Itza Chichen in Chichen Itza – or maybe Itza Chicken…. driving 2.5 hours from Cancun to Chichen Itza to see Mayaland http://twitpic.com/1wj5i9 was a great idea!
As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to see the pyramids at Chichen Itza. When I moved to Mexico, I remember being disappointed that the Yucatan was so far away. A day is possibly enough time to see the entire park, but I would say it is well worth it to book a room, or private villa at Mayaland hotel. A guide can be hired for a private tour of the ruins at the front desk. $60 an hour, and the tour runs around 2.5 to 3 hours.
The history of the ruins is complex and a guide can explain far more than the booklets for sale in the souvenir shop. I would definitely recommend taking advantage of a private guide, even if you decide to tour the grounds on your own again afterward. The most famous structure in the park is of course the larger than life pyramid, but as we learned from our guide, there are more than 350 ruin “mounds” in the area, and a number of well preserved temples, wells, shrines, houses, and even an observatory which can be seen from the grandeur foyer of the hotel at just about any angle.
There are several exotic hotels at Chichen Itza, but Mayaland is located directly on the ruins. Nonstop bird calls, majestic trees and palms, and impressive gardens surround the hotel and their many private bungalows and villas. Peacocks roam freely around the hotel grounds, and even IN the hotel, just adding to the exotic feel of Mayaland. The food, is absolutely fabulous and the service is even better. Our waiter was a charming gentleman, Francisco, who spoke 5 languages including his mother tongue, Mayan – which he patiently gave us a lesson in.
Recommendations for visiting Chichen Itza:
Bring a good camera, wear light clothes that can handle the humidity and heat, and don’t forget the sunblock. Insects were not a problem until the evening but definitely bring bug spray or purchase some in the souvenir shop located on the grounds.
Shopping is available in the hotel, in the park itself on the walk from the pyramid to the well, and in the Mayan marketplace. Bring small change for shopping and remember when purchasing, that certain souvenirs made with live plants and or seeds, will not be allowed through customs. There are plenty of masks, a pyramid statues for purchase but a popular item are custom necklaces which take an hour to be made. If you intend to purchase one of these, do so well before the stores close.
If you can, bring a change of clothes if you come on a day trip this time of year. Heavy humidity, heat, and rainstorms can be an issue- but still worth the visit!