Chichén Itzá on the Cheap (Mexico)

Chichén Itzá is a 1,000 year old sacred Mayan center. It is the most important archaelogical site of the Maya civilization in the Yucantán, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the Wonders of the World.

While all these titles add to the appeal of going to visit this attraction, many wonder, is it worth it? With the prices of the entry, plus bus rides there from neighboring cities and accommodation, seeing Chichén Itzá can add up quick. Prices vary from location but from Tulum, the going price in 2013 for a Chichén Itzá package including transport, guide and entrance is $50 USD, 655 pesos. It is not a fortune by most travelers standards but if you are a long term travelers (cheapskates) like Antonio and me, it is. Just think, 655 pesos equals over 100 tacos! 

In the end it’s not a question I can answer for every person, it depends on your interest in ruins. If it is limited funds that put you off I will give you 2 tips on how to do Chichén on the cheap.


The Piramide Inn is just 1km from Chichen Itzá, in a small village town of Pisté. For just 50 pesos per person you can pitch your tent or hang your hammock under a palapa in the hotel’s garden, go for a swim in the pool and use the internet. 

Despite being so close to a tourist attraction Pisté is a quiet place, with a few hotels and one main road. We enjoyed the calmness as well as the tasty salbutes and panunchos (food typical of the Yucatán) so much that we stayed 3 nights! Here you won’t find the party/ backpacking scene like the Rivera Maya so if that’s what you are looking for you should stay along the coast.

Note: This option is best suited for bicycle travelers but can work well for backpackers as well who are going from Mérida to Cancún, or vise versa.

Entrance Fee

It’s not a secret but you won’t find this readily listed anywhere on the net, did you know that the last hour to visit Chichen Itza is free? Yep from 4-5 PM (the gates close at 4:30). Is an hour enough time you might ask? I would say so, the site is not too big but do some research before and know where you want to go.

How much can you save?

Tours from nearby cities run from 500 to 700 pesos (and up), not including accommodation (at least another 120-150 pesos for a hostel bed). Combining the overnight stay in Pisté and going for the last hour you only pay 50 pesos for the day, which is a savings of 570-800 pesos (44-61+ USD).


El Castillo, a 75 ft stone pyramid temple. It is a marvel as an engineering feat and shows the astrological knowledge of the Mayans. Each of the four stairways that lead up the pyramid has 91 steps, in total 394 steps, the temple on top is the final step, making a total of 365, the number of days in a solar year. Ninety-one is also the number of days that separate each of the four phases of the annual solar cycle, winter solstice, spring equinox, summer solstice, and fall equinox.

The temple was dedicated to the Mayan Feathered Serpent God, Kukulcan is the main highlight of Chichén Itzá. Twice a year during the spring and fall equinoxes a phenomenon occurs. As the sun sets lights and shadows make the appearance of a snake going down the stairway of the pyramid.

The Ball Court used to play the Meso-American ball game/ juego de pelota, the first team sport in human history.

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Are you planning a visit? Interested in Maya archaeology? Want to know what makes this site interesting and not just piles of rocks? Click here, here and here for historical and cultural information.

Have any other money saving travel tips? Share your thoughts, experience and advice by leaving a comment.

Co-founder of Cycling el Mundo. Driven to balance her two passions, travel and exploration of the underwater world, Amanda is a professional scuba diver and bicycle traveler.

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