Over the summer Lucas and I went on a trip to Cancun, Mexico. Cancun isn’t the kind of destination that I’d choose to visit but we went due to a great reason- I had won the trip!
I’m not really into spending days at the beach or by the pool but Lucas loves being in the water so I knew that it would be a great time for him. To break up the beach/pool time, I scheduled a day trip to Chichen Itza, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.
Our trip was provided by Viator. We took the Small- Group Tour with Private Entrance. (The tour was ran by Gray Line Cancun Yucatan.)
Our trip included a guided tour, entering the site through a private gate at the Mayaland Hotel, buffet lunch and roundtrip transportation. (It was also supposed to include access to Viator’s Hospitality Suite. This was never mentioned/ shown to us during our visit.)
A day trip to Chichen Itza from Cancun is guaranteed to be a long and tiring day.
We were picked up at our hotel at around 7:30 AM. I grabbed a few boxes of cereal from the hotel since it was a bit too early for Lucas and I to get down for breakfast. During the ride in the van, Lucas ate and slept, laying across me. This meant a comfy ride and good nap for Lucas but an uncomfortable ride for me! (The things we do for our kids…)
When we arrived, before we got to the entrance gate, we were shown some trinkets we could buy including Mayan alphabet jewelry, chocolate and some other things which I can not recall. This was kind of annoying if you ask me.
As we made our way towards the entrance area, Lucas spotted this iguana- pretty cool!
Soon after passing through the ticket area, it once again seemed like a giant tag sale. Rows of vendors selling similar junk along with the sales pitch of special price, sale, free to look and more. I was already starting to get a bad taste regarding the site.
Soon after, we got to the back of Chichen Itza’s main temple, the Temple of Kukulkan or El Castillo. This was an awesome sight to see however Lucas wasn’t really enjoying himself.
It was really hot out and Lucas was hungry… I had a bag with more cereal and a bag of cookies in the van. Definitely an amateur move on my part! I had asked Lucas when we arrived if he wanted me to bring the snacks and he said no so I foolishly listened and tossed the bag onto our seat!
Talk about a major mistake…
Lucas didn’t want to take any photos and complained how it was so boring! The thing is that Lucas usually loves seeing ancient temples and archaeological sites but hunger was getting the best of him and our visit had just begun!
We walked around to the front of Kukulkan and it really was an impressive sight to see. Our tour guide also shared lots of info, stories and details about the temple. Lucas was content playing with a mister fan for some time while I listened to the info but it was still hard to fully enjoy while he was hungry.
I was hoping to get lots of great photos but the problem is that Chichen Itza is a very popular place to visit. And some tour groups (not ours) like to give their customers bright umbrellas so they don’t get separated (and most likely to have shade from the sun).
At one point I had to wait a while for hoards of tourists carrying these ridiculous pink umbrellas. Other groups had different colors for their umbrellas!
We passed lesser pyramids which had interesting carvings. However, our group just passed them without really stopping to take a good look.
We also got to see a couple of cenotes, best described as a sinkhole. The water looked murky at this one but the stories about the cenotes were definitely interesting to hear.
The last place we spent an extended period of time at was the Great Ballcourt which is the largest of its kind in Mesoamerica.
Our guide explained the theory about how the game was played but from what I recall, there is no concrete information about how the game was actually played. Bottom line, the ballcourt is huge!
After seeing the ballcourt, we had a long walk back to the Mayaland Resort for our lunch.
I didn’t take any photos of the food but it would best be described as OK. This is the place where lots of tour groups go for the included lunch.
Lucas really enjoyed lunch as well as the little shows the staff put on.
Lucas wasn’t thrilled with our visit to Chichen Itza but he did end the day a happy camper.
I learned my lesson. We always have snacks on us and the one time I left them behind I paid for it with a not so happy little guy.
Overall, the tour is a good value for the price (around $90 for adults). You get roundtrip transportation, lunch, a guided visit, entrance fees and more. The one thing I would’ve liked was more time to visit Chichen Itza to explore on our own.
As a whole, I wasn’t overly impressed by Chichen Itza. The ballcourt and Temple of Kukulkan were amazing sights to see but the grounds felt like markets with pushy salesman in many areas. The abundance of tour groups also made it hard and frustrating when trying to get a decent photo!
Based on this visit, Chichan Itza ranks as one of my least favorite UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (FYI- I’ve been to 107.)
If you’re short on time, a day trip is a good way to get a taste of Chichen Itza but a better way to see the sight would be to stay over. This way you can visit before and after the tour groups leave…
When it comes to the New Seven Wonders designation, a similar sight which I found to be much more impressive, was Tikal in Guatemala.