Your Must Read Mini-Guide to Hotels, Tours and Activities for the Ancient City of the Maya
Wanting to experience the Chichén Itzá Mayan ruins? In this mini guide I share the best insider info to the ruins including history, location, map, Chichén Itzá tours, hotels, tips and what to see.
You have lots of ruins to explore, therefore it is very important to know in advance what to see and NOT to miss. Being there myself, I can recommend to you what to visit and provide you with a map you can print out to visualize the area.
This Chichén Itzá map will give you the knowledge on what to request when booking a tour or will help you decide how to use your time wisely if planning to tour the ruins yourself!
Main Points of Interest – Chichén Itzá Map
Following in this order can help your visit:
Start with the castle or the Chichén Itzá Pyramid which was the place of worship of Quetzalcoatl.
El Cenote Sagrado is the Sacred Well where many sacrifices took place. It looks like any other cenote but what is impressive is the history behind it.
The Ball Court where the the infamous ball games took place. At the east end of the court you can climb to find the Temple of the Jaguars.
The temple of the warriors is a pyramid carved with Toltec warriors on its 200 square columns that border the south and west sides of the temple.
On the columns, Mayan artisans were forced to create depictions of the Toltec victory at Chichén Itzá by their Toltec capturers.
Head north to the Observatory or El Caracol, the Spanish name for snail. This is a round building located at the south side of the castle where the great Mayan astronomers observed the skies.
Continue to the Nunnery or house of the nuns, how Spaniards called it after it reminded them of the convents in Spain. At this point you can make your way to the Museum and be close to the entrance of the site.
Chichén Itzá Hotels and Bed and Breakfasts
There are many possibilities to start with. Staying close to the beach and simply taking one day to travel to the ruins worked well for us. We were able to visit several ruins and enjoy the beach in between days.
I also like Chichen Itza hotels and bed and breakfasts because they are economical and mix with the local culture.
That is a true experience. They may not have all the amenities that an all inclusive may have but they are no short of character and friendly atmosphere. I find these hotels extremely welcoming to foreign visitors.
For budget conscious travelers, here is a list of excellent Chichén Itzá hotels with reviews, prices and distance from the hotel to the ruins. Do your research to Compare Chichén Itzá hotels, find the best deal, and read what other travelers have to say.
Even though all inclusive resorts can make travelers’ life easy and affordable, a more adventurous option is to go for a rental villa or private home which let you experience the real feel of being in Mexico like a resident.
Rentals in the Yucatan Peninsula – Close to the Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins
Feeling really adventurous? Imagining yourself by the pool sipping a Margarita? Then don’t think twice and rent a home in the Yucatan peninsula, close to Chichén.
These are no simple homes, instead they are beautifully built and decorated places. Many with more bathrooms than you can use.
The majority are on the beach, which makes them excellent locations for ruins hopping and relaxation.
The best homes are in the northern and eastern portion of the peninsula. Rentals close to El Cuyo, Telchac, Progreso, Valladolid, and Playa del Carmen on the East side are good choices because you can also access Tulum south of Playa del Carmen, zibilchaltun close to Merida, Ek Balam close to Valladolid, the Coba ruins in Quintana Roo and the Chacchoben Mayan ruins south of Quintana Roo.
Chichén Itzá rentals
Here is a list of rentals if you are interested in vacationing in your own villa! Compare prices, see location and read what other travelers thought of their Chichén Itzá rentals so you can make the right choice!
Chichén Itzá Tours
If you decide to book one of the many Chichen Itza tours be aware of the variety of prices.
Most tours of the Chichén Itzá Mayan ruins booked through your all-inclusive resort cost more than $80 per person and include transportation, lunch and a guide in the most common foreign languages. The transportation is comfortable and air conditioned.
Cosmos Tours. Well planned, comfortable transportation and educational.The Chichén Itzá tours take you through a different road, the one that has tolls and it is express, making the trip a very different experience.
You can also book a Chichén Itzá tour by going to 5th Ave in Playa del Carmen, through one of the friendly Mexicans that stop you to offer their tours or through kiosks located there. These tours are less expensive and often include visiting Valladolid or other places of interest.
Make sure you visit these forums and see reviews about different Chichén Itzá tours to find the best one that suits your needs.
Other Tours You Should Know About
Remember this is a vacation and it can be also relaxing. Looking to do more than just exploring ruins? Here is a list of other tours that offer different activities. They are top quality without hurting your budget!
Selvatica Canopy Expeditions and Adventure Tour. A perfect canopy adventure.
Rancho Baaxal.The Best horse back riding in Playa del Carmen.
Casa del Buceo. Best scuba diving in Isla Mujeres, close to Cancun.
Jungle Spa. Wanting to pamper yourself? Take a massage in an incredible setting!
Tips to See The Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins
Rent a Car and Be Adventurous
Think about staying at Playa del Carmen or other small towns like Valladolid, Merida, etc., to avoid Cancun completely. It all depends on your desire to enjoy the beaches and the ruins.
Trips from Playa del Carmen to the ruins take about 3 1/2 hours using the Carretera Libre or without tolls, and less time using the Caretera Cuota or the one with tolls as you can go a bit faster. You will pass two toll booths on the way to the ruins using the Carretera Cuota.
Ask at the Service Desk of Your hotel for Detailed Instructions
On how to get there using the carretera Libre.
That is exactly what we did, although it took us more time to get there than expected we had the opportunity to soak in the culture.
Fueling off the Beaten Path
Remember to fuel early along the road because finding gas stations is difficult. Make sure you don’t comeback very late at night when gas stations maybe closed.
Eating Like the Locals
Along side the Carretera Libre you can find many food stands or puestos de comida which are homes on the side of the road where women prepare food for people in town and where locals go for a good meal. That is what we did and we loved it!
Beware of Vendors at the Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins
They can be pretty relentless. They will try to offer you anything under the sun. Be mindfull and polite. Understand their situation and be flexible. The ruins are worth visiting!
We ate breakfast at our resort and stopped alongside the Carretera Libre to eat the typical tortillas stuffed with pork and onions served with rice and beans.
You can see the women preparing them on the pan over the fire. Be prepared to eat along side locals even at the same table if space is limited.
History Behind the Chichén Itzá Mayan Ruins
Here I have compiled a small version of the wonders this Mayan ruins can offer. The Ancient City of the Maya is simply one of the new 7 wonders of the world.
I have the old habit of reading before going on a trip. I just don’t want to miss anything, and before I land at my destination I pretty much have a good idea of what I am going to see. Going to the Chichén Itzá Mayan ruins was no different and it made a huge difference.
Pictures by Marcela Hede