Mexico: Discovering the Ancient Mayan Ruins

Mexico is home to some of the world’s greatest Mayan ruins.

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Across this North American country you can expect to find many culturally and architecturally significant structures that survived from the Mayan civilisation (between 250-900 AD). Cancun International Airport connects the ruins to the rest of the world, with many buses and tour providers operating from the city, making these ancient sites some of the most easily accessible on the planet. Combined with Mexico’s low prices, it is also one of the most affordable places to explore history and get a taste of the world of thousands of years ago.

Chichen Itza

 

Chichen Itza is one of the largest archaeological sites of the Mayan civilisation and home to the impressive Kukulkan Pyramid (more commonly known as El Castillo). It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 and named one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’ in 2007. The name Chichen Itza means ‘At the Mouth of the Well’ of the Itza people, and the origins of this site can be traced all the way back to 750 AD.

For many centuries this location was a focal point of the Mayan civilisation, and today it is one of the best places to discover the culture’s rich history. It developed as a site of pilgrimage which grew around The Sacred Cenote, a site holy to an ancient Rain God. Over time it became one of the region’s most powerful cities. When the Spanish arrived in Mexico, they found the city abandoned and it is unknown exactly when or why it was deserted. Up until the twenties, the site’s structures continued to decay and become overgrown until efforts were made to preserve them.

It is a popular day trip for Cancun holidaymakers (Cancun is located around 100 miles away). To make the most of your visit, staying at least two nights is recommended. That way, you can experience sunset and/or sunrise here, when less visitors are around and views are even more spectacular. Chichen Itza is located on the main road between Merida and Cancun and there are public bus services available from both. It is most commonly accessed from Cancun, where the public bus costs around $11 each way with a journey time of 3-4 hours. From Merida it costs around $7 but buses are not so regular. The current entrance price is $13 for adults, and it is free for children under 13 years old. There’s a lot to discover, but don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed! Tour guides can be found at the museum to help you make the most of your visit.

1.09 Sept 2016 - Chichen Itza

Tulum

Located on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, Tulum is home to the breathtaking Tulum Ruins – the remains of a cliff-top Mayan city overlooking the ocean and vast stretches of white sand. Owing to its coastal location, the city developed as a port and originally traded in precious gems such as jade and turquoise.

The central feature of the ruins is the Castillo, which teeters on the edge of a clifftop. There are five portals in the wall which the site can be entered through, and the entrance fee is $5 per person. Alternatively, the beach below offers great views while you relax and soak up the sun. If you’re flying into Cancun International Airport it takes two public buses to reach Tulum. The first costs around $12 takes you to Playa del Carmen and runs every thirty minutes to an hour. From there you can get another bus to Tulum at a cost of around $5. There are several tour operators who can provide you with a safe and stress free journey to the area. Many local hotels also offer a convenient pick-up service from Cancun Airport.

1.09 Sept 2016 - Tulum

Uxmal

Another very important Mayan city is another UNESCO World Heritage Site at Uxmal.

 

The translation of Uxmal means “built three times” in Mayan and, unlike Chichen Itza, all but one of the pyramids here can be climbed. The architecture here is some of the finest and best preserved of any Mexican ruins, and as it was rebuilt, many times it also boasts some of the greatest variety.

With nothing else like it, one of the most unique structures here is The Pyramid of the Magician with its steep, rounded sides and curved base. Legend says that 100-feet tall pyramid was built overnight, however it was actually built in several phases. The other main buildings at Uxmal are The Nunnery and The Governor’s Palace. Uxmal is open between 8am-5pm each day and costs $6 to get in. Uxmal is located 50 miles from Merida and there is public transport available, but using a tour provider is recommended, as public buses can be slow and unreliable.

1.09 Sept 2016 - Oxmal

Travel Health Information

It is vital that all visitors to Mexico ensure that their Hepatitis A and Typhoid vaccines are up to date.  These diseases are contracted via food and water, so are not easily avoided. It is a good idea to also ensure that you have had your Tetanus, Diphtheria and Polio vaccination within the past 10 years. If you’re visiting remote regions and going off the beaten track, it might be a good idea to have a course of Rabies and Hepatitis B vaccinations – these courses take a month to complete so make sure you plan ahead!

There is a low/no risk of Malaria in Mexico so anti-malarial medication is not needed, however plenty of DEET-based mosquito repellent should be worn at all times to protect from other diseases, such as Dengue Fever and Zika Virus. You can purchase this in any of our 8 London clinics.

Make sure that any water consumed is fully sterilised and any foods are cooked thoroughly. Stomach bugs are common in here and are often caused by foreign bacteria. If you are concerned about this, travel prepared with one of our Tummy Kits that contain medication to treat nasty bugs quickly and thoroughly.

Book your appointment with us now!

Credit to Jacob Ovington for historical information.

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