Travel Experiences

The Best Way to Experience Chichen Itza

El Castillo Pyramid, Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Chichen Itza, the ancient Maya city, has always been popular with tourists. Year after year, it racks-up the highest visitor numbers of any archaeological park in Mexico, not least because of its easy access via the popular resort areas of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, from which literally dozens of packed tour buses arrive at the archaeology park each day.

When Chichen Itza was voted as one of the New Wonders of The World in 2007, the publicity which surrounded this anointment served to attract even more visitors to the park. From about 9 a.m. onward each day, the tour buses begin to arrive. The ruins are also situated in the jungle, so not only do visitor numbers swell, the heat of the day begins to take hold, making exploration of the park less pleasurable and more tiring as the day wears on.

If you really want to experience Chichen Itza properly, there is only one way to accomplish this: by staying overnight at one of the hotels situated right next-door to the park. This way, you by-pass the malaise of the tour-bus crowds and enjoy the comfort of the facilities and services the hotels have on offer to guests.

You arrive at your hotel in the afternoon, check-in, relax with a cool drink, and perhaps take a refreshing afternoon swim. Some hotels offer spas treatments, too. This gives you space to unwind in the quiet tranquility of the hotel’s grounds before enjoying dinner served in a courtyard surrounded by soft candlelight and lush vegetation.

After a good night’s rest, you wake early to sounds of birdsong: a symphony performed by wild jungle birds, principally tropical Toucans. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast from around 7 a.m. The park opens its doors at 8 a.m.

By entering the park early, you have a couple of hours to really enjoy Chichen Itza, without hordes of people everywhere.

By the time the tour-bus crowds descend upon Chichen Itza, and the intense heat of the midday sun takes hold, you have seen most of the park’s key features and got some great pictures.

We recommend at least one night at a hotel in Chichen Itza. By staying overnight, you avoid the crowds which gather later in the day, the rush to the entrance, the jockeying for position to take pictures, the jungle heat, and the ‘long’ bus journey back to your hotel at the beach resort.

Staying overnight is a pleasurable way to experience the Chichen Itza and you might also combine the stay as part of a tour of the Ruta Puuc archaeological sites which include Uxmal, Kabáh, Nohpat, Sayil and Labná.  A tour of these important historical places with local stay-overs will give you deeper appreciation for the history and culture of the ancient Maya civilizations, without the commercial rush of the tour bus circuits.

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