Although I enjoyed relaxing on the beautiful beaches in Cancun, a day trip to the Chichen Itza was one of the most culturally enriching experiences I had during my short trip to Mexico. Chichen Itza is one of the largest Mayan cities in the Yucatán Peninsula and it’s only 2 hours away from Cancun. Named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, here’s why you should add visiting these ruins to your Mexico bucket list.
The Maya People
The ancient Maya people were an indigenous society predating colonization. They lived in modern-day Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and many parts of Mexico. Today, there are 6 million Maya people who continue to speak the native dialects, practice the ancient rituals and harvest the land.
The Maya House
Our first stop at Chichen Itza was a traditional Mayan house made of clay and mud. The huts had one big room that was shared by the entire family. Commoners lived in these small huts outside of the city while the nobles and kings lived in large stone palaces inside the city.
Temple of Kukulcan
The Temple of Kukulcan is a massive pyramid in the city center. It was built on top of an older temple and has four stairways leading to the top. At the base of the temple are two snake heads that symbolize the life force and rebirth. The Mayans were excellent time keepers and the temple is an important part of the Mayan calendar. Each side of the pyramid has 91 steps which sums to 365 (including the platform), one step for each day of the year.
In addition to being mathematicians and astronomers, the Mayas built the Kukulcan Temple with acoustics in mind. If you clap your hands in front of the Temple of Kukulcan, you’ll hear a chirped echo. It sounds very similar to the chirping of their sacred bird, the quetzal. “Mayan priests facing a crowd of commoners at Kukulcan would clap and the pyramid would then “answer” in the voice of the quetzal, the messenger of the Gods.”
Serpents, feathers and skulls were recurring themes throughout Chichen Itza. I found it really interesting that the Mayans honored their dead with illustrations of skulls just like many Mexicans do till this day. Chichen Itza is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and I would highly recommend spending the day exploring this archaeological site.
For other fantastic day trips, visit Rio Lagartos and Las Coloradas located 4 hours away from Cancun, Mexico.
Day Trip Details
- Chichen Itza Tour: $33.90 USD per person
- Admission to Chichen Itza: $20 USD (cash only) per person
- Roundtrip transportation.
- Access to Chichen Itza via private entrance.
- A bottle of water.
- Lunch buffet included (drinks separate). *Bonus not advertised by Viator.
- Access to Mayaland Resorts swimming pool and facilities.
- Two hours to roam around the city.
- Have to contact local service provider to confirm booking and pickup times.
- Viator Hospitality Suite advertised by Viator was not open.
- It was very difficult to understand our tour guide, he did not speak english very well. *Bonus not advertised by Viator.
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Danielle is a travel finance strategist, author, speaker and podcaster. She paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27 and has traveled to 26 countries. She refuses to let her financial responsibilities hold her back from living life on her own terms.