Visiting Chichen Itza is one of the best things to do during your Yucatan itinerary! And, even if you’re not making an extensive road trip, there are a few excellent Chichen Itza tours from Tulum, perfect for a day trip to this incredible World Wonder!
Chichen Itza is situated close to the charming colonial city of Valladolid Mexico. It is not uncommon for Chichen Itza excursions to include a visit to this delightful town and some of the best Valladolid Cenotes.
Apart from being a World Wonder and a UNESCO Heritage Site, Chichen Itza is one of the most important pieces of the puzzle for understanding the Mayan culture and how sophisticated the Mayan civilisation was.
Chichen Itza is 100% worth adding to your extended Tulum Itinerary. Below, you’ll find the best tours to Chichen Itza from Tulum and how to visit Chichen Itza from Tulum independently.
Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum Summary
If you don’t have much time to read the whole post, here is the summary of the best Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum.
|Tour Name||Budget||Additional Stops||Check Rates|
|Private Chichen Itza sunrise tour||$$$||Ik Kil + cenote or ruins of your choice||Check Rates|
|Private Chichen Itza tour||$$$||Cenote Suytun & Samula||Check Rates|
|Small group Chichen Itza tour + Valladolid||$$||Valladolid & Cenote Xux Ha||Check Rates|
|Chichen Itza & cenotes tour||$||Cenote Ik Kil & Oxman||Check Rates|
|Private Chichen Itza & Ek Balam tour||$$$||Ek Balam ruins & Ik Kil Cenote, tequila distillery||Check Rates|
|Chichen Itza & Coba tour||$||Coba ruins & Cenote Saamal||Check Rates|
How Far is Chichen Itza from Tulum?
Tulum to Chichen Itza distance is 152 km or 94 miles, which translates into just over 2 hours drive. Chichen Itza Archeological Site is located just off main road number 180, connecting Valladolid with Merida.
Click here to access the interactive version of this map.
Chichen Itza from Valladolid | 44 km (45 minutes)
Chichen Itza from Cancun distance | 196 km (2 hours 40 minutes)
Chichen Itza from Merida | 119 km (1 hour 30 minutes)
Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen | 181 km (2 hours 30 minutes)
Chichen Itza from Mexico City | 1,430 km (about 18 hours by car)
What is Chichen Itza, and Why Is It Important?
Chichen Itza was a highly influential Mayan city back in 600 AD that boasted a robust economy and architectural superiority. Today, the Chichen Itza pyramid and the entire site are one of the most important monuments of the Mayan heritage.
Chichen Itza takes its name from the nearby cenote – Sacred Cenote, which the Mayans used for sacrificial offerings. Chichen means ‘mouth of the wells’, and Itza refers to the name of a Mayan tribe that lived nearby.
The most famous part of Chichen Itza is the Kulkulan Pyramid (also known as El Castillo), a temple devoted to Kulkulan and a giant calendar! The temple has 365 steps representing days in the year and four sides representing four seasons. The Mayan leaders used the pyramid to teach ordinary people things like when to plant seeds and harvest crops.
Best Chichen Itza Tour from Tulum
#1 Private Chichen Itza Sunrise Tour from Tulum
What makes this Chichen Itza early morning tour from Tulum the best option? On this tour, you will get to experience the mighty Chichen Itza without the crowds, which will make your visit extremely special and memorable! Witnessing sunrise at the Chichen Itza Kukulcan Piramide is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
After the early morning visit to Chichen Itza, your tour guide will take you to the beautiful Ik Kil Cenote, which typically is super crowded, but you will be one of the first people to visit and enjoy a morning swim!
And, since it is a private tour after Cenote Ik Kil, you can choose where you want to go next. You can visit another cenote such as Cenote Oxman or Cenote Suytun, stop for lunch in the charming Valladolid or see one more archaeological site such as Coba or Ek Balam ruins. The choice is yours!
More Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum
In this section, you will find more Tulum Chichen Itza tours that offer different combinations, depending on your personal preferences and interests.
#2 Chichen Itza Private Tour from Tulum + Cenote Suytun
This tour by Viator is one of the best Chichen Itza private tours from Tulum! The trip includes an early morning visit to the most famous cenote – Suytun, where you get the chance to snap an Instagram famous photo on the circular platform in the middle of the cenote.
After Cenote Suytun, the excursion continues to Chichen Itza, where you get a private tour of the site with a knowledgable local expert that will be able to answer all your questions about the monument and the Mayan civilisation.
The tour also includes a lunch at the local market in the heart of Valladolid and a stop at another beautiful cenote called Cenote Samula.
#3 Tour to Chichen Itza from Tulum + Valladolid Tour
If you’re looking for a Chichen Itza from Tulum tour that also includes a proper guided tour of the delightful colonial town of Valladolid, this is the tour for you.
This excursion offers hotel pick-up and starts at 7 am. The first on the itinerary is the guided tour of Chichen Itza with a knowledgeable local guide. The next stop is at Valladolid, where your guide will introduce you to the city’s beautiful architecture and interesting facts. You will also get to experience the delicious Yucatecan cuisine during lunch and stop at Cenote Xux Ha for a swim on the way back.
#4 Mexico Chichen Itza Tour Cenote Ik Kil + Cenote Oxman
This Tulum Chichen Itza tour is the best option for all cenote lovers! It combines the guided tour of Chichen Itza with a visit to two incredible cenotes – Ik Kil and Cenote Oxman! When selecting your dates, make sure you opt-in for the Chichen Itza and cenote tour plus version, which is only a little bit more expensive, but it’s way better.
The tour bus leaves Tulum at 8:30 am, and the whole trip takes around 10 hours. A buffet-style lunch is included at Hacienda San Lorenzo Oxman, and tour participants also get 30 minutes of spare time in Valladolid city centre.
#5 Private Chichen Itza Ek Balam Tour
If you’re a keen enthusiast of history and exploring archaeological sites, you can go on a combination tour that allows you to visit Chichen Itza and Ek Balam in one day! This Chichen Itza excursion is an excellent option for those on tight schedules wanting to see as much as possible on their vacation.
Ek Balam, which means “the black jaguar”, was an important Mayan city built between 100 & 300 A.D. It was inhabited for over 1000 years and extended over 12 km, encompassing 45 structures. Some of the buildings include two castles, multiple temples, city walls, a ball court and the largest pyramid – 30 meters high, El Torre. The sheer size of this ancient settlement and intricate decorative techniques indicate how sophisticated the creators of this grand city were.
After visiting the two ancient Mayan cities, you will have 2 hours to enjoy one of the most beautiful cenotes near Valladolid – Cenote Ik Kil. The last stop will take place at Mayapan Traditional Agave Distillery, where you’ll get to sample the local tequila.
#6 Chichen Itza Day Trip from Tulum + Coba
Finally, to all those wanting to visit Chichen Itza and Coba ruins in one day, I recommend taking this tour. This Chichen Itza day trip also includes a stop at Coba ruins and some fun time at Cenote Saamal.
Coba was another super important Mayan settlement, and Coba means “waters stirred by the wind” and takes its name after the two large lagoons that surround the settlement.
What’s unique about Coba is that it is not just one city but a cluster of multiple Mayan towns. All these ancient Mayan cities were connected to the central pyramid – Nohoch Mul, with a network of sacbéob, which are ceremonial white roads. The whole site is still largely undiscovered, but it is believed that there are over 6,000 structures! The site’s main pyramid – Nahoch Mul, is the tallest in the Yucatan Penisula, measuring 42 meters, which is more than El Castillo at Chichen Itza.
Chichen Itza and Tulum Tours
Here are the best two Chichen Itza Tulum tours. These are the 2-day tours that combine the Chichen Itza day tour and Tulum ruins with other excellent things to do near Tulum.
#7 2 Days Chichen Itza and Tulum Tour + Cenotes
Day 1 Ven a la Luz statue, Tulum Ruins, Cenote Casa Tortuga, Playa del Carmen
Day 2 Chichen Itza, Cenote Saamal, Valladolid
#8 2 Days Chichen Itza Tulum Tour + Coba & Cenotes
Day 1 Tulum Ruins, Coba Ruins, Cenotes Tamcach-Ha & Choo-Ha, Playa del Carmen
Day 2 Chichen Itza, Valladolid, Cenote Maya Park
How to Get to Chichen Itza from Tulum Independently?
If you’re not swayed by the idea of taking one of the Chichen Itza Tours from Tulum, you can also organise your own day trip to Chichen Itza from Tulum.
Driving from Tulum to Chichen Itza
Renting a car in Tulum or Cancun airport and making your way independently to Chichen Itza from Tulum is an excellent alternative to the organised Chichen Itza tours from Tulum!
Driving in Mexico may sound a little intimidating at first glance, but really the roads in Yucatan are excellent and well-marked, similar to what you’re used to back home.
Tulum to Chichen Itza drive
Driving to Chichen Itza from Tulum will take just over 2 hours, depending on the traffic.
The route is very simple and consists mainly of following the 109 highway towards Coba ruins, which in Chemax turns into road 180 through Valladolid to Merida. This new highway has a decent surface, and the way to Chichen Itza is well-marked and easy to follow.
The only thing to be aware of is the speed bumps. I’ve been travelling in Yucatan for two months and was very surprised at how many speed bumps are there, even on the highways! When driving in Mexico, look out for speed bumps. Sometimes, they are not well marked and speeding through them can be dangerous.
Renting a Car in Mexico
I usually only advise pre-booking car rental online during the high season, but in the case of Mexico, it is super important that you get your booking through a reputable car rental service such as Discover Cars and opt for full cover.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Mexico?
The cost of renting a car in Mexico will depend on the following factors:
Age of the driver (under the 30s, pay more)
Driver’s licence origin
Time of the year (higher prices during high season)
Rental duration (the longer the rental period, the lower the cost per day)
The car rental price, including full coverage, which I recommend, can vary from $20 to $60 per day, depending on the above factors. I recommend entering your preferred dates on the Discover Cars website to find out the exact cost based on your preferences.
What’s the age requirement?
If you’re using Discover Cars, the age requirement is 18 years old, but the car rental price for that age is at least three times higher than the main driver’s age of 21. Some car rental companies may even charge a little more for drivers aged below 30 years old.
Most car rentals in Tulum require a deposit even if you opt-in for full insurance. The deposit amount depends on the rental duration, but you can expect around $350 for a week of rental. This money is returned in full when you return the car.
If you give them your credit card details for the deposit, they will freeze the deposit amount instead of taking it. But, if you use a debit card, the money will be taken and refunded within 5-7 days after you return the car. Some rental companies require a credit card to be entered into their system.
Full cover and why you should get it
Whenever I rent a car abroad, I always go for full coverage to protect myself from extra costs, and I strongly advise you to do the same. The basic cover only protects you from accidents caused by a third party, which is not much protection.
The full cover protects your deposit from the deduction for any damages to the car that occurs from your fault, theft, or loss of key, towing fees, damages to wheels and windows and any other admin fees that the rental company may want to charge you.
The full cover costs between $5-$12 extra per day but gives you peace of mind, which is priceless.
Mexico car rental scams
If you rent a car directly from the airport or any car rentals in Tulum, be aware of the common Mexico car rental scams! The most common is the low price advertised online and the hidden costs you get to pay when you show up at the car rental. If you see car rental prices advertised as $5 per day, you should know it’s a scam, and you will end up paying a much higher price.
This is why I recommend booking your car in advance through Discover Cars, which is a reputable car rental comparison website.
Car rental insurance in Mexico
Another common scam is requiring Mexican car insurance in addition to the insurance you may already have back home through your credit card insurance or life insurance. Again, the way to avoid it is to book your car online through a reputable provider such as Discover Cars, which can look after you even if you run into a dispute with the local car rental in Tulum.
Record the condition of the car
Before you drive away from the rental car shop, take photos of all dents & scratches, and go around the car and record a video. This is a good practice whenever you rent a car abroad, which will protect you from unjust claims against you. Also, make sure you drop off your rented car with plenty of time to spare before your flight in case there is a dispute.
Be aware of extra charges
Here are some common extra charges that a car rental company will apply.
Drop-off at a different location | this is normally the most costly addition to the base rate.
Empty tank fee | search for a gas station near the car drop-off point, and make sure you fuel up before returning your car.
Additional driver | all car rental companies charge for an extra driver, and the cost is normally relatively high.
Rental duration extension | be aware of the daily cost of the extension; some rentals can charge you double for extending the car rental agreement.
Print your car rental agreement & full insurance cover certificate
Make sure you’ve got all documents printed with you, including your car rental agreement showing the total price and how much you’ve already paid, a full cover certificate and some important customer service phone numbers.
You should also carry your passport with you when driving in Mexico.
International Driving Licence
US driving licence is valid in Mexico, and if your driver’s licence comes from another country, make sure you have your international driving licence on you at all times when driving.
Is it Safe to Drive from Tulum to Chichen Itza?
Is it safe to drive to Chichen Itza from Tulum? Yes, driving to Chichen Itza from Riviera Maya is safe for foreign tourists.
Tulum to Chichen Itza Bus
Unfortunately, there is no direct Chichen Itza Tulum bus. If you’re interested in getting to Chichen Itza from Tulum by public transport, you will first need to get a bus to Valladolid and then catch a local colectivo bus from the centre of Valladolid to Chichen Itza.
This is definitely the least convenient way of getting to Chichen Itza from Tulum, and also a little hard to do in one day but entirely possible. If you choose this option, I recommend extending your Chichen Itza day tour from Tulum and staying 1-2 nights in one of the hotels in Valladolid, to make this trip easier.
STEP ONE | Take one of the Tulum to Valladolid ADO buses that leave multiple times a day between 7:50 am and 9:30 pm from ADO Bus Terminal Tulum, situated in the city centre.
STEP TWO | Take a colectivo bus from Colectivo Valladolid Chichen Itza Stop to Chichen Itza. Colectivos run on demand multiple times per day.
Chichen Itza to Tulum Bus
Again, there is no direct Chichen Itza to Tulum bus. On the way back, follow the above steps in reverse to get from Chichen Itza to Tulum.
What Are the Best Chichen Itza Hotels?
Are you looking for a Chichen Itza hotel to stay close to the ruins? Staying close to the Chichen Itza ruins will allow you to sleep until 7 am and still get to the Chichen Itza gate before the opening time at 8 am before everyone else arrive.
Here are some of the best hotels near Chichen Itza:
Hacienda Chichen Resort and Yaxkin Spa
Villas Arqueologicas Chichen Itza
La Casa de las Lunas Hotel Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza from Tulum FAQ
How much is Chichen Entrance Fee?
Chichen Itza entrance fees are 571 pesos, which is $29. This Chichen Itza price consists of two elements – the entrance and a small charge that has to be made in cash, which I think is some kind of governmental fee.
What are Chichen Itza Opening Hours?
The Chichen Itza hours of operation are 8 am to 4:30 pm
How Old is Chichen Itza?
According to various archaeological sources, Chichen Itza built date was around 600 AD, which makes Chichen Itza around 1,500 years old.
How to Pronounce Chichen Itza?
So how do you pronounce Chichen Itza, which is an ancient Mayan word?
Chichen Itza pronunciation: chee – chen – it – suh
How much is the Chichen Itza Parking?
The official Chichen Itza parking cost 80 pesos. There are also some unofficial private car parks just off the main road. They will encourage you to park with them, which is fine, but make sure you ask for the price before committing.
Can You Climb Chichen Itza?
No. While climbing Chichen Itza was allowed in the past, this is no longer the case. As you can imagine, the ban on climbing the Chichen Itza Mexico Pyramids is in place to protect these important monuments so that future generations can still enjoy them.
Can You Swim in the Cenote at Chichen Itza?
As you can expect from a UNESCO heritage site, you cannot swim in the Chichen Itza Cenote.
The Sacred Cenote is also known as the ‘well of sacrifice’. The Mayans believed that this cenote was the entrance to the underworld and used it for sacrificial ceremonies.
Archaeologists found gold, pottery, jade and human remains inside the sinkhole and concluded that the Mayans deposited sacrifices in the cenote for the Mayan god of rain – Chaac.
How Much Time to Visit Chichen Itza?
Chichen Itza’s archaeological site is huge, and there is lots to see and learn! Set aside at least 2-3 hours to be able to visit the entire area and be prepared for a lot of walking.
Is there an ATM at Chichen Itza?
Although there is an ATM at Chichen Itza, the exchange rate is bad, and you can’t rely on it working 100% of the time. Part of the entrance ticket needs to be paid in cash (pesos only), and that is why I recommend you bring enough cash with you.
What’s Chichen Itza nearest airport?
The nearest airport to Chichen Itza that serves international flights is located in Merida (119 km) or Cancun (196 km). There is also a small airport closer to Chichen Itza, and some companies offer a Chichen Itza Mexico tour from Cancun, including the flight. The price of such a tour starts at over $1,000.
Chichen Itza vs Tulum Ruins
Which is better Chichen Itza or Tulum? Are you wondering whether to visit Chichen Itza or Tulum ruins? Chichen Itza is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and boasts the large world-renowned pyramid called El Castillo, also known as Kulkulan Pyramid. If you want to tick off another world wonder and snap an iconic photo with the pyramid, visit Chichen Itza.
Tulum ruins are perched on a cliff and boast incredible ocean views. Both places are extremely busy, but Chichen Itza is way more famous.
Chichen Itza or Coba?
What’s unique about Coba ruins is that its pyramid – Nahoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in Yucatan, even taller than El Castillo at Chichen Itza. And, the best part is that it is still allowed to climb to the top! Coba ruins are also way less famous, and what comes with it is way less busy. The archaeological site is vast and largely undiscovered, but it is estimated to encompass over 6,000 structures!
More Tips For Visiting Chichen Itza From Tulum
Come early | For the best experience, and to beat the crowds, arrive at Chichen Itza just before the opening time. In the morning, you will also have the best light for photography, and you will enjoy it more when it’s still not too hot.
Bring cash | As I mentioned earlier, you will need to pay some part of the ticket in cash (pesos only).
Check weather forecast | It may sound obvious, but check the weather forecast for rain before your Chichen Itza day trip!
Protect yourself from sun & heat | Bring sun cream, a hut and plenty of water to stay hydrated. I also like wearing a light long-sleeve shirt to protect myself from undesired tan lines.
Drones, tripods and portable loudspeakers are not allowed | If you have on you any of these objects, you will be required to leave them in a locker provided for no extra charge. I perfectly understand why they don’t want drones at the UNESCO site, but I’m still perplexed about the ban on tripods.
Extra fee for videography | There is an additional fee of 50 pesos ( under $3) for taking videos on professional cameras. This rule is not really enforced, the site is too big, and I actually haven’t seen anyone supervising.