visit chichen itza

Cancun is one of the biggest travel destinations in the world. Chances are that you have friends who have been or maybe you’ve been already. Cancun is located in the Yucatan Peninsula and is extremely accessible. The majority of travelers come to this location for the beach and the parties. There is more to do here than that though. Why not explore some of the most famous pyramids in the entire world? This is a guide about visiting Chichen Itza in Mexico.

Visiting Chichen Itza should be added to your list of things to do in Cancun or all of Mexico for that matter. It is very close to Tikal in Guatemala as they have some similarities. The list of the new seven wonders of the world was announced in 2007 and on that list was Chichen Itza. With that being said, here is your Chichen Itza guide on everything you need to know.

chichen itza guide

How to Get to Chichen Itza

Most people when they visit this area of Mexico will be flying into the Cancun airport (CUN). From here they will either go to a resort close by or visit other towns along the coast such as Tulum and Playa Carmen. This area of Mexico is nice because everything can be reached by bus. I will go over some options if you are not going with a Chichen Itza guide.

Cancun to Chichen Itza

  • Cancun to Chichen Itza is about a 2 1/2 hour drive
  • You can take a bus from the bus station in downtown Cancun to Chichen Itza
    • The bus will be called Ruta de Autobuses de Oriente and you can find the schedule here.
    • This should cost between $6 and $10
  • If you rented a car you can also drive
    • It is an easy drive and will mainly be on the highway

Tulum to Chichen Itza

  • The drive is around the same length as from Cancun so about 2 hours or so
  • You can take a bus from the ADO terminal for around $14 or $280 pesos
  • A taxi will cost around $100 and is not recommended
  • If you would rather book a great tour then here is one of the best ones.
    • Not only does it take you to Chichen Itza but it also takes you to a swimmable cenote and the beautiful town of Vallodolid

Guide of Things to Know Before Visiting Chichen Itza

Visiting Chichen Itza is a once and a lifetime opportunity. It is a very accessible activity in this amazing region of Mexico. The most popular question is can you climb these pyramids? No, our tour guide made it clear there was no climbing at all when visiting Chichen Itza.

The past two years of covid have really made some things having to do with travel very complicated. In this guide, I will give some FAQs about Chichen Itza in case you wondering if anything has changed recently.

Chichen Itza Opening Hours

Chichen Itza is open Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm. You cannot enter the park past 4 pm.

If you are visiting Chichen Itza on your own then you should try to get here as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

chichen itza guide

Best Time to Visit Chichen Itza

To avoid bad weather, the best time to visit Chichen Itza is between November and March. This is peak season as well so there will be larger crowds during these times. The beginning and end of that stretch are the best times to go in my opinion.

Can You do a Self Guided Chichen Itza Tour?

Yes, you do not have to go with a tour group or guide to visit Chichen Itza. If you are short on time it can be helpful to book a tour as it will usually pack more into one day.

If you are able to take your time then it is suggested to rent a car and visit the other locations on your time.

chichen itza guide

How Much Does it Cost to Enter?

As of 2022, it costs 533 pesos to enter (around $26) and $5 for children. There are some tours out there that include the price of the entrance and some that don’t. Make sure to double-check before purchasing one.

The cost to enter Chichen Itza is much cheaper if you are a Mexican Citizen. The ticket for a Mexican citizen is $233 pesos and $80 pesos if you are a local. If you come on Sundays then it is free entry! Be sure to arrive very early though.

Is it Safe to Travel to?

Overall, Chichen Itza is very safe to travel to. The roads leading to this area from Tulum and Cancun is well maintained and you shouldn’t have any issues if driving yourself. This is an extremely popular attraction worldwide which usually means you are safe from harm.

While this area is known to be safe, it attracts thousands of visitors a week. This means it could get extremely crowded while you are there. The main form of crime would be pickpocketing in this situation. Be careful of your surroundings but still enjoy your visit.

How Much Time Do You Need?

What’s cool about Chichen Itza is that all of the main attractions are very close to the entrance. You don’t have to walk too far before you see what you came here to see, the pyramids.

I would say you need to visit Chichen Itza for at least an hour but no more than 2 hours. When we came to Chichen Itza with our guide he explained some history of the different sites and then let us explore on our own. We met up at the buses after 2 hours of visiting the park.

Cenote Near Chichen Itza

You cannot swim in the cenote that is located inside the park. After seeing it you will not want to jump in anyways.

There is a cenote near Chichen Itza that we went to on our guide called Ik Kil. This is a very popular one and seemed a little hectic at times. We were allowed to stay for 45 minutes before heading back to the bus. There are thousands of cenotes located in the Yucatan Peninsula alone so if you want to see more, you definitely can.

chichen itza cenote
ik kil cenote
ik kil cenote

The Chichen Itza Ball Game

The most interesting part of the entire Chichen Itza park is the area where they played their traditional Mayan ball game. This is one of the most intact versions of this ball game in the entire world.

In the photos below you can see the circle on the top part of the wall. The Mayans would try to use their body parts and other means to hit the ball through the small circle. Whoever scored first won.

In today’s society, the winner would be given something special. Our guide during our tour to Chichen Itza said the captain of the winning team would then be sacrificed to the gods. This is because they respected their gods so much that they only wanted to sacrifice the best.

chichen itza guide
chichen itza guide

Fun Facts About Chichen Itza

As part of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza has a lot of interesting facts about it. Some of them are funny and weird, but all of them are interesting. Below I will lay out a few that will help enhance your experience when visiting.

  1. If you stand in the section in front of the stairs and clap, you will hear an interesting noise. The noise resembles the Quetzal which is the national bird of Guatemala. This noise was often made when the Mayans used drums during their ceremonies.
  2. Chichen stands for “mouth of the well”. Itza is short for the name of the individuals (Itzaes) who found this area. Itza stands for “water witches”
  3. Fact number two is ironic. It is said that the Mayans had to abandon this area because of drought between 800 to 900 AD.
  4. The main pyramid of Chichen Itza was so well preserved even hundreds of years after they were abandoned. This was noticed by the Spanish who first stumbled upon this area in the 16th century. They loved the area so much that they almost made it the capital of the region.
  5. Chichen Itza’s main pyramid is actually three pyramids in one. These are built on top of each other and all of it is actually built on top of a cenote.
chichen itza guide

What to See in Valladolid

After visiting the cenote that we swam in (10 minutes outside of Chichen Itza) we went to the famous town of Valladolid. This is an old town that is a great place to visit for a few days. There are many restaurants and churches you can go see. We were only there for 30 minutes so we didn’t have that much time.

During this time we watched a performance in the square, visited the nearby church, and had some marquesitas. I highly suggest you get one of these! We chose the Nutella and queso one and it was fantastic.

valladolid church
marquesitas mexico
marquesitas mexico
valladolid square

Is Visiting Chichen Itza Worth It? (My Thoughts)

The crowds might scare you from coming but there is a reason Chichen Itza is so popular. It was one of the most well-restored pyramids in the whole world. When you first walk into the park you are blown away by its size and how good it looks. Overall I think you should absolutely visit this park but try your best to come early.

Thank you for reading my guide on Chichen Itza! I hope this helps answer some of your questions before you go visit this UNESCO World Heritage site yourself.

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