Chichen Itza vs. Tulum

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#1
Norwalk, CT
773 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Hi All,

Just trying to get some opinions on where to go: Tulum or Chichen Itza? For two people that have been to Mexico before, but never to any of the ruins, which would you suggest?

My best friend & bf are going to be in Riviera Maya and want to visit the ruins, but do not know which one to go to. They would rather not eat up a bulk of their time traveling to Chichen Itza when they could get to Tulum in a fraction of the time. However, is Chichen Itza that much more impressive? Or would they have just as an amazing time going to Tulum and adding in snorkeling and ziplining?

Opinions please!!
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#2
Afghanistan
25 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
I have been to both, and yes the time it takes to get there, visit, and back to the beach area of Cancun or PDC is a FULL day. It all really depends though of where your staying. If your in PDC, then tulum is an hour south. If your in Cancun it can be up to two and half....

If youre a history buff and all that is REALLY important to you, then Chichen Itza. But if your just looking for some good ruins just to see, Tulum then.

Anyways... Tulum is MUCH better in my opinion. It's right near the beach and you get some AWESOM pics. Chichen Itza is a bit "grander" and more preserved. But it's not worth the long drive IMHO.

Tulum offers the same thing but with much better scenery... and your closer to the beach!
#3
US
103 Posts
Joined Sep 2008
I've not been to Chichen Itza, but I would recommend Tulum based on our experience. We rented a car at Calica and drove down to Tulum. It took about 45 minutes one-way. It's a straight shot down a major 4 lane highway...easy to navigate. I had a GPS to make it easy, but could have found the site without it.

We really liked Tulum and thought it was an impressive site. The buildings are not as tall as Chichen Itza, but it's a pretty large site with lots of history, right by the sea. Tulum also has a very nice beach, so you after you tour the city you can spend your extra time getting some sun.

I'd also like to go to Chichen Itza, but I think Tulum is a better use of your time if you are starting from Calica.

Good luck.
#4
Canada
5,304 Posts
Joined Jun 2003
Been to both and I think Chichen Itza (MUCH larger and more extensive than Tulum) is by far the superior site BUT unless you are seriously interested in history and Mayan ruins it is much easier (and much shorter travel time) and much simpler to get to Tulum.

SO unless you are seriously into ruins, for a cruise excursion from Calica, I would recommend Tulum (the ruins are very pretty, small enough to do in a short time and easy to get to).
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#5
Vancouver, BC Canada
83 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Been to both many times in the past decade.

Depends on how much time you have.... Tulum is pretty but a small site compared to CI.

If I had time, I would hire a private transportation to take us from Calica to CI first thing and then if there is time to spare, stop by Valladolid on the way back to see what an actual Mexican town look like. Outside Valladolid, there is a very interesting cenote that you can swim in (I think it's called dzitnup cenote). It is doable in one long day.

If you put together a group of 10, the transportation cost alone should be around $400 only. But do ask around.

You can look up my previous posts for private transportation suggestions in this area.
#6
SUBURBAN WASHINGTON
265 Posts
Joined Nov 2008
you will broil in tulum. if you want video, rent "against all odds" w/jeff bridges. both sites are featured and it's clear which is better.

what view of manhattan would you pick?

besides, as somebody else said, you really should stop in villadolid, not to be missed.
#7
Lenexa, Kansas
744 Posts
Joined May 2007
I have been to Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Uxmal. Uxmal is our favorite, but all of the ruins have their positives. I would take a tour out of PDC to visit Chichen Itza. You can visit Tulum on your own. There is a beach at Tulum. Stairs lead down to the beach at the ruins. There is also a light show at both Tulum and Chichen Itza.
#8
Newfoundland, Canada
299 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Have been to both and can honestly say that I was very glad I spent the long day going to Chichan. You really can get an understanding of what life was like and the granduer of the culture.plus a respect for the skill in science and math that the Mayans had.

I think this time we are going to do Coba just because of time restraints.

Molly
#9
10,763 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by amy2313
Hi All,

Just trying to get some opinions on where to go: Tulum or Chichen Itza? For two people that have been to Mexico before, but never to any of the ruins, which would you suggest?

My best friend & bf are going to be in Riviera Maya and want to visit the ruins, but do not know which one to go to. They would rather not eat up a bulk of their time traveling to Chichen Itza when they could get to Tulum in a fraction of the time. However, is Chichen Itza that much more impressive? Or would they have just as an amazing time going to Tulum and adding in snorkeling and ziplining?

Opinions please!!
It depends: Ruins with beach or ruins without beach. Tulum is on the beach and that beach is really BEAUTIFUL. Chichen Itza is more popular and well known, but no beach.
#11
North Carolina
4,122 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
If this is a land vacation, and therefore you don't have to worry about making it back to the ship: I'd suggest the area ruins in this order:

Chichen Itza
Coba
Ek Balam
Tulum

For land vacationers, there are day trip packages for all these sites from just about every hotel.
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#12
Southeastern USA
491 Posts
Joined Jan 2002
We will be in Calica in March on the Elation. For those who have ported here before, are there drivers who will take you to Tulum, wait for you, then take you to Play del Carmen for some shopping? From Playa, is it easy to find a taxi back to the ship? Any estimates as to the cost for hiring a driver or taxi for the trip to Tulum and then to Playa?

Thanks for any assistance!!

Captain Ronn
#13
Texas
4,551 Posts
Joined May 2000
If docking in Calica I would go to Tulum. If docking in Progresso then I would go to Chichen Itza or Uxmal. When I have limited time in port I want to spend less time on the road and more time enjoying the ruins. If you get to Belize then go see Xuantanich. It is an all day excursion. If you have limited time in Belize then go see Altun Ha - very close to Belize City. I am a ruin junkie - my favorite shore excursion.
#14
Sacramento, CA
75 Posts
Joined Apr 2011
I haven't read all the replies so forgive me if I am repeating what someone else may have already said. Tulum is beautifully located but small. Chichen Itza is one of the new seven wonders of world and you get a much better idea of the ruins there. However, one that wasn't mentioned is Coba, which is my favorite. They have a pyramid, which you can still climb to the top of, unless something has recently changed, which is an experience.

I honestly don't recommend driving in Mexico on your own with a car rental. The police there are not very friendly and they can really extort money from travelers and are known for doing so. Especially driving a distance to those place. I recommend a ship tour or planning one before you get there.

Also be aware those places are very very hot and humid so bring plenty of water with you.
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#15
pa.
1,254 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Hi ,we are normally cruising but have compromised with friends to do a land trip and are planning to do chichen itza and wonder if anyone can recommend a good tour company? I have looked at several different ones that seem to vary widely in price for what looks like the same or very similar tours .we are ruin junkies too and one of our favorite places is Belize,Xunantunich is great and one of our very favorites is Lamanai. the ride to get there is almost as incredible as the ruins them selves. Thanks
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#16
New Mexico
4,192 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Tulum has all the comforts with a Dairy Queen, Haagen Daz, McDonalds, and a Subway outside of the ruins. It will not take all day to walk and there is an incredible beach down the cliff-side stairs.

http://www.rogerjett-photography.com/?page_id=501
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#18
Salvador (Bahia, Brazil)/Boston
1,193 Posts
Joined May 2009
Originally posted by Wahlflower

I honestly don't recommend driving in Mexico on your own with a car rental. The police there are not very friendly and they can really extort money from travelers and are known for doing so. Especially driving a distance to those place.
Do you have personal experience with this happening to you? Please give details.
My experience driving (more than once for a fortnight at a time) in this area (Yucatan) has been without problem of any kind.
Timewise though, it might be more relaxing to be driven, to take a bus tour from the port. (We have stayed in the area longer to see all these ruins mentioned, plus EkBalam, our favorite of the 4.)
For a day off the ship, Tulum might be a good suggestion, with its lovely beach to add to the dramatically placed cliffside ruins (that are themselves often crowded, touristy, and also less interesting IMO than CI or EkBalam). But CI is certainly the more impressive ruin.
#19
North Carolina
4,122 Posts
Joined Jul 2006
Originally posted by VidaNaPraia
Do you have personal experience with this happening to you? Please give details.
My experience driving (more than once for a fortnight at a time) in this area (Yucatan) has been without problem of any kind.
Timewise though, it might be more relaxing to be driven, to take a bus tour from the port. (We have stayed in the area longer to see all these ruins mentioned, plus EkBalam, our favorite of the 4.)
For a day off the ship, Tulum might be a good suggestion, with its lovely beach to add to the dramatically placed cliffside ruins (that are themselves often crowded, touristy, and also less interesting IMO than CI or EkBalam). But CI is certainly the more impressive ruin.
Not sure if you realize you are dredging up posts that are over 2 years old.
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#20
Salvador (Bahia, Brazil)/Boston
1,193 Posts
Joined May 2009
So you assume no one ever reads these threads after the OP posts?

I simply don't like the idea of posters perpetuating scare stories on these forums so other impressionable people get an erroneous idea of conditions, so a counter-post, even late, could be good information for someone who could possibly be deterred by third-hand accounts and bad-news-sells reportage.