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This Mayan Site Near Cancun Is The Most Popular In All Of Mexico

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In all its majesty and grandeur, Chichén Itzá welcomed one and a half million tourists in the first half of the year, as reported by The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

This makes the site the most visited archeological site in all of Mexico, with Teotihuacan near Mexico City ranking second.

woman walking near chichen itza

Of the 16 archaeological zones that are now open to the public, three out of four chose Chichén Itzá as their first choice, and with Cancun reaching record levels of tourism this year, it is no surprise that the cultural and historical offerings in the area are proving to be a popular alternative to travelers.

Now considered one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’, and being hugely accessible from Cancun, it is certainly somewhere you don’t want to miss. 

Chichen Itza with tourists

Chichén Itzá is a Mayan City on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, which thrived in the 9th and 10th centuries CE. 

Certainly, the most astounding feat of architecture comes in the form of the stepped pyramid El Castillo, which has a total of 365 steps rising into the sky, the exact number of days in the solar year.

If you are traveling a little later in the year during the autumn equinox, you might be lucky enough to capture the sight of the descending Kulkulkan serpent, a phenomenon where the sun casts a shadow onto the stairway, which moves as it travels across the sky, thus creating the image of a snake. 

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serpent at sunset at Chichén Itzá

Though the statistics from the INAH report represent a decrease in visitors of 12.7 % when compared to the first half of the previous year, it is expected that the summer vacation period will cause a rebound effect.

With archaeological and museum tourism booming at an annual increase of 34.19 percent, authorities are implementing additional tourist attractions to help with footfall and overcrowding. 

One of the most notable additions to the archaeological offerings is the official opening of the Cobá Archeological Zone this week after its closure for reservations for quite some time. 

Mayan Pyramid Coba

Another ancient ruin dating back to between 50 BC and 100 AD, it is situated just 30 minutes from Tulum and an hour and a half from the Riviera Maya and is expected to become hot competition for the ever-popular Chichén Itzá.

The government is responding to the ever-growing popularity of the country’s historical offerings by implementing the Archeological Zone Improvement Program, with the aim of conserving and improving popular sites, as well as accessibility. 

Both Chichén Itzá and Cobá will be destinations on the new Maya Train route which is expected to launch in late 2023. 

Train Used for Workers Building the Maya Train

By connecting both of these hugely popular sites, as well as creating completely new accessibility to others, it is projected that hundreds and thousands of tourists will continue to break records by visiting them. 

Whilst Chichén Itzá reigns supreme as the most popular in all of the archaeological areas, that statistic could certainly change in a matter of months. 

What is clear though, is that if the archaeologist in you wants to escape from the golden, sandy beaches of Cancun and see these breathtaking, man-made wonders, you might need to plan ahead to avoid any disappointment.

Aerial view of a beautiful beach in Cancun with travelers and blue water

Tips For Travellers

With the Maya Train not set to be in operation until the end of the year, you have a couple of options in regard to getting to Chichén Itzá.

If you are reaching the ruins by car or private transfer, it is recommended that you get there first thing in the morning. 

Tours run all throughout the day and, as you can imagine, do become incredibly busy. 

Arriving just before 8 am ensures that you will be one of the first in line to enter the site, skipping any crowds. 

woman at chichen itza

Early morning will also be a cooler temperature for you to explore, as the sun is year-round in the Mexican Caribbean and will certainly slow down your exploring time if you arrive midday. 

Another popular way to see these sites is by booking a private tour, but be sure to make reservations in advance as they are sure to be busy during the high season. 

With the ever-growing list of archaeological and historical offerings in Mexico, why not take a break from the luxurious beaches and mouth-watering food, and explore one of the Seven Wonders of the World? You won’t regret it. 

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