Exploring the Ancient Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza

Chicen Itza Day Trip from Cancun

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

Mayan house made of mud in Chichen Itza

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

Temple Kukulcan in Chichen Itza in Mexico

One side of the temple showing the condition before the restoration.

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.

Temple of Kukulcan at Chichen Itza

The North, fully restored side of the temple.

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

TOUR PROS

  • 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.

TOUR CONS

  • 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.

Author: Danielle Desir

Danielle Desir is a Travel Finance Strategist that uses her financial background and knack for financial planning to empower those who want to travel afford travel and excel in their personal finances. She shares creative planning strategies, saving tips, cheap flight deals and even talks about her student loan repayment journey on her blog, The Thought Card. Her financial expertise has taken her across the globe to over 21 countries and 3 continents (and counting), all while paying off her student loans, saving for a house, owning a home, and working full-time.

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A day trip exploring the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza on Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula.