How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun + Tips to Know before Visiting

by Viola
How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun + Tips to Know before Visiting

Chichen Itza, the most significant archeological remnant of the Mayans, is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. This site is a must see when in Yucatán, Mexico, for learning about Mayan history, and you know, for bragging rights. There are several ways to access this iconic landmark. In this guide, we will talk about how to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun via 4 different methods.

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Watch my video for awesome things to do in Yucatan Mexico 


How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by tour

The easiest way is to join an organized group tour. All it takes is a booking and you can sit on your bum and wait for your pick up in the morning. There are many Chichen Itza tours from Cancun. Often, the tours combine Chichen Itza with visiting nearby cenotes and/or the cute colonial town of Valladolid.
For those looking for something beyond the classic route, check out these unique tour Options:


Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Tour Pros Versus Cons

Pros Cons
  • Hassle free. No planning required
  • Buffet lunch is included on most tours
  • No freedom to control how long you can stay at each place
  • Visiting with other tourists at the busiest times



How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by private guide

Chichen Itza

Hiring a private guide bridges the gap between a group tour and a private experience. Convenience and freedom, yes you can have both! This is especially a good option if you are traveling in a group such as friends or family and can split the cost. Let your guide know how long you want to stay at each location and more than likely, they can adjust the schedule according to your requests.
Here are some private day tour guides from Cancun:

Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Private Guide Pros Versus Cons

Pros Cons
  • No planning required
  • Can have some flexibility in the day’s schedule
  • A more intimate experience than a group tour
  • Expensive if you are only one or two people


How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by car

Now for travelers who would like to have absolute control over the day, renting your own car is a good option. There are many car rental companies in Mexico, including Hertz and Thrifty. The rental fee starts quite low. However, once you’ve factored in insurance, the cost can easily double. Driving from Cancun to Chichen Itza is about two hours. The road is nice and flat along the way so it is quite a smooth drive. There is no need to worry about getting lost as there are many signage. You can pay 30 pesos ($2 USD) to park in the lot in front of the Chichen Itza entrance, which is not expensive at all.

For tips on renting a car in Mexico, make sure to read this guide on Tripsavvy here.

Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Car Pros Versus Cons

Pros Cons
  • Can plan your day however you please. Full control!
  • Save the costs of hiring a driver
  • Car rental costs
  • Must plan everything yourself
  • You are on your own for troubleshooting if problems occur during the day (especially hard if there’s a language barrier)




How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by Bus

By far the cheapest way to visit Chichen Itza from Cancun is by taking a bus. The ADO bus to Chichen Itza departs from the ADO station every morning at 8:45 A.M. and returns at 4:30 P.M. You can check for the tickets online on the ADO website here. (Input Cancun under “Dónde sales”, Chichen Itza under “Dónde vas” and your desired travel date under “Cuándo”) The ticket price are quoted in Mexican pesos and can vary from 170 pesos to 325 pesos depending on the date. You can also buy ticket at the station on the day of. (However, this comes with a risk of tickets being sold out) The ride takes a little bit over 3 hours, with a 15 minutes break stop at Valladolid. Overall, the bus is basic but comfortable enough. For budget conscious travelers, traveling to Chichen Itza by bus is the best way to save money.

Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Bus Pros Versus Cons

Pros Cons
  • Cheap cheap cheap!
  • Must follow the very rigid bus schedule. If you miss the only departure time for Cancun on the way back, you are in trouble.
  • You are absolutely on your own for all the planning
  • The bus can be unreliable and late sometimes



Basic Chichen Itza Information

Opening hours: 8 AM- 5 PM (7 days a week)
Admission fee: 254 pesos for foreigners
Guide for hire at the entrance: 1000 pesos for 2 hours


Things you need to know before visiting Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Kulkukan Pyramid

Don’t go on Sundays

For Mexican nationals, it is free to visit Chichen Itza on Sundays. Which means, it is extra crowded on this day. For visiting Chichen Itza at its least crowded, try weekday mornings when the site just opened. At 8 A.M, you will get the best shot for the ‘Gram, with likely no one in your photo and lighting that is still soft and dreamy.
To arrive at Chichen Itza early, you have to either join a sunrise tour, drive yourself (leaving at 6 AM the latest), or stay near Chichen Itza the night before.



Prep for success

The site ground at Chichen Itza can be dusty and bumpy. Make sure to have sturdy footwear as you will be walking around a lot. I wore my Ipanema sandals and it served me very well. I always recommend these sandals as they are comfortable, chic and easy to clean. Other things to bring are sunscreen, lots of water, and snacks. (Food on site are more expensive as expected with touristy places)


See Valladolid on the way

church in Valladolid

Whether you are taking the bus or driving yourself, don’t miss Valladolid on the way to Chichen Itza from Cancun. The beautiful colonial-era churches and architectures are worth a stop. If you have lots of time, you can even consider staying in Valladolid for one night.

Read: Top Things to do in Valladolid Mexico


Leave your tripod at home

Solo travellers, I have bad news for you. Tripods are not allowed at Chichen Itza. If you brought yours, you will be asked to leave it at the office prior to entering the historic site. I didn’t know that so I made this mistake 🙁 . And drone photographers? Don’t even think about it.


Hiring a guide at the entrance

If you are traveling independently, you can still hire a guide at the site entrance. It cost 1000 pesos for 2 hours. Ideally, you can split this cost with your travel buddy (ies). For solo flyers, it is a bit expensive, unfortunately. However, the guides are extremely knowledgeable and do a wonderful job of explaining the history of the Mayans. So consider it worth it. Alternatively, you can read up all about Chichen Itza online yourself. I was completely captivated by the mysterious stories, especially those of the main attraction, the Kulkukan Pyramid. I shared a couple of my favorite Chichen Itza secrets on Instagram here.


Visit Cenote Ik Kil nearby

cenote ik kil

Bring your swimsuit on the day and visit Cenote Ik Kil. Only an 8 minutes drive away from Chichen Itza, this is one of the coolest cenotes in the Yucatan. You can see fairytale-like vines that droop down from the ground opening, leading your eyes to the deep swimming hole underneath. Enjoy a swim here and cool down after a long hot day. From Chichen Itza, you can take the bus heading to Valladolid for 20 pesos and get dropped off at the Ik Kil entrance. Otherwise, calling a taxi will set you back 80-100 pesos. Not a bad price at all.


Check out Chichen Itza at night

If you enjoy projection mapping shows, consider staying for Chichen Itza’s night time spectacle at 7 pm. You would have to get out of the park at the 5 pm closing and purchase a separate ticket. It cost 245 pesos and the experience is guaranteed to be amazing. Check out this blog post for some fantastic photos of the Chichen Itza Light and Sound show.


Going to Mexico soon? Plan your trip in 4 easy steps

Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine. 
Find A Hotel: Score affordable accommodation on Booking.comReceive $16 off your first booking with my link here
Buy insurance: You never know what may happen on the road. Protect your trip & gear with World Nomad, the best travel insurance company ever. Get a quote here.

Read up on the best advice: Love a good old fashion guide book. Suggested reading: Lonely Planet: Cancun, Cozumel & Yucatan.


Bon voyage!




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How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun + Tips to Know before Visiting








Pssst, looking for more information about Mexico? Check out these posts:

Cancun on a budget: How to enjoy paradise for cheap

The Perfect Isla Mujeres Day Trip Itinerary

The Xcaret Experience: What to know about visiting this eco theme park in Mexico

9 Stunning Day Trips from Cancun Mexico


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Arunima Dey February 9, 2019 - 4:22 am

I am visiting soon!! I will probably take the bus as I am cheap lol and I speak fairly ok Spanish. But would look up the tours as well, missing the bus back scares me . Thanks for putting up the Pros/Cons list!

Emma Grace February 9, 2019 - 4:51 pm

I love getting a few places done on the same day, Cenote Ik Kil looks amazing! Fab post, lots of useful information. I’ll be saving it for when I finally make it to Mexico!

Meredith February 9, 2019 - 5:00 pm

Great post! I’ve been to Mexico many times but somehow never made it here, and I’m dying to visit. So much helpful information here, and your photos are beautiful. Thank you for sharing!
The Longest Weekend

Brooke February 10, 2019 - 3:04 am

Love your useful tips on nearby attractions to hit along the way! Hopefully I’ll get to Mexico one day.

Planning a trip to Mexico? This is EVERYTHING you need to know – A Travellers Footsteps September 27, 2020 - 5:39 am

[…] Found in the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Chichen Itza is a popular and impressive Mayan ruin. Here are some tips of visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun. […]


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