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13 BEST Chichen Itza Tours from Playa del Carmen

13 BEST Chichen Itza Tours from Playa del Carmen

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Playa del Carmen is well known for its fantastic beaches, lively nightlife, and amazing resorts. But there is another attraction that takes you deeper into the history of the Yucatan – visiting Chichen Itza! This New Seven Wonders of the World attraction is one of the best things you can do when visiting Playa del Carmen, and the easiest way to see it is by joining a guided tour. 

These famous Mayan ruins are best seen with a tour as you can learn much more about the significance and history of this site. It is also easier, and honestly, less expensive to book a tour rather than figuring out transportation and tickets on your own. 

I’ve been fortunate to experience Chichen Itza with a guide, and I can honestly say it is worth every penny. You learn so much more with a certified guide explaining the details and significance of the structures. That’s why I recommend every tourist traveling through Playa del Carmen book a guided tour of Chichen Itza. 

There are a variety of tours out there, all offering something different and at a range of prices. Regardless of if you’re a budget traveler or looking for a totally customizable private tour, this blog has an option for you! We’ve put together the 13 best tours of Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen so you can have a memorable experience!

About Chichen Itza

El Castillo in the distance at Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Castillo in the distance at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Bailey stands at the Group of the Thousand Columns which is part of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
Bailey stands at the Group of the Thousand Columns which is part of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is an important Mayan archeological site. With an impressive 2 million people visiting these ruins yearly, it is easily the most visited! It is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so its popularity is unsurprising!

Its popularity is aided by the fact that it is so close to Playa del Carmen, which is just over a 2-hour (182 km / 113 miles) drive away. Cancun is about a 2.5-hour drive away, while Valladolid is only about 30 minutes away.

Chichen Itza was one of the largest and most significant cities in Mayan times and was built around the year 550, which was over 1,500 years ago! At its peak (600 A.D.), this Mayan city held 30,000 residents! There were modern structures such as roads, houses, and temples, not that different than our cities today. In their heyday, the Mayans ruled most of Mexico and Central America prior to the arrival of the Europeans.

No one knows exactly how Chichen Itza fell around the 12th century, but many theories exist. The most popular theory is that the Mayan elites were overthrown during a civil war. When the Spanish landed on the Yucatan Peninsula in the 16th century, Chichen Itza was a ghost town and most of the structures were overgrown by the jungle.

Chichen Itza has been painstakingly excavated and restored over the last 200 years. New discoveries are being made, even today. In recent history, scientists found a small pyramid hidden inside El Castillo, just in 2016! There are so many more clues as to how the Mayans lived so many years ago just waiting to be unearthed!

The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, Mexico
The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, Mexico

The archaeological site of Chichen Itza we see today is massive, it covers 3.2 square kilometers (2 square miles). Within the city limits, it houses temples like El Castillo, the largest structure on the premises, a Mayan ball court, and a sacred cenote.

El Castillo is probably the most recognizable structure you’ve seen from photos of Chichen Itza. This giant pyramid-like structure stands an incredible 30 meters high! The most interesting thing about El Castillo is that it’s the world’s biggest man-made calendar. Each of the temple’s 4 sides has 91 stairs each, equalling 364, and add the temple on top and you get 365– the number of days in a year! This is a great testament to the Mayans’ understanding of the Earth, other planets, and how they all work together. 

Overall, Chichen Itza is an incredible part of Mexico’s rich history and is well worth a visit while staying in Playa del Carmen!

Why Book a Tour to Chichen Itza?

A tour group in front of El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Our tour group learning about the ruins!
The steps up the El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico
They might look climbable, but do not climb the temples!

It is definitely possible to visit Chichen Itza without a guide and you can still enjoy the magnificent ruins. However, I feel like you would be missing out on a lot of the experience! There is so much history and culture woven into these ancient structures and to fully understand this UNESCO heritage site, booking a tour with a knowledge guide is the way to go.

These guides are a wealth of information and will explain the ancient Mayan culture and their daily lives in Chichen Itza. On a guided tour, you will also learn how the Mayans constructed the impressively large structures that are still there today, all without the help of modern construction equipment. 

I’ve visited Chichen Itza on my own and also on a guided tour, and I have to admit I learned so much from my guide that whenever I go to visit any historical site now, I have to book a guide! Booking a tour of Chichen Itza is well worth the money, especially if you’re staying in the nearby tourist areas of Playa del Carmen, Tulum, or Cancun because there is a variety of tour options to fit every budget!

Note: If you don’t want to book a tour to Chichen Itza, you’re going to have to rent a car in Playa del Carmen and drive yourself there; it’s about a 2-hour drive.

How Much do Tours to Chichen Itza From Playa del Carmen Cost?

El Mercado at Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Mercado at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Tours from Playa del Carmen of Chichen Itza vary in price depending on a number of factors, such as if you want a group or private tour, how many other stops it includes, or if there are any other perks included in the tour. 

For example, there are cheaper group tours like this one for just $34 USD that include stops at the city of Valladolid and Cenote Saamal. While there are more expensive group tour options that include more stops. Like this tour that costs $172 USD and takes you to another famous archeological site and swimming in a cenote. 

There are also some great private tours to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen! You can expect to pay anywhere from $368 USD for a private sunrise tour to Chichen Itza or a bit cheaper personalized private tour to the ruins, which also takes you to Hacienda Chukum and Valladolid for $296 USD!

Related Read: If you need a ride here from the airport, make sure to read our guide on the best ways to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen!

Our TOP Chichen Itza Tour from Playa del Carmen

Engravings on a temple at Chichen Itza

Short on time? No worries! Our favorite pick on this list is this full-day Chichen Itza tour including Cenote and Valladolid, and we’re not alone. Over 12,000 people have given this tour a 5-star rating, with tons of mentions on how well the tour is run and the amazing hosts! You can grab tickets for this tour here for $69 USD per person online in advance.

13 BEST Chichen Itza Playa del Carmen Tours

1. Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid Tour

One side of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico
One side of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Bailey poses for a photo with the Valladolid sign in Valladolid, Mexico
The Valladolid sign!

This full-day tour from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza is full of sightseeing, and great for the budget-friendly traveler. At only $50 USD, this 12-hour tour equals out to just over $4 an hour! This includes a guided tour of Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and Cenote Saamal, making this a great option for budget travelers staying in Playa del Carmen. 

Your local guides are a great source of information as they take you all around the Yucatan. You’ll learn so much about the history and people of Chichen Itza from so many years ago! You will spend 2 hours at Chichen Itza before making your way to Cenote Saamal for a refreshing swim. Cenotes are a naturally occurring phenomenon, but this cenote is unique because there is a man-made waterfall going into it. The tour ends with a 30-minute tour of the colonial city of Valladolid, which is one of my favorite places in Mexico

This tour includes roundtrip transportation from your Playa del Carmen hotel, as well as a lunch buffet. Keep in mind that there is a Chichen Itza access tax of $35 USD per adult and $5 per child that is not included in the tour price, but can be paid that day. 

You can book this all-day and affordable tour of Chichen Itza online here!

2. Chichen Itza with Sacred Cenote Tour

Daniel poses for a photo with the main pyramid at El Castillo, Chichen Itza
You can visit without the crowds!
Saamal Cenote in Mexico
Saamal Cenote in Mexico

Next, we have an even cheaper option at $34 USD per person! This Chichen Itza with Sacred Cenote Tour is another great option for budget travelers. It is very similar to the tour described above. The main difference is the slightly shorter 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza and a full hour at Cenote Suytun. This cenote is one of the most photogenic places in the Riveria Maya!

Cenote Saamal is a beautiful cenote that is perfect for swimming. You can jump of the cliffs and swim amongst the vines. Similar to the tour above, you’ll have 30 minutes to explore Valladolid, which has been dubbed a “pueblo magico” (magic town) because it’s so charming and cute!

Hotel pick-up and drop-off are available from most hotels in Playa del Carmen. Transportation and a lunch buffet are included in this price! However, a tax of $35 USD for adults and $5 US for children are not included and must be paid at check-in. Also, if you are planning on swimming at the cenote, you are required to rent a life jacket which costs $3 USD.

This tour runs for a full 12 hours, so it’s a really full day! I highly recommend booking in advance because it is certainly a popular tour!

3. Tour to Chichen Itza, Coba, and Cenote

The Coba Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
The temple at the Coba ruins is huge! Credit – Big Stock – mathes

This tour takes you to not only Chichen Itza, but to another significant Mayan city, and also a cenote! This 12-hour tour costs $72 USD and includes a 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza, an hour swimming stop at Cenote Samaal, and another 1.5-hour guided experience at the Coba Mayan Ruins.

Coba is a lesser-visited Mayan city and holds the tallest pyramid in the region, sharing the name of El Castillo like at Chichen Itza! We really love that this tour takes you to two significant Mayan archaeological sites. You will truly learn so much about Mayan history on this tour, and come out of it with a new appreciation for the area. 

Because this tour lasts all day, breakfast and a boxed lunch are included, as well as bottled water all throughout the day. Note that the Yucatan State Tax is not included in the price. You will need to pay an additional $36 USD per person at check-in. This covers both Chichen Itza and Coba Ruins!

This tour provides hotel pick-up and drop-off in Playa del Carmen, as well as surrounding areas such as Cancun and Tulum. There are also designated meeting points in each town, so depending on what hotel you’re staying at you might need to go to the meeting point. 

This double-ruins tour is a full day! You can book this tour to Chichen Itza and Coba online here!

4. Chichen Itza and Ek Balam Tour

The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza in Mexico
The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza in Mexico
Ruins at Ek Balam in Mexico
Ruins at Ek Balam in Mexico

Our next tour on our list of the best Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen is this full-day Chichen Itza and Ek Balam tour. We love that this tour includes two important but very different Mayan archaeological sites. The first, Chichen Itza, is well-known and a bit touristy, but the second, Ek Balam, is considered a hidden gem. This tour also includes a stop at Cenote Hubiku!

Most ruins sites don’t allow you to climb to the top of the structures. However, Ek Balam has certain structures, such as the Acropolis, open to ascend the steps! From the top, you get an absolutely incredible view of the surrounding jungle and can really feel what it might have been like to live during the Mayan days. There are lots of murals and carvings, which give a fascinating look into the lives of those who lived here. 

This tour will give you a 1.5-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza, a 2-hour stop at Cenote Hubiku, which is plenty of time to go for a swim, and another 2-hour guided tour of Ek Balam. In total, this tour will last about 12 hours! We love that this tour is limited to just ten people, giving you a more personalized experience.

Hotel pickup and drop off are included from your Playa del Carmen accommodation, as well as from other towns on the Riveria Maya. Breakfast, lunch, and unlimited bottles of water are also included. This is a full day of activities and will be remembered for a long time to follow. This tour is $169 USD and can be booked online here!

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.
  • Lowest price guarantee – If you happen to find the same tour at a lower price elsewhere, Viator will refund you the price difference.
  • 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.

Check out the Viator website here! Or, for more info, read our detailed review about Viator here.

5. Chichen Itza Classic Tour

El Castillo, Chichen Itza
El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Bailey in front of the main cathedral in Valladolid, Mexico
Valladolid, Mexico!

This Chichen Itza Classic Tour is a great way to experience one of Mexico’s most popular attractions. This tour runs about 10 hours and includes visits to Cenote Saamal and Valladolid. This is slightly shorter than the other tours we’ve mentioned because there is just a 30-minute stop at Cenote Saamal and Valladolid, whereas other tours can be much longer. However, it stays true to the 2-hour guided tour of Chichen Itza, giving you plenty of time to explore the historic site. 

This tour is also nice because transportation in an air-conditioned vehicle, with a toilet, is included in the price. They will pick you up and drop you off at your Playa del Carmen hotel, making your day hassle-free! Lunch and all entrance fees are also included. Keep in mind that if you want to take professional photos or use a GoPro in Chichen Itza, you must pay an additional fee on the day. This tour is $69 USD per person and can be booked online here!

Related Read: If you want a tour to explore the water instead, make sure to check out the best spots to go scuba diving around Playa del Carmen! Or if you’d rather have something more suited to beginners, there are a ton of fantastic places to go snorkeling in Playa del Carmen!

6. Private Chichen Itza Tour

Bailey poses for a photo at Chichen Itza, Mexico

While many of these tours listed are group tours, there are a lot of perks to a private tour. This personalized private tour is just for your small group! With an early start time, your guide will get you to Chichen Itza before the crowds and heat arrive. Private tours are always more flexible, making it easier to maneuver as a group. I also love private tours because I can ask the guide as many questions without bothering other travelers, and I feel like I get a more unique and intimate experience! 

Your local guide will take you around Chichen Itza for a full 2 hours, giving an extensive history and stories of the ancient civilization. You then will head over to Cenote Saamal for a refreshing dip in the blue water. Your final stop will be at the colonial city of Valladolid, where you can spend some time exploring the cute shops and getting immersed in its culture. This tour is scheduled to last 8 hours, so you’ll really see a lot in one day!

All entrance fees, roundtrip transportation from Playa del Carmen, lunch, and drinks are included. This tour can be reserved online for $290 USD per person. 

7. Chichen Itza including Cenote and Valladolid

Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza
People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico
People swim in Saamal Cenote, Mexico

This full-day tour from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza is an award-winning tour and takes you to the best spots on the Yucatan! Your tour starts with the highlight of the day: Chichen Itza. You’ll have a 2-hour guided tour, which is plenty of time to explore iconic sights like El Castillo and learn about the deep history of the people. The tours are friendly and knowledgeable, making this not only a great learning experience but a lot of fun too!

The next stop will take you to a buffet lunch to refuel after all of your exploring! You will then head to Cenote Saamal, where you will have about an hour to swim, take photos, and enjoy this remarkable sight. Keep in mind that you will need to rent a lifejacket for a fee if you wish to swim. 

After Cenote Saamal, you’ll visit Valladolid. You’ll have about 30 minutes to explore this historic city on foot with your local guide. Here, you’ll visit the Plaza de Parque Francisco Canton, which is the main square in the city. You’ll also see Iglesia De San Servicio, which is a Catholic Church built in 1545. 

Hotel pickup from most hotels in Playa del Carmen is provided, as well as other selected meeting points on Riveria Maya. For a full day, transportation, entrance fees, and lunch, the price of $95 USD is actually very reasonable!

Important Note– if you select “meeting point from Riveria Maya” while booking, your entrance ticket is not included in the quoted price. You will need to purchase a ticket at the entrance gate!
Be sure to book this experience online before it fills up!

8. Chichen Itza Early Access, Cenote, Tequila, and Traditional Lunch

El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Tasting Tequila in Tulum, Mexico on a guided tour
We got a little tipsy!

This Chichen Itza Early Access tour gets you into the site before anyone else, so you can enjoy it nearly crowd-free! The temperatures are much cooler early in the day, which is great because there isn’t much shade at Chichen Itza. 

You will have almost 3 hours at the site with your guide, who will provide extensive information about the archaeological structures, the Mayan city, and the people who lived there. They explain the meaning behind the stone carvings scattered throughout the site and provide interesting facts about the construction of the structures that make up the city, like the pyramids, ball courts, and staircases. 

Once you learn all about Chichen Itza, you will head to Hotel Real del Mayab for a traditional-styled buffet lunch. Your final stop will be at Cenote Saamal for a refreshing dip at this gorgeous swimming hole. The best part of this tour is the tequila tasting included! After swimming, you will try multiple different tequilas made right there in Mexico! 

Roundtrip transportation from your hotel, entrance fees, lunch, and a tequila tasting are included in the price. However, the Chichen Itza tax of $31 USD and the life jacket rental fee of $3 USD is not included in the price. 

You can reserve your spot for this early access tour here for $56 USD. 

9. Chichen Itza, Ik-Kil, and Valladolid

Bailey walks the cite streets of Valladolid
Bailey walks the cite streets of Valladolid
Ik-Il Cenote, Mexico
Ik-Il Cenote, Mexico

This Chichen Itza tour from Playa del Carmen takes you to visit Ik-Kil Cenote as well as Valladolid. The real unique aspect of this tour is the chance to participate in the Mayan purification ritual of Temazcal! 

This tour has an early departure time of 7 am so you can get to Chichen Itza before the other tourist buses. This way you can see the site without the crowd and also enjoy the cooler weather. 

You will have about 2.5 hours at Chichen Itza with your guided tour group. Some of that time you will be able to explore and enjoy this ancient city on your own. You will then head to Cenote Ik-Kil, one of the most notable cenotes near Chichen Itza, and is often acclaimed as the most beautiful cenote in the region!

You will have a full hour to enjoy this underground river system, taking in this unique beauty. Finally, you will head to the colonial city of Valladolid to spend about 30 minutes exploring the downtown area. Here is your chance to join the Temazcal purification ceremony, guided by a real shaman! This is the only tour on the list that offers this option, which is pretty special!

This tour includes roundtrip transportation from your Playa del Carmen hotel, all entrance fees, lunch, and your guide! It can be reserved online for $147 USD per person.

10. Chichen Itza Private Sunrise Tour

Chichen Itza at sunrise
Chichen Itza at sunrise

If you’re up for getting up early for a truly epic adventure, this private sunrise tour to Chichen Itza will be well worth it! This once-in-a-lifetime experience will take you to the archaeological site at its best– with no crowds! Watch in awe as the sun rises over these ancient structures and take in the beauty of the day in the most beautiful place possible. 

You will have a full 2 hours to explore the ruins when it’s quiet. Your guide will lead your private group to the best sights and provide interesting historical facts about this ancient Mayan city.

By the time other travelers will arrive at Chichen Itza, it will be time for you to head to Cenote Ik Kil! This will be a great time for a swim, because most of the tourists will still be at Chichen Itza, giving you another peaceful tour. Because this is a private tour, you can spend as much time as you like here. You can also choose to add on a visit to other notable Mayan ruins in the area, such as Ek Balam or Coba, and even choose to visit the coastal town of Tulum. You have complete flexibility with this private tour!

This tour is truly unique, as many don’t let you customize it to your own personal itinerary. This tour is priced at $360 USD per person. Roundtrip transportation from your Playa del Carmen hotel is included, as well as breakfast, bottled water, and your wonderful tour guide. 

Be sure to reserve this private tour online in advance!

Note: Even though this tour says it is from Cancun, they do offer pick-up from Playa del Carmen – just be sure to select the correct pick-up hotel when booking.

11. Chichen Itza Night Show

El Castillio Pyramid lit up during the Chichen Itza Night Show
El Castillio Pyramid lit up during the Chichen Itza Night Show

While this tour is the exact opposite of the sunrise tour above, it is probably just as (if not more) exciting! This Chichen Itza Night Show happens every day of the week, except for Mondays. The ancient structures we are so familiar with now become light shows, bursting with colors and patterns as special projectors display the show. You can explore most areas of Chichen Itza during this night show and see it in a completely new way. 

The whole 2-hour experience is truly remarkable, with the main event being a 30-minute light and sound show at the Pyramid of Kukulkan, where you learn about the Mayan culture. The show is done in Spanish, but even if you don’t speak the language, you can still follow the story through the images displayed. 

You can purchase tickets at the office before the show starts from 5 pm until 8 pm. Tickets cost 630 MXN ($32 USD), but Sundays offer a discounted price of 300 MXN ($15 USD). When you first enter the grounds, you’ll go on a guided walk of the ruins, and the rest of the time you’re free to explore on your own.

If you’re looking for a more inclusive experience, you can book this guided tour. This includes a ticket for the Chichen Itza Night Show, a sunset visit to Valladolid, a private cave tour of Nuevo Xcan, and a traditional dinner of cochinita pibil and tortillas. 

This tour is truly one of the best experiences you could do in Mexico! If you have time in your schedule, I say visiting this Seventh Wonder of the World at night is completely worth it!

12. Chichen Itza Total Experience

Bailey stands in Front of the The Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza, Mexico
Bailey stands in Front of the The Temple of the Warriors in Chichen Itza, Mexico

This tour is dubbed the “Chichen Itza Total Experience” and they really do deliver. Not only is this tour highly rated, but it is also a completely private tour, giving you the flexibility to plan your itinerary. It visits Chichen Itza, Cenote Xkeken, and Valladolid, as well as a traditional agave distillery and tasting! Their goal is to “live the experience of living in Mexico as a traveler, not just a tourist.”

The first stop on this tour will be Chichen Itza. You’ll go here first to find the most peaceful time and avoid all the tourists. The local guides will be happy to take you around the historic ruins, giving in-depth descriptions of the Mayan civilization. Because this is a private tour, you can spend as much time here as you want. 

Your next stop will take you to a cenote, as many of these tours do. However, you probably haven’t heard of this one, as it’s a secret gem of the Yucatan. Cenote Xkeken is a former hacienda, hidden in the jungle and is now called Cenote Oxman. You’ll have about 2 hours here, exploring the cenote and eating a delicious a la carte lunch. 

Next, your private tour will head to the magic town of Valladolid. You’ll have about 40 minutes to explore the city and adorable colonial-styled shops. Your last stop will be the agave distillery where you can learn about the process of making this spirit, then get a chance to taste it! 

This tour really includes a lot, such as roundtrip transportation, entrance fees, and lunch and drink! We love that it is a private tour and totally customizable. You can reserve your spot online for $341 USD per person.

13. Chichen Itza Deluxe Tour

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with the El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza
Thanks for reading!

Your final tour to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen really pulls out all the stops. It includes a visit to a traditional Mayan village, in addition to seeing Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal, and Valladolid. What we really love about this tour is the way they bring travelers into ancient Mayan traditions through ceremonies, food, and shows! It is truly unlike any other tour on this list.

The first stop takes you to the Mayan village of Xocenpich to really learn about the culture. You will have a buffet of delicious traditional foods at the well-known restaurant, Yaax Kiin. The coolest part of this tour is getting to meet a shaman and seeing a folkloric ballet performance as you dine! There is also a shop with beautiful handmade crafts you can take home as a souvenir. 

After this cultural experience, you will head to Chichen Itza to see how the Mayans truly lived! You will have 2.5 hours here, most of the time will be guided, but you will also have some time to explore on your own! Your day will end with an hour-long visit to Cenote Saamal and 30 minutes in Valladolid. While in Valladolid, you have the option to participate in a Mayan Shaman healing session, which is an incredible experience if you’re an energy and mysticism believer. 

This tour is scheduled to last a full day. It includes roundtrip transportation from your Playa del Carmen hotel  (with air conditioning), a morning snack aboard the bus, your meal and drinks at the restaurant, and all entrance fees! Not to mention the incredible value you’ll get from the traditional Mayan ceremonies and the wealth of knowledge from your local guide. We think this is one of the best value Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen! 

You can book this tour for $104 USD here!

Other Activities to do While You’re in Playa del Carmen

Bailey swims past some corals while scuba Diving in Playa del carmen
Scuba diving here is unreal!
bailey on the beach in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
The beaches in Playa!

While heading to Tulum for the day is awesome, make sure you leave time to explore the vibrant town of Playa del Carmen. In fact, there are so many fun activities in Playa del Carmen, that it can be a little overwhelming! Here are a few of my favorite things to do here which I think you’ll love:

  • Swim alongside whale sharks – Did you know that whale sharks aren’t actually sharks? In fact, they’re the largest fish in the world, and you can even swim with whale sharks in Playa del Carmen! You will need to head a little way offshore before you can though, which is why I recommend this full-day whale shark tour, which includes all transportation and lunch!

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen

Bailey relaxes at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico near Playa del Carmen
Me relaxing at just one of the resorts I have stayed in Playa del Carmen!

There are a TON of great places to stay in Playa del Carmen, so it can be a bit difficult knowing where to even begin! The hotels here cater to all kinds of budgets, age ranges, and more, so to help give you a good overview, I’ve included some of my favorites below:

Che Playa Hostel and Bar – $

Visiting Playa del Carmen doesn’t have to be super expensive! In fact, for those traveling on a budget, I’d highly recommend Che Playa Hostel and Bar, which is an adult-only hostel and one of the best in town!

It’s really well-located right in the heart of Playa del Carmen and even has its own rooftop pool and bar. While it’s nothing crazy, this gives it a really chilled-out social atmosphere and the clean facilities and helpful staff make the whole stay a blast.

Rates here are some of the best you’ll find in town, with a bed in a dorm starting from as low as $37 USD per night. You can check out the rates for yourself over on Hostelworld or

Soho Playa Hotel – $$

Whenever I’m visiting on a moderate budget and don’t fancy staying in a resort, my personal pick is the Soho Playa Hotel, which I’ve visited a couple of times now and is a real gem! It’s just a stone’s throw away from the beach, has its own pool, and all rates include free breakfast.

The rooms here are also super modern and are really clean – a one-night stay here starts at $94 USD per night and can be booked online here.

The Palm at Playa – $$

The Palm at Playa is a lot like the Soho Playa Hotel – it’s in a similar price range, but I’d say it’s a little bit more on the luxury end. It’s also located right near the beach and has its own on-site restaurant, which blends local flavors with a European twist – I recommend the amazing fish tacos!

The rooftop palm garden is the perfect retreat when it’s super hot out, take it from me that this feels like a luxury hotel without the price tag. Rooms here start at $85 USD per night and for the best price, it’s best to book online in advance.

El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condo Hotel – $$$

If budget isn’t an issue for you, then the luxury world of hotels at Playa del Carmen is at your fingertips! When it comes to enjoying out-of-this-world hospitality and comfort, El Taj Oceanfront and Beachside Condo Hotel really can’t be topped. With its very own infinity pool and elegant suites, every corner of this hotel is Instagram-worthy!

El Taj’s ASI restaurant serves delicious gourmet food that dazzles the taste buds, and if you’re feeling ultra-relaxed in your room, you can request the chef to come to your suite and prepare your meals there! While I haven’t personally been here, you can bet that this is on my bucket list.

A one-night stay at El Taj starts at $185 USD, which I think is actually pretty good value considering all the luxuries that come with it! To snag the best rooms, I’d suggest checking your dates and booking your stay online here.

Renting a Car in Mexico

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie while driving around Mexico
A rental car means freedom to go to the beach whenever you want!

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways to get around Mexico is in a rental car. 

I struggled to get around by bus and taxi for the longest time. But after renting a car in Cancun in 2023, I never looked back. It allowed me to explore the country without worrying about tours or taxis. It was why I fell in love with Mexico and eventually decided to live here periodically. 

I refuse to use local services whenever I rent a car in Mexico. The truth is they sometimes can’t be trusted or come with hidden fees (or costly insurance that doesn’t make sense.) There are even rental car scams! So instead, I use Discover Cars, the company most experienced travelers or ex-pats in Mexico recommend. Read my honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

The rates on Discover Cars are cheap, too, with the average rental costing around $25 USD per day. Full coverage insurance can be added for an extra $10 USD a day too. 

Driving in Mexico also only requires a driver’s license using the Roman alphabet. If yours uses another like Japan and China, you simply need an international driving permit. 

Insurance is required, but if you book with Discover Cars and get the full coverage, that’s all you need! Oh, and being over 18 is required, and if you’re over 25, your rental will be much cheaper! 

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in front of the The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Thanks for reading!

As you now know, visiting Chichen Itza is really a must-do for anybody staying in Playa del Carmen, and with the right planning, you’re sure to have an excellent time!

If you found this blog helpful, be sure to check out our other blogs about Mexico including a few related reads below:

The BEST Things to do in Mexico

Guide to visiting Merida, Mexico

Everything you NEED to Know about the Cancun Hotel Zone

The BEST Chichen Itza Tours from Puerto Morelos