Cancun is the perfect base for exploring the Yucatan and climbing around on Mayan ruins.
Ruinas del Rey, Cancun Hotel Zone, 1983
The offering of tours is absolutely bewildering in variety, but the main ones are to the ruins at Chichén-Itzá and Tulum.
From the way they are depicted in the travel brochures, it's easy to get the idea that the majestic Mayan ruins at Chichén-Itzá are within walking distance of Cancun. They are almost four hours from here in the nearby state of Yucat n. There are many different guided day tours available through your hotel or any travel agency. If you have the time, this is a trip you won't want to miss.
There are fine hotels at Chichén-Itzá, a good option for those who wish to see the light-and-sound show offered every night. Staying overnight also enables you to see the ruins in the early morning, before the main tour busses arrive.
The Descending God, Tulum, Illustration by Jules Siegel
Closer (about two hours from Cancun) are Tulum, right on the sea, and Kobá about twenty minutes inland from Tulum.
Children will love the semi-restored site of Kobá, where winding paths through the jungle lead to partially-uncovered pyramids with inner passageways you can explore.
There are two exquisitely beautiful sites in the Hotel Zone -- Ruinas del Rey and San Miguelito. These are especially well worth visiting if you are here for a short stay, as you can just take any Hotel Zone bus and get off at the gate. Ruinas del Rey dates from the Post-Classic period (900 AD to 1521 AD) and was constructed between 1200 AD and 1500 AD.
Located in low tropical vegetation and bush in a gentle dip on the lagoon side of Paseo Kukulkán at Km. 18, the foundations of small houses and what appear to have been moderately-sized columned public buildings can be explored in about an hour. There is a $1.10 admission charge. Other Mayan vestiges can be found on the Golf Course and on some hotel grounds. This area is so rich in Mayan archaeology that any unusual rise in the ground probably hides an undiscovered ruin.
El Meco, immediately north of Cancun, just outside Puerto Juárez, is in the process of restoration and preparation for public access.
For more on ruins throughout the world see Archaeology Resources -- archaeology related news, books and web resources.
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