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 of the World from Cancun.
It is my promise to you, that 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 reckon 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.
How to get to Chichen Itza from other Mexican cities:
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 at and photographing, enjoying the peaceful surrounding, and waiting 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 will want to avoid the crowds and the lines at the ticket office. So make sure you arrive 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
Buy Chichen Itza Entrance Ticket in Advance
Avoid the lines and the hassle of carrying extra cash!
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.
1. 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 from Cancun 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, 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 🙂
Browse through international and local car rentals and find the best deal.
2. Getting 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.
Is it safe to take a tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza?
Yes, is completely safe to take a tour from Cancun to Chichen Itza if you do it with legit companies. This is why I have selected these highly-rated tours from Viator to have a double level of security.
Not only these companies have been through a check from Viator, but they have been reviewed by other customers. So you can be sure they are legit.
No matter whether you decide to purchase your tour, as long as you avoid street vendors, where you can’t prove they are authorized companies.
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 do 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.
3. 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 Chichen Itza 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 the waiting time which is 45 minutes approximately.
Onboard you will be offered food, and 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.
If you are a professional photographer and would like to take your equipment to Chichen Itza, you can apply for a permit through the INAH office.
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
What to take to Chichen Itza
✅ Camera/Phone (but no tripods)
✅ Insect repellant (remember to shower it off when you go visit a cenote, before getting in the water)
✅ Mexican Pesos to pay all entrance fees
✅ Passport with immigration card – nowadays immigration officers are doing random checks and stopping busses along the road checking if you are here with a valid permit whether it’s a tourist or resident. So make sure you don’t lose your immigration card.
What NOT to take to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen
Some items are either not allowed in Chichen Itza, or require special permits or charges. Avoid problems and fees and skip packing the following items:
🔴 Drinks other than water
🔴 Professional Camera Equipment – you can take any DSLR camera but tripods are not allowed
🔴 Drones (you need a special permit that you have to apply for a few weeks in advance and pay hundreds of $$)
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 speak English.
The price starts from 40 USD/ person but it’s cheaper for groups.
But you can get a self-guided tour as well for just 7 USD – click here to learn more
How long is the bus ride from Cancun to Chichen Itza?
The bus ride from Cancun to Chichen Itza is about 3 to 3.5 hours.
Is Chichen Itza really worth it? And worth the drive?
Yes, Chichen Itza Is really worth it especially if you have never seen it.
If you drive to Chichen Itza, which is the best way to visit, in my opinion, make sure you spend the night in Valladolid and use your time left to visit the nearby cenotes and the beautiful colonial town.
✨ Mexico Travel Planning Guide ✨
👉 Do I Need Travel Insurance to Travel to Mexico?
I would do it if I were you. You never know what can happen and know that no matter what, you will be covered with any expenses will give you peace of mind, and make your travel worry-free. You can check out SafetyWing which I have used and find it affordable and comprehensive and also Travel Insurance Master which is great because you can insert all your information and what kind of insurance you need and their system will pull out the best insurance for your need.
🚰 Can I Drink Tap Water in Mexico?
No, you can’t! Maybe in some areas or in some homes where they have installed water filters but to be on the safe side, I would say, never drink tap water in Mexico. Carry a water bottle with you and fill it up where you find available potable water sources. Most of the hotels have those.
🚗 Is It Safe to Drive in Mexico?
The short answer is: depending on where you are. Although in general if you stick to the main roads and don’t drive at night you should probably be safe. In lesser tourist areas you should probably check the local news to stay up to date. Driving in the Yucatan Peninsula is easy everywhere, even at night, although I would still avoid it. I recommend Discover Cars because the site offers the option to compare prices among different car rentals and you can add their own full coverage.
Read more on my guide on Renting a car in Mexico.
📱 Will My Phone Work in Mexico?
It will probably work, especially if you have a European or US phone, but your roaming rates may be to the stars (check with your SIM provider). Even if have an affordable international rate, you will be much better off by buying a Mexican SIM Card. It’s cheap, easy to set up, and it will keep you connected with your friends, family, and, more important, google Maps so you will never get lost!
🤕 Is It Safe to Travel to Mexico Right Now?
The short answer is, yes it is. However, there are parts of Mexico that are indeed troubled and you should avoid for now, and others that are super safe and easy to travel around.
Regardless of where you are you should always use some common sense rules such as, never flaunting expensive clothing, accessories, electronics, or money and keeping a low profile.
Read more on my detailed guide on safety in Mexico. If you are traveling to a specific destination I have got you covered as well:
💉 Do I Need Any Vaccine to Travel to Mexico?
No, there is no vaccine requirement (of any kind) to travel to Mexico
🇲🇽 Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Mexico?
If you are coming from the US or Europe you don’t need a VISA to enter Mexico. Once you get in you need to fill out a form that you need to keep with you until you leave. If you don’t have it you will pay a fine.
Although the tourist visa for US and European travelers used to be 6 months long which you could easily renew by leaving the country for a couple of days and going back, nowadays they have been stricter. You may be asked how you would sustain your living and other similar questions. Sometimes they even ask you to show your credit cards.
It seems odd but they can do that. If you intend to stay longer than a usual couple of weeks’ vacation time, just be honest and explain your plans. If you are not from the US, check this site to see if you need a visa
💸 Where Do I Find the Best Travel Deals for Mexico? 💸
A trip to Mexico can be expensive if you love to travel with all the comforts (like I do). There are a few tricks that will help you find the best deals. Here are my tips:
👉 DON’T travel in the high season, which is Holy week, Christmas and winter in general, and August.
👉 Book months in advance to find early booking discounts
👉 Use aggregators such as Discover Cars to find price comparisons and VRBO for vacation rentals!
👉 Look for packages flights+hotels on Expedia.
👉 Check on Booking.com or Hotels.com for hotel deals