A Night Tour of Chichen Itza

Figured I would put this down here because despite Chichen Itza being one of the 7 wonders of the world and a massively visited site, its remarkably hard to find information on hours to visit the site. While this really has nothing to do with having an Indian passport, note that Indian passport holders can enter Mexico without a visa as long as you have any valid US visa.

Firstly, do yourself a favor and visit either first thing as the doors open or right near closing. At any other point, its tour bus galore and the place is swarmed.

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El Castillo during my first visit which was during the day. Took an extremely long time and many many superimposed images to make it seem like no one else was there. In reality, it was extremely crowded.

Note that the site actually has 3 different hours you can make a visit. The general hours that most folks and tour companies know about which is 8 AM to 4:30 PM. At this point, the site is completely cleared out. And the tickets you bought are now expired. Ticket prices change so I wont go into that here but in Sept 2017, it was 232 pesos a person.

The site then reopens for an hour again from 5-6 PM. This part very few folks know about. The downside is its only open for an hour and costs pretty much the same as buying a whole day ticket. The upside is, almost no one knows about it. The park is entirely cleared out, the weather is much much cooler and you can get that perfect shot of El Castillo with almost no one else in the picture. We mistakenly stumbled upon this in 2015 when we reached Chichen Itza at 4.30 PM due to a series of delays and found out that the park had closed. Absolutely thrilled we purchased tickets for the 5 PM entry and it was just us and a handful of other people. Since there are so few people around, an hour can be plenty to get around the site since you aren’t battling the crowds.

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Barely anyone during the evening hours

Lately (though I cant say since when), they have been offering a night entry. This is a night time entry to the park along with a show which is projected onto the Pyramid. Pros: pretty unique perspective into the site and its limited to 600 seats per night. The show itself is cool but there are logistical issues to it that I will mention ahead. Cons: Cost is double (at about 450 pesos ~$25 USD). Its also basically pitch black and the lighting in general isn’t sufficient for the tour. The show is good and they are basically running the tour off ipods but everything runs off a local wifi network. And that means it doesn’t always work. We were 5 of us on the tour and 2 of the 5 ipods didn’t connect once the show started meaning we had no translations. Basically we just wound up watching a picture show with no audio. Also, the general Spanish audio is blasted out over speakers and is very loud, so even if you do get your translation, its pretty hard to hear over the Spanish being belted out. In the summer the show starts at 8 PM, which if you ask me is rather late. The perfect time would be about 30 minutes prior to sunset so you actually have natural light to see the monument and then transition into darkness to watch the show. With this timing, we left the site at around 10 PM and had to drive all the way back to the hotel zone in Cancun.

Info on the night show: https://nochesdekukulkan.com/

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The site lit up on a full moon night
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Fantastic projections onto El Castillo

Overall, if you have never been, I’d recommend picking the 5 PM slot. Its at a perfect time to enter with no crowds and leave to get back to the hotel strip. If you have and want a different perspective, then do the night show.

Tickets for the night show can be purchased here.

Tip: Sunday nights price out at half off for the night show. It rings up at 253 Pesos/person.

Tip: If you plan on buying souvenirs, once the night show lets out, everything is priced as low as it can go. Souvenirs that were 40-50 pesos prior to the show were now 10 pesos each, no bargaining needed.

Tip: If you plan on going by a tour bus (which will put you in the day hour window), tour bus quotes will vary wildly. The best I saw was for USD $35/person which included transport, entry tickets and lunch. Not bad at all when you consider that a ticket and lunch would cost you at least USD 20 at the least by itself and some vendors charge around $80-$100 for the same thing. You could get these tickets in the non tourist part of town at the Parque de las Palapas, a little park closer to downtown Cancun where you can also get some very delicious very cheaply priced local food.

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