Merida to Chichen Itza is one of the most popular day trips that you can do in the Yucatan. After all, who doesn’t want to visit a spectacular Mayan ruin that is also one of the seven wonders of the world?
The ancient Mayan city awaits 120km east of Merida. This is one of Yucatan’s must-see attractions. You have a couple of options available for getting there and the journey should take between 1.5 and 2 hours.
How to Get from Merida to Chichen Itza
The best option for getting from Merida to Chichen Itza depends somewhat on your personal preference and budget. The various choices are discussed below.
Take the Bus
One of the most popular and low-cost options for getting from Merida to Chichen Itza is to take the bus. ADO buses depart three times a day from Merida Noreste station.
They depart at 07.15 am, 09.30 am, and 12.00 pm respectively. The journey takes approximately an hour and 45 minutes.
Tickets cost 156 pesos ($7.50 USD) in each direction. However, the return ADO bus schedule is very limited, with only one daily departure scheduled at 17.20 pm.
So, you may prefer to take the return bus with Oriente bus company. More on that below.
Purchasing your bus ticket from Merida to Chichen Itza
You can purchase your ADO bus ticket from Merida to Chichen Itza online via the ADO bus website, or in-person from the ticket office at Merida Noreste station. Honestly, your best option is to purchase it online in advance.
You will get an electronic ticket that you can show on your phone. Sometimes, the 07.15 am departure sells out – and that is absolutely the service that you want to be traveling on if you want to beat the crowds.
The ADO website is all in Spanish. However, it is very self-explanatory and easy to use even if you cannot speak Spanish at all.
There are several bus stations scattered around Merida. The Merida Noreste station sits at Calle 67 x 50 y 52 # 531 Colonia Centro.
It is just a 10-15 minute walk away from the city center, not too far from the San Benito market. Try to arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before your bus is scheduled to depart.
The bus journey from Merida to Chichen Itza
Mexican ADO buses are very nice. American Greyhound and British National Express buses pale in comparison.
These are considered “first-class” buses and offer such a level of comfort that even very long road journeys across Mexico are extremely bearable and pleasant. The buses are air-conditioned with reclining seats, USB charging sockets, and wifi.
So, you can lay back in your seat, admire the view from the window, and relax until you arrive. The bus will make a couple of stops to pick up and drop off passengers en route to the ruins.
There is no clear bus stop at the Chichen Itza site. The driver will drop you off at the side of the road.
You need to return to the same place for your return bus back to Merida. It can be a bit alarming to wait at the side of the road for a bus where there is no clear signage. However, this is commonplace in Mexico and the buses will always stop for you.
Returning from Chichen Itza to Merida
ADO buses only offer one departure time from Chichen Itza – at 17.20 pm. This can make your day out quite long, especially if you visited the site on the first bus of the day and even if you kill some time swimming in the nearby cenotes.
Fortunately, there is another bus company that operates in the area – Oriente buses. Frustratingly, there is no published bus schedule available online and if you ask bus station staff what time this bus operates, you will probably hear a different thing each time!
The Chichen Itza to Merida Oriente bus departs approximately every hour from outside the ruin. It will depart from the same place as the ADO bus.
When you arrive at the site, it is worth checking with a Chichen Itza employee to see exactly what time the departures are. Then, try and wait on the road at least 15 minutes before.
Sometimes the exact arrival/departure time varies a lot depending on what the traffic is like in the area and what time the driver passed through the previous stops. The Oriente bus is a “second class” bus – slightly less swanky than the ADO bus but still very comfortable and pleasant.
The journey via the Oriente bus is likely to take a little longer – perhaps 2 hours or so. This bus makes more stops along the way to Merida.
Visit Chichen Itza on a guided tour
Several excellent Yucatan tour companies offer guided tours and excursions from Merida to Chichen Itza. This can be a nice way to visit the site and omit some of the stress of figuring out the logistics of getting there.
A lot of Chichen Itza tours include an English-speaking guide, admission fees, pickup and drop-off from your hotel, and a visit to other points of interest in the area. A selection of highly-rated options that you may want to consider is detailed below.
- From Merida: Chichen Itza, Yokdzonot Cenote, and cooking class
- From Merida: Chichen Itza & Cenote Tsukan guided tour
- Chichen Itza with a private guide and transportation from Merida
- Chichen Itza and outdoor sports in Cenote spring from Merida
Rent a car and drive
Renting a car in Mexico is not as daunting as it may sound. Opting to do so gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility over your schedule and rentals here are pretty affordable.
From a total cost perspective, you are looking at an average daily rate of around $30-$40 for a rental. It is important to do your research beforehand, read the small print of the rental agreement, and opt to go with a reputable company.
Generally speaking, your best option is to rent a car from a well-known international rental company like Avis, Europcar or Budget as opposed to a small independent company. Unfortunately, rental scams do happen in Mexico.
The drive from Merida to Chichen Itza should take about an hour and 25 minutes each way. You want to get there early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
However, with a vehicle, there are plenty of great places nearby that you could drive to after visiting the world wonder. From here, you could visit some nearby cenotes or continue onwards to a pueblo magico such as Valladolid or Izamal.
Do you have any additional questions about how to get from Merida to Chichen Itza or about planning a Yucatan itinerary or visiting Mexican Mayan ruins in general? Feel free to reach out via the comments below.
I will get back to you ASAP. Safe travels! Melissa xo