Chichen Itza: Tips for Visiting with Kids
Chichen Itza is one of the modern wonders of the world and an epically awesome place to visit as a family. I must admit that I had been apprehensive about visiting Chichen Itza with the kids for a long time. I would look wistfully at the pics of other families or friends traveling there and thought that I would not be able to take a trip like that for a long time.
We headed to Riviera Maya in January 2017 and decided that this year we would just do it. We felt our girls were old enough at that time (5 and 8 years old) to not only weather the trip but also enjoy it and learn from our time there. Chichen Itza is a solid 2 and half hour drive from Cancun and Playa del Carmen and we wanted to make sure the time was right for us before taking this (costly) journey.
We had an awesome, stress free day and I wanted to share some tips on what made our day work out so smoothly.
Tip 1: Prepare for the long drive to/from Chichen Itza. As I stated above, the average drive from Riviera Maya is about 2.5 hours. There are a variety of ways you can get there. The highways are easy to maneuver and despite the occasional tolls, it seemed that the trip was smooth and easy to navigate. We chose to do a private tour (8 passenger minivan to ourselves) through Canada Transfers which was an excellent choice for us. As we drove we could see many tourists on the highways in rented cars as well as mega tour buses.
However you decide to travel, be sure to prep the family for what to expect. While the ride is somewhat scenic younger travelers will definitely need something to occupy their attention and keep them entertained. We brought our Amazon Fire tablet, which had a movie downloaded onto it, as well as carrying books and snacks.
Please, do not forget to bring snacks! Our pick up that morning was at 7:30 am (which is the typical recommended pick up time for most tours headed to Chichen Itza) so breakfast was early that day. Shortly before we arrived at Chichen Itza the kids were asking for a snack and I was happy that I had packed granola bars for them. Our tour provided us with a full cooler of bottled water so we were set for the day; if your tour does not include beverages, plan to bring at least a couple bottles with you for the journey.
Tip 2: Plan your arrival as early as possible to avoid crowds. We arrived at Chichen Itza around 9:30 am and the parking lot was already full with vehicles, cars and buses alike. Despite the busyness, our tour guide assured us that we were still early and had beat the heaviest of crowds! Our tour included our entrance fees to Chichen Itza and the nominal video camera fee ($2-3 per camera). While we waited for our guide to obtain our tickets from the booth we milled around the main plaza area which had a restaurant, clean restrooms and a snack bar area with drinks, popsicles etc. We had to wait for a few minutes and I was happy that we had beaten most of the tour buses as our wait would certainly have been longer.
Tip 3: Hire a tour guide at Chichen Itza: It’s worth it!! Most tour packages will let you know that hiring a tour guide for the day is highly recommended and a separate fee. The going rate during our visit was $70 for an expert guide to walk us through the archaeological site.
We were absolutely happy with our guide and would highly recommend hiring one when you visit. Our guide was a local, descendant of the Mayans, and was the best person to guide us around the site. He held a wealth of knowledge and knew how to engage all of us, even our kids. I totally think the money was well spent.
Tip 4: Dress and plan your day at Chichen Itza according to the weather. We were fortunate to visit during the month of January and the weather was just about perfect, averaging about 83 degrees. The sun was strong, though, and I could certainly see that in the summer months it could be unbearable. There are trees and shade in some areas of the site but as you tour you will spend a lot of time in the direct sun.
When dressing your family and packing for the day, be sure to wear light colored. clothing and comfortable shoes. We found the site easily walkable and I’m sure, even a jogging stroller could make it’s way through the site. Hats are also a must; we all had hats the day we visited and, even though the heat wasn’t at it’s worst, the hats were absolutely necessary.
Sunscreen is important as well as bug spray. Some of the ruins require a trek through well beaten jungle paths and protection from bugs will spare you and the kiddies from nasty mosquito bites. A few cheap rain ponchos would be a good idea to throw in your day bag as well; with the vastness of the site, during the rainy seasons it would be easy to get caught in a passing shower and be totally soaked!
I’ve never traveled to Chichen Itza but I would love to visit one day with my daughters. I love how you all are making memories that will last a lifetime!
It looks like you and the family had an exciting trip to Chichen Itza! I bet your children won’t soon forget it! And I think it’s great that you made a point to research the area before visiting. Thank you so much for sharing these tips for visiting with children, as these are very helpful for traveling with me and my crew.
About how many hours would you say your tour lasted in total?
I love your family trips. I will be traveling to Riviera Maya in a few weeks so I might follow your recommendations and head out to Chichen Itza. Thanks for the very timely information. I really appreciate it.
Never been to Chichen Itza – It looks like a fabulous place to go with the kids and great fun!
What a cool place! I love your tips! We always try to go to places early with kids. MUCH easier that way.
I have never been but let me just sit back and think about 83 degrees in January. I would like to go on some big trips with my kids but walking is the enemy. My oldest on the other hand loves history.
Chicken Itza looks like an amazing place and I can only imagine what it looked like in person! I’ve been to Cancun before, but for some reason, never got to the Mayan Ruins. This will definitely have to be on bucket list.
One of the greatest place on earth. Thank you for sharing.
I am always looking for kids friendly places! I am so glad to see this place is welcoming as a perfect family spot for holidays!
Tons of beauty would love to visit myself one day. Light colored clothes is so important, sometimes I think people don’t think about this and can ruin it for the rest.
It looks an interesting place, though I have never visited . I’m rather infatuated towards historical sites and this makes it a perfect for visit.
This place always get featured in Doomsday movies … On my list too !
The kids were very behaved and attentive to the tour guide. I bet this is really one for then books. Amazing experience for all of you.
You have a beautiful family. How wonderful to travel with your children to see all these exotic locations and see history right up close. This must have been a special trip. Thanks for sharing.
Such an amazing experience, how I wish to visit thia place too!
I agree about wearing sunscreen all the time especially going outside. And bring water.
Oh wow what a fascinating place to visit! I always think it’s so good to visit places of significant history or culture when you’re visiting a new place, it gives you a greater understanding of the country and people and broadens your horizons too.
I have seen some amazing pictures of Chichen Itza. I know it is very beautiful and your pictures are lovely as well. I will definitely be getting a guide when I go down there to visit.
I appreciate the finite, pragmatic details you’ve included here that would actually allow parents to use this as a planning guide. Besides that, it looks like a beautiful destination!