Before you visit Chichen Itza, it’s good to read up a bit about what it is – and what you need to know about visiting this New World Wonder (and UNESCO site) like how to get there, how much it’ll cost, and the best times to visit. I’m going to cover the basics in this post so you make the most of your time there!
Chichen Itza is an archeological ruin built by the Mayans and was a major focal point of their lives between 800-1200 AD. It was the largest city in those times but I’ll share more about it further in the article. You can read more about it here. Two million tourists visited here in 2016.
Tips Before You Visit Chichen Itza
Getting to Chichen Itza
You can get here a variety of ways from local transportation like shared mini-buses, taxi, a tour, or by renting a car. We had a rental car because we flew into Cancun but visited Tulum, Merida, Celestun, and some other places.
For a rental car, I recommend searching on Rentalcars.com because they compare are the major car rental websites and save you time. From Tulum, it will take about an hour and a half. From Merida, it is about the same. It was easy to find with Google Maps and we had no issues.
There aren’t a lot of gas stations on the highway, so fill up. You’ll pass a lot of shops selling the cute stuff you see in Tulum, like dreamcatchers, way cheaper along the highway.
Tour options for Chichen Itza
You can take a tour to Chichen Itza from pretty much all towns around like Tulum and Merida. You will see travel agencies selling these but you can book ahead and get a better price. I recommend searching on getyourguide.com. Click here to see the 30 tours available and sort them by the highest recommended or by the city you will be coming from.
Don’t waste your time with any of the tours that are “skip the line” or “special entrance”. I also do not recommend a “full day tour”. There isn’t that much to see and it’ll be exhausting. While I preferred to drive there, I did miss having a guide to tell me stories! If you do a tour, you’ll have a guide. If not, you can hire one at the entrance.
Price of the Chichen Itza tickets + parking
It was $3 USD for parking (or something close to that – I lost the receipt) and $19 USD for tickets for two people. For a world wonder, that’s pretty cheap! It’s free for kids under 12. I think they only take cash.
When to visit Chichen Itza
Weather-wise, November through March is the best time to visit as it gets very hot in the summer months and rains past June. But, you’ll find more crowds during the best weather! We went late November and had NO crowds.
Some key points are that you should arrive when they open and avoid Sundays. Remeber that if you are coming from Cancun, Tulum, or anywhere in that coast, you are in Eastern Standard Time and when you get to Chichen Itza, it’ll be Central time, so you gain an hour.
Chichen Itza is open from 8 am to 5 pm. We didn’t arrive until 9 but it was totally okay and we didn’t have any crowds. Dec/Jan wouldn’t be so lucky I guess. Within an hour, it was packed, though. Sundays the entrance is free for Mexicans, so you might want to avoid that day which can be more crowded.
What to bring to Chichen Itza
You can pack a lunch and eat inside, which we saw many people doing. You should also bring your swimsuit and towel if you want to go into one of the two cenotes that are inside the property. We peeked in at famous one and it didn’t look very nice so we didn’t go in. It was very very murky and we didn’t see anyone else swim either.
The place is pretty spread out so wear comfortable shoes and maybe bring some water, although you can buy water, Powerade, and all kinds of other drinks at normal prices.
What you actually see inside Chichen Itza
- El Castillo – the big main pyramid you cannot miss it
- Great Ballcourt – the largest ballcourt in Mesoamerica, where they say the losers of the game were sacrificed on the temple
- Temple of the Warriors – hundreds of columns around a big temple
The place is incredible. While there, you can shop and will see many souvenirs and while most are overpriced, things like magnets are still super cheap so it’s nice to pick up some gifts! In general, though, prices are higher here and you should definitely shop around and negotiate on the cost.
You could spend about two hours here easily and even longer if you want to. You could also pop in to see the main pyramid and bounce if you felt like it. I recommend walking to all the places on the map though and checking them all out!
Visit Chichen Itza – Pin it for Later!
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