With so many Chichen Itza tours on the market today, sifting through them all and finding the best one for you can feel like a chore.
I mean, of course you want the best Chichen Itza experience possible, but what if there was a way you could narrow down your prospects and cut right to the chase?
Luckily for you, I’ve done just that!
In this article, I’ve listed out the best Chichen Itza tours currently available, what makes each of them special, and what you should know about the site itself. I’ve done the research so you can spend less time on your computer and more time exploring Mexico.
I recently visited the Maya city of Chichen Itza on a 5.5-week trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, and the site absolutely blew me away.
During my visit, I learned all about the ancient Mayan culture, the significance of Chichen Itza, and some really practical tips for visiting.
So, if you’re interested in reading about the best Chichen Itza tours from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and Merida (and how to prepare for your visit) then you’ve come to the right place.
Important Update on Coronavirus: Mexico continues to see a surge in cases, even as many travel media outlets fail to report fully on Mexico’s coronavirus safety situation. Be sure to fully educate yourself on the latest information and risks involved before booking any travel.
But first, let’s dive into what Chichen Itza actually is:
What is Chichén Itzá?
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A UNESCO world heritage site and one of the new seven wonders of the world, Chichen Itza is perhaps the most famous Mayan culture site out there.
Situated 125km west of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is an ancient Maya city is filled with pyramids, temples, carvings, altars, and fields — the focal point of it all being the El Castillo Pyramid (Kukulkan), which is a stunner and definitely worth learning all about.
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Best Chichen Itza Tours from Cancun
Cancun Tour #1 – Chichén Itzá Deluxe Day Trip from Cancun
If you’re looking to see the best that Chichen Itza and the surrounding area have to offer – and do it in style – then this deluxe day tour from Cancun is for you.
The tour includes round trip transportation from your hotel in Cancun city on a luxury bus, a continental onboard breakfast, a buffet lunch, and a professional guide to lead the way.
They’ll also take you to the nearby and to the idyllic Ik Kil Cenote.
Oh, and did I mention they’ll give you some beer after a long day of exploring?
Because they will.
This is one of the most popular, highly-rated tours from Cancun on the market today, with many travelers giving it a 5-star review.
Stacking all the available tours up against one another, this is the best Chichen Itza tour from Cancun.
Cancun Tour #2 – Private Tour – Chichén Itzá Day Trip from Cancun
While usually a little more pricey, a private tour is a great way to explore at your own pace.
So, if this is important to you, then I recommend taking this private day trip to Chichén Itzá from Cancun.
Over the course of 8 hours, this tour will take you from your hotel in Cancun to Chichen Itza in a private vehicle and let you do it on your own time – you can choose when exactly you want your tour to start and end.
My suggestion is to ask the tour company to plan your trip around the nighttime Chichen Itza light and sound show, when a colorful light show is projected onto the main ruins. This is something most other tours on this list leave too early to see, unfortunately, but is definitely something you don’t want to miss!
One note: this tour does not include a guide at the site or lunch, but you can upgrade your tour to include either. However, admission into Chichén Itzá itself is included in the cost.
Cancun Tour #3 – Chichén Itzá Day Trip from Cancun
Another awesome group tour to Chichen Itza from Cancun, this 12-hour tour includes hotel pickup in Cancun, a bilingual guide to lead you through the site, plenty of water, a walking tour of nearby colonial city of Valladolid, and a stop at the Ik Kil Cenote.
Speaking of which, what makes this tour unique is that they’ll take you to Ik Kil Cenote before you get to Chichen Itza, meaning you can visit the cenote with almost no crowds, and feel refreshed during your time at the archaeological site.
The tour also includes a full buffet-style lunch that serves salads, soups, veggies, fish, chicken, rice, and regional delights.
The Best Chichen Itza Tours from Playa Del Carmen
Playa Tour #1 –Chichén Itzá Premiere From Playa Del Carmen
A highly-rated Chichen Itza and cenote tour from Playa, this Chichen Itza tour takes around 10 – 12 hours and includes hotel pick up, a quick stop in Valladolid, lunch (with vegetarian options), unlimited drinks (and beer!), and admission into Chichen Itza Mayan ruins and Suytun Cenote.
Which brings me to my next point – this is the tour to take if you want to prioritize going to Suytun Cenote, as most others will take you to Ik Kil. It’s not that one cenote is better than the other, but different strokes for different folks.
Based on reviews and ratings, this is the best overall of the Chichen Itza tours from Playa.
Playa Tour #2 – Chichén Itzá Deluxe Day Trip from Playa del Carmen
To be honest, this second Chichen Itza tour is much like the other Playa tour above, except that this one goes to Ik Kil Cenote instead of Suytun. It really just comes down to personal preference (the latter is better for photos, while the former is better for swimming).
Other than that, this tour is around 11 hours and includes breakfast, lunch, beverages, round-trip transportation, a guided tour through Chichen Itza, and your entrance fees to both Chichen and the cenote.
Unsurprisingly, Chichen Itza made my list of the best day trips and excursions from Playa del Carmen – in case you’re looking for more inspiration!
The Best Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum
Tulum Tour #1 – Private Chichén Itzá, Cenote & Valladolid tour
An 8 – 10 hour Chichen Itza and cenote tour from Tulum, this Tulum excursion includes a guided tour, all entrance fees, and lunch.
The expert guide takes you through Chichen Itza and then to Ik Kil Cenote where you can refresh and cool off. Then, you’ll get to wander around the colonial town of Valladolid for an hour while you do a bit of shopping and take in the vibe.
What makes this particular tour special is the people involved. Every single review lists the guides as being absolutely exceptional, so you can rest easy knowing you’re going to get a top-notch, personable, experience.
The ratings are in – this is the best bang for your buck guided tour from Tulum!
Tulum Tour #2 – Chichén Itzá private tour, snorkeling cenote and Valladolid town
Private and 9-10 hours long, this tour is the perfect option if you want to learn the most you can about Chichen Itza and avoid the crowds at the same time.
The tour includes a full guided experience with a certified archaeologist and includes private transportation, snorkeling equipment, drinks, lunch in Valladolid, and admission to Chichen Itza and Ik Kil.
This is a little bit of a pricier tour, but it’s perfect for travelers who want to travel on their own schedule or who find crowded group tours uncomfortable.
Especially if you’re an older traveler or have mobility issues – this tour will give you the flexibility you need to fully enjoy Chichen Itza and the surrounding area on your own time.
Side note: If you’re staying in Tulum, then visiting the Tulum Ruins is also a must – I highly recommend it!
The Best Chichen Itza Tours from Merida
Merida Tour #1 – Open The Gate To Chichén Itzá
If you’re looking beat the crowds, arrive in style, and have a totally unique Chichen Itza experience at the same time, then this is the tour for you!
Leaving Merida around 6 AM, this tour will get you to Chichen Itza before the crowds, and you’ll even have private access to avoid any lines.
The tour also gives you access to a Mayan Planetarium, use of a nearby hotel suite, the experience a spiritual Mayan ceremony and a blessing by a high priest, and you’ll get to do it all with a bilingual tour guide.
Not to mention, the tour includes round trip transportation from many Merida hotels (in a Mercedes Benz, no less) and your food for the day.
What it doesn’t include, however, is entrance fees to Chichen Itza.
Even so, this is the best Chichen Itza tour from Merida.
Merida Tour #2 – Chichén Itzá Small Group, Buffet Lunch & Cenote from Merida
If you’re looking for a small group tour with some unique perks, then check out this highly-rated Chichen Itza tour from Merida.
An 8-hour tour, this one will get you into Chichen Itza with a private entrance and includes a bilingual guide, buffet lunch, a dance performance, Mayan Planetarium access, and entrance to the Mayaland Hotel and their amenities (they have a swimming pool!)
That said, the tour doesn’t include hotel pick-up (you’ll have to meet at a designated meeting spot), beverages, or the entrance fee to Chichen Itza.
Merida Tour #3 – Chichén Itzá Day Trip + Cenote From Merida
A more basic Chichen Itza and cenote tour from Merida than the other options, this tour will give you early access to the site.
10-hours long, this tour includes a bilingual tour guide, round-trip transportation, hotel pick-up and drop off lunch, and entrance fees to Chichen Itza and a cenote.
Can you Visit Chichen Itza on Your Own?
You can absolutely visit Chichen Itza on your own, it just takes a little planning. To visit Chichen Itza independent of a tour, I recommend trying to get to the site as early in the day as possible.
To do this, you can take an ADO bus (the gold standard Mexican bus line) from any nearby major city or town to the site. ADO buses are very affordable, usually pretty new and comfortable, and in my experience, always clean.
Personally, when I visited Chichen Itza, I stayed in Valladolid the night before and then got up at the crack of dawn to catch the bus. If you go with this option, be sure to check out our guide to the best hotels and hostels in Valladolid, Mexico.
As mentioned throughout this article, Valladolid is a cute colonial town close to Chichen Itza, and exploring it is one of the !
A day trip from Valladolid meant that I got to the site before the crowds and tours and beat the midday heat.
You can also hire a personal tour guide when you get to Chichen Itza, or download an audio guide onto your phone via the “Chichen Itza Tour Guide Cancun” app.
6 Easy & Practical Tips for Visiting Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza Tip #1 – Bring a Lot of Water
Sure, your tour guide will probably offer up water for your visit, but given Mexico’s recent endeavors to reduce their single-use plastic waste, do the environment a favor and bring a big reusable water bottle with you.
I love this one from Nalgene.
Chichen Itza Tip #2 – Time Your Trip Well
No matter what day you visit Chichen Itza, you can expect it to get very busy at around 11 AM and for the rush to last until 5 or 6 PM.
For these reasons, if you have any flexibility in your day, I recommend arriving at Chichen Itza as early as possible. I arrived at 9 AM and had plenty of time to walk around and take photos before the hordes arrived.
READ NEXT: 18 Practical Mexico Travel Tips
Chichen Itza Tip #3 – Make Good Clothing Choices
In case you missed the memo, Mexico gets HOT.
So, to ward off the heat, I recommend planning your clothing appropriately. You are check out my Mexico packing list for a full checklist of what to pack for your trip.
Shorts and t-shirts are pretty standard attire for Mexico, but you’re going to want to keep them breezy and light-colored for maximum airflow.
And, if you’re going on a Chichen Itza and cenote tour, then I especially recommend wearing a bathing suit under your clothes and packing extra undies. Don’t forget a quick-dry towel!
Chichen Itza Tip #4 – Prepare for the Mexican Sun
Speaking of beating the heat, it’s important to note that there isn’t a whole lot of shade around the major points of interest at Chichen Itza.
In fact, you can expect to be out in direct sunlight for most of the day.
Pro Tip: Make sure to sort your before your trip too. Here’s a good site for cross-comparing insurance policies.
Chichen Itza Tip #5 – Plan Your Photography Ahead of Time
Here’s a tidbit of information I had no idea about when I first visited the site, so heed my warning:
There are extra charges for professional photography of the Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza.
Specifically, you’ll have to get a permit if you plan to film or use a tripod at the site.
Both of these permits cost extra, so look up the details in advance.
In fact, a guy tried to swindle me out of $400 USD when he saw my tripod, so either be sure to secure a permit beforehand or stash your tripod away.
Learn from my mistakes!
Chichen Itza Tip #6 – Don’t Forget About the OTHER Mayan Ruins
Many tourists don’t realize that Chichen Itza is only one of several major Mayan ruins in the Yucatan peninsula. And, arguably, it’s not even the most impressive. We at Travel Lemming are particular fans of the ruins at Uxmal, which are more easily accessible from Merida, and get a tiny fraction of the crowds of Chichen Itza.
If you’re coming from Tulum or Cancun, you likely won’t be able to visit Uxmal, but you could overnight in Valladolid and make a visit to the nearby ruins at Ek Balam!
A Few FAQs About Visting Chichen Itza Mexico
FAQ #1 – How much does it cost to get into Chichen Itza?
For visitors to Mexico, the price to see the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza is 480 pesos (27 USD).
However, keep in mind this price does change from time to time (sometimes drastically), so if the exact price is important to you, do some research before you go.
In fact, in 2019, the price to get into Chichen Itza effectively doubled.
Pro Tip: You can get into Chichen Itza for free if you’re a Mexican citizen (on Sundays), under 13 years old, a student, a teacher, or a senior with valid ID.
FAQ #2 – How long is a Chichen Itza tour?
Tours to visit the Mayan ruins vary in length depending on the tour operator and type of tour, but if you’re traveling from any of the cities listed above, then you can expect to spend at least 2-3 hours at Chichen Itza itself.
Personally, I wouldn’t go on a tour any shorter than 8 – 12 hours total, as there is just so much to see at the site and surrounding area.
FAQ #3 – Can you still climb the pyramid at Chichen Itza?
Due to the sheer amount of visitors and subsequent protections put in place, you can no longer climb the pyramid (or any of the Mayan ruins) at Chichen Itza.
If you’re looking to climb a pyramid in the area, then I recommend visiting the nearby site of Coba where you can climb the main pyramid of Nohoch Mul.
It’s the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan!
FAQ #4 – When’s the best time to visit Chichen Itza?
While the winter months (December through March) have the best weather for visiting Chichen Itza, you’ll also find more crowds during this time.
Conversely, the summer months in the Riviera Maya (June through September) have the hottest weather – like, stiflingly hot.
So, if you’re looking to both beat the crowds and the extreme heat, then I recommend visiting Chichen Itza in the shoulder seasons.
October, November, March, and April will still give you a pretty good bang for your buck, and you’ll get the best of both worlds.
That’s it for our guide to the best Chichen Itza tours!
Visiting Chichen Itza, Mexico is an absolute must on your trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, and you won’t regret learning all about the ancient Mayan culture.
If you have any questions about these tours, fire away in the comments, or check out these related articles:
- Ultimate Travel Guide to Playa del Carmen, Mexico
- Celestun, Mexico (Ultimate Travel Guide)
- Rio Secreto Underground River: A Guide
Have fun at Chichen Itza!