Everything you need to know about Chichen Itza

Here are some interesting facts: Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities, it was an important center for trade. This world famous site is the most visited archeological site in Mexico since 2021, according to recent studies done by Statista.

Chichen Itza was one of the largest Mayan cities, it was an important center for trade, religion, and politics in the Mayan world. The Mayans were skilled astronomers and some of the structures at Chichen Itza are related to astronomical events like the

It is home to many impressive buildings, including the iconic Castillo de Kukulkan, the Temple of Warriors, the Observatory and the Great Ball court. It was built around 600 AD and was inhabited until the 13th century. This city was abandoned for several centuries and was rediscovered by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.

Today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988 and also a New Seven Wonder of the World since 2007.

Why is Chichen Itza so famous?
Where is Chichen Itza located?
How far is Chichen Itza from Cancun and Playa del Carmen?
What’s included on a private tour of Chichen Itza?
How tall is the Kukulkan pyramid?
Can you climb Chichen Itza in 2023?
Is a private tour of Chichen Itza better than a bus tour?

Chichen Itza Ruins - Private Tour by The CustomTour Riviera Maya
Chichen Itza Ruins – Private Tour by The CustomTour

Why is Chichen Itza so famous?

This ancient city is famous for its well-preserved Mayan ruins, including the iconic pyramid known as the Temple of Kukulcan also known as El Castillo (Spanish for castle). This pyramid is famous for its unique architectural design that aligns with the sun during the spring and fall equinoxes, creating a shadow that resembles a serpent descending down the pyramid. Chichen Itza is also home to other impressive structures such as the Great Ball Court and two Sacred Cenotes (not open for swimming). Additionally, the site’s historical and cultural significance has made it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza?

The best time to visit Chichen Itza ruins is during the week. Entrance for Mexican residents is free on Sundays so it can get a few extra visitors. Chichen Itza opens from 8:00 AM to 5:00PM (CST). It’s best to get there as early as possible if you want to avoid the heat, you will be able to get the best pictures around the main pyramid without crowds. There is little shade on the main site so be prepared for the heat! Temperatures at Chichen Itza can get very hot all year round, especially from June to September. Last access is at 4:00 PM so make sure to get there on time.

Can you climb Chichen Itza in 2023?

It is not possible to climb El Castillo or any other buildings at Chichen Itza. In 2006, the Mexican National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) closed the structure to visitors, after a climbing accident that occurred on site. Nowadays tourists are not able to climb the Kukulkan Temple in order to protect the site and ensure the safety of the visitors. However, you are still able to walk around the base of the buildings and admire the impressive architecture and historical significance.

Is there a time difference between Cancun and Chichen Itza? 

Yes! Many tourists don’t know this but it is important to consider the time zone difference between Quintana Roo and Yucatan. Quintana Roo will stay on Eastern Standard Time (EST) all year, as Daylight Saving Time (DST) is no longer in use in Mexico. Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum are located in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo. This means Cancun and the Riviera Maya are one hour ahead of sites like Chichen Itza and Ek Balam.

For example, if you start driving from Playa del Carmen at 7:00 AM (EST), you will be arriving, after two hours of driving, at 8:00 AM (CST) at Chichen Itza (9:00 AM EST).

Yucatan currently observes Central Standard Time (CST) year round. Important cities like Merida and Valladolid are also located in the Mexican State of Yucatan.

Where is Chichen Itza located?

This ancient Mayan city is located in the small village of Pisté, in the Mexican State of Yucatan, in the center of the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, about 100 km (60 mi) south of the Gulf of Mexico’s coast. The small town of Pisté is part of the municipality of Tinum. The 180 Federal Highway connects Pisté with Valladolid, about 40 kilometers (25 mi) away, and Merida, the capital of Yucatan, about 110 kilometers (70 mi) away. There are several hotels around Chichen Itza and also a gas station.

How far is Chichen Itza from Cancun and Playa del Carmen?

The world famous Chichen Itza is located west of Playa del Carmen, Cancun and Tulum. Conveniently situated, it only takes a 2 hour drive approximately from Cancun Hotel Zone (210km), Playa del Carmen (180 km) or Tulum (160km). The drive might take up to 3 hours from other cities in The Riviera Maya such as Puerto Morelos, Akumal or Puerto Aventuras. Toll roads offer fast and efficient highway connections between Playa del Carmen and Chichen Itza, also if you are driving from Cancun. If you are traveling from Tulum you can only take the regular highway (QRoo 109) which is also very safe. Expect a lot of speed bumps or “topes” on this highway.

Chichen Itza Ruins - Private Tour by The CustomTour Riviera Maya
Kukulkan Temple at Chichen Itza – Photo by thecustomtour.com

How tall is the Kukulkan pyramid?

The building of El Castillo is 30 meters (98 ft) tall. The structure is 24 m (78 ft) high, plus an additional 6 m (20 ft) for the temple located on top. The square base measures 55.3 m (181 ft) across. It has a square base, which each side measuring 55 meters (180 ft) in length. The Kukulkan Temple is located in the Center of the archeological site and it is one of the most recognizable and impressive Mayan temples in Mexico.

Essential tips for Chichen Itza:

Wear comfortable clothing and sportive shoes, as you’ll be doing a fair amount of walking around uneven surfaces. You can protect yourself from the sun by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring insect repellent, as mosquitoes may appear especially during the rainy season. Take a refillable water bottle to stay well hydrated throughout your visit. Remember it can get really hot. It’s recommended to bring cash, in Mexican Pesos, for admission fees, souvenirs, or any additional expenses.

Is a private tour of Chichen Itza better than a bus tour?

Definitely! We will pick you up right at your hotel, taking the fastest routes and avoiding unnecessary stops. Of course we consider restrooms and shopping stops when requested by our guests. Our efficient logistics will help you save precious vacation time by getting you there early morning and having you back around 4 in the afternoon so you can still enjoy the pool or beach at your hotel. Make sure to avoid the crowds and book My Chichen Itza Deluxe private adventure by The Custom Tour.

What’s included on a private tour of Chichen Itza?

Only the best Chichen Itza Tours include early access to the site. We are glad to show you Chichen Itza in a personal way, we love being some of the first people getting there in the morning, before the heat and ahead of the big tour buses. Please note that the archeological site opens at 8 AM. My Chichen Itza Deluxe will be a pleasant adventure just for you and your party. At your own pace, making sure that you are feeling comfortable throughout the journey with our friendly service, efficient logistics and attention to detail. We include entry fees, knowledgeable guide, safe driving and a tasty Mexican lunch. We also provide a comfortable touring vehicle with air conditioning and iced-cold bottled water during the journey.

Chichen Itza nearby attractions:

Combine your visit to Chichen Itza with other nearby attractions, such as the colonial town of Valladolid or one of the many Cenotes (natural freshwater sinkholes) that surround the region. If you are staying between Cancun and Playa del Carmen you can visit Chichen Itza Ruins, Cenote Saamal and Ek Balam Ruins in one day. You can do this with a specialized tour company like The Custom Tour Riviera Maya.

If your hotel is located between Tulum and Playa del Carmen you can visit Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal and Coba Ruins in one day. Contact The Custom Tour Riviera Maya for more information.

Cenote Saamal near Valladolid
Enjoy a refreshing swim at Cenote Saamal near Valladolid. Photo by thecustomtour.com
2 Responses
  1. Andrea S.

    Highly recommend the Chichen Itza Deluxe tour by The Custom Tour. Kat was an exceptional guide and Benjamin the perfect driver. Chichen Itza is a sight to behold and Kat was super informative. And after having your brain stuffed with info at Chichen Itza, the cenote stop is perfect- beautiful water for a relaxing and refreshing swim and a fabulous lunch with authentic Mexican foods.

  2. Kim Minor

    Based on other reviews, our family of 4 booked the Chichen Itza tour and it was fabulous! Save yourself the time and just go ahead and book with them. Kat was an amazing guide who shared fascinating information and served as the best photographer for our trip. We enjoyed the cenote more than we thought we would. We all jumped in from the platform more than once. This day trip was the highlight of our vacation.

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