Visiting Chichén Itzá at sunrise is a magical experience. Being the only person allowed in the park for two hours before the crowds came, was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. As a travel journalist, I often am treated to VIP experiences that are difficult for normal travelers to re-create. However, this is an experience that anyone can book.
The ability to enter Chichén Itzá at sunrise is so new, that it's practically a secret, and prior to my trip, I thought it was going to be impossible!
Visiting Chichén Itzá for sunrise is something that most visitors will never have the ability to experience. In fact, when doing my initial research on how to get into the the archeological area prior to the sun coming up, I was finding that it wasn't possible... until I dug a little (okay, a lot) deeper and made a few phone calls.
Where to Book
Unlike most of the other 7 New Wonders of the World, Chichén Itzá does not open until 8am. However, a new tour now makes it a possibility.
The same tour is available through the Mayaland Hotel as well as directly through GrayLine tours. If you wish to book with Mayaland– send an email when you book your reservation, letting them know you would like to book a tour. Recepcionmayaland@mayaland.com
Benefits of Staying At Mayaland
Booking through the Mayaland hotel is a better decision. If you book the tour through Mayaland, and you're staying at their properties the experience is going to be less expensive and far more enjoyable. If you book through GrayLine directly, the tour will be the same but you will have to pay a fee for transfers if you decide to stay in Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, Tulum, or anyplace outside of the Chichén Itzá area. Staying in Chichén Itzá is advisable for many reasons, the first being that the area is worth exploring for just a few short hours.
It is not advisable to drive at night in Mexico, most especially as a foreigner for safety reasons. Booking through Grayline directly the tour is $125 USD per person, it is only available Tuesday and Saturday, and you will have to leave for the ruins at like 2am! If you stay on property with Mayaland, the tour cost is reduced to $60/ per person, and if you have 6 or more people, you can ask them to run the tour any day of the week. Instead of leaving for the tour at 2am, you just have to make it from your hotel room to the lobby by 5:30AM.
In addition, if you do not have 6 people, Mayaland will let other guests know of the interest in the tour and try to fill the empty spots. Even more impressive, if you choose to pay for all 6 spots, you can have the entire tour to yourself.
As if that isn't VIP enough, Mayaland's property is located within the Mayan ruins. The property has several original Mayan roads on premises and a gate, which also serves as the private entrance for all Mayaland guests. Simply wake up, meet your guide in the lobby, and walk less than 5 minutes and the pyramid will be directly in front of you as the sun comes up over the Chichén Itzá Archaeological Park.
What Is Included With A Tour
The Tour Includes:
- Early access to ruins before sunrise and before any other visitors (6am-8am)
- An incredibly knowledgable tour guide. My guide was Victor. He was such a good sport helping me with photos and was extremely knowledgable. He met me at the lobby at 5:30 with a cup of coffee and a friendly smile
- Entrance Fee
- Transportation & Tolls if booked through Grayline
- Access to facilities at Mayaland if booked through Grayline
- Breakfast at Mayaland if booked through Grayline (If you are staying Mayaland, you can book a room option with breakfast included).
Gratuities are not included, so please do not forget to tip your guide for waking up early and giving you this private experience.
History of Chichén Itzá & Mayaland
To say the Mayaland Hotel is special, would be a severe understatement. The hotel took my breath away from the moment I arrived. I initially came by just to confirm my tour for the next day, as I was supposed to stay nearby at another hotel. Upon arriving, I cancelled my reservation and checked in at the Mayaland Hotel because the property was so breathtaking and the staff was unbelievably kind. I found last minute rooms available starting at $99/night– However, I was upgraded to a suite with a balcony, stained-glass windows, and an enviable view.
From the moment I arrived, I could sense the magnitude of the place I was visiting. The same way you can feel the energy on the streets of any large city, I could feel the energy of the ancient Mayan civilization all around me. Thanks to the peaceful location within the ruins, you feel connected to the history of the area immediately.
The Mayaland Hotel was built in 1923, while parts of the Chichén Itzá Archaeological Park were still being excavated and discovered. Throughout the years the property has been carefully maintained, and has hosted guests such as Jennifer Lopez, Pavarotti and Jackie O! With it's sprawling manicured lawns, and the attention to detail in the architecture, and incredible location, it is truly a unique place to stay.
Please note that Mayaland owns several properties, and one (Hotel Chichén Itzá) is nearby, in the town of Piste, but not located next to the Chichén Itzá Archaeological Park. To stay in the Archaelogical Park (where your hotel has a private entrance to Chichén Itzá), book with Mayaland Hotel & Bungalows or The Lodge at Mayaland.
No matter how you decide to get there, or where you book, or stay– the experience to visit Chichén Itzá at sunrise is second to none.
Unlike many popular sites around the world (such as Angkor Wat), you will have the entire park to yourself. I have been all over the world, and experienced sunrise at many popular tourist destinations, but there has never been an experience so intimate and magical as a private tour of Chichén Itzá as the sun comes up over the pyramid.
Photography Tip: Bring a wide angle lens. With the lack of crowds, you will want to get some great wide shots of the stunning landscape.
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