How to beat the crowds at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of Mexico’s most famous tourist attractions. As one of the modern seven wonders of the world it’s no shock to hear it can get a little busy at times. What’s the best way to get great photos, beat the crowds and the heat? Simple. Get there before anyone else does! Where to stay near Chichen Itza is key and I’m going to tell you just that.
Where to stay near Chichen Itza
Most tourists make the 2 hour journey on a day trip from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or wherever their cruise ship is docked. But few think about where to stay near Chichen Itza to get the best experience. Valladolid is a beautiful colonial town with lot’s of pretty buildings and great food to offer an adventurous backpacker. The best part? It’s only a one hour drive in a collectivo (shared taxi) from Chichen Itza! At just $2 a ride (35 pesos) it’s hard to complain! There are a variety of great options for where to stay in Valladolid on Booking.com and Air BnB from around $30 a night for a double room or $15 a night for a good bed in a dorm room. Make sure to stay close to the main square to be within walking distance of the collecivo stop (see my map of Mexico backpacker stops at the end of the post).
When To Go?
Collectivos start running at 7am and Chitchen Itza opens at 8am. It couldn’t be any easier! Get there early to get your “I’m the only one here” shots. But if you like a lay in (like us!) arrive any time before 9/10am and there aren’t too many big tour groups around and the heat is still bearable. They pick you up exactly where they drop you off, very handy.
Entrance (as of Jan 2020) costs 486 pesos, you can pay by card but there is a weird system where you have to pay the tax separately at a different kiosk. Make sure you grab a map as the ones in the park are fairly worn out. You will beat the queues as you have wisely chosen where to stay near Chichen Itza.
Don’t miss the two cenote ossuarys where the Mayans would toss their sacrificed bodies. There’s loads to see, a guide wouldn’t be the worst idea but there are signs everywhere in English and audio-guides if you feel like going it alone. It took us around 3 hours to see everything but it depends on your pace (we weren’t rushing at all!).
Chichen Itza Top Tips
Where to stay near Chichen Itza? Stay in Valladolid. It has all of the amenities and it’s very close to Chichen Itza so you can get there before everyone else!
Number one is take water and stay hydrated. It is hot in Chichen Itza and there’s not much shade at the main ruins. Water, snacks and drinks are available at the entrance and once inside but at a premium price of course.
There are also a ton of sellers with souvenir stalls. It’s another reason to get there early as they are only just setting up (and less likely to jump out at you with a jaguar roar).
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