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Coba vs Chichen Itza

If you come to the Riviera Maya, you have to visit at least 1 mayan ruins. Between Yucatan and Quintana Roo, you will have many options but sometimes, many options make to choice difficult. To make it easier, we suggest two of our best recommendations: a tour of Chichen Itza and the other, Coba. Read further to see our Coba vs Chichen Itza review.

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is the most famous ruin in Mexico, generating thousands of daily visitors. Being included in the list of UNESCO Heritage sites, Chichen Itza and its famous El Castillo temple deserve a visit. Sometimes, the crowds, heat, and excessive souvenir peddlers take away from the experience but still worth to visit.

Chichén Itzá

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Coba Ruins

Because Coba don’t find just as much tourism since places like Chichen Itza or even the ruins of Tulum, and that means you can still still scale some of the structures for an entirely different and distinctive perspective. Archaeologists believe the Ancient Mayan Ruins Of Coba  were an incredibly important city for its Maya folks. 

Coba Ruins Mexico

Coba Ruins Mexico

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Coba vs Chichen Itza

Both tours were private and lasted approximately 10 – 11 hours from pick-up to drop-off. For small groups, a private van service gives the freedom to customize the tour. The large buses, or shared tours, do not allow for this. They adhere to a strict schedule and when the time is up at one stop, it’s time to go, no matter how much you try to coax the guide for more time. A private excursion may be a once in a lifetime experience, so having the ability to customize your itinerary can be priceless, not to mention the added bonus of comfort.

Private Coba Tour with Lunch and Two Cenotes

Visit Coba – 2.5 hours:

The drive from Playa del Carmen to Coba took about 90 minutes. Highway 307 South led to a turn off at Tulum where signs clearly direct visitors to head west to Coba. It´s a nice drive as we passed through a few small typical Mexican towns, a honeybee farm selling honey and other organic products, and a several roadside fruit stands. Arriving at Coba, you will purchase the entrance tickets and join your guide inside. Coba is an extensive, sacred Mayan site spreading over 30 square miles (80 square km), which encouraged us to opt for a guide. The English, Maya, and Spanish-speaking guides are not required. However, it would be best to hire someone that could share some insider knowledge and facts with us.

We recommend to rent a bike as it is a massive area. You could choose from a rickshaw type tricycle or ride your own two-wheeler around the jungle paths

Fun Fact – Coba has the longest sacbe, meaning “white road,” that runs about 62 miles (100km) to the site of Yaxuna near Chichen Itza. These elevated walkways became illuminated by the moonlight and provided for a safer journey at night.

After a bit of free time, the driver will take you to a nearby restaurant in the town that overlooked a lake. They offer a variety of local dishes served buffet style such as soup, salad, a variety of main dishes, and dessert. 

Cenote Choo-Ha – 1 Hour

Cenote Choo Ha near Coba

After lunch we will make your way to a nearby cenote called Choo Ha. There are many options for cenotes in this area. Based on their popularity, we recommend to visit two of the smaller cenotes as it meant there would be fewer visitors.

Choo Ha is 60 feet (18 meters) below ground, accessed by a staircase descending through a small opening in the earth. Once you reach below the surface you will be able to admire it in its entirety, decorated with stalagmites, stalactites, and columns. It is a smaller-scale cenote, but a unique marvel just the same.

Cenote Tamchah-Ha – 1 Hour

Cenote Tamchah Ha near Coba

You will then proceed to a second nearby cenote called Tamchah-Ha. From the outside looking in, it appeared similar to Choo Ha. The splendid cenote had a narrow mouth with a staircase descending underground. But once you reach below the surface, the differences between the two stunning sinkholes were clearly evident. Tamchah-Ha was deep and almost completely filled with water, forming a large natural swimming pool. The unique aspect of the latter cenote, was that it gave visitors the option to jump from two platforms on the staircase. The tallest was approximately 40 feet (12 meters) above the water and the lower about half that height.

Getting Back to Playa del Carmen

You will spend about an hour at each of the cenotes and return to the van to head back to Playa del Carmen. The tour is a wonderful experience.

The best part of the tour is having the ability to customize as you go along. Private is the best option if you and your group would like to have the freedom to decide as you go!

 

Chichen Itza Private Tour, Ik-Kil, Ek Balam, Hubiku

An earlier departure of 7:00 a.m. is recommended, we wanted to eat breakfast beforehand. It could take as long as 3:30 hours to drive to Chichen Itza.  It is only a slightly longer drive than to Coba.  The new road is better than anything you will see in the States and even features rope bridges above the highway for monkeys to cross safely. 

Visiting Chichen Itza – 1 Hour

You will arrive at Chichen Itza just before 10:00 a.m.  and go straight to purchase you ticket and, if you want , to hire a guide. 

Chichen Itza does not have much shade cover and can get quite hot. We suggest applying sunscreen and wearing a hat!

You will stay at Chichen Itza for about one hour and then head to cenote Ik Kil.

Ik-Kil and Lunch – 2 Hours

Ik Kil Cenote near Chichen Itza

At the cenote Ik Kil, after purchasing your entrance tickets, you will have a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant, offering a buffet style service with a number of fresh local choices. 

Then, back to your vehicle to gather your supplies and head to the cenote. The entrance is impressive at 200 feet (60 meters) in diameter, much larger than any other cenotes. A massive staircase takes visitors 85 feet (26 meters) into the earth. The initial view is almost overwhelming. Vines dangled from the partial ceiling, flowing elegantly down towards the water, which made for striking photos.

The temperature is “refreshing”, as the guides always say, making for an exhilarating swim. Ik-Kil is by far the most spectacular cenote.

Ik-Kil is the most spectacular cenote  and well worth the trip.

Ek Balam – 1.5 Hours (The Black Jaguar)

Ek Balam Mayan Ruins

El Balam Ruins

After returning to the earth’s surface at Ik Kil, you will make your way to Ek Balam. 

Although not as spread out as Coba, Ek Balam is incredible, covering more than 23 acres (9.55 hectares).  You will be able to climb on, over, and through the different structures to our hearts’ content. There were few visitors in the park and we meandered around until coming upon the main attraction. Acropolis stands nearly 500 feet (160 meters) tall. When comparing it to the largest structure at Coba we all liked it more. It is magnificent and beautiful.

Cenote Hubiku near Valladolid Mexico

You will stay in Ek Balam for approximately 90 minutes and then visit a nearby cenote called Hubiku.  Cenote Hubiku is another magnificent cenote but with few visitors. The property is beautiful with manicured landscaping, stores, and tequila tasting stations.

Like all the other cenotes there was a staircase that proceeded down into the earth, opening into a huge cavity. The facilities are well maintained and provide a wonderful opportunity to enjoy the nature and cool swim. 

Valladolid – 30 Minutes

Valladolid Mexico

You will spend about 45 minutes at Hubiku before making your way back to Playa del Carmen. The final stop of the tour is at the historic city of Valladolid, a perfect ending to a memorable day. Starting with in the central park, which is surrounded by 16th century buildings full of colorful personality and rich history. You will have about 30 minutes to stroll through the park and capturing photos.

 

Coba ruins vs Chichen itza

The final conclusion when comparing the Coba vs  Chichen Itza tour is difficult.  The best advice we can give to travelers would depend on whether crowds and driving distance is important to minimize. If these are in fact a concern the Coba tour is a better option. 

Both of these private options include the driver and van for the day, along with most toll fees to/from Chichen Itza. Be aware that they do not pay for entrance fees, parking fees, lunch, and some additional fees that may occur if you choose extra stops.

 The entrance fees for most places was very affordable. The most expensive was Chichen Itza and it was about $6usd for adults. Plan on spending $20usd for entrance fees per adult and $10usd for meals. Children most of the time are either free or half the adult rate.  If you were to participate in an all-inclusive bus tour similar to this is would cost around $100usd per adult.

If you have four or more in your group the private tour will be a comparable price to the bus tour. This is more expensive for a couple but if you can cover the cost you will not regret it!

Other Ruins you can visit

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Book your trip

Are you ready to book your trip?  .Here are the websites you can use to book your trip, get inspired with the best things to do in your destinations and travel smarter.

  • Kiwi.com– A great website to book your flights. It has good airfares but you need to search regulaly as the prices are constantly changing
  • Booking.com – The best website to book your accommodation, you can book and cancel free up until a certain point, especially when your plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – You can get some really nice places to stay here. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hotel.com – Huge choice of hotels with  free cancellation up until a certain point. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Agoda – Agoda is very good if you are searching hotels, resorts, houses. They always have attractive promotions.  
  • Xcaret Group – Xcaret Group is the most famous theme park in the Riviera Maya. If you visit Cancun, check their prices here to get good discounts.
  • Viator – If you need to find inspiration about things to do in Cozumel, check on Viator to see the tours they offer for diving and other activities
  • Rental Cars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Yacht Rental – If you are thinking of spending time in a paradise beach destination with friends or family, this is a good option to enjoy the beach life.
  • Sailing Trip – For cruising holidays, book a sailing trip, they have many trip destinations, lehghts and standing.
  • Dive the World – If you are a diver, book a diving trip with them. They have dive packages everywhere in the world with very attractive prices.