Located on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, Chichen Itza is one of the largest Mayan ruins and considered one of the 7 Wonders of the World. Visiting Chichen Itza was at the top of my Mexico must-do list and getting to experience the Chichen Itza tour was an incredibly fun and educational experience.
On the Chichen Itza tour, you’ll get to view the ruins, as well as visit Ik Kil Cenote, followed by a short stop in the colonial town of Valladolid. In this post, I’m detailing everything you need to know about the Chichen Itza tour from Playa del Carmen, and how you can book it if you’re staying in Playa del Carmen or at other hotels in the Riviera Maya.
Chichen Itza Facts
Chichén Itzá is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are a few fun facts about Chichen Itza history:
- Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of Itza” in the Mayan language. The name is derived from the fact that it sits on large underground freshwater cenotes, which was the main water source for the site.
- The largest pyramid is known as the Temple of Kukulkan or “El Castillo”, with a height of 79 feet and 91 steps on each side (365 in total).
- Of all the amazing ruins in Mexico, the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins are one of the most visited archaeological sites in the country, with millions of visitors each year.
Chichen Itza Location
Chichen Itza is located on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico near the colonial town of Valladolid. The archaeological site is just over a 2 hour drive from both Playa del Carmen and Cancun, or a 1 hour and 30 minute drive from Merida, Mexico.
Getting from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza makes for an easy day trip whether you’re staying in Playa del Carmen or other places in Riviera Maya. And if you’re coming from Tulum, it’s also possible to make a day trip from Tulum to Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza Map
How to Book the Chichen Itza Tour from Playa del Carmen
There are many Chichen Itza tours from Playa del Carmen, but after some research, I decided to book this tour on Get Your Guide. Many tours offer the same experience visiting Chichen Itza and a nearby cenote, and Get Your Guide had the best prices with the highest reviews.
Another similar tour option I was considering was the Xichen Tour by Xcaret. This was an all inclusive tour but unfortunately we were not able to book last minute.
I would definitely recommend booking your Chichen Itza and cenote tour from Playa del Carmen in advance. We decided to go last minute and had to make a few extra calls to confirm our pickup time and location. Luckily, Get Your Guide support was extremely helpful and responsive.
If you book further in advance, you’ll receive an email with all the information you need for the tour including the pickup time and location. If your hotel is not on the pickup list, they’ll give you a specific meeting point.
We were picked up in a shuttle just outside of Coco Bongo in Playa del Carmen and then transferred to a larger charter bus with the rest of the tour group.
Click here for more information on the tours to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen and to book online.
How much does the Chichen Itza tour cost?
The cost of the Chichen Itza tour was $45 USD per person. Note this does NOT include the $25 USD per person Chichen Itza tax that must be paid in cash upon pickup.
Also, if you bring a GoPro or video camera into Chichen Itza, you are required to pay an additional $45 pesos (~$2.40 USD). Regular cameras are fine and not required to pay the tax.
So the total for the tour is around $75 USD. Here’s what’s included in the tours from Playa del Carmen to Chichen Itza:
- Hotel or designated meeting point pickup
- Roundtrip transportation to Chichen Itza and all tour stops
- Bilingual tour guides
- Chichen Itza entrance fee
- Buffet lunch
- Mayan Community visit and shopping
- Ik Kil Cenote visit including entrance fees
- Valladolid visit
Travelista Tip: Sometimes Get Your Guide offers specials discounts and promotions. Click here to check the price of the Chichen Itza cenote tour on Get Your Guide now.
Chichen Itza Tour Itinerary
8:00 AM – Pickup from Hotel or Meeting Location in Playa del Carmen
- Travel to Chichen Itza (2.5 hours)
- Full guided tour of Chichen Itza
- Travel to Mayan Community
- Shopping at Mayan Community
- Buffet Lunch
- Travel to Ik Kil Cenote
- Swimming at Ik Kil Cenote
- Travel to Valladolid
- Explore Valladolid Town Square
- Travel back to Playa del Carmen (2.5 hours)
8:00 PM – Hotel Drop Off in Playa del Carmen
Total Tour Duration: Approximately 12 hours
First Stop: Chichen Itza
The first stop on the tour is the archaeological site of Chichen Itza. Once parked, you’ll make your way through the main entrance. I found it very interesting that the land that Chichen Itza sits on used to be owned by a wealthy Mexican family.
Due to land disputes with the Mexican government, there are less restrictions, and they have allowed vendors to sell souvenirs all over the site. Be prepared for many vendors!
Our tour guide was actually of Mayan descent and took us all over the site, explaining in detail the various buildings including Kukulkan, the Temple of Warriors, the Observatory, and the Ball Court.
It is speculated that the acoustically designed ball court was not actually used for sport, but rather a place to sacrifice the winners to be with the gods and bring honor to their families. It was so interesting to learn about the Mayan culture and their intellectual advancements.
We ended the tour at the Chichen Itza Maya pyramid called Kukulkan and were given time to take pictures. The main pyramid is so impressive, much larger in size than I had ever expected.
Most interesting to me was the fact that the Chichen Itza pyramid was designed so that twice a year on the Equinox (March 21 and September 21) the sun illuminates seven triangles on the side of the pyramid creating an illusion of a feathered snake descending the pyramid.
Second Stop: Mayan Community & Lunch
The second stop on the tour is visiting a Mayan Community where you’ll have the opportunity to hear from a Mayan shaman and shop for Mayan made souvenirs. Personally, this was my least favorite part of the tour.
Most of the souvenirs seemed overpriced and not much different than what you can find on 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen. But that could also just be because I live in Playa del Carmen and am used to seeing them all the time.
There was, however, one unique souvenir that we purchased which was a personalized Mayan calendar reading. You have to submit your name and birthday and after lunch, you’ll receive a personalized folder with a reading describing your Maya lunar horoscope, as well as your traits and characteristics.
Upon receiving my reading, I found out that my protective animal is the Jaguar, which is the fiercest of them all, and that I was destined to be a shaman. Sounds about right!
If you’re interested in astrology, it’s a neat thing to have or display in your home. The cost is $25 USD per person and you can pay with cash or credit card.
After shopping, you’ll head over to a different area to see a cooking demonstration and you’ll get to try some tacos with handmade tortillas. Afterwards you’ll go to the restaurant nearby for a full buffet lunch.
The food was pretty mediocre but that’s pretty much to be expected on a tour. You’ll get to choose from a spread of salads, fruits, tacos, fish, and pasta. Note there is an additional charge for beverages.
Third Stop: Ik Kil Cenote
The third stop on the Chichen Itza cenotes tour is Ik Kil Cenote. This cenote was SO impressive and probably one of the best cenotes I’ve visited in Mexico. It’s a deep underground cenote, with plants cascading down the sides and center of the massive hole. It’s really otherworldly!
Once you arrive, you are required to shower first to remove any sunscreen, and then you’ll descend down many stairs to the bottom. There are jumping ledges as well as wide ladders to submerge into the water. It’s extremely deep so you’ll want to wear a life jacket if you don’t want to tread water the whole time.
Ik Kil Cenote has a lot of amenities including bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms. There’s also a clock on the wall so you know when it’s time to leave.
Last Stop: Valladolid
The last stop on the tour is visiting the colonial town of Valladolid. We only got to spend about 25 minutes here but the town square is very cute and lively, and it gave us just enough time to grab some churros or marquesitas before heading back to Playa del Carmen. I wish I had had more time to experience all the fun things to do in Valladolid. It’s such a charming town!
What to Bring on the Tour
Below are a few items I would recommend bringing on the day trip to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen. It’s very hot at Chichen Itza and there’s not much shade so be prepared for the sun. If you plan to swim at Ik Kil Cenote, you’ll also want to bring swim items.
- Camera or GoPro
- Sun Hat
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Biodegradable sunscreen
- Water shoes
- Change of clothes
- Breakfast/snacks for the bus
- $25 USD cash for Chichen Itza tax (not included in the tour cost)
- Money for tips
Overall, I thought the Chichen Itza day trip from Playa del Carmen was good value for your money. It was a long day and it felt a little rushed at times, but it was still a fun, organized, and memorable experience. I had been dying to see Chichen Itza, and now there’s one less Wonder of the World to visit!
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