As you may already know, we are currently in Mexico for a month and a half. On this grand trip, a trip to the world famous Mayan city of Chichén Itzá should not be missed. This wonder of the world has been on our bucket list for a long time and we can tick it offnow! But how did we plan our day trip to Chichen Itza, and additional Valladolid and Cenote I Kil, ourselves? Find out here!
Chichén Itzá is the attraction with which Mexico likes to turn out. In all tourist regions (especially in Cancun and Playa del Carmen), you’ll find a huge number of organised tours offering you a day trip to Chichen Itza. Most tours take a stopover in the historic city of Valladolid and at the most famous cenote I Kil. All three of these sights are well worth visiting! Most organizations ask around 2000 pesos/person (about 90 euros/person) for such an organized tour.
You leave early in the morning (around 7 o’clock) and come back around 6 o’clock. They all promise a luxurious, air-conditioned bus. You also get an extensive Mexican buffetat many organizations. Enter at Chichén Itzá and the cenote I Kil are included in the price. However, we chose to plan our tour ourselves. We find that these tours give a limited time to stay in certain places. For example, you can only stay in Valladolid for 45 minutes and that’s really short. We prefer to choose how long we stay somewhere.
Our own tour
The ADO bus
We left for our own tour from Cancun. You can also depart perfectly from Playa del Carmen or other places in Mexico. It is important to find out in advance whether there is an
to Chichén Itzá. From Cancun there is one ADO bus in the morning to drive there. We took it. Chichén Itzá is about a three-hour drive away, so you arrive around noon. Taking the ADO bus we loved! It’s easy, cheap (about 350 pesos or 15 euros), luxurious and safe. All ADO buses are air-conditioned and TVs. The seats can be put in different positions, so you can definitely do a power nap along the way. Some buses also have USB connection so you can charge your mobile phone if necessary. The ADO buses also run on toll roads,have only a few boarding points (only at ADO stations) and so they are certainly safe from possible robberies.
Arriving at Chichen Itza, we had to wait about 10 minutes in line at the entrance. The entrance is 254 pesos (about 10 euros) and that is worth its money. Because there is so much more to see than just the one famous Mayan ruin that you see everywhere in pictures. There are even more impressive ruins and there is even a hotel right in the park! Please note that it is a normal tourist trap. Everywhere there are sellers who appeal to you time and time again. After a while, this can get annoying. Still, it’s worth checking out some stalls. Most sellers make their own products, usually figurines, bracelets and hammocks. And there are truly gems! If you want, you can buy a nice souvenir here.
We went to Chichén Itzá on a Wednesday. It was pretty quiethere then. You could take beautiful pictures without too many people in your picture. However, avoid Sunday (and the rest of the weekend if possible), because then Mexicans have free access to this park. As a result, it’s very busy.
Cenote I Kil
After our visit to Chichén Itzá, we took the taxi to cenote I Kil. This cenote is nearby and so the taxi to there was not expensive at all. Our taxi itself was kind enough to wait until we travelled further to Valladolid. We agreed on a prize together to go to cenote I Kil and then continue to Valladolid. This cost us 400 pesos (17 euros) in total.
Cenote I Kil is really worth it! Although it is also very touristy again, we loved to jump in the water after a few hours of heat at Chichén Itzá. The relief was welcome. However, to take beautiful pictures, you do not have to go in the afternoon. Then there are just too many people in the water and it’s hard to take a picture without people. After half an hour of swimming, we had enough and returned to our taxi. Remarkable how this man could stand to wait in his taxi (without air conditioning) at temperatures of around 30 degrees!
Historic city of Valladolid
Because we had heard so much about it, we were curious about the historic city of Valladolid. This town is 40 minutes from Chichen Itza. You drive past typical Mexican houses, neighborhoods and shops. The ride itself is an attraction in itself!
Valladolid himself is small but so cozy! In the park over the church, you can sit for a few hours and just look around and take in everything. The city is hugely photogenic. So much colour, traditional shops and fine dining spots make the city attractive. However, we were tired from the whole trip and Valladolid was mainly a place for us to rest. We didn’t stay there very long, at most a few hours. You have to take into account that you have two more hours on the bus to Cancun, so leaving on time is advisable.
Valladolid’s ADO station is right in the centre, so within walking distance. Good to know: You can buy your ticket back in advance (for example, at Cancun’s ADO station when you leave in the morning for Chichén Itzá), but you don’tdo this at best. After all, you don’t know when you want to return home and usually there are plenty of seats available on the bus. So booking in advance is not really necessary. Unless, of course, you know perfectly how long you want to stay there and when you want to be back.
The balance sheet
It was a very tiring day, we admit that. But we are very happy that we planned this trip ourselves. We never felt like we had to rush anywhere or that we were limited in time. We chose not to let our day depend on others and we have seen everything an organized tour offers. In the end we paid 1384 pesos/person (about 60 euros/person). This sum includes transport (taxi calculated for 2 people, so you can still share if you are travelling with a group) and entrance rates for adults. Food, drinks or other purchases are not included in this sum. So we can say that a private organized tour was clearly cheaper. Let’s hear it for ourselves!
What do you think?
Hopefully, this post has inspired you to take a different view of your journey through Mexico. You can easily design and organise certain tours yourself. It takes a bit of willpower,but it pays off. With our tips you will find even more useful tips that can make your trip more pleasant. Good luck!