Are you planning a vacation to Cancun and want to take the opportunity to visit one of the 7 wonders of the world?
In this case, you should start comparing the best tours to Chichen Itza from Tulum.
How long should you visit this historical site? Is it enough time to enjoy it? Is it really worth it? Which cenote to include in this day trip?
I asked myself the same questions as you and finally settled on this fantastic tour.
I loved this tour for many reasons (see my analysis in this article), but there are other options too.
Thanks to my understanding of the region and the tourism industry, I have analyzed the best Chichen Itza tours.
Read on to learn my pros and cons and book the tour that suits you.
👉 Don’t hesitate to read our Tulum guide to plan your vacation and not make any more mistakes. You will find all our articles about this destination.
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In 2 months, I’ve spent more than 10,000 USD to test the best activities in the Riviera Maya. Stay with me to quickly decide which experiences you should do and learn how to make the most of your trip.
Compare The Best tours to Chichen Itza from Tulum
When choosing your tour to Chichen Itza from Tulum, there are several criteria to consider. Here is a short analysis of my favorite tours. It will help you make a quick and correct decision.
Best group tour to Chichen Itza from Tulum
After many hours of research, I decided to book this tour. The price is relatively high for a group tour, but it is 100% justified because of its quality. The guide was a Mayan history nut and took the time to show us all the essential sights (3 hours on site). We then had lunch at one of the best restaurants in Valladolid before taking a dip in a beautiful cenote away from the tourists (we were alone).
✋ For travelers who do not want to pay for a private tour but still want a high-quality tour.
- Max Pers: 10
- Price: 159 USD/pers
- Departure time: 7-8 am
- Duration: 10-11 hours
- Stops: Chichen Itza (3h), Valladolid (1h with lunch), secret cenote (1h)
- Included: Pick up in Tulum, all entrance fees, professional guide, lunch, snack, and water.
Cheapest Chichen Itza tour from Tulum
The cheapest tours necessarily leave from Cancun and pick up the tourists along the way. Thus, selecting a tour that proposes a very early departure is judicious. It is the case for this group tour. The objective is to arrive at 8 am in Chichen Itza to avoid the heat and the crowd. You will then have a (decent) buffet and a tequila tasting before swimming in a beautiful (but touristy) cenote.
Note: Be on time at the meeting point. They won’t wait for you.
✋ A cheap and acceptable option to visit Chichen Itza.
- Max Pers: 40
- Price: 46 USD + 31 USD (Chichen Itza entrance fee) + life jacket + locker
- Departure time: 4-5 am
- Duration: 12 hours
- Stops: Chichen Itza (2h), Tequila tasting, Cenote Saamal (1h)
- Included: 2 pickup points in Tulum, Saamal entrance fee, professional guide, buffet lunch, and tequila tasting.
“Affordable” private Chichen Itza tour
Private tours are always expensive, especially for 2 people. Fortunately, It won’t be the case with this private tour. Right on time to leave your hotel in Tulum, you will be among the first to arrive in Chichen Itza. With your private guide, you will explore every corner of the Mayan ruins before heading to the beautiful Cenote Samaal and enjoying a great Mexican lunch.
✋ A good & easy option for visiting Chichen Itza with a private tour guide.
- Max Pers: your group only
- Price: 225 USD/pers (if a group of 2 people)
- Departure time: 6 am
- Duration: 9 hours
- Stops: Chichen Itza (3h), Cenote Saamal (2h)
- Included: Transporation from your hotel in Tulum, entrance fees, professional guide, lunch, snack, and water.
Upscale Chichen Itza private tours from Tulum
Chichen Itza & Ik Kil cenote are two of the most famous highlight in Mexico. You should arrive early to avoid the crowds (and the heat). It’s almost mission impossible unless you take this tour. The only difficulty? Getting up early because the objective is to watch the sunrise at Chichen Itza. No vendors. Happiness. Then, visit the Cenote Ik Kil to take superb photographs, and why not a quick dip?
✋ The perfect option to beat the crowd and enjoy peacefully two famous sites of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.
- Max Pers: your group only
- Price: 334 USD/pers (if a group of 2 people)
- Departure time: 3 am
- Duration: 8 hours
- Stops: Chichen Itza (3h), Cenote Ik Kil (1h). You can decide to add more stops.
- Included: Transporation from your beach hotel in Tulum, entrance fees, private guide, breakfast, snack, and water.
Best Chichen Itza tours from Tulum: What You Can Expect
I had the pleasure of visiting Chichen Itza with this fantastic agency (one of the best in Tulum). Here is a summary.
Our adventure begins with an 8 am departure from Tulum in a comfortable van (only 6 people). The trip lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes to reach Chichen Itza. Cesar, our guide, takes advantage of this time to tell us about the Mayan civilization (supported by many photos) and to take our order for lunch.
Outside Chichen Itza
The archaeological site is already invaded by people: tourists, guides, and sellers. Cesar quickly gets our tickets and then offers us different options. The group has the choice between:
- A short guided tour that focuses on the “modern” part of the site. The pyramid (El Castillo) and the other most restored monuments are located there. It’s a good option for people who want to walk less and have more time to take pictures.
- The complete guided tour to visit the modern and old sections of Chichen Itza. A great option for history lovers.
- You visit the site alone. It doesn’t make sense since you pay for a guided tour.
Inside Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is an impressive site; you will need a guide to appreciate it. Cesar is a history buff, and he shows us all the little details that bring this mythical place to life. It is incredible to imagine that more than a thousand years ago, nearly 50,000 people lived in this city.
After 1h30 of explanations and pictures in the modern section (including the intriguing Ball Court), we move to an area less known by the visitors. The atmosphere changes radically. Noise is replaced by silence, the vendors are gone, and we slalom between older but equally intriguing ruins.
The sun is stronger after 3 hours of visit, and a large crowd takes selfies in front of the pyramid. It is time to leave.
Delicious lunch in Valladolid
40 min later, we are eating in one of the best restaurants in Valladolid (El Meson del Marques), right on the main square. Our table is under stone arches, a few steps from a large courtyard decorated with flowers and a fountain.
After delicious Yucatan specialties, we have 30 minutes to visit the city center. Valladolid was the first city built by the Spaniards in this region, and its colonial and colorful streets are full of history. 30 minutes is too short to enjoy it fully but enough to fall in love with it.
A beautiful and little-known cenote
On the way back, the van makes one last stop. We follow a small path before arriving at a wooden staircase that sinks into the ground.
After a few seconds for my eyes to get used to the darkness, I discover a vast natural pool 50m below.
It is one of the famous cenotes, a sacred place for the Mayan people, who believe it is the entrance to the underworld “Xibalba.”
We are alone to bathe in this magical place, whose depth of 15m is as mesmerizing as disturbing.
After 1 hour, it’s time to leave. We will be back in Tulum at 6:30 pm.
What’s Good About This Chichen Itza Tour
I’m a big fan of this local tour company. Here is why.
Top-Noch Tour Guides
I did 4 tours with this local agency, and the guides were always excellent.
They are passionate people who study Mayan history daily by reading books and articles and talking to the locals. On our tour to Chichen Itza, our guide Caesar was a historian!
But more than their knowledge, their human side impressed me. It’s not every day easy to still be excited about your job (after the hundredth identical visit) and to give yourself 100% every time.
These guys crushed it.
They are naturally helpful, always there to answer a question and give a smile or a hand.
Small group tour
From my travel experience, 10 people is a reasonable number for a group tour. The pickup takes little time, you can decide with the group to slightly adapt the itinerary, and the guide will give you the attention you deserve.
And even if you are only 2 in the group, the agency will still maintain the tour.
The agency has been organizing this tour for many years, which is noticeable.
- Departure is on time.
- The bus ride is used to explain the Mayan history clearly and take the lunch order.
- The guide has all the necessary information (and money) to take the tickets for you.
- Snacks and cold water are available.
- Lunch is ready when you arrive at the restaurant.
3 hours in Chichen Itza
I don’t come to Chichen Itza for the pictures (ok, maybe a little). What interests me is soaking up the place, going back in time, and imagining the Mayans playing “pelota” or making a human sacrifice before throwing the corpse in the cenote.
To do so, it is necessary to know the anecdotes that go with the archaeological sites and to have enough time to visit the different parts (not only the most famous ones).
Three hours was the perfect amount of time.
A beautiful, secret cenote
Many agencies include the cenote Ik Kil or Saamal because these cenotes are the most famous ones and are adapted to receive a lot of people. These agencies choose the easy option.
These cenotes are beautiful, but the experience is lost when you are surrounded by fifty tourists who are half drowning.
During this tour, I discovered an equally stunning cenote; we were the only ones.
Drawbacks Of This Tulum Chichen Itza Tour
Here are some points that may bother some travelers.
Not Early Enough
I imagine the agency starts this tour at 8 am because many travelers dislike getting up early. However, this tour would be even better if it started at 6 am. It would allow you to arrive for the opening of Chichen Itza, avoid the crowd and the heat, and have more time to visit Valladolid.
You’ll have to come back to Valladolid
I love Valladolid. It is a safe city where you’ll finally find the Mexican atmosphere (nothing to do with Tulum, Cancun, or Playa del Carmen).
Although the lunch stop is delicious, you will only enjoy this city for 30 minutes. You’ll have to come back 😉
You’re not the only one to decide
Even if the group is small, you won’t be the only one to decide. If one person in your group is annoying, you’ll have to deal with him/her all day.
Booking Guide: Visiting Chichen Itza with the right agency
The tour I did was perfect for me. It may not be for you. Here are some things to consider before making a decision.
Find out when you’ll arrive at Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza is one of the New Seven wonders, and millions of tourists come annually. It’s a lot better to arrive early.
- If your budget allows it, choose to see the sunrise at Chichen Itza. You will be alone!
- If you choose an economical tour that leaves from Cancun, book a tour that starts very early because otherwise, you’ll arrive at the worst time at Chichen Itza (around noon). This one will do the job.
How will you get to Chichen Itza from Tulum?
Budget tours are large groups that pick up many people along the Riviera Maya. Transportation times are longer and more stressful (organization and responsiveness on the phone are not the strong points of these agencies).
Since you are relatively close to Chichen Itza (2h15), choosing an agency that leaves Tulum (this one) or a private tour is better.
A useless cenote tour
Some cenotes are popular with Instagram and travelers. Here are some of them: Ik Kil, Saamal, Suytun, and Dzitnup.
Unfortunately, they are victims of their success, and the only way to enjoy them is to arrive at the opening, which is problematic since you also have to be early at Chichen Itza.
- You will arrive early enough at the Ik Kil cenote during this private sunrise Chichen Itza tour.
- Or you can book a tour with a beautiful and not famous cenote, like this tour.
What’s included in your Chichen Itza tour?
Mexicans are marketing professionals. They tell you a small price, and then you end up paying a lot of extra costs.
Here’s what you need to check:
- Is the entrance fee to Chichen Itza included?
- Is it a hotel pickup, or do you have to go to a meeting point (cabs are expensive on the Mayan Riviera)?
- Are the life jacket and locker for the cenote included?
Altogether, the cheapest group tour will still cost you about a hundred dollars per person.
Why do you want to visit Chichen Itza?
Some travelers come to Chichen Itza because they want to take a picture. If this is the case, a cheap group tour may suit you.
However, don’t hope to know this archaeological site in depth. These tours usually only stay in the “modern” section, and you will only have 1 hour on-site.
Choose a tour that lasts 3 hours in Chichen Itza if you want to appreciate this UNESCO World Heritage Site fully.
The size of your group will also affect the quality of the tour. The more people in your group, the fewer questions you can ask your guide.
What to bring for your Chichen Itza tour
Here is a helpful packing list to visit Chichen Itza in good condition:
- Walking shoes. Keep your flip-flop for your hotel.
- A hat or even an umbrella to protect you from the sun (especially if you arrive after 10 am).
- Bottle of water.
- A Covid mask to pass the security check.
- Repellent to overcome mosquitoes.
- Snorkel to enjoy the cenote (if you book this tour)
One important point concerns the cameras:
- If it’s a small camera or a GoPro, you will have to pay an extra 50 Mxn (2.5 USD).
- Professional cameras (SLR) or drones are not allowed.
How to book your Chichen Itza tour from Tulum
I used Viator to book this experience. The interface is simple, and you can quickly communicate with the tour operator.
Also, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the activity for a full refund.
Tips to Visit Chichen Itza Independently
Some of you may consider visiting Chichen Itza without the help of an agency. It is quite possible. Here are some helpful notes for planning this day trip.
- If you want to get to Chichen Itza by public transport, I advise you to sleep in Valladolid the night before and take the first shuttle bus at 7 am here.
- You can find bilingual guides at the booth ticket for about 50 USD.
- Count around 50-65 USD for the daily car rental with insurance. Book your rental car in advance and show up at the opening time.
Your questions about Chichen Itza
Many travelers ask us questions about Chichen Itza. Here are our most common answers.
Can you do Chichen Itza and Tulum in one day?
Technically you could visit Chichen Itza and Tulum in one day, but it would be long and tiring. You need 3 hours to enjoy Chichen Itza + 4h30 of driving (round trip) + 2 hours to visit the Tulum ruins. Both sites open at 8 am and close at 5 pm.
Which is better to visit, Tulum or Chichen Itza?
It isn't easy to compare Tulum and Chichen Itza. I found Tulum ruins more photogenic (the contrast with the vegetation and the Caribbean Sea is magnificent) and the ruins of Chichen Itza more impressive.
How far is Chichen Itza de Tulum?
There are 150 km between Tulum and Chichen Itza, which is 2 hours and 15 minutes by car—if there are no traffic jams.
Is Chichen Itza closer to Cancun or Tulum?
Chichen Itza is much closer to Tulum (2h15) than Cancun (minimum 3h).
Is Chichen Itza worth the trip?
I avoid places that are too touristy. Chichen Itza is similar to Machu Picchu. It is an incredible historical place, and it would be unfortunate to miss it. On the other hand, it is essential to go there early and out of the weekend to avoid the crowd and enjoy this hyper-touristy place.
What is the best way to visit Chichen Itza?
The best way to visit Chichen Itza is with a local guide.
What is the best day of the week to visit Chichen Itza?
You should avoid the weekends, especially if it's a Mexican holiday.
Is there a lot of walking at Chichen Itza?
The archaeological sites are close to one another, and you should have no trouble visiting Chichen Itza on foot. It is more the heat that makes the experience complicated for some people.
Can you walk up the pyramid in Chichen Itza?
No. You can't walk up the Chichen Itza pyramid. You can do it in Uxmal and Ek Balam.
Can you swim in the cenote at Chichen Itza?
No. You can't swim in the 2 cenotes of Chichen Itza. Many tours include a stop at a cenote around Valladolid.
What time does the snake appear in Chichen Itza?
It is a phenomenon that occurs twice a year, a few days before and after each equinox (March 21 and September 21). You will observe it around 4:30 pm.
What does Chichen Itza mean in English?
Chichen Itza means “at the mouth of the well of the Itza.”
When is the Chichen Itza Light Show?
The Chichen Itza Light Show is every night at 7 or 8 pm (depending on the time of the year) and last 45 min. The presentation is in Spanish.
Bottom line: Best Chichen Itza tours from Tulum
Even if you can easily travel from Tulum to Chichen Itza alone, you will still need a guide to understand this mysterious place.
Since it is one of the most visited sites in Mexico City, you will have to be smart to enjoy it. Book your tour from Tulum and arrive early enough to avoid the crowds and heat.
After many hours of research, I decided to visit Chichen Itza with this agency, and I was not disappointed. Another option is to take a private tour. If so, be motivated to take a tour that starts at sunrise. If not, one that begins at least at the park’s opening (8 am).