You will definitely recognise Chichen Itza. It’s been recognised as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, a Mayan city rising out of the Mexican jungle. It’s also known as a colossal tourist attraction. Here’s a few tips on joining the other million or so people this year who will tick it off their bucket lists.
- Having seen the crowds, I personally would not get a day trip from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum. By the time you get there the amount of people in your way will ruin your photos and probably your experience. I went from Valladolid , a great little town about 45 minutes away by bus.
- From Valladolid, there are a few options to get to Chichen. You can take an Oriente bus (MXP $26 each way) which run about once an hour starting around 8am. Alternatively you can take a collectivo, or a shared taxi, which set off when they are full – the first one normally goes about 7.30am, and takes around half an hour. These cost you MXP $30 each way.
- You will note the early start times in the above paragraph. These are on purpose. The site opens at 8am, but the first tour buses from Cancun don’t usually arrive until about 11. The first few hours are the best time to see the best of Chichen, and as well as being quieter it is cooler, and the vendors haven’t had time to set their stalls up for the day either.
- It costs MXP $232 to get in, including tax, as of October 2016. Unless you are a Mexican pensioner, which you aren’t. It seems expensive for Mexico, but suck it up. Stuff this old doesn’t come cheap.
- The vendors are kind of annoying. They tell you everything is “one dollar,” but it definitely is not. Bartering is not my thing so I just ignored them, but apparently if you are after a bargain the market outside the site is better value than the stalls inside.
- The information available at Chichen leaves a bit to be desired. I have a suspicion that it is to encourage you to get a guide, which is expensive. I’d suggest either reading up before you go, or taking a book with some information in it with you. The ruins alone are spectacular, but they mean so much more when you actually understand what you are looking at.
- Take some food and some water. Chichen is a big site – it used to be a city at the centre of the Mayan Empire. You will get absolutely stung for refreshments on site so taking your own will save you a fortune, and I guarantee you will want some water after walking around in the Mexican sun. (Speaking of sun, we were very fortunate with the weather. However, I am told that when it rains in the Yucatan it really throws it down. Check the forecast before you go, and maybe take an umbrella.)
- If you get there early enough you can see the whole place in 2-3 hours easily. If going all that way for a few hours doesn’t float your boat, there are loads of cenotes in the area where you can spend your afternoon. The collectivos and buses can take you to them, Ik Kil being the most famous.