If you're planning to visit Chichen Itza without the aid of a tour guide, you have two options: take the bus or rent a car. Renting a car will allow you to make stops as you desire, such as at the Dzitnup Cenote in Valladolid, and overall go at your own pace. Although buses will always be the least expensive option, there is something to be said about the adventurous nature of going it alone.
The best thing you can do before you rent a car in Chichen Itza is to call around and ask a few questions. You'll want to know what requirements that have for renters, how much they charge not only for the vehicle but for the additional insurance, and if they have a deposit fee. Some agencies will allow people as young as 21 to rent with them, while others require you to be over 25. You will definitely need a driver's license, but for some places your license from home is enough while others want to see an international license.
As you plan for renting, you'll want to consider the type of activities you'll take part in. Driving back and forth from Chichen Itza means you will not encounter a lot of rugged terrain, so a simple economy car will be just fine. If your plans extend to seeing other natural attractions, you may consider a more powerful vehicle in case off-roading becomes necessary.
The biggest recommendation for renting a car for your visit to Chichen Itza is to purchase the optional personal liability insurance for anywhere from $10 to $20(USD) a day. This is because when you are in an accident in, if you're found to be at fault you're liable for the full cost of damages done to the vehicles and any persons who were injured. They will not accept credit cards or foreign insurance, so the local insurance becomes a financial life saver.
There are a few different factors that go into creating the price of a rental car, but the most important one for tourists headed to Chichen Itza should be aware of is where they rent from. It will cost more for a rental direct from the airport in Cancun than a locally owned shop further south. Other things that affect the price include the type of vehicle you rent and the time of year you visit.
Whether you're traveling from Cancun, Playa Del Carmen, or further south, the main roadways to Playa Del Carmen are generally pretty easy to manage. Although some roads in the Yucatan Peninsula are rugged, the highways are paved, flat, mostly straight, and well-maintained. Highway 180 takes you most of the way from Cancun, while if you travel from Playa Del Carmen you'll need to take Highway 307 to Cancun and connect to Highway 180. Tulum, and the more southern cities will require trips along roads like Route 109 which are still fairly well-maintained but not as smooth as what you'll experience on 180 and 307. Along the way, you may spend some time driving through the Mexican jungle where you may catch sight of local wildlife and an unfortunate amount of road kill as well. This is definitely the experience of a lifetime, and the long drive gives you plenty of time to take it all in and enjoy.
Along the way, you'll see plenty of gas stations where you may be able to stop and fuel up. Don't be fooled. Not every station will have gas, so be sure to be on the look out for a station that is open whenever you get close to a half a tank of gas so you don't end up stranded.
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Not everyone will recommend renting a car and driving in the Mexican Caribbean, but you know your strengths and weaknesses as a driver and whether or not it is something you can handle. After learning about renting a car and driving to and from Chichen Itza, it is up to you to make that final decision.
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