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Chichen Itza

Aakanksha Magan
The stunning ruins of Chichén Itzá are evidence of a sensational ancient city that was the centre of the Mayan Empire in Central America. The largest and the most impressive of Mayan ruins, Chichén Itzá today has become the most prominent tourist attraction in Mexico. And the step pyramid, the one that is the most recognisable monument in the area, is called Kukulkan's Pyramid or El Castillo. These ruins are a great reflection of the advanced stage of science and astronomy that the Mayan culture was capable of. The step-pyramid itself has 365 steps, one each for every day of the calendar!
Roxana Oliver
This area has literally dozens of small Mayan ruins, but the most famous ancient historical site is certainly the Chichen Itza. The tour of the site starts at 8 a.m. and ends around 8 p.m., but I’m glad to say it’s well worth your time. Hey, we got to see the one of the Seven Wonders of the World – the Kukulkan Pyramid. What really makes this 1000-year-old temple special is the acoustics. If you clap your hands at a certain spot in front of it, the pyramid generates what our guide called the “chirped echo”, a sound that ascends and quickly fails, like the cry of a bird.Friendly Advice – What to PackU.S. CurrencyThis was my first time traveling to Mexico, and many of my more experienced friends told me to get Mexican currency, but also to keep a hundred or so dollars stashed away. The reason is simple – the dollar has a higher value to the people who live there. If you don’t mind slipping a few extra bucks to people who work hard (as you should), this is actually a pretty cool idea.Sunscreen with High SPFForget about the spray-on tanning oil, if you plan to visit Cancun, make sure to bring some actual, high SPF sunscreen. Don’t be overconfident about your ability to tan without getting sunburn like me. The first day we went to the beach, I put on some SPF 15 and just lay under the strong Mexican sun for about an hour reading a book. I promptly turned red and spent the rest of the trip trying to avoid the sun as much as I could.Bring a Few Water BottlesYou probably have heard this before, but if you go to Mexico – don’t drink the tap water. The country has the largest per capita of bottled water for a reason, because if you drink just a couple of glasses you’ll get really, really sick. In fact, a couple of years ago, my friend went to Mexico and drank water she thought was safe, basically every day. After she got home, she felt sick for weeks.
Backpack ME
Mexico’s history is all over the country. Its well-preserved historical sites likce world-famous Chichen Itza (one of the New Wonders of the World) or Teotihuacan, tell the tales of what this land was millenniums ago! You could spend a life-time in Mexico and still not visit all the ruins spread around the country.For those interested in history and archeology, Mexico is a must! And for those who have a more general curiosity, you’ll see that while visiting these sites not only you will learn interesting facts but also have fun climbing temples and getting magnificent views of the surroundings that were once considered sacred. 5. Colors all around! Mexico is one colorful country, no doubt about that! Just picture London in the Winter, for example: grey sky, grey buildings, people wearing grey clothes. Well, this is the total opposite! Houses are painted with bright tones, people proudly drive shiny cars, restaurants and cafes display different colors in their walls, tables, chairs, table cloths… everywhere! Even people’s clothes tend to be happy! 6. Friendly peopleIn general, Mexicans are welcoming, smiley and make you feel safe and at home. They are always ready to give you directions, to make a joke about anything that might come up or ask you where you’re from. They like talking! This is also one “camera-friendly” country where people don’t seem to be bothered if you click some photos and they are on frame. I love “camera-friendly” people – says a lot about their level of friendliness. 7. Relaxed life-styleMy Mexican friend Rodrigo told us that once, at a bar in the Netherlands, he saw a poster that depicted the “Dogs of the World”. Apparently, the German dog had a very sober pose, the British dog looked very snobbish, and there were other European dogs looking all mighty fine. Next to those, there was the Mexican Dog: looking lazy under a sombrero alongside a cactus and a shot of tequila! Rodrigo says that this lazy stereotype that the World seems to associate with Mexican people isn’t true. They actually work a lot – and we’ve seen that with our own eyes! While at Rodrigo’s house, he and his girlfriend would always come home at around 10pm after a hard day of work since early morning.The lazy life-style might not be true, but I would say that the relaxed approach to life is there. Mexicans do not stress over every little thing like Europeans do, for example. If it can’t be done today, then it’ll get done tomorrow. And it’s not about being lazy, but more about prioritizing what really matters in life and “selecting” what’s worth stressing over. 8. Ever-present musicExample of the happy vibe that you generally feel around Mexico, is that there is always music playing everywhere, particularly in public transportation. Sometimes, in the bus, you might even get a movie playing with full blasting sound, while the radio is simultaneously on. It can get annoying if you are tired and trying to nap, but it’s fun most of the time! 9. Excellent Transportation- Bus: Transportation options are modern, good quality and decently priced. The buses for medium to long distances have more leg room than any plane I have ever been on! Seats are comfy, bathrooms-on-wheels are fairly clean and they even have a check-in system for your luggage! You give your suitcase and get a token that you should return upon arrival, to make sure that the bag you want to take is rightfully yours. Others countries could also use a system like this!- Colectivo: If you don’t want to use the main buses, you can always take a “colectivo” – small vans or taxis shared by several people with a common destination. You can virtually go anywhere like this and pay what the locals pay. -Taxi: If you have a few more bucks to spend, you can opt for a taxi that is quite affordable compared to many places around the world. Example: on our last day in Mexico city we paid less than USD1.5 for a 7minute ride of about 1KM between Metro station and hotel. - Metro: the metro in Mexico City is extensive, efficient and really cheap. For 3 pesos (0.23 USD) you can go from any given point to another while being entertained by all sorts of businesses-on-the-go that come in and out at each stop. DF’s best spot for people watching has to be the metro! From the moving disco boys and girls selling CDs and DVDs to chewing-gum sellers, or ladies singing about the benefits of the new cough drops they try to sell for 10 pesos, the metro is a moving market with so much appeal. 10. Wheel-chair access This might sound like an odd reason to include here but I am sure it will be important for some. Just because you are in a wheel-chair, doesn’t mean that you can’t go around and see the world, right? Well, we were happily surprised to see that a lot of important historical ruins around Mexico have wheel-chair access! Even those like Palenque, where we had to climb tons of stairs to get to the main temples, have a specific entry paved to be accessed by people on wheel-chair. I really think this is awesome because these places are not so easy to reach and they really took an effort to make them accessible for everybody! I have actually read that Mexico is trying to make all city centers accessible as well, with ramps that will allow individuals on wheels to roam around: this was quite noticeable in some places we visited, such as Campeche or Comitan, where the side-walks have ramps that connect all areas without steps. Oddly enough, in Mexico City, we couldn’t almost find ramps or lifts to enter the metro. We were carrying luggage and thought we’d use those to avoid carrying the weight up and down the stairs. We must have been in at least 7 stations while visiting the city and only saw special access in 1, that had a wheel chair railing alongside the stairs. Weird! I am positive there must be a way for wheel-chair users to access to the metro on each station, after all, this is the capital of the country and it should be setting an example. But the truth is that we didn’t see it, so if it exists, it’s not that easy to spot, which is not ideal. Pack your bags… and travel to Mexico! :) No matter what your are more attracted to, you are very likely to find at least a couple of things you might like in tierras Mexicanas! Mexico is vibrant, so extremely rich in its places & people and very good-value for money too. By Ashray & Zara @ Backpack ME
Subi Das
Chichen ItzaYucatan’s most magnificent archaeological site, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage area of immense cultural significance. The site contains many fine stone buildings in various states of preservation, and many have been restored.
Mohit Samant
Chichen Itza Day 5 (Chichen Itza, Yucatan): I had booked a tour to this 'Wonder of the world' through Yukatreks, as public transportation is sparse and I wanted somone knowledgeable to understand the hisory behind Chichen Itza. The van picked me up promptly at 7:20 am
Mohit Samant
Day 3 (Tulum & Cozumal): I had booked a tour to Tulum through one of the local operators in Cancun as they do a collective tour to the ruins in the morning. The tour started with the bus picking us up close to the meeting near Señor frogs and driving us to the ruins. We changed the buses midway as one bus headed to Chichen itza towards the west. We landed at the ruins and had about 2 hours of free time to explore.Tulum is the only coastal Mayan city, thus making a unique. The ruins themselves aren't that impressive, but the setting for the ruins along the turquoise ocean makes it an impressive sight.
Anu Karthik
A trip to Mexico is incomplete without a trip to the world-famous Mayan historic site – Chichen Itza.Honestly, I never understood the hype behind Chichen Itza until I visited it. During our trip to Mexico, we visited a number of historic Mayan sites, but Chichen Itza was different – so magical. No wonder more than a million people come flocking to Chichen Itza every year.I underestimated the crowds to Chichen Itza, so woke up leisurely that morning and started driving from Merida to Chichen Itza. We reached there at about 10.30am and joined the looooong line outside the ticket counter – it took almost an hour to get the tickets and go inside. As much as the flurry of vendors annoyed me, checking out all the different things was a good time-pass while waiting in the line.What surprised me was, there were vendors not only outside the Chichen Itza entrance, but also inside the archaeological site. You are always bound to be the luckiest person to be offered that “special best price” from every vendor ;)When we walked inside, we were welcomed to the glorious view of El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcan. Massive and majestic, what more can I say. May be it was just psychological, but I felt some energy in this place, deemed sacred by the Mayans. As much as I was annoyed by the crowds and the vendors all around making it feel like a shopping mall, I did feel peaceful.I can’t imagine how much more crowded the place becomes during the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, when a series of shadows evokes the appearance of a serpent wriggling down the staircase, representing the feathered-serpent god Kukulkan.Other significant structures here are the Great Ball Room, Temple of the Warriors, the Group of Thousand Columns and the Temple of Bearded Man.We were amazed not just by the architectural beauty of these structures, also by the amazing Mayan history.I’d recommend reaching there very early and spending a good 2-3 hours enjoying this beautiful architectural marvel.
Jill & Curtis
We had taken a bus tour from Playa Del Carmen to Chichen-Itza, our guide was awesome. Very knowledgeable, friendly and liked to make jokes. Although, I’m pretty sure his jokes were funnier in Spanish since the Spanish people on our tour laughed more than us English folk did.We were hurried through the crowds to make our way to the giant field where the structures were explained to us and the echo was shown to us. I am still baffled by the echo. It’s not like any other echo I’ve heard. You stand in front of the giant pyramid and clap towards the stairs. It makes a sound similar to the sound you would get if you strummed on a single guitar string that was really out of tune. That’s what it sounded like to me anyway. On the North side of the pyramid, if you clap in a certain spot near the stairs, the sound echos off another structure behind you. In the ball court, if you clap in the center of the court, it will echo back and forth 7 times. Why? Who thinks of creating something like that? Was it even planned? And then after the pyramids were abandoned (?) how was this echo discovered? Did someone stand in front of the pyramid and decide to start clapping for no reason? So many unanswered questions!Places like Chichen-Itza spark my curiosity. I look at the structures of today and I can’t imagine how structures like the Mayan pyramids were created. I can’t image how much physical labour it must have taken to build them. They were built with such precision. I can’t figure out how a person could be that precise without the tools of today. Obviously the Mayans were smarter than us. Or less lazy. I’m not sure which is more accurate. Did you know that when they grew their garden, 3 seeds went into every hole? 1 seed was for corn (it grew tall), 1 seed was for beans (they grew up the corn stalk) and 1 bean for squash (ground coverage). I’m not gardener, but that seems fairly inventive.After our guided tour we were left with a little over an hour to wander and take photos. This is NOT long enough! I was able to snap a few photos and then rush back to the bus.I’m looking forward to visiting more Mayan ruins once Curtis and I start our full time travels. I’m interested in knowing if all the Mayan ruins have stairs that echo!Originally published on Chasing Adventure.
Kin Enriquez
Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Climbing up the pyramids is no longer allowed.
Kin Enriquez
The first structure that we explored was the main reason why I wanted to visit Chichen Itza in the first place - the well-preserved pyramid that still stands in the location of the ancient city. That pyramid was called the Temple of Kukulkan. It was dedicated to the feathered serpent god of the same name (equivalent to Quetzocoatl for the Aztecs). It is also known as El Castillo, Spanish for castle, the name of which was given by the conquistadores. When I set foot on it, it seemed to me that I didn't just traveled hundreds of kilometers to get here, but that I also traveled back in time to see an ancient civilization. It was not as grand as those in Teotihuacan - the rivals of the Mayans to the north - but it was arguably in a better shape than the former.
Wagoners Abroad
The Mayan city of Edzna is also one of Campeche’s prime tourist attractions. It was inhabited from 600 B.C. to 1000 A.D., it was once a thriving Mayan community. In fact there are even Mayan temples in this part of Campeche that is taller than the infamous Chichen Itza.