Chichen Itza: Adventure, Mysticism and History

Chichen Itza is perhaps one of the most important tourist destinations in the Yucatan Peninsula. Thousands of tourists flock daily to admire the ancient structures built in the jungle by the ancient Maya.

The name Chichen Itza is a Mayan term that means: Well of the water warlocks.  The great structures, the dimensions of the city and excellent state of preservation have made it one of the Modern Wonders of the World.

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Chichen Itza: A Little History

Only a few know that Chichen Itza is the result of mixing two cultures that occurred hundreds of years before the arrival of the Spaniards. A mixture that would change the architectural style of the Peninsula and the subsequent constructions in the area of ​​Chichen Itza.

In Chichen Itza there are two distinct sections:

The Old Chichen Itza: This section of the archaeological zone was developed between the ages of 600- 900, and it is characterized by the use of smooth walls and decorated friezes on top of the buildings. Some examples of this ancient architecture are: the Temple of the Nuns, the Convent, the Temple of the panels, the Akab Dzib and Chichan-Chob.

The New Chichen Itza: The gradual migration of the Toltec culture of the central plateau to the Peninsula meant the restoration of the traditional artistic style of the Mayan people. As a result we have a new style emerging after the year 1000 that can be seen in buildings such as: El Caracol, the Pyramid of Quetzalcoatl and the complex surrounding it; the Great Ball Court, the Wall of Skulls, the Temple of the Jaguar and the House of the Eagles. The most obvious influence of the Toltecs is the image of the feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl or Kukulcan, represented in columns and structures with enormous heads of reptiles.

Chichen Itza: The equinox and the feathered serpent

If you visit Chichen Itza during the spring and autumn equinox you will be apart of a life changing experience. The greatness of the Maya mathematicians and astronomers left an amazing legacy, the descent of the feathered serpent Kukulkan through the steps of the pyramid, marking the arrival of the new season.

The snake is formed by the shadows of the corners of the building down the side of the stairs in a show that takes about 5 hours and at its highest point shows the silhouette of Kukulkan, the feathered serpent. The silhouette snake covers about 34 meters long and reaches the snakehead located at the base of the stairs; completing this beautiful phenomenon.

Chichen Itza: How to get there?


You can hire a guided tour through a travel agency tour, these tours are very comfortable as they pick you up from your hotel and they take care of everything for you. They often include food and beverages, be sure to have all the information and compare prices.

Some popular options out of the Riviera Maya are:


Best Day

Public Transportation:

From Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum you can visit the local terminal ADO bus company and ask for rates and schedules to Chichen Itza. It is also possible to check this information on their website.

Cancun Playa del Carmen Playa del Carmen Alterna Tulum
On the corner of Ave. Tulum and Uxmal

Cancun, Q. Roo 77500

20 Av. Norte between Calle 12 and 12 BIS

Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo

On the corner of 5th Ave. and Juarez

Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo

Ave. Tulum between Calle Júpiter Norte and Alfa Norte

Tulum, Quintana Roo

Travel Time: 3 ½ – 4 hours

Cost: 258 pesos

Travel Time: 3 hours

Cost: 348 pesos

Travel Time: 3 hours

Cost: 348 pesos

Travel Time: 2 ½ hours

Cost: 190 pesos

* Rates February 2015.


If you prefer flexibility and adventure, a car rental will probably reduce the cost if you are traveling with your friends and family.

From Cancun, take the 180 highway road towards the town of Piste, which is two kilometers from the archaeological site.

From Playa del Carmen, get to the Federal highway 307 and then turn in the Luis Donaldo Colosio road towards the jungle, then follow the signs to Merida and get off in the Piste exit.

Or you can also drive south to Tulum and take the road connecting Tulum to Coba highway 109 and then take the 180 to Exit Piste, Yucatan.

Chichen Itza: What to do?

  • If you have the time plan a two days visit to Chichen Itza, this will allow you to enjoy every corner of the archeological site, enjoy the night light show and visit the nearby town.
  • A good place to find accommodations is the colonial city of Valladolid, Yucatan. This quaint town is over 500 years old, and has a wide array of places to stay according to your budget from hostels, to quaint B & B’s to beautiful exclusive hotels.
  • Attend the night show, a show that lets you enjoy the mystery and greatness of the Mayan Culture through lights and sounds.
  • Hire a guide, your experience will improve exponentially. The cost may seem a bit high, but you will learn a lot more about the ancient Maya culture and legacy. It is well worth it.

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Chichen Itza: Recommendations

  • Please bring a backpack with bottled water, a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, camera and a pair of comfortable shoes.
  • It’s a good idea to bring sports drinks like Gatorade, in case you get affected by the heat. Temperatures can reach 100 during the summer, and there is no places to buy water or drinks once you get into the archeological area.
  • Try to arrive early in the morning or afternoon to avoid the heat: Visiting hours are from 8:00am to 5:00pm.
  • If you have enough time, it is best to walk Chichen Itza in chronological order. First visit the old area of Chichen Itza, then the astronomical observatory and leave the new area such as El Castillo, the ballgame and the Temple of Warriors for last.
  • The night show is at 7:00pm in winter (November thru March) and 8:00pm in summer (April thru October).
  • Visitors are not allowed to climb most of the pyramids, respect the signs.
  • The entry fee is $111 pesos per person.
  • If you are Mexican or permanent resident of Mexico, admission is free on Sunday.
  • This archaeological site is open 365 days a year.

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