Cancun Stories and Tips

Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza and Tulum

Temple at Chichen Itza Photo, Chichen Itza, Mexico

Some would say that if you see one Mayan ruins area you don't need to see others, but we would disagree with that. We chose to do both Chichen Itza AND Tulum during our 11 day vacation to Cancun. We used Brandt’s 2x1 Entertainment Card via www.cancunmex.com but just about every resort has some "deal" through a local tour operator. We Chichen did Itza with Brandt and were very happy with his service and the prices (approximately $60). If you do a timeshare presentation (which are available throughout Cancun) you may even be able to score free tickets for one or the other! That is how we did Tulum through Palace Resorts. The list price for the tour of Tulum was approximately $35 or $75 with the "add-on" of Xel-ha.

Chichen Itza

Our guided tour was provided by a very knowledgeable local gentleman, who was able to make the tour and information very interesting. I really enjoyed learning about the Mayan people and how intelligent they were so long ago. Their astronomical knowledge and predictions through the temples they built and the stories they told through the designs are incredible!

There is a lot to see here at the most well known of the Mayan ruins in Mexico. When we first arrived, we had to hike about 15 minutes to the entrance of the park like area. The first part of our tour included a walking tour of several areas of ruins. We learned how the Mayan people lived and how their community was structured to assure everyone in the village were provided for.

As you come through a small wooded area, you then see the wide open field like area where "the" attraction sits. Pyramid that everyone knows as Chichen Itza stands on a open grassy field. From a distance, it actually looks small. As you get closer and right up to the steps, looking up, the size is intimidating. You can climb the 91 steps to the top of the temple and look out over the area. It is a steep and exhausting climb but well worth it. David did it in two parts, with just a single rest break. I didn’t feel quite that adventurous, so I stayed on terra firma and took photos!

Coming down from the top, David said that it was a bit scary just because of how steep each step is. Many people (especially the women) could be seen scooting down on their fannies to avoid falling. By the way, they told us that in 2005, tourists will no longer be permitted to climb the temple due to the continued damage occurring. To our knowledge, they are still allowing folks to climb. Someone recently told me that was just an old wives’ tale that has been told for years, so who really knows.

You will also want to see the observatory and ball stadium. There is much to see around the area at Chichen Itza so go out and explore! While you are here, there are plenty of facilities for food, beverages and rest rooms. So make a day of it and enjoy!


Tulum

Tulum is known as "the other" Mayan ruins that visitors to Cancun often visit. It is in an area south of Cancun (about 90 minutes or so) and faces the ocean. While the ruins there have taken a beating over the years, they are wonderful examples of the times and worth the time and effort to see them. There is not quite as much to see or do here as at Chichen Itza, so you really can on planning just a couple of hours here.

When you arrive, there is a small tram like vehicle that will take you to the area where the ruins are. They are on a high cliff, above the ocean. It’s an easy walk among the various buildings and structures. All ruins are roped off, prohibiting climbing on them. Many are also restricted as to how close you can get to them, but there are a lot of ruins that you can get right up to.

There is a small beach here too, if you want to bring a bathing suit and layout or play in the water. There is a steep incline to walk down to the beach area but it looked like it could be easily navigated in decent shoes.

Many tour companies package this half-day tour with Xel-Ha (a great snorkel location), but unfortunately, ours was packaged with Xpu-Ha (the Palace Resort in a native jungle setting). It was a good day and we enjoyed our time at Xpu-Ha as well. With that being said, I would suggest that if you take this as a package, you do it with the Xel-Ha option.

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