If you went to Egypt would you skip seeing the Great Pyramids of Egypt? The Mayan Riviera is known for its pristine beaches and turquoise water, but also for the mysterious Mayan culture that still inhabits the area.
Hundreds of Mayan ruins can be found in Mexico, Belize, Honduras and Guatemala, but some of the most impressive ruins are right here in the Yucatan Peninsula. The ruins will amaze with the extraordinary architecture, elaborate hieroglyphics, and the stories of their civilization will leave you in awe. The level of advancement in their understanding of the calendar, astronomy, mathematics and construction based primarily on manpower.
Playa del Carmen has some interesting Mayan ruins, but if you want to see some truly magnificent pyramids you’ll want to visit one or more of these four sites.
Is about a 45 minute ride south of Playa del Carmen. The only Mayan city built directly on the sea, Tulum is thought to date from 400-900A.D. After exploring the ruins and enjoying the spectacular view from atop, you can take a refreshing dip in the Caribbean from the pristine beach in front of the site.
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Is about a 30 minute ride northwest of Tulum and about 1.5 hours from Playa del Carmen and well worth the visit. Unlike most archeological sites on the Yucatan Peninsula, Coba is in the middle of the jungle and a totally different experience. You can still climb the main pyramid, Nohoch Mul, the highest pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula. The top of the gigantic Temple of the Churches affords a fantastic view of Lake Ma Can Xoc to the east and of Lake Cobo to the southwest.
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Is probably the best known and most visited of all the Mayan ruins, and with good reason. Although it’s due west of Playa del Carmen, you’ll have to go north to Cancun to get the main highway to Chichen-Itza. It’s about a three hour ride, so be prepared to spend a bit of time travelling but well worth it for this fascinating site.
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A lesser known site of ruins not far from Chichen Itza. You can still climb the main temple at Ek Balam. You will want to check out the wall paintings in the Acropolis building. Only the center of this site has been excavated so far, so new discoveries are still being made.
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