Close to Cancun are Mayan ruins that stir the immagination. While Tulum, Chichin Itza, and Coba have well-deserved reservations, I also liked less traveled sites, such as Muyil.
If you go to Tulum, get there in the morning before the tour buses -- the site is compressed in a relatively small area and fills up fast. We got there around 8:30 - 9:00 and things were still relatively quiet -- but by the time we left the parking areas were full and more were coming in.
Muyil is just south of Tulum -- a relatively small site, but one that has some impressive buildings and gives a sense of discovery.
The Grand Pyramid is impressive at Coba, rising 12 stories above the jungle. The guidebooks mention that bikes are availble to rent because the sight is so spread out. They should be more emphatic: rent a bicycle if you go there.
Chichin Itza has a well-deserved reputation. Stay for the Light and Sound show if you can -- we took a tour bus to avoid driving late at night (and considering the cost of the toll road it was well worth it). Be sure to get the headphones unless you speak Spanish. Our guide was kind enough to arrange headphones for us, but we heard many people say that they wish they had gotten them.
I will always remember a large, orange-colored, full moon rising next to the great pyramid at Chichin Itza.
Ek-Balam has the most impressive artistic work -- well preserved statutes that defy description in this page.
Snorkeling is wonderful around Cancun. We were somewhat disappointed with Aquaworld's snorkeling tours -- both at Punta Nizuc and the Isla de Mujeres. Both of these tours took you out on boats with a guide in groups of 10 or so. It got a little crowded, but the reefs were great. You might want to consider a tour with Scubamex in Paamul instead.
There are lots of snorkeling areas south of Cancun: Paamul, Akumal, and Xpu-Ha all have beautiful beaches with access to reefs. Be sure to wear BIODEGRADEABLE sun block - and don't touch the reefs. We need to protect them for our children.
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.
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.
Old ruins from the ancient habitants of Yucatán: the Maya civilization!
You can find rest of Ball Field, an Astronomical Observatory, Sacrifice Lake, and the High Pyramid, well known all over the world.
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.
The Maya City of Chichen Itza is a must! But take care, that you go there in the early morning or afternoon! Around 11:00 a.m the busses arrive from Cancun, which carry the tourists of the cruiseships. And that means thousands of people crowding the area! There is a possibility to escape! For that you have to see my Chichen Itza-Page!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Chitchen Itza, Is a historical place. So this is a place not to be missed if ur a big time fan a HISTORY!. We arranged this trip through our holiday rep (which i would not recommend, long story) and went there by coach, with afew other hotels from the beach complex. Chitchen Itza, is about a 3-4hrs drive (Average) so prepare yourself for a long drive. We stopped off about 4-5 times 2 toilet rests 3rd time we stopped at a village in the Yucatan to buy some soverneirs and try some tequila. 4th time we stopped at another local village to sight see a town and church, 5th time for lunch, which was EXCELLENT and we watched a perfomance by some of the locals.
When you arrive at Chitchen Itza, you have to pay an enterance fee which is 60 peso ($6) and another fee if your using a digital camera or min-recorder. Remember your in the YUCATAN so it's very very humid. My advice to you is either sight-see around Chitchen Itza with your tour rep or by yourself (which i recommend) with your tour rep he/she will explain everything i.e mayan ppl etc..which after a while might get boring. If unaccompanied you can do things at your own space.
Oh yes i almost forgot, theres ALOT of walking so wear some trainers or pumps.
Watch out for beggers, as we got harrassed by some lil kids and that was quite embarrassing....
That's it just sit back and enjoy the ride. Don't forget to buy the soverneirs at the end! every peso costs!
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.
Visit Chichen Itza could be a great adventure, try to clim to the piramide "El Castillo" the view is fantastic, yoou could take good pictures and take air.
When you go Down don't look at the bottom of the piramid or you will be on fear of the next step, just walk as normally as you could.
Chichen Itza, this great Mayan Archeological site is only a couple of hours by bus from Cancun. A visit here, will fascinate you.
The Mayans, were one of the greatest autochtoneous cultures of MesoAmerica. Their great architectural and artistic achievements are still around for every one to admire and enjoy.