Admission Bargains and Admission Rip-offs at Famous Tourism Sites

New 7 Wonders Mexico

So I was just at both Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the Yucatan state of Mexico this past weekend and noticed that the price had gone up since last time I was there. There were actually new numbers pasted over the old ones.

Getting into either—the first one of the “new 7 wonders of the world,” the latter a more interesting and authentic experience (in my opinion)—will now cost you 182 pesos. At current exchange rates that’s less than $15. In the big scheme of admission prices to famous tourism sites around the world, you could actually call that a bargain. If you spend the night nearby Chichen Itza and go to the sound and light show, you only pay about $6 and you can still see most of the structures. Without all those Cancun day-trippers and all the vendors.

How does this compare to other “new 7 wonders?”

Entrance fee Machu PIcchu Peru

Well let’s look at Machu Picchu, the other major historic site from a grand civilization in Latin America. This transaction gets more complicated each year, with the site taking its cues from the U.S. airline industry. The base rate is around $46 now, paid in advance when reserving, but you’ll pay more to climb an adjoining mountain or visit the museum.

Across the ocean to Asia, Ankor Wat in Cambodia is a better deal, though you could argue it’s capable of hosting a lot more visitors each day than fragile Machu Picchu perched on a mountain. Admission is $20 for one day, $40 for three days, or $60 for a week. Considering how extensive the Angkor complex is and how many sites there are to see, it’s worth going for more time and $40 is a bargain for a place so stupendous.

Angkor Cambodia

To put Angkor in perspective, it’s about the same price for one day as the Colosseum in Rome. I don’t think you’ll want to spend eight hours there…

The Taj Mahal costs Indians next to nothing, but foreigners brave the touts of Agra to get to the entrance gate and pay 750 rupees. Due to a falling rupee though, that’s currently only about $12. A lot in Indian terms, but still a screaming bargain on the international tourism stage.

SePetra admission price Jordaneing the Great Wall of China in the most popular section will set you back about $20 if you take the cable car both ways. Less in other sections.

Which brings us to the most expensive site: Petra. I’ve talked before about how a one-day visit to Petra can end up costing more than Disney World. It’s also out of whack compared to the other sites on this list. Or really any site I can think of on the planet if you remove transportation costs. A one-day pass starts at $70 and goes up substantially if you add on a second and third day. They really sucker-punch the visitors who don’t spend the night though, penalizing them to the point where it’s $127. No, that’s not a typo! Anyone coming on a tour from Israel or a Red Sea cruise ship is paying that amount for a few hours in the ruins.

Jordan is a good travel value—but not this part. The experience is not as good as it used to be either, with part of that admission including a mandatory horse ride that’s just silly for able-bodied people who want to arrive on their own two feet.

How much is it to visit the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio? Who cares. It should have never made the list.

Beyond the 7 new wonders, what sites have you found to be a bargain or a terrible value?

  1. Davide about cheap entrance during my trips

    What I hate the most is to pay 100 times the local entrance fee, even if I’m not a tourist but I’m traveling on a very low budget!

  2. DML

    In all my years of traveling, the only regrets I ever had were the things I didn’t do. Many years ago I was in SE Asia when flights to Angor Wat/Siem Reap had just opened up from Bangkok. We didn’t go because it was “too expensive” (US$125) at the time. I always regretted that. Thankfully I went back to SE Asia last year and I made Angkor Wat a MUST DO because I missed it the first time around.
    While I too hate being gouged paying a tourist price I sucked it up while I was in India to see the Taj Mahal. Didn’t know if I would ever make it back. On the flip side, I passed on paying the inflated tourist price for all the temples in Hue, Vietnam back in the 90’s. My feeling (and for me, rightly so) was, seen one temple, seen ’em all.
    But there are certain things….The Great Pyramids, Petra, Taj Majal, Machu Picchu, Angkor Wat…that are worth the price of admission

  3. Jimmy B

    Yeah, Petra is way overpriced, but you’ve gotta go. The best way to get your money’s worth is to get a multi-day pass and spread it out more. The ones really getting suckered are those just coming in for the day from a cruise or from Israel. If they went more slowly, they would pay less.

    • Kat

      Exactly. Jordan wants to avoid one-day turists who just visit Petra and leave and all profits go to Israel tourist agencies. If you but Jordan pass online, for 99 US dollars the cheapest version, you get free one day entrance to Petra, free entrance into 40 other attractions around the country, free VISA and you shouldn’t pay entrance and leaving taxis. Not really sure about the last one. Anyway, the only requirement to get this bargain offer is to spend 3 nights in Jordan. I would call it win-win situation. The country is full with antique Roman building and castles from the crusade times. Quite opposite is Peru and their Machu Piccu which is not affordable at all.

      • Tim Leffel

        Well, Machu Picchu is half the price of Petra, but that Jordan Pass sounds like a good way around it. The $106 version is really a good value, with a 2-day pass in addition to the other things. I don’t think this existed when that post when up originally.

        I’m not saying anyone should take a day trip to Jordan rather than spending time there. I’m just saying the admission price is a scandal for those who do.

  4. Benny

    I thought getting to Machu Picchu was an overpriced pain in the ass and Aguas Calientes is pretty much a dump if you don’t spend hundreds of dollars a night on one of the best hotels. But the admission price is not so bad really after all that. Especially since they’re trying to keep the numbers down it makes sense to not make it too cheap. Pity for the Peruvians though, who can’t afford it. The Taj Mahal is a bargain. If I could pay twice as much to remove all the aggressive touts from Agra, I’d gladly do it. Great monument, terrible experience outside the gates.

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