How to Visit Chichen Itza from Cancun on a Day Trip

Cancun isn’t normally my kind of place, but it’s cheap to get to and it’s a great hop-off point onwards to Belize. Not only that but it’s also the closest airport to one of the new 7 wonders of the world, Chichen Itza! As soon as I knew I’d be in Mexico I was super keen to check it out so Cancun was promptly added to my schedule. Getting to Chichen Itza from Cancun is very doable, it’s about 2 hours or so away so you can either book a return day trip from Cancun (that’s what I did, and I used these guy to book the trip) or you can take local transport.

Where is Chichen Itza from Cancun?

Chichen Itza is about 250km from Cancun so it’s very doable in one day. Check out how far it is in the google map here;

HOW TO GET TO CHICHEN ITZA FROM CANCUN:

There are basically 2 options to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun. A tour or public transport.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT:

There is a bus departing at 08.45 am each day, it takes 3 hours and costs 250pesos ($25ish). You can book public transport tickets here.

There is a 16.30 bus for the way back with the same company. That gives you about 4 hours or so at Chichen Itza. That’s plenty of time.

A CHICHEN ITZA DAY TOUR FROM CANCUN:

There are lots of companies that run day trips to Chichen Itza from Cancun. The prices vary between $60 to $150 USD. I used these guys and they were great.

Personally, I think a day trip tour is the better option. The bus is $15 each way, plus the $15 entry ticket so you spent $45 or so with public transport, to pay around $60 for a tour, but also you get to visit the gorgeous town of Valladolid and a swim in a cenote means it’s much the better choice.

TOP-TIP: For just over $50 you can use the same company I used to see Chichen Itza from Cancun, and it includes a visit to a sinkhole!

Chichen Itza from Cancun
Wandering around the ruins. Chichen Itza from Cancun
Chichen Itza from Cancun
These bad boys are everywhere in Mexico!

Chichen Itza from Cancun Day Trip Tour

If you choose the day trip then, the buses normally leave around 8am in the morning, picking you up from your hotel. The drive takes about 3 hours or so. But it’s a very easy drive with fully reclining chairs and TVs screens.

The backpacker in me didn’t pay the additional $10 for drinks on the journey, but if you do it’s unlimited soft drinks and beers (I should have done it actually, next time I will for sure).

Day Trip To North Captiva Island It...
Day Trip To North Captiva Island Itinerary
Chichen Itza from Cancun
Me at Chichen Itza!

ARRIVING AT CHICHEN ITZA

Just before midday, you arrive at Chichen Itza (tickets are $232 pesos/$13USD).

And when you arrive at the park your guide from the tour will walk you around the whole complex, talking about the Mayan history, about their astronomy, maths, calendar etc. It’s so fascinating how advanced they were while we Europeans were still focused on inventing the the wheel!

That section of the tour lasts about 90 minutes. And they don’t take you to the main event until the very last sight.

So as you emerge from the temples in the undergrowth you get hit with one of the most impressive sites on the whole planet – Chichen Itza sitting out in the open with nothing obscuring its view. This thing is right up there with the Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China, and the Sydney Opera house, it’s really that iconic.

Chichen Itza from Cancun
Chichen Itza from Cancun
Chichen Itza ruins
Chichen Itza ruins

The guide quickly shows you some of the amazing feats pulled off by the Mayans, clapping at certain angles in front of Chichen Itza. the clapping reverberates and echoes, coming back to you like the sound of various spiritual animals, really amazing.

Also, twice a year during equinox, the place is super full as the sun hits the perfect angle to allow a light ‘snake’ slither down the whole temple. I only saw pics, but that must be something truly awesome to watch.

You then have another 30 minutes or so to explore the area, take pics and fully take in the awe of this huge pyramid in front of you. I love ticking off bucket list items, and this was a big one for me, so I was carrying a cheesy irish grin on my face for a good 20 minutes after.

DON’T MISS THE IKIL CENOTE ON YOUR CHICHEN ITZA TOUR

Once we met back at the bus we headed to the sacred cenote (sinkhole) Ikil, it’s about 20 minutes from Chichen Itza. My initial plan had been to take the local bus to Chichen Itza, but having this as part of the day trip sealed the deal for me. Ikil is a natural swimming pool under the ground, occurring due to a sink hole forming. Large reeds and branches stretch down towards the clear water making it look like something from Avatar.

There are platforms to jump in from, beers for sale, a restaurant (which is included in the day trip price), showers and changing rooms and it’s an awesome way to cool off after the crazy Mexican sun has been beating down on your while walking around Chichen Itza.

Ik Kil Cenote
Ik Kil Cenote from the bottom
Ik Kil Cenote
Ik Kil Cenote from the top

MERIDA STOP

Finally, then you’re ready to head back to Cancun, but en route, you stop for 45 minutes or so for an ice-cream, a beer and a walk around the super cute Merida. It’s the perfect way to wind down, and a great little bonus on your day trip. Soak it up.

Merida Mexico
Merida, Mexico

Finally, the day was up . Our Cancun to Chichen Itza tour, swimming in the cenote Ikil, Merida, Mexican buffet lunch and a 2-hour drive back to Cancun. The day trip was perfect and much easier than any notion to jump on the local bus. What was I thinking?! Massively recommended guys, enjoy and happy travels!

Final thoughts on visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun

3 words. Book a tour. It was only about $50, and it’s so much easier. It’s also cheaper to book it online, don’t book it through your hotel! And push yourself to go, don’t sit in your resort all day. You’re so close to one of the wonders of the world, go check it out!

Other World Wonders:

If you’re keen for the other 6 of the 7 world wonders, check out:

How to visit the Colosseum in Rome

Visiting Christ the Redeemer

Taking the train to Machu Pichu

Visiting the Great Wall of China from Beijing

How to visit the Taj Mahal

Petra in Jordan

And don’t forget these 7 wonders at the NEW wonders of the world. The 7 ancient wonders of the world are HERE, and the seven NATURAL wonders of the world are HERE. Gotta catch ’em all!

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