Archaeological tourism in Cancun is back! In the first 3 months of 2023, archaeological tourism reached 90% of its pre-pandemic levels.
The industry struggled during the pandemic, which resulted in the temporary closure of archaeological zones in the country.
Today, 12 of the 13 archaeological zones in Quintana Roo have reopened.
Meanwhile, over 600,000 tourists have made their way to the other 12 archaeological sites across the state.
Located in the neighboring state of Yucatan, Chichén Itzá is just a 2.5-hour drive from Cancun.
Perhaps the most iconic Mesoamerican archaeological site, Chichén Itzá, recently reclaimed its spot as the most visited archaeological attraction in all of Mexico.
It accounted for almost 20% of all archaeological tourism in Mexico in March.
According to UNESCO, the archaeological ruins at Chichén Itzá “are among the undisputed masterpieces of Mesoamerican architecture because of the beauty of their proportions, the refinement of their construction and the splendor of their sculpted decorations.”
Nothing is more indicative of the Toltec mastery of architecture than the mysterious “snake of light.”
The main attraction at Chichén Itzá is the Pyramid of Kukulkan, which towers over the surrounding jungle and is the venue on which the “snake of light.”
As the sun descends from the sky every spring and fall solstice, the triangles of light form on the pyramid. The further the sun sets, the more the triangles begin to move, creating the image of a snake slithering through the pyramid’s steps.
Another testament to the genius of the Mayan civilization is the ball court, host to the famous Mayan ball game.
The court is remarkable because of its auditory effects. A whisper from one side of the 225-by-545-foot court can be heard on the opposite side.
The Tulum Archaeological Zone
Tulum, a city south of Cancun known for its ecological tourism, is the home of the third most visited archaeological site in Mexico.
The Tulum Archaeological Zone is known for its picturesque views of ancient temples and walls set against the backdrop of the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
On three sides, walls surround the ancient gateway connecting the Mayans to the civilizations of Central America.
To the east, adventurers will find cliffs leading to beautiful beaches below.
While it lacks the fame of Chichén Itzá and Tulum, those who like to travel off the beaten path know that Cobá holds its own with any archaeological site in Mexico.
Like Chichén Itzá, Cobá was a major hub of Mayan civilization, complete with a 138-foot tall pyramid and a court on which the traditional Mayan ball game was played.
To this day, Mayan civilization lives on in the areas surrounding Cobá. Tourists who wish to experience it may find Mayan merchants selling locally produced honey in surrounding towns.
Wildlife lovers might also be drawn to Cobá, where many tourists run into howler monkeys and spider monkeys in the surrounding jungles.
Lucky adventurists might even catch a glimpse of one of Mexico’s top feline predators. Jaguars, panthers, and ocelots all prowl in the areas surrounding the archaeological preserve.
Like Cobá, Muyil is a must-see for travelers who want to experience the lush jungles of the Riviera Maya or wish to avoid crowds at the more well-known tourist destinations.
Located only 20 minutes from the city of Tulum, Muyil offers an immediate escape into nature.
The most famous sight in Muyil is El Castillo, a 55-foot pyramid with one of the most unique figures on the Yucatan Peninsula.
Nevertheless, perhaps the biggest attraction is Muyil Lagoon, a pristine mangrove forest known for its quiet and relaxing atmosphere.
From El Castillo, visitors can walk a path that leads them from a beautiful overlook of the lagoon into the lagoon itself, where local guides offer boat tours.
As tourists walk the path and explore the jungle, they will encounter more ancient pyramids and structures.
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