Valladolid is a pretty little colonial town in Mexico’s Yucatan region. It doesn’t see that many tourists but is a great base to visit Chichen Itza which is only 45 minutes away.
The town is very quiet, with pretty squares, a cathedral and brightly coloured buildings.
We found a great local restaurant in a food court off the main square and the prices here were much cheaper than anywhere we’d been so far. We ordered Cochinita Pibil, a spiced shredded pork dish served with tortillas and a few tacos.
The great thing about being so close to Chichen Itza is that you can get there early before it gets too hot and before all the tour buses arrive from Cancun. Again, all of the information online on how to get there is completely out of date. We took a collectivo from the station just down the road from the bus terminal at 7:45am once there were enough people to set off. It cost 30 pesos each.
We got to the site just after opening time and went straight to the ticket counter with no queues. It was also so early that none of the souvenir vendors had finished setting up so we avoided that onslaught as we strolled through smugly. As we walked through the trees we began to see the main pyramid and suddenly we were out in the open with hardly a tourist in sight!
Chichen Itza is a world wonder, an ancient Mayan city existing from around 600 A.D until the 1200s. The site is huge and houses many impressive ruins including El Castillo, the Temple of the Thousand Columns, The Observatory, two cenotes, an ancient ball court and many altars believed to have been used for human sacrifices to the Gods.
It’s probably the most famous archeological site in Mexico and we were worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype, but when we walked out of the trees and saw El Castillo in all its glory we were blown away. Definitely worth a visit but stay in Valladolid and get there before the crowds.