7 Key Questions to Ask BEFORE You Book Your Cancun and Riviera Maya Tours

Cancun and Riviera Maya tours

In the old days (the 80’s and 90’s), we relied on an armful of colorful brochures from travel agencies when reserving tours to Cancun and the Riviera Maya. Now that most tour and excursion bookings are done online, it might be a good idea to ask the following questions before plunking down your hard-earned money and make sure you and your family get the most for your vacation pesos.

 

1. What Should I Wear?


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Many Cancun and Riviera Maya tours involve water, sand or even several different types of terrain in the same tour.
If you’re headed to an archaeological site like Ek Balam, Chichen Itza or Cobá, make sure to wear your best walking shoes, shorts, a hat (and biodegradable sunscreen!), sunglasses and insect repellent.

One of those rolled up plastic rain ponchos will be a lifesaver during one of our frequent Autumn showers. And if you plan on getting wet, bring a spare swimsuit, water shoes or sandals, and a change of clothes. And ask if towel service is part of the deal.

 

2. What Food or Drinks Will be Served?

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Make sure you’re clear if your tour includes food. If it does, find out ahead of time about your options, and make sure to let your tour operator know about allergies and preferences. If it doesn’t, make sure you have a plan B for meals and check into options before, during or after your outing.

Also, if drinks are offered, find out if they are alcoholic, non-alcoholic or both. Some tours offer you beer, wine,or even a full domestic or premium brand bar service. It won’t hurt to ask.

 

3. Should I Bring Extra Money?

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Actually, this should be: How much extra money should I bring? Even if your tour is all-inclusive, there might be unique shopping opportunities to explore where cash is king, like at archaeological sites or on Isla Mujeres. Also, some more remote areas may not take credit or debit cards, and tipping around here for services rendered by your tour guide are also done in cash. Yes, you should tip your guide if he or she provides service above and beyond.

In short, a little mad money is always a good idea.

 

4. What Kind of Physical Activity is Required on This Tour?

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Some tours are all about relaxing, like a day out on the catamaran, while others might leave you tuckered out (in a good way). Find out if you’ll be walking, swimming, riding, ziplining or driving, and be honest with your tour provider about your physical fitness, age or any physical limitations.

Find out if your tour is handicapped-accessible, and if not, what other options they can suggest.

 

5. What Is Your Cancellation Policy?

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Find out what your tour company’s cancellation situation involves. Are there provisions for reimbursement or rescheduling in case the weather is uncooperative?

You’ll be able to separate fly-by-night operators from serious companies when you ask about cancellation. If you get a dodgy answer, there’s your answer. Book with a pro.

 

6. How Will We Get There?

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Does your tour include pickup and drop off service at your hotel? If not, find out the most convenient options ahead of time.

If you plan on having a drink or two, or exerting considerable physical effort, let someone else get you to and from your destination.

 

7. Is the Tour Always the Same All Year?

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Sometimes tours adjust their activities or schedules depending on factors like weather and hotel occupation rates. High season and low season may affect you. For example, if you check out a company’s whale shark tours in June, know that the season is from May to September, so don’t book online for March, for example.

Also, ask your rep if there are any changes to the logistics of your tour since you reserved. Tours and their offerings, just like most things, are subject to change. Make sure those changes are for the better for you.

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It also wouldn’t hurt to ask your tour operator if there are any special events happening when you’ll be down here. Day of the Dead festivities at Xcaret or music festivals might be the perfect opportunity to enjoy this area even more!

In the end, it’s always good to get your questions, doubts and concerns resolved BEFORE you come. Never assume. What might seem like a dumb question might just be the key to make sure you and your loved ones have the perfect tour and excursion experience here in the Mexican Caribbean.

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The people who will have all the answers for you are the folks over at ecotourism-Cancun.com. They are long-time residents whose vocation is to bring you optimum travel experiences that represent the best quality and value. Check out their website at  www.ecotourism-cancun.com or call them today at +52 (998) 273 00 01…you’ll be glad you did.

7 Must-Do's on Your First Time in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

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We’re here! Now what?

So it’s your first time in Cancun or the Riviera Maya, you’ve arrived at your hotel and you’re wondering how to make the most of your time here. We’ve put together a short list of ideas for you to get a great taste of the Mexican Caribbean so you can keep coming back for more!

 

1. Go to Xcaret

How to define Xcaret? It’s part archaeological site, part eco-theme park, part Mayan-themed Broadway show, and all incredible! You and your family will have an entire day of swimming in underground rivers, experiencing local wildlife, learning about the Mayan culture, all in a stunningly beautiful natural park setting. It’s a must, again and again.

And we haven’t even mentioned Xel-ha or Xplor….

See here for more on Xcaret.

 

2. Experience the Magic of the Mayans

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Amazing stone carvings at Ek Balam…
First time in Cancun
Climb Nohoch Mul pyramid at Coba…

Before there were sun-baked tourists here, it was the home of the Mayan culture. Spectacular examples of this civilization abound in the area, from world-reknowned Chichen Itza and Tulum to lesser known but no  less inspiring sites like Cobá and Ek Balam.

See how these cultures we may see as primitive, built wonders that still persist today.

Learn how to visit these awe-inspiring sites here.

 

3. Do Absolutely Nothing. Enjoy some down time.

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Sand in your toes and a cool breeze…nothing better.
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Even hyperactive kids get into the relaxing act…

Work. School. The Routine. Let it all come to a screeching halt at least once or twice during your vacation in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

Wake up late. Turn off the cell phone and the IPad for the kids and yourself. Order room service. Spend a day out by the hotel pool and beach and play a little and just kick back and soak in some of the turquoise blue and powder white that made you want to come down in the first place.

Your body and mind will thank you for it.

 

4. When the going gets tough, the tough go….SHOPPING!

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From local markets in downtown Cancun and Isla Mujeres to the stimulating Quinta Avenida in Playa del Carmen, and then on to luxury brand Mecca Fashion Harbour at La Isla, you can shop till you drop while here.

Take advantage of strong foreign currency exchange rates to find good deal, or put your bargaining skills to the test with market vendors to bring home something to always remind you of your time in paradise.

Want to put together your own private Shopping Tour? Click away!

 

5. Island Time

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Punta Sur, Isla Mujeres

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With stunning beaches, beautiful views and plenty of local color, experience Isla Mujeres, the island that existed long before Cancun.

Enjoy a sail around the island to go snorkeling or enjoy a fabulous sunset cruise. A quaint “downtown” area will offer you great food and drink, picturesque shops and lots to photograph.

A day on the island is just what the doctor ordered. Here’s how to see it best.

 

6. Playa del Carmen

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Para bailar la bamba….Quinta Avenida, Playa del Carmen
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Playa by night…

We locals just call it Playa. 30 years ago it was little more than the dock to take the ferry to Cozumel. Today, it’s the most important part of the Riviera Maya, and a place teeming with culture and excitement.

Spend your day walking along famous Quinta Avenida, a cobblestoney walkway extending for miles right near the beach with shops, restaurants, bars, galleries and plenty to keep your eyes and mind stimulated.

Enjoy time on an outdoor king sized bed at Playa Mamitas beach and meet people from all over the world and enjoy a drink, a bite or dance to your favorite music outdoors. It’s an international party!

And guess what? Xcaret, Xplor and a bunch of great attractions are less than half hour away! Find out more here…

 

7. Aaaaaaargh!

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Admit it, you have an inner pirate just dying to get out right? The whole family can arrgh like a pirate and be part of a full-length pirate adventure show on the Jolly Roger!

This show is non-stop laughs, excitement and fun for all ages. Find out more here.

 

Now if you think this is all you can do while on holiday in Cancun and the Riviera Maya, please know there is much, much more. This is just the beginning.

For more ideas on how to make the most of your time, budget and energy while here in the Mexican Caribbean, check out ecotourism-cancun.com. It’s a local company owned and staffed by long-time residents who really know the area and care about your experience while here.

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Ek Balam-The Mayan Magical Mystery Tour

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You’ve been to Chichen Itza…maybe even Tulum or Cobá. But what if we told you that you could visit a stunning Mayan archaeological site full of wonders, and where scientists are still making discoveries every day?

This place is Ek Balam (black jaguar in Maya), located about 2 hours from Cancun (2.5 hours from the Playa del Carmen). It’s a stunning site with at least 45 impressive Mayan structures and with priceless Cenote Maya and Mayan community nearby.

Ek balam

For over 1000 years, the site at Ek Balam was the seat of a Mayan kingdom, and today the place is known mostly for the breathtakingly-preserved stucco work at the tomb of King Ukit-Kan-Le’k-Tok’, buried in the largest side of a pyramid.

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The pyramid structure, which you can climb to get right up to the stucco work, also gives you some amazing views.

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Beside the tomb there are well over 40 other structures to admire, such as:

The Entrance Arch, built on the road leading into the city.

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The Oval Palace, which contains important relics and is oriented to movements of the sun, moon and stars.

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Structure 17, the Twins, up on the pyramid.

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• The Carved Stela of what is believed to be an image of King Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’

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• The Mayan Ballcourt

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Make sure your camera is charged, as you will be snapping away all day!

Sacred Water

An important spiritual center and source of water for the surrounding community, the Cenote Maya will be one of the highlights of your trip to Ek Balam.

Before going to the area of the cenote, however, your first stop is with the Mayan shaman for his blessing, and to ask for permission to go into the sacred Cenote Maya.

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The Cenote Maya  (we know cenotes as sinkholes) has a diameter of 260 feet (80 meters), and thousands of stalactites above and stalagmites below that will make you feel like you are in a Jurassic World Underwater Cathedral.

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The water is cool and clear, and you can enter either by rappelling into it or by a side entrance. We suggest rappelling as it’s easy and safe and so much fun! Once you’re down there you can swim, dive in, play on the rope swings and marvel!

Another high point of the trip to Ek Balam is the food.image

The ladies of the community will prepare a delicious lunch of traditional regional specialties, including lime soup and tamalesYou’ll love the hand-made tortillas!

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Before Chichen Itza even existed, the city and kingdoms in the area now known as Ek Balam had flourished and all but vanished. Discoveries are being made in this magical place every day….be a part of history in the making!

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For detailed information on Ek Balam, and how you and. Your family can enjoy a wonderful day trip out there, contact ecotourism-cancun.com today! We’re sure you’ll love it!

At ecotourism-cancun.com, our mission is to find you the most exhilarating vacation tours and excursions experiences around, and to help you save time, money and effort doing it!

Cenotes Unlock the Secrets to Underwater Mayan Mysteries

Almost 15 years ago, a team of Mexican archaeologists found three human skeletons; one of them was carbon-dated to be 13,600 years old. In 2008, divers located the remains of a MASTODON as well as a human skull that might be the oldest evidence of early man in the region.

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MASTODON bones and ancient human skulls. What other secrets are down there?

 

Where did they find those ancient treasures? They found them, and much more, in cenotes.

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What are cenotes?

Cenotes (se NOH tays) are surface connections to underground bodies of water, and in the English-speaking world we know them as sinkholes. Ah, but they are so much more here in Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the Yucatan Peninsula.

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Explore inner space…

There are an estimated 6000 cenotes in the entire Yucatan Peninsula, forming a vast underground network of caves, caverns and the source of much of the fresh water for the entire area.

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Some of the better known cenotes in our home state of Quintana Roo.

 

The best-known cenotes are large open water pools measuring tens of meters in diameter, such as at Chichén Itzá.

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Cenote Sagrado, the Sacred Cenote…at Chichen Itza an important body of water used for ceremonial rites

As far as swimming is concerned, cenote water is often very cool and clear, as the water comes from rain water filtering slowly through the ground, and where there is little or no direct access to sunlight. Some cenotes are open, where sections of cave roof have collapsed revealing an underlying cave system.

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Unlock the door to a whole new world…

 

There are four main different types of cenotes, named for their shapes.

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1. Jug or Pit cenotes are those with a surface connection narrower than the diameter of the water body, shaped like a bottle.

2. Cylinder cenotes are those with strictly vertical walls.

3. Basin cenotes are those with shallow water basins

4. Cave cenotes are those having a horizontal entrance with dry sections.

 

Take a Cenote Tour and Be Ready to Have Your Mind Blown

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The following tours have some stunning cenotes as one of their features. In some you can swim in, rappel into or just simply admire for their natural beauty.

1. Chichen Itzaalong with visiting one of the Seven Man-made Wonders of the World, visit the Cenote Sagrado and swim in nearby Ik Kil.

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Ik Kil, a stone’s throw from the Chichen Itza archaeological site.

 

2. Xenotes-from the same people who brought you Xcaret, Xenotes brings you four Cenote experiences, named for Earth, Air, Fire and Water.

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3. Coba Mayan EncounterYour unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track adventure tour then begins: exciting zip-line flying over a lagoon, rappelling down into an incredibly beautiful cenote where you can enjoy a refreshing swim before going up again.

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You can still climb the Nohoch Mul pyramid.

 

4. Akumal Snorkel Extreme TourTogether with your guide, fly above the trees of the Riviera Maya by zipline, snorkel at Akumal among turtles, fish and coral. Then rappel like an adventurer, and marvel as you make your way along the underground rivers of the Mayan cenotes.

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While white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters of Cancun and the Riviera Maya may have brought you here, the mysterious and stunning beauty of the jungle is what will stay with you forever. If you want to see, hear and feel what it was like to be in the Garden of Eden during your holiday, reserve a cenote tour today.

Click on the different cenotes tours above or click here to enjoy the highest quality affordable tours and excursions in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.

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We are Ecotourism-Cancun, and we bring you ultimate vacation experiences in Cancun, the Riviera Maya and the entire Mayan World.

 

 

Marvel at Magical Mayan Mysteries at Cobá

 

Cobá

As  one of the world’s top vacation spots, sometimes visitors do little more than spend their time on the beach, at the malls, at nightclubs or visiting only the most popular archaeological sites like Chichén Itzá.

While Chichén is one of the most  important Mayan archaeological sites, there is MUCH more to our area. Here we’ll tell you about an amazing Mayan experience in Cancun and the Riviera Maya that will make your holiday here extra special,  with features, tips, and a link to find out how YOU can marvel at its wonders!

Cobá is the Mayan site where you bring out your inner Indiana Jones. With thousands of unrestored structures there slowly being discovered,  you can enjoy a more authentic Mayan experience.

At about two and a half hours from Cancun, this massive Mayan city is well worth the travel time. Cobá  features:

  • Nohoch Mul-The largest climbable  Mayan pyramid in the entire Yucatan Peninsula. The view from the top is breathtaking.

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Nohoch Mul Pyramid, from the bottom and from the top.
  • Stelae –standing stone relief panels full of religious and political meaning. There are dozens well worth seeing, as the detail and workmanship are stunning!

Ecotourism.com Coba Extreme
Dozens of stelae in amazing condition tell the story of the Mayans at Cobá
  • Ballcourts-so far two different sized Mayan ball courts have been unearthed…will there be more found?

  • The Lake at Cobá-a beautiful area to walk around and enjoy and see brilliantly-colored birds and other native wildlife.

Ecotourism.com Coba Extreme
Cobá is named for its lakes, and you’ll love kayaking in them and ziplining over them!

 

  • Sacbes (sacred white stone paths) lead you to Nohoch Mul. At about a mile from the entrance, you may want to hire a tricycle pedicab!

Ecotourism.com Coba Extreme
The temple at the top of Nohoch Mul. You may want to use one of the “Mayan Limos” to get there…

 

Cobá Extreme,  Mayan Enounter 

The Coba Extreme Tour is your encounter with the Mayan culture and it starts with a 1,500 year-old historical journey to the Ancient Mayan city of Coba.

Your Maya Encounter journey then leads you to an authentic Mayan village, a self-sufficient Mayan community living next to an important part of the region’s lagoon system.

Your unforgettable, off-the-beaten-track adventure tour then begins: exciting zip-line flying over a lagoon, rappelling down into an incredibly beautiful Cenote (sink hole) where you can enjoy a refreshing swim before going up again. Then climb into a canoe and paddle on a lagoon of enormous beauty.

And to end it all, enjoy a delicious traditional lunch prepared by the women of this lovely Mayan community.

Contact ecotourism-cancun.com today and find out more about Cobá, and check out our Facebook page and like it today!

 

The majestic descent of Kukulcan

Chichen Itza Equinox
Chichen Itza Equinox

On the evening of 21 March and 22 September, days that begins the spring and fall equinoxes respectively, we can observed in the north staircase of the Castle of Chichen Itza, a solar projection in the shape of a serpent, consisting of seven triangles of light, inverted as a result of the shadow cast by the nine platforms of the building at sunset.

The phenomenon takes place at Chichen Itza in all its glory and we can see an image of the serpent made of light and dark triangles down the majestic Northwest of the Castle.

At the beginning the first shadows come of the higher bodies of the pyramid start drawing isosceles triangles that make up the body of the feathered serpent. Shadows will gradually move towards the snakelike head located at the bottom of the pyramid.
Finally, the last of the triangle touches the base of the pyramid. Spectators stand and raise their hands to heaven to “absorb the positive energy” believed to emanate from this phenomenon.
After a wile the figure of Kukulcan begins to dissipate to put an end to a process that takes about 45 minutes, from start to finish. Want to go to the equinox tour?

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza
Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is located in the northern Yucatan Peninsula, near the city of Valladolid, Yucatan.

It is one of the most important of the ancient Mayan civilization and developed in stages, of which there still are monumental remains. The area has evidence of Toltec influence, both in art and architecture. Chichen Itza is considered to reach the peak in two stages: the first between 600-900 d. C. when Puuc style buildings were built, and the second to the arrival of the Putun, who emigrated from Campeche in the tenth century.

The most famous buildings on the site are: The Castle, the largest and most important structure. The ladders finish at the bottom with two snake heads, same look come to life at every equinox, when the sun casts its rays on the building, forming triangles of shadow that simulate the body of the snake temple down to earth. The Temple of the Warriors, composed of the Temple of Chac Mool and a set of pillars, each carved with representations of priests and warriors. The Observatory, the Temple of a Thousand Columns, the Tzompantli, the Dzib Akab, and the Temple of the Jaguars, are other important buildings.

Chichen Itza also has the great Sacred Cenote which jade objects have been found, pottery and even skeletons of human beings, especially children, who were offered to the god Chac.

The Chichen Itza Plus Tour has all the amenities for comfortable stay of the visitor.

Tulum A Walled City

Tulum
Tulum

Tulum is located in the heart of the Riviera Maya between white sand beaches and  rain forest. This enigmatic Mayan city dating from the twelfth and sixteenth centuries, is the only one that was built by the sea.

The old walled city, built on top of a cliff of 12 meters overlooking the Caribbean Sea, has the remains of one of the most exquisite and important cities of the ancient Mayan world.
The tallest building and most important of Tulum is known as El Castillo. Built in several stages, on an imposing staircase, is crowned by a temple, which is entered by a portico of columns carved in the shape of snakes. The castle is surrounded by temples, houses and monuments, extending inland to the current entry to the archaeological complex. Among these buildings the most relevant are, the Temple of the Sea, the Temple of Wind, Northwest House, several temples, the Temple of the Descending God and the Cenote House, built on a typical cavity that collects rainwater leaks from the surface.

Tulum is definitely the ideal destination for eco-archaeological nature lovers, sun, and history.

Visit the archaeological site of Coba

Cobá

For those who love mysticism and magic, in the depths of the rainforest in southwestern Yucatan Peninsula you will find the wonderful archaeological site of Coba, that is considered  along with Tikal, one of the most important ceremonial centers of the golden era of the Mayan people. In Coba you can discover  to Nohoch Muul, the tallest pyramid in the peninsula of Yucatan. The fascinating stories of the guide will make the stones of the Mayan temples and the field where they practiced the ball game come to life with the magic of the past.

You can also enjoy visiting a Mayan village where you can coexist with the descendants of the most impressive pre-hispanic civilization and also participate in the preservation of cultural and natural heritage. The Tour Coba Mayan Town will take you to the archaeological site of Coba and the surrounding region located northwest of Tulum on the Riviera Maya. Enjoy a memorable experience, get to know the richness of the Mayan world.

Archaeological Wonders in Cancun

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Chichen Itza

Cancun offers the opportunity to visit the most spectacular archaeological sites in Mexico without having to travel long distances.

Take a trip back in time and learn the culture of a fascinating world: the Maya.

– Ruinas del Rey (Ruins of The King): The original name is unknown, was named after the discovery of a sculpture representing a human face decorated with an elaborate headdress, which probably portrays a character of high rank.
Because of its location to both the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte lagoon, it is possible to have functioned as the center of a small city devoted to maritime trade and fishing. Today it is visited by local and international tourism and has a wide variety of birds and reptiles.
Location: On the mile 17.5 of Boulevard Kukulcan, Cancun.

– El Meco: it is named after the nickname of a local resident who became associated with the ruins. Until the arrival of the Spanish enclave work as a strategic business and assumed importance in the regional economy by participating in a commercial network and inland marine lagoon which is integrated in all populations of the Yucatan Peninsula. It has the tallest building and important part of the conurbation of Cancun and the largest number of civil and religious buildings. Corresponds to the Early Classic period, AD 300-600.
Location: Seven miles from the junction between Bonampak avenue hotel zone and the road to Punta Sam.

– Chichen Itza: For its size, symmetry and astrological significance, was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, as well as a World Heritage Site. Home to the pyramid of Kukulkan, a huge stone calendar attached to the ball field larger in Mesoamerica, a Mayan astronomic observatory, the Temple of the Nuns, the Temple of the Warriors and the Sacred Cenote. In the evening you can enjoy an incredible show called Chichen Itza Light and Sound. In addition, during the Spring Equinox on 21 March and the Autumn Equinox on September 22, you can see the body of Kukulcan serpent descending from the top of the main pyramid El Castillo. This effect symbolizes the descent of God Kukulcan (bird-snake) to the ground, and meant the beginning and end of the agricultural cycle.
Location: 188 miles to Cancun in the Yucatan Peninsula.

– Ek Balam: its buildings, temples and palaces are located inside a walled area, which proves to have been sacred center and seat of power, where the rulers and priests lived. Today this archaeological site is positioned as the most recent in the region, in the Yucatan Peninsula ..
Location: 145 kilometers from Cancún.

– Coba: Wrapped in the deep green of the rainforest, the ancient Mayan city stands between five quiet lagoons. His name signified in Maya water stirred by wind. It flourished between 600-900 AD, and at the end of the Classic period had already become a Maya city-state of great importance with a population over 50,000. By archaeological discoveries, there are many links with the great Maya city of Tikal (Guatemala). In its heyday extended over 70 km and there was wielded economic control of the region through a complex network of roads. It is home to the tallest pyramid in the north of the peninsula with 42 meters high.
Location: 165 miles from Cancun town west of the archaeological zone d.

– Tulum, Mayan walled city of the empire, has a beachfront dream. It was an important center of worship for the “god descended” and a thriving trading port until the arrival of the Spanish in 1518.
Reached its peak by the year 1200 AD of the post-Classic Maya.
His name was Zama prehispanic, “dawn” in Maya and Tulum now and that means wall, fence or barrier. It is possible to have used this name to refer to the city when it was already in ruins.
The Castle is the most outstanding building for its location, the Temple of the Descending God, the Temple of the frescoes, murals and adorned with a reproduction of codices, the House of Columns and Uinic Halach House.
Location: 132 miles from Cancun on the beautiful Caribbean coast.

During your vacation in Cancun, not to be missed the most impressive and mysterious archaeological sites in Mexico. Come and enjoy the history and culture of a fascinating world and not be beaten.

In Cancun, in addition, find hotels, restaurants and entertainment’s most exclusive country.