When it comes to travel, there are a lot of top-quality destinations around the world that are vying for the crown as the “world’s best,” along with Cancun. Yet while a handful of other destinations might have beaches comparable to Cancun’s, restaurants that are just as good, or nightlife that’s equally electric, there are precious few that can claim to have a world wonder on their doorstep to go alongside everything else. Cancun has Chichen Itza – a stunning temple complex that has just been named one of the best bucket-list experiences of 2023.
Mayan ruins are synonymous with Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean, and in Chichen Itza, the region has one of the world’s best preserved, most-interesting, and most visited historical sites in the world – quite simply, a must-visit attraction for any traveler. Here’s a look at why Chichen Itza has been named one of the top bucket-list destinations for this year and what travelers should know before visiting one of the world’s most stunning landmarks.
Chichen Itza On The Bucket List – What Travelers Should Know
Chichen Itza has found itself alongside esteemed company on a travel bucket list recently published by the longstanding publication Reader’s Digest. The sprawling temple site was the only North American destination featured on the must-see list, finding itself among such worldly delights as elephant sanctuaries in Thailand, attending an opera in Italy’s city of Verona, and the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, in Dubai. But what makes it so special?
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A True World Wonder
Located just a three-hour drive away from Cancun, Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trips for travelers to the world’s most in-demand travel destination. Officially designated as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, Chichen Itza is one the most famous temple sites in the region and is also one of the most recognizable examples of ancient archaeological sites in the world.
There’s no official record of when the site was officially built. Scholars believe it was constructed between the fifth and sixth centuries by the Maya people. Once home to some 35,000 people, the site is thought to have been a buzzing hub of religion, military, politics, and commerce, as well as a pilgrimage site. Yet while the Mayan pilgrims have long since departed, that hasn’t stopped millions of travelers from descending upon its temples and ruins every year, making it one of the most visited destinations in the country.
The star attraction of the site is undoubtedly El Castillo, also known as the Temple of Kukulcán. Originally built as a temple to a feathered serpent deity, now its purpose is leaving travelers awe-stricken on tours, particularly when they hear facts such as the total number of steps equate to the number of days in a year or that claps at the base of the temple echo in the sound of a bird. On top of this, there are also several other intriguing points of interest to explore, including skull platforms where it’s thought ritual sacrifices took place, ancient ball courts, and cenotes.
With the site being so close to both Cancun and the Mayan Riviera, visiting this famous landmark is extremely easy. Chichen Itza can be reached via a 2.5-hour drive along the Cancun – Kantunil Federal Highway (Mexico 180D) from Cancun, with a wealth of tour options available to book throughout the region. The site is open between 8 AM and 5 PM, with the price of entry at just 539 pesos ( around US $26).
Travelers should ensure they are well prepared for a visit. With the hot sun typical and rain capable of starting at any moment, wearing appropriate clothing is essential, along with comfy shoes, as the full tour can last several miles. It’s also important to note that climbing the structures is a big no-no, as many travelers have found out in the past. Affordable, awe-inspiring, and easy to get to, there’s little wonder why Chichen Itza has been named one of this year’s must-visit bucket list destinations.
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