Visiting Chichen Itza from Cancun

Why Should You Visit Chichen Itza?

Why should you visit Chichen Itza? Chichen Itza is an ancient city that was once the center of the Mayan Empire. The Mayans built Chichen Itza in its location because it was directly in the center of the Americas. According to present-day research, Chichen Itza is within 10 km of the halfway point between Anchorage, Alaska, and Patagonia, Argentina.

Chichen Itza was settled as early as 600 AD, and the most famous buildings were built between 750 AD and 950 AD. The city was abandoned because of drought around 1100 AD when the Mayans moved to the coast to fish.

The Mayans are fascinating people, and when you visit Chichen Itza, you can interact with Mayan People. Greet them with the saying “Ma’lob Kin,” which means “good day.”

The Mayans were people of short stature who never evolved to grow facial hair. As a result, they never became warriors, instead focusing their attention on astronomy. The Mayans were credited with multiple inventions, including the most accurate calendar ever created and the number zero.

The Mayan calendar lasted 5,125 years because that is how many years it takes to align the planets with the center of the solar system. Many people believe that there might be an extraterrestrial connection with the Mayans. This connection is thought to have existed because of some of the strange remains found in Chichen Itza and other Mayan cities. The remains found had elongated craniums, that appeared to be alien-like. In reality, the craniums were created purposely by squishing the heads of the upper class. Mayans in the lowest class had normal-sized heads, while the middle class had slightly elongated heads, and the upper class had vastly elongated heads. The Mayans did this because they thought it would create more space for the brain to grow.

The Mayans worshipped the “bird” and the “snake.” You will see plenty of examples of this when you visit Chichen Itza. The name of the large temple in the center of Chichen Itza was named “Kukulcan,” which means “the feathered serpent.” Another example of the importance of the snake is the name “Cancun,” which means “snake’s nest.”

The Mayans also believed that the world was flat, resting on the back of four turtles. The Mayans would later figure out that the world was round, which would cause them to have to redesign all of their cities.

The Mayans believed that everyone’s destiny was determined by the gods and that their future would be determined based on the day that they were born. To appease the gods, the Mayans often gave human sacrifices. As a result, areas of Chichen Itza where sacrifices took place are stained blue from oxidized blood. The Mayans only sacrificed people who volunteered. Mayans saw this as an opportunity to write their own destiny.

Women were extremely important in Mayan culture as they were the only ones who could give birth. Because of this, Mayan rulers were typically women.

There is so much to learn about the Mayans that it wouldn’t be possible to list it all on this page. There are entire college courses that study the Mayan empire. In this section, I will do my best to lay out what I learned about the Mayans during my time at Chichen Itza. While I am a global studies teacher, the Mayan Empire is not one of my focal points, so most of what I learned was new information.

Chichen Itza is one of the most unique places I’ve ever been and should be a must-visit for anyone traveling to Cancun.

Chichen Itza
The Temple of Kukulcan (front) and the Temple of Warriors (rear)
Chichen Itza Stone Carvings
A Mayan Stone Carving Near the Ball Field of Chichen Itza

Stone carvings show us a glimpse into Mayan sacrifice.  Here, the winner of the game is being decapitated.  Seven snakes are coming out of his neck.

Temple of Kukulcan
Another View of the Temple of Kukulcan

Visiting Chichen Itza From Cancun - Table of Contents

Disclaimer:  At Buzzin’ Around the World, we do our best to offer the most factual information that was available to us at the time of posting based on our research. If you believe something on our site is incorrect or misleading, please email us.

We follow all local, national, and international laws and ordinances based on our best interpretation at the time of posting. If you are a representative of an organization that believes one of your ordinances has been violated, please know it was not intentional. To have content removed, please email us.

Finally, under section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, education, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. 

We use affiliate links to help pay for fees associated with our website. When you book a service (i.e. flight, hotel, tour) or purchase a product through any of our links, we may/will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. may be compensated for reviews posted on this website. We always review each product truthfully. 

Buzzin’ Around the World uses our individual travel experiences to write our content. All photos and content are original. Buzzin’ Around the World sometimes uses AI to generate titles, summaries, or descriptions of our original work.

For more information, please click HERE to visit our private policy page. We can be reached at

How to Get to Chichen Itza from Cancun?

One of my first questions was, “How do I get to Chichen Itza from Cancun?” Since Chichen Itza is just over two hours from Cancun, I chose to take a tour. The tour company I went with was named “Amigo Tours,” and I give them my highest recommendation. The bus picked me up at 7:20 am, outside of my hotel. I was warmly greeted by our guide Marco and our driver Victor.

On the bus, we had assigned seats, and I was pleased to see that I had a row to myself. The rest of the pickups took a long time as Cancun is rather spread out. I felt bad for the people who had been picked up an hour before me.

About halfway, we stopped at the colonial town of Valladolid. This stop helped break up the long ride. As we rode towards Chichen Itza, Marco provided fascinating information about the Mayans. I took five pages of notes.

After we arrived at Chichen Itza, we toured the ruins for around three hours. Following our tour, we got back onto the bus and went to a local restaurant for an authentic Mayan lunch. Finally, on the way back, we stopped at one of the Mayans’ sacred cenotes for a quick swim. Overall, the tour was a long one, totaling over 12 hours in length. It was definitely worth it, as Chichen Itza is one of the most fascinating places I have ever visited.

Amigo Tours Bus
The Amigo Tours Bus
The Entrance to Chichen Itza

Entering Chichen Itza and the City Walls

When we arrived, Marco passed out our tickets and divided us into groups. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chichen Itza was limited to 3,000 visitors per day. This limitation meant that we would be able to see Chichen Itza without the crowds and get pictures without any people standing in the way. Marco also explained that tours would be limited to nine people per group. I was assigned to Rodrigo’s tour group. He was, without a doubt, the best guide I’ve ever toured with.

The first stop on our tour was the remains of the Chichen Itza City Walls. At one point, the wall stood around 2 meters in height. Today, there is only a small portion of the wall that remains visible. Typically, the upper class would be allowed inside the walls, and the lower classes would remain outside the walls. This class system was especially evident at the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, where the remains found inside the city walls were around 5-7 inches taller than the remains found outside the walls. The reason for this height difference was that the upper class consumed more nutritious food, which allowed them to grow taller.

Chichen Itza City Walls
What Remains of the City Walls of Chichen Itza

Viewing the Temple of Kukulkan

The Temple of Kukulkan (called El Castillo by the Spanish) is one of the most fascinating structures in the world. In 2000, it was named one of the seven New Wonders of the World.

The Temple of Kukulkan is actually the third temple that was built in Chichen Itza. The original temple was built in 400 BCE and was 17 meters tall. At the time, the Mayans thought that the Earth was flat, and as a result, they were unable to create an astronomically correct temple. The architect was executed, and Chichen Itza was abandoned for 1,000 years. 

The current temple is part of a larger group of temples, which are five in total. The other four are now buried underground. The purpose of the layout was because the Mayans once believed that the world was supported on the back of four turtles. The Temple of Kukulcan is built on top of four other temples, which represent the Earth on the back of the four turtles.

A Corner View of the Temple of Kukulcan
Excavation On the Temples Below Kukulcan
Part of the Excavation of the Four Buried Temples

When the Mayans returned to Chichen Itza, 1,000 years later, they used an interesting method to build the Temple of Kukulcan using circumference. Typically, using circumference was avoided because it was considered sacred as it was the shape of a pregnant woman, the sun, and the moon. To work around having to use circumference, the Mayans built Kukulcan on top of the four smaller temples. Each temple was created in a square shape with a 90-degree angle. When adding Kukulcan to the middle of the four squares, it created a circular effect.

The Mayans did not point their temple to true north, instead pointing it to 11° degrees north, which is magnetic north. This decision made the four temples appear not as a cross but rather as an “X.” The Mayans created this shape because it looked like a person with open arms and open legs. They had the idea that they could create a perfect circle by using the bellybutton as the radius. Many years later, Leonardo de Vinci would paint the Vitruvian Man, which used a similar concept.

The second temple was built at a height of 34 meters. At the end of each calendar cycle, the Mayans built a new temple.  The next temple (the current one) had a height of 68 meters.

The current temple was built so that on May 24, the sun would switch sides and shine on the opposite side of the temple. At exactly noon, on May 24, there would be no shadow on Kukulcan. The Mayans knew that this would not happen again until 365 days later. As a result, May 24, marks the beginning of the Mayan New Year.  

The Mayan Calendar is divided into four seasons. Each season is 91 days long, and to represent that, Kukulcan has 91 stairs on each side. If you multiply 91 by 4, you will get a total of 364. When you include the final step on the top of the platform, the Temple of Kukulcan has a total of 365 steps.

Now, the Mayans had a bit of a problem. There were 360 total degrees and 365 days. When subtracting 360 from 365, there were five days leftover. Those five days were known as “the days for slaves and sacrifices.” I will cover more about sacrifices in the “Temple of Warriors” and “Great Ball Court” sections.

The Temple of Kukulcan
91 Steps Rising at an Angle of 45 Degrees

There are many fascinating concepts that were part of the design of the Temple of Kukulcan.  One of them is the almost unbelievable acoustics.  The inside of the temple opens to a sacred cenote, which helps give Kukulkan its amazing acoustics. Vibrations from outside the temple go up the steps, into the temple, and down into the cenote. The result is a sound that imitates the Resplendent Quetzal, which is a bird that was sacred to the Mayans.

When you visit the Temple of Kukulcan, clap in the following rhythm, (clap, clap, clap – pause – clap, clap, clap – pause – clap, clap, clap.) You will clearly hear the sound “ku-kul-can” coming out of the temple.

Click on the video to the right to hear the amazing acoustics.

Temple of Kukulcan
This Side Has Not Been Restored or Renovated
The Opening of the Temple of Kukulcan
Entrance to Kukulcan
The Face Above the Entrance to Kukulcan
A Face Above the Entrance

Another amazing feat of architecture was displayed on each equinox. Beginning at 4:36 pm and ending at 5:36 pm, seven triangles appear to form the body of a snake. At 5:37, the first of the seven triangles disappear with the others following every minute. Within seven minutes, the entire body of the snake disappears.

Do you see the snake?
Can You See the Snake?
Boy Snake at The Temple of Kukulcan
The Head of the Snake

The inside of the Temple of Kukulcan used to be open to visitors. In 1995, it was closed due to vandalism by tourists. Inside there is a special throne for the queen. The throne is carved in the shape of “Chac Mool,” which represents a woman having a baby. Three meters behind the throne is a red jaguar with 52 spots. Unfortunately, tourists carved their names into the inside of the temple, and someone urinated on the jaguar, causing it to lose its red color. Due to these horrific actions, none of us can go inside Kukulcan.

Take a second to look at the picture below. According to our guide, Rodrigo, Kukulcan is one of the greatest illusions of all time. Do you see areas that are not symmetric?

The Temple of Kukulcan is Actually Off Center
The Biggest Illusion of All Time

In reality, neither the face, nor the opening are perfectly symmetric to the stairs.  When Rodrigo showed us this, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t noticed it.  He said that Kukulcan creates the illunsion that it is perfectly symmetric when looking at it from the side.  Scroll up to the first picture (the side view) and you will see what I mean. 

The Temple of Warriors

The second-most popular sight at Chichen Itza is the Temple of Warriors. The Temple is protected by 200 columns which are carved to look like Toltec Warriors. At the top of the steps is a Chac Mool statue that is not pregnant. Our guide, Rodrigo, explained that there is a period of time when the setting sun creates a shadow on the Chac Mool that makes her appear pregnant. Behind the Chac Mool are two pillars that represent Kukulcan.

When visiting the Temple of Warriors, you will notice that the Temple is stained blue. This blue color comes from oxidized blood as the Temple of Warriors was the location of most human sacrifices.

The Temple of Warriors
The Temple of Warriors

During the five “days of slaves and sacrifices,” the Mayans sacrificed children to the gods. The sacrifices took place at the top of the Temple of Warriors near the Chac Mool. To be sacrificed, a child had to make it to the top of the steps voluntarily. The Mayans never sacrificed anyone who did not volunteer.

Rodrigo explained that the lower class was not able to be reincarnated, and that by being sacrificed, the child would then allow his/her family members a chance to be reincarnated. He also said that the Mayans knew that everyone would eventually die and that it was honorable to choose their own destiny by deciding when they would die. He compared it to the concept of “Jihad” and “Kamikaze Pilots.” Throughout history, people have often chosen an honorable death, and the Mayans were no different.

The following description is graphic. If you prefer not to read about the human sacrifices, go onto the next section.    

The Mayans would take the sacrificial child and break open his/her ribs. They would then remove the still-beating heart and hold it up to the gods. This offering was considered the ultimate sacrifice.

Chac Mool on top of the Temple of Warriors
The Not Pregnant Chac Mool Statue
Side View of the Temple of Warriors
The Warrior Columns
The Temple of Warriors
Zoomed Out on the Temple of Warriors

If you stand at the correct angle between the Temple of Kukulcan, the Temple of Warriors, and the nearby Temple of Dancers, another unique acoustical effect can be heard. If you clap once loudly, you will hear “the bird, yourself, and the snake.”

Upon clapping, you first hear the echo coming from the Temple of Kukulcan, then the echo of the clapping off of the Temple of Dancers, and finally the rattle of a snake from the Temple of Warriors.

Hearing these sounds are only possible in certain places. The Mayans wanted to ensure that only the upper class could create these sounds and not the lower class that lived outside of the city.

To hear an example, watch the brief video to the right.

The Great Ball Court at Chichen Itza

The Chichen Itza Great Ball Court measures 545 feet in length by 225 feet in width. On the court, they played a Mayan ball game, known as Pok-A-Tok, in which the players had to score a ball through a stone hoop. Seven players on each side would play using a ball made out of chicle (a gum-like substance from a tree.) The ball typically weighed between 6 and 8 pounds. In order to score a goal, the players could only use their hips, shoulders, knees, and elbows. The use of their head, hands, and feet was against the rules.

Due to the difficulty of scoring a goal, the game would often last at least six hours. The game was witnessed by Mayans from all classes, with the lower class sitting in one end zone, the rulers sitting in the other end zone, and the upper class sitting up high on the sidelines.

The Great Ball Court
The Grand Ball Court
Great Ball Court
The Area for the Rulers

Below, are the two goals that the players had to get the ball to pass through. Each goal was around 20 feet off the ground, which is double the height of a regulation basketball hoop. The game was such a spectacle that the acoustics had to be perfect. According to Rodrigo, it meant that every sound could be heard throughout the court.

The Great Ball Court
One of the Goals
The Great Ball Court
The Other Goal

Below are two examples of the acoustics of the Grand Ball Court. On the left, you can clearly hear seven echoes back-and-forth of a single clap. The number seven was extremely important to the Mayans as it related to the seven energetic points of the body.

On the right, you can hear the amplification acoustics of the Great Ball Court. The ancient stone surround sound “speakers” amplified the sound so even a whisper could be heard across the court. In the video, our guide Rodrigo walks at least 50 to 100 yards away while smacking his cheek to make a popping sound. You can hear the sound the entire time.

Great Ball Court Acoustics
The Surround Sound "Speaker"

There is some debate about who was sacrificed after a goal had been scored on the Great Ball Court.  Some people believe it was the losing team that had a player sacrificed.  Rodrigo explained this is incorrect, as being sacrificed was an honor, and it was the winning team’s captain (the goal scorer) who was beheaded.

You can see that the platform where the sacrifices took place is stained with oxidized blood.

The Great Ball Court
The Area Where the Captain of the Winning Team was Beheaded

The following description is graphic. If you prefer not to read about the human sacrifices, go onto the next section.    

Rodrigo told us that the sacrifices were recorded in the art carved into the wall of the Great Ball Court.  Below, you can see the winner being beheaded on the left, their decapitated head in the center, and seven snakes coming out of his severed neck on the right.

Chichen Itza Stone Carvings
Showing the Execution
Chichen Itza Stone Carvings
The Decapitated Head of the Winner
Chichen Itza Stone Carvings
Seven Snakes Coming out of the Neck
Great Ball Court
The Oxidation of Blood Stains Where the Winner was Beheaded

Photo Opportunities at Chichen Itza

The Great Ball Court was the last stop on our tour of Chichen Itza.  Rodrigo offered to take photos of anyone who wanted to be “Number One” on Instagram.  Below, is a photo that he took of me.

Buzz at Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza Tours and Packages

It is extremely necessary to have a knowledgeable guide when touring Chichen Itza. Without hearing the stories, you are simply looking at an old pyramid and a few old buildings. I booked directly with Amigo Tours and will link to their website HERE. I do not earn any commission if you book directly on Amigo Tours website. Despite that, I would appreciate it if you would let Amigo Tours know that you learned about their company on

If you are looking for a different tour, I have linked some others below. As an affiliate of Viator, I will receive a small commission if you book a tour using one of the links below. This commission is at no additional cost to you. Viator uses a variety of companies, and I cannot assure you that you will be booked with Amigo Tours if you use one of the links below.

I believe the first link to the left is the tour that I took with Amigo Tours.  The itinerary and cost match exactly. 

Prices are accurate as of April 2023.

Chichen Itza Deluxe Tour
CHICHEN ITZA DELUXE TOUR, Cenote, Buffet, Unlimited Drinks (No hidden fees) - $109.43

EXPERIENCE WHAT IT FEELS TO BE A MAYA FOR ONE DAY! Saturate your senses with the greatness of one of the most advanced cultures in the ancient world!

You will be attended by authentic natives (Certified Guides) of the area who will share with you the inherited knowledge by their ancestors through generations.

Meet the majestic archeological zone of CHICHEN ITZA, one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World" and one of the top tour destinations chosen by visitors from all over the world.

+Travel in comfortable panoramic coach busses with A.C.
+Enjoy the unique taste of the best regional food buffet in our "Visitor Exclusive" restaurant "Yaax Ki'in". 
+Swim in the beautiful Cenote "Saamal". Refresh your body with the special healing properties of its water.
+Know the picturesque town of Valladolid established by the Spanish conquerors in 1543.
+If you are an energy and mysticism believer, be part of an authentic "Maya shaman" healing session.


Private Chichen Itza Tour from Cancun
Private Tour: Chichen Itza Arqueological Zone from Cancun - $306.00

Discover Chichen Itza on a private tour from Cancun. Explore this UNESCO World Heritage site outside of Cancun at your own pace; private tours allow you to dictate how long you'd like to spend at the site. Visit the ball court, the castle, and the Sacred Cenote, all integral parts of the most important archaeological sites from the Mayan Empire. Hire an on-site guide or upgrade your tour to include drinks and lunch, both at additional costs.

Private day trip to Chichen Itza from Cancun 

Spend as much of the day as you'd like at Chichen Itza, an ancient Mayan ruin and UNSECO World Heritage Site 

Explore the observatory, the Sacred Cenote, the ball court and the castle 

Complimentary roundtrip transportation from your hotel in a private vehicle 

You choose the start and end times for your private tour Upgrade to include lunch or lunch with drinks 

Chichen Itza and Cenote Maya Tour
Chichen Itza Cenote Maya - $169.00

Join the experts and visit Chichen Itza, the archaeological site named as one of the “Wonders of the Modern World”. Be among the first to arrive to beat the crowds to visit the famous castle, the ballcourt, and the observatory. Discover the majestic Cenote Maya, the cenote with the largest vault in the entire Yucatán Peninsula, and enjoy this jewel of nature with its beautiful rock formations where you can swim and enjoy adventure activities. Learn about the Mayan culture, participate in a blessing ceremony, visit a traditional Mayan house and enjoy the flavors of a traditional meal prepared with vegetables from our organic garden. Take your memories home with you in the form of photos of your activities, taken by photographers from the Mayan communities themselves!

Buzzin' Around the World's Affiliate Partners

Affiliate Disclaimer

Affiliate Partner of the Month - Viator

Viator is my favorite website for booking tours and packages. With over 300,000 unique tours to choose from, everyone should be able to find something on Viator that interests them. I like Viator because anytime I have an issue with a tour company, Viator has intervened and helped on my behalf. I highly recommend using Viator for booking your tours and vacation packages.

Book Through the Link Below to Help Buzzin' Around the World Earn Commission

Earn $200 in Travel Rewards with the Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Card is one of the few rewards cards that does not charge an annual fee. Cardholders can earn 1.25 points for every dollar spent while enjoying 0% APR for 15 months.

Currently, Capital One is offering a signup bonus of 20,000 points (worth $200 in travel rewards) when the cardholder spends $500 in the first three months. If you are interested in this card, I would appreciate it if you would sign up with the link below, as I earn a referral bonus of 10,000 points. Those points are worth $100 in travel rewards and will help me continue to bring great content to Buzzin’ Around the World.

Once again, the Capital One VentureOne card is one of the few reward cards without an annual fee and is the perfect card for someone who is just starting to get into the travel points game.

Related Content