On the road... Chichen Itza

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Chichen Itza would be the first of the great and grand archaeological sites we would visit in Mexico. Leaving from Merida and still recovering from our first installment of food poisoning, we walked the baking grid like streets to find the correct bus terminal. There was something so off putting about booking an overpriced tour to Chichen Itza, if Lonely Planet told us we could get there on our own we would. And that is how Chichen Itza became our first big archaeological stop. 


The Yucatán at a glance

✓ Language: Spanish

✓ Currency: Mexican Peso

  Street food: $1-$3 - Tacos in all sizes with all fillings

✓ Restaurant food: $3-$5

✓ Drinking: $1 per Cerveza - Tecate is king in the Yucatan

✓ Bus to Chichen Itza: From Merida $3-$4 - The journey is supposed to take 1 hour and 45 minutes ours took around 3

✓ Where to stay: Nomads Hostel, Merida

✓ Entrance to Chichen Itza: $15 - Student cards accepted


All prices in US Dollar


Getting to Chichen Itza

From Merida you can take the bus to Piste, its further than you'd expect and on the lead up to Chichen Itza you start to wonder whether you even got on the right bus. Small villages and pristine catholic churches pass you every few minutes. Locals get on and locals get off and there's only a small number of people with the actual intent of going the whole way to the ruins. The town of Chichen Itza is rarely mentioned in Chichen Itza literature but the public transport from Merida will be heading to Piste and not the site itself. Although it does stop at the site.

The name of the town is Piste not Chichen Itza - the public transport will all be heading to Piste, remember this!


We arrived in Merida by 5 hour first class bus from Cancun. Cancun was still buzzing around our brains and we had a adventure-filled four days remaining in the South East of Mexico to enjoy before our flight North to Mexico City. The number one item on our bucket list for the Yucatan was Chichen Itza and not even the chorizo taco belly ache would stop us from fulfilling this wish. 


Chichen Itza, Mexico
Exploring  the whole of the area
We chose to take public transport to Chichen Itza from Merida for a number of reasons. First of all, we hadn't quite figured out the right balance of budgeting and we were still depriving ourselves. Second of all, because it was the third week of a trip and we were backpacking we were far too stubborn to join the other tourists on an organised bus. There are a number of reasons most tourists take the organised tours to Chichen Itza but the biggest is most definitely the painstaking experience of a long-ish distance public transport but in 30 degree heat on Mexican roads (with the side effects of food poisoning).

Don't book an overpriced tour, take the public bus and pay the entrance fee. Arrive early

The bus costs around $4 and there are 3 that leave throughout the day all week. We jumped on the earliest hoping to arrive before the crowds but our journey to Piste took us significantly longer than advertised. There was a a long moment when I thought we were never going to make it to Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico
Pretty standard Chichen Itza snap feat me posing of course
We rode the bus to Piste for what felt like forever, and reached the entrance to Chichen Itza around mid day, just as the sun was getting into full force. We were equipped with hats, sunglasses, enough water to keep us going and our trusty Mexico Lonely Planet. We set foot to the ticket office like two determined explorers discovering the Americas and hoping to be culturally enlightened. Unfortunately  the explorers were joined by many other explorers. In fact, we were joined by several hundred other explorers each seeking their own cultural enlightenment from the Mayan civilisation's history.

Bring water and a hat, the sun is backing and there is minimal shade on the site

Entrance fees

The entrance fee varies and student discount is available. Prices fluctuate during peak season and off season so do your research before hand on the best times to visit The Yucatán and Chichen Itza. There are savings to be had if you plan wisely and visit off peak. 

Chichen Itza, Mexico
El Castillo The Kukulkan Pyramid - The main attraction

Chichen Itza, Mexico

We were able to explore Chichen Itza on foot, the site is reasonably small and everything is within walking distance. We used the maps provided in the Central America on a shoestring Lonely Planet and found them useful enough to get around and plan a little route within the Mayan site.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Click here to catch up on the rest of the On the road... series

Upon entering the site you are instantly greeted by El Castillo The Kukulkan Pyramid. For several minutes we stood in awe at our first ancient structure of Latin America picturing scenes from Apocalypto. I couldn't possibly think of one thing in Europe that reminded me of The Kukulkan Pyramid and I began to quickly realise why there were so many others eagerly queuing to enter Chichen Itza on this hot October day. 

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico
Windswept but happy to be exploring Chichen Itza


Going to Mexico City?

Top tips for Chichen Itza

The sun is hot and there is little to no shade on site. Bring your sun cream and a cover up for when the penetrating heat gets too much. Almost all the guide books will tell you to bring some water. Regardless of the heat we spent hours wandering the ruins and exploring our surroundings. We managed to find a shaded bench in a quieter area of the site just as some of the large busses were leaving. We sat for a while and it almost felt silent, there's an air of great importance around Chichen Itza and you can feel it whilst your immersed in the Mayan history on the sacred site. 

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Down behind one of the smaller structures is a pathway lined with sellers touting goods to the masses of tourists that embark upon Chichen Itza every day. Down at the bottom of the path is a large hole but not just any large hole. A cenote, one of thousands dotted around the Yucatan, Southern Mexico and Belize. We'd passed a lot of road signs already in our short time in Mexico pointing to various Cenotes in random and unsuspecting locations. 

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

Chichen Itza, Mexico

A trip to Chichen Itza is highly recommended. Whether you're enjoying a getaway to Cancun or Playa del Carmen or you're exploring The Yucatan for several weeks make sure Chichen Itza is at the top of your to do list. Arrive early and trust that you can successfully and cheaply get here on public transport and still have the same experience as those on a prearranged overpriced tour.

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2 comments

  1. So jealous! I always dreamed of doing this, but my boyfriend doesn't want to go to Mexico, due to safety issues .. Hoped you enjoyed your trip!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mexico is a very safe country for tourists. Like anywhere else you are very unlikely to find trouble if you follow a few steps and remain cautious. I hope your boyfriend changes his mind about Mexico. He would really enjoy visiting such a diverse and culture rich country! Thanks for reading.

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