Chichen Itza ~ A World Wonder…
Chichen Itza is one of the “new” seven Wonders of the World, which were designated in 2007 by the votes of more than 100 million people. Along with the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu, Christ the Redeemer Statue, the Roman Colosseum, the Taj Mahal, and finally, Petra in Jordan ~ Chichen Itza is considered one of the new World Wonders for its demonstration of the genius of ancient Mayan civilization.
Chichen Itza Information
- Opening Hours: 8AM-4:30PM Daily
- Entrance Fee: $242 MXN (approx. $12 US)
- Weather: Warm to hot; average temperature 93 Fahrenheit (33 Celsius)
- Nightly Light Show: At sunset nightly, 30-min light show (in Spanish)
- Nearby Hotels: Hotel Dolores Alba ($35-45 US), Hacienda Chichen ($120-225), Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows ($120+).
- What to Bring: Bottled water, hat, sunscreen (very little shade at ruins), good walking shoes (ground very uneven at site ~ we wore high heels…BIG mistake!), & a cute bathing suit in case you need to cool off in a refreshing cenote!
Directions to Chichen Itza
Directions to Chichen Itza
- Distance to Chichen Itza from Cancun: 196 km (121 miles) west; 2-hour+ drive
- Directions to Chichen Itza from Cancun: Take 180D East from Cancun (toll road ~ bring cash) for approx. 196 kilometers. Take Exit toward Chichen Itza/Piste/YUC 79. Follow signs towards Chichen Itza.
- Nearby Attractions: Cenote Dzitnup (two cenotes, one site ~ approx. 20 mins from Chichen Itza); Ek Balaam (Mayan ruins north of Valladolid); the Pink Sea near Rio Lagartos (about 3 hrs north of Chichen Itza); the city of Merida (beautiful, authentic Mexican architecture); the famous beach resorts of Tulum, Playa del Carmen & Cancun (2-3 hour drive from Chichen Itza).
- Plan Your Trip: Grab the Lonely Planet Guide to the Yucatan & map out your adventures.
Map of Chichen Itza!
About Chichen Itza…
Once a powerful city, Chichen Itza flourished from approximately 800 to 1200 AD. It was an important trading center for slaves, cloth, honey, and salt ~ in addition to being the center of economic and political life for the Mayan civilization.
The most recognizable structure at Chichen Itza is the famous El Castillo (pictured below). Its step pyramid has exactly 365 steps, one for each day of the year. Each of the temple’s four sides has 91 steps, making the top platform the pyramid’s 365th step. Not only did the ancient Mayans provide us with our current 365-day calendar, but El Castillo demonstrates their superior knowledge of astronomy: twice a year, on the spring and autumn equinoxes, a shadow falls over the pyramid, shaped like a serpent. As the sun sets, this shadow of a snake winds down the steps, until it comes to rest at the bottom of the pyramid beside a stone serpent head, which was placed at the base of the pyramid.
Chichen Itza Structures
Other notable structures to visit while at Chichen Itza: Temple of the Warriors, the Sacred Cenote (where Mayan girls are said to have been sacrificed), Xtoloc Cenote, Venus Platform, the Observatory (where the Mayans made their incredibly accurate astronomical calculations from), the Great Ball Court (largest in ancient Mesoamerica), the Temple of the Jaguar, the Nunnery, and the House of the Hidden Writing.
Chichen Itza Video!
Click PLAY below to travel back in time to Chichen Itza with us…
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Where to Stay?
We got into Chichen Itza just as the sun set on a Tuesday night, with no reservations. Luckily, we happened to wander our way onto the lush grounds of the Mayaland Resort, entirely by chance. One of the best things we did all trip. Though their rack rate was $199 ~ we found better pricing via HotelsCombined.com at $119/night. Done.
What are the benefits of staying at Mayaland? Aside from the sprawling, tropical grounds that instantly put you in “vacation mode,” to their excellent restaurants (best Caesar salad I’ve ever had) ~ the main reason to stay at Mayaland is the proximity to Chichen Itza, & the incredible view you’ll get from your room. We had a panoramic view of the ruins from our balcony ~ & our bathtub. The resort also has a separate, faster entrance to the ruins ~ particularly helpful if you wish to visit at sunrise, like we did.
Click here to check prices for your stay.
Plan Your Trip!
There is SO much to do in Mexico’s Yucatan region! It’s almost unfair how naturally blessed this region is: incredible turquoise waters; hidden Mayan ruins; hundreds, if not thousands, of mysterious, underground cenotes; beautiful beach resorts; amazing, fresh seafood; and some of the best snorkeling & dive spots in the world. Without a guide book, it’s easy to miss a lot of these treasures ~ because the best things in the Yucatan are hidden. My pick: Lonely Planet’s Guide to the Yucatan.
So Long…Chichen Itza
Have you been to Chichen Itza? How about the Yucatan or my personal favorite ~ the Pink Sea? What was your experience like ~ did you find it to be super touristy, or did you get a little off-the-beaten-path & have some incredible experiences? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
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