Exploring the Mayan Ruins of Chichén Itzá // Mexico
Chichén Itzá is one of the most important ruin sites on the Yucatán Peninsula. With an area of about 1500 hectares, it is one of the most extensive sites in Yucatán, but only a part of it is accessible to tourists. In 1988, Chichén Itzá was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and it is also one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
The ruins date back to the late Maya period. The city experienced its heyday between the 8th and 11th centuries, during which time it was a supra-regional political and cultural center. The temple complex consists of many different types of buildings and architectural styles. In the center of the temple complex there is the famous 30 meter high step pyramid ("El Castillo") with four stairs on all sides.
Visiting Chichén Itzá
We arrived at Chichén Itzá around 8am and the first big tourist busses where already there, so we had to wait in line for the tickets for 15 minutes. I was a bit worried about the tourist masses, but the area inside is that big that people split up on the site. We were able to explore everything in peace and at the smaller monuments we were totally alone. To me, the famous pyramid was the most impressive monument on the site, as it is one of those buildings were you wonder how people were able to construct such a building such a long time ago. You will get a map at the ticket counter, where you can see all the buildings that you can explore. It was very interesting exploring this historical site with its many ruins. We spent 2-3 hours there, which was enough time for us to walk around. At around 10am it got already really hot and a lot more tourists arrived. So as usual for famous tourist places I recommend: go there as soon as possible.
Every evening at 8pm there is a light show at Chichén Itzá, which takes around 1 hour. We didn’t had time for it, but heard that it is a very nice experience.
How to get from Valladolid to Chichén Itzá
If you don’t have a car, the cheapest way to go to Chichén Itzá is by colectivo. No busses are going there and taxis are more expensive. Around the bus terminal in Valladolid you will find a colectivo station (watch for a poster). The first colectivos leave around 7am and the drive takes around 45 minutes (35 Mxn). Colectivos go back to Valladolid from 10am, just wait at the parking lot in front of the entrance, they leave every 30 minutes or when the car is full.
Good to know
Entrance Fee: 480 Mxn (Mexican citizens: 202 Mxn, Kids under 13 free) Opening hours: daily from 8:00am to 5pm (ticket counter closes at 4pm) Tip: Bring sun protection like sunscreen, hat, ect. with you, as there is not that much shade
Bonus: Visit Cenote Ik Il
The Cenote Ik Il is located directly on the street between Valladolid and Chichén Itzá. On our way back, we just asked the driver to drop us off at the entrance. On the short walking path to the cenote, you can see from above into the cenote and the whole is covered with hanging trees and plants around it. It looks very beautiful! Swimming is also allowed in this cenote.
Good to know
Colectivo from Chichén Itzá to Cenote Ik Il: 10 mins (20 Mxn) Cenote Ik Il to Valladolid: 30 mins (30 Mxn). Wait for a colectivo on the road in front of the entrance Entrance fee: 80 Mxn Opening hours: daily from 9:00am till 5:00pm