Tulum - Mexico


Tulum has very rapidly gone from a sleepy fishing town to a popular vacation destination. A big part of that popularity comes from the stunning natural beauty found all along the coastline, where azure blue Caribbean seas gently lap up amazing white sand beaches. Along these beaches, more and more boutique hotels prop up, which remain quaint and promote eco-friendliness.

Tulum is the perfect place for those looking for a laid-back tropical setting in relaxing surroundings. The whole of the Riviera Maya has beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but in Tulum, you don’t have to share them with many people. Relatively small and intimate, Tulum is nevertheless larger than some places on the coast, like Akumal or Puerto Aventuras, and features more services and attractions. Thanks to the lovely coral reef just off the coast Tulum is a great place for snorkeling and scuba diving, and the beaches are safe for swimming. The renowned Mayan ruins look out across the Caribbean Sea and a lovely beach below. Tulum is about eighty miles south of Cancun, forty miles south of Playa del Carmen, and just a couple of miles north of Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a fabulous area of protected mangroves which is great for a day tour by boat or kayak.

Table of Contents

Nomad Tulum

Why is Tulum so popular?

Tulum is one of the most bucket-list-worthy Mexican lay back village. For those looking for more of a tranquil and relaxing getaway, Tulum is lovely and needs to be visited.

  1. It has world class nightlife, from full moon beach parties at the legendary Papaya Playa Project to the uber popular Cuban bar on the central strip.
  2. It is home to the most pristine beaches in Mexico which have stunning azure waters, practically-white powder sand and plenty of swaying palms.
  3. You are close to the country´s best cenotes gorgeous sinkholes with their rugged walls and transparent waters, and you’ll definitely welcome the refreshing coolness of the water in the baking hot heat. 
  4. Mexico´s most eco-friendly escapes with its locally crafted buildings and use of organic materials, Tulum is great for those conscious about their environmental impact.

Habitas Tulum

When is the best time to go to Tulum?

You can visit Mexico year-round. Tulum’s rainiest months are JuneSeptember, and October. The three-month stretch from October to December is the best time to visit, when hurricane season is over and the weather is warm but not oppressively hot. January through March see the biggest wave of tourists, so avoid that time if you’re not a fan of crowds.

Cancun to Tulum

How far is Tulum from Cancun?

To get to Tulum, you will be landing at Cancun International Airport. The ride from there is about 1 hr 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the chosen transportation method, weather and traffic


  1. From the Cancun International Airport you can take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen with departures every :30min to 1 hour for around $156 MXN (about $12 USD). Once in Playa del Carmen you transfer to a second bus (ADO, AU or Mayab) to Tulum for an additional $74 MXN (about $5 USD) or a Colectivo for around 40 – 60 Pesos from Highway 307 or downtown Playa del Carmen (calle 2 between avenues 20 and 25), get off in Tulum then take taxi to your hotel.
  2. From the Cancun Downtown  you can take the ADO bus or the Colectivo/Playa Express in Cancun to Playa del Carmen and transfer there to Tulum bus or Colectivo.
  3. From the Cancun Hotel Zone take a taxi to the ADO bus or the Colectivo/Playa Express in Cancun and make you way to Cancun.

Private Transfers

Affordable private transfers throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, including transportation to Tulum. The most common route is from the Cancun airport but we can accommodate transfers to Tulum from anywhere in the Yucatan Peninsula or Riviera Maya area. Book transfers.

Rent a car

Rental cars are priced reasonably and are the easiest way to get around the Tulum area. If you check prices on internet, make sure to confirm that the price you are seeing if the final, as some companies apply surcharges at the very last minute when you are already signing the contract.  It is a very easy drive to Tulum. To get there you take the only highway south from Cancun Airport straight down past Playa del Carmen, Akumal, etc. About 90 minutes from the airport you will arrive in Tulum. If staying on the Hotel Zone, you will see a sign that says “Boca Paila” and you need to follow it and turn left. From there, you just need to look for your hotel.

Tulum Town

Getting around Tulum

Bicycles in Tulum

If you stay in Tulum Beach, you can move between the various luxury hotels and restaurants by walking or by renting a bicycle. The rental bikes are single, old and are a great workout!

If you want some authentic tacos al pastor which I highly recommend, you will have to go to the center of Tulum, the current city. It’s about a 20-minute drive northeast of Tulum Beach.

Taxi in Tulum

Depending on where you are on Tulum’s long stretch of beach, a taxi ride will cost between 70 and 150 pesos. Make sure you negotiate and settle the price before entering, even if the prices are generally fixed, especially for the gringos.

Here are some rough guidelines on the cost of a taxi from downtown Tulum to the beach.

  • Top of Tulum Beach (around the Papaya Playa Project hotel) – 70 Mexican pesos
  • Beach in the center of Tulum (near Hartwood) – 90 – 120 Mexican pesos
  • End of Tulum Beach (around the Be Tulum hotel) – 150 Mexican pesos

Tulum Colectivos

If you’re on a tight budget, you can easily jump into a colectivo, which is a shared Mexican van used mostly by locals.

Make sure you enter a colectivo that goes in the same direction you want to go and simply tell the driver your destination. They know all the tourist ones like Dos Ojos Cenote, Akumal, etc. Although if you want to go to Chichen Itza it is much further and you have to take a bus.

It also helps to “act like a local” in terms of knowing how much things cost. If you act like a tourist and have no idea how much things cost, they will definitely keep the rest and overcharge you, ah.

Here is a general breakdown of the costs of the colectivo rates starting from the center of Tulum:

  • Ruins of Tulum | 15 min ride via colectivo and 20-25 pesos per person
  • Akumal | 30-45 min ride via colectivo and 35 pesos per person
  • Dos Ojos Cenote | 15 min ride and 20-30 pesos per person

Tulum safety

Is Tulum dangerous?

This coastal town is home to literal Mayan ruins and loads of nearby relics and jungles and doesn’t face loads of issues with gang violence. Still, Tulum does have a few issues with petty crime, getting things stolen on the beach isn’t unheard of and isolated incidents of robbery do occur. Nature wise, there are hurricanes and poisonous creatures to watch out for. YES, Tulum is safe. The Riviera Maya and Cancun have come under scrutiny in the press recently for some safety issues regarding gun violence, but these are isolated incidents, which don’t usually affect tourists. Tulum is not Cancun and is a lot more laid back, there are no issues here with violent crime.

Common-sense precautions are the name of the game when it comes to staying safe in Tulum. Risks of violent crime like mugging is low in Tulum, though it would be a smart idea to leave your best jewelry and watches at home anytime you travel. However, avoiding isolated areas, like beaches and empty streets, at night is always good practice when it comes to staying safe. 

Tulum Bohemian Style - MExplor MExico Travel Guide Blog 2020

Tulum travel budget

Is Tulum expensive?

The currency is the Mexican peso. When you search for the bureau de change on Google, 1 US dollar equals about 20 pesos. In Tulum, you will probably get more than 18 pesos per dollar. If you’ve never been to Tulum, you might be thinking … “Mexico is cheap!” This may be the case in other parts of Mexico, but Tulum is like the Hamptons of Mexico. Think of it as a glorified hippie luxury summer camp. Expect to pay what you would pay for food and hotels in expensive cities in the United States or Europe.

But you can certainly find inexpensive tacos at a small beach hut or many great pueblo accommodations and restaurants for a considerably economical price.

Very few places accept credit cards in all of Tulum. We used them in some of the more upscale restaurants we had dinner, a cute boutique that I shopped, as well as paying hotel bills at the end of our stay. Other than that, almost everything is cash only.

Stand-alone ATMs in Tulum Beach are not recommended unless you are desperate. They can be hack sensitive and charge a hefty feel, I’m talking about 10% of your withdrawal plus fees charged by your bank. The best places to go to an ATM are an actual bank or the grocery store where the ATMs belong to the bank. There are often two ATMs side by side that dispense pesos or US dollars. You still want to get pesos. Companies won’t give you a good exchange rate on US dollars; usually less than 18 pesos per dollar. Ordering currency in advance from your bank would be the best option. 

It’s always good to have numbers. As indicated, Tulum is not as expensive as people expect. You can easily get by on a $60-$70 per day budget in Tulum including food and accommodation based on two people sharing. Five or six years ago, Tulum was mostly unknown, like a secret Caribbean getaway for digital nomads and backpackers. Recently though, Tulum has experienced a commercial boom. Resort-style hotels line the beach strip now, and with them came a slew of shops, restaurants, and bars.

You should plan to spend around M$560 ($26) per day on your vacation in Tulum, which is the average daily price based on the expenses of other visitors. Past travelers have spent, on average, M$197 ($9.31) on meals for one day and M$81 ($3.84) on local transportation. Also, the average hotel price in Tulum for a couple is M$423 ($20). So, a trip to Tulum for two people for one week costs on average M$7,837 ($371). All of these average travel prices have been collected from other travelers to help you plan your own travel budget.

Best hotels in Tulum

Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or Town?

Tulum is broken up into Tulum Town (Pueblo) and Tulum Beach (Playa) and better if you check out which area will match with you. Staying in the Town is incredible for budget travellers. You’ll get fantastic airbnbs for low prices. Best luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants, outdoor nightlife (beach and jungle parties), and boutique shops are on the beach. Most hotels on the beach have limited air conditioning. Basically, 


  • you’re visiting this place for the very first time
  • you are planning on spending your days relaxing on the beach
  • you want to splurge in a boutique hotel or resort
  • money is not an issue


  • you are on the budget
  • you are planning on exploring the Mayan ruins, cenotes and do plenty of day trips in the surrounding area
  • you want to stay somewhere where you can experience an authentic local vibe

Tulum Town - El Pueblo

The Pueblo is the lively downtown area of Tulum, brimming with wonderful restaurants, bars, and clubs. Hotels tend to be in the budget or moderate range, though there are a handful of luxury hotels at a fraction of the cost of the beach resorts. The Pueblo is easily walkable and bikable with a grid layout, sidewalks, and street lamps in most parts. Food in the Pueblo is more authentic and affordable than what you’ll find at the beach. Though the Pueblo is a vibrant, urban area, it is completely surrounded by jungle, with lots of nature to explore just a short bike ride away. Several amazing cenotes are within a 5 to 25-minute bike ride north along Avenida Coba and also the best yoga studios.

Tulum Beach - Playa

The “playa” is a long strip of beach where you’ll find tons of luxurious resorts that have direct access to the beach. The beach itself is made up of 4 areas all with unique feels: the Beach Town (a cluster of hotels, restaurants, and shops in general more affordable here than in the other beach areas) and the North 8where the Mayan ruins are), Middle (upscale dining, high-end boutiques, and stylish open-air nightclubs), and South (great for kids with a long, wide stretch of sandy beach, eco-conscious hotels, reflecting the bohemian vibe and abundance of yoga and wellness studios) Beach Zones. It takes about 15 to 45 minutes to cycle from the heart of the Pueblo to the Beach, depending on your exact destination (if walking, this can take an hour or 2). Most hotels offer free or cheap bicycles to guests, making it simple to stay in one spot and enjoy the other (about a 10-minute bike ride from the Pueblo to the beach).

Aldea Zama

Aldea Zama is a new luxury development in between the Pueblo and the Beach Zone. This neighborhood is primarily high-end homes, condos and Airbnbs, though there are a couple of boutique hotels, restaurants, and a playground – all connected by walking and cycling paths. Much of the development is still under construction, but there are plans to add luxury boutiques, restaurants, and bars. At the moment, this area has a bit of a sterile feel and hasn’t found its own personality yet. However, the location is perfect, offering easy access to the Pueblo and beach, while remaining calm and quiet at night.

Where to stay in Tulum? Beach or Town?

Best hotels in Tulum

Best beachfront luxury hotels in Tulum

1 | Dreams Tulum – When I arrived all the taxi drivers asked me if I was going to Dreams Tulum as it is the luxury hotel in the area. Dreams Tulum is all-inclusive luxury with its own spa and views of the Tulum ruins, plus scuba diving, great rooms, and family-friendly activities for the kids. Note: this is not on the beach strip.

2 | Be Tulum – A five star resort at the end of the Tulum Beach strip and highly “Instagrammable”. Even if you’re not staying here, come over at sunset for a cocktail, sit on the bar swings and soak up the vibe!

The best eco-resorts in Tulum

Eco resorts are very popular in Tulum and all of these hotels are wonderful. On the design side, they mix high-end materials with the surrounding beach and jungle for a “rustic glam” atmosphere. These are the most popular accommodations to stay in Tulum right now!

But if you’re the type who wants strong wifi, 24-hour electricity, and running hot water, eco-hotels probably aren’t for you. After all, they are trying to protect the environment!

3 | Papaya Playa Project – Rustic and minimalist, the structure consists of cabins overlooking the beach. Reserve cabanas for private patios that open directly onto the water.

4 | Nomad: stunning decor, relaxing spa and its own private section of the beach. Nomade is one of the best beach hotels in Tulum.

5 | Azulik – No electricity, but beautiful tree-lined suites with ocean views. You’ve probably seen this hotel all over Instagram! Outdoor showers and an excellent on-site restaurant.

Best places to stay in Tulum

Best cheap hotels in Tulum

For budget options, head to the town of Tulum. The prices are cheaper, the rooms are clean and you can still go to the beach on your own!

6 | Ginger Tulum Hotel – Located right in Tulum town, between the main road and the bus station, each room is slightly different from one another. Comfortable and modern furniture, free breakfast and wifi.

7 | Azura Boutique Hotel – Near downtown and a short distance from the beach. Free internet, comfortable rooms and a good budget option.

If you haven´t found your dream hotel, keep looking amongs the best places to stay in Tulum.

Best things to do in Tulum

What to do in Tulum?

The incredible white sand beaches of Tulum are the main attraction here, but there are a ton of awesome places to visit in Tulum beyond the shore. Tulum is a dreamy, laid back beach paradise with white sands and jungle adventures.

  1. Snorkel or dive in a cenote: The most refreshing thing to do in Tulum.
  2. Visit the marvelous Mayan Ruins of Tulum: Its spectacular location on a cliff overlooking the beach makes the Tulum ruins a marvelous site to behold.
  3.  Explore the Sian Ka´an Biosphere: protected area home to thousands of species of flora and fauna, as well as some of the most pristine water in Mexico. Inside the park, you’ll find dolphins, turtles, and more fish and birds than you can count.
  4. Tulum healing experience: Spend a day in Beachfront Eco-Friendly Boutique Hotel, with amazing places to meditate, Yoga Shala, Healthy Restaurant, Temazcal and much more.
  5. Enjoy the holy benefits of a Temazcal: The design of the Mesoamerican temazcal connects us to the deepest of creation, to that place from which to heal becomes a spiritual call. Connection, regeneration and understanding are favored by this sacred Mexican medicine. 
  6. Swim with sea turtles in Akumal

Tulum Ruins

Coba Ruins

Cenote Dos Ojos

Tulum Scuba diving

Sian Ka´an Biosphere

Play Video
Explore Sian ka´an Biospere

Check out Tulum Directory

Rent a Car in Tulum

Before going to Tulum, you need to know there is not many public transport option and taxi drivers charge a lot of money. Of course, depending on how long you stay and what you will do, you might don´t need a transport. But if you are thinking to stay a few days and visit the island, we recommend renting a car in Cancun or Playa del Carmen and cross with the car ferry in Playa del Carmen.

Book your trip

Are you ready to book your trip?  .Here are the websites you can use to book your trip, get inspired with the best things to do in your destinations and travel smarter.

  • Kiwi.com– A great website to book your flights. It has good airfares but you need to search regulaly as the prices are constantly changing
  • Booking.com – The best website to book your accommodation, you can book and cancel free up until a certain point, especially when your plans are forever changing. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Airbnb – You can get some really nice places to stay here. If you don’t have an account and you click on this link then you will get $36 off your first booking.
  • Hotel.com – Huge choice of hotels with  free cancellation up until a certain point. It’s easy to use and has one of the widest selections. 
  • Agoda – Agoda is very good if you are searching hotels, resorts, houses. They always have attractive promotions.  
  • Get your Guide – It is a platform where you will find tours and excurtions in Cozumel and every part of the world.
  • Xcaret Group – Xcaret Group is the most famous theme park in the Riviera Maya. If you visit Cancun, check their prices here to get good discounts.
  • Viator – If you need to find inspiration about things to do in Cozumel, check on Viator to see the tours they offer for diving and other activities
  • Rental Cars – Looking to rent a. car while you are away? I always book through Rental Cars as they do a search of all of the big sites and find the best deals. 
  • Yacht Rental – If you are thinking of spending time in a paradise beach destination with friends or family, this is a good option to enjoy the beach life.
  • Sailing Trip – For cruising holidays, book a sailing trip, they have many trip destinations, lehghts and standing.
  • Dive the World – If you are a diver, book a diving trip with them. They have dive packages everywhere in the world with very attractive prices.
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