Tour Review: Chitzén Itzá

If you’ve travelled to Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, or are planning to, then no doubt that the Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza are high on your to do list while you’re there. And if not, they definitely will be after a short walk through resort towns like Cancun or Playa del Carmen, which are swarming with tour companies.

Most will offer a similar deal: Transport and admission into Chitzen Itza, transport to a local cenote, and lunch at a Mayan village. You can haggle on the price, we ended up paying around 50USD each.

Posing at Chitzen Itza

During the tour

We were picked up at 7am but fucked around for over an hour picking people up and swapping to larger buses. The bus was a big coach with AC, which in that heat you’ll be grateful for.

The itinerary can change, depending on local conditions and where the other buses are, so each site doesn’t get overwhelmed. So, our first stop ended up being the lunch stop at the “Mayan Village”. Now, I use quotation marks because anywhere that is being visited by bus loads of tourists every day is not going to be a true village. True, we were probably near where they actually lived, but in actuality, we arrived at a souvenir store and a large tourist lunch hall. The food was good and the drinks large, but don’t be expecting an authentic experience from this.

Traditional Mayan dance performance

Mayan handicrafts for sale

The next stop for us was Chitzen Itza, arriving right in the thick of things. There were already dozens of tour buses parked and empty, just to give us an indication of what would await us inside the gates. Our guide expertly navigated us past the crowds however and directed us to our local guide on the other side. You may visit more than one Mayan ruin during your time in Central America, so shelling out for a guide each time may seem excessive. However, at least do it once. And if you’re going to have one anywhere, it may as well be at one of the 7 Wonders of the World right?

You might learn about what happens on the equinox, what reward awaited the winner of their ancient ball game, or the truth about human sacrifices!

Chitzen Itza monuments

The final, and much needed, stop was at an open-air cenotes. I’d heard of these magical sunken swimming holes that dotted Mexico before arriving, but didn’t realise that they would become my absolute favourite thing about this amazing country.

After splashing around for an hour or so, we all piled back onto the bus for our return trip to Cancun, getting in around 8:30pm – making it a full on, 12+ hour day!

Maya CenoteMaya Cenote

Should you join a Chitzen Itza day tour?

In short, yes. If you’re short on time, this is a efficient way to tick off some of the major sights and experiences. And yes, you will be one of hundreds of tourists being bussed along the same route, so the experience won’t be as genuine as you would experience in a small group. But alas, there must be a trade off for convenience and time, however we were glad we did it!

Make sure you bring swimmers, a towel, comfortable walking shoes and a lot of water and sunscreen!

Have you ever visited Chitzen Itza? Let me know about your experience in the comments!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Yes, Husband and I visited Chitzen Itza years ago before it was so crowded. From Merida we booked a tour from Merida with about six other people in a small van. Lunch was with the locals near the ruins. Since I had done research before we went, we chose to explore the ruins on our own. No one swam in the cenote. I enjoyed your photos and descriptions of what it is like now. I doubt that we will ever go back. We visited other ruins – Tulum and Coba on our own via a VW.

    1. That sounds like a great way to see them! We visited Tulum and Coba later on as well, in a smaller group as well, which was a different experience again. Thanks for reading 🙂

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