Best time to travel to Cancun

Equinox at Chichén Itzá in Cancun 2024

Ancient Mayan architects​ calculated everything precisely to the very sunlight reflections and shadows

Best time: March 21 | September 21

Equinox at Chichén Itzá

Once Mayan people reigned over these lands, and today the only remnants of the ancient civilization are Mayan pyramids. These stone structures stand still from year to year, attracting hundreds of thousands of travelers who observe them from different angles, climb up, and take pictures. One of the oldest complexes of pyramids, that is included in the New7Wonders of the World, is Chichen Itza, located an hour drive from Cancun.

Chichen Itza was a large pre-Columbian settlement built by the Maya people of the Yucatán peninsula. Chichen Itza translates as "at the mouth of the well of the Itza." The archaeological site is located in modern Tinúm Municipality in Yucatán State in Mexico. Archaeologists claim that the site, including the Kukulcan Pyramid, was constructed sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries CE. The buildings are grouped into the clusters. The most well-explored and known clusters are the Great North Platform, the Central Group, the Ossario Group, and the Old Chichen, the latter one not open to the public. The Great North Platform featured the most visited sites of Chichen Itza such as the Kukulcan Pyramid, the Temple of the Jaguars, and the Great Ball Court.

If you want to see something special, visit it during the spring or autumn equinox. At that time the sunlight and pyramid's structures create strange shadows that resemble the descending Mayan serpent Kukulcan​. Whether this is a mere coincidence or it was put in that place on purpose—it's ha​rd to say, but the effect is still awesome and inspiring today.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Chichen Itza to witness the descending Mayan serpent Kukulcan effect?

The best period to visit Chichen Itza and witness the Kukulcan effect is during either the spring or fall equinox. During this time, sunlight falling in a specific manner give the impression of a descending serpent, which is an impressive sight to behold. While why this happens isn't fully understood, it's presumed to have been created by Mayans in the past to celebrate the changing seasons. Show more

Where can I get the best view of the Kukulcan Pyramid from within Chichen Itza?

To get the best view of the Kukulcan Pyramid from inside Chichen Itza, you should aim to visit the Temple of Kukulcan. This temple is built on a hill, affording an unobstructed view of the pyramid and surrounding vegetation. It's possible to climb the stairs and admire the architectural brilliance of the Mayan Empire, who accurately calculated light reflections and shadows on the pyramid. Show more

What other Mayan pyramids or archaeological sites are located near Chichen Itza?

Other nearby Mayan pyramids and archaeological sites include Coba, Ek Balam, and Uxmal. Each offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore different aspects of the Mayan culture, with each boasting distinctive architectural details and designs. Furthermore, each site has its own cultural significance and history, making them ideal for anyone aiming to develop their understanding of the area’s heritage. Show more

Are there any local tour companies that offer guided tours to Chichen Itza?

Several local tour companies provide travellers with guided tours to Chichen Itza. Before booking, it's wise to research and read reviews to determine the best company for you. Some tour providers offer a variety of packages and extras, like early entry, access to a private guide, and transportation to and from Cancun. It's vital to choose a trustworthy company and book your tour in advance. Show more

How long does it take to explore the entire Chichen Itza site, and are there facilities available for visitors, such as restrooms and places to eat?

It typically takes between two and three hours to discover the entire Chichen Itza site, depending on how much you explore, because it's sprawling. Visitors can purchase food and beverages from concessions around the area, although packing water and snacks is recommended. In addition to this, there are restrooms throughout the site, ensuring that you have the most pleasant experience possible. Show more

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