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What is Chichén Itzá?

The 7 Wonders of the World have long drawn immense fascination from around travelers world. Whether it is the Great Wall of China or the Roman Colosseum, these wonders inevitably make it to a travel bucket list. Of these 7, a relatively new addition is Chichén Itzá, located in Mexico’s Yucatán State. Once a massive pre-Columbian city built and developed by the ancient Mayan Civilization, Chichén Itzá today is a major archaeological site and a key attraction in Mexico. It was said to be a commercial center for politics, economics, religion, the military, and architecture – dubbed the 'ultimate' expression of Mayan culture. In 1988, Chichén Itzá was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Why Visit Chichén Itzá in Mexico?

In 2017, Chichén Itzá is said to have attracted a whopping 2.7 million visitors, and it consistently makes it to lists of top archaeological sites in the world. There’s something entirely captivating about visiting ancient ruins; walking along the sites where civilizations once flourished, with trade and an economy, and citizens carrying out daily business. 

It was founded back in the 6th century when Maya tribespeople settled there. Researchers assume that this could be sometime during the Pre-Classic or Formative Periods. Home to ancient temples dating back an incomprehensible amount of years, this site provides an interesting insight into not just what was once a thriving metropolis in Central America, but into the little known Mayan Civilization as well. It is considered to be one of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the world, home to structures dating back to approximately 1500 BC.

Today, visitors have the opportunity to explore these ruins and study the unique architecture, visit the observatory, and understand more about the mysterious Mayan Civilization.

All Your Chichén Itzá Tour & Ticket Options

chichen itza tour

Chichén Itzá Tour

The best way to explore the historic site of Chichén Itzá is by opting for a guided tour. You’ll be accompanied by an expert local guide who will regale you with interesting trivia and stories about the site, while guiding you to prominent visit points at Chichén Itzá. Depending on your ticket, your guided tour may include return transfers, allowing you to avoid the hassle of planning your commute.

combo chichen itza tour

Combo Tour

An all-inclusive tour of Chichén Itzá allows you to not just visit key sites like El Castillo and a cenote (water sinkhole), but also to Valladolid, a classic colonial town along the Yucatán Peninsula where you can explore the famous Baroque-style cathedral. This combo tour also includes return transfers and a delicious Mexican lunch buffet. For their transfers, visitors can choose from Cancún, Riviera Maya, and Playa del Carmen pick-up locations.

Chichén Itzá discount tours & tickets

Visitors between the age of 3 to 13 years enjoy reduced pricing, while those under the age of 3 get free entry. All visitors aged 13 years and above will pay the full price.

Chichén Itzá culture tax

Visitors will have to pay a culture tax at the entrance point as per the local government’s orders. For residents, the price is Mex$ 130 (on presentation of valid government ID), and non-residents pay Mex$ 417. 

Chichén Itzá Highlights

While the Chichén Itzá site is massive, with plenty of attraction points, here are a few that deserve a visit in and around the natural wonder.

chichen itza tour - el castillo

El Castillo

Also known as the Temple of Kukulcán, El Castillo is the most popular point of attraction at Chichén Itzá and is located at the Northern Point. Shaped like a step pyramid, this structure comprises nine square-shaped terraces, on the summit of which stands a terrace, at approximately 30-meter height. The base at all four sides is adorned with elaborate serpent heads – which during sunset give the illusion of a snake slithering down. 

chichen itza tour - sacred cenote

Sacred Cenote

A cenote is a natural sinkhole or well, generally made of limestone. The Chichén Itzá cenote, also known as the Sacred Cenote, is quite popular with tourists. While it is forbidden for swimming, it is an important archaeological site, measuring 60 m in diameter and about 27 m deep. Although this cenote is closed for swimming, some cenotes nearby are, in fact, open for swimming. You can travel to nearby cenotes and simply jump in.

chichen itza tour - el caracol

El Caracol

El Caracol, meaning ‘the snail’ in Spanish, was an observatory during the Mayan Civilization. It is named so due to the presence of a unique spiral staircase inside the tower. Mayan astronomers then would take advantage of the flat Yucatán landscape and gaze at the skies understand the sky and space above it. It is one of the few spherical structures at Chichén Itzá, unusual since the Mayans generally created square or rectangular-shaped structures.

chichen itza tour - temple of the warriors

Temple of the Warriors

This is a fascinating site at Chichén Itzá. Surrounding the large step pyramid are about 200 columns or pillar, each carved in a manner so as to depict warriors. These columns are flanked on the west and south side of the structure. The temple itself is located on the pyramid’s summit, led up by a massive stairway. Atop the pyramid is a statue of Chak Mool, said to be a messenger of Mayan Gods.

Plan Your Visit to the Mayan City of Chichén Itzá

Opening Hours
Getting There
Beyond the site
chichen itza tour timings
What are Chichén Itzá opening hours?

Chichén Itzá is open every day of the year between 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM, with final entry at 04:00 PM. 

How long is a tour of Chichén Itzá?

If you’re traveling on a tour with return transfers, you can expect the entire tour, including travel time, to last between 9-10 hours. On average, a tour of only the Chichén Itzá should take between 1-3 hours. A combo tour would take longer, approximately 12 hours.  

What is the best time to visit Chichén Itzá?

You can always expect to find crowds at Chichén Itzá. To experience relatively smaller crowds, the best time to visit would be during early morning right after the site opens, or late evening before closing.

Where is Chichén Itzá located?

Chichén Itzá is located in the Eastern part of Yucatán state in Mexico.
Google Map Directions.

Cancún to Chichén Itzá with Return Transfers

Opting for return transfers is the best travel option as it helps you avoid the hassle of planning the travel. You can choose to be picked up from either Cancún, Riviera Maya, or Playa del Carmen. You will be picked up typically before 06:00 PM, and dropped back after the tour.

Cancún to Chichén Itzá by Car

Driving to Chichén Itzá is another easy travel option. Parking is widely available for visitors traveling in private vehicles. The drive should take you about 2 hours.

chichen itza entry
How do I enter Chichén Itzá?

Residents have to pay a culture fee of Mex$ 130 (on presentation of valid government ID), and non-residents pay Mex$ 417.

Where is the Chichén Itzá entrance?

If you’re visiting Chichén Itzá on a tour, you’ll be guided to the primary entrance at the forefront of the site. If you stay at a hotel nearby, some have the option of letting you enter from the entrance right at the back.

chichen itza tour
Are are dining options available at Chichén Itzá?

Yes, there are several dining options around Chichén Itzá, suitable for various budgets and palates. Pueblo Maya, Luna Cafe, Hotel Okaan, and Hacienda Chichen are a few great options to dine at.

Is storage facility available at Chichén Itzá?

Yes. Guests can pay a fee and deposit large bags and carry-ons at the storage facility before entering the site. To store smaller items, guests can rent lockers.

What should I wear on a tour of Chichén Itzá?

Chichén Itzá is almost entirely an open space with negligible shade areas. Carry lots of sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, and wear comfortable, light clothing. Additionally, since the tour involves plenty of walking along uneven paths, wear sturdy sneakers or shoes that have a strong sole grip.

Is photography permitted at Chichén Itzá?

Yes, photography is permitted. However, if you're carrying professional cameras, tripods, or selfie sticks, you would need to pay a small fee at the entrance.

combo chichen itza tour
What else can I see around Chichén Itzá?

Other than visiting Chichén Itzá, along the Yucatán peninsula guests can visit famous cenotes (water sinkholes), the colonial town of Valladolid, and more.

Are these attractions included in Chichén Itzá tours?

You would have to specifically book combo Chichén Itzá tours to visit attractions like nearby cenotes and the town of Vallodolid.

Are return transfers available with these combo tours?

Yes, your combo tour include return transfers. Guests can choose to be picked up from Cancún, Riviera Maya, or Playa del Carmen.

Interesting Facts About Chichén Itzá

1. Loosely translated, Chichén Itzá means ‘the mouth at the well of Itza’

2. Archaeologists believe that human sacrifices were carried out by the Mayans in Chichén Itzá in an effort to deal with drought

3. While it was considered to be a flourishing city during its time, the actual cause of the fall of Chichén Itzá, sometime around 1,000 AD, is not known

4. Mayan astronomers are said to have closely studied the planet Venus and its moments at the observatory 

5. If you clap at one end of the Great Ball Court, you can hear nine sounds echo right at its center

6. Similar to Russian nesting dolls, El Castillo houses two more slightly smaller pyramids within

7. The Platform of Skulls contains hundreds of carvings of the dead that was used as an intimidation tactic against enemies  

Insider Tips for Visiting Chichén Itzá

  1. Advance booking: Since the site now only permits 3,000 visitors per day, it’s best to book your Chichén Itzá tour online in advance so as to visit based on your convenience.
  2. Carry sunscreen: You can expect the weather to be hot and humid at the Yucatán peninsula. Carry plenty of sunscreen, a light jacket, and a hat to protect you from the heat.
  3. Sports shoes: Your tour is only on-foot, along uneven pathways and surfaces. It’s best to wear comfortable sports shoes that have a strong rubber base for your tour.
  4. Weekday visits: Weekends are quite crowded at Chichén Itzá, and if you’re looking to avoid it, plan your travel during the weekdays, particularly during early mornings or late evenings.
  5. Carry cash: You not only have to pay a culture fee at the entrance, but will inevitably look to purchase some attractive souvenirs or food items during your visit. Carry extra cash for this.
  6. Guided tours: Spend a little more and book a guided tour. Your tour guide has a vast wealth of knowledge about the site and its attractions, and will share it with you to enhance your overall experience. Moreover, guided tours also include return transfers, saving you the trouble of planning a commute on your own.

Chichén Itzá Tour FAQs

Are Chichén Itzá tours available online in 2021?

Yes. Chichén Itzá tours and tickets can now be booked online.

What safety measures are in place at Chichén Itzá?

Chichén Itzá now accepts online reservations and is allowing 3,000 visitors per day. Moreover, masks and social distancing are mandatory here.

What are the different types of Chichén Itzá tours?

Guests can book guided tours of Chichén Itzá, or book combo tours that also take them on a tour of cenotes and the town of Valladolid.

How many persons are allowed into Chichén Itzá at a time?

Only 3,000 guests are permitted in a day at Chichén Itzá.

Are guided Chichén Itzá tours available?

Yes. Guests can book guided Chichén Itzá tours. These can include the services of a professional tour guide, return transfers, and lunch (depending on the tour chosen).

What is the maximum size of a guided tour to Chichén Itzá?

A guided tour group to Chichén Itzá can comprise only 10 visitors now.

Are return transfers included in Chichén Itzá tours?

Yes. Chichén Itzá guided tours include return transfers. Guests can choose to be picked up from Cancún, Riviera Maya, or Playa del Carmen, depending on the tour they choose.

Are any discounts available on Chichén Itzá tours?

Yes, visitors between the age of 3-13 enjoy reduced pricing on their tickets, while infants under 3 get free entry.

What are Chichén Itzá opening hours?

Chichén Itzá is open every day of the week from 08:00 AM to 05:00 PM, with final entry at 04:00 PM.