Many tourists visit Chichen Itza as a day trip, especially from Cancún, more than 160 km (100 miles) away. This archaeological site is also an hour and a half away from *Mérida, the capital of Yucatan.
It is recommended you avoid a day-trip visit to Chichen Itza and schedule a night or two to enjoy all the activities nearby. This allows time to see more than just a portion of this large site. If you stay a night here, come to the archaeological site early in the day before the sun is so hot, and before most of the day-trippers arrive.
These are the vestiges of a fascinating civilization of times past. Well informed guides speaking all major languages are available for hire here, or explore on your own with a guide book and map.
The *Pyramid of Kukulcan (El Castillo, map). The most famous landmark of Chichen Itza. This was a temple-pyramid dedicated to the Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan. It is nicknamed “The Castle”. The Maya would often build newer bigger temple-pyramids atop older ones. Archaeologists have constructed tunnels allowing a view of the earlier temple of Kukulcan inside the later one. Go in the door at the foot of the north stairway, and you can go up a steep interior stairway up to the room on the top where you can see King Kukulcan’s Jaguar Throne, carved of stone and painted red with jade spots.
There are several fantastic cenotes (map), fresh water sinkholes in the limestone, found near Chichen Itza. Some of them are surrounded by lush gardens with restaurants, washrooms and showers. During a hot day, cenotes make for a great way to cool your self off in the afternoon, take a break and split up your day.