Four days spent in Mexico City were simply wonderful so make sure you don’t miss out the great experience and recommendation we have for you from our wanderings on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4. But the wonders of Mexico did not stop there because we, the wanderers, had to see for ourselves one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – Chichen Itza.
Bidding a sincere adios to Mexico City, we boarded a Viva Aerobus flight to land at the famous beach city of Cancun which was our launchpad for adventures that followed in the next few days. Read on to find out more about our excursion at Chichen Itza, as we share our delight to see one of the New Seven Wonders of this World we are living in. First, some top tips to set you up.
How to go there
Chichen Itza is situated in the Yucatan province of Mexico. Best way to reach is by driving from Cancun, little more than 2 hours one way is all that is needed to reach the site from Cancun down town. Numerous tourist buses also ferry tourists to Chichen Itza from Cancun, but we always prefer to customise our travel experiences ourselves and drive on our own.
Best time to go
No wonder if you are out to see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, you better wake up and start early to beat the crowds! Keep in mind the time taken on the road from Cancun, so the sooner you start, the higher the chances to see this massive archaeological attraction all by yourselves. There are so many perks to this other than not having to wait in lines or having a million people in your photos. Cancun is always warmer compared to where we live, naturally, it’s often cooler in the morning, it makes your day feel longer by getting a head start and you don’t feel as bad about lingering or taking your time (we hate feeling like I have to rush through something, especially when traveling).
How long to stay
Excluding the journey times, the main complex should not take more than 3-4 hours of exploration in easy pace. Since we will recommend you to definitely visit the famous Ik Kil cenote nearby, we suggest you earmark a full day dedicated to Chichen Itza and Ik Kil cenote combined.
As mentioned above, we started early from Cancun. We managed just enough time to enjoy some delicious breakfast facing the pool and blue sea ahead, under the blue skies and hit the road without any delay.
While we were still some 45 minutes away from the main site, we were requested to pull over by a few men standing and waving their hands from the roadside. We were obviously cautious thinking that what were they about to sell to us or were they any touts of some sort. We stopped the car and a man approached us, he had an identity card hanging round his neck. He suggested that we buy the tickets from the government approved office (Modulo de Informacion Turistica) which was just next to where we parked on the hard shoulder.
He advised that it’s the same price and we could avoid the queues. Wary of scams and being seasoned travellers ourselves, we made no mistake in identifying the genuineness on this occasion. Our experience thus far in Mexico has been super positive with the warmth and friendliness shown by everybody we came across. So we agreed to buy the tickets from there and drove on.
Once we arrived the Chichen Itza Archaeological Park complex, we were again approached by a ranger who spoke perfect English to make us feel welcome. He explained with a smile on his face the direction to the ticket counter and information booth. He quipped a joke to make sure we are in Chichen Itza and that we were not looking for “Chicken Pizza”! All throughout their approach was always friendly and never pushy, something we noticed all throughout our trip in Mexico with whoever we dealt with. The people generally knew where to draw the line, where not to hard sell and they knew how to remain friendly, helpful and cordial at all times. We did not require any guided tours so we proceeded ourselves inside to get the first glimpse of the much anticipated Chichen Itza and shortly we were in the Mayaland as we pictured ourselves in the welcome frame near the main entrance!
After a short walk inside the lush green park, we came infront of the mega structure that the Mayan people had created sometime between 625 – 800 A.D. “Chichen Itza” means ‘at the mouth of the well of the Itza’ and we nearly had our hearts in our mouths in excitement to soak in the vibes of the pyramid in front of us. There was obviously no reason to hide our exuberance as we jumped in joy with El Castillo behind us!
The main attraction is certainly the step-pyramid which is known as El Castillo. About 1km in diameter, the pyramid has 91 steps in all its four sides and one final one on top thus totalling to 365 steps altogether. Mayans are well known for their advanced knowledge of astronomy and the number of total steps on the El Castillo Pyramid in Chichen Itza is just another example of the Mayan prowess over astronomy – one step for every day of the calendar year, simply genius.
This pyramid is dedicated to Kulkulkan the plumed serpent which is also visible from another side. Every year on the spring and autumn equinox, the shades from the sun creates an illusion of a snake along the sides of the pyramids. We also noticed the tour guides demonstrating the hand-clapping from a certain distance to the walls of the pyramid which created a series of echoes, much to the bemusement of all.
Inside the complex, along with El Castillo (the main Pyramid), there is also The Warrior’s Temple with its 100 columns and The Great Ball Court which are certainly worth spending some time in. Once a political and religious centre during the Mayan civilisation, Chichen Itza is visited by 1.2 million people every year and we were simply grateful to be counted as one of them this year.
Inside the complex, there were vendors selling handicrafts and souvenirs – designed skulls, colourful rugs, sombreros, carpets and wooden Mayan calendars etc. Like elsewhere, a gentle request or a polite eye contact – but no hard sell or loud calls to buy. The indigenous residents of the land, still seemed to have held on to their genuine sincerity and warmth. Some were also selling a flute-like instrument which made the sounds of a jaguar. Rather unusual and scary, we also learnt the importance of jaguars that in Mayan mythology, the jaguar was seen as the ruler of the Underworld, and as such, a symbol of the night sun and darkness.
Bedazzled by the Mayan magic of the Chichen Itza, we kept thinking about the once in a lifetime experience we’ve just had. Seeing one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, another major bucket list ticked off. Buzzing with the feel-good bubbles of discovery and delight, we made our way to the restaurant inside the park for some much needed lunch. Mayan gods could stay wherever they wanted but for that moment, it was the hunger god we had to appease. Some pizza (Chicken pizza in Chichen Itza!) for Shehzaad with fiery Tabasco sauce and the local catch of the day fish for Tanusree were our veneration to the god that resides in our tummies, angry when hungry. Afterwards, we went to the must-visit Ik Kil cenote to take a splash. Ik Kil was just a short 5 minute drive away from the main park’s entrance. However we will reserve the fun and fantastic experience of all our Cenote Chronicles in a dedicated blogpost in coming days.
Do share this post now with your friends so that you can plan well in advance for this trip of a lifetime you must be planning to see Chichen Itza. And don’t forget to subscribe to our blog to continue to read in coming days on our experiences in Cancun, the cenotes in the Yucatan region and certainly in Tulum.0