Day Trip From Riviera Maya--Mayan Ruins at Chichen Itza
The pyramid at Chichen Itza is what most people visualize when they think of Mayan Ruins. It is a truly awe-inspiring place and CAN be done with children as a day trip.
It's going to be a long day for kids, figure at least nine hours. To help get them excited about the "ecucational/boring" (to them) part of the trip, watch the hilarious animated movie "The Road to El Dorado". It's based on Chichen Itza and introduces them to many locations they'll see. There are scenes depicting the Mayan ball game, sacrifices to the Gods thrown in the cenote, and the pyramid El Castillo.
For some more in-depth information, read this article I wrote about Chichen Itza for EzineArticles.com
Chichen Itza is about 2.5 hours inland from Cancun, so planning the timing of your visit is essential. The ruins close at 5pm, but there is also a light and sound show in the evenings (with a separate entrance fee). Note: the hours change for the show in winter and summer. It gets HOT by midday and quite crowded. Visiting at opening time is best and you'll need at least 3 hours to view the area. Many tours are available, both through the resorts (big bus) and tour companies via private and semi-private vans. Even if you choose to drive on your own, you'll want a tour guide to explain the history of the site.
Some nearby attractions include the colonial town of Valladolid, the cenotes Ik Kil and Dzitnup/Xkeken (spectacular and to be covered in a future post), the Balankanche Caves, and the ruins at Ek' Balam. Though climbing to the top of El Castillo is no longer allowed, you CAN climb the ruins at Ek' Balam, about one hour to the northeast
Stay tuned for some more photos and videos tomorrow!