How To Get To Chichen Itza Independently & Beat The Crowds

Chichen Itza is one of the most popular tourist sites in Mexico's Yucatan Penisula - but there is often confusion on how to get to Chichen Itza independently.

Getting to Chichen Itza is actually very easy, cheap, and straightforward once you know what to do. The benefits of visiting the Mayan site solo also outweigh going via an organized tour, which I'll explain later in this article.

A visit to the ancient Mayan ruins provides an aesthetic insight into the past with the opportunity to dig deeper into Mexico's intriguing Mayan roots and there is no better way to explore the ancient city than to do so on your own schedule.

getting to chichen itza by bus

Ways to get to Chichen Itza

Organized Tour

Organized tours are the most common way of getting to Chichen Itza. You'll find tour operations all around the Yucatan trying to lure in tourists. These tours are definitely hassle-free, but they are pricey and time-restrictive.

Public Bus

Visiting Chichen Itza via public bus is one of the best ways to get there. Not only is it simple and cheap, but it leaves you to explore at your own schedule. Despite many fear-based news headlines, catching buses is safe in the Yucatan Penisula.

Rental Car

If you have the budget, renting your own car gives you the freedom and privacy of exploring Chichen Itza at your own pace. You can view rental car options here.

how to get to chichen itza

Getting to Chichen Itza by public bus

Getting to Chichen Itza by bus is easy. ADO bus has one bus a day that runs directly to Chichen Itza, or many that run to the nearby city of Valladolid. Our ticket from Playa del Carmen to Valladolid cost $257 pesos in May 2021.

The direct bus to Chichen Itza leaves early and arrives at the same time most tour buses arrive. I suggest arriving into Valladolid the night before you want to visit Chichen. This way you can leave early from Valladolid by bus, taxi or collectivo for very cheap.

Most people get to Chichen Itza via an organized tour. These tours, while convenient, are over-priced and rushed. By traveling to Chichen Itza by bus, you get to control your own schedule. This makes for a much more rewarding and satisfying experience in my opinion.

The good news is, getting to Chichen Itza on your own is simple and cheap from many destinations in the Yucatan.

pillars at chichen itza

How to get to Chichen Itza from Cancun

Cancun's ADO Bus terminal is located downtown. If you're staying in the Hotel Zone, you'll need to catch a cab here. If you're leaving from Cancun, you'll need to transfer in Valldolid.

Bus from Cancun to Valladolid:

Schedule: 10+ buses per day.

Price: Varies between $200-300 pesos.


How to get to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen's ADO Bus terminal is located on the iconic fifth avenue. There are two bus options for getting to Chichen Itza from Playa del Carmen. The first is a direct bus to the ruins, while the other arrives in the nearby city of Valladolid.

Direct bus from Playa to Chichen Itza:

Schedule: 8.07am - 11.07am

Price: $402 pesos.

Bus from Playa to Valladolid

You'll need to catch another bus, taxi, or collectivo from Valladolid to Chichen Itza.

Schedule: 10+ buses per day.

Price: Between $200-300 pesos.


How to get to Chichen Itza from Tulum

Direct bus from Tulum to Chichen Itza

There is only one bus to Chichen Itza per day. This is the same bus that comes from Playa del Carmen, thus it arrives 45 minutes after leaving Playa.

Schedule: 8.07am - 11.07am

Price: $257 pesos.

Bus from Tulum to Valladolid

Schedule: 10+ buses per day.

Price: Between $80-162 pesos.


How to get to Chichen Itza from Merida

Merida's ADO Bus terminal is located in the historical center. There are no direct buses to Chichen Itza, but buses run all day to Valladolid.

Bus from Merida to Valldolid

Schedule: 15+ buses per day.

Price: Average $150 pesos.


How to get to Chichen Itza from Valladolid

Many ADO Buses stop in Valladolid. You can get a bus directly from Valladolid to Chichen Itza. However, there is currently only one bus per day leaving at 10.30am and costing $150 pesos.

Alternate options are taxi or collectivo. A collectivo is the most affordable option costing around $50 pesos for the trip, while a cab is there most convenient but will cost between $300-500 depending on your haggling.

Valladolid is a small colonial town located approximately 45 minutes from Chichen Itza. It is a great base for those looking to explore the area and get a feel for Mexican culture.

mayan ruins in mexico

Why visit Chichen Itza independently

I highly advocate exploring Chichen Itza on your own schedule for a number of reasons.

Benefits of visiting Chichen Itza independently:

1. Beat the crowds

Chichen Itza gets busy. Even though the ancient ruins are huge, the tourist attraction is insanely popular. Arriving at midday with all the tour buses mean you're going to be surrounded by crowds of people all trying to get that same photo.

By controlling when you arrive, you can get to Chichen Itza early, beating most organized tour groups.

2. Beat the heat

Chichen Itza gets extremely hot with limited shaded areas. Organized tours usually arrive by midday, so getting there earlier means you can explore the Mayan ruins before the peak heat kicks in.

3. No time restrictions

When dropped off at Chichen Itza by your organized tour, you'll be given a time to meet back at the bus. Usually around 3 hours. Chichen Itza tends to divide people and the amount of time they need there. Some - like us - were done after 1.5 hours. Others might require longer than 3 hours at the ruins. When you're on your own schedule you're not checking the time or waiting around for tour groups.

4. More affordable

Organized tour buses are marked up significantly. As Chichen is a simple bus ride from all major tourist hubs in the Yucatan, there is really no need to pay their marked-up prices. Save money, and headed there independently.

5. Chance to explore nearby areas

There are some incredible places nearby Chichen Itza, that tour buses either skim over, or don't stop long enough to truly experience them. For example, the colonial town of Valladolid. While some tour buses stop here briefly, it's a shame to not stop here longer and explore the beautiful streets, especially at night.

valladolid mexico near chichen itza

Chichen Itza During COVID

Like a lot of attractions in Mexico, Chichen Itza remains open and has limited restrictions.

You'll be required to wear a mask to enter and during your time in Chichen Itza, but it is not enforced once in the ancient Mayan city. However, most people do abide by the rule and wear a facemask throughout the visit.

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