- Type: Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing
- Time to Spend: Half Day to Full Day
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Chichén Itzá is a large Mayan archaeological site and one of the most notable and recognized landmarks on the Yucatán: The site itself was originally a main hub of Mayan civilization and has since been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The focal point of the ruins is the pyramid-like El Castillo that was once used by Mayans as a temple to worship.
Lonely Planet warns travelers that the site is "tremendously overcrowded -- every gawker and their grandmother is trying to check off the new seven wonders of the world." Nevertheless, the spectacular ruins are well worth it, even to the jaded traveler. You can avoid crowds by visiting the site in the early morning before the tour buses arrive.
In addition to large crowds, another drawback to Chichén Itzá is its distance from Cancún, about a two-and-a-half hour car or bus ride. If you've strictly come to Cancún for the beach and parties, you might want to skip the trek. But if you want to discover the strong cultural roots of the Yucatán, there's no better place. As one TripAdvisor traveler notes: "Even though it's a long drive from Cancún Chichen Itza cannot be left off your itinerary. The architecture of these ancient edifices is awe inspiring."