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Supposedly the great mythical city in Mesoamerican literature, this Mayan city stands today as one of the most popular archeological sites in Mexico. Read on for more on Chichen Itza history and Chichen Itza facts.
Archeologists believe the main monument, El Castillo, was dedicated to Kukulcan, the Mayan snake god, and was built between the 9th and 12th centuries A.D.
Chichen Itza translates to “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” The Itza were a sea-warding subset of Mayan people.
It is likely that the city was built in this location on the Yucatan Peninsula because of two large natural “cenote” nearby that would have provided water to the population.
The total number of steps on the pyramid El Castillo, including the temple platform at the top, is 364—the total number of days in the Mayan calendar.
The Mayans were great athletes. Archeologists have found 13 ball courts for their Mesoamerican game; the best preserved and largest lies on this site just northwest of El Castillo.
Nothing is worse than setting out for a big day of exploration and getting hit with a spell of dehydration. Prepare ahead and bring lots of water, it cannot be overstated how hot this place can get. Bring a sturdy set of shoes and a hat or umbrella for sun. Bug spray is a must, especially in the rainy season when mosquitoes are running amok.
If you decide to rent a car, make sure to purchase a map and have a friend in the passenger’s seat navigating on the way to Chichen Itza. Be careful—some of the road is rocky or in disrepair. Be sure to keep your gas tank full, because there aren’t many gas stations along the toll highway. For a day trip from Cancun, the drive will take a little more than two hours.
Stop at Ik Kil to go swimming in this ancient water source, a popular spot open to the public.
- When to visitOpen daily, 8:00AM to 5:00PM, year-round.
- What is the price?Adult tickets start at 64 MXV (about $4) and continue upwards with tours, packages and other perks available.
- Will I need a guide?With so much history to learn about, a guide is a great idea.
- How to get thereYou can rent a car (parking is 10 pesos), take public transportation, or take a tour from Cancun or Cozumel.
- Additional tips
- Try to arrive in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the sun is hottest at midday.
- A light and sound show is put on each evening, and times vary by season, so plan to stay late if you can!
What People Are Saying About Chichen Itza
Overall a good tour. The food should be more traditional Mexican or left out and the tour cheaper
Thanks to Marco, our guide, and Hacinto, our driver, it's been a really great experience! Marco has deep knowledge of the place and its history, which he shared with us in a way that showed us how magical Chichen Itza is!
The tour bus was on time within 10 minutes. Our bus operator was an excellent driver on the narrow streets. It was a very long day and quite warm, but the bus was accessible when needed. Our tour guide Ricardo was amazing. His knowledge of the culture and area was exceptional.. It was very obvious that he loved his job, because of the passion with which he presented the info. Above and beyond any tour we have ever been on. Ricardo deserves cudos for a job well done.
The early pick up is definitely the way to go. We had the best parking spot and no mega tour buses were around yet. We even were walking through before all the vendors were setup. This allowed us to have a quiet, fun and educational visit to Chichen Itza.
Really enjoyable and informative tour of this amazing site. The journey took around 2 1/2 hours from Mayan Riviera but was very comfortable and our guide Mauricio was engaging, funny and very knowledgeable - telling us all about Mayan culture on the way there. After the guided tour of the site which took a couple of hours we had the option of either buffet or a la carte meal - we chose the latter as it was in air conditioned area. Excellent food and generous portions. We then had around 45 mins and chilled by the hotel pool before the return journey. Ideally we would have liked another hour on site to give more opportunity to tour round unaccompanied. However all in all this was well worth the money and no visit to this part of Mexico would be complete without witnessing this 'modern wonder of the world.'