Tulum is also known as the ancient Mayan town where is rich in indigenous culture. Not too hustle and bustle like the city of Cancun which is just about 130 kilometers to the south of Cancún, but Tulum gives visitors moments of relaxation and peace on the smooth white sand beaches with emerald green water with pristine natural beauty along with magnificent limestone sinkholes called Cenotes. Discovering the town of Tulum will be an extremely memorable experience when it owns many stunning beaches along with the most luxurious resorts and bars located next to the beautiful Caribbean Coast. So, what to do and how to plan a budget perfect trip to Tulum, Mexico for the first-time visit? Let’s check out our Tulum travel blog (Tulum blog) with the fullest tulum mexico travel guide (Tulum mexico guide, Tulum travel guide, Tulum guide) from how to get there, best time to come, where to stay, best places to visit and top things to do to find out the answer!
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For those travelers who are looking for an emotional trip, love to explore ancient civilization and enjoying the feeling of lightness and peace in the wild natural scenery, exploring the town of Tulum will be a “extreme” choice.
Tulum mexico travel guide: Overview of Tulum
Tulum was a pre-Columbian Maya city and once play an important role as the main port of Coba city. This town is located on cliffs up to 12m high along the east coast of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. And Tulum is the last city built and inhabited by the Mayan people. Because of the best preservation, Tulum has become a worth visit and memorable destination for many tourists.
Unlike the festive atmosphere of the neighboring town of Cancun, Tulum gives visitors peaceful moments of relaxation by the white sand beaches and full of sunshine and sparkling water of the sea.
Tulum was the strongest city between the 13th and 15th centuries. It was a trading port and the only Mayan city built on the coast as well as one of the few cities surrounded with defensive stone walls. This makes the ruins here are best preserved.
Tulum Mexico travel guide: When to go?
The best time to visit Tulum town is from October to December every year. However, visitors can still travel to Tulum beyond the above time period with the advantage of being able to book cheap rooms and cheaper prices for other services.
Tulum travel blog: Transportation?
Although tourism in Mexico is highly developed, there is currently no direct flight to Tulum. Therefore, if you want to reach this town, you must fly to Cancun and continue traveling by bus of bus companies such as ADO, OCC, AU, Blablacar… for another 2 hours journey with tickets from $9/person before arriving in the beautiful town of Tulum. See bus schedules and routes here.
To getting around Tulum, the best way is to rent a bike.
In particular, most of the resorts and hotels here have transfer services at the airport. So, to avoid wasting time and costs, it is the best for you should ask for more information regarding this service when booking room. And note for first time visitors to Tulum, you should print the specific address of the hotel you will stay or confirm the hotel room number and given it to the driver to avoid confusion.
And always make sure your Tulum trip isn’t interrupted by money issues. You should exchange money first and hold cash when you traveling in Tulum because there are many ATMs not working here. The official currency of Mexico is the peso (Code: MXN). The exchange rate: 1 USD~20.3145 MXN.
Tulum guide: What to do and where to go?
Spend a day at a beach club in Tulum
There are more than 50 beachclubs along Tulum’s main beach. Spending an entire day at a beach club is one of the best things to do in Tulum. There are several public areas of the beach where you can lie down and sunbathe, enjoy cool sea breeze on a chair or a hammock with a fruit plate while sipping a cocktail and that’s the best thing.
The first destination that visitors should visit is the Cenote natural sinkholes. A cenote is a natural swimming hole which was formed by the collapse of porous limestone bedrock and exposes groundwater. Although the Yucatan Peninsula has absolutely no streams or rivers but the abundant groundwater here still flows steadily under the limestone slopes. From a sacred place, today the beautiful Cenotes have turned into fairytale places for tourists and locals to enjoy and immerse themselves in the cool, crystal water. And visitors can experience diving to admire the magnificent scenes underwater in these Cenotes. The most famous Cenotes that tourists can visit are: Gran Cenote, Cenote Cristal and Cenote Tankah.
One of the most famous sinkholes is the El Gran Cenote (also known as the Grand Cenote), about 3 kilometers from Tulum town via Coba and Chichen Itza located on the way to the Mayan ruins in Coba. The sinkhole includes large caves that enough for swimming, snorkeling and diving zones that allow you to see stalactites from very close distances.
There are many Cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula but Gran Cenote will be the perfect spot for you to delight in swimming in the cool water. The water here is so pure and extreme fresh that when you see it, you feel like it’s made of crystal. Lots of fish and turtles live in this cenote. Don’t worry, they are not shy at all so you can touch them easily while you are swimming here.
Dos Ojos Cave System
Visitors will love Dos Ojos (Spanish means “Two Eyes”), a system of submerged caves stretching up to 16 km in the north of Tulum and among the top 10 longest underground caves in the world. Dos Ojos owns the deepest cave in Quintana Roo with a depth of about 120 meters from the water surface. There is also a bat cave for travelers interested in adventure.
As an important archaeological site, Tulum has many ancient Mayan architectures that still exist today. Today these famous ruins include a castle located next to a cliff overlooking the deep blue Caribbean sea.
Traveling to Tulum, visitors do not miss the extremely famous place called El Castillo Temple. This is the temple that is best preserved when it is surrounded by a stone wall from before the 16th century. This attraction will be open from 8am, if you come early, you will have the opportunity to explore these ruins clearly without having to crowd in a quiet and peaceful space. In particular, visitors can encounter wildlife living around the temple such as birds, weasels, and Mexican spiny-tailed iguana. And for those who are passionate and love to learn the history of the temple and the history of this land, it is best to hire a guide to learn deeper.
Address: Zona Hotelera Tulum, Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Cycling through the forest in Coba
The Mayan ruins in Coba, about 40 minutes drive from Tulum, located in the jungle and that make the difference between the ruins in Tulum and other famous Mayan sites like in Chichen Itza or Uxmal. Coba will gives you the pristine feeling than elsewhere, although it has been discovered and restored a lot.
There are many bike rental shops here and you should rent a bike to explore Coba. You will find strange things when you cycling slowly through the forest that not everyone can see.
You will overcome many challenges, passing the vegetation is preserved for many years. You can also touch and climb up to the structures here and although that gives you a sense of disrespect to the historical sites, this is a great way to get the panoramic views of surrounding area.
Playa Paraiso beach (Paradise Beach)
This paradise beach is one of the most favorite destinations for tourists. It is one of the most famous beaches in Tulum and Mexico because the sea here possesses deep blue water, smooth white sand and along the coast are palm trees swaying in the wind, the scenery is very peaceful, poetic.
Visiting Tulum, visitors will be lost in the Sian Ka’an biosphere reserve. This place has been recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site since 1987 with an extremely rich and diverse eco system. The Sian Ka’an reserve is the common home of animals such as jaguars, flamingos, leopards, sharks, spider monkeys and more than 300 species of birds and many other animals.
Address: Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Area: 2,797 km²
Have fun at Papaya Playa Project
Tulum offers extremely wonderful and memorable experiences. If during the day you are immersed in the green natural scenery, at night is the time for visitors to “playing hard” at the vibrant bars located right next to the beach. And surely you cannot miss the opportunity to enjoy a sweet, romantic dinner by the romantic beach with super delicious food, super beautiful sea view and sparkling and attractive full moon night parties. Combining bare feet dance on smooth white sand to harmonize with the DJ’s faint music at the Beach Club at Papaya Playa Project, there is nothing more wonderful.
Address: Carr. Tulum-Boca Paila Km 4.5, Tulum Beach, Zona Costera, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
The Akumal small town near Tulum is famous for its large number of sea turtles. Visitors can come here during the day and snorkel to see turtles at close distances that you have never seen before.
Tulum mexico guide: Shopping
Tulum is also an ideal shopping destination. There are many budget shops that selling crafts, jewelry, leather goods and of course clothes. You can find any item here, from colorful dresses to stylish bohemian dresses.
Tulum Mexico travel guide: What and where to eat?
For those who love seafood, Tulum is definitely the best place for you. The seafood here is not only fresh but also extremely diverse. If you want to enjoy all kinds of seafood just step into any restaurant in Tulum to be able to enjoy the seafood party that you have longed for.
However, the night entertainment activities in Tulum town are closed quite early at about 10 pm, most of the restaurants, bars and entertaiment venues will close. Therefore, you should go to eat early.
After a delightful discovery, visitors can enjoy delicious dishes such as tacos, buckwheat noodles, smoothies and vegan burgers, Mexican cuisine … in restaurants.
El Camello Jr. (Address: Carretera Chetumal-Cancun Locales 1 y 2 Lte 3 Mza 40, Centro, 77600 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico/Hours: 11AM–9PM/Wednesday: Closed) is the ideal place for seafood lovers. The famous ceviche at this restaurant is full of shrimp, octopus and various types of fish.
In addition to seafood, you can also go to the budget Antojitos La Chiapaneca restaurant (Address: Calle Acuario Nte. 3, Tulum Centro, Tobiano, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico/Hours: 10AM–11PM/Monday: Closed) to enjoy the delicious Mexican-style Pork Tacos (Tacos Al Pastor).
Those who love meeting will not be able to miss Gitano Tulum (Address: Beach Road Km. 7, 77710 Q.R., Mexico/Hours: 6–11PM), a bar in the deep forest. This is the ideal place to enjoy a sip of delicate cocktails while dancing to the passionate techno rhythm.
More affordable, Ahau Tulum (Address: Carr. Tulum a Boca Paila Km. 7.5 Zona Costera, 77760 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico) is a bar that always attracting tourists with an interesting wooden doll burning event. Here, you have the opportunity to chatting with friendly indigenous people by the seaside.
Tulum travel guide: Where to stay?
Tulum also has many famous private hotels like Mezzanine with only 9 rooms. Guests will be served delicious coffee in the room, bathing in Yucatan-style bathrooms or delighted in diving at locations not far away.
Another option is Maya Tulum Retreat & Spa (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com), which offers a variety of sports activities, relaxation with fresh air on the Yucatan peninsula. Yoga is also a popular activity at Tulum, and Maya Tulum resort also offers yoga classes, using creative methods help visitors relaxing.
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- La Zebra Colibri Boutique Hotel, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $328/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- AZULIK Tulum, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $675/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Encantada Tulum, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $999/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $602/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
- Mi Amor Colibri Boutique Hotel, a top rated 5-star hotel with room rates from $299/night (Check rates on Agoda.com or Booking.com).
Tulum blog: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Tulum you can refer to
- Cenote Trail and Mayan Underworld Bike Tour from Tulum
- Tulum Ruins Early Access Private Tour
- Tulum Ruins, Reef Snorkeling and Cenotes Full Adventure Tour
- Native Park Zipline and Snorkel Adventure in Tulum
- Bacalar Lagoon Sailing Day Tour from Tulum
- Classic Tulum Bike Tour with Taco Lunch
- Tulum Ruins Tour and Snorkel Native Park Adventure from Cancun
- Tulum Ruins Tour and Tulum Native Park Experience from Cancun
- Tulum and Tankah Eco Adventure Small Group Tour
- Mayan Inland Expedition: Coba Ruins and Punta Laguna from Tulum
- Tulum Ruins Tour and Emotions Native Park ATV Experience from Cancun
Are you looking for more top things to do in Tulum: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out here. And Mexico travel blog — The fullest Mexico travel guide for a great budget trip for first-timers.