Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza -- which to pick?

Old Apr 11th, 2012, 01:31 PM
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Tulum, Coba, and Chichen Itza -- which to pick?

A friend and I are staying in Playa del Carmen in July. I would like to visit some ruins -- which of the three is considered the best? How far is each from PdC? Does anyone have a recommendation for a tour operator? If you have gone on a tour, how many hours was it and how much did it cost? Thanks!
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 02:59 PM
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Chichen Itza is huge and developed, the "flagship" of the Mexico Mayan ruins. There are myriad ways to get there; many air-conditioned tour buses, etc.
http://www.cancun-discounts.com/chic...FYReTAodC0gKkw
Coba is still mostly unexcavated, but an important site and very different vibe (overgrown jungle, ruins covered in trees and vines, WAY fewer people, etc.). It's also closer to Playa del Carmen.
Tulum is a scenic setting on an ocean cliff. Small and relatively unimportant, archaeologically.
You can combine the latter two: http://www.cancun-discounts.com/coba...FSFgTAodujGvjw
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 03:39 PM
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I've only been to Tulum, but it was gorgeous given the setting right on the water. My husband has been to Chichen Itza and said it was impressive. We traveled on a non air-conditioned bus, and it was pretty miserable.
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 05:39 PM
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Thanks sylvia and volcanogirl! I saw that you can climb the pyramid at Coba. Are visitors allowed to climb the pyramids at Tulum or Chichen Itza?
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 06:11 PM
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> Are visitors allowed to climb the pyramids at Tulum or Chichen Itza?

I don't think so - not unless things have changed recently.
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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We went to Tulum in May 2010 and were completely unprepared for the heat. Bring lots of water!!! I visited Chichen Itza in the 1980's as a teenager and I still remember it and more impressive and incredible.
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 07:16 PM
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Whichever you visit, try to get there 1st thing in the morning to beat the heat and the crowds. We were not impressed by Chichén Itzá, but loved Cobá. You can climb to the top of a temple that is much larger than the big one at CI and you can rent bikes to ride between the groups of buildings along the jungle paths. Tulúm is pretty but not very inspiring; you can't climb anything there or at CI.

We especially loved Ek Balám which is near Chichén Itzá; they're further than the others from PDC, though. Here are 2 links to highly reviewed, unique guide outfits and 1 to my photo collections with blog and detailed travelogue links on the main page of each collection. Happy trails!
http://www.edventuretours.com.mx/
http://www.alltournative.com/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/staceyholeman/collections
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Old Apr 11th, 2012, 07:53 PM
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When we went to Tulum, you could climb there, but it's been years since I've been there. The views were amazing.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 04:36 AM
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Thanks for all of your helpful comments! I will be taking a tour from my resort and have narrowed it down to either Tulum or Coba since they are much closer to PdC. I would prefer doing Coba since the jungle scenery sounds awesome (Tulum sounds beautiful too but I'd prefer seeing something than ocean/beach scenery since we are staying by the beach). I saw Tulum-only trips (half-day) but no Coba-only trips that are half-day. Has anyone done a Coba-only tour?
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 06:04 AM
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The places above will do that or you could combine it with ziplining, snorkeling in cenotes, Maya experiences, etc. We had a rental car for parts of both trips and visited that way; you might be able to arrange to rent a car for the day from the resort and get an early start.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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Tulum is a pretty quick stop; you can combine the two in one tour ($69, as in the link provided: http://www.cancun-discounts.com/tour...-coba-tour.htm), but Coba is definately a better choice.
Renting a car for the day (or 2) is a good idea; will save $$ and allow you to see some things on your own time. The distances are easy (not Chichen Itza, of course) and the roads are straightforward.
p.s. no climbing in Tulum or CI anymore.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 08:54 AM
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Since you have to pass thru Tulum to get to Coba, a quick visit to Tulum makes a lot of sense. Granted the Tulum ruins are modest compared to Coba, but the setting is spectacular. PS - if you rent your own car and do this, you can stop in Tulum pueblo for lunch or dinner, which is a lot of fun. You can also visit one of the many cenotes on the Coba road.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 01:38 PM
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Best to do Coba early in the day--I would get there first thing and then maybe hit the Tulum ruins on the way back.

By mid-day, the thunder of bikes and bike cabs and throngs of people tend to make Coba feel crowded.

There's good nature at Coba--we saw some good birds as well as a swarm of army ants devouring everything in its path.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 03:57 PM
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Renting a car is not an option, so we will need to take a tour. Any recommendations for a Coba-only tour that does not include the Mayan village visit? We do not want to spend 10 hours on a tour.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 04:52 PM
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You do NOT need a tour: I've never used a guide at any of the Mayan ruins; I read up beforehand, and saunter through at my leisure.

You can take a bus from Playa to Coba; it sounds like the perfect way to visit on your own: http://wikitravel.org/en/Coba
Scroll down to "Get In"

You might want to hire a local guide when you get there, but there is no need to go on an organized tour.
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Old Apr 12th, 2012, 05:10 PM
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Sylvia, thanks for that suggestion! The wikitravel link says the bus from Playa takes 2 hours. I wonder how much a taxi costs. It would be a lot quicker. Anyone know if taxis go to Coba, and if so, how much?
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Old Apr 17th, 2012, 04:35 AM
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Hi Jamie, You can book a taxi to take you to the Coba Ruins site from your resort. When you book make sure you agree a price beforehand with the driver, prices can vary quite considerably.

Alternatively you can always pre-book a coach tour to Coba if you find it easier.

There is also a remote and rustic Mayan ruins site at Muyil that you may find interesting. The following pages contain travel tips for visiting these areas;

http://www.riviera-maya-holidays.com/coba-ruins.html
http://www.riviera-maya-holidays.com/muyil.html
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Old Apr 17th, 2012, 07:26 AM
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Going to Muyil is easier by car (I wouldn't say "remote" so much as off the beaten path); but if you do go, be sure to bring heavy-duty mosquito repellent (the worse I've ever experienced, but maybe it was the season). It is a fascinating site, and you will certainly get the "overgrown city in the wilderness" experience.
BTW, except for CI and Tulum, which are more open to the sun, I recommend lightweight long sleeves, insect repellent, and of course, water.
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Old Apr 18th, 2012, 10:36 AM
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I recommend you make your reservation trought a web company. like Booking.com; Expedia or Orbitz.

I stayed at the Be Playa www.behoteles.com and I think it is the best boutique hotel in Playa with good location and goood price.

The best way to take a tour is going by bus. Tulum is close to Playa, about 45 minutes, Coba is amazing Chichen Itza is beautiful but is about 4 hours from Playa del Carmen. To go to Chichen Itza I recommend you a Travel Agency is much better. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Mexico.
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Old Apr 18th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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You haven't stated where you're staying near Playa del Carmen. It has a bearing. To go to Tulum you can take the Collectivo (a 15 passenger van that holds 18) They run every 15 minutes or so both north and south. Cost each way is about 30 - 40 pesos per person. Walk in to the Tulum site from the highway and pay the fee to enter the site. There's really not much there. If you're in a resort, you can book a tour to Coba from the resort. There is also a tour operator in the big box store, like a Sam's Club, in Playa. We had good luck with them, travelling in a new ac-equipped van for 15 people, included guide at Coba, a brief stop at a Mayan family household, a buffet lunch and a swim in a cenote. The same trip sold by the resort rep cost half again as much. It's an all day trip. The Coba site is about 20% excavated and is spread over a large area. The availability of a guide was very helpful. The pyramid is climbable and is the tallest in the Yucatan. Chichen Itza is the farthest away from P del C. It's a very "sanitized" site and the pyramid is no longer climbable. This past February, we booked an all day tour through our tour op rep at our resort and went to Ek Balaam. Less sanitized than Chichen Itza, more compact than Coba with climbable pyramid and some outstanding carvings. They've created some thatch overheads to shield the carvings and tourists from the elements. That tour also included swimming in a cenote with an added feature of being able to rappel into the cenote if you choose rather than descend by stairs. Personally, I enjoyed the Ek Balaam tour the best of the 4. Chichen Itza was just too far and the mind can only bear what the bum can. Ek Balaam is near Valodalid about 2/3 of the way from P del C to Chichen Itza. From Playa del C the route will take you near to both Tulum and Coba. Can't give you prices. Tulum and Coba tours happened year before last, Chichen Itza the year before that and so are no longer valid. I didn't pay the freight on this year's Ek Balaam tour.
Happy trails!!
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