Tulum – why you should visit

Visit Tulum! A unique destination in Mexico in Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula.  Tulum is famous for its Mayan Ruins and their strategic location on the limestone cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Tulum in its heyday could have had over 1600 people staying there in the royal city and it was a very important trading port.

Today it is one of the most visited Mayan sites in Mexico. Its drawcard is not only the Mayan ruins but the silvery sand beaches and laid back vibe. The local cuisine was a highlight as well.

Have you visited Tulum?

Are you travelling through the Yucatan Peninsula? We have written a comprehensive guide that covers all the states, what to do, where to go, where to stay and our hot travel tips. Read more here.

(Editor Update 2020)

Our guide will show you why you should visit Tulum, how to visit the ruins, where to stay, where to eat and what you can do.

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Where is Tulum in Mexico

Map of Tulum and its location in Mexico

Map of Tulum

 

Tulum is located in the state of Quintana Roo in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Travelling to Tulum from:

Cancun to Tulum distance: 131 km

Playa del Carmen to Tulum distance: 68 km

Merida to Tulum distance: 259 km

Campeche to Tulum: 432 km

Tulum City Map

Tulum City Maps

Where To Stay in Tulum: Our Top Recommendation

We stayed outside of the town of Tulum in the Zona Hotelera Tulum at the 3 star Posada Punta Piedra at Carretera Km 4 Av Boca Paila Tulum.  With its own private beach, comfortable stylish accommodation and centrally located for local restaurants and bars we would definitely return. The 10 room boutique hotel offers an outdoor pool, jacuzzi and restaurant.

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How To Visit The Tulum Ruins

The Mayan Ruins are the top tourist destination in Tulum and there are many many busloads of tourists from all over descending on the site every hour.  We had two attempts in visiting.  The first attempt we planned for mid-morning and the queues were massive so we abandoned. The second attempt we were first in line at 8 am and had the ruins to ourselves for the first 40 minutes.

There are 60 buildings to visit within the site.

Pro-Tips

  • Be the first to arrive when the gates open at 8 am.
  • Make sure you have plenty of water, sunscreen and insect repellent

 

You can prebook a full-day tour from Cancun to visit Tulum with ‘skip the line tickets’ with lunch at the beachside and a qualified English speaking guide. Click here for more details
Mexico,Tulum Ruins

Happy to know we are the first to arrive

History of Tulum

Tulum was built by the Mayans in the late 13th century.  It was a seaport trading mainly in jewels such as turquoise, jade and obsidian. During this time a population of between 1000 to 1600 lived and worked here before its demise at the end of the 15th century by old world diseases brought in by the Spanish settlers.

 

Mexico,Tulum Ruins

The Castillo – Mayan Ruins Tulum

The castle or Castillo is perched on the edge of a 12-metre limestone cliff facing east towards the Caribbean Sea. El Castillo was a lighthouse guiding the ships into shore missing the treacherous reefs in the area.

 

Mexico,Tulum Ruins

Great Palace

The Great Palace was the residence of the most important people in Tulum at the time. Religious ceremonies were held in the sanctuary beside the building.

Mexico,Tulum Ruins

One of the many locals you see sunning themselves amongst the ruins

Facts about the Mayan Ruins:

  • It is one of the only walled cities built by the Mayans, there are three-walled sides the fourth being the Caribbean Sea.
  • The word Tulum in the Yucatec language means wall.
  • Tulum was called Zama meaning ‘dawn’ in the Mayan language.
  • The earliest date recorded on the site is A.D. 564.  This was found as an inscription on a stelae found on the site in the Temple of the Initial Series south of the Castle
  • The Castle is the tallest building on the site and was erected in several stages.
  • There is a small cove located at the foot of the Castle where boats would come ashore to ply their trade.
  • From Honduras to the Yucatan Peninsular the Mayans controlled all maritime movements during its hey day
  • The Mayans honored the Descending God or ‘diving god’
  • The site served as the seaport for the large town of Coba close by.
  • You can’t climb the ruins now

Can You Swim at Tulum

Normally you can head down to the beach for a swim and a great photo opportunity as you look up at the ruins along the coast but it will depend on the tides when you visit. The beach opens at 10 am.

How long do you need to visit the Tulum Ruins

We spent 1.5 hours wandering through the ruins with iguanas crossing our paths and mosquitos hungry for our blood. Ensure you have insect repellent.

Is Tulum Touristy?

Tulum is definitely touristy.  The busiest tourist time is between January and March.

When is the Best Time to Visit Tulum

The hurricane season is between June and October. The best time to visit is between October and January just before the busy tourist season.

How many days do you need to visit Tulum

You will need to allocate at least half a day to visit the Ruins and then a couple of more days to visit the cenotes and the beaches.

Is Tulum safe to visit?

Tulum is safe to visit. As in all locations around the world be careful with your personal belongings at all times.  We would recommend not walking the beaches alone in the evening.

Visiting Tulum Ruins:

Entrance costs to the ruins in 2020  MXN 65 = USD 3-4. You can only purchase tickets with Mexican pesos. There is no ATM in the site. If you have USD the locals will be keen to exchange for you at a rate that favours them.

There is a small fee charged for camera equipment

Opening hours 8 am to 5 pm

Address: KM230 Carretera Federal 307 Cancun Chetumal Tulum Quintana Roo

Travel To Tulum

Getting to Tulum Mexico has many options:

Round Trip Transfers from Cancun Airport

Making a day of it from Playa del Carmen with a visit to the ruins, swim in the Hilarios Cenote and see the sea turtles and reefs in the beaches. Click here for more details.

Travel by local bus from Cancun or Playa del Carmen – for schedules and ticket prices.

Taxis are also available from hotels and towns e.g. from Playa del Carmen USD30

If you are staying around Tulum hotels offer bicycle rentals.

From the carpark, at the ruins, you do need to walk around 500m to the entrance gates.  There is a small shuttle train that will take you for MXN 20 or USD1.

Flight Deals

For the latest flight deals compare prices on Skyscanner here:

Travelling from the USA – click here

Travelling from the UK – click here

Travelling from Australia – click here

Travelling from the rest of the world – click here

 

Travel Insurance

We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.

If you are located in Australia or New Zealand click here for the latest quotes.

If you are located in the rest of the world click here for the latest quotes.

Tulum Mexico – Things To Do:

There are many reasons to visit Tulum.  More Tulum Mexico tours available are:

Best Tulum Hotels

There are two areas to stay in around Tulum – the beach area or the town itself.  We will cover both options for you here.

Beach Side

Posada Punta Piedra at Carretera KM 4 Av. Boca Paila, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico. A 10 room hotel with private beach, swimming pool and restaurant.  This is our favourite.

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Coco Tulum located on the road to Boca Paila Km 7. The 17 room hotel offers a private beach, day spa and activities such as windsurfing, scuba diving and snorkelling.

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Diamante K located at Km 2.5 Carretera Tulum Ruinas – the hotel offers a private terrace for all rooms and activities such as fishing and snorkelling.

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City

Elements Tulum Boutique Hotel at Calle Sol Oriente Avenida Coba y Calle Escorpion. This 4 star 18 room hotel has an outdoor pool and free WiFi.

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Kaab Tulum at Calle Sol Oriente offers an outdoor pool and free WiFi.

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Hotel Posada 06 Tulum located at Calle Andromeda Oriente entre Gemini sur e satelite sur. This 3 star 12 room hotel offers an outdoor pool and jacuzzi.

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Airbnb Tulum Mexico

Tulum has a range of Airbnb properties.

 

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