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5 Mayan Ruins in the Riviera Maya you simply must visit

Either you are staying in Cancun or Playa del Carmen, if you want to enjoy and learn more about Mexico while in your vacations, these are the archaeological sites you must visit:

1. Tulum

The  trade zone of the mayan culture was located a few feet from the beach. This archaeological site will captivate you while you discover more about this ancient culture.

Mayan Ruins riviera maya

It was the only Mayan site not situated in the middle of the jungle and at one time, was adorned with beautiful colors which were visible at sea from miles away (if you snorkel you may see it from the ocean).  Tulum was the last city habited and built by the Mayans and is thought to have been a religious center for priests that remained active during the Spanish invasion.

How to get there

  • Distance from Sandos Playacar/Caracol:  60 kms. / 40 min
  • Distance from Sandos Cancun: 150 kms / 1.10 hrs.

Dozens of people get there by driving themselves or taking public transportation, which is great. However our recomendation is to go to the Seek & Go desk where you will find the best tours in town. Tulum excursion starts around 7 am and you will have your own guide (which is the best you can do) and they will explain what occurred in every point (historically speaking). The best thing about this excursion is that you may also pick other options like stops in cenotes, towns etc.

2. Chichen-itza

Worldwide famous and best known as one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. Visiting Chichen-itza is such an amazing experience and since you’ll be so close to it, it’d be a great mistake if you missed it!

Chichen Itza also remains as an active archeological site. New discoveries are still being unearthed in the area, providing even more insight into the culture of the Mayan people, who ruled much of present-day Mexico and Central America prior to the arrival of European colonists. This is in fact the newest city of this amazing culture.

riviera maya mayan ruins

The Kukulkan pyramid is the biggest one in the Riviera Maya, where you will find architectural facts that remain yet to be explained…

How to get there

  • Distance from Sandos Playacar/Caracol: 214 km / 2.5 hrs.
  • Distance from Sandos Cancun: 180 km/  hrs.

While it may seem far from your hotel, it is worth the trip. Besides, the excursion to Chichen-itza includes a meal, entrance to an amazing cenote (just check out the picture) a private guide and a visit to Valladolid, Yucatán. This means that within the same day you’ll get to visit another state, explore an underground cave and have one of the best days of your life!  Just book it with the guys with the Green shirts next to your concierge desk.

3. Coba

Probably our favorite spot in Riviera Maya. Coba is not as famous as the past two sites, however we promise you will love it!

Surrounded by thousands of trees, with a fresh vibe and the breeze on your face, Coba hides culture, secrets and the most enjoyable environment all in one.

This city was not exactly a Mayan one, but we don’t want to spoil this adventure, but what we can actually tell you is that you can visit the whole site by bike, and climb the tallest Mayan pyramid.

How to get there

  • Sandos Caracol/Playacar:  109 km /1.5 hrs
  • Sandos Cancun: 210 km/ 2 hrs

Once again, Seek and Go saves the day! You can book this expedition with 24 hrs in advance and the van will pick you up at the hotel lobby. Remember that taking your own guide will make everything easier, most of the pyramids have the explanation of what happened there or its meaning but the guides will connect every story to each other so you feel like you are living in the Mayan era.

4. Ek Balam

Found in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula, the Mayan archeological site Ek Balam has something that makes it different from any other site on the continent, and being in the middle of the jungle makes it even more unusual.

The city is still protected by its original walls, and the buildings seem to store all the details of the city’s history and beliefs among the rocks. Be sure and climb to the top of the acropolis, that’s a view you’ll never forget!

How to get there

  • Distance from Sandos Playacar/ Caracol: 157 km – 2 hrs.
  • Distance from Sandos Cancun:172 km -2 hrs.

If you are seeking adventure this is what you need to book: Seek and Go offers an adrenaline tour where besides all the culture of Ek’ Balam , you will dive into a cenote and rappel over it! There’s also a Tarzan vine and a Mayan ceremony. The tour starts in the morning and you will be back by 5 pm in the afternoon.

5. Chunyaxché


Last but never least! Let us ask you something, what’s the most known thing about the Mayan? We know your answer is correct: their spiritual wisdom!

This site is very particular as the vibes are always right. Located in the Sian Kaan biosphere the Chunyaxche excursion will not only be about history but about living Mayan!

How to get there

  • Distance from Sandos Cancun: 206 km/ 2.5 hrs.
  • Distance from Sandos Caracol/Playacar: 87 km/ 1 hr.

After talking to the Seek and Go concierges in the lobby or meeting point (if staying in Sandos Playacar) you will notice it is quite an experience and you won’t  want to wait to do it. The excursion starts early in the morning and depending on where you are staying at you will be back to your hotel by 5 pm. This amazing tour is remarkable, as you will see an archaeological site and visit a Mayan community where they will teach you how to make tortillas and free your soul with Mayan ceremonies.

Well, now there is no excuse for not living a true Mexican experience while staying at Sandos. Remember you just need to approach the guys with green shirts in the hotel and book your favorite excursion a day ahead.

See you soon!

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