Chichen Itza with kids
Chichen Itza was voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, in a worldwide vote involving more than 100 million people. The other wonders that made the list are China's Great Wall, Petra in Jordan, Christ Redeemer statue in Brazil, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Colosseum in Rome and the Taj Mahal in India. The Giza pyramids in Egypt were kept on as an honorary member, having been a member of the original Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.
There are a few reasons that make Chichen Itza an amazing site for family travel and make your kids begging to visit another Seventh Wonder.
A common myth of family travel is that kids only want to visit theme parks with their friends, along with a reasonable parental fear is to arrive at a fantastic historical site to only argue with your child to get off their device.
Why Chichen Itza is excellent for kids of any age
If anyone was ever on the fence about taking their kids to Chichen Itza, my recommendation is to go for it and here’s why. In the Mexican, culture, children are adored. No one gets worked up over a crying baby or a toddler running around at 2 am. Secondly, the area around the ruins is open and accessible for a big or small family to stretch their legs, run a little bit, and even some ancient rocks to climb on. Thirdly, it is effortless to find tons of information on the ruins on the internet, so you can learn about them before you go, while you're there and long after you leave. As your kids grow or if you have varying ages, it is also straightforward to find facts that speak to your little or big people. You can focus on their living quarters, The Mayan Ball Game, or human sacrifice. I have included some links to get you started.
Although you can no longer climb to the top of any of the pyramids, there are still age old stones laying around to entertain kids for hours. That, along with the beautiful scenery and rich history, makes Chichen Itza a kid favorite out of the New Seven Wonders of the world.
Getting to Chichen Itza
There are various ways to arrive in Chichen Itza, here are some options. Tour buses are available daily from Cancun or Merida. It is also possible to rent private transportation; which will include a driver and usually a passenger van. This is an excellent option if you have a big group. Or rent a car of your choice preferably from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or Merida (you will get better pricing and have more options) and drive there directly.
Chichen Itza is a 2 hour and 16-minute drive from Cancun on the "Quota" (toll) road, and 3 hours on the "Por la Libre" (non-toll road). The Quota (toll road) is what you can expect, a long, broad highway with beautiful vegetation. The Por La Libre (non-toll road) takes you through tons of towns, with lots of topes (speed-bumps). You can expect people on the side of the road selling food, fruit, handmade goods, along with roaming stray dogs. Before you go check out our article on buying street food in Mexico.
From Merida, it is a 1.5-hour car drive and from Playa del Carmen a 2 hour and 11-minute drive.
Our favorite way to travel in Mexico is renting a car or renting private transportation. This gives us the option to make the random stops along the road, extra bathroom breaks, or grab some tacos. Read our tips and tricks on driving to Chichen Itza or the private van we rented.
Travel Tip: You do have to pay for parking at Chichen Itza approximately 22 pesos (please note this could change)
Entrance Fees to Chichen Itza
If you are with a tour group, you won’t have to worry about your entrance fees as they would have been covered in your package. For everyone else, please note that ONLY CASH is accepted, which is the case for much of Mexico. So don’t forget your pesos.
There are two ticket booths entering Chichen Itza, and you have to pay both. This is not a scheme but only a lack of federal and state departments willing to work together.
First entrance ticket is for the state government and the second for the federal totaling 480 pesos ($24 US) for adults. Chichen Itza entrance fees for kids 12 and under are 50% of an adult ticket, and kids 5 and under are FREE. Another bonus to traveling when your kids are younger.
Guided Tour or No-Guided Tour
I feel like this is one of the hardest questions when traveling with kids, and really is a personal one. We have loved some tours and hated others. We have also not opted for tours many times, like in Chichen Itza and still leave feeling the entire experience. So instead what to consider before choosing for a guided tour anywhere:
Are signs in English? If not, can you manage in the language to find the bathroom and exit?
Can your family stand for 10 minutes in one spot “fairly quiet” listening to someone speak?
Is information on the location reasonably easy to find on the internet?
Do you feel you could look up some information and discuss some exciting facts your family would enjoy learning about? (links above to get you started)
After answering these questions, we usually can decide on if we should opt for the tour or not. One great thing we did notice as we walked by all the tour groups is that the tour guides speak many different languages, and are happy to answer any questions about where the bathroom is or help you out if you get turned around.
Where to stay in Chichen Itza with kids
Although Chichen Itza is a bit off the beaten path there are many great hotels nearby. You may even decide to visit Merida or Valladolid for the night considering they are so close and are some of the most beautiful colonial towns in Mexico.
Our favorite hotel for families in Chichen Itza is the Mayaland Hotel and Bungalows. Not only can you walk from the hotel to the entrance of Chichen Itza, but they have beautiful grounds, delicious food, and the staff love kids.
Here are some of their facilities:
Babysitting service available...yes, please!
English speaking staff
Cribs and extra beds available
Onsite Mayan Planetarium
“Families in particular like the location – they rated it 9.7 for a stay with kids.” from Booking.com
Check one of the New Seven Wonders of the World as a family, Chichen Itza is a great getaway for any size family! Staying in the area for a couple of days, then check out the Uxmal Ruins!