When we visited Chichen Itza, we decided to explore this new Seven Wonder of the World in a less traditional manner, we bought tickets for the Chichen Itza night show and tour. It was a risky decision to make as we would only be able to view the ruins at night. It is safe to say, we were blown away. Walking around the Mayan ruins under the stars and moonlight with a limited number of other visitors was an incredible experience in itself, but then the light show started and added a new sense of entertainment value to the normal ruin experience we have had so many times in the past.
We were quite lucky to have even heard of this option for visiting Chichen Itza. We didn’t see any advertising or read anything online about the Chichen Itza night show. In fact, it was the morning of our anticipated visit to Chichen Itza that we overheard some chatter at our hostel breakfast table about the event.
You see, I went to Chichen Itza when I 16 and remember thinking that it was crowded, hot, and boring. We decided to visit Chichen Itza this time mostly for Daniel’s sake of being able to see another one of the Seven Wonders of the World. I was secretly hopeful that since I am now older, I would appreciate it more than before. That all being said, every other backpacker we had spoken to reviewed Chichen Itza as “okay” or “good”. Any traveler who had visited the ruins of Tikal before said the experience didn’t even begin to measure up. Ignoring these reviews, we decided to check out Chichen Itza for ourselves and make up our own minds. But when the opportunity of a Chichen Itza night show came up I had to consider that as a more exciting option.
The Chichen Itza Night Show Experience
I refer to the Chichen Itza night show as an experience, because that is what it really is. It isn’t just a night-time tour, a light show, or a visit to the amazing ruins. It is an experience from beginning to end.
We arrived to Chichen Itza at 6:30 PM, half an hour before the start time (note that the start times differ in different seasons.) We gave our ID in exchange for an iPod and headphones each. On these iPods was the tour included in the entry ticket price. This was really neat as we could select our own language and listen as we wanted. Everybody who was coming to the Chichen Itza night show was given one of these iPods. They had about 12 different information clips of about 5 minutes long each which corresponded with numbers at each point of interest around the ruins. It was really a self-guided tour.
When we entered the ruins the whole group of people are directed to walk the same route, in numerical order of the information clips on our iPods. The self-guide iPod tour made walking around and exploring the ruins peaceful and quiet as there was little to none chatter among the people and no shouting tour guides with microphones. The other great thing about the Chichen Itza night show is that there is a limited number of people allowed into the site, so although there are still many people, it didn’t seem crowded or overly busy. During our night visit only half of the 500 tickets had sold.
The iPod tour gave information on the significance of various ruins and other historical facts. It spoke about Mayan traditions and rituals all the while ruins were lighting up with different colors. The main temple, “Temple of Kukulkan”, constantly glowed and remained the main attraction as I walked around in awe.
After about an hour of the tour and exploring, everyone was instructed to take their seats. Seats were set up in front of the Temple of Kukulkan and were numbered. Soon enough, the music started and the main light show began. There was amazing visuals projected onto the pyramid and story being told at the same time. This show went on for about half an hour. It was incredible.
The Chichen Itza night show is official titled “Chichen Itza Noches de Kukulkan” and the shows run every night of the week EXCEPT FOR MONDAYS.
This is a ticket only event. Tickets can be bought at the door but you will definitely end up with a much worse seat than if you book in advance. The seats aren’t elevated or anything so if you are in the back your view will be much worse.
Buy your tickets online here. Presenting the electronic copy on your phone is fine. We bought our tickets only three hours before the show started and ended up in the second row. There is no extra charge to purchase online.
453.00 Mexican Pesos or about $22 USD. This is the ticket price and included the self-guide iPod tour and the light show.
Note, if you want to visit Chichen Itza during the day as well, you must buy a separate daytime entry ticket in addition to the 453MXN Chichen Itza night show ticket.
You will need to get to Chichen Itza about 30 minutes before the event start time. The entire event ends about 2-2.5 hours later.
Where to Spend the Night
Because it is a night show, I would recommend booking accommodation near the site of Chichen Itza itself for the night and then just take a Taxi to and from the entrance. We stayed one night at a really nice hotel which was quite budget friendly at only $30 USD a night for a private room called “Hotel Dolores Alba Chichen”. It was about a 5 minute drive from Chichen Itza and the taxi cost about $3 USD each way. There are even closer hotels, but they can be more expensive, so if you are looking for a budget option Hotel Dolores Alba Chichen is great, they even have a huge pool and are across the road from one of Mexico’s most famous cenotes called “Ik-Kil” which we were able to explore the next morning before check out.
-buy your ticket online in advance. Busy season tickets will be sold out in advance.
-spend the night in a nearby hotel, it will be expensive and difficult to get to a town or city at 9pm at night.
-while in the area of Chichen Itza make sure to stop by the cenote called Ik-Kil, it is very neat and well worth a half an hour visit.
-bring your own headphones. The ones they supply are not very reliable.
-arrive 30 minutes before the start time.
-bring a piece of ID with you as a deposit for the iPod self-guided tour
-if possible, try and do the tour with a full moon – it helps make amazing photos.
Do I Recommend the Chichen Itza Night Show?
Absolutely. The recent TripAdvisor reviews say otherwise, but I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about it. After seeing so many ruins in Latin America, this was a great way to change things up. It was eerie and magical at the same time walking around an ancient site in the dark. An experience I will never forget.
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