temple. There are several hundred tall stone pillars that line the entranceway and the sides of the temple.
3. Plaza of a Thousand Columns
The Plaza of Thousand Columns is located beside the Temple of Warriors. Believed to be built during 900 AD and 1200 AD, these columns was likely used for City Market and place for various rituals, ceremonies, and gatherings.
The columns were once supported a frieze and a roof which have since collapsed, but were probably covered by mortar, wood or thatch to provide protection from rain and sun. They were adorned with attractive stucco and decorated with decorated with motifs and Chaac masks.
4. Platform of Venus
Another impressive structure in the Chichen Itza Temple Complex is Platform of Venus. It is associated with the planet Venus and its importance in Maya astronomy. The structure may have been used for observing Venus and tracking its movements.
Also, it is believed that it was a shrine for Chac Mool(the Mayan Rain God) because his stone sculpture was discovered inside the platform when it was excavated. You can see the intricate carvings of eagle, serpent, jaguar and human form on side panels.
5. The Great Ball Court
One of the best things to do in Chichen Itza is to visit the Great Ball Court, located northeast side of the El Castillo.
The Great Ball Court is the largest and best-preserved ball court in the World! At Chichen Itza, at least 13 different ball courts have been uncovered, and every other Mayan city or town had their own arenas too.
It has high walls with stone rings at each end and intricate carvings depicting the ballgame and ceremonial events. There is a temple at each end.
It is evident that the Mayans were famed for their great ball games but it was part of their religious rituals! The game is no fun, Legends say that the winning Capitan would present his own head to the losing Capitan, getting a direct ticket for heaven instead of going through the 13 high steps that the Mayan’s believed they had to go through in order to reach peaceful heaven!
6. The Skull Platform OR Tzompantli
The Skull Platform is one of the most dreadful things to see at Chichen Itza. This is thought to have been a ritual, sacrificial platform where the skulls of the decapitated would be displayed, perhaps after playing in the sacred ball games.
Located right by the Great Ball Court, the platform walls of the Tzompantli have carved beautiful reliefs of four different subjects- the skull rack, scene with a human sacrifice, eagles eating all human hearts; and skeletonized warriors with arrows and shields.
This monument gives the clearest testimony to the practice of human sacrifice, carried out for religious purposes.
7. The Platform of Eagles and Jaguars
Located on the great Plaza, the Platform of the Eagles sits between the Temple of the Skulls and the Temple of Venus.
Just like the El Castillo, it is a small pyramid built in Mayan and Toltec styles, has a staircase on each of the four sides leading to the top of the platform. The stairs rail are topped with images of serpent God Kukulcán. On the walls, you can see several human figures carvings. Below them you can see the Eagles and Jaguars gruesomely grasping human hearts.
Eagles represent skilled archers whereas jaguars stand for fiercest members(warriors) who were adept in hand-to-hand combat. These warriors were also responsible for obtaining victims to sacrifice for the gods at Chichen Itza altars.
8. Cenote Sagrado (Sacred Cenote)
While not a man-made structure, the Sacred Cenote is a naturally formed sinkhole is also one of the most remarkable site in Chichen Itza Complex. You might not see it nearby other temples as it’s located north east of the Venus Temple. You can see that in the map above.
While tourists today visit these cenotes for their natural beauty or for a freshwater swim, the Mayans saw them as sacred. The Mayan cities are always found built next to cenotes to utilize the fresh water from it.
But over the time, the Cenotes took on religious significance in the Mayan civilization, and the Sacred Cenote in Chichen Itza became a place of ceremonies. To this day, so many artifacts, gold pieces and human skulls have been found as part of the archaeological findings from the cenote.
This is the place for sacrificial rituals during the Mayan times. You are not allowed to swim here.
9. The Observatory (El Caracol)
The Observatory is one of Chichen Itza’s most unique ruins unlike other ruins at Chichen Itza Complex. The structure built in the form of a larger circular tower set on a platform with a central staircase.
The Spanish name for the temple is El Caracol (or the snail), a reference to the shape of the observatory. It is believed to have been used for astronomical observations, throught openings in the top of the tower.
10. The Nunnery (Grupo de las Monjas)
The Nunnery complex is the last stop on your Chichen Itza self guided tour!
This complex includes several buildings, each with several rooms. It has three floors featuring the Mayan-Toltec and Puuc style decorative elements.
11. Cenotes Near Chichen Itza : Cenote Ik Kil
Cenote Ik Kil is one of the most famous cenotes near Chichen Itza. Being easily accessible from Chichen Itza and with its natural beauty, Cenote Ik Kil is famous among tourists visiting Chichen Itza. Also, it is often included as part of various tours to Chichen Itza.
So, after visiting Chichen Itza complex, take a colectivo or taxi to visit Cenote Ik Kil.
Unlike the cenotes within the Chichen Itza complex, this is a cenote where swimming is allowed. With long hanging vines reaching down to the Azul water, it’s not only magnificent to look at, it’s also absolutely refreshing to swim.
There are lockers, restrooms and changing rooms on-site, as well as a restaurant to fuel up after visiting Chichen Itza.
Practical Information for Visiting Chichen Itza
Best time to visit Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is located away from the Yucatan Coast in between Jungles, so its always hot during the day!
Winter months from November to March are most suitable as temperature is mild and pleasant with no rain, perfect for swimming in Caribbean coast. This is when Mexico is at its busiest and Yucatan Peninsula is crowded especially Cancun, and you can expect to be joined by thousands of other tourists.
December and January are peak months, so try to avoid it! But if you don’t mind the crowds, winter works best! But you can try to visit during November, February, and March, for a good balance between the crowds and good weather.
The summer season lasts from March to May, temperatures rise much higher, and the climate is much more humid. Avoid these months if possible! Also, because it is the shoulder season, you’ll get better deals in accommodation/tours/flights.
June to October is considered as wet rainy season with hurricanes. So try to avoid these months for visiting Chichen Itza. It can hamper all your plans!
Overall, November and March are best months to visit Chichen Itza with fewer crowd with reasonable prices to avoid peak season & still getting good weather.
When you are visiting Chichen Itza, always plan to arrive early in the morning to avoid the midday heat and the crowds. Literally, there isn’t shade in the area ! Its vast open space and you need to walk a lot! Check this
The busiest time in Chichen Itza is between 11:00 AM to 2 PM because that is when loads of tourists bus arrive from Cancun, Tulum & Playa Del Carmen. Sundays are also busy because Mexicans can enter for free on Sundays.
How to get to Chichen Itza?
Chichen Itza is located right outside the small town of Pisté in the Yucatan Peninsula. It and located a few hours from some of the most popular destinations in the Yucatan, like Tulum or Cancun, but, given its popularity as one of the most visited destination of Yucatan Peninsula, it’s a very easy to get to But you do need to get your timing right to avoid the heat and the crowds.
Chichen Itza is located almost exactly in the center in the North of the Yucatan Peninsula. That means it’s halfway between the resort city Cancun and Yucatan’s capital and largest city, Merida. Both of these destinations have airports, but Cancun has by far the best international flight connections.
Many visitors simply take day-trips from wherever they’re staying in the Yucatan peninsula. But I recommend spending night at Piste or colorful town of Valladolid to save time and you don’t have to spend many hours in the Bus or car!
I have outlined below how to get from the most popular destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula to Chichen Itza.
Note: I have listed the times for the buses at the time I’m writing this, but it can change. Make sure to check the bus schedule when you plan your trip.
Chichen Itza from Piste : Best Option while Visiting Chichen Itza
Piste is closest town to Chichen Itza, just 7 Kms from the archeological site of Chichen Itza. If you want peace of mind and want to do sunrise tour of chichen Itza, your best bet is to stay at Piste.
When I visited Chichen Itza, did the same to avoid getting stuck anywhere on the road plus getting a proper night sleep before visiting Chichen Itza! We Stayed at the Hotel Chichen Itza, one of the most amazing stay during Yucatan trip with easy access to World Wonder site!
In the morning, you can get a colectivo or taxi(for 50 MXN) which goes to Chichen Itza early morning. There are are few Hotels in the Piste and Local bus stop in the town. Even you will get bus to Cancun or Valladolid from Piste. Suggested Hotels to stay in Piste:
- Hotel Chichen Itza : Located on the main road & 5-minute away from Chichen Itza.
- La Casa de las Lunas
- Mayan Bungalow Near Chichén
Chichen Itza From Cancun
The ruins of Chichen Itza are about 3 hours away from Cancun each way. Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trip from Cancun and you’ll get plenty of tour options from here. But you’ll need to leave very early if you wish to get to the archaeological site when the it opens at 8:00 AM.
You can get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by bus, taxi, car, or guided tour. Taxi is the most expensive option.
- Car: You can drive to Chichen Itza if you have your own car, takes 3 hrs one way. Check the Rental Car here.
- Bus : From Cancun to Chichen Itza, you can also take an ADO bus (the region’s major bus company). Buses depart from the central bus station rather than from the Cancun Hotel Zone area. The ADO bus departs from Cancun at 8:45 AM and returns to Cancun at 4:30 PM. Make sure to book tickets in advance to reserve your spot there and back if you are day tripping.
- Tour : Honestly, one of the easiest way to Visit Chichen Itza is to join a tour to Chichen Itza. Tours depart from any hotels along Riviera Maya and there are so many options to choose from. Most importantly, you don’t have to worry about driving almost six hours roundtrip in one day! This Tour (best reviews) from Cancun stops at Chichen Itza, the beautiful Cenote Samaal and lunch.
Not a fan of group tours? This private tour from Cancun allows you to Visit Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik kil with customized itinerary on your own time. It includes traditional Yucatan Lunch with air-conditioned transport vehicle.
Chichen Itza from Valladolid
Most of the People visiting Chichen Itza, decides to visit the closet and largest city – Valladolid, to spend the night before heading to Chichen Itza the next morning. Chichen Itza is just an hour away from Valladolid, Mexico.
Also, Valladolid is a charming city of Yucatan Peninsula. There are so many things to do in Valladolid like visiting Cenote Suytun, wondering cobbled stone streets with colonial architecture, main square, museums of tequila and Convent de San Bernardino de Siena and lesser known Mayan ruins of Ek Balam.
If you’re going this route, consider staying at Hotel Meson del Marques, a colonial hotel with beautiful architecture with a pool to cool off under the hot Mexican sun. It’s located right in the center of the Valladolid with everything so easily accessible. We loved staying at this Hotel, one of the best experience in Mexico.
Don’t have time for an overnight stay? Not to worry, here’s how to get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid. You can get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid by Car, ADO bus, taxi, tour, and colectivo. Colectivo is the cheapest option.
- Car: If you happen to have a rental car for your Yucatan Road trip, Chichen Itza is just 45 minutes drive from Valladolid. But Make sure to rent a car from Cancun, as you won’t find many rental options in Valladolid.
- Bus : One of the best things about staying in Valladolid is that you’re able to easily get to Chichen Itza via public transport! ADO buses are great but not that frequent ! The morning bus leaves at 10:30 AM but that’s too late to arrive at the site! But there are frequent buses to return Valladolid, leaving once every two hours.
- Colectivo : Colectivos depart every hour through the day when full, starting at 7 AM. The biggest advantage is that you can get to the ruins early, before the buses start arriving from Cancun and Merida. Colectivo return from Chichen Itza to Valladolid approximately once an hour, Last return at 5 PM!
GPS Location for Colectivo in Valladolid: Transporte Colectivo (Chichen Itza Y Piste), Calle 39, Centro, Valladolid, Yucatan, Mexico.
Tour: The the easiest way to get to see this ancient Mayan ruins is to join one of the many incredible Chichen Itza tours to choose from accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. This is highly rated tour from Valladolid that includes tour of Chichen Itza ruins, Cenote Yokdzonot, and the yellow city of Izamal by a knowledgeable guide.
Chichen Itza from Tulum
- Car: Chichen Itza is 2 hours 15 mins from Tulum. If you are driving, you can stop at Coba Ruins when returning to Tulum.
- Bus: There’s an ADO bus that departs at 9:10 AM from Tulum and departs from Chichen Itza around 4:10 PM.
- Tour: There’s plenty of Chichen Itza tours from Tulum. I recommend this Highly rated Tour from Tulum, which includes a guided tour of Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and a visit to Cenote. This tour from Tulum offers a tour of Chichen Itza with guide, plus a stop in Valladolid and the stunning offbeat Cenote Xux Ha.
Chichen Itza From Playa Del Carmen
- Car: Chichen Itza is two and half hours west of Playa del Carmen. You can stop at Valladolid during your return journey.
- Bus: There’s one ADO bus that departs from Playa del Carmen at 8:10 AM and departs from Chichen Itza at 4 PM.
- Tour: There’s a number of awesome Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen.
For examples, on This Guided Tour you’ll get to personalize your itinerary and take a dip in an lesser known cenote.
Alternatively, if you’re a history lover, book this tour, where you’ll see both Chichen Itza and Ek Balam (where you can actually climb the pyramids!) and afterward swim in a cenote.
Parking at Chichen Itza
If you are arriving in Chichen Itza by car, remember that parking is available right next to the entrance and costs about 60-80 MXN per car.
Chichen Itza opening hours
The archaeological site of Chichen Itza is open every day of the year between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM. Last entrance is at 4:00 PM. Depending on your interest in Mayan history and architecture, you can spend anywhere between 2-3 hrs. exploring the ruins. Later, you can head towards your accommodation or can visit nearby Places.
If you are staying in the town of Valladolid and start at 7:AM in the morning, then you’ll be mostly free by 12 PM and you can visit another Mayan ruins Ek Balam and nearby cenotes while visiting Chichen Itza from Valladolid. This Highly Recommended Tour helps you to see Chichen Itza and Ek Balam together along with lesser known Cenote Chichikan.
How Much Does it Cost to Visit Chichen Itza
One of my favorite things about Mexico is how incredibly affordable it is. However, the Mexican government know well how big draw of tourists visit Chichen Itza being one of the Wonder of the World. The prices are very steeper for the admission.
At the time I’m writing this, admission is:
- $613 MXN for adults (age 13 or over) .
- $90 MXN for children (under 12).
- $272 MXN for Mexican citizens or free on Sunday (this also applies to foreigners with an ID proving residence in Mexico)
- $90 MXN for Mexican citizens with a Yucatan ID .
The admission Price of Chichen Itza keeps rising every year due to its Popularity, so don’t be surprised if it’s slightly higher than I mentioned in the blog when you visit. It is always good to check the official website for the latest fees before visiting.
Insider Tip: You can pay for your entrance fee with a credit card, but carry enough pesos to cover your admission. There’s only a handful of credit card machines at the entrance gate and what if they go down! Also, not all foreign credit cards are accepted. It makes sense to keep enough cash in hand when needed, otherwise your trip can turn into misadventures!
What to Expect at Chichen Itza?
When you arrive at Chichén Itzá there is a large parking lot out front. You’ll find ticket Office in front of it, outside the Visitor Center. At Visitor Center, you’ll find Restrooms, souvenirs shop, small café and few kiosks for drinks & snacks.
When it’s time to enter the archeological site, you’ll cross security area & scan your ticket to enter. After walking for a while through the forest, you’ll see the main pyramid. You can take your time from 2-3 hrs to explore all the ruins.
Keep in mind, there isn’t much shade on the site except few tree stumps and trees! Take rest when you need to beat the heat of Mexico!
There are so many souvenir vendors inside the archeological site offering all sorts of Chichén Itzá themed souvenirs. But make sure to bargain as the Prices are higher.
After visiting Chichen Itza, you can head back to the visitor center to find the exit but before that you’ll pass the large covered market with so many vendors selling souvenirs.
Do You Need to Go With a Tour when Visiting Chichen Itza?
This is probably obvious from above, but no, you don’t need to go on a tour of Chichen Itza. Depending on your interests, you can either do a self-guided or guided tour of Chichen Itza.
But it’s always recommended to take guided tours of archaeological sites. The guided speaks English and they explains the history so well which makes the visit more interesting.
Also, Guided tour removes the need for working on logistics and allows you to just sit back and enjoy the day. The guided tours to Chichén Itzá aren’t the cheapest but they tend to include multiple activities and a buffet lunch. When you consider all the benefits and inclusions, it’s value for money.
There’s so many interesting things to know about the Mayans that I’d personally recommend going on one of the many awesome Chichen Itza tours that are available! You can combine the tours with visit to other places such as Coba, Ek Balam, and many cenotes. Plan as per your schedule without hassles.
Recommended Guided Tours of Chichen Itza
- This Highly rated tour includes a tour of Chichen Itza, a dip in community run Cenote and stroll around the magical city of Valladolid including local food. You can check the reviews here.
- This full-day tour includes a tour of Chichen Itza, a dip in Cenote Saamal followed by delicious lunch and stroll around the magical city of Valladolid. (It’s most reviewed on Get Your Guide)
- On this all inclusive Tour, you’ll discover important Mayan ruins Chichen Itza, refreshing dip in the Ik Kil Cenote with its turquoise waters and walking tour of Valladolid including local lunch.
- This Chichen Itza Early Access Tour will allow you to be one of the first to enter the gates of Chichen Itza and see the ruins without the crowds, swim in Cenote Chichikan and Tequila testing and traditional lunch. This is one of the best Chichen Itza tours and highly reviewed on viator.
- On this Full day Small Group Tour, you will get early access to Chichen Itza, followed by swimming in Hubiku Cenote, and ending the day at the ruins of Ek Balam.
- On this guided tour from Cancun, you will discover two fascinating Mayan ruins on the same day- Chichen Itza and Coba. You’ll also get to swim in the beautiful Cenote Ik Kil.
Best Travel Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is incredible site of Mexico. Its said that almost 2 millions people visit it per year, that’s wild!!So, read my top tips for visiting Chichen Itza to make your trip most memorable:
Arrive Early or Later During the Day
I strongly suggest visiting Chichen Itza first thing in the morning when the site opens at 8 AM. Not only will you beat the crowds and the worst of the midday heat. This is what I and my husband did and we had enough time to explore the site at our own pace.
If you aren’t morning person, head here in the afternoon, when most of the tour groups will start clearing out. The site is open until 5 PM, with the last entry permitted at 4 PM. It takes 2-3 hrs to explore the site, so consider showing up around 2-3 PM before closing.
Getting a skip-the-line entrance ticket to Chichen Itza makes sense if you are planning to arrive in the middle of the day. They need to be booked in advance. If you are arriving early book this Sunrise tour.
Beware of the Time Zones
The most visited places of Yucatan Peninsula are in the state of Quintana Roo, where Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Bacalar are located. The state observes EST time zone(It doesn’t change with DST as like in USA). But the rest of Southern Mexico observes Central Time Zone(CST). Chichen Itza is actually one hour ahead from the rest of the Mexico!
This is very important when you’re booking transportation as transportation is always listed in the local time. So, when you’re heading back to Rivera Maya from Chichen Itza, you’ll actually arrive an hour later OR when you arrive Chichen Itza, you’ll gain an hour!
Don’t Bring Professional Camera
Like World Wonder-Taj Mahal, India, have lot of restrictions on what you can and can’t bring in, Chichen Itza is no exception. Mexico has very strict laws in terms of what kind of camera equipment’s they will allow at historical sites.
Obviously taking pictures is allowed but “Professional camera Gears” are not allowed. But in case it’s with you, you can store it in the onsite lockers by paying small fee. But I wouldn’t suggest it, instead keep it at your hotel safely!
Mobile phones with cameras are permitted without issue and are free to be used for photo or video. This is your best option while visiting Chichen Itza.
If you want to use Gimbals and Gopro, you’ll need to Pay additional fee in cash. Also, Tripods of any size/type are not permitted on the historical site. Don’t bring it with you.
After you purchase your tickets, a security guard will go through any bags you’re taking in and check.
Come Fully Prepared
The Yucatán is very hot and humid, especially during summer. There is no cool breeze unlike the coast of Rivera Maya. It’s very hot during the day even in winter! So, here are few things to keep in mind for your Mexico Packing List.
- Chichen Itza is much more than the iconic Pyramid, there are so many sites to explore in the complex. So, you’ll be walking a lot in wide open spaces in direct sunlight! Wear Comfortable walking shoes to explore.
- Bring some snacks and LOTS of water as you’re going to walk a lot! There is a Cafe on site but it’s pretty expensive. Also, make sure to fuel up yourself with a big breakfast!
- The ruins of Chichen Itza are fully exposed to the sun, and there’s almost no shade available when you’re walking around. Make sure to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat to protect your skin from scorching heat.
On Sundays Chichén Itzá is free for Mexican nationals and foreigners with Mexican ID. These days can get very busy to visit. If you have more time, select another day for your trip.
Be prepared for vendors
Visiting Chichen Itza and learning all about the amazing Mayan history is interesting but Vendors on the site might be Annoying. You will find skulls to t-shirts, figurines, and hats, fridge magnets and they are packed along most of the walkways. Be prepared if they trying to sell you somethings as souvenirs. While its cool to support them, but there are hundreds of them on the site!!
You can’t climb the pyramids
Different archaeological sites in Mexico have different rules when it comes to climbing the temples. Unfortunately, you can’t climb on any of the pyramids in Chichen Itza for preservation purposes. So, please stick to the rules when your visit !
If you’re really want the adventures and want to climb the Mayan ruins, there are plenty to choose from around the Yucatan Peninsula, including the Coba Ruins near Tulum, Ek Balam near Valladolid, Uxmal near Merida.
Make sure to Walk around the Whole Site
The main Chichen Itza ruins are around the main Pyramid, El Castillo, and it gets crowded throughout the day. This area is known as the Great North Platform and contains the majority of the most famous ruins at the site, like the Great Ball Court or the Temple of the Warriors.
But there’s also a cluster of other buildings to the south of this area, known as Osario Complex, is home to some of the most interesting buildings in Chichen Itza, including a Mayan astronomical observatory. Make sure to visit this too!
Bring your Swim Wear!
Finally, don’t forget to bring your swimming gear. After so much walking around the temples of Chichen Itza, you may want to cool off in the nearby cenotes!. You can visit any of nearby Cenotes for refreshing swim.
Chichen Itza Travel Frequently Asked Questions
What Is So Special About Chichen Itza?
Chichen Itza is one of the largest and best preserved archeological sites in the world! Chichen Itza is home to the world’s largest Mayan ball court, the Kukulkan pyramid and other temples! The Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza reveals the rich Mayan culture, history and architecture.
Is it worth visiting Chichen Itza?
Yes, It is worth Visiting Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Chichen Itza is home to one of the best engineering marvels -The Kukulkan Pyramid which was built in honor of the Mayan serpent God descends every year, a massive ball court with some gory history, and several ancient structures that tell us lot about Mayan life and culture.
Can I visit Chichen Itza on My own?
Yes, You can Visit Chichen Itza on your own. Due to its convenient, you can reach Chichen Itza by Car, ADO Bus or Colectivo. This way you’ll have the freedom to roam at your leisure, stop where and when you want and see the ruins without a tour guide. Although hiring a local tour guide may be helpful if you’re looking for in-depth information about the history behind the site.
How much time do you need in Chichen Itza?
You need a minimum of 2-3 hours to explore all the sites of Chichen Itza like Main Pyarid and Northern Platform, the Osario Group, and the cenotes of Chichen Itza. If you’re taking a guided tour, I recommend 3-4 hours at Chichen Itza for leisurely tour of the site. Obviously, you can spend more hours if you want to spend time for pictures and video’s along with the tour.
Is Chichen Itza Safe?
Chichen Itza is totally safe to visit. There isn’t much to do or see in the town other than eating at one of the buffet restaurants. The site itself is maintained.
Can You Still Climb to the Top of Chichen Itza?
No, you cannot climb any of the ruins at Chichen Itza for preservation of this ancient structure. Climbing ancient ruins can damage the structure, also its not safe to do so. Pls follow the rules and don’t try to attempt it.
Why can’t you climb Chichen Itza?
You are not allowed to climb the Pyramid of Chichen Itza because the stairs are not safe due to centuries old wear and tear. Years ago, a couple of tourists had an accident while they were climbing, one of them died. These visitors were older adults and maybe they felt tired and then happened the worst. Due to this event, Chichen Itza has been closed for climbing.
Can you visit Chichen Itza for free?
Yes, you can visit Chichen Itza for free on Sundays if you are a Mexican Citizen or having Yucatan ID. Otherwise, you cannot visit Chichen Itza for free. You’ll need to pay an entrance fee to access the heritage site of Chichen Itza.
Do you need a guide for Chichen Itza?
No, you do not need a guide for Chichen Itza. You can easily explore the ruins on your own especially if you read this Chichen Itza Travel Guide before visiting.
Truly, Chichen Itza is an architectural genius of the Mayan people and gives a glimpse into their culture, this is why its one of the most visited places in Yucatan Peninsula. Definitely, it is one of my favorite historical destinations in the world!
If you’re visiting Cancun and the Riviera Maya and you want to have a cultural experience then a day trip to Chichén Itzá is worth for you. Make sure to visit Chichen Itza and nearby cenotes when you plan your Yucatan Peninsula Itinerary.
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