Tulum vs Chichen Itza: Things You Need to Know Before You Visit

Tulum and Chichen Itza are both located in Mexico. However, they have similarities and differences in their architectural history, cultural preservation, and overall landscape.

Let’s examine the differences between Tulum and Chichen Itza – sit back, relax and enjoy the many contrasts of both destinations.

Tulum, Mexico

Exploring Tulum

Tulum is one of the most popular destinations in all of Mexico. It is located along the southern coast of the Riviera Maya in the state of Quintana Roo.

The hippy-chic vibe attracts tourists in their 20’s-40’s that enjoy fancy bottle service at white sand beach clubs. You know, the type of place where the world’s top DJs come to perform.

Due to the fact that it offers modern accommodations, beautiful beaches and world class nightlife, Tulum attracts every type of traveler. Many celebrities frequent Tulum as well as social media influencers and digital nomads that are curious to see what all the hype is.

Planning on visiting the Tulum Ruins? If so, be sure to check out Tulum’s archaeological ruins and tours to local cenotes as it will give you the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone (Tulum ruins and cenotes).

Chichen Itza, Yucatan, Mexico

Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is located just 2 hours south east of Mérida and is completely different than Tulum in every way possible. There are no DJ’s, no parties, no influencers or celebrities. Chichen Itza is home to nothing more than the most iconic ruins in all of Mexico and an incredible history that will leave you yearning for more.

Chichen Itza also became one of the New Seven Wonders of the World when UNESCO designated the city on its World Heritage List for Mexico. 

Visiting the Pyramid of Chichen Itza, locally known as El Castillo or Temple of Kukulcán, will be the highlight of your visit. 

Originally constructed between the 8th to 12th century AD, scientists researched in the late 1990s and found that it sounds like a quetzal bird chirping when people clap inside the temple. 

Each of the temple’s sides contains about 91 steps, which equates to about 365 steps in total. This number represents how many days are in a Haab year.

Where Would You Go: Tulum vs Chichen Itza?

If you are a young traveler who wants to eat, drink, sunbathe and party all night long, visit Tulum. If you are more into exploring the ancient Mayan history, Chichen Itza would be a much better fit for you.


Tulum is an island full of different modern experiences to enjoy, while Chichen Itza is a small city that connects you to a vast culture and many opportunities for nature exploration.

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ILR Author Bio
About the author

Jay Patton is a serial traveler and adventure seeker, based in Portland, Oregon. He enjoys hiking, running, and traveling the world, and is always on the lookout for the next big adventure.