A ways away from the main temple complex is the Cenoate. Take the walk out there. I know it's hot and your tired, but do it for me...
The Cenoate is essentially a large sink hole filled with water. This Cenoate was where they dumped the bodies of the human sacrifices after the religious rites were performed.
But the real reason to walk out here is they have a little stand where you can buy ice cream. See, now I convince you...
This temple isn't as recognized as the main temple complex, but it is just as interesting. I believed it is named "Temple of a Thousand Pillars" or something similar. They guess that the pillars used to support some sort of roof and a market of some sort was underneath. Without the roof, it takes on a very surreal look.
On the very top, though it is hard to make out in the picture, they have the stand where human sacrifices used to take place.
Definitely spend some time exploring around this thing. Keep an eye out for the wild Iguanas. They can be up to 5 feet long, and look utterly prehistoric.
Chichen Itza is about a 2-1/2 to 3 hour bus trip from Cancun. More than a few people avoid the excursion, because it sucks up pretty much and entire day. But it is more than worth the drive! This place is incredible! You get a sense for how advanced the Mayan culture must have been as your guide tells you some of the interesting facts about the temples and how they align for certain celestial events.
Ask you hotel front desk about a day excursion. It's cheap. (I think ours was $40). Make sure to take a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Chichen Itza is in the middle of the jungle. And let me tell you, the temperature difference between here and the coast is VERY significant. Especially when you start hiking around. But be prepared, and you will be fine.
This is without a doubt the most recognized image of the Yucatan. And rightfully so. The temple is incredible. The images of it simply don't give you an accurate accounting of it's size. This thing is massive. More than a few people don't want to go through the pain of climbing the steps. (which in the 100 degree heat can be quite a workout) But you have to do it.
The view from the top of the Temple structure is incredible. The jungle goes on as far as you can see and is just intermittently broken by other temple ruins sticking up above the tree tops. I am not at all afraid of heights, but standing on that ledge at the top gave even me a bit of vertigo. But be brave! You can do it!
The trip back down the steps can be a little frightening, as the steps are so steep and narrow. Go down on your butt using one of the guide ropes. But under NO circumstances do you want to skip the climb up the main temple.
Another of the many buildings - this one called the Observatory (or Caracol). The Mayans were very mathmatically inclined and had calculated the sun-cycles even more accurately than our present calendar (they did not need a Leap Year every 4 years to correct for errors!). Their belief was that the world began on Aug. 13, 3114 BC and their birthdays, etc. are counted as the number of days elapsed since that date. We also visited the Tulum ruins during our trip, and I would rate them behind Chichen-Itza in terms of overall enjoyment.
Once you have climbed El Castillo, you are rewarded with a fantastic view of the whole site, as well as the Mayan jungle stretching off in all directions. The building below is the Temple of the Warriors (also called the Group of the 1000 Columns), which is off-limits because of vandalism.
Chichen Itza was one of the most important cities to the Mayans. On this tour you visit the El Castillo Pyramid & the Sacred Well & also the ball court which was the centre of ceremonial sports & also you visit the temple of the warriors.
I went to Chichen Itza in December 1999 when you were still allowed to climb to the top of pyramid, it was well worth going to the top & seeing the fabulous views.
The tour costs around 50 Sterling pounds & includes an English speaking guide & also lunch.
It was well worth going to see the pyramid but i must admit the tour guide did bore me abit as he did talk for too long.
I have heard that the pyramid of Chichen Itza has some connection with the pyramids of Giza in Cairo Egypt. If anyone knows more about this please let me know.
If you can only do one tour during your stay in Cancun, this is the one. The grand-pappy of all must-sees! Any desk clerk at your hotel should be able to help you arrange a tour.
The temples and pyramids at Chichen-Itza, which means "Mouth of the well of the Itzaes", are the Yucatan's best known monuments.
This Mayan city was founded around 800 AD. The style of architecture later became heavily influenced by the Toltecs. Toltec influence is obvious in the many depictions of Kukulkan in the stone reliefs and the 75-foot pyramid named after him (the "Pyramid of Kukulcan" or "El Castillo").
Try and arrange something where you get to spend as much time in the park as possible. Most tours are only there for 2 hours, so if you do this, you'll have to really hustle to see everything. But if it's all you can manage, even a short tour is worth the spectacle!
Do not miss: Temple of the Warriors (hundreds of columns lined up with carvings of warriors along the walls); Observatory "El Caracol" (building with circular tower); Temple of the Skulls 'Tzompantli' (near the ballcourt - hundreds of carved skull reliefs); Sacred Cenote (where victims were drowned in sacrifice); El Castillo (don't worry, it's impossible to miss!).
See my Chichen Itza Travelogues for more photos of Chichen Itza.
Visit the Chichen Itza if you want some insights on ancient Mayan civilizations. Here you can enjoy great ancient Mayan architecture, learn about their beliefs, their way of living, and how they affected modern society through their great inventions. Very interesting place. Some say this could be the lost city of Atlantis.
I BELIEVE ITS THE BIGGEST MAYAN RUIN I'VE SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.... TAKE A FAN EXREMELY HOT OVER THERE. ABOUT 100 DGREES AND HIGHER SPECIALLY DURING SUMMER....... GREAT WORK OUT AND FANTASTIC VIEW WHEN GOING UP THE RUIN
If you have to pick a one day trip during your Cancun vacation then Chichen Itza has to be it. David's dad who managed all of our tours made sure we went to this place. It is three hour journey, but worth every minute. It takes you to the most breathtaking ruins in the Mayan world. A most do is the climb up El Castillo which will give you the most magnificent views over the surrounding miles of lush jungle. David's dad and mom really liked this destination of all the places we went. Anyways, inside the Mayan pyramid is the famous Chac Mool sculpture and the Jaguar Throne. However, El Castillo isn't the only interesting feature to be found at Chichen Itza. The Mayan Ballpark, the Temple of the Warriors, the Cenote of Sacrifice and the Observatory provide other spectacular scenes from a world long forgotten. Chichen Itza just offers so much for you to do that you can't leave Cancun without going here. I promise you that you will really regret not visiting Chichen Itza if you get the oppurtunity. Me and David thought it would be a boring trip and didn't want to get up so early, but it was worth every second of it. Just the Mayan ruins up close and personal give you a real understanding and appreciation of the history. The only problem with Chichen Itza is that it is far inland and you will find the temperature considerably hotter than normal. I would recommend you take plenty of water and sturdy footwear. Pay attention to the warning signs. The climb inside of the pyramid to see the statue of Chac Mool and the Temple of the Jaguars is also extremely steep and very hot . Outside of the main Chichen Itza complex you will find a typical Mayan village a short walk away. Here you will find some very cheap restaurants and I would recommend you stop off for an authentic Yucatan meal. Beware the mass of street sellers. A simple No will be enough for them to leave you alone, but the handicrafts they sell are authentic and cost next to nothing. I bought a few while I was there.
I would advise anyone who is visiting Cancun or the Cancun area to do a day (or overnight) trip to see the wonders of Chichen Itza! We took a tour offered through our hotel rep for an all-inclusive first class coach tour. We drove through a beautiful Mexican town, visited a Mayan village (for shopping), stopped for drinks and swimming at a sink hole (cenote), had a buffet lunch while watching traditional Mayan dancers, and then visiting the ruins. However, I do wish that we wouldn't have made all those stops and spent more time at the ruins. We did have a wonderful time and our guide was well knowledged. I definitely reccommend seeing these ruins, they are well worth the time!! Note: Bring lots of water beacause its hot!!
We booked a trip to Chichen Itza with the hotel.
Our tour included transportation in an a/c bus, a buffet-style lunch, a tour of the cenotes or "sink-holes", and the tour of Chichen Itza.
You will be in the sun for several hours and it gets really hot, so make sure to put on plenty of sunscreen and wear light colored clothing.
Chichén Itzá is undoubtedly one of the wonders of the archaeological world. Founded in 495 AD, Chichén Itzá has been meticulously restored and this incredible site, with it's columned structures and warrior images, is reminiscent of ancient Rome. The entrance to Chichén Itzá features a large visitors center and museum where you will find many of the best preserved sculptures and artifacts, on display. The ruins at Chichen Itzá are well grouped and although very large, it is fairly easy to get around and to see the most spectacular attractions. Many tours leave daily from Cancun. The archaeological zone itself is approximately a two and a half hour drive from Cancun.
This is an obvious tip anywhere but the second part of this is that if you rent a car and make the drive out then you can walk the site virtually alone before the busses arrive. If you love this type of cultural experuience that I strongly recommend taking the extra time and doing the drive.
My photos have virtually no people in them because I went early by car a second time. You can also stop in the small towns that the busses just pass by.