Best Mayan Ruins to visit from Playa Del Carmen

Coba is a huge Mayan City once covered 50 square kilometers and was home to around 50,000 people. There was huge rivalry between Coba and its rival city Chichen Itza. Chichen Itza is better known and attracts more visitors but we chose Coba for our excursion from Playa Del Carmen and were glad we did. If you have to choose between Chichen Itza or Coba as the Mayan Ruins to visit our recommendation would be Coba. 

You see questions on trip advisor and elsewhere on the net about the best Mayan ruins to visit from Cancun or Playa Del Carmen but  if you are only going to visit one our choice would be Coba every time. But you can realistically do Tulum and Coba in a day and there are many tour operators who will offer this for you. The tour companies will offer a Coba excursion but you can organise a cheaper tour at Playacar Plaza and customise to your needs. We combined Coba with a visit to a Mayan village (highly recommended) a cenote (great for cooling off after Coba) and the beach at Akumal.

Chichen Itza is the most famous site for Mayan Ruins but it's three hours each way from Playa del Carmen and people we spoke to were disappointed about how little time they had there and not being able to get closer to the monument. 

The buildings at Coba are spread  over a huge area of dense forest. You can hire bikes for a few dollars  which is enjoyable in itself and a great way to get about the site. We went with a tour guide and would recommend you do the same as the site is huge and benefits from interpretation. Guides are available on site but work out more expensive than if hired as part of your tour. If you are going to use an on site guide you'll get a better deal on site than paying for one on the gate.

The jungle setting and the fact that much of Coba is still to be excavated makes it feel like a journey of discovery. Exploring the site by bike is great fun. Bikes can be hired for 30 Mexican dollars a day or you can get a peditrike, two people and a driver for 95 Mexican dollars a good choice if you  have mobility problems or are feeling lazy.

Coba is impressive for the size of the site, its romantic forest setting, Yucatan's tallest pyramid and the accessibility of the monuments. You can climb to the top of  Nohoch Mul at 42m (138 ft) the tallest pyramid in the Yucatan. It is a steep climb and a steep tricky descent but if you are reasonably fit it highly recommended and not to be missed. It is not recommended if you get out of breath easily, aren't good with heights or are unsteady on your feet. A chap who went up with us came down looking distinctly wobbly.

The view from the top is staggering and sparks the imagination in terms of the human sacrifices that were made there.  Our guide thought it was a matter of time before restrictions are introduced re climbing on the pyramid but you are recommended to visit the Mayan ruins at Coba while you can still climb Nohoch Mul.


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Coba Nohuch Mul