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A mandatory day trip
It´s a couple of hours by car from Cancun, but I think that it's impossible to skip its visit.
Chichen-Itza it's popular worldwide, and it would be silly not to visit it, being so close. So, have swim in the early morning (great!) visit Chichen-Itza, and have another late swim to receive the night (even better)
- Historical Travel
Visit the Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá
In the jungles of Yucatan lies one of the largest and best preserved archeological sites in Mexico, Chichen Itza. The ruins are a strange combination of Mayan and Toltec influences, spanning hundreds of years of intermittent inhabitation. Founded around the middle of the fifth century by the Mayans, Chichen Itza was taken over at some point by the Toltecs, probably around the year 900. It flourished until a point around the year 1200, at which time it was abandoned.
Chichen Itza is about 120 miles west of Cancún, a trip of about 2 1/2 hours. The site is large, so bring comfortable clothes and shoes. One of the highlights is El Castillo, the pyramid-like structure with its steep stone stairs (a troublesome climb for some, but definitely worth it for the view). Twice a year, during the equinox, a shadow on the north staircase of the pyramid takes the shape of a descending serpent--huge crowds gather to witness the event. Other highlights include the ball court (the largest ever discovered), the astronomical observatory, a deep, circular cenote (sacred well), the Temple of the Warriors, and the group of the thousand columns.
A trek through history
Anyone traveling to the region should definitely stop at one of the ruins. My husband wanted to go to Chichen Itza because it was the most famous. My vote was and still probably would be for Coba as this one is less visited and in a more "natural" setting. The ruins themselves were amazing. It was quite an experience to view the structures and here about their stories from our very knowledgeable guide.
PS you can longer climb to the stairs of the castle structure because some mindless people threw coins into the door and damaged artifacts.
We went with a travel group that stopped in one of the Mayan villages to shop. If you are not versed in the art of haggling you should practice ahead of time with your travel partner. We saved money off the "listed price" (no prices are actually listed, you have to ask and then the game is on), but could have done better.
It’s a total day trip to Chichen Itza. Our ‘luxury bus’ – which was actually very nice and strongly air conditioned - picked us up at 7:20am and it took about another hour before the rest of the tourists were picked up via additional stops at the other hotels. The trip took in excess of 2 hours to arrive at Chichen Itza; there was one stop on the way there, which was referred too as “an emergency stop” so everyone had a chance to use the restroom, if necessary. At this location, there was of course, opportunity to purchase souveniers that were hand-made. As is the case throughout Cancun, you have to haggle and negotiate your way to a ‘non-ripoff’ price. If the guy said, “that’s 280 pesos”, I would say “how about 100 pesos”…and then the game begins. It certainly gets old after a while. Once we arrived at Chichen Itza, it was very hot and humid; you need to bring suntan lotion (no brainer) and strongly recommend buying some water there (it was like 13 pesos for a bottle = ~1 U.S. dollar). Thankfully, there were a number of shaded areas (groups of trees) wherein the tour guide delivered his speeches. The total time listening to the expert tour guide was about 1.5 hours, and afterwards there was an additional 1.5 hours left to visit the site on your own and take pictures and video. Regarding taking video, your supposed to pay about 3 U.S. dollars to use a camcorder; however absolutely no one checked or seemed to care – strictly honor code that you told the ticket office, “hey, I have a camcorder and here’s 3 dollars so I can use it”. Chichen Itza is an awesome site to see, but you cannot climb anything. There are a lot of locals selling souveniers throughout the site, and in retrospect they offered the best value/price than anywhere else I saw throughout our trip to Cancun – but you do have to haggle/negotiate as I mentioned earlier. After the tour of the site was over, we boarded the ‘luxury bus’ to head back to Cancun. On the way back, we stopped off to have lunch at a cool / traditional / local Mexican restaurant. It was buffet-style and we were entertained by a group wearing traditional Mexican costumes – who danced like crazy while balancing open bottles of beer and trays (with open bottles of beer) on their heads. Nothing was dropped, and not one drop was spilled. After lunch, we reboarded the bus and a short while later had a stop at a ‘sink hole’ where we put on our swimming clothes and jumped in. It was extremely refreshing to cool off – the temperature was a bit chilly, but not cold – actually perfect to cool off after a hot afternoon spent experiencing Chichen Itza. Finally, we reboarded the bus one last time and headed back to our hotel. By the time we arrived at the hotel (about 7:20pm), the tour in total lasted about 12 hours. It was a great experience, and strongly recommend purchasing the ‘luxury tour’ which includes unlimited ‘free’ drinks (water, juice, beer, tequila) on the way to and from Chichen Itza.
- Arts and Culture
Marvel at Chichen Itza but better not go up!
Dominating the center of Chichén is the Temple of Kukulkan (the Maya name for Quetzalcoatl), often referred to as "El Castillo" (the castle).
The pyramid was closed for "going up" during the time that we went and I think they should just close it all the time. It would be better so that they can preserve this structure for future generations. Beside, the steps are so steep and anybody can fall and have an injury. The pictures look best anyway when you are photographing the whole pyramid itself...
This step pyramid has a ground plan of square terraces with stairways up each of the four sides to the temple on top. On the Spring and Autumn equinox, at the rising and setting of the sun, the corner of the structure casts a shadow in the shape of a plumed serpent - Kukulcan, or Quetzalcoatl - along the side of the North staircase. On these two days, the shadows from the corner tiers slither down the northern side of the pyramid with the sun's movement.
- Family Travel
One of the New Wonders of the World
I've always wanted to see the ruins of Mayan Riviera so out of the 3 days we have in Cancun, I made sure we get to see Chichen Itza. It's a whole day tour; quite far from Cancun, about 3 hours drive, because it's in a different state. We joined an organized tour which was quite informative, then we had about an hour to explore on our own before we head out back to Cancun.
It's been raining on & off since we got to Cancun, so on the day of the tour we were expecting rain because Hurricane Ike is coming through the Gulf of Mexico but when we got to the place, the sun was out and it was sweltering HOT, which was good because if it was raining, it'll be so muddy we wouldn't be able to enjoy the walking tour. We couldn't have asked for a better day to visit.
I loved hearing the acoustics within the grounds, you clap your hands and you'll hear an echo sound reverberating around you. Amazing!
Too bad that climbing the ruins are no longer allowed. I would have gone up as I'm sure the view from the top would be a sight to see, but seeing them on the ground is just as grand.
Some sunblock, good footwear, and a hat (some had umbrellas like we did) are a must when visiting the site.
Funny thought: every item, it seems, that vendors are selling within the grounds is $1; it's like a big Dollar Store that we have back home.
- Family Travel
- Adventure Travel
- National/State Park
I would suggest waiting until you get there, that way you can plan around bad weather - unlikely in Oct. Tour bus from $65.00 US to $95.00. Rental will run about $75.00 with insurance and possible police tariff ( ask rental agency about a card for basicaly a BBB for tourist interacting with police, taxi runs about $200.00 plus entrance fees, plus tip, plus lunch for him. Guides are $60.00 for 3 and prices are posted at the turnstyle after purchasing tickets. Ask for, I'll have to think about his name. 25-30 years old, in good shape, he did know quite alot more than several other guides. Might be there in Oct myself.
A day trip to see Chichen Itsa is well worth it !! To be honest I had no idea what chichen itza was about, and I was amazed at what it was. The day was extremely hot. The tour that was given was extremely informative.
A FAbulous Site of High Times
This is one of the better preserved monuments in Mexico, having seen a couple of others in the past. Since our last visit, maybe tourism has diluted the impressionistic aspect, but hopefully not. The trip to get there was very interesting; like going bakc 100 hundred years in every day living for the locals. No Iguanas for sale like happened toward Acupolco though some years back
- Historical Travel
El Castillo. The most amazing acoustics here. Clap your hands anywhere in front of the stairs of the pyramid and hear a return sound of a local bird. Multitone song originates from the spaces between the stone steps Unfortunatly they no longer allow you go to the top. On the equinox's a visual treat of a snake appears to go up or down the edge if the pyramid. There are 91 steps and 12 symbols on the sides for the months. $4.50 US
- Museum Visits
Ruinas Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is probably the most visited site in the Yucatan Penninsula. It is the most famous site, is easy to get to on a day trip from Cancun and with good visitor facilities. Chichen Itza is in the state of Yucatan.
Famous for both its vernal equinox and its autumnal equinox, when Quetzalcoatl slithers down the stair case of El Castillo (pyramid). You definitely need a whole day here and it's also worth brushing up on your Mayan history so that the site means something to you. For more detailed informationm on the site, see my Chichen Itza tips.
- Historical Travel
What can one say about the breathtaking Chichen Itza? Well, it's one of the new Seven Wonders of the World for a reason. It was once a city of over 40,000 people. The Castillo, the Ball Court, the Observatory...simply amazing. These huge Mayan ruins are not to be missed. Indeed, the descendants of those whose lived here over 1000 years ago still live in this area.
I will have a separate page about Chichen Itza shortly, with much more info and pictures. The journey from Cancun lasts two-and-a-half to three hours. Most people get there by tour bus, though you can drive there too. The tour I took took us through the Mexican city of Valladolid & to a place to buy our souvenirs before arriving at the ruins. Afterwards, we went to a ceynote and a delicious Mexican buffet before heading back to Cancun.
You can make reservations on line before heading to Cancun, or you can do what I did: arrange my trip through a travel agent at my hotel. My advice is to do so before you leave - you'll probably save some money.
Either way, you owe a Chichen Itza daytrip to yourself. It's a fascinating, indeed inspiring place. And it's a good way to break up a beach vacation.
- Historical Travel
Don't miss Chichen Itza. We went on this optional excursion in 2000. It was well worth our day. The pyamids and ruins of the Myans are extremely interesting. It was very hot there when we toured, but rained while we were there. The rain came quickly as you can see from the phots. Our tour guide said this is typical. We were able to climb the pyramid before the rain. Going up was no big deal. Coming down was a different story. Once on top, we noticed hidden amongst the trees and ambulance.
Apparently In 2006 the main pyramid at Chichen Itza was closed to the public for climbing after a woman fell to her death. If you want to climb the pyramid, you should probably check with the tour guide before going.
- School Holidays
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
bring your bathing suit for Chichen Itza tour!
the Chichen Itza tour that We joined stopped at a beautiful crystal clear cenote at Valladolid. You can swim at the cenote for $6 ( not included in the tour fee). there are a lot of catfishs in the cenote. you can bring your snokling gear if you want. We did'nt bring our swimming suit . I had to buy a swimming pant for my boy at $ 18 so he can swim (ouch!).
make sure you bring a lot of water and put on sun screen. It is very hot and humid at Chichen Itza.
It is over 100 degree in April.
It was smoking hot the day we went here but it was nice to see and provides a good place to take pictures., and they sell ice-cream so it's ok. Bring water though, we brought some and before we even finished it it was warm.
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