You probably heard of Chichen Itza before. One of the New Wonders of The World since 2007. The ancient Maya City has always been very popular but after it was voted as a world wonder the amount of visitors has been doubled, if not more. Hundreds of tour buses packed with tourists bring millions of visitors per year to the archaeological site in Mexico, Yucatan Peninsula. Its popularity is well earned and it definitely should be in your list too. But how to avoid the crowds?
Arriving early is the answer, obviously. This way, you will not only avoid the crowds but also the heat and humidity and the vendors, which might be even more annoying than the crowds.
You have two options to avoid the crowds in Chichen Itza
Staying overnight at a hotel nearby
This is how I did it and is my favourite option. Near to the archeological site there are couple of hotels (check booking.com). We stayed at Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza which is located only 10 minutes away from the entrance and it was a really good one. The room, breakfast, dinner, pool, everything was just perfect.
Book your hotel (in advance!) and arrive the day before you want to visit the Mayan City Chichen Itza. Enjoy your day relaxing in the pool or visit the site for the sound and light show in the evening, if your arrival time allows.
Next day, get up early and be the first person in the ticket office which opens at 8am. Now you are not only the first person in the ticket office, but also in the site. I’m telling you, it was amazing to be the first person entering the site and having it all for yourself for at least 2-3 hours, which is enough to explore the whole archeological site.
The time you leave the site, you will see the first tourist groups arriving with buses (probably from Cancun) and on your way back to hotel you’ll face the ugly reality of tourist busses fighting for a parking lot.
Well, you can leave the site proudly with a satisfactory smile in your face that you did avoid the crowds, the heat and the souvenir vendors. Plus you have that amazing photo.
Day trip with a rental car
In case you are enjoying the sun and sea somewhere in Riviera Maya, you still can avoid the crowds by simply renting a car to plan your own day trip to Chichen Itza. In Mexico you find almost all world wide known rent a car companies. We booked ours with Europcar for example.
Don’t worry, driving in this part of Mexico (Riviera Maya, Yucatán, Quintana Roo) is safe and easy. The toll road is in good condition and doesn’t cost much. The drive from Cancún takes about 2½ hours. So, you have to get on the road really really early, like 5am, if you don’t want to risk it. This “getting up hell early part” made it clear to me that I’d go for the other option.
- Opening hours: Everyday, 8am – 5pm (tourist buses arrive around 10:30am)
- Sound & Light show: 7pm (winter) – 8pm (summer)
- Admission fee: M$182
- Parking: M$22
- Sound and Light show: M$75
- Guide: M$600
What to bring
- Enough cash! It might be difficult to find an ATM
- Comfortable shoes
- Light clothes
- Insect repellent
- Sun cream
- Sun glasses
- Photo camera and video equipment: For a tripod you need to have a permit, which seems to be very difficult to get. You can bring a Bean Bag as Tripod Replacement. For video equipment you pay an extra fee of 45$M in the entrance. Digital cameras including video capability are free of charge.
If it is your first time in Mexico read my blog post "Everything you need to know before you go to Mexico". For more insights I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Mexico or the travel guide for Cancun, Cozumel & The Yucatan.
For price worthy accommodation check Booking.com or Agoda.com.
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