Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza
Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itzaview website
250 Km (156 miles) west of Cozumel (Yucatan Peninsula)
+52 (55) 55 53 3822
Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza Description
Although there's so much to do and explore in Cancun (without even leaving your hotel!) that the idea of traveling two hours outside the city might not be immediately appealing, you do not want to miss going to the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza, which will be one of the most spectacular places you and your family ever visit. These majestic and fascinating ruins, in the heart of the jungle, include a well-preserved ball court, the pyramid-shaped temple of Kulkulcan, and a sinkhole (called a "cenote") where hundreds of human sacrifices (including dozens of 13-year-old virgins) took place.
Babies: Ditch the stroller and carry your baby. You want to be as mobile as possible and the rocky ground is not stroller friendly.
Toddlers & Pre-K: Although they won't understand what they're seeing, preschoolers will love the sheer size of the ruins and the open spaces to run.
School-Age Kids: Any kid interested in history and culture will be awed by these ruins and the rather bloody history of the Mayans and the Toltecs. Study the ruins beforehand to get the most out of your trip.
Pre-Teens & Teens: Teens will appreciate what they're seeing more if they read up on it before arriving. If they don't, take them down to the cenote and show them where the teenage virgins took saunas before being drowned as human sacrifices.
- Rent a car. Many visitors to Chichen Itza go with an organized tour (Tropical Incentives is one company; ask at your hotel.) but your family will spend more time seeing the ruins and exploring, and less time making the rounds of the hotels to pick up other tourists if you rent a car. Once at the site, you can hire a local guide to give you a tour or just bring a good guidebook and explore on your own.
- Bring cash. There are dozens of vendors selling handmade goods inexpensively (don't forget to bargain). They'll accept dollars or pesos but make sure you have cash.
- Go as early as possible. Beat the crowds and the heat by going when the ruins open. Although there are always hundreds of visitors, it is decidedly less crowded in the early morning.
- Cover up: Since the once-dense vegetation has all been cleared, there is not a lot of shade at the ruins. Carry water and sunscreen, wear a hat, and consider giving the kids umbrellas to beat the heat.
- Bring food: If you are staying in Cancun, you'll be spending the day at Chichen Itza. You can eat at a restaurant or sample food from local vendors outside the ruins (make sure it's freshly made and hot), but it's a good idea to pack lunch.
Just the Facts
Hours: 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; light show at 8 p.m.
Fees: Under $10 for entrance to the ruins (if you go with an organized tour expect to pay up to $100/person)
Recommended Time: Full day