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Want a unique experience when you go to Chichen Itza? Consider going at night for the Chichen Itza Night Show like we did! Here’s everything you might want to know about this experience so you know whether it is for you or not!
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, missing out on seeing them during the daylight.
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 to the “normal ruin experience” we’ve had so many times in the past.
We were quite lucky to have even heard of this option for visiting Chichen Itza in the first place. 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 this option.
You see, I went to Chichen Itza when I was 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 hoping 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 during the day 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.
What to Expect from the Chichen Itza Night Show Experience
The self-guided iPod tour
We arrived at Chichen Itza at 6:30 PM, half an hour before the start time (note that the start times differ in different seasons and can be as late as 8pm.) We gave our ID in exchange for an iPod and headphones each.
On these iPods was the electronic tour (we have heard these are no longer on offer) 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 which corresponded with numbers at each point of interest around the ruins. It was really a self-guided electronic tour.
When we entered the ruins the whole group of people was directed to walk the same route, in numerical order of the information clips on our iPods. The self-guided iPod tour made walking around and exploring the ruins peaceful and quiet as there was little to no 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. 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.
Related Read: Heading to Palenque? Be sure to check out the best waterfalls in Palenque.
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.
The Chichen Itza Light Show
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. Our entry tickets had our seat numbers on them.
Soon enough, the music started and the main light show began. There were amazing visuals projected onto the pyramid and a story being told at the same time. This show went on for about half an hour and although it was only in Spanish, it was incredible.
Important Info for Going to Chichen Itza at Night For Yourself
The Chichen Itza night show is officially titled “Chichen Itza Noches de Kukulkan” and the show typically runs every night of the week. However, the show currently only runs from Friday to Sunday.
This is a ticket-only event. Tickets can ONLY be bought at the door before the show beings. They are available from 3 pm to 8 pm daily.
708 Mexican Pesos or about $42 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 708 MXN ($42 USD) Chichen Itza light show ticket.
You will need to get to Chichen Itza about 30 minutes before the event start time. The entire event ends about 2 hours later. The show starts at 8 pm.
Going on an organized tour
Of course, if you don’t want to buy tickets in person a get yourself there you can also book a tour. This is definitely the easier option.
There are a variety of different tours available from nearby tourist destinations such as Cancun. This particular tour costs $122 USD and departs from Cancun or Riviera Maya and includes a walkthrough tour of the ruins at night before the light show beings,
Before all of that happens you will also visit the town of Valladolid during the daytime where you will have free time to walk around and explore and after you’ll get to take a dip in the stunningly clear waters of Cenote Hubiku and fuel up on traditional regional dishes from the buffet.
I’d recommend booking online in advance especially if you are visiting during a busy time of year.
If you don’t go on an organized tour I highly recommend you spend the night nearby so you don’t need to travel a long distance late at night (see below.)
Related Read: Looking for another amazing show in Mexico? The Rhythem of the Night dinner show in Puerto Vallarta is absolutely incredible! It is easily one of the best tours in Puerto Vallarta, if not all of Mexico!
Other Tips for Attending the Chichen Itza Light Show
- Spend the night in a nearby hotel, it will be expensive and difficult to get to a town or city at 9 pm 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 half an hour’s 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.
For more detailed info, check out our complete guide to visiting Chichen Itza!
Do I Recommend the Chichen Itza Night Show?
Absolutely. Some of the recent Trip Advisor 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 and definitely one of the best things I did in Mexico!
However, if you are still on the fence don’t let me get in your way of seeing Chichen Itza during the daytime. You can go by yourself or choose from many different guided tour options. This tour is one of the highest rated by tourists and includes a buffet lunch, swimming in a sacred cenote, tequila tasting, and a visit to the magic city of Valladolid.
If you’re worried about all of the crowds during a daytime tour like that one then maybe consider this sunrise tour instead! It’ll be your best chance at seeing Chichen Itza unobstructed and you won’t have to be exposed during the hottest part of the day.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
Where to Stay Near Chichen Itza
Because it is a night show, I would recommend booking accommodation near the site of Chichen Itza itself for the night and then just taking 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 Doralba Inn. 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 Doralba 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.
People also often visit Chichen Itza on a day trip from other popular tourist destinations too. In fact, visiting Chichen Itza is one of the most popular things to do in Cancun as well as Playa del Carmen.
Related Read: Read our ultimate guide to visiting the Hotel Zone in Cancun!
Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!
We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!
SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.
They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.
We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!
Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)
Thanks for reading!
I hope this guide has helped you decide to give the Chichen Itza Night Show a try! We were definitely happy we went with an unconventional visit to this Wonder of the World!
If you’re traveling more in Mexico you can check out our other Mexico-related travel guides below!