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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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:
- Chichen Itza Sunrise Tour Avoid the crowd and enjoy a quiet golden sunrise over the ruins
- Chichen Itza Night Light and Sound Show + Swim at Cenote Ik Kil Watch project mapping show on the magnificent pyramid at night
- Chichen Itza, Xcaret, and Xel-Ha 3 in 1 Package A three-day package that covers the coolest activities in the Yucatan region.
Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Tour Pros Versus Cons
How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun by private guide
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:
- Chichén Itzá All-Inclusive with Hubiku Cenote & Valladolid
- Chichen Itza, Coba and Ik-Kil Cenote: Private Tour
- Chichen Itza, Coba and Tulum Private Tour with Lunch
Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun by Private Guide Pros Versus Cons
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine.
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Read up on the best advice: Love a good old fashion guide book. Suggested reading: Lonely Planet: Cancun, Cozumel & Yucatan.
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