In 2014, Joana and I spent a wonderful week in Mexico and, even though we didn’t have time to see everything we wanted to see, we couldn’t miss visiting Chichén Itzá!
Some 200km from Cancun, Chichén Itzá is one of the largest archaeological sites from pre-Colombian times and is garnished as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988. The ruins of an ancient Mayan city, Chichén Itzá is also one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. And even though its most famous landmark is the Kukultan Pyramid, there is a lot more to see in Chichén Itzá! Below, check out our suggestions for what you can’t miss and the best way to visit one of the most fascinating places in the world:
WHAT TO VISIT
It’s true, there is more to see in Chichén Itzá beyond the Kukulkán Pyramid! These are the most photographed ruins of the archaeological site and they’re undoubtedly one of the most impressive, but Chichén Itzá is huge! It can take you more than 3 hours to see it all but, if you don’t have all that time, don’t miss:
- The Grand Ball Court: This is where one of the most traditional Mayan games was played. There are other fields throughout the site but this is the best preserved one.
- Sacred Cenote: You won’t really want to swim around in this cenote (the color of the water isn’t the most inviting…) but this cenote is one of the most interesting ones in Chichén Itzá. Archaeologists believe this is where human sacrifices were made.
- Temple of the Warriors: Decorated with wooden carvings and sculptures of animal deities, this is one of Chichén Itzá’s most fascinating temples.
- The Plaza of a Thousand Columns: Right in front of the temple, you can find this square which is thought to have originally been a building covered with a wooden roof. Its sheer size is impressive!
- Las Monjas: With its maze of rooms and halls, this building was interpreted by the Spanish conquistadores as a convent even though it was originally a Mayan palace. Today, it is one of the most impressive ruins in Chichén Itzá which can be, partially, visited inside.
WHEN TO VISIT
More than 1 million people visit Chichén Itzá every year. So, it’s not difficult to imagine how the entire site (though huge) can be filled with tourists and guided tour groups. To avoid the crowds, you can either wake up early and arrive at the site at opening time or opt to visit in the afternoon from 3pm onwards. These are also the best times to visit in order to avoid the hottest hours of the day and visit the site with time!
WHAT TO BRING
You’ll be walking a lot, so it’s important to dress comfortably! Appropriate shoes (you can often come across loose pebbles and twigs on the trails) and light clothing are essential. Don’t forget your hat, sunscreen and plenty of water to protect yourselves from the sun and heat. Some snacks to avoid having to purchasing them onsite can also be a good idea!
DON´T FORGET YOUR CAMERA!
Of course: a camera here is a must! Don’t forget extra batteries and SD cards so you’ll be able to take photos to your heart’s content. Chichén Itzá is filled with magical places that you’ll want to photograph to later remember.
VENDORS, VENDORS, VENDORS
Even in a protected area like Chichén Itzá, you’ll find vendors trying to sell you something. The most common will be small souvenir shops where you’ll be able to find everything from t-shirts to miniature sculptures and shot glasses. Everything here is more expensive though, so avoid shopping around if you can.
Chichén Itzá is open every day from 8am until 5pm. Tickets are $232 MXN (around €11) per person.
honeymooners, Chichén Itzá 07/2014