How To: Chichen Itza Day Trip Independently

Countless tour operators in Cancún offer trips to the famous site of Chichen Itza (don’t worry, they’ll find you). But, if you want to save some pesos, it’s perfectly possible to do a Chichen Itza day trip independently. Here’s how:

Chichen Itza (15 of 25)


Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is an archaeological site comprising of the remains of a pre-Colombian Mayan city. The site sprawls over least five square kilometres in Mexico’s Yucatán state. It contains an assortment of temples, pyramids, a ball court, and various other structures. The most famous sight is the iconic stepped pyramid, nicknamed “El Castillo“, which was voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.


The famous stepped pyramid of El Castillo

The famous stepped pyramid of El Castillo


Chichen Itza certainly is impressive, but the illusion of exploring an ancient city is shattered by the abundance of crowds, tour groups, and souvenir stalls. By all means, it is worth a visit, but, personally, I preferred other Mayan sites in Central America, such as Tikal and Copán. Not only are these sites less crowded, but they are less restored and polished, and you get to climb up several monuments (climbing is strictly forbidden throughout Chichen Itza).


El Castillo in Chichen Itza with tour group with pink umbrellas- Chichen Itza day trip independently

The sight becomes less impressive when you add in crowds of umbrella-wielding tour groups


How To Do a Chichen Itza Day Trip Independently


You can take a Chichen Itza day trip independently from Cancún by using the public bus. At the time of writing, there was just one direct bus each way. The bus departs from the ADO bus terminal in Cancún at 08:45, and takes roughly three hours, including a 10 minute stop in the town of Valladolid.


The bus drops passengers right outside the entrance to Chichen Itza, from where you can join the queue to buy an entrance ticket. This ticket is valid for the day, and you can leave and re-enter, provided you re-enter before 16:00.


The bus leaves from the car park at the entrance at 16:30. This gives more than enough time to explore the ruins, and to grab some food or drinks at one of the nearby restaurants, before making the return journey to Cancún.


Ballgame court at Chichen Itza- stone hoop in wall

The court used for Mayan ball games



Cost Of A Tour vs Independent Trip


Here’s what it costs to do a Chichen Itza day trip independently:


Bus: MXN258 each way. Total MXN516 (US$27)

Entrance Fee: MXN232 (US$20)

Total Cost: MXN748 (US$47)


Tours to Chichen Itza from Cancún start from as little as US$50. So at first glance, doing your Chichen Itza day trip independently doesn’t seem like it saves much. However, the fine print of the tours state that they don’t include the US$20 entrance fee. So, all in all, independently is definitely the way to go!


Stone detail at Chichen Itza


Looking for more ruins in Central America? Try the sprawling ruins of Tikal in Guatemala, or the little-visited ruins of Copán in Honduras. 

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