Trip Plan Details
recommended Ek' BalamEk' Balam is one of those special archaeological sites that somehow manage to stay just under the radar. Located just north of Valladolid, it's known for an artful and incredibly well-preserved stucco ... read morefrieze that was discovered in the mid-1990s. The frieze itself is located two-thirds of the way up the main pyramid--in of itself, an impressive structure--and is part of a doorway to a tomb that, when discovered, had thousands of jade, gold, obsidian, and ceramic artifacts. There are several other small structures, and the entire site is surrounded by two protective walls. In all, Ek' Balam can be easily visited in 1.5 to 2 hours. Consider hiring a guide at the entrance (around $45-50)--it's well worth the investment to get an in-depth explanation of the structures and frieze.
recommended CobáCoba is an impressive archaeological site located just 45-minutes from Tulum by bus or car. It's known for it's complex system of 'sacbeob'--ancient roads--that criss-cross the thick forest that the ... read moresite is in. It also is the home of the second tallest pyramid in the Maya world--an amazing structure and one of the few that visitors are still allowed to climb (be sure to take good shoes!). Because of the thick forest and lagoons, the site also is a great one for wildlife spotting--just be sure to get there early (or stay late). When I was there last, I saw green parrots and toucans! The site is really spread out so it's worth renting a bike ($5) or hiring a bike taxi ($10 per hour). Guides also are available for about $30 for a two hour tour.
recommended TulumIf Cancun isn't your scene, Tulum is a good base for exploring the Maya Riviera. The town doesn't offer a whole lot to do, but has a surprisingly impressive collection of restaurants and cafes. ... read moreThere's also some pretty good bargains to be had here if you're bringing gifts back home (the further you go from the bus station, the better the deals get). The real reason to stay here is to have access to Tulum's coastal ruins and to swim through other-wordly, underground cenotes nearby - Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the best.Recommended for:Evan Roth-Howe
Tulum itself has coastal ruins you should definitely visit
recommended Chichen ItzaChichen Itza is the real life Apocalypto. The ruins of the Maya civilizations rise dramatically from the hot and humid expanse of the Yucatan Peninsula. In Yucatec Maya, Chichen Itza actually means ... read more'at the mouth of the well' which is fitting because after the high priests ripped out the hearts of the losing team from the game played on the Great Ball Court, they threw the players still twitching bodies down the steps of the Pyramid of Kukulkan (29 meters tall) and later tossed the human sacrifices into the well, an underground river, locally known as a 'cenote' that was their well of souls, so to speak.Baxter Jackson
This may be just over two hours from Tulum, David but it is well worth a visit.