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Tulum Travel Guide

Destinations > Quintana Roo > Tulum

Rafael Cisneros Méndez

Navigate Tulum like a local with our all-inclusive Tulum Travel Guide! From idyllic beaches to mesmerizing Mayan history, experience the best of this tropical haven.

Tulum Travel Guide: Quick Info

  • 🇲🇽 State: Quintana Roo
  • ⏰ Timezone: Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5)
  • ✈️ Airport: Cancun International Airport
  • 💲 Currency: Mexican peso (MXN)
  • ✈️ Cheap flights:
  • 🕝 Average Trip Length: 5-7 days
  • 🛃 Visa: 180 days
  • 🚑 Travel Insurance: Ekta
  • 📲 Best Sim Card: Telcel
  • 🔌  Power plug: Type A (US, Canada)
  • 🪴 Best neighborhood: Tulum Centro
  • ✅ Safe areas: Aldea Zama, La Veleta
  • 🚕 Taxi app: Local taxi
  • 🚌 Best Bus Company: ADO
  • 🚗 Best Car Rental: Discover Cars
  • 💵 100 pesos in USD: $5.86 USD
  • 🚰 Tap water: Not drinkable
  • 👩‍🎨 Visitors per year: 2 million
  • 🏨 Best hotels:
  • 💳 Credit cards: Some establishments
  • 💵 Cashless: No, still uses cash

When to travel to Tulum

tulum travel guide

The best time to visit Tulum is between October and December. During this time, the weather is pleasant and warm, with temperatures ranging from 24-29°C (70-80 °F). The rainy season, which runs from May to September, has already passed, so visitors can expect fewer rain showers and less humidity. Moreover, the peak tourist season, which occurs from January to March, has not yet started, allowing visitors to enjoy Tulum’s beautiful beaches and archeological sites without the crowds.

However, there are certain months and seasons that might be more favorable for different types of experiences:

Best time to visit for good weather

The best time to visit Tulum for good weather is from December to April, where temperatures hover between 21°C (70°F) and 32°C (90°F). These months offer clear skies, minimal rain, and plenty of sunshine, perfect for beach lounging and outdoor exploration.

Cheapest months to visit

The cheapest months to visit are during the low season, from July to October. However, be prepared for frequent rain, higher humidity, and the possibility of hurricanes. Temperatures range from 24°C (75°F) to 31°C (88°F).

High season

High season in Tulum corresponds with the North American winter, from December to April. This period sees the largest influx of tourists, resulting in higher prices for accommodations and activities. The weather, however, is impeccable, making it a highly sought-after period for travel.

Low season

Low season in Tulum falls between July and October, marked by high humidity, frequent rains, and risk of hurricanes. Despite the downside in weather, it’s the least crowded time and offers the best deals on accommodations.

Shoulder season

Shoulder seasons in Tulum are May to June and November. These months offer moderate crowds and generally good weather, although May and June can be hot and humid, with temperatures often reaching 30°C (86°F). Seaweed on beaches can also be an issue. November is the end of the rainy season, providing lower prices and improving weather.


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Getting there and around

tulum travel guide
Spencer Watson

Tulum is located on the southeastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo. It’s famous for its stunning Caribbean beaches, Mayan ruins, and vibrant local culture. Tulum lies about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Cancun and around 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of Playa del Carmen.

The closest airport to Tulum is Cancún International Airport (CUN). This airport is well-connected with various international destinations and serves as the primary gateway for tourists visiting the Yucatán Peninsula.

From Cancún International Airport, there are several ways to reach Tulum, including car rentals, taxis, shuttle services, and public buses. The journey from the airport to Tulum generally takes around 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the mode of transport and traffic conditions.

While there are discussions and plans for a new airport closer to Tulum, Cancun remains the most convenient airport for travelers heading to this beachside destination.

What’s the best way to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum?

Fortunately, Cancun Airport has several options for all budget tiers. However, the best way to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum is still via pre-booked private transportation. The distance from Cancun Airport to Tulum is about 2.5 hours. Below are some of options to choose from (with prices):

  • by bus via Primera Plus: from $15 USD (drop-off at Tulum Bus Station)
  • by standard minivan (shared): from $20 USD (drop-off at Live Tulum)
  • by shuttle: from $30 USD (drop-off at any hotel)
  • by standard Sedan (private): from $75 USD (door-to-door)
  • by SUV (private): from $101 USD (door-to-door)

Getting around Tulum

Tulum consists of different areas, each with its own distinct character and layout, which impacts how walkable it is. The downtown area, known as Tulum Pueblo, is fairly walkable, especially along its main streets like Avenida Tulum. Here, you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and bars clustered together. Sidewalks are generally in good condition, and the area is bustling with local life. Many travelers enjoy walking in this area to explore its boutiques, street art, and food vendors.

Moving between Tulum Pueblo and the beach area generally requires a mode of transport other than walking, such as a taxi, bike, or colectivo (shared van), as the distance is about 4-5 km (around 2.5-3 miles). Here are some of the ways to get around Tulum:

Taxis: Taxis are a convenient and reliable way to travel around Tulum and the surrounding areas. They are easily available and can be hailed on the street or booked in advance. Taxis are metered, so the fare will depend on the distance traveled. Short term distance range from $5-$10 USD.

Buses: Buses are a budget-friendly option for traveling around Tulum and the surrounding areas. They run regularly and connect Tulum to nearby towns and cities, including Playa del Carmen, Cancun, and Cozumel.

Rent a Car: Renting a car is a great option if you want the freedom to explore Tulum and the surrounding areas at your own pace. There are several car rental agencies located in Tulum and in nearby towns. Rental cars in Cancun start at $40-$70 USD per day for a basic car, though luxury and SUV options will cost more. Discounted weekly rates could be between $200-$400 USD.

Bicycles: Bicycles are a popular way to travel around Tulum and the surrounding areas, especially along the beach. There are several bike rental shops in Tulum where you can rent a bike for a day or for a longer period of time. Daily bicycle rental rates in Tulum start at $10-$20 USD.

Motorbikes and Scooters: Motorbikes and scooters are another popular way to travel around Tulum and the surrounding areas. They are easy to rent and provide a fun and efficient way to explore the area. Daily rates are around $25-$50 USD per day, depending on the type and model of the motorbike.

Golf Carts: Golf carts are a popular way to travel around Tulum, especially for those staying in the beachside area. They can be rented for a day or for a longer period of time and are a convenient way to get around the area. Golf cart rentals in Tulum range from $50-$100 USD, mainly in specific resort areas that offer this option.

Private car with driver: For those who prefer a more comfortable and private mode of transportation, private transportation services are available. These can be arranged in advance and include private cars, or vans. The price will always depend on your route and destination.

Things to do in Tulum

tulum travel guide
The Free Birds

Tulum offers a wide range of activities to suit different interests and preferences. From outdoor adventures to cultural experiences, there is something for everyone in Tulum. For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are many opportunities for activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking in the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. Hiking and exploring nearby cenotes (freshwater sinkholes) is also popular.

Below are some of the best things to do in Tulum:

1. Visit the Tulum Ruins

Tulum Ruins is a Mayan ruin perched atop a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Marvel at El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and other archaeological wonders that glimpse the ancient Mayan civilization.

2. Relax on Playa Paraiso

Unwind on one of Tulum’s most beautiful beaches, its soft white sands, swaying palm trees, and crystal-clear turquoise waters. The beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or refreshing drinks at a beachside bar.

3. Discover the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve

This UNESCO World Heritage site is a sprawling protected area that boasts diverse ecosystems, including tropical forests, mangroves, and coral reefs. Take a guided tour to spot wildlife, such as dolphins, turtles, and various bird species, or kayak through the lagoons.

4. Swim in the Gran Cenote

Plunge into the crystal-clear waters of Gran Cenote, a popular natural sinkhole surrounded by lush vegetation. Experience the beauty of the underwater world while snorkeling or diving among stalactites, stalagmites, and diverse marine life.

5. Snorkel or dive in Cenote Dos Ojos

Explore the underwater wonders of this famous cenote, known for its two interconnected, eye-shaped chambers. Dive or snorkel in its clear waters and be amazed by the otherworldly rock formations and diverse aquatic life.

6. Stroll along Tulum Beach Road

Wander the vibrant Tulum Beach Road, lined with chic boutiques, art galleries, and trendy restaurants. Discover unique souvenirs, sample local cuisine, and soak in the lively atmosphere.

7. Practice yoga on the beach

Tulum is known for its wellness-oriented vibe, making it an ideal destination for beachside yoga classes. Find a class or retreat to rejuvenate your body and mind while enjoying the stunning ocean views.

8. Explore the underwater world at Akumal

Head to the nearby coastal town of Akumal to swim with sea turtles and snorkel or dive among colorful coral reefs. The calm, shallow waters make it an excellent spot for families and beginner snorkelers.

9. Visit Muyil Archaeological Site

Venture into the lesser-known Muyil ruins located within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve. Wander among the ancient Mayan structures, including the impressive Castillo and the Pink Palace, while enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding jungle.

10. Experience the nightlife

Tulum offers a vibrant nightlife scene with various bars and clubs featuring live music, DJ sets, and beach parties. Sip on a refreshing cocktail and dance the night away under the stars.

11. Take a cooking class

Immerse yourself in Mexican cuisine by participating in a cooking class. Use fresh, local ingredients to prepare traditional dishes, such as tacos, ceviche, and guacamole.

12. Visit the Tulum Art Club

This creative hub showcases contemporary art from local and international artists. Attend exhibitions, workshops, and events to gain a deeper understanding of Tulum’s thriving arts scene and the diverse talents of its residents.

Where to stay in Tulum

tulum travel guide
Jônatas Tinoco

Tulum has different neighborhoods that appeal to travelers with varied interests. Here’s a rundown of some of the best neighborhoods in Tulum for travelers:

Tulum Beach: Tulum Beach is arguably the most popular area in Tulum, and for good reason. With its turquoise waters and powdery white sand, it’s a beach lover’s paradise. Here, you’ll find high-end resorts, beach clubs, and chic boutiques. It’s a trendy area where you can enjoy yoga retreats, spa treatments, and gourmet dining right on the water.

Tulum Pueblo (Tulum Town): Tulum Pueblo is the downtown area and offers a more authentic Mexican experience compared to Tulum Beach. It’s more budget-friendly with a wide array of accommodations, from hostels to mid-range hotels. You’ll find a rich culinary scene featuring local taquerias, international cuisine, and vegan eateries. The area is also great for shopping for local crafts.

Aldea Zama: Situated between Tulum Beach and Tulum Pueblo, Aldea Zama is a newer, planned neighborhood known for its modern amenities. This residential area is less touristy and offers a variety of Airbnb rentals. It’s a quieter area, perfect for families or long-term travelers who want to be centrally located while enjoying the comforts of a home-like setting.

La Veleta: La Veleta is another up-and-coming area located just south of Tulum Pueblo. This neighborhood is particularly popular among digital nomads and younger travelers. You’ll find more affordable accommodations, co-working spaces, and a variety of dining options. The area is still developing but offers a more laid-back atmosphere.

Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve: If you’re an eco-conscious traveler looking for an adventure, staying near the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve is a fantastic choice. While not a traditional neighborhood in Tulum, it offers eco-friendly lodging options that allow you to be close to nature. Expect activities like bird-watching, kayaking, and exploring the mangroves.

Best hotels and resorts in Tulum

Tulum has a diverse range of accommodation options, catering to every travel style and budget. At the high end, you’ll find luxurious beachfront resorts and boutique hotels situated along Tulum Beach, where you can indulge in rooms with ocean views, spa services, and fine dining. These often come with private beach access, yoga classes, and wellness retreats, giving you a slice of paradise at premium rates.

For budget-conscious travelers, Tulum Pueblo provides hostels and budget hotels that offer a more authentic Mexican experience at affordable prices. Mid-range options include boutique hotels and B&Bs that often combine comfort with cultural aesthetics.

Here are the best hotels and resorts in Tulum with nightly prices and star ratings:

Conrad Tulum Riviera Mayafrom $2899.0/10
Botanica Tulumfrom $45 9.5/10
Howlita Tulumfrom $659.1/10
Hotel Shibarifrom $2489.6/10
Naj Tulumfrom $919.4/10
Little Gem Hotel from $689.2/10
Hotel Muaré & Spa Tulumfrom $4019.2/10
Layla Tulumfrom $2709.0/10
Xaha Villas Suites & Golf Resortfrom $849.5/10
Hotel Boutique TerraNovafrom $4449.3/10

More Tulum hotels and accommodations:

Best restaurants in Tulum

tulum travel guide

Tulum is known for its vibrant food scene, offering a range of dining options to suit different tastes and budgets. The local cuisine is heavily influenced by Mayan and Mexican flavors, focusing on fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. You can expect to find dishes such as tacos, ceviche, grilled seafood, and international cuisine, such as Italian and Mediterranean.

In Tulum, dining is often an experience in itself, with many restaurants offering unique and intimate settings, such as beachfront dining or jungle-covered patios. The town center is also home to several food markets, where you can sample street food and local specialties.

Here are the best restaurants in Tulum that we recommend:

1. Hartwood

Hartwood serves farm-to-table cuisine prepared in a wood-fired oven, elevating the essence of Mexican flavors. The ambiance is rustic and open-air, offering an authentic yet sophisticated dining experience. You can expect dishes that are a marriage of local ingredients and culinary expertise. Prices range from $20 to $50 per dish.

2. Arca

Specializing in contemporary Mexican cuisine, Arca provides an atmosphere that blends seamlessly with Tulum’s jungle vibes. The use of local produce and a wood-fired cooking method make for a flavorful and unique culinary journey. Prices range from $20 to $40 per dish.

3. Gitano

With its mesmerizing Mezcal bar and live DJ sets, Gitano offers a modern take on Mexican cuisine in a tropical garden setting. Famous for its Mezcal cocktails and tapas-style dishes, this place offers a boho-chic ambiance perfect for a romantic evening. Prices range from $15 to $25 per dish.

4. Mur Mur

Focused on locally sourced ingredients, Mur Mur delivers a genuine Mexican culinary experience. This vegan restaurant offers a creative plant-based menu with mushroom ceviche, jackfruit tacos, and cashew-based ice cream. Enjoy the cozy outdoor setting and daily specials. Prices range from $10 to $20 per dish.

5. Antojitos la Chiapaneca

Known for its budget-friendly tacos and local street food, this spot offers a no-frills, authentic Mexican experience including tacos, quesadillas, and sopes. Perfect for those looking to indulge in Tulum’s culinary roots without breaking the bank. Prices range from $3 to $10 USD per dish.

6. Taqueria La Eufemia

A laid-back beachfront taqueria, La Eufemia offers delicious tacos, burritos, and cocktails. with a view. It’s the epitome of casual dining, capturing the essence of Tulum’s relaxed beachside atmosphere. Try their fresh seafood tacos or the crispy shrimp tacos. Prices range from $5-$15 USD per dish.

7. Burrito Amor

Offering a health-conscious twist on classic Mexican favorites like burritos and bowls, Burrito Amor has a casual, modern environment that appeals to both locals and tourists. Enjoy vegetarian and vegan options, along with homemade sauces and salsas. Prices range from $8 to $15 USD per dish.

8. Casa Jaguar

Set in the jungle, Casa Jaguar offers a unique, open-air dining experience. Enjoy live music and a laid-back jungle atmosphere! The menu is a blend of Mexican and Asian influences, making it an exotic culinary treat. Prices range from $20 to $50 USD per dish.

9. Mezzanine

This restaurant offers a Thai-Mexican fusion overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Perfect for those looking for an international twist while enjoying the idyllic beachfront setting. Prices range from $20 to $40 USD per dish.

10. Rosa Negra

Combining Latin American cuisines in a luxurious setting, Rosa Negra offers dishes like ceviche and wagyu beef with a side of opulence. Its vibrant atmosphere and chic decor make it a hot spot for those looking to dine in style. Prices range from $20 to $50 USD per dish.

Tulum Travel Costs

tulum travel guide
Roberto Nixon

The cost of visiting Tulum can vary greatly depending on your travel style, but it is generally considered a more expensive destination within Mexico, especially when compared to other tourist spots like Cancun or Playa del Carmen.

While Tulum offers options for different budgets, it leans toward the more expensive side. Increasing popularity and a focus on eco-conscious, boutique, and luxury experiences have driven prices up in recent years.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the costs for one person (in US dollars). Please note that this is only an example and is based on our personal trips:

Airport transfer$70-$100 one way
Local taxis within Tulum$5-$10 per ride
Bicycle rental$15-$20 per day
Car rental$40-$70 per day
Luxury Resorts$300-$1,000 per night
Mid-range Hotels$50-$150 per night
Hostels$20-$40 per night
High-end restaurants$65-$100 per meal
Mid-range dining$20-$40 per meal
Street food/local eats$5-$10 per meal
Entrance to Tulum Ruins$5-$10
Sian Ka’an Tour$50-$100
Snorkeling Tours$35-$70
Yoga Classes$10-$20
Drinks at upscale bars$10-$20 per drink
Drinks at local bars$4-$8 per drink
Travel Insurance$40
Sim card$15 (30 days unlimited)

Is Tulum a luxury destination?

Tulum has a diverse range of offerings that cater to various types of travelers, but it has increasingly become known as a luxury destination, particularly for those interested in boutique hotels, high-end dining, and exclusive experiences.

While you can still find budget options and a laid-back vibe, especially in Tulum Pueblo (the downtown area), much of Tulum’s global reputation has shifted toward eco-chic luxury, wellness, and a sort of “bohemian glamour.”

What are the best ATMs to use in Tulum?

Several well-known Mexican banks operate ATMs in Tulum. These tend to be more reliable and safer than independent machines, and they usually offer better exchange rates. BBVA, Banamex, HSBC, Santander, and ScotiaBank have a good number of ATMs around Tulum, especially in the town center (Tulum Pueblo).

Some ATMs in Tulum have a daily withdrawal limit, which might be lower than what you’re used to in your home country (around 9,000 pesos per day/$500 USD). If you need to make large withdrawals, you may have to do so over multiple days or find an ATM with a higher limit.

Travel Safety in Tulum

tulum travel guide
Austin Distel

Safety can be a concern for travelers anywhere, and Tulum is no exception. However, as with any tourist destination, it is important to take necessary precautions and stay aware of your surroundings.

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and theft, can occur in tourist areas, so it’s important to keep an eye on your valuables and be aware of your surroundings. Below are some safety tips for traveling to Tulum:

  • Avoid Isolated Areas: Stick to well-traveled areas, especially after dark.
  • Mind Alcohol Consumption: Excessive drinking can make you an easy target for crime.
  • Beach Safety: Be cautious while swimming; riptides and currents can be strong.
  • Street Smarts: As in any destination, petty theft like pickpocketing can be an issue, especially in crowded places.
  • Drinking Water: It’s recommended to drink bottled or filtered water.
  • Food Safety: Stick to well-reviewed restaurants to reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses.
  • Mosquito Protection: Tulum is a tropical destination, so mosquito-borne illnesses could be a concern. Wear repellent and consider sleeping with a mosquito net.
  • Driving: If you’re renting a car, be cautious as road conditions and driving behavior may be different than what you’re used to.
  • Taxis: Use only reputable taxi companies or services recommended by reliable travel companies
  • Local Laws: Always respect local laws and customs.
  • Use Reputable ATMs: Preferably those affiliated with major banks.
  • Cash Handling: Don’t display large amounts of cash in public.
  • Hurricane Season: Be aware of the weather if you’re traveling during hurricane season (June to November).

While Tulum is generally safe, especially in the tourist areas, it’s important to stay informed and take precautions. Always check the latest travel advisories from your government and consider purchasing comprehensive travel insurance that covers health, theft, and cancellations.

FAQ: Tulum Travel Guide

Tulum is worth visiting depending on your travel preferences. If you don’t like crowded and touristy prices, this is not the right travel destination for you. If you like nightlife, fine dining, cafe culture, and small-town vibes, then Tulum is for you. Without participating in the hustle and bustle, Tulum is actually worth visiting because of the outdoor activities, incredible beaches, and well-preserved Mayan culture.

Tulum is special for its eclectic mix of experiences. It is one of the few places where you can explore ancient Mayan ruins in the morning, relax on a pristine beach in the afternoon, and dine in a chic, eco-conscious restaurant by evening. The town has a unique charm with its laid-back yet luxurious vibe, and its focus on wellness and sustainability adds to its allure.

Tulum attracts a diverse crowd, from backpackers to luxury travelers. It’s popular among those interested in history, nature, wellness, and culinary experiences. The town’s eco-friendly and boho-chic atmosphere also draws in a creative crowd, including artists, influencers, and digital nomads. Tulum is also famous for American Spring Breakers.

Tulum has become a social media darling, known for its photogenic beaches, trendy boutiques, and ‘Instagrammable’ hotels and restaurants. It offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and modern luxuries, making it a bucket-list destination for many.

No, it is not advisable to drink tap water in Tulum. Opt for bottled or filtered water to avoid the risk of waterborne illnesses. Many hotels and restaurants provide filtered water.

Pack lightweight, breathable clothing suitable for a tropical climate, including swimsuits, beach cover-ups, and sandals. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and high-SPF sunscreen. A reusable water bottle, mosquito repellent, and a small first-aid kit are also recommended.

YES, Tulum is always a great travel destination! You can travel to Tulum any time, but make sure to check the weather by month. November to March is the optimal months. From June to October is Tulum’s seaweed season so you will not enjoy the beaches during these months. If you are asking about “OK to travel” in terms of safety, always go to reliable travel resources and don’t just take opinions from people who don’t have experiences traveling to Tulum.

A minimum of 3-4 days is recommended to get a good sense of what Tulum has to offer. This will give you enough time to visit the ruins, enjoy the beaches, and explore some cenotes. However, many travelers find themselves captivated by Tulum’s unique atmosphere and choose to stay longer.

No, Uber is not allowed in Tulum. Local taxis and bike rentals are popular ways to get around, and some hotels offer shuttle services.

While Tulum is generally safe, it’s wise to exercise caution in less touristy areas, especially at night. Stick to well-traveled routes and don’t wander in neighborhoods where travelers don’t go. Unless you know someone who is living in Tulum, you can go anywhere without an issue.

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