Chichen Itza is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in ancient history and culture. In this travel guide, we’ll take you through the top things to see and do in Chichen Itza, including two must-see places, two outdoor activities, and one unusual tip. We’ll also provide you with four accommodation suggestions in various budgets to help you plan your trip. Let’s get started!
Swim in a Cenote
A cenote is a naturally occurring swimming hole created when limestone bedrock collapses, revealing the groundwater below. The ancient Mayans utilized cenotes for sacrifices and revered them as holy places. These waters are now swimmable, and tourists may take in the natural splendor of the tunnels and caverns while swimming in them. A few minutes from Chichen Itza, one of the most well-known cenotes in the region is the Ik Kil cenote. After a hard day of seeing the ruins, this 130-foot-deep cenote is the ideal place for a cool plunge because it is surrounded by thick flora.
Take a Bike Tour
Biking is a fantastic way to see more of the Chichen Itza region. Bicycle trips of the surrounding countryside are provided by a number of tour operators, enabling guests to get up-close views of the region’s flora and animals. These trips frequently stop at less well-known historical monuments and ruins, offering a distinctive viewpoint on the region’s rich cultural heritage. Some excursions also include a stop in a Mayan village where tourists may learn about the culture’s rituals and handicrafts.
El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, is the most iconic structure at Chichen Itza. This pyramid-shaped temple stands at over 98 feet tall and was built in honor of the Mayan god Kukulcan. The temple is made up of four sides, each with 91 steps, and a final step at the top, making a total of 365 steps – one for each day of the year. During the spring and fall equinoxes, the sun casts a shadow on the temple that creates the illusion of a serpent descending down the side of the pyramid.
The Great Ball Court
The Great Ball Court is one of the most impressive and well-preserved structures at Chichen Itza. This massive court measures 545 feet long and 225 feet wide, and was used for a traditional Mesoamerican ballgame. The game was played with a rubber ball that was struck with the hips, and the objective was to get the ball through one of two stone rings located high up on the walls. The court is surrounded by steep walls that are decorated with intricate carvings and sculptures, and visitors can imagine the intense games that were played here over 1,000 years ago.
Visit Chichen Itza Early or Late in the Day
One unusual tip for visiting Chichen Itza is to go early or late in the day. The site is often crowded with tourists during the peak hours of 10am-3pm, so visiting before or after this time can provide a more peaceful and authentic experience. Additionally, visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon can provide beautiful lighting for photographs, as well as a cooler temperature for exploring the ruins.
The Sacred Cenote is a natural sinkhole that was used for ritual offerings by the ancient Mayans. It is believed that objects such as jade, gold, and human sacrifices were thrown into the cenote as offerings to the gods. Today, visitors can view the crystal-clear waters of the cenote from above, and imagine the incredible rituals that took place here over a thousand years ago.
The Ossuary is a little pyramid-shaped building that served as the ancient Mayans’ last resting place. The pyramid is special because it has a little temple at the summit that can only be reached via a winding stairway. Visitors may view a large skull rack as well as sculptures of bones and skulls that honor the Mayan belief in the cyclical cycle of life and death within the temple. A intriguing and sometimes unsettling look at Mayan spirituality may be found in The Ossuary.
For travelers seeking a luxurious and authentic experience, the Hacienda Chichen Resort and Yaxkin Spa is a top choice. This beautiful resort is located just steps away from the entrance to Chichen Itza, and offers guests an opportunity to stay in a restored 18th-century plantation house. The rooms are spacious and elegantly decorated, and the resort features a beautiful pool, a full-service spa, and an on-site restaurant serving traditional Yucatecan cuisine.
For travelers on a mid-range budget, the Hotel & Bungalows Mayaland is a great choice. This hotel is located within walking distance of the Chichen Itza ruins, and offers comfortable rooms and bungalows set in lush tropical gardens. The hotel features two swimming pools, a spa, and several on-site restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.
The Hotel Okaan is an excellent choice for those on a tight budget. Only a few kilometers from Chichen Itza, this hotel provides straightforward, cozy accommodations at a reasonable cost. The hotel has a lovely outdoor pool, a dining area featuring regional cuisine from Yucateca, and a helpful staff.
For backpackers and budget travelers, Hostel Chichen Itza is a great option. This hostel is located just a few minutes’ walk from the Chichen Itza entrance, and offers dormitory-style rooms as well as private rooms at a reasonable price. The hostel features a communal kitchen, a swimming pool, and a rooftop terrace with stunning views of the surrounding jungle.
Last but not least, Chichen Itza is a beautiful site that offers a fascinating glimpse into the ancient Mayan civilisation. At Chichen Itza, there are various opportunities for exploration and adventure, including swimming in a cenote and climbing the well-known Kukulcan Pyramid. As you get ready to visit this magnificent place, we hope that our travel guide has provided you with some helpful tips and inspiration. Chichen Itza will leave an impact whether you have a penchant for history, culture, or adventure.