Tips for Chichen Itza and Cenote Ik-Kil | Playa Del Carmen Mayakoba

Pyramid of Kukulcan

Pyramid of Kukulcan

As one of the most visited and popular destinations in the world, it's no wonder why these beautiful ruins are on everyone’s buckets list. Well, at least it was on mine.  This was my second time to the Riviera Maya and I knew that this time, I had to visit Chichen Itza. My other half and I began planning a last minute trip for the end of May. So like everyone else, we researched online to see what we could expect when traveling to Chichen Itza.  We soon realized that all the tips were the same.

Well, I’m going to elaborate on those tips and get a little more specific with some secrets so you can enjoy Chichen Itza while trying to beat the painstanking heat!

The first common tip we read was that it was hot! Well duh!!! Of course it’s hot!!! The second most common tip was to wear comfortable shoes.  Lastly, the third most common tip was to get there early. We knew right away to take sun screen, light clothing, a hat and arrive early. But did we really know how to beat the heat???

The drive to Chichen Itza from our beautiful hotel, The Fairmont Mayakoba is approximately a 2 ½ hour drive. We drove our rental car and took the highway towards Playa Del Carmen all the way to Chichen. We stopped about half way there at an outdoor tourist kiosk where they sell tickets to Chichen Itza ruins. A lot of people don’t stop and you don’t have to, but we decided to check it out. Well, it turned out to be the best thing ever!!  We purchased our tickets through them, which included a special private entrance into the park ($167 pesos), buffet lunch at The Lodge at Chichen Itza ($65 pesos) and a ticket to the Cenote Ik kil ($70 pesos). The guy that was helping us was so kind and honest. He gave us the breakdown of the cost and what it included (cash only if you purchase tickets through the outdoor kiosk. What sold us was that we didn’t have to wait in line for tickets to the ruins or the cenote, so that was a deal breaker. We also got access to park away from the public parking at The Lodge at Chichen Itza. The other perk was that the tickets gave us access to the hotel amenities such as the swimming pool (trust me, you’re going to want to jump in).

We arrived around 11 in the morning and it was already incredibly hot!  As soon as we got our of our rental car, we could feel the crazy heat sticking to our bodies. We entered through the back private entrance of Chichen Itza and parked at “The Lodge at Chichen Itza”. The parking lot appeared private and safe. We walked to the entrance and within five minutes we could feel the heat! 

Tip: It gets hotter later in the afternoon, but the humidity is a lot stronger in the morning.  It’s also very important that you hydrate with water the night before, the morning of and once you get there. We brought 3 bottles of water each in our backpack… #lifesaver….. #notenough

There is so much to see in Chichen Itza, which is why they tell you to wear comfortable shoes. Yes, wear them, but they don’t need to be sneakers. I wore strappy flat sandals, but seriously I could walk in sandals all day. I think I pretty much covered New York City in the sandals I wore. But if you’re not use to walking miles in sandals, I strongly recommend you wearing sneakers. (Insert wink)

There is so much amazing history to Chichen Itza that one of the best ways to discover and have it come alive is to hire a private tour guide. I’m sure you can read all the history anywhere else online, but truly the best way to get the most out of it is to hire a private tour guide. Besides, they give you umbrellas! Well, below is the picture of the "not so private" tour guides.

We decided to go on our own because we were on a time limit. However, while walking around Chichen Itza we could hear the tour guides telling such cool stories that we later wished we would have taken the private tour. (I secretly followed one tour guide for about 2 minutes because I wanted to hear the rest of the story to this beautiful piece of history….. and I didn’t even feel bad). See picture below and you can see the tour guide behind me.

This is the tour guide I followed around for a few minutes. Can you see the tour guide behind me?

This is the tour guide I followed around for a few minutes. Can you see the tour guide behind me?

Although a tour guide is best, you can still discover Chichen Itza and enjoy every piece of it.  “The Pyramid of Kukulcan” is the main attraction and probably spent most of our time there. Unfortunately, you can no longer climb the ruin, but it’s still a beautiful sight and breath taking. We walked over towards the Observatory and we began to feel hot again (mind you, I had already drank 3 bottles of water in a matter of one hour). We purchased a couple of powerades inside the park and frozen fruit popsicles to get rehydrated. The powerade was the biggest life saver and I instantly felt cooler. After drinking the powerade, I felt like I could conquer the entire place.

Little store inside the park where you can purchase water, poweraides, and fruit popsicle's. Cash only!

Little store inside the park where you can purchase water, poweraides, and fruit popsicle's. Cash only!

One thing to keep in mind are the vendors scattered throughout the park. They will be constituently asking you to purchase something and it will get annoying after a while. Just say “No thank you” and that should be enough. Remember that the vendors are expecting to barter so never settle on the first price they give you. Don’t forget to bring cash. Dollars or pesos are accepted!

At the end, we had our lunch at The lodge at Chichen Itza, which was really nice and relaxing. They had awesome music playing and women dancing with beers bottles on top of their heads. After lunch we left the park and headed to the Cenote Ik kil for a refreshing dip. 

So just a recap of the SECRET TIPS to surviving the painstanking heat

Secret tip 1: Purchase you tickets at the outdoor tourist kiosk on the highway. The outdoor tourist kiosk is part of the The Lodge and Mayaland Resorts. If you purchase your tickets there it includes: 

  • private parking at The Lodge at Chichen Itza.

  • Add a lunch buffet for $5 ($65 pesos). You have the option to buy a buffet lunch. It’s so worth it and yummy. We sat down and watched the locals dance with beer bottles on their heads. Totally entertaining!

  • Private entrance through The Lodge Hotel

  • You don’t have to wait in line for tickets to Chichen Itza

  • You can purchase your ticket ahead of time to the Cenote Ik kil

  • Access to hotel amenities. If you purchase your tickets through the tourist kiosk, you will have access to the The Lodge Hotel swimming pool. You can jump in and cool off.

Secret tip 2: purchase poweraide and popsicles at the snack stand inside the park

  • On your way to “” you will notice a little outdoor store on your right. I highly suggest buying a couple of power aids and frozen fruit popsicles to get rehydrated.

  • Even if you’re not feeling the heat, Sit down, relax and people watch. Trust me you will!

Secret tip 3: Tour guide

  • Get a tour guide to enjoy the best of Chichen Itza and its history with an umbrella. Don’t forget to clap near “El Castillo” and take pictures “holding” the pyramid.

Secret tip 4: Cenote Ik Kil

  • Cool off inside one of the most beautiful Cenotes Ik kil. The waters are so fresh I promise you it’s a sight to never forget.

  • Beware, this is a huge tourist destination and it can get very crowded here. The pictures you see here is down season, and is not considered to be crowded.

  • They have lockers so you can store your stuff, but don’t loose your key. It will cost $15 dollars!!!

  • Bring a GoPro to take pictures while you’re swimming. This was one of the best experiences ever! Swim with the Catfish!!!

Those are just a few secret tips I learned and hope that they are useful on your next trip to this amazing World Wonder! Do you have any other secrets tips while visiting Chichen Itza? Comment below and let me know! 

Thank and remember, “You can visit the same place over and over again and see it differently each time”. - Author unknown

With Love,

Paper and Wine |Erika