If you are wondering how to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza, you have landed in the right place. In this post, I will share all the possible options that you have to visit one of the seven wonders from Cancun. It is my promise to you, after reading this article you will be able to decide which one is the best option for you to get to the most visited Mayan archaeological site in Mexico.
That’s right! Chichen Itza receives an average of 10.000 visitors per day, a number that can reach 15.000 in peak season. It’s really a lot.
One of the most important cultural centers for the Mayan civilization (but not the most glorious of all times) Chichen Itza made it to the list of the new seven wonders of the world and it’s a UNESCO world heritage site. That is why it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Mexico.
Although I must say, I am more fond of other Mayan sites such as Mayapan, or the small site of the Ruta Puuc, I recon the grandeur of the Chichen Itza archaeological site and the well-preserved structures.
So, I do believe visiting Chichen Itza is a must, at least once in a lifetime.
I went three times, one on a guided tour, one by bus and the latest one by car, which was the best decision ever. And therefore I decided to write this post and help you find out which way is the most suitable way for you to visit the spectacular Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza.
First thing first, where is Chichen Itza Located?
Chichen Itza is located in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula at only 120 miles from Cancun (194km) and 44 km (32 miles) from Valladolid, which makes it an obvious stop if you are planning an itinerary in the Yucatan Peninsula.
But what if you just want to visit Chichen Itza on a day trip from Cancun? That’s easy and you have so many available options to choose from.
Important things to know about visiting Chichen Itza
Before moving forward to the list of ways to reach Chichen Itza from Cancun I would like to share a couple of important facts that you need to take into consideration when choosing the best option for you.
- Chichen Itza covers a huge territory and includes many interesting structures and the Sacred Cenote, where you cannot swim but it’s still worth looking and photographing, enjoy the peaceful surrounding and wait for the beautiful Mot Mot bird to come and pay a visit.
- Therefore I would calculate approximately 3 hours for a good visit. One time I calculated 2 and I regretted it.
- Because of the outrageous number of visitors you wil want to avoid the crowds and the lines at the ticket office. So make sure you arriva for when it opens at 8 am, if you can.
- Entering with big backpacks is not allowed, let alone with professional cameras for which you need to ask for a specific permit. You can do that at the entrance or at the inha website before getting there. For drones you will have to pay an outrageous amount of money at the INHA. Phones are permitted.
How to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza
Now that we have covered all the basic stuff, let’s get to the point. Here below you will find all the possible ways to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza.
Cancun to Chichen Itza by car rental
Getting to Chichen Itza by car is the best idea.
The time to get there from Cancun would be 2.5 hours but I would suggest you should either leave very early (meaning that you need to rent your car the day before) or plan a two-day itinerary where on the first day you take your time and swim in a few cenotes nearby and visit Valladolid and early morning the second day you will be the first to enter Chichen Itza.
You can sleep in one of the hotels close to Chichen Itza or in Piste, the nearest town.
This way, you will avoid the crowds and will be able to visit the archaeological site at your own pace but also to learn about the many things to do in the surrounding, the spectacular cenotes and old towns.
Car Rental to Chichen Itza costs
- about 40 to 50 USD for a car rental with full insurance
- 25 to 40 USD for a full tank ( depending on the type of car obviously)
- Toll fees (cuota) 686 MXN (35 USD) return – although I would rather use the toll road to get there because it’s quicker, but I would go for the local road on the way back so that you can take the time to drive through small villages and maybe bump into another lesser known cenote.
If you are on your own, renting a car may seem a little more expensive than joining one of the organized tours but it will pay off if you love to travel on your own and stay away from crowds.
Make sure you have a Mexico Sim Card so that you can open google map or Waze and avoid getting lost 🙂
Find the best Car Rental deals
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From Cancun to Chichen Itza by tour
If you don’t mind sharing your transportation with a big group and following a set schedule, then visiting Chichen Itza with an organized full-day tour is your best option.
Usually, with these organized tours, you will visit Chichen Itza first and then you will go to a nearby cenote and Valladolid, the beautiful nearby colonial city and you will be accompanied by a certified tour guide who will share his knowledge about the Mayan Culture besides the history of Chichen Itza
You can also book a private tour if you want to be accompanied but you want to avoid groups. A private tour can be organized by the below companies upon request. Custom rates will be provided.
Top-rated tours to Chichen Itza
Please keep in mind that the cost of these tours is so low because the entry fee to Chichen Itza is not included. That alone would be 25 USD.
What the above tours include instead?
Generally speaking, these kinds of tours include transportation to the Mayan Site, a cenote, and Valladolid, buffet lunch, and of course, they pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.
A tour guide is also usually included.
But make sure to read all the details in the tour description before confirming and paying, in order to avoid surprises.
Here below I am sharing the top-rated Chichen Itza tours. Click on the link to read the tour details and prices.
From Cancun to Chichen Itza by private transportation
If you don’t feel like driving but want to have private transportation from Cancun to Chichen-Itza, so that you can make your own schedule, we’ve got you covered as well.
Here below I am going to share some Chichen Itza tours that have the best ratings.
This option includes private transportation from your hotel to Chichenitza first, then to visit a cenote, and then to Valladolid. You can make your own schedule although it would be ideal to leave quite early 7 am max, to beat the big busses and the crowd. You can spend a couple of hours in the archeological site and then move on to a cenote where you can swim and the last stop to Valladolid for the remaining time. The cost depends on the number of people in the group and includes a 10 hour day trip but not the entrances, the food, and tips. (Make sure you read the policy and all the detail. Read more.
Take the ADO Bus to Chichen Itza
It is possible to get from Cancun to Chichen Itza by ADO bus. You can find buses every hour from the ADO bus station.
The service is provided by Autobuses ORIENTE which is the lowkey brand of ADO group. Unfortunately, it’s not possible to book it online on the ADO website, so you will have to get to the ticket office at the ADO station terminal in Cancun.
Here below is the picture of the ORIENTE bus departure time and the prices in MXN.
I would go on the one at 5 or 6 max. To go back you will find the same bus departing from the Chichen Itza parking lot. Ask the driver the exact point, because the parking lot is quite big.
Take a private plane from Cancun to Chichen Itza
Did you know that now you can get from Cancun to Chichen Itza by private jet? Obviously, it’s going to be quite costly but if you have the financial resources, why not?
You can make your reservation from the BookAway site where you can choose the time that best suits your schedule.
This is a private Flight from Cancun to Chichen Itza for a maximum of 5 passengers. The price is for the plane not per person. It’s a direct flight that will get you to Chichen Itza in 1 hour only. But you should consider transport to the airport and waiting time which is 45 minutes approximately.
Onboard you will be offered food, drinks and you will have an English-speaking assistant.
Click on the picture below to read more and check availability or go directly to the BookAway page to make your reservation.
Pictures and Video in Chichen Itza
As I already mentioned, photos with professional cameras are unfortunately forbidden and a permit is required.
You can take pictures with your phone with no problem, though.
If you really want to take professional pictures you can ask at the dedicated office at the archaeological site entrance.
There are different kinds of licenses and you are asked to explain your purpose and what the use of the photos will be.
Chichen Itza Opening Hours
Chichen Itza opens every day from Monday to Sunday from 8 am to 5 pm, the last entrance is at 4 pm, and you can get the tickets on-site.
However the following areas inside the site close at 4 pm
Juego de pelota, Cenote sagrado, Plaza de las mil columnas, Plaza del Osario, Observatorio y Grupo de la Monjas.
Cost of Chichen Itza entrance
Adults $533 MXN
Child (3-12) $80 MXN
Mexican Citizens $237
Sundays are free for Mexicans and foreigners with permanent residency
Cancun to Chichen Itza FAQ
Chichen Itza Cancun Distance
Chichen Itza – Cancun distance is about 120 miles or about 193 kilometers. If you go directly from Cancun International airport to Chichen Itza with a car rental it’s 112 miles.
The most popular way to visit Chichen Itza
The most popular tour is a full-day trip from Cancun to Chichen Itza which includes also a swim in one of the nearby cenotes (the most popular is Ik-Kil) and visits to the colonial city of Valladolid. But I personally prefer to go on my own, or at least choose a tour with a few people.
How much does it cost to go from Cancun to Chichen Itza?
That depends on how you get there. If you go by car it’s probably more expensive but you will have a better experience.
Is it safe to travel to Chichen Itza from Cancun?
Absolutely safe. Yucatan is the safest state in Mexico and driving around the Yucatan Peninsula is one of the best experiences. Quintana Roo is also a safe state to drive around, especially on the Riviera Maya all the way down to Bacalar and Mahahual.
Can I hire a guide in Chichen Itza?
Yes, you can totally do that. At the entrance and once you are inside you can find certified guides offering their service. It’s really worth it and the majority of them speaks English.
The price ranges starting from 40 USD/ person but it’s cheaper for groups.
How long is the bus ride from Cancun to Chichen Itza?
Consider about 3 hours.
Is Chichen Itza worth the drive?
Totally worth the drive, but make sure you spend the night in Valladolid and use your time left to visit the nearby cenotes and the beautiful colonial town.