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Chitchen Itza

Discover what was once the bubbling center of the ancient Mayan civilization at Chichen Itza.  Now known as one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is a must-see when visiting the Yucatán region.


Step Back in Time


As one of the largest Mayan archaeological sites, Chichen Itza is a complex of 17 structures featuring impressive step pyramids, old living quarters, and intricate stone carvings that will take you back in time.


When you first enter the complex, your eyes can’t miss the most notable structure in the center—the Pyramid of Kukulcan. Also known as “El Castillo”, this pyramid is a great symbol of the Mayan’s fascination with astronomy. The four sides of the temple are each made with 91 stone steps, adding up to 365--the number of days in a year. 


Kukulkan’s Descent is another unique feature exemplifying the Mayan’s extraordinary mathematical skills. The Pyramid of Kukulkan was built in such a way that when the sun sets during the spring and fall solstices, it will cast shadows resembling a large slithering snake along the building. Expect large crowds during these nights to see this unforgettable experience.


As you wander through the rest of Chichen Itza,  imagine the competitive sports played in the Great Ball Court, the diligent astronomy students in the “El Caracol” Observatory, and locals making sacrifices  at the Sacred Cenote to worship the Mayan rain god.


How to Visit & When to Go


The best time to visit Chichen Itza is when it first opens in the morning. By mid-morning, tour buses will arrive and can lead to huge crowds. Chichen Itza is open daily from 8 am to 5 pm and the entrance fee is 250 Mexican pesos (approximately $14 USD.) Avoid going on Sundays as this is when Mexican nationals get in for free and can get quite crowded.


No need to hire a guide ahead of time as there are plenty of licensed guides for hire at the entrance to help you learn more about the Mayan culture and architecture. The gift store also sells guide books if you prefer a self-guided tour. 


If you’re looking to stay for a couple of days, consider the nearby colonial town of Valladolid. A 40-minute drive from Chichen Itza, Valladolid is a quiet town away from the tourists and is great for more of a local experience. It’s easy to take a bus to Chichen Itza from Valladolid and arrive early enough to avoid the crowds. 


Getting Around


Chichen Itza is located between Merida and Cancun. It’s possible to take the ADO bus to visit the Mayan ruins. First-class buses leave daily from downtown Cancun (3 hours away), Playa Del Carmen (3.5 hours away), and Tulum (2.5 hours away). You can also take a 1.5-hour-long direct bus ride from Merida on the weekends to reach Chichen Itza.


If you’re on a tight budget, then consider a second class bus. However, it can take longer to reach your destination, so be sure to check the travel times. The bus will drop you off at the west entrance of Chichen Itza.


If renting a car during your stay, there are plenty of road signs showing the way to Chichen Itza. Before you go, familiarize yourself with local traffic laws and carry Mexican pesos to pay any tolls. Parking will be available for a small fee. 


Private transfers are also available to get to Chichen Itza. This is the best way to relax on your way to one of the most impressive sites in the world. 


Once inside the site, the only way to get around is by foot. 


Interesting Facts

  • Traveling with luggage? Use the baggage storage that is available near Chichen Itza’s entrance.

  • During the spring and fall solstices, witness the sun casting shadows resembling a slithering snake on the Pyramid of Kukulcan.

  • At 78 feet tall, the Pyramid of Kukulcan is one of the tallest buildings constructed by the Mayans. It may be tempting to climb these steps, but this is no longer an option. Nearby pyramid structures can still be climbed at the Coba and Ek Balam sites.