Chichen Itza: Exploring the Newest Wonder Of The World
If you are looking for a fun-filled weekend down south, the Maya ruins of Chichen Itza- the newest wonder of the world- should definitely be on your bucket list. This awe-inspiring historical treasure is among the most visited archaeological sites in Central America. It is now fondly referred to as the crown jewel of the Yucatan Peninsula; the embodiment of the ancient Maya culture. You will be awed by the ruins’ priceless trove of architectural marvels as you immerse yourself into the rich and mysterious history of Chichen Itza.
Driving to Chichen Itza for a Day Trip
Chichen Itza is easily accessible from Playa Del Carmen by taxi or shared minibusses, but it is safer to rent a car instead, especially due to the pandemic. Driving yourself also gives you the freedom to explore a little off the beaten path around the larger Riviera Maya. Besides, the drive is only about 2-3 hours.
Before you embark on your road trip there are two really important things to know first. First, Piste is the closest town to Chichen Itza and its restaurants aren’t exactly touristy-worthy. It is advisable that you have a lunch plan of your own. And secondly, you will need an international driving permit to be allowed to drive in Mexico. You can get an IDP at Mexico ANA or Mexico AMA, the two main mobility authorities in the country. To qualify for the permit, the car you rent has to be legally registered and you must produce proof that you are legally qualified as a driver back home.
Things to Know Before You Visit Chichen Itza
When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza?
In regards to weather, Chichen Itza experiences the most favorable weather from November through March. The downside of this season is that December and January’s months are mostly packed with tourists. June through October is mostly wet and cold while summer months can be extremely hot. Weekends attract the biggest crowds, mainly because Mexicans get free entry on Sundays, so it is best to plan your trip on a weekday.
At what time does Chichen Itza open?
Chichen Itza opens at 8 am and closes at 5 pm.
What to bring to Chichen Itza?
Many tourists bring packed lunches. That’s advisable but not encouraging. Bring a swimsuit and a towel too if you are in the mood for snorkeling in one of the two Chichen Itza cenotes. And because the ruins are pretty vast, it is best that you wear comfortable shoes. You don’t have to carry drinking water because local vendors sell almost all drinks at normal prices.
Where to eat?
You can try local delicacies such as sopa de lima (lime soup) or pollo yucateco (Yucatecan chicken) at one of the small cafes at the end of the strip.
Chichen Itza Tour during COVID-19
The better alternative to renting a car when visiting the Chichen Itza is booking an organized tour. Be sure to book ahead in order to get the best value for money. We have implemented air-tight COVID-19 safety protocols which include:
- i) Health check for tour guides:
Tour guides with symptoms of acute respiratory infections are required to stay at home until their body temperature normalizes while non-essential staff members continue to work from home. Most importantly, all guides are provided with the hygiene equipment needed to protect themselves and the clients. They are equipped with, among others, medical-grade masks, latex and nitrile gloves, atomizers, and antibacterial gel with 70% alcohol.
- ii) Health check for travelers:
- Tourists with a temperature reading above 38 °C are respectfully asked not to board the tour van and instead see a doctor.
- Each person is provided with disposable face masks, disinfecting towels, and disposable tissues. 70% antibacterial gel is kept within reach for everyone on board.
- Informative posters reiterating on the COVID-19 hygiene procedures are placed around all units. Guides are instructed to ensure that everyone adheres to laid down safety measures.
- There are marks in every unit that help people to maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters. Only members of the same family are allowed to break the social distancing protocol.
- Visitors are discouraged from touching souvenirs they don’t intend to buy.
- All tour equipment, e.g. snorkel tubes and life jackets, are thoroughly disinfected and cleaned before and after each use.
You can know more about our Healthy Measure because of Covid-19 here.
What to Do and See at Chichen Itza?
You cannot miss El Castillo – the biggest pyramid in Chichen Itza. It is estimated to have been built more than 10 centuries ago by the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. The Great Ballcourt is another key highlight of the Itza. It is the largest ballcourt in Mesoamerica. Stories are told of how players were sacrificed at the Temple of the Warriors for losing in the ball court. If you love architectural marvels, the Temple of the Warriors is a must-see. It is hands down the most incredible piece of ancient architecture you will ever see. It is also a great place to shop for souvenirs.
Other sights to see here include:
- Gran Juego de Pelota
- Akab Dzib
- El Caracol
- Plataforma de Venus
Before leaving Chichen Itza, it is worth checking out the Sound and Light show that takes place in the evening at the Chichen Itza archaeological zone. During the show, the ruins are illuminated in colored, constantly changing ethereal lights. The main show brings to life the Mayan religion and history. Pictures are projected on the Pyramid of Kukulkan as their history is narrated in Spanish.
And Finally: Explore a Little Beyond Chichen
After you are done exploring Chichen Itza, check out neighboring sites such as the Balankanche Caves, Cenote Suytun. Or experience authentic local culture at Tsukan.
You can visit Chichen Itza in our incredible Chichen Itza Tour
Written by: Vince Rubin [email protected]