Chichén Itzá

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Chichen Itza: Top 5 facts

Supposedly the great mythical city in Mesoamerican literature, this Mayan city stands today as one of the most popular archeological sites in Mexico. Read on for more on Chichen Itza history and Chichen Itza facts.

  • Origins: El Castillo & Kukulcan

    1. Origins: El Castillo & Kukulcan

    Archeologists believe the main monument, El Castillo, was dedicated to Kukulcan, the Mayan snake god, and was built between the 9th and 12th centuries A.D.

  • The Meaning Behind the Name

    2. The Meaning Behind the Name

    Chichen Itza translates to “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.” The Itza were a sea-warding subset of Mayan people.

  • Why was it built there?

    3. Why was it built there?

    It is likely that the city was built in this location on the Yucatan Peninsula because of two large natural “cenote” nearby that would have provided water to the population.

  • The Mayan Calendar

    4. The Mayan Calendar

    The total number of steps on the pyramid El Castillo, including the temple platform at the top, is 364—the total number of days in the Mayan calendar.

  • Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    5. Take Me Out to the Ballgame

    The Mayans were great athletes. Archeologists have found 13 ball courts for their Mesoamerican game; the best preserved and largest lies on this site just northwest of El Castillo.

Planning Your Visit

  • Chichen Itza Weather: How to pack & What to Wear

    Nothing is worse than setting out for a big day of exploration and getting hit with a spell of dehydration. Prepare ahead and bring lots of water, it cannot be overstated how hot this place can get. Bring a sturdy set of shoes and a hat or umbrella for sun. Bug spray is a must, especially in the rainy season when mosquitoes are running amok.

  • Rent A Car or Hire a Defensive Driver

    If you decide to rent a car, make sure to purchase a map and have a friend in the passenger’s seat navigating on the way to Chichen Itza. Be careful—some of the road is rocky or in disrepair. Be sure to keep your gas tank full, because there aren’t many gas stations along the toll highway. For a day trip from Cancun, the drive will take a little more than two hours.

  • Take a Dip in the Cenote for a Quick Cool off

    Stop at Ik Kil to go swimming in this ancient water source, a popular spot open to the public.

Good to know

  • When should I visit?
    Open daily, 8:00AM to 5:00PM, year-round.
  • Is it expensive?
    Adult tickets start at 64 MXV (about $4) and continue upwards with tours, packages and other perks available.
  • Will I need a guide?
    With so much history to learn about, a guide is a great idea.
  • How to get there
    You can rent a car (parking is 10 pesos), take public transportation, or take a tour from Cancun or Cozumel.
  • Additional information

    • Try to arrive in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the sun is hottest at midday.

    • A light and sound show is put on each evening, and times vary by season, so plan to stay late if you can!

What people are saying about Chichén Itzá

Overall rating

4.3 / 5

based on 2,418 reviews

They were late picking us up. I sent an email but did not receive an answer. We asked the concierge at the hotel to call and they said there were running late due an accident in the road. When I made my reservation I specifically noted that we were vegans. Breakfast time came and they handed a turkey sandwich. The guide said that he did not receive any specific request regarding the vegan food and that I needed to contact the provider so they could buy us food. After chatting in the van with costumer service and proving proof of my request, we pulled over into a gas station and were able to get apples, peanuts and juice. In Coba, they notified us that we could no longer climb the building. We were ok with that but I’m sure this could be frustrating to many others. The sites in Coba, Chichen Itzka and Ik Kil are amazing and worth the long drive. Our guides Francisco and Adrian did everything to make us happy and fix our food issue. Overall it was a good experience.

The tour is listed as 5 hours (half day) from Cancun. However, it was 10.5 hours in total duration. A little misleading. Overall the tour was great. We had Ruth and Cecilio as our tour guides. They were amazing and I would definitely do this again.

It is THE thing to do : you learn so much on maya’s history, you swim in an unbelievable fresh water, you discover a real maya’s community,.. Guides were at the top level too, good thanks for this amazing day !

It was almost 6-8 hours of driving depending on where your hotel is so if you don't like riding in buses I'd skip this one. I get motion sickness so that was a bit rough on me, but nothing to do with the tour.

The guides were knowledgeable, friendly and passionate about the information they were sharing. Our time was well managed and we able to enjoy the day without any worries.