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Escape from the beaches of Cancun and see a different side of the Yucatan Peninsula with a fascinating guided tour of one of the Seven Wonders of the World – Chichen Itza! And naturally, one of the best ways to experience Chichen Itza is on a guided tour from Cancun.
A guided tour of these famous Mayan ruins is so much easier and, frankly, less expensive than trying to book your tickets and transport separately, especially if you’re traveling as part of a large group or with your family!
I’ve been lucky enough to experience Chichen Itza with a guide, and honestly, I learned so much and saw parts of the archaeological site that I would have never thought to explore on my own. That’s why I recommend every tourist book a guided tour of Chichen Itza from Cancun.
Luckily, there’s a tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza for every budget on this list – so no matter if you want a cheap and cheerful guided tour or the flexibility of a private tour – this blog post has got you covered!
It doesn’t matter if you just want to escape the hustle and bustle of Cancun for the day or are a history buff just itching to spend the day at this famed historic site, one of these 13 guided tours of Chichen Itza is sure to tickle your fancy!
About Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the most important Mayan archaeological sites in the world and is easily the most visited, with an impressive 2 million people visiting this spectacular ruined city annually. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a Seven Wonder of the World, so its popularity is unsurprising!
Its popularity is aided by the fact it is so close to Cancun, which is just a 2.5 hour (196 km / 122 miles) drive away. Playa del Carmen is about a 2.5-hour drive away, while Valladolid is only about 30 minutes away.
Chichen Itza was one of the biggest and most important cities in Mayan times and was built over 1,500 years ago, around the year 550. In fact, at its peak (in the year 600), this Mayan city was home to 30,000 residents! As well as that, there were roads, houses, temples, and more – it really was a city and sounds similar to those we live in today. At this time, the Mayans ruled most of Mexico and Central America prior to the arrival of the Europeans.
It is believed that Chichen Itza fell into ruin in the 12th Century. Nobody knows exactly what happened, but many theories exist, with the most popular being that the Mayan elite was overthrown during a civil war. By the time the Spanish landed on the Yucatan Peninsula in the 16th Century, Chichen Itza was a ghost town, and most of the structures here had been taken over by the jungle.
From the 1800s to the present, Chichen Itza was painstakingly excavated and restored. And today, new discoveries are still being made. Like in 2016 when scientists found a small pyramid hidden inside El Castillo! But there are so many more clues as to how the Mayans lived all those years ago still waiting to be unearthed!
The archaeological site left at Chichen Itza today is huge and covers a whopping 3.2 square kilometers (2 square miles). Within the city limits, it houses temples like El Castillo, which is the largest structure at the site, a Mayan ball court, and a sacred cenote.
It is El Castillo that you will most likely recognize from photos you have seen of Chichen Itza, this gigantic pyramid-like structure standing a huge 30-meter high. But the most interesting thing about El Castillo is that it’s the world’s biggest man-made calendar. Because each of the temple’s 4 sides has 91 stairs each, equalling 364, and add on the temple at the top, and you get 365 – the number of days in a year! The structure stands as a testament to the Mayans’ knowledge of the earth and the other planets!
Overall, Chichen Itza is a fascinating part of Mexico’s rich history and just has to be seen in person while staying in Cancun!
Related Read: Tikal in Guatemala is another very interesting Mayan archeological site.
Why Book a Tour to Chichen Itza?
Many people visit Chichen Itza on their own without a guide, and although that’s still a worthwhile experience, the best way to fully understand this UNESCO heritage site is on a tour with a knowledgeable guide. Because it’s only then that you will truly get to know the stories of the ancient Mayans who once called this city home.
These guides are fountains of knowledge and will tell you all about the Mayan culture and their daily lives in Chichen Itza. On a guided tour, you will also hear how the Mayans constructed the magnificent structures you see there today without the aid of modern construction equipment. There are also many Mayan carvings dotted throughout the site, and without a guide, there’s no way you’d understand their true meaning!
I’ve visited Chichen Itza both on my own and on a guided tour, and I have to admit I learned so much from my guide that now when I visit any historical site, I have to book a guide!
What I’m saying is that a tour of Chichen Itza is a no-brainer, especially if you’re staying in the nearby tourist areas of Cancun, Puerto Morelos, Tulum, and Playa del Carmen because there are so many different tours available suited to every budget!
How Much do Tours to Chichen Itza From Cancun Cost?
Tours from Cancun of Chichen Itza vary greatly in price, and the cost depends on a number of factors, such as whether you want a group or a private tour and how many other stops it includes.
For example, some of the cheapest group tours like this one for just $30 USD include stops at Cenote Saamal and the city of Valladolid. While the pricier group tours include more stops like this one costs $95 USD and includes a stop at a Mayan village for lunch.
As for private tours to Chichen Itza from Cancun, tourists can expect to pay anywhere from $330 USD per person for a private sunrise tour to Chichen Itza! or the slightly cheaper personalized private tour To the ruins, which also visits Hacienda Chukum and Valladolid for $296 USD!
Our Favorite Chichen Itza Tour from Cancun
The standout pick on our list has to be this 12-hour tour of Chichen Itza, which also includes a trip to the Cenote and Valladolid! Not only is this an all-inclusive trip, with a gorgeous buffet included, but the guides are some of the friendliest and most knowledgeable I’ve ever met here.
With hotel pick-up and drop-off included, tickets cost just $69 USD per person – seriously good value considering it’s a full-day tour! You can book your tickets online in advance here to secure your spot.
13 Best Chichen Itza Cancun Tours
1. Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid Tour
This full-day tour to Chichen Itza from Cancun is great value for money at only $49 USD per person. Which for a 12-hour tour works at just over $4 per hour! Considering you get a guided tour of Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and Cenote Saamal, this is a great option for budget-savvy travelers staying in Cancun.
Your knowledgeable guide will show you a different side of the Yucatan and relay some fascinating facts about the history of Chichen Itza and the people who called it home. You will spend 2 hours at Chichen Itza before heading to the stunning Cenote Saamal for a refreshing swim. This cenote is unique because it has a man-made waterfall going into it. End the tour with a quick 30-minute tour of the colonial city of Valladolid (one of my favorite cities in Mexico!)
Round-trip transport from your hotel in Cancun in an airconditioned vehicle is included in the price, as well as a buffet lunch. But, it’s worth noting that a Chichen Itza access tax of $32 USD per adult and $5 USD per child is extra and payable on the day.
2. Chichen Itza with Sacred Cenote Tour
Next on the list, and even cheaper at $34 USD per person – this Chichen Itza with Sacred Cenote Tour is another fantastic option for those on a budget! It’s similar to the tour described above, but on this particular tour, you get a slightly shorter 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza and an hour at Cenote Suytun – one of the most photogenic cenotes in the Riviera Maya!
Cenote Samaal is one of my favorite places for a refreshing dip. Here, you can cliff jump or have a relaxing float. Again, you will have 30 minutes to wander Valladolid -nicknamed the “Magic Town of Mexico” because it’s so beautiful!
Hotel pick-up and drop-off from most hotels in Cancun are included in the price, as well as a delicious buffet lunch! Not included, however, are state taxes of $35 USD per adult and $5 USD per child, which must be paid via cash or card when you check in. Also, if you plan to swim at Cenote Samaal, you must bring a swimsuit and towl.
Allow 12 hours for this tour! You should also book it in advance online because it is a popular one!
3. Tour to Chichen Itza, Coba, and a Cenote
This 12-hour tour costs $72 USD and includes a 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza, an hour stop at Cenote Samaal for a swim, and finally, a 1.5-hour guided experience of the Coba Mayan Ruins. Coba is a lesser-visited ruined Mayan city and is home to the tallest pyramid in the region – also called El Castillo.
We personally love this tour because it includes stops at two important Mayan archaeological sites. Honestly, you will learn so much about Mayan history on this tour!
A boxed lunch of a sandwich, fruit, juice, and dessert is included in the price. Bottled water is provided complimentary throughout the day too. It’s important to note that the Yucatan State Tax for both Chichen Itza and Coba Ruins is additional, and this costs $36 USD total per person – it is to be paid at check-in
While this tour includes pick-up and drop-off to Cancun and most other areas on the Yucatan Peninsula, such as Playa del Carmen and Tulum, there are designated meeting points in each town, so it’s worth noting that depending on the hotel you’re staying in you may need to go to the meeting point.
4. Chichen Itza and Ek Balam Tour
Next up on our list of the best Chichen Itza tours from Cancun is this 12-hour Chichen Itza and Ek Balam tour which also stops at Cenote Hubiku. What we like about this tour is that it includes two very different Mayan archaeological sites – the first, Chichen Itza, is very touristy and busy, and the second, Ek Balam, is best described as a secret gem.
Unlike at Chichen Itza, you can climb to the top of some of the structures at Ek Balam – like the Acropolis for an incredible view of the surrounding jungle. And there are also lots of murals and carvings on the structures here, which offer a fascinating insight into the Mayans who lived here.
If you book this particular tour, you will get a 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza, a 2-hour stop at Cenote Hubiku, where you can go for a swim, and a further 2-hour tour of Ek Balam.
What’s great, too, is that because this tour is limited to just ten people, you get a more personalized experience.
Breakfast, lunch, unlimited bottles of water, as well as hotel, pick up and drop off to/from Cancun are included in the price. Pickup from other towns on the Riviera Maya can also be arranged if necessary! This tour costs $169 USD per person!
Related Read: Check out the best cenotes near Tulum here!
5. Chichen Itza Classic Tour
This Chichen Itza Classic tour is a great introductory tour to one of the most famous tourist attractions in Mexico. It’s 10-12 hours long and also visits Cenote Saamal and Valladolid. It’s slightly shorter than other similar tours because it’s just a 30-minute stop at Cenote Saamal and Valladolid.
But a good selling point of this particular tour is that you have longer at Chichen Itza – 2 hours to be exact.
Transport from your hotel in Cancun in an air-conditioned vehicle (with a toilet) is included in the price, as well as lunch and all entrance fees. It’s worth noting that if you want to take professional photos or use a GoPro in Chichen Itza, an additional fee is payable on the day.
This particular tour costs $69 USD per person and can be booked online here.
6. Private Chichen Itza Tour
While if you’re not keen on a large group tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza, then you will enjoy this private tour. It will just be your small group and knowledgeable guide exploring some of the most historic archeological sites of Mexico. And what’s great, too, is that you don’t waste time stopping at other resorts in Cancun to pick up more guests en route to Chichen Itza.
Your guide will take you around Chichen Itza for 2 hours as they explain the structures, such as the Temple of Kulkulkan, and experience the cenote within this pyramid!
You will then head over to Cenote Saamal for a refreshing swim and a traditional lunch. Afterward, you will have a quick 30-minute stop in Valladolid – enough time to wander the colorful streets and take some photos.
All entrance fees, roundtrip private transport to Cancun, lunch, and your amazing guide are all included in the price of $290 USD.
This private tour should be booked online in advance here.
7. Chichen Itza, Cenote, and Valladolid All-Inclusive Tour
This award-winning full-day tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza starts out with the highlight of the tour – the magnificent Chichen Itza! You will have 2 full hours at this historic site, most of the time will be guided but you will also have some time to explore on your own.
After Chichen Itza, you will head to nearby Cenote Saamal, where you have a 30-minute window to swim and take some photos. Note you will need to rent a lifejacket here for a $3 USD fee if you wish to swim. After swimming, you will have a delicious buffet lunch provided to refuel from your morning of exploring.
Finally, you’ll stop at Valladolid, where you will have about 30 minutes to explore this wonderful city on foot with a knowledgeable guide. On your visit here, you will see Plaza de Parque Francisco Canton, the main square in the town, and Iglesia De San Servicio a Catholic Church that was built in 1545.
Hotel pick-up from most hotels in Cancun, as well as other selected meeting points on the Riviera Maya, are included in the price. And prices start from a very reasonable $69 USD per person.
Important Note – Chichen Itza entrance fees must be paid upon check-in! It is $35 USD per adult and $5 USD per child.
You should book this tour well in advance online here to avoid missing out.
Related Read: Chichen Itza is one of the best day trips you can take from Cancun, read about the others here!
8. Chichen Itza Early Access & Tequila Tasting
On this Chichen Itza Early Access tour, you will be one of the first people to enter the site, so you can enjoy it pretty much crowd-free. Plus, the temperatures are a lot cooler at this hour of the morning, making for a more comfortable experience.
You will have about 2.5 hours at the site with your archaeological guide, who will offer some in-depth knowledge about this Mayan city and the people who lived here. He will explain the meaning behind the stone carvings dotted throughout the site as well as give some fascinating facts about the construction of the pyramids, ball courts, and staircases that make up this city.
After your early morning crowd-free tour of Chichen Itza, you will be taken to Hotel Real del Mayab for a delicious buffet lunch. You will also have the opportunity to partake in a tequila tasting to try Mexico’s famous spirit. Afterward, you’ll head to Cenote Saamal for a refreshing swim and to relax after this full day of exploring.
Included in the ticket price are hotel transport from Cancun, a buffet lunch, tequila tasting, your guide, and the entrance to the cenote. But, what’s not included is the Chichen Itza tax of $35 USD per adult ($5 USD per child) and the rental of a lifejacket at the cenote, which costs about $3 USD.
You can secure your spot on this early access tour online here for $56 USD!
9. Chichen Itza, Ik-Kil and Valladolid Tour
This Chichen Itza tour from Cancun includes a visit to Ik-Kil Cenote and Valladolid. It’s an early departure time from Cancun of 7 am to get to Chichen Itza before the majority of the other tourist buses get there.
You will have 3 hours at Chichen Itza – most of the time with a guide, and some time to explore on your own before heading to Cenote Ik-Kil – one of the most famous cenotes near Chichen Itza, and arguably one of the most beautiful in the region.
You will have up to an hour here to swim and explore this unique underground river system before heading to Valladolid. You will spend approximately 20 minutes exploring the downtown area. Then, enjoy a chance to participate in the ancient Mayan purification ritual of Temazcal guided by a real shaman.
This full day includes roundtrip transportation from Cancun, entrance to Chichen Itza and the cenote, a buffet lunch, and your guide. This tour costs $147 USD per person and what’s great is that it includes all fees and taxes! You can book it online here.
10. Chichen Itza Private Sunrise Tour
A truly memorable guided tour from Cancun is this private sunrise tour to Chichen Itza! Yep, on this one-of-a-kind tour, you’ll see this archaeological site at its best – when it’s quiet! Watch in awe as the sun rises over El Castillo, and be sure to take lots of photos of this bucket-list-worthy moment!
You will have 2 hours to explore the ruins in peace along with your guide, who will be on hand to point out the best sights here and offer some fascinating historical facts.
You will then be taken to Cenote Ik Kil for a mid-morning swim, and what’s good is that it should be pretty quiet here at this time of day because most other tourists are at Chichen Itza at this time. Plus, because this is a private tour, you can spend as long as you like here, or choose to add on a visit to other Mayan ruins in the region like Coba or Ek Balam, or maybe take a drive down to the coastal tourist resort of Tulum. The choice is entirely yours!
So, if you’re after a personalized tour with a flexible itinerary, this is the tour for you. Prices start from $360 USD per person. And pick-up from anywhere in Cancun is included! Also, all taxes and charges, breakfast, and bottled water are included in the price!
11. Chichen Itza Night Show
From an early morning sunrise tour of Chichen to this late night light show at Chichen Itza, which happens every day of the week except for Mondays. Be amazed as the buildings here are lit up in a myriad of colors using special projectors; you can wander most areas of Chichen Itza at this time and see it in a truly unique way.
Chichen Itza comes alive at this hour, with the main drawcard being the 30-minute light and sound show at the Pyramid of Kukulkan, where you will learn all about Mayan civilization – it’s worth noting that the presentation is in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak the language, you will still learn a lot from the images displayed.
Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm (before the show starts). Tickets cost 630 MXN ($32 USD), but there’s a discounted price for Sunday of just 300 MXN (approx. $15 USD). And when you first enter, you will be taken on a guided walk through the ruins; the rest of the time is yours to spend as you wish.
Or you can book this guided tour which includes a ticket for the Chichen Itza Night Show, a sunset visit to Valladolid, and a private cave tour of Nuevo Xcan, including a local dinner of cochinita pibil and tortillas.
This tour is one of the most unique experiences on offer in Mexico, and if your itinerary allows, we say make sure you visit this Seventh Wonder of the World at night when it’s all lit up. It’s truly spellbinding!
12. Chichen Itza Total Experience
This 8-hour Chichen Itza Total Experience tour is a highly-rated private tour that visits Chichen Itza, Cenote Xkeken, and Valladolid, as well as a traditional agave distillery. Because it’s a private tour, how long you spend at each stop is completely up to you. The aim of this tour is to “live the experience of living in Mexico as a traveler, not just a tourist.”
Your first stop, though, will be Chichen Itza. The stop here is in the morning because that’s when it’s at its most peaceful – making for a more enjoyable experience. Your guide will accompany you the entire time for a personalized tour of the ruins, meaning you can stop where and when you want to. Be sure to ask as many questions as you can because your guide is a fountain of knowledge about the Mayan civilization.
Although most of the tours from Cancun to Chichen Itza include a stop at a cenote, this one’s a little different because the cenote you will visit – Cenote Xkeken is a secret gem. It’s a former hacienda hidden in the jungle, which is home to the stunning Oxman Cenote. You can explore and swim in the cenote, and it is here that you will enjoy a yummy a la carte lunch!
Second-to-last is a stop in Valladolid, where you will spend about 40 minutes – use the time wisely and do some souvenir shopping or visit the lovely catholic church here.
Lastly, you will stop for a guided tour of an agave distillery, where you will learn about the process of making this drink and have a tasting!
This particular tour costs $341 USD per person and includes pick up from anywhere in Cancun as well as entrance fees, taxes, and charges! There are no hidden fees on this tour and you should book it online in advance.
13. Chichen Itza Deluxe Tour
And last but not least is this Chichen Itza Deluxe Tour with no hidden fees, which includes stops at a typical Mayan village, Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal, and Valladolid. It’s 10-12 hours long, and prices start from $105 USD.
The first stop of the morning will be at Maya Ixchel village, where you will be greeted by a Mayan Shaman before sitting down to enjoy a regional food buffet at the exclusive Yaax Kiin restaurant. During your meal, you will be treated to a folkloric ballet performance; then, before you leave, be sure to browse the unique souvenirs at the gift shop here.
Next is Chichen Itza, where you will have a 2.5-hour guided walk of this fascinating archaeological site ending your day with an hour spent at Cenote Saamal and 30 minutes in Valladolid! Whilst in Valladolid, you can add on a Maya Shaman healing session, a must if you’re an energy and mysticism believer.
Transportation from Cancun is on board a modern panoramic coach, and you will also be provided with a morning box lunch for the bus journey; as well as that, you can enjoy unlimited drinks on board the bus with 2 complimentary drinks provided at the restaurant. And all entrance fees are included, so when you consider all that’s included – we think this is one of the best value Chichen Itza tours from Cancun!
You should book this very popular deluxe tour online here.
Other Activities to do While You’re in Cancun
Before or after your trip to Chichen Itza, there’s plenty to do and see right in Cancun! I’ve been coming to Cancun since I was a kid and I never get tired of visiting. There are so many fun things to do in Cancun, that will make for an amazing vacay. So if you’re looking for even more activities, check out some of my favorites below!
- Hit the beach – I know it goes without saying that you’ll be spending a few days at some of Cancun’s best beaches! Make sure to vary it up and try a few different beaches while you’re here. Playa Chacmool is a hidden gem in the heart of the Cancun Hotel Zone I love and the sunsets at Playa Gaviota Azul are unreal.
- Tour an underwater museum – Whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving in Cancun, a visit to MUSA (Underwater Museum of Art) is a must. There are hundreds of sculptures down here and it feels like visiting the Lost City of Atlantis! This snorkeling tour takes you to MUSA along with visits to a shipwreck and a cenote!
- Eat, eat eat! – Calories don’t count on vacation right? The restaurants in Cancun deliver on amazing food – especially the Mexican restaurants of course. Mextreme has the best tacos and I always order the Aztec soup! If you want to try a bunch of different dishes in an evening – this taco and beer food tour will take you to five popular spots for a fun night you’ll want to arrive hungry for!
- Cancun Scenic Tower – As if Cancun wasn’t scenic enough, there’s another way to enjoy the views here! The Cancun Scenic Tower gives you amazing views of the Caribbean! The entire viewing deck lifts up, so you won’t even need to climb any stairs to get this view.
- Swim with whale sharks – For a totally unique and memorable experience, jump in the water to swim with whale sharks near Cancun! These gentle giants feast on plankton and fish, so you can relax on this whale shark tour and just admire these giant fish (they aren’t actually sharks!). Whale shark season is from May to September, so if you’re here at a different time of year, this half-day sailing trip is another way to get out on the water and cruise the beautiful ocean!
Where to Stay in Cancun
Cancun is the land of hotels and there certainly is no shortage of fantastic places to stay. Some of the best places to stay in Cancun are beautiful resorts with multiple pools and restaurants. I myself have stayed at a huge variety of hotels both in the hotel zone and in downtown Cancun. To be honest, I prefer the hotel zone for a beach holiday!
For budget travelers, the Selina Cancun Laguna Hotel Zone is a great choice. It doesn’t have the greatest reviews, but I really enjoyed my stay and for the price and fun atmosphere, you can’t go wrong! You can book this hostel on Hostelword or Booking.com.
If you prefer something a little nicer, I love the JW Marriott Cancun Resort. It’s not all-inclusive, which I enjoy because there are so many delicious restaurants in Cancun! The hotel is located right on the beach and has a huge pool. Rooms are typically $300-$500 USD depending on the time of year.
Of course, we all love a luxury all-inclusive stay, and for that, I always book either the Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun or the Le Blanc Spa Resort Cancun Adults Only. Both are not cheap but are equally as luxurious with fantastic oceanfront locations, delicious food, quality alcohol, and more.
Thanks for reading!
Throughout my travels in Central America, I’ve been lucky enough to explore many Mayan ruins and as I said earlier, doing a guided tour is really the best way to understand them! In fact, a guided tour of Chichen Itza from Cancun is definitely one of the best things I did in Mexico!
Traveling more in Mexico? Check out our other Mexico-related travel guides!