Are you ready to embark on a thrilling adventure to Tulum, Mexico? Look no further! We’ve got you covered with the ultimate Tulum travel guide that will ensure you don’t miss out on any of the best experiences this beautiful beach town has to offer.
Tulum is renowned for its stunning white sand beaches, crystal-clear turquoise waters, and ancient Mayan ruins. While planning our own journey, we discovered some valuable insights that we wish we had known beforehand. And here’s the best part: you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy Tulum! Contrary to popular belief, it’s entirely possible to explore this tropical paradise on a budget, without compromising on quality.
So, let’s dive into the depths of Tulum and explore all its hidden treasures!
About Tulum, Mexico
Tulum, located on the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico, is a charming beach town that captivates visitors with its breath-taking beauty. Here, you’ll find pristine beaches, awe-inspiring Mayan ruins, enchanting cenotes, and a delectable culinary scene. While the town center bustles with budget-friendly accommodations and local restaurants, the beaches offer luxury resorts and trendy beachfront eateries.
Unlike other popular tourist destinations, Tulum strikes a perfect balance, offering a peaceful retreat without being overcrowded. You won’t find rows of all-inclusive hotels along the beach here. If that’s what you’re after, Playa del Carmen and Cancun are better suited for your needs. Tulum’s allure lies in its authenticity and laid-back vibes.
Where is Tulum?
Tulum is situated in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the picturesque Yucatan Peninsula. Blessed by the Caribbean Sea, Tulum boasts calm and warm waters, perfect for a rejuvenating beach getaway. The town is located around two hours south of Cancun, making Cancun International Airport the most convenient point of entry to Tulum.
Is Tulum Safe?
Tulum is widely regarded as one of the safest places to visit in Mexico. However, as with any destination, it’s important to exercise common sense and remain vigilant. Avoid wandering around at night with expensive belongings on display, keep an eye on your belongings at the beach, and be aware that offers of drugs may occur in the town center during evening strolls. Tulum Pueblo is patrolled by a visible police presence, and many hotels have security guards at their entrances.
Is Tulum Expensive?
While Mexico, in general, offers more affordable options compared to the US, UK, and Canada, Tulum tends to be slightly pricier. Restaurants in Tulum may have prices similar to those in Vancouver, for instance. However, by opting for the cheaper eateries in the town center, you can enjoy delicious meals at significantly lower prices than those found along the beach. Accommodation prices also vary depending on location; beachfront hotels are pricier, while downtown offers more budget-friendly options. If you’re looking for luxury at a lower cost, consider staying in the Aldea Zama area.
When is the Best Time to Visit Tulum?
December to April is generally considered the best time to visit Tulum due to the favorable weather, which is less humid with fewer chances of rain. Low season, from May to mid-December, offers lower prices, but keep in mind that some popular restaurants may be closed during this time. September and October are the rainiest months, and it’s advisable to carry sufficient cash as many hotels and restaurants in the town do not accept credit cards.
How to Get to Tulum
There is no airport in Tulum, but Cancun International Airport serves as the nearest and most accessible option. Cancun Airport is well-connected to various destinations worldwide, and you can often find affordable flights from cities such as Vancouver and other North American locations. To locate the best flight deals, we recommend checking out Skyscanner. It’s our go-to platform for finding cheap flights.
Once you arrive at Cancun Airport, getting to Tulum is a breeze. Many travelers opt for convenient airport transfers, which can be arranged through your hotel or transfer companies like Happy Shuttle Cancun. If you prefer the freedom of driving, renting a car is a great option. The drive from Cancun Airport to Tulum takes approximately two hours on a straightforward route. For car rentals, we recommend using comparison sites like DiscoverCars and RentalCars to find the best prices and deals. Another popular option is taking a bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum, with Ado being a reliable company that allows you to book in advance online.
Getting Around Tulum
Getting around Tulum is relatively easy, depending on your accommodation and planned activities. If you’re staying in the town center and intend to visit the beach, consider renting a bicycle. Many Airbnbs, hostels, and hotels provide complimentary bicycles, and it’s a fantastic way to explore the area at your own pace. We rented bikes from iBike Tulum and comfortably cycled between the beach, town, and cenotes.
Alternatively, taxis are readily available in Tulum and are convenient for shorter trips, such as dinner outings. However, keep in mind that the costs can add up, and as a tourist, it’s essential to be cautious of potential overcharging. If your accommodation is centrally located, you can easily walk to the restaurants and bars in the town center. Walking to the beach, however, can be quite a journey, taking at least an hour, which means less time for sun-soaked relaxation.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Choosing the perfect accommodation in Tulum depends on your preferences and the type of holiday experience you’re seeking. If you’re longing for luxury and prefer direct access to the beach, Tulum’s beach resorts are the way to go. These high-end establishments offer unparalleled comfort and convenience, allowing you to indulge in sun-drenched bliss. On the other hand, if you’re on a tighter budget, Tulum’s town center provides more affordable options without compromising quality. Downtown Tulum is also the place to explore authentic Mexican cuisine and immerse yourself in the local culture. Check out our detailed post on where to stay in Tulum, including Tulum beach hotels versus Tulum town, for a comprehensive guide to finding your ideal accommodation.
Best Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico
While Tulum is undoubtedly famous for its stunning beaches, it offers so much more beyond its coastal charm. Here are our top five must-do activities in Tulum:
Explore the Cenotes Near Tulum: Don’t miss the opportunity to discover the mesmerizing cenotes found just a short cycle or drive away from Tulum. These natural water holes are truly awe-inspiring and offer a unique swimming experience. Check out our recommendations for the best cenotes near Tulum for an unforgettable aquatic adventure.
Relax on the Beach: You can’t visit Tulum without spending leisurely days basking in the sun and unwinding on the beach. Tulum’s idyllic coastline beckons with its soft sands and azure waters. Whether you have access to a beachfront bar or choose to explore the public beaches, be prepared to be mesmerized by the sheer beauty that surrounds you.
Indulge in Tacos: Tacos are an essential part of the culinary tapestry in Tulum. Treat your taste buds to the authentic flavors of Mexico by savoring mouth-watering tacos. Check out Taqueria Honorio and Antojitos La Chipaneca for an unforgettable culinary experience that won’t break the bank.
Visit the Tulum Ruins: Immerse yourself in history by exploring the ancient Mayan ruins of Tulum. Perched high on the coast, these ruins offer a mesmerizing glimpse into the rich heritage of the region. You can choose to explore at your own pace with a self-guided tour or opt for a guided experience.
Embrace the Hippy/Boho Side: Tulum’s vibrant and bohemian atmosphere is captivating. Explore the beachfront shops, trendy restaurants, and artsy establishments that give the town its unique charm. Even if you don’t visit all of these places, immerse yourself in the ambiance and enjoy the laid-back vibes that Tulum exudes.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Tulum
Tulum is a food lover’s paradise, offering a plethora of dining options to satisfy every craving. While beachside restaurants tend to be more expensive, showcasing vegan dishes and fancy culinary presentations, the town center is where you’ll find the true gems of Tulum’s culinary scene. Explore the downtown area for cheap eats and authentic Mexican cuisine that will tantalize your taste buds. For our top recommendations, check out our guide to eating on a budget in Tulum.
Now that we’ve uncovered the secrets of Tulum, it’s time for you to plan your own adventure! Don’t miss the opportunity to experience the magic of this beach paradise while staying within your budget. Start planning your journey, and let the wonders of Tulum captivate you.