Come see the second-most visited archaeological site in Mexico!
The Peninsula of Yucatan holds many beautiful sites, but the mayan ruins of Chichen Itza are surely something out of the ordinary. It will come as no surprise they are also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – or it will, as we had one criticized voting in 2007 for the new wonders of the modern world. But it’s fair to say there is a great sense of majesty when coming to one of the most visited archaeological sites in Mexico.
The majority of the hotels in Mayan Riviera offer guided tours to Chichen Itza, which is a great idea if you want to know local details of the history of the place, do not speak much Spanish or want to ride on an air-conditioned bus, with bonus trips to local cenotes (natural sinkholes) for some skindipping after a long hot day. But you can find local buses offering services to the ruins (like Ado), take a taxi, rent a car or even take the famous ‘colectivos’ – vans used as public transportation by locals.
“The Maya name ‘Chichen Itza’ means ‘At the mouth of the well of the Itza’. This derives from chi’, meaning ‘mouth’ or ‘edge’, and ch’en or ch’e’en, meaning ‘well’. One possible translation for Itza is “enchanter (or enchantment) of the water’, from its ‘sorcerer’ and ha, ‘water’.”
Chichen Itza is located about a 3-hour drive from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, and a 2-hour drive from the city of Merida, capital of the Yucatan Peninsula. Most of the tours offer a daytrip starting early in the morning with a full day of activities to entertain even the most avid traveler.
The site where the pyramid is located in huge and mostly with no shades, which means that it can get really hot throughout the day. Don’t forget to bring a small backpack with sunscreen and a good supply of water – wearing a hat is recommended.
Update: sadly on February 1, 2019 the government of Yucatan increased the admission ticket to Chichen Itza by 110% (from 242 to 481 pesos mexicanos), which will cause an increase in price by tour operators on their guided visit to the site.
Stay in Valladolid or Merida
If the resort travel style is not your thing, or you have done it before, and you are looking for a more authentic stay on the east side of Mexico, Valladolid is the third-largest community in the Yucatan Peninsula and a popular destination for people interested in exploring the history and culture of the state without the busy touristic vibe. Another great option is lodging in Merida, the capital of the peninsula, for a bigger city experience with amazing entertainment, outstanding cuisine, awesome historial buildings and the great Mexican lifestyle.
Renting a car for a self-guided tour might also not be a bad idea if you feel you have enough knowledge about the wonder. Parking by the entrance of Chichen Itza cost 80 pesos (price in February 2019), but a few cars can be found parked alongside the road – at your own risk.
Save an hour to have lunch at one of the family restaurants at the small town of Piste, where the archaeological site is located. They serve the best barbecued chicken for as little as 100 pesos (price in February 2019)!