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22 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Chichén Itzá

22 Things to KNOW Before Visiting Chichén Itzá

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Whether you’re an ancient history buff or just looking for something new to try for a break from the beaches in Cancun, Chichén Itzá is an ancient Mayan city worth exploring.  

It’s the most famous Mayan ruin in the country, and seeing this site for yourself is one of the best things to do in Mexico!  

Chichen Itza is a city built by the Mayan people more than 1,500 years ago in the middle of a jungle in the Yucatan area. Located within driving distance from places like CancunPlaya del CarmenPuerto Morelos, Merida, and Tulum, it’s easy to add a visit here to your travel plans.  

But, to really make the most out of your experience, we’ve put together the ultimate Chichen Itza visitors guide. It will help you decide when to come, what to bring, narrow down some of the best tours and make sure you’re ready to explore this ancient wonder!  

This is your COMPLETE guide to visiting Chichen Itza!

Don’t have time to read the full article? Chichen Itza continues to be a major tourist attraction due to it’s archeological preservation and surviving relics of Mayan culture. If you want to learn more about this site, we suggest checking out this all-inclusive tour which has over 14,000 five-star reviews.

1. About Chichen Itza  

El Castillo, Chichen Itza
El Castillo, Chichen Itza
El Castillo in the distance at Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Castillo in the distance at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza used to be a Mayan city that was the most important center in the Yucatan Peninsula area for the Mayan people.  

Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s one of the most visited archaeological sites in the country, partially thanks to how close it is to the popular city of Cancun. There are dozens of different tours from Cancun to Chichen Itza that depart every single day!

The site is huge, covering 3.2 square kilometers (2 square miles), and is home to temples, including the towering El Castillo, a sacred cenote, and even a huge Mayan ball court! 

2. History of Chichen Itza 

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

Built in the middle of the jungle, Chichen Itza was a thriving city for the Mayan people who ruled most of what is now Mexico and Central America before the Europeans arrived.  

When it was at its peak around the year 600 AD, Chichen Itza was among the largest cities in the Mayan world. It had roads, temples, markets, homes, and around 30,000 people. 

The city itself fell into ruin sometime around the 12th Century, and there are many theories about what happened, including that the Mayan elite was overthrown in a civil war. When the Spanish arrived in the 16th Century, this area was a ghost town that had been overtaken by the jungle.  

It wasn’t until the 1800s and today that Chichen Itza has been slowly excavated and restored. Even now, discoveries are still happening – including a smaller pyramid inside El Castillo that scientists found in 2016. There are many more clues as to how the Mayan people lived here that are yet to be unearthed.  

Related Read: Tikal is also one of the biggest Mayan ruin sites in the world – located near Flores, Guatemala.

3. Where is Chichen Itza?  

Chichen Itza, Mexico
The temples are well looked after!

The Chichen Itza ruins are located in the northern part of the Yucatan state, about halfway between Cancun and Merida. It’s just off the main highway connecting those two cities.  

The closest town to the site is Piste, which is only 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) away. It’s also close enough for a day trip from Cancun or Playa del Carmen as it’s about a 2.5-3 hour drive from both those places.  

If you’re going to be staying in Valladolid, it’s only 30-40 minutes away, or you can stay closer to the ruins if you’re hoping to be here first thing in the morning – which is what I recommend! Keep reading for my specific hotels recommendations close to Chichen Itza.

4. How much is the Chichen Itza entrance fee? 

Entrance fees to Chichen Itza, Mexico
Entrance fees to Chichen Itza, Mexico
People line up to buy tickets to Chichen Itza, Mexico
The line up!

The entrance fee to get into Chichen Itza is 614 MXN ($35 USD) for tourists. This includes two tickets that you must pay to get in – the federal tax (90 MXN) that goes to the Institute of History and Anthropology of Mexico and a local government tax (524 MXN) that goes to the Ministry of Culture of Yucatan.  

You will have to stand in two separate lines to pay for these. Keep an eye out for the two different ticket booths around the main entrance.  

5. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance?  

Bailey stands at the Group of the Thousand Columns which is part of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns which is part of the Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
A statue at Chichen Itza
A ceremonial seat!

No, you don’t need to. You can just show up and buy tickets once you arrive. However, you will need to stand in two separate lines to pay for the federal tax and the state tax. Be aware that the number of people allowed inside daily is limited, so the earlier you arrive, the better.  

There isn’t an option online to buy a simple admission ticket, but if you want a skip-the-line ticket, those are available online through the Chichen Itza website for $62 USD. If you aren’t sure what time of day you’ll be visiting or you’ll be here over a really busy time (like Christmas), a skip-the-line ticket guarantees entry that day, so it could be worth the extra cost for you.  

Related Read: If you are staying in Puerto Morelos, be sure to learn about the best tours to Chichen Itza from Puerto Morelos before you book!

6. Can you pay with cash and credit card? 

Gaurds at the entrance to Chichen Itza, Mexico
Security is tight and ID is required to pay with credit card!

Yes, but I highly recommend having enough pesos on hand to pay in cash. US dollars (or any foreign currency) are not accepted, so you’ll need pesos. While paying with credit cards has recently been an option, the machines are sometimes unreliable. Oh, and you NEED an I.D. that matches the name EXACTLY on your credit card. A passport is the most reliable option. That’s another reason why it’s best to guarantee entry by either buying skip-the-line tickets or paying in cash when you arrive.  

Hot Tip: One of the biggest things I’ve learned from my long-term travels is that you should always carry some cash on you in the local currency – debit and credit machines are not always reliable!

7. Chichen Itza opening hours 

Bailey and Daniel take a selfie with the El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza
Selfies are allowed!

Chichen Itza is open every day from 8 am until 5 pm. The long hours allow for thousands of visitors to see the site every day without it being too crowded.

With that said, many tours visit the site around the same time, so it’s almost impossible to avoid the crowds completely. You can, however, use some photography tricks to make the place feel deserted!

Note: There is also a Chichen Iza Night Show option, which is a ticketed event that happens after hours.

8. When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza? 

El Castillo at Chichen Itza
The morning is best!

The best time to visit Chichen Itza is first thing in the morning. The entrance opens at 8 am, and I recommend being there even a few minutes before then! A line usually has formed before the ancient city opens, but it’s pretty small and moves quickly.  

If you’re here bright and early, you’ll get to enjoy wandering around before it starts to get crowded with tours and lots of visitors by 10 am. It’s also nice to visit before the afternoon heat kicks in! 

Avoid coming on Sundays if you don’t want to deal with the crowds. There is free entry to all locals on Sundays, so it’s EXTRA busy all day long.  

For the time of year, you’ll find the best weather in this part of Mexico from November to March. The summers in Mexico are crazy hot, and you’ll want to avoid the rainy season that starts around June. December can be a busy month with Christmas holidays and vacations, so November is a nice time to come to avoid larger crowds. 

Just know that this is one of the most popular places to visit in Mexico, so there are going to be lots of people here no matter when you come!  

9. How do you get to Chichen Itza from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum?  

Bailey in The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Bailey in The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico

You can take a bus which is a more budget-friendly option, but then you are at the mercy of bus schedules. So you could be stuck at the ruins for longer than you plan. And don’t miss your bus as then you’re stuck looking for another way to get home!  

From Cancun, you can take the ADO bus from the central bus station to Chichen Itza. The bus leaves around 8:45 am from Cancun and then departs Chichen Itza at 4:30 pm the same day. 

From Playa del Carmen, the ADO bus leaves at 8:10 am from the station on 5th Ave and departs Chichen Itza at 4 pm. From Tulum, there is also an ADO bus terminal where you can hop on a bus to the ruins.  

One of the easiest options is to rent a car in Mexico. It means you have the freedom to arrive and leave when you want. This also ensures you can arrive right when the ruins open, so you’re guaranteed to get in, avoid long line-ups and beat the heat of the day. Plus renting a car in Mexico is cheap!

If transportation to and back is stressing you out, book a tour! This Chichen Itza tour offers pickup from all over the Yucatan region and a visit to a nearby cenote. It doesn’t include the actual fee to get into the ruins, though, so be aware of that. For an all-inclusive tour, book this full-day tour from Cancun that takes you to Chichen Itza, Valladolid, and the Ik-Kil cenote. It’s a great deal at only $95 USD and one of the best tours in Yucatan.

Related Read: There are some really excellent Chichen Itza tours that depart from Playa del Carmen as well as Chichen Itza tours from Tulum– read all about them!

10. What are the BEST Chichen Itza Tours?

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

To take the guesswork out of your visit and make sure you’re not worried about planning all the details, a tour is a great way to visit Chichen Itza. You’ll have transportation taken care of and usually a few fun extras like swimming in a cenote! These are our top tour recommendations for various price ranges.  

Best budget-friendly tour – $ 

This tour of Chichen Itza includes pick-up from places like Cancun, Rivera Maya, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. You’ll have a 90-minute guided tour of Chichen Itza and then another 90 minutes to explore on your own. It also includes a buffet lunch, tequila tasting, a stop in Valladolid, and a swim in Cenote Saamal. All this for only $39 USD. Just be aware you’ll still need to pay the entrance fees for Chichen Itza unless you choose the deluxe version of this tour.  

Best mid-range tour – $$ 

Check out this full-day tour to Chichen Itza, which includes hotel pickup from Cancun or Rivera Maya. You’ll have time to explore the amazing ruins before visiting Cenote Saamal with its beautiful waterfall. You’ll also have a buffet meal and time to wander around the city of Valladolid to admire the old neighborhoods and do some shopping. This tour is $69 USD and doesn’t include the entrance fees for Chichen Itza.  

Best all-inclusive tour – $$$  

Avoid any of the stress of planning a visit to Chichen Itza with this all-inclusive tour. All the fees are taken care of, so you can hop on the provided shuttle from your hotel and just enjoy the day. You’ll spend 2.5 hours exploring the incredible ruins with a guide to tell you about their significance. Then cool off with an hour-long swim in the peaceful Ik Kil cenote before lunch and a quick stop to wander the streets of the 16th Century city of Valladolid. All this for $95 USD per person.  

11. Can you visit Chichen Itza without a tour? 

A stone description at Chichen Itza, Mexico
There are a couple information plaques!
One side of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico
One side of the Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Yes, of course! If you want the convenience of arriving and leaving on your own time, there’s no need to book a tour. Just be aware that you’ll need to arrange for your own transportation and have cash on hand to pay for various fees like tickets and parking.  

12. Is it best to have a guide in Chichen Itza? 

Skull engravings at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Skull engravings at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Yes, this is one of the top tips in our guide to Chichen Itza. In our opinion, you learn so much more with a guide!

All of the tours I mentioned above include a guided tour around Chichen Itza. Alternatively, you’ll find official guides right at the entrance, where you purchase your tickets and get into the site. You can hire one of them for a couple of hours to show you around and tell you all about the ruins. You’ll have to negotiate a price, though.

Having a personal tour guide is always so helpful. You can ask questions and learn from someone who is really passionate about Chichen Itza’s history.  

13. What is the Chichen Itza Night show? 

El Castillio Pyramid lit up during the Chichen Itza Night Show 1
How cool is this!?

If you thought Chichen Itza was spectacular during the day, just wait until the sun goes down!  

We hadn’t heard much about this option before we arrived and just happened to hear some people talking about it around our hostel breakfast table. I’m so glad we did because the Chichen Itza Night Show totally blew us away. 

It starts in the evening with about an hour to wander around the ruins and take a little tour on your own. What’s nice is that everyone gets an iPod and headphones so you can listen to information as you walk around the ruins. They are beautiful under the stars! 

Then everyone is instructed to take a seat set up in front of the Temple of Kukulkan for the main event. Our admission tickets had seat numbers, so it was really easy to find where to go. The light show projected amazing visuals right on the pyramid and was accompanied by music and storytelling in Spanish.  

The show runs every day except Monday, and you can buy tickets online here. You’ll want to buy tickets in advance (even a few hours before the show is fine) so you get a better seat close to the front! Also, numbers are limited.

The Chichen Itza Nght Show is a great option for anybody who wants to avoid the sun and heat during the day.  You’ll still get to see all of the ruins (although in the dark, but they have plenty of lights set up.) And the light show at the end is really cool!

14. Can you climb the main temple at Chichen Itza? 

The steps up the El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico
They might look climbable, but do not climb the temples!
Daniel poses for a photo with the main pyramid at El Castillo, Chichen Itza
Stay behind the rope!

No, you can’t climb up the largest pyramid here – El Castillo. There are nearly 100 steps up this temple, and it’s almost 100 feet (30 meters) high, making it the tallest structure at Chichen Itza.  

You used to be able to climb up to the top, and many visitors did this (including myself when I visited the first time when I was only sixteen.) However, all the people climbing up and down the steps every day started to wear down the stone. 

The steps became really slippery and dangerous as they were crowded with tourists. It got to the point that an ambulance was permanently stationed nearby because of all the people who would slip and fall. Most injuries were minor, but after a woman fell and died in 2006, the climb up the pyramid was permanently closed.  

15. Where are the closest places to stay (Hotels) near Chichen Itza? 

A lady relaxes at the pool at Hotel Doralba Inn Chichen Itza, Mexico
Hotel Doralba!

While Chichen Itza is a good day trip destination, I recommend planning to spend a night nearby to really get the most out of your experience. This way, you can either stay the night before, so you’re first in line to get in when gates open in the morning. Or you can crash at a hotel after taking in the spectacular night show and not have to drive back in the dark.  

There are hotels quite near to the ruins themselves or nearby in the town of Pitse. Here are our top picks!  

Hotel Doralba Inn Chichen 

We stayed one night at Hotel Doralba Inn Chichen and found it was really budget-friendly at only $40 USD a night. It was a 5-minute drive from Chichen Itza, and we took a taxi for about $3 USD each way. There are two nice pools at the hotel, or you can walk across the road to one of Mexico’s most famous cenotes Ik Kil.

We paid a visit to Ik Kil the morning after seeing the night show at Chichen Itza. Since it was so close, we were the first one’s there and actually swam without any other tourists around!

You can book Hotel Doralba Inn online here.

La Casa de las Lunas 

Located in Piste, La Casa de las Lunas hotel is only a 5-minute drive from Chichen Itza or a 70 peso ($3.50 USD) taxi ride. There are lots of restaurants and shops nearby to explore. The staff is really friendly and helpful as you plan what you want to do in the area. They also provide coffee and tea in the morning and delicious cake! Rooms here start at $30 USD per night.

Hotel Okaan 

Located just off the main highway, Hotel Okaan is about a 10-minute drive from Chichen Itza. It’s surrounded by forests with a beautiful pool and viewing platform. The rooms are spacious with terraces overlooking gardens, or you can book an entire bungalow and have a private outdoor seating area. Rooms and bungalows here are around the $80-120 USD range.

Hacienda Chichen Resort and Yaxkin Spa  

Escape to this oasis for luxurious accommodations in the city of Chichen Itza, only a few minutes from the ruins. The elegant rooms have colonial-style décor and hand-woven bedspreads. The entire property is surrounded by gardens that are full of amazing birds. There’s an outdoor pool and a spa too. Rooms here start at $200 USD. You can book Hacienda Chichen Resort online here.   

16. Is there parking at Chichen Itza?  

Parking lot at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Parking lot at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Yes, if you rent a car in Mexico, there’s a parking lot with lots of spots. It’s 80 pesos ($4 USD), and you’ll be assigned a spot. The lot can fill up, so the earlier you’re here, the better.  

Some people do park for free along the side of the road leading up to Chichen Itza. However, this is a narrow road, and your car could get damaged as other cars try to navigate through. I wouldn’t risk it!  

17. What should you bring to Chichen Itza? 

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

Exploring the ancient city of Chichen Itza is entirely outdoors, so dress for the weather! More often than not, the sun is out, and it’s HOT. There is also very little shade. Bring things like a hat, sunglasses, umbrella, and sunscreen (biodegradable if you want to take a dip in a cenote afterward!). If you forget a hat or umbrellas, there are local vendors at the site selling these, so you can grab one on your way in.  

Make sure you also have your ID and some money with you, including a credit card. You’ll need pesos for the entrance fees, parking, and then if you want to purchase anything from a vendor or restaurant. A credit card is a good backup, but sometimes the machines are down here, so cash is best.  

I like having a bottle of water with me as well. You’re doing nothing but walking in the hot sun, so you’ll need it! There is water available on-site, but you’ll pay a lot more than a grocery store or convenience store price.  

While it will most likely be a hot day, avoid the temptation to wear sandals or flip-flops. You’re doing a lot of walking on uneven and rocky ground, so runners are a better option to keep your feet happy and not as sore at the end of the day.  

Another essential for me is a camera to capture some amazing shots. Come early in the morning, so your photos don’t have quite as many people in them!  

Also, be aware that these ruins are right in the center of a jungle, so pack bug spray or some type of insect repellent to keep the pesky critters at bay.  

18. What are the highlights of visiting Chichen Itza?  

El Castillo Pyramid 

El Castillo Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Mexico

Known in Spanish as El Castillo (meaning “the castle”), this is the centerpiece of Chichen Itza. This large pyramid structure here is also known as the Temple of Kukulcan. It’s easily the most impressive structure you’ll see here, towering at almost 100 feet tall!  

There are seven tiers and four staircases that each have 91 steps – equaling 364 steps. Combined with the central step at the very top, there are 365 steps total, one for each day. There’s also an amazing natural sight around the spring and fall equinoxes when the sun reflects off the pyramid in a certain way that casts shadows down the side, creating an illusion of a serpent crawling down the pyramid.  

Temple of The Warriors 

Side view of the The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
Side view of The Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza
Group of the Thousand Columns at Chichen Itza

True to its name, this temple is believed to have been dedicated to the worship of Mayan warriors. It’s one of the largest temples here, and you’ll see statues and pillars that are carved to look like soldiers and warriors. There are also hundreds of incredible stone columns lining the entrance and sides that would have supported a roof.  

The Great Ball Court 

The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza in Mexico
One of my favorites!
A ring from the Chcihen Itza Great Ball Court in Mexico
A closeup of the ring!

The Mayans liked sports too! This court is one of the largest in the Mayan world. There have been more than a dozen ball courts unearthed here, but this is the most impressive. The ruins of this ancient court are huge – about two times the size of an NFL field with 26-foot high walls. There are stone rings or “hoops” about 20 feet from the ground, which were the goals here … you can look at them and just imagine the games that must have been played!  

Sacred Cenote  

Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, Mexico
Sacred Cenote at Chichen Itza, Mexico

This freshwater sinkhole is one of the most famous cenotes in the world, located at the northern end of the site. It’s 115 feet deep and was a center of religious activity. There were rituals here where offerings were dropped into the water, including jade, copper, and even human sacrifices. You can’t swim here, though!  

The Observatory  

El Caracol aka the observatory Chichen Itza
El Caracol, aka the observatory of Chichen Itza

Also known as El Caracol (pictured above), this building was incredibly important to the Mayans. The ruins here, with their round structure on top, do look like they could hold a modern-day telescope! From within here, Mayans could keep their calendars accurate and predict the position of the moon and the location of the sun for the equinoxes.  

19. How long do you need in Chichen Itza?  

El Castillo in the distance at Chichen Itza
You need at least a few hours!

You should plan to be here for around 2-3 hours. That’s enough time to explore and take in the sights.  

You could extend your time here if you want to grab a bite to eat from the restaurant, but usually, you’ll want to take a break after a couple of hours here. That’s where the next activity is key – pack your bathing suit so you can head to a nearby cenote to cool off!  

20. Facilities at Chichen Itza 

Daniel at one of the shops at Chichen Itza
Daniel buys water at a shop at Chichen Itza
It’s so hot you need lots of water!

There’s enough here you can comfortably spend a few hours. There are lots of washrooms around the main entrance and then more located behind El Castillo. There are also lockers you can rent to store bags in if you need to.  

There are literally hundreds of vendors located around the entrance and within the grounds on certain stretches of the path. These vendors can be helpful if you forget something like a hat or umbrella, and they’ll have all the little souvenirs you’d expect. However, sometimes the vendors can be a bit annoying, so if you’re not interested, just keep on walking – there’s no need to buy anything.  

For water and snacks, these shops are more controlled and owned by the government agency that looks after Chichen Itza. They are still readily available and they sell things like ice cream, snacks and of course, cold bottles of water and my favorite, coconuts!

There is also a restaurant available at the entrance if you get hungry while walking around. If you are interested in a good local Mexican restaurant, though, I recommend driving the five minutes to nearby Piste for a meal.  

21. What are the best cenotes near Chichen Itza?  

Cenote Ik Kil from above
Cool off at Ik Kil after!

A cenote is a naturally formed pool of water or sinkhole that occurs in limestone rock. Typically, an underground cave collapses, and nearby water rushes in to fill it to create a natural swimming pool. Some of the best cenotes are in Mexico, and there are quite a few located near Chichen Itza. They are a great way to cool off after exploring the ruins!  

Cenote Ik Kil  

This cenote is deep in the ground and completely open to the sky. Long vines and tree roots hang down from where the cave ceiling collapsed to create a magical atmosphere. This is the most popular cenote near Chichen Itza and should be on your must-see list!  

It’s located only five minutes from Chichen Itza and costs 100 pesos ($5 USD) to visit. This is a really deep cenote with the surface of the water starting at 80 feet below the ground, and then the water itself is 160 feet deep. Make sure you wear a life jacket if you aren’t a confident swimmer.

It’s open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. We visited the morning after staying at Hotel Doralba which is just across the street, and this was perfect. It isn’t so crowded first thing in the morning and was a great way to end our visit to Chichen Itza.  

Xcajum Cenote 

This open-air cenote is located about 30 minutes from Chichen Itza. It has lush greenery surrounding the water and hanging down the walls, making it really photogenic. There’s a carved staircase in the rock leading down to the water and balconies around the walls of the cenotes where you can look at the water and admire the view.  

Lifejackets are mandatory here and included with the 110 pesos ($5.50 USD) entrance fee. You can also add a buffet lunch here for an additional 200 pesos ($10 USD). There are lockers as well as change rooms, showers, and a huge gift shop. It’s open every day from 10 am to 5 pm. Most tours are here from 10am-2pm, so arrive later in the afternoon, and you’ll enjoy more peace and quiet!  

Cenote LOL-HA 

This remote cenote is a bit off the beaten path, 30 minutes from Chichen Itza (make sure you have directions saved as cell service can drop off), but totally worth the drive. It’s not packed with tourists, and you often have the entire place to yourself – even during normally busy times like weekends. The cenote itself is deep with dark blue water and surrounded by cliffs that you can jump from.  

It’s 100 pesos ($5 USD) to get in, and there aren’t any facilities here like changerooms, so be prepared for that. The cenote is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily.  

Cenote Xcanahaltun 

To swim in an incredible cave, this is the cenote to see! The water is completely underground, with stalactites hanging above you and light filtering in through one large hole in the cave ceiling. It’s located 1.5 hours from Chichen Itza but only 30 minutes from Valladolid, so this is a good stop if you’re headed back to that area.  

You’ll pay around 175 pesos ($8.50 USD) to enter, and there are kayaks available to rent if you don’t want to swim. The color of the water here is unreal – just SO blue! It’s stunning and a really different cenote experience. It doesn’t tend to be too busy either. The cenote is open from 9 am to 5:30 pm daily.  

Cenote Dzitnup 

Also known as Cenote Xkeken, this cenote is located within limestone caves, giving it a mysterious and eerie vibe. You aren’t swimming in the dark, though as there’s a small opening in the ceiling that lets a bit of light through and some artificial lights to help. The water is a bit chilly here underground, so it’s a great way to cool off.  

The cenote is located about a 40-minute drive from Chichen Itza and really close to another cenote called Cenote Samula. You can enter one cenote for 80 pesos ($4 USD) or both for 125 pesos ($6 USD). You’ll also need to rent a life jacket for 25 pesos ($1 USD). It’s open from 8 am to 6 pm.  

Related Read: Learn about more amazing cenotes near Tulum!

22. Tips for visiting Chichen Itza  

El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Castillo at Chichen Itza, Mexico
A snake made of rock at Chichen Itza in the Great Ball Court
A snake made of rock at Chichen Itza in the Great Ball Court

After visiting this site, I have a few tips to keep in mind to make the most of your visit: 

  • Stay nearby – Whether you are attending the night show or just want to get an early start, staying in a hotel near the site of Chichen Itza is a great idea. You’ll be first in line for a morning tour or will have a place to crash after exploring the ruins under the stars.  
  • Come early (or late) – To avoid the worst of the crowds, be here early when the site first opens or come late in the afternoon once the majority of tours have left. A night tour is a good option as only limited tickets are sold for each show, so it doesn’t get very crowded.  
  • Take a guided tour – Even if you don’t usually go for guided tours, I recommend one here. You’ll learn so much more and really appreciate the history of what you’re seeing.  
  • Prepare for the heat – There isn’t much shade here when you’re wandering around, so bring lots of water and a hat, sunscreen, and wear light clothing.  
  • Go to Piste for lunch – While there is food available on-site, it’s nothing special and is relatively expensive. Treat yourself to local cuisine that is more affordable and delicious in the nearby town of Piste.  

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. 

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!

It’s not often you get the chance to see a new wonder of the world, so a visit to Chichen Itza can be an incredible bucket-list activity! I’ve seen this ancient city in the daylight and at night, and it’s truly spectacular whenever you come. Hopefully, this guide to Chichen Itza has given you lots of info and tips, so you’re excited about your own visit.  

If you’re in the midst of planning a Mexican getaway, browse around our other Mexico blogs for more ideas and inspirations. I’ve been coming to Mexico since I was a kid, and I truly can’t get enough of this beautiful place! 

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Pamela Swanson Park

Wednesday 25th of October 2023

I really want to visit here when I’m on holiday in march my balance is a bit unsteady and I sometimes need a walking stick will I be able to manage walking around in your opinion iv wanted to visit here for 30 years !


Thursday 26th of October 2023

Hey Pamela, the ground is pretty flat and even, however there is a bit of walking to do. My advice would be to go first thing in the morning and visit the main temple, ball court and 1000 pillars and that's it. The rest of the ruins are spread out and involve a lot more walking. Also, get yourself a guide so you don't spend time and steps looking for interesting places.



Friday 22nd of September 2023

Thank you for taking time to write all this. Very helpful!


Friday 9th of June 2023

Thanks for this super helpful article!!

Isabelle M

Thursday 19th of January 2023

Great tips! Heading there in 3 weeks, can’t wait