Chichen Itza is the most known and most visited Mayan ruins site in Yucatan Peninsula. A visit to one of the New Seven Wonders of the World should be on everyone’s list travelling to Yucatan. If you want to know more about exploring Chichen Itza on your own, read the entire article!
ABOUT CHICHEN ITZA
Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage site and as mention before, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. While Chichen Itza has the wow factor, it is a partly re-built pyramid, that’s why it looks so polish and perfect.
Many tourists visit Chichen Itza as a day trip arranged by the resorts along Riviera Maya, about a two-hour drive away. And the prices are high! The site is much easier to access if you are staying in the cities of Merida or Valladolid.
Nowadays, having the entire site to yourself, it’s only a dream. You will see lots of buses, tours, masses of tourists eager to take a photo of the famous pyramid. But, despite its popularity, it should be on everyone’s list travelling to Yucatan, Mexico.
Opening Hours: 8 am – 5 pm
Entry fee: 480 pesos
HOW TO GET TO CHICHEN ITZA ON YOUR OWN
Exploring Chichen Itza on your own? Is it possible? YES! Due to its convenient location, exploring Chichen Itza on your own makes a perfect day trip for every tourist. I recommend doing it independently instead of with a tour. Travel by car, bus or Colectivo. You’ll have the freedom to roam at your leisure, stop where and when you want. Take the tour with the local guide and then take your time and enjoy the archaeological site.
- Cancun – Chichen Itza, 200KM
- Playa del Carmen – Chichen Itza, 200KM
- Tulum – Chichen Itza, 150KM
- Merida – Chichen Itza, 125KM.
- Valladolid – Chichen Itza, 45KM
You can visit Chichen Itza eighter from Riviera Maya, eighter from the capital of Yucatan, Merida, eighter from Valladolid.
RELATED: 10 THINGS TO DO IN MERIDA, MEXICO
- You can get to Chichen Itza with a rented-car. It’s pretty common and safe to rent a car and discover the peninsula at your own pace. The rental prices are low compared to other places in the world, and the traffic is good.
- Or you can choose to travel on an ADO bus. Forget the Oriente bus since it will take forever to get to Chichen Itza unless you are on a budget.
- Or you can get to Chichen Itza via Colectivo, from Merida or Valladolid.
Colectivo Valladolid: Calle 46, behind the Ado Bus Terminal.
Colectivo Merida: Calle 60.
HOW TO VISIT CHICHEN ITZA
HIRE A GUIDE. There is no printed information at any of the sites, so a guide approved by the Archaeological Park, is money well spent. You will learn about the history of the Mayan people and understand more about the place.
COST: 800 pesos
TIP: If you want to save some money, invite another person/couple/family to join your tour guide and split the bill.
VISITING CHICHEN ITZA
The vast archaeological site includes the famous El Castillo pyramid, different temples like temple of the Warriors, the Wall of Skulls or the Observatory, a ball game court and a small cenote. While El Castillo gets most of the attention, you might be surprised to find the site has much more to offer.
The first thing you’ll get to is the famous El Castillo pyramid. Ideally situated on a vast green area, it looks so imposing and so beautiful. It’s prohibited to climb the pyramid nowadays, but that is excellent for taking the perfect photo. Each front has the exact same size. Each staircase at the four fronts has 91 steps, which equals 364 and with the terrace at the top makes a total of 365 steps. Or the 365 number of days of one year.
THE BALL GAME COURT
Nearly every Mayan site had a ball game court, and the story is usually the same: Two teams of seven players performed a popular Mayan ball game. Players used to rebound a small rubber ball through stone rings using only their hips, knees and elbows. The game was played for official reasons or just for fun, but it was always a way to interact with the gods. Most of the times, the winning captain was sacrificed to the gods.
THE WALL OF SKULLS, OUTSIDE THE BALL GAME COURT
There are three platforms in the Great Plaza, but this specifical one was used to display the heads of sacrificing victims. Hundreds of columns surround a massive temple structure engraved with reliefs. The skulls were the roots that would ensure the extended presence of human beings.
The last stop is the Cenote Sagrado, used for human sacrifices during the Mayan times, and it is supposed that human remains are still on the bottom of the cenote. The cenote is a round hole of natural water, surrounded by high rocky walls. You’ll walk along a path, full with handicrafts and Mexican souvenirs. Stop and appreciate the beautiful crafts, maybe buy some. Don’t get confused by the vendors because they can be quite aggressive and they will try to sell you everything.
Now it’s time for a refreshing swim. Jump in a taxi nearby, pay no more than 80 pesos and head to the nearby town of Piste. The famous Ik’Kil is a perfectly round underground cenote, with long tree roots hanging around and blue colour water. If you’ve visited other cenotes before, you will notice that this one is not as natural and picturesque, rather commercial and artificial. Being so close to Chichen Itza, and also part of a day tour package, it’s going to be crowdy. So it is up to you if you skip this visit or not.
Entry fee: 70 pesos
Opening Hours: 8 am to 5 pm.
RELATED: CELESTUN – SELF-GUIDED DAY TRIP FROM MERIDA, MEXICO
TIPS FOR VISITING CHICHEN ITZA
- Bring plenty of water because it’s going to be hot all day long.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. There is no shadow at all.
- Use mosquito repellent to keep you away from the insects.
- The site requires a decent amount of walking so wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring a swimming suit if you want to swim in the cenote nearby.
If you are more adventurous and you want to try something different like floating on an ancient Mayan canal, read my article: Self-guided Day Trip to Sian Ka’an & Muyil Ruins