Given that it’s one of THE MOST popular sites to see in Mexico, Chichén Itzá can often get crowded with an influx of tourists. Not only that, but the complex itself is located in the Yucatán peninsula, which is known to reach scorching hot temperatures – especially during the summer. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is also far from the Riviera Maya, a little over two hours away from the coast! So for those staying in Tulum, Playa del Carmen or Cancún, getting to Chichén Itzá is not necessarily an easy feat….which begs the question: is it really worth your time leaving a comfortable resort to venture out and see some ancient Mayan ruins?
To that, I answer YES, ABSOLUTELY YES. Here are four reasons why and tips on how to make the most of your time:
1) First off, Chichén Itzá is NOT just the Temple of Kukulcan, otherwise known as El Castillo.
While this massive pyramid was and continues to be important, there are plenty of other things to see here! Think of Chichén Itzá as a city, no, more as one of the greatest Mayan centres to have existed since that’s precisely what it was! This world wonder still has the Great Ball Court, the group of the Thousand Columns, the “El Caracol” observatory temple, “La Iglesia” in the Las Monjas complex and the Sacred Cenote so there’s lots to discover!
2) You can also find beautiful artisan crafts here! There are brightly painted clay pots, delicate pieces of jewelry, whistles that sound like real animals and of course, tons and tons of t-shirts. For the record, not everything looks so special anymore when you start to see a lot of repeat pieces, but there ARE a few items worth checking out. I ended up buying a jaguar whistle that ACTUALLY sounded like a jaguar when you blew into it – how cool is that!? I also got a necklace with an obsidian stone, making it possible for me to look directly at the sun!
3) After checking out Chichén Itzá, you WILL BE SWEATY. Your body will be yearning for a cold shower, a cold cocktail or simply a refreshing splash of water to the face. That said, what better way to cool down than to head over to a nearby cenote? This is certainly my recommendation. Plus, it’s not like you can swim in the Sacred Cenote at Chichén Itzá, nor would you want to! A ton of people were sacrificed here and well, I can’t imagine what still lies at the bottom besides ancient Maya Blue.
4) IGUANAS – this place is filled with them! Not sure if this counts for many as a reason to go but I sure found it interesting to be walking among them lol.
Final Tips: I HIGHLY recommend getting to Chichén Itzá as early as possible…before all the tour buses arrive and the place gets flooded with people. In order to do this without having to wake up at 6am to make the drive from Riviera Maya, I’d recommend spending a night in the nearby town of Valladolid. You can spend a night here, wake up the next morning to a good breakfast and then get to explore Chichén Itzá ALL ON YOUR OWN! Additionally, Valladolid is a charming little place with quite a few fun things to do. Stay tuned for more insights on this town in my next post..…