Cancun City in Mexico is well-known for its exotic beaches, diverse culture, traditional markets and thrilling amusement parks. However, apart from the Chichen Itza, people are not aware of numerous historically important sites this city has. A long time ago, the Mayan Civilization had chiefly lived in and around this city. As a result, one can find some excavated archaeological sites here. When planning your trip to Mexico, do leave at least two days’ time to explore and get amazed by the intricate details, sturdy buildings and strange beauty of these ruins. Given below are some best places in Cancun that deserve to be visited.
Let's explore these 15 best things to do in Cancun:
1. Chichen Itza, the famous Mayan Site
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One of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’, Chichen Itza is the most famous Mayan archaeological site across the world! Known for the El Castillo pyramid, visitors will be left staring in awe at the power of the human mind that constructed the marvellous structure entirely out of manpower and primitive tools. Interestingly, an observatory, the Temple of Warriors and a cenote where human sacrifices were conducted are also present here. You can even hire a private archaeologist who can inform you everything about this phenomenal site.
2. Tulum for Tourists
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Set on a cliff top by the Caribbean Sea, this greenish-brown city structure is only two hours south of Cancun. Although, individuals are not allowed to climb the structures Tulum’s Zacil-Ha Cenote has a zip line and swimming hole which is too good to be missed! Owing to its popularity, a number of eateries are also present here to satisfy your hunger. After the Chichen Itza, Tulum is the most recognized historical site in Cancun.
3. Play at the Coba Mayan Ruins and discover more about the Mayans
Coba Mayan Ruins are not as heavily excavated as Tulum or Chichen Itza, and this is a good thing for tourists! Coba’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it has the largest network of stone causeways called Sacbes meaning ‘white roads’. One can climb the pyramid of Nohoch Mul and even venture into the 16 pathways (there are total 50 discovered so far). Stone carved monuments called stelae depict women, suggesting the reign of female rulers. You can also visit the two ball courts used for playing traditional Mayan games.
4. Ek Balam for Mayan Education
Situated in the Yucatan peninsula, Ek Balam is a relatively secluded place to learn about the Mayan sculptures, temples and plazas. Stretched across a vast area of greenery, this site has left historians surprised. Go there, and you will be forced to wonder how could man build such magnificent structures back then? Which equipment did he use and how did he procure them? You can book a guide who will not only show you around but may also be able to answer those questions
5. Museo Maya de Cancun for musing kids
Museo Maya de Cancun or The Museum Casa Maya is an ecological park that exhibits the ancient Mayan life at its best. This replica is built to showcase the natural and social traditions of that era. It has numerous spider monkeys, crocodiles and turtles. The museum, housed in one of the original Mayan structures, is located at Kabah and Nichupte avenues. Through a vibrant display of historical events and overall development of the city, this place succeeds in providing a thorough understanding of the Mayan life to people of all ages.
6. El Rey Ruins to enjoy the culture of the Mayans
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Located in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, El Rey Ruins date back to the 3rd – 2nd century BC. The ruins were originally named “Kin Ich Ahau Bonil’, meaning "King of the Solar Countenance’. Their distinctive feature is that unlike the rest of the Mayan ruins that have only one main plaza and street, El Rey has two plazas and two streets. They are said to have been ancient spaces for Mayans’ astronomical practices, and historians believe the pyramid here must have been a royal burial ground as it is decorated with paintings.
7. A visit to Scorpion’s Temple to witness the preservation
Locals call it the Templo del Alacran, or YamilLu’um, it stands on the highest point in Cancun at the Park Royal Cancun Resort. Present within the city limits, the temple is on an elevated platform. Broken stairways and its presence in an urban environment might not give one the feeling they get at Coba or Tulum but, Mexicans deserve credit for preserving what little was left of the temple.
8. Mayan village of Hunuku
When you visit Ek Balam, you can also stop by and interact with locals of the Hunuku village. It is a present-day Mayan village and helps one to connect the present to the past. Enjoy a delightful traditional meal with its residents and do swim in the Suytun Cenote.
9. Wax Museum Cancun for Children and Family
History is not only limited to ancient ruins; in Cancun recent past can be viewed in the form of wax statues at the Cancun Wax Museum. Featuring stars from various fields including sports, politics, Hollywood and even the fictional world, you are sure to relish this visit! You can take selfies with Albert Einstein, Spider-Man, The Beatles, Elvis or Queen Elizabeth II and many more.
10. El Meco and the coastal delight
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El Meco is the highest archaeological structure in the northern peninsula. One of its kind sites, it enables the tourists to know about the ancient coastal Mayan city and how was life in around a coastal area during the 3rd century BC. This was a harbor-like point and quite an important reference for coastal navigation. El Meco has 14 structures and well-maintained central temple.
11. Isla Mujeres and the culture of the Mayans
Isla Mujeres, Spanish for ‘Women Island’ is only five miles away from the Cancun Hotel Zone. A religious centre dedicated to the Mayan Goddess of Fertility, Ixchel, it still is highly popular amongst tourists who are intrigued by the Mayan culture. One can still visit the temple which was also used as a lighthouse to guide the Mayan ships ashore. s
12. Underwater Excursion for the excited
The Mayan sculptures and buildings are a cause of mystery already, just think what secrets submerged in water could this ancient civilization be hiding! On your visit to Tulum, dive into the sea to explore an underwater cave where stalactites and stalagmites can be seen. The snorkeling experience would also offer an opportunity to swim alongside sea turtles and tropical fish.
13. Kat yok Planetario De Cancun
A Water Museum, observatory, auditorium and a few archaeological sites are what this planetarium has to offer. Travel into the future through the astronomical and scientific projections that often happen here. This is a good place to visit along with family or people who share the same interests as yours!
14. San Miguelito Archeological site
Located on Cancun Mayan Museum’s site, San Miguelito is another place where you can deepen your knowledge and understanding of this community. An archive is portraying Mayan artifacts, it is the only site that has evidence of dunes constructed by the community to protect itself. Surprisingly, San Miguelito is an adopted name as the authentic Mayan name is unknown to modern man.
15. Xelha, the history session
With cenotes, a nearby ecological park and ruins of the Mayan civilization, Xelha was used as a port. Tour guides can skillfully take you round this site, often narrating moving stories and legends of the humans sacrificed by the Mayans.
By visiting these unique and marvelous ruins, museums and temple structures, you will be exposed to the Mayan beliefs of the cosmos, the existence of a higher power and life cycles. Do visit the sites recommended by us if surveying lost civilizations pique your interest!