On our second day in Cancun, we decided to already tick something off our Bucket List and visit Chichen Itza, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Chichen Itza is one of the new seven wonders of the world and, while it isn’t on my top ten list of places we have seen in these nine months travelling, its history and all the mystery behind its construction is so interesting that makes it a must-see if you are in the Yucatan.
The downsides of this place? It is probably the most overcrowded place we have visited during our trip, there are a lot of vendors who wait for you when you get off the bus and follow you around for the entire duration of the tour and due to the huge amount of people visiting every day, it is not possible to climb the temples and the other structures, unlike other Mayan archaeological sites, in an effort to preserve the place.
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We paid $80 for an organised tour that included transportation, meals, entrance to the Ik Kil cenote and entrance to Chichen Itza with a guide.
Although I usually prefer visiting places myself and it is possible to visit Chichen Itza on your own and on a budget, the Ik Kil cenote is one of my favourite cenotes, with very clear water and a trampoline, and it is not possible to visit it without an organised tour, so this might be the only reason to take one.
Like I said above, Chichen Itza is one of the new seven wonders of the world thanks to its Kukulkan Pyramid, also known as El Castillo. This pyramid, is exactly 24 m. high considering the upper platform. If you visit this place around the spring and autumn equinoxes, the sunlight hitting the corners of the pyramid in the afternoon casts a series of shadows on it, making it look as if a snake was descending down the Castillo. And as a matter of fact, Kukulkan means Plumed Snake – a deity found in many Mesoamerican religions.
In addition to the Kukulkan Pyramid, there many other archaeological sites to visit to discover Mayan Culture.
The Sacred Cenote is located in the northern part of Chichen Itza. It is believed that pre-Columbian Mayans sacrificed objects and even human beings into this cenote to worship to the Maya rain god Chaac.
Other interesting structures include El Caracol, or the Observatory, and the Temple of the Warriors, an incredible structures comprising of four different platforms, with columns, patios and halls. On the top of the building, which you can no longer climb to preserve the place, there is a statue of Chac Mool, who was believed to be the messenger of the Gods.
Juego de Pelota is a giant courtyard where they used to play a ball game. In fact, there are 13 Juegos de Pelota in Chichen Itza, but the biggest one is really worth seeing and learning about: unlike the other fields, this one is was also used for ceremonies and sacrifices.
Ik Kil is another cenote you can visit during your trip, but only as part of a tour, and like I said above, it is one of the pretties cenotes I have seen, although a bit overcrowded.
Visiting Chichen Itza on a Budget
If you are trying to stay on a budget, visiting Chichen Itza on your own is the best option and, being it such a popular destination, you won’t struggle to get there or find information about it online.
From Cancun, there are several buses daily that take between three and four hours and cost between 130 and 250 pesos. The main company serving this route is ADO, with a bus leaving at 8:45 a.m. and a return bus departing at 4:30 p.m. for less than 200 pesos. If you plan to get there from Valladolid, instead, the bus journey will cost you only about 30 pesos and it will take you one hour to get there. There are a few buses that go there every day, but the best option is to go there as early as you can, to avoid the big groups of tourists that go there with an organised tour.
The town where Chichen Itza is located is called Piste. Entrance to Chichen Itza is 220 pesos or around 750 pesos with a guide. The history about this site and its construction is fascinating, however, if you want to save money, you will easily find a lot of information online.
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