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Wonder of the World Chichén Itzá: Our Sunrise Tour

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Wonders of the World. World Heritage. landmarks of the region. It goes without saying that the Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá are a visitor magnet beyond compare. The good news: There is a insider tip to avoid the crowds. And it’s called sunrise.

While people climb on each other’s feet during the day, at sunrise you have the wonder of the world almost to yourself. We are still speechless looking at the photos from our sunrise tour. We would not have expected this experience to be so magical in a hundred years.

Since the area officially opens its doors at 8 a.m., it requires a little preparation to be able to see Chichén Itzá before anyone else. In this blog article we tell you everything you need to know about visiting Chichén Itzá at sunrise.

Current information: Currently (as of April 2018) it is not possible to book sunrise tours! We are in contact with our guide and will let you know as soon as this changes again. The Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows is also currently being renovated and is closed.

1. Mayan Ruins Chichén Itzá: Information & Overview Chichén Itzá is one of the seven new wonders of the world and one of the most important Mayan sites in general. The photos are a bit deceptive: the highlight, the step pyramid called El Castillo, is just one of many sights that await you in Chichén Itzá.

Unfortunately, the pyramid (just like all other ruins in Chichén Itzá) can no longer be entered. Climbing the pyramid was still allowed many years ago, but is now strictly forbidden.

By the way: If you – like us – don’t speak Spanish and you’re wondering how to pronounce “Chichén Itzá” wondering – voilà: “Tschitschen Itza” – emphasis on “a”.

Where is Chichén Itzá and where should I stay? Chichén Itzá is inland on the Yucatán Peninsula, near the tiny town of Pisté. It is about a two hour drive from Tulum or Playa del Carmen, 1.5 hours from Mérida and from Valladolid (the next largest city) 45 minutes. So theoretically you can stay overnight in one of the cities listed and visit Chichén Itzá as a day trip.

You’ll notice: we say “theoretically”. We are of the opinion that it is definitely worth staying near the ruins.

Between Pisté (the nearest town) and the archaeological site there are some hotels. Some are so close to the entrance of Chichén Itzá that you can even walk.

Our choice was the Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows – the hotel closest to Chichén Itzá. Best decision! The hotel has a separate entrance to Chichén Itzá. From our room (No. 301) we even looked at the observatory (El Caracol). We will tell you more about the hotel later in this article.

How much time should I plan for Chichén Itzá? We recommend that you allow about three hours to visit Chichén Itzá . Of course you can also be faster, but apart from the main pyramid (El Castillo) there are still a few buildings to see. Three hours is calculated rather generously. If necessary, two will do it.

What are the most important sights in Chichén Itzá? The most important and most photographed building in Chichén Itzá is the Pyramid of Kukulcán, also called El Castillo. The pyramid is also the first ruin you come across on your tour. She is 30 meters high, has 365 stages and served the Mayas as a calendar according to current knowledge. Crazy, right? If you find someone clapping their hands in front of the ruins, then there is a reason: If you clap your hands loudly, the echo will create the sound of a bird.

Twice a year, a special spectacle awaits visitors at El Castillo : During spring and autumn, on the equinoxes, the sun shines on the pyramid at a specific angle. This creates a shadow play reminiscent of a snake crawling down. Warning: all hell broke loose at Chichén Itzá on these two days, you have to be prepared for that.

Northwest of the pyramid of Kukulcán is the Gran Juego de pelota, the ancient sports field of the Mayas. Apparently they played their very own ball game here. There are some temples along the walls of the square. The best known is the Templo de los Jaguares (Jaguar Temple).

A highlight is also the imposing Templo de los Guerreros (Warrior Temple) with the adjoining Grupo de las Mil Columnas (Hall of the 1000 Columns). Impressive reliefs can be admired here.

And then of course there is El Caracol, the observatory that you can see in the photo below. We were very fortunate to have a direct view of the observatory from our room.

When is the best time to visit? Absolutely not lunchtime is recommended. At the latest from 10 Clock is at Chichén Itzá a lot going on. That’s when the buses for the cruise guests and the visitors to the Riviera Maya reach the area and the visit becomes a gauntlet run by travel groups and souvenir stands.

We weren’t there for lunch ourselves, but we were watched the Chichén Itzá Insta-Stories for days and were pretty appalled – to put it nicely. Kathi’s dad was also there around lunchtime recently and gave us the tip right from the start to avoid this time.

One way to avoid the large crowds is a Visit at 8 a.m. That’s when the grounds officially open and you can experience Chichén Itzá before the big rush. But of course the area fills up relatively quickly here too.

So we started looking for alternative times and found what we were looking for: At sunrise should you have the archeological zone to yourself. Read, decided, booked. In the next chapter we will tell you how you can experience Chichén Itzá at sunrise.

2. Sunrise at Chichén Itzá: Our insider tip For about two years (as of December 2019) it is possible to visit Chichén Itzá at sunrise. However: This variant is advertised rather cautiously. It feels like every website on which we have researched in advance only gives the official opening hours (8 to 15 clock) known . Only when you read a little more closely do you realize that there is talk here and there of a visit at sunrise.

Only a few tour guides lead to sunrise through the area. We have been told (by our guide) that few are permitted. Whether it’s true, we can’t say. Our guide was very familiar with the security guards. When we asked if he knew everyone, he just said “I know everybody here.” We assume that the security guards get a certain “basket money” for letting tourists into the area so early.

A sunrise tour is an expensive undertaking. We did a lot of research and still couldn’t find a way to shorten the tour by less than 1.500 Pesos per person (so tight 70 euros). That was in December 801. Recently (as of December 2019) it is also possible to enter the area without a guide. We will tell you more later in this article.

Current update (December 2019): Popularity of the sunrise tour On the day of our visit, we had Chichén Itzá almost to ourselves with a few other people. Because it’s been a while since our visit, we asked our readers about the latest updates. The sunrise tour is now becoming more popular. (Who can you blame?)

The good news: Even if in the morning at the meeting point (more on that in a moment) the group seems a bit larger, you don’t have to worry. Namely, the group is divided into small groups. So the whole thing remains a very individual experience. Compared to a visit at lunchtime, such a sunrise tour is still a lonely experience.

Important information & tips for the sunrise tour at Chichén Itza Where can I book the sunrise tour and how much does it cost? Option 1: About Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows. This hotel is located directly in the area of ​​Chichén Itzá. We stayed there. At check-in you will be asked if you are interested in a sunrise tour. The price for this is 1.365 Pesos per person (with guide). Recently (as of December 2019) a second variant is also offered at check-in: A tour without a guide at 750 Pesos per person. This is currently the cheapest way to see Chichén Itzá at sunrise.

We will tell you more about the hotel and our personal experiences further down in this blog article.

Option 2: Via our guide “Abel”. We researched the internet and found the number of a guide named Abel in a forum. We then simply wrote to him via WhatsApp. The response came within minutes. His price: Also 1.365 pesos per person. Only later did we find out that he is also the guide for the hotel – so we would have ended up with the same person .

Abel says he has been working as a guide at Chichén Itzá for decades. He was very friendly and extremely experienced. There really wasn’t anything he didn’t know. What we can’t fail to mention, however, is that we always got the feeling that he really knows how to “sell things well”. For example, he promised us a private tour (i.e. for two) via WhatsApp. We asked about it because experience has shown that we always need more time for photos/videos than others. In the morning there were suddenly four of us, but the price remained the same. Unfortunately, that left me with a bad feeling. Nonetheless, we would recommend him. We have no qualms about him not showing up or anything. He’s really trustworthy.

Option 3: Via GetYourGuide – Sunrise at Chichén Itzá from Cancún or Sunrise at Chichén Itzá from Mérida. If you don’t want to stay directly at Chichén Itzá, this option would be worth considering.

Can I go into the area without a guide? Yes, now it is. This option is only available for a short time (as of December
). Upon check-in at Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows you can purchase a ticket for the sunrise visit at 500 Buy pesos per person.

You state your desired time (from 5 a.m.) and the next day a guide will take you to the area of ​​the great pyramid.

How long does the sunrise tour last? The tour with guide starts at approx. 4: 45 and lasts until around 8 a.m., i.e. around three hours. At the beginning of the tour it is still pitch black and with a bit of luck you can see a great starry sky. After that, it gets twilight relatively quickly and then light. The exact time of sunrise varies a little. When we visited (December) the sun went up around 6: 15 Clock on. The last hour (from around 7 a.m.) you can move around on your own.

You can enter the area without a guide from 5 a.m. A guide will take you from the hotel lobby to the Great Pyramid and you can explore the site on your own.

After the sunrise tour, it is unfortunately not allowed to stay longer on the site. (This applies to both the ticket with and without a guide.) It’s a bit of a shame, but after three hours we had the feeling that we had seen the most important thing.

3. Around Chichén Itzá: Tips for the most beautiful cenotes Cenote Ik Kil In addition to Chichén Itzá, another sight in the region attracts many visitors: the Cenote Ik Kil. And when we say many, we mean many. The fact is that most tour operators combine a visit to Chichén Itzá and Cenote Ik Kil in their itinerary. Therefore, the cenote is no later than 11 Clock completely overrun.

So our master plan was to drive the rental car to Cenote Ik Kil directly after the sunrise tour in Chichén Itzá. It opens its doors at 9 a.m. So we were the very first guests and had the cenote all to ourselves together with two other guys.

We have now often read that that some found Cenote Ik Kil very disappointing. Considering the crowds that hang around here in the afternoon, we can understand that very well. The fact that the cenote area is reminiscent of a kind of amusement park is also not exactly helpful. We personally were allowed to enjoy the cenote in peace and were therefore very enthusiastic. With the hanging lianas, the atmosphere here is simply unique.

Information on Cenote Ik Kil Entry: 150 Pesos per personOpening hours: 9 am to 17 Clock (Our tip: Coming soon at 9 a.m.!)

How to get there: about 5 minutes by car from Chichén Itzá

Cenote Tsukán The less known and smaller alternative to Cenote Ik Kil is Cenote Tsukán, which only 2022 for visitors was opened. It is approximately by car 10 minutes from Chichén Itzá. We have not visited the Cenote Tsukán ourselves, but it was highly recommended to us by a reader.

The Cenote Tsukán – actually Tsukán Santurio de Vida called – is located in an idyllic park landscape far away from mass tourism. The cave-like cenote with its innumerable stalactites is very spectacular from a scenic point of view alone.

To in To swim in the cenote wearing life jackets is mandatory. However, it should be very worthwhile: The water of this cenote is crystal clear. If you want to visit a slightly different cenote or are looking for a less frequented alternative to Ik Kil, you’re in good hands here.

Information on Cenote Tsukan Opening hours: daily from 9 am to 17 WatchEntry: 225 Pesos per person

Arrival: approx. 11 minutes by car from Chichén Itzá removed

4. Our hotel tip: Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows We stayed one night at the Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows, the we can highly recommend. You can’t live any closer to Chichén Itzá. The hotel is located almost directly on the area of ​​Chichén Itzá. To be more precise, only a 5-minute walk in the hotel area separates you from the entrance to Chichén Itzá. By the way, this is a separate entrance for hotel guests. So you don’t have to queue at the main entrance, you can easily reach the Wonder of the World via this side entrance. (If you don’t visit Chichén Itzá at sunrise, because you don’t have to queue anyway.)

Our room was in the main building on the third floor Floor (without elevator; room number )). The furnishings are no longer state-of-the-art, but very high quality. In any case, we really felt comfortable. And best of all: From our balcony we looked directly at the Observatory (El Caracol), which is located on the site of the ruins.

The hotel area is a spacious, very well-kept, tropical garden with several pools, bungalows and other buildings. Breakfast is served a la carte in one of the outdoor restaurants. We also ate here the night before. Both times the staff was extremely friendly and accommodating.

Conclusion: I’d love to come back anytime and especially recommended if you want to visit Chichén Itzá at sunrise or early in the morning.

You can book the hotel here: Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows

16688Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains ours personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you already visited Chichén Itzá? What was your impression? We are very happy about your comment under this blog article. Thanks so much!