Chichen Itza Day Trip from Playa del Carmen

Mexico is enchanting! Heavenly food, cheaper prices, pristine beaches – what else do you need for a home away from your home? Saying so, El Castillo, the iconic step pyramid that has been declared as one of the seven wonders in the world is the most significant place to visit in Mexico. The pyramid is located in Chichen Itza, and it can be covered as a day trip from Playa Del Carmen or Cancun.

Where is Chichen Itza?

Chichen Itza Signboard
Chichen Itza is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Mexico

Chichen Itza is situated in Mexico’s southeast part named Yucatan Peninsula, close to Belize and Guatamala. Despite being on a peninsula, it is far from the most beautiful beaches. Chichen Itza is 180 km from Playa del Carmen, and it takes roughly two and a half hours to get there. If you’re travelling from Cancun, allow an extra 30 minutes. Merida is the nearest major town from Chichen Itza.

Chichen Itza Day Trip – Journey Begins [7:30 AM]

Vehicle for Chichen Itza Daytrip
This vehicle took me to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen

I left Playa Del Carmen early in the morning to travel to Chichen Itza. A vehicle carrying more vacationers arrived from Cancun. Because Playa Del Carmen is closer to Chichen Itza, I could extend my sleep by 30 minutes. Our tour guide was a pleasant woman who spoke English and Spanish well.

Stoppage for shopping and lunch [11:30 AM]

Cooperative Maya Chichen Itza
Our longer stoppage on way to Chichen Itza

The day was sunny and bright. The clouds were everywhere, hanging. Mexico is a vibrant country, and I adored how everything was painted. There was more information being given by our guide than I could take in. We stopped for a 10-minute bathroom break midway, which allowed us to restock on food as well. We stopped just 10 to 12 kilometres from where we were going to eat the lunch that was part of the tour package. But shopping came first, then came the food!

Mayan Souvenirs
Plenty of souvenirs to choose from!

The store where we paused was called Cooperative Maya. We were told that a group of cooperative women ran it. It was a sizable space with a lot of things.

Maya Skulls and Sculptures
Skulls everywhere – do you wanna scare someone at your home?

In most sites, souvenirs were available. Some of them were on the table, while others were hung on the wall. They were organised, and some of them were accompanied by further details. Additionally, I discovered some magical stones that can ease your suffering (I was in desperate need of them)!

Traditional Maya Clothing
Traditional Maya Clothing hanging in front of the cooperative

The focus wasn’t solely on mementos. The clothing on show was authentic Mayan clothing. The majority of the clothing was made of cotton that had been vibrantly coloured. I didn’t buy anything, but I saw lots of people choosing some of the products that were on exhibit! After a buffet meal and an hour’s rest, we continued travelling.

Inside the ruins of Chichen Itza [1:30 AM]

Kukulkan Pyramid

Chichen Itza Different Perspective
Chichen Itza has a moderately large complex with several interesting things

At 1:30 PM, we arrived in Chichen Itza. One of the most significant cities in the Maya world was Chichen Itza. This ruin was most likely constructed in the ninth century. It served as a significant hub for trade, commerce, and religion during the Mayan civilisation. The city was abandoned in the 12th century and then rediscovered in the 19th century.

Back View of Chichen Itza
If you want to grab a crowd free photo, head towards the back side of the pyramid

The Chichen Itza complex contains numerous structures, including the ball court and the temple of the warriors. However, Kukulkan Pyramid is the most well-known of them. One of the most recognisable buildings in the entire globe, it. Its historical importance led to its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Chichen Itza Complex
The pyramid is the center of attraction in Chichen Itza complex

Stepped in shape and closely aligned with the movements of the sun is the Kukulkan Pyramid. It was a temple devoted to Kukulcan, a Maya god. The pyramid has four sides, each with a 91-step staircase. The 365 steps, which represent the days of the solar year, are formed when the top platform is added.

Temple of Warriors

Temple of Warriors in Chichen Itza
Temple of Warriors in Chichen Itza

We were given a knowledgable older man who was explaining us the history when we first arrived on site. I could barely stand the heat while listening to everyone. I made the decision to go around the courtyard. You will reach the Temple of Warriors if you follow suit.

Temple of warriors closer look
A closer look at the Temple of warriors in Chichen Itza

The Temple of the Warriors is a step pyramid made up of several warrior-like stone statues. The sculptures were grouped in four rows and formed columns. Some of them have shields and spears in their hands. It may have formerly had a rooftop, but it has since collapsed. When I realised it was constructed more than a century ago, I experienced a unique emotion.

Group of thousands columns

Group of thousands columns in Chichen Itza
Group of thousands columns literally consist of thousand columns!

If you go to the south of Temple of the Warriors, you will find the group of thousands columns. It’s basically a series of columns – approximately 200 of them. The columns are made of stone and covered a significant area. It is assumed that it served as a hub where people gathered to engage in a variety of activities. Maybe there was also a market there!

Great Ball Court

Great Ball Court
A portion of the Great Ball Court in Chichen Itza

The playing field is 168 by 70 metres and is separated into two halves by a wall. Like many other ancient games, it was played to the death, and the losers were offered as sacrifices to the god. Thankfully, it no longer exists today, and only ceremonial activities continue to take place. When you stand in front of the wall, don’t forget to clap. It will make a resonant noise.

End of our Chichen Itza Trip [3:00 PM]

Wall of Chichen Itza
Intricate design on the wall of Chichen Itza

We were in the Chichen Itza complex for around 90 minutes. Even while it may not seem like much time, you can see pretty much everything it has to offer in this amount of time. Do I enjoy it? Of course, it was great! On the other hand, if you let me pick one, I’d rather visit the Pyramids of Giza on any given day.

Cenote Saamal [4:30 PM]

Cenote Saamal
A rainy day in Cenote Saamal

After leaving Chichen Itza, we stopped at the Cenote Saamal on the way back. One of Yukatan’s largest cenotes, Cenote Saamal has an open sky, blue water, and a sandy bottom. The numerous cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula are well known. A cenote is a naturally formed trench that exposes groundwater and was formed when limestone bedrock collapsed. The Yucatan Peninsula’s limestone bedrock frequently collapses and produces countless cenotes due to its numerous fissures. Typically, people dive into the water, swim, and if there are any caverns, they even go through them.

Cenote Saamal Complex
I loved the interiors of Cenote Saamal complex

Sadly, by the time we arrived at the Cenote Saamal, the lovely and brilliant day had turned dark, and it eventually began to rain violently. Since thundering can harm humans, it forced the authorities to ban swimming there at that moment.

Chairs for relaxation in Cenote Saamal
It was a lovely setup!

Since I wasn’t going to swim, I spent some time admiring the natural beauty. The landscaping and trees made the compound look lovely. There are restaurants and souvenir shops in the complex. I took a stroll and found it colorful as well as peaceful!

Back to Playa Del Carmen [7:30 PM]

Amidst heavy rain, we arrived back to Playa at 7:30 PM. So, it took us a total of around 12 hours for the Chichen Itza day trip from Playa del Carmen. I didn’t find it rushed or exhausting. So, you can do it easily if you don’t want to stay in the nearby town of Merida which is the gateway of Chichen Itza.

How to book a day trip from Playa or Cancun to Chichen Itza?

You can shop around in the Playa Del Carmen or Cancun – you will find plenty of tour operators selling this trip. However, we suggest to choose one of the following tours. They are reliable and well rated.

  1. Classic tour to Chichen Itza from Playa or Cancun
  2. Coba, Chichen Itza, Cenote & Valladolid with Buffet Lunch