Mesmerising with its white sand beaches and fascinating with its bohemian vibe, Tulum is one of the most trendy vacation destinations out there! If you’re looking for a comprehensive Tulum travel guide that will answer all your questions, look no further!
Without a doubt, Tulum deserves a place on your Yucatan itinerary! Whether you want to just relax or spend your vacation exploring and adventuring, the many exciting things to do in Tulum will keep you well entertained.
Some of the best experiences that you should definitely include in your Tulum Itinerary are swimming in the incredible Tulum cenotes, visiting the ancient ruins of Tulum perched on an imposing cliff and dancing your way through the night in one of Tulum’s best beach clubs.
This ultimate travel guide to Tulum will cover all that, and also where to stay in Tulum, whether it should be Tulum beach or the town, tips on getting to Tulum and how to get around Tulum, the best time to go to Tulum and many more Tulum tips to make planning a trip to Tulum a breeze!
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Quick Tulum Travel Guide
If you’re in a rush, here are the main things to know about Tulum Mexico:
✈️Arrival Airport – Cancun International
🚕Book your private transfer from Cancun to Tulum
🚗Need a car? Use Discover Cars for the best deals
💰Currency – Mexican Pesos MEX ($1 is 20 pesos)
⏰Time Zone – GMT-5
🔌Electricity – US Type A plug
🇲🇽Visa – Most travellers (from Europe, the US, and Canada) don’t need a visa
🛕Best Chichen Itza tour from Tulum
Where is Tulum?
Where is Tulum located? Tulum is situated on Yucatan Peninsula, southwest of Cancun, in the state called Quintana Roo. Below are distances to some of the nearby cities:
Tulum to Cancun | 131 km or 81 miles (under 2 hours drive)
Tulum do Playa del Carmen | 65 km or 40 miles (under 1 hour)
Tulum to Valladolid | 102 km or 63 miles (1.5 hours)
Tulum to Merida | 259 km or 161 miles (3.5 hours)
Tulum town is actually located about 7 km away from the beach, which is important to remember when choosing where to stay in Tulum. Unfortunately, no public transport connects Tulum Pueblo with the coast. The most popular modes of transportation in Tulum are bicycles and scooters.
What’s the Best Time to Travel to Tulum Mexico?
In this part of the ultimate Tulum travel guide, you’ll find out all the best times to come to Tulum!
What’s the best time to visit Tulum Mexico? For the best weather conditions, visit Tulum during the high tourist season (also the dry season), which runs between December and April.
Tulum in December
December is one of the coolest months of the year, with Tulum temperature averaging around a pleasant 24 degrees Celcius (75 F) between day and night. The rainfall in December averages under 100 mm, and December also experiences relatively low humidity and plenty of sunshine, making it the best month to go to Tulum.
And this is why December is one of the busiest periods for visiting Tulum, with many travellers taking advantage of the Christmas holiday period. December is also one of the most expensive months for Tulum Mexico vacation, with prices being inflated by the high demand.
Tulum in January, February, March & April
The period between January and April is what’s considered to be the high season in Tulum. This period receives the least rain in the year, and that’s why it is the best time to visit Tulum Mexico. Most people will plan their Tulum vacation in these months, so make sure you book your accommodation and things like car rental in advance.
Tulum in May – The Best Month To Visit Tulum
Considered shoulder season – May is the best time to go to Tulum Mexico, for the best accommodation rates and to avoid the high-season crowds. May receives just over 100 mm of rain, which is double the amount from April but still only half of the rain averages of the rainy season.
Tulum in September & Tulum in October
Tulum rainy season begins in June and lasts until October, with June, September and October being the rainiest months of the year, receiving over 200 mm of rain.
The period between September and October is also a hurricane period. Due to being sheltered by the Yucatan peninsula, a hurricane hitting Tulum is a highly unlikely scenario, but if it was to happen, it’s going to be in those two months. And for that reason, this is the best time to travel to Tulum Mexico, on a budget, with many hotels and tour companies offering fantastic discounts.
Tulum in November
Another excellent time for Tulum holidays is November, which is a shoulder season month and the first month right after the rainy season and before the festive season crowds that arrive in December. Tulum Mexico in November experiences similar weather to May with slightly cooler temperatures. November is also an excellent period for grabbing discounted rates on Tulum hotels and tours.
How to Get to Tulum?
In this part of the Tulum Travel Guide, you’ll find out how to get to Tulum from other popular destinations in Yucatan, such as Cancun, Valladolid, Bacalar and Holbox.
Cancun Airport to Tulum
So, how do you get to Tulum from the airport? The most convenient way of getting from Cancun Airport to Tulum is booking a private transfer. A private airport shuttle is a door-to-door service, with a driver waiting for you at the arrival lounge and taking you directly to your hotel in Tulum.
Another excellent way of getting to Tulum from Cancun is booking a car through a reputable car rental comparison website such as DiscoverCars with an airport pick-up. Having your own mode of transport will give you a lot of flexibility to visit the incredible cenotes located near Tulum and make other exciting day trips, such as Valladolid from Tulum, Chichen Itza, and Coba ruins.
Another excellent way of travelling in Yucatan is with ADO buses, especially for travellers on a budget. ADO buses are modern, very reliable and also highly affordable. ADO runs regular daily bus services on the most popular connections, such as Cancun to Tulum, Tulum to Bacalar, Playa del Carmen and Valladolid.
I recommend booking your ADO bus ticket at least 2-3 days before your trip, as they are usually very popular and can fill up quickly. Use the BookaWay site, which is the most convenient and secure website for booking international bus and train tickets. ADO also has an online booking facility; however, you can only access it from Mexico, and it requires a Mexican payment card.
You can also go old-school and simply pop into the ADO bus terminal Tulum to get your bus tickets.
ADO Tulum bus stop location
ADO Bus from Cancun to Tulum
Multiple ADO Tulum to Cancun buses per day connect Cancun Airport or Cancun Downtown with Tulum. The first departure from Cancun airport is at 10:30, and the last is at 21:25. The earliest arrival at Cancun Aiport is at 09:15, and the latest arrival is at 18:10. If your flight is outside of these times, you will need to book a private transfer.
Ticket cost | $12 to $20 per person, each way.
Trip time | 2.5 hours.
ADO bus Tulum to Cancun schedule.
ADO bus Cancun to Tulum schedule.
Playa Del Carmen to Tulum
Playa del Carmen is an excellent destination for a day trip from Tulum, with multiple connections running throughout the day. The first ADO bus from Tulum to Playa del Carmen leaves at 8:15 in the morning and the last at 20:00. If you’re travelling the other way, you can take the ADO bus to Tulum from Playa del Carmen between 11:05 and 22:00.
Ticket cost | $6-$7 per person, each way.
Trip time | about 1 hour.
Merida to Tulum
Merida Tulum bus trip takes almost 6 hours, and there are five scheduled buses per day – three in the morning starting at 6:30 am, 8:47 am and 11:47 and, and one in the afternoon at 16:47 pm. Since there are only five services per day, make sure to book your bus ticket 1-2 days in advance.
Ticket cost | $30 per person, each way.
Trip time | 5.5 hours.
Valladolid to Tulum
How to travel to Tulum Mexico, from Valladolid? Well, it’s super easy! The ADO bus terminal is situated a few minutes walk from the city’s main square. Ten ADO buses go to Tulum per day, and the trip takes just under three hours. You can also find Occidente buses on this route; however, ADO buses are faster and much more comfortable.
You can also take an ADO bus Tulum to Valladolid. It costs the same, and there are 12 connections per day.
Ticket cost | $11 per person, each way.
Trip time | 2 hours 45 minutes.
Bacalar to Tulum
Bacalar to Tulum route is very popular, and there are 15 first-class buses and two-second classes per day. Always choose the first-class bus on longer routes. They only cost a few extra dollars but are way more comfortable.
ADO Tulum Bacalar buses leave 16 times per day.
Ticket cost | from $18 per person, each way.
Trip time | 2 hours 50 minutes.
Holbox to Tulum
If you’re travelling to Tulum from Holbox, the first step is to take a ferry from Isla Holbox back to the mainland. The port town for arrivals from Holbox is called Chiquila. If you walk a few minutes along the main road from the port, on your right, you will find an ADO bus terminal, where you can catch a direct bus to Tulum. There are five services per day.
Holbox ferries operate every 30 minutes and cost 220 MEX ($11) one way.
Ticket cost | $11 ferry + $28 bus.
Trip time | 3 hours 40 minutes.
How to Get Around in Tulum?
In this section of the Tulum Travel Guide, you will find out how to travel around Tulum.
Renting a Car in Tulum
I normally only advise pre-booking car rental online during the high season, but in the case of Mexico, it is super important that you get your booking through a reputable car rental service such as Discover Cars and opt for full cover.
The car rental price, including full coverage, which I recommend, can vary from $20 to $60 per day, depending on car rental duration, whether it’s high season or not, age and origin of the driver.
You can either pick up your car right at the airport in Cancun or rent it out later on with delivery to your hotel in Tulum. Most hotels in Tulum provide free parking.
Scooter Rental in Tulum
You can also rent a scooter in downtown Tulum. Ask your hotel for a recommendation or check the nearest scooter rental shops near where you’re staying. Expect to pay 500 to 900 pesos per day ($25 – $45), and don’t forget to ask for a discount if you’re renting for more than one day. Riding a scooter around Tulum is relatively easy as the roads are wide and not too busy.
Scooters are suitable for short routes and trips that take less than one hour each way, such as Tulum downtown to Tulum Beach, Cenote Calavera, Gran Cenote and Kaan Luum Lagoon. Coba, which is situated 47 km away from Tulum, is already a little too far for a motorbike trip.
Also, make sure you are a confident motorbike rider! Mexico is probably not the best place to ride a scooter for the first time!
Check if your driving licence allows you to ride a scooter and, if so, what size. This will vary depending on your country. I, for example, owe a full UK driving licence, which gives me the right to ride motorbikes and scooters up to 125cc.
Another thing to check is your insurance. Make sure your travel insurance covers you when you have an accident on the scooter. Injuring yourself on a scooter is one of the most common reasons for hospital admissions for tourists abroad! Travel insurance typically covers motorbikes up to 125cc, but don’t rely on this information and verify your own insurance contract.
Bike Rentals in Tulum
Another very common mode of transport in Tulum is a bicycle. Renting a bicycle can be a very pleasant way of exploring Tulum Pueblo and getting to the beach from downtown while getting in some workout!
If you’re super active and have the time, you can also cycle to some of the Tulum cenotes, such as Gran Cenote and Calavera. Some hotels offer free bicycle rentals to their guests, but if yours doesn’t, expect to pay 200 pesos per day ($10).
Taxis in Tulum
Taxis in Tulum are plentiful, but the taxi drivers are notorious for overcharging tourists, so it’s entirely up to you if you want to deal with it or not. I personally use taxis as a last resort only and always absolutely always agree on a price before I get into the car.
Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, UBER drivers were not allowed in Tulum.
Where to Stay in Tulum?
In this section of the Tulum Travel Guide, you will find all the best places to stay in Tulum.
Tulum Beach & Zona Hotelera
Tulum Beach, also known as Zona Hotelera, is hands down the best area to stay in Tulum and the fanciest one. Here, you will find yourself amongst the chic beach clubs, excellent restaurants and many interesting boutiques selling sustainable fashion, accessories and arts and crafts. Hotels in Zona Hotelera normally come with a private beach and are the most costly places to stay in Tulum.
If you want to be in the heart of Tulum’s nightlife and close to the awe-inspiring white-sanded beach, choose this part of Tulum.
Selina is the best hotel to stay in Tulum for socialising. It features private and dormitory rooms, various events and activities, coworking, yoga studios and a shared kitchen.
Tulum Town & Aldea Zama
If you’re looking for where to stay in Tulum on a budget, this section is for you. Tulum town centre is actually about 5 km away from the beach and is a perfect area of Tulum to find really affordable Tulum hotels.
Tulum centre (also known as Tulum Pueblo) is packed with excellent restaurants and cafes, great shops, scooters and car rentals and tour offices. Another advantage of staying in Tulum town is being close to public transport, which is ideal for those that want to do a few day trips from Tulum.
Aldea Zama is a new development just south of Tulum centre. It is one of the safest areas in Tulum to stay, and here you will find an excellent choice of brand-new, furnished apartments that often boast rooftop pools and their own fitness centre. Aldea Zama Tulum is often favoured by travellers that stay in Tulum longer term. The area is still expanding, but it already has many superb places to eat and some interesting shops.
The property features stylish & fully equipped apartments, some of which come with a hot tub or plunge pool. Xperience also features a shared pool area and a fitness centre.
Tulum Beach North & Akumal
North of Zona Hotelera, you will find public beaches of Tulum, such as Playa Paraiso Playa Las Palmas.
The northern beaches are equally stunning, and the Tulum hotels here are, for some reason, much cheaper than hotels in Zona Hotelera. Of course, these hotels are nowhere near as affordable as hotels in Tulum town or apartments in Aldea Zama, but if you really want to stay by the beach, here you will find some good deals.
Akumal is located 27 km north of Tulum town, and it’s famous for its white-sanded beaches, excellent snorkelling spots and incredible marine life, including a large colony of sea turtles. Akumal is also known for its epic all-inclusive resorts, which are way more affordable that the few all-in resorts that you can find in Tulum.
Set on Playa Paraiso, Ikal hotel features a range of beach boho-style suites, bungalows and treehouses. Some of the best ones come with a private plunge pool and ocean view.
Best Things To Do in Tulum
In this section of the Travel Guide Tulum, you will find all the best things to do in Tulum. But if you need more information, read the full post.
Swim In Tulum Cenotes
One of the best things to do in Tulum is swimming in its many cenotes! Cenotes are sinkholes filled with water, and some of them are millions of years old!
In the Mayan culture, cenotes played an important role. They were not only the main water supply for the local communities, but they were also sacred places of worship for the Mayans.
There are hundreds of cenotes in Yucatan and a great selection of cenotes near Tulum that you must include in your itinerary while visiting Tulum.
Some of the best cenotes to include in your where to go in Tulum list are Gran Cenote, which boasts crystal clear water and a colony of tinny turtles, the unique Cenote Calavera, famous for its Insagrammable ladder that leads to the cenote pool and Casa Cenote – perfect for kayaking.
Tour The Instagram Spots Of Tulum
If you love taking photos in famous locations, you will love Tulum! Here you will find epic places that went viral on social media platforms, such as the Instagram-famous giant wooden sculpture – “Ven A La luz”, a road sign located along the Zona Hotelera road that says “Follow That Dream” or the cute Matcha Mama cafe that makes the most delicious and pretty smoothie bowls in Tulum!
If you want to learn about all the Instagrammable spots in Tulum, read the full guide, which includes locations, the best time to visit and even photography tips.
Visit Tulum Ruins
The ruins are what’s left of the 16th-century walled Mayan settlement that today is the best preserved coastal Mayan town and one of the best Tulum places to visit for history enthusiasts. Perched high on the 12-meter tall cliff, with incredible panoramic views over the Caribbean Sea, Tulum ruins are a delight to see, even if you’re not the biggest history fan.
Best Day Trips From Tulum
This section of the Tulum vacation guide includes the best day trips to consider while doing Tulum trip planning.
Visiting one of the New World Wonders – Chichen Itza is a must-do while staying in Tulum! You can either rent a car and visit independently or take a group or private tour.
Chichen Itza is one of the most incredible historic sites in the world and the most important Mayan heritage. Over 1400 years ago, Chichen Itza was a very powerful Mayan city that boasted architectural superiority and a robust economy.
The biggest structure of Chichen Itza is the Kulkulan Pyramid (also known as El Castillo) which sits in the middle of the large square and served the Mayans as a giant calendar!
The temple has 365 steps representing days in the year and four sides representing four seasons. The Mayan leaders used the pyramid to teach common people when to plant seeds and harvest crops.
If you’re curious about finding out more about it, make sure you come to visit with a local guide that will provide a context to the structures and ruins you see.
Apart from being an excellent base for visiting the mighty Chichen Itza and cenotes, Valladolid is a great destination in its own right. Picture quaint churches, pastel-painted buildings lining the colourful streets, and tranquil parks where you can taste some of the best street food and watch the local, laid-back vibe.
Some of the best things to do in Valladolid include an afternoon stroll along the La Calzada de Los Frailes, a stunning light show at the Convento de San Bernardino de Siena and visiting the exquisite Valladolid’s church – Iglesia de San Servacio.
Suytun is a cavern cenote, boasting an incredible cave and a small opening in the cenote ceiling that is located directly over a circular platform in the middle of the cenote pool.
If you visit the cenote around midday, on a sunny day, an incredible light beam illuminates the platform creating an extra-terrestrial sight! The image of Suytun is super famous on social media platforms!
Cenote Suytun Mexico is also unique for its stunning stalactites hanging from the ceiling.
Cenote Suytun is located 94 km away from Tulum, but you can easily combine it with visiting Chichen Itza.
Combine the Chichen Itza Tour with Instagram-famous Cenote Suytun!
Taking a one-day sailing trip to Isla Mujeres is another fantastic activity and one of the best things to do around Tulum Mexico. Isla Mujeres is renowned for its relaxed vibe, pristine beaches and rich fauna and flora.
Catamaran Tour to Isla Mujeres
If Chichen Itza wasn’t even to satisfy the ancient ruins explorer in you, then you should also visit Coba ruins. Coba was another important Mayan settlement that dates back to AD 600–900.
The site’s main pyramid – Nahoch Mul is the tallest pyramid in the entire Yucatan Penisula, measuring 42 meters, which is even more than El Castillo at Chichen Itza. And the best part is that you can still climb its 120 steps!
Private Coba Tour from Tulum + Tulum Ruins
Tulum Guide to Eating, Drinking & Shopping
Tulum Travel Guide To Best Restaurants
If you’re a foodie, you’re in for a treat, as Tulum has some of the best incredible restaurants and cafes! The two best areas for food in Tulum are Zona Hotelara and Tulum town.
Best restaurants in Zona Hotelara:
Ziggy’s, Rosa Negra
Best Restaurants in Tulum Town:
El Bajon Vegan Tacos
Sabor de Mar
Tulum Travel Guide To Shopping
If you’re planning to do some shopping in Tulum, you can either find shops along the main road through Zona Hotelera or in Tulum city centre. Here are some of the best shops in Tulum:
Mixik | Hand-made souvenirs & home decor: blankets, table clothes, glasses, clothes, wooden artwork, crafted children’s toys.
Mexicarte Tulum | Lucha libre action figures and masks, wall ornaments, magnets, and children’s toys.
Organic Beauty Shop La Madre Tierra | A wide selection of organic, natural products and zero-waste toiletries.
Pura Vida Tulum | Organic & unique fashion and accessories.
Tulum Travel Guide To Nightlife
One of the things you must do in Tulum at night is to experience its lively Tulum nightlife scene! Tulum is famous for having some of the best bars and clubs where you can party until dawn and have the time of your life.
Whether you’re staying in the fancy Tulum Beach Zone or the town centre, it doesn’t matter because both areas boast excellent nightlife! Here are some of the best bars and clubs:
Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar (Tulum town) | One of the best bars in Tulum pueblo with live music & craft drinks.
Naná Rooftop Bar | (Tulum town) great rooftop, quality cocktails made of homemade juices and herbs.
Papaya Playa Project | (Tulum Beach) Saturday & full moon parties.
Todos Santos Bar | (Tulum Beach) personalised cocktails made from scratch.
Confessions | (Tulum Beach) DJ Sessions & a fantastic place to go party.
Tulum Packing List
While this Tulum travel guide has no space for a complete packing list, here are some of the things you should have with you for travel in Tulum.
Things to pack for Tulum:
More Tulum Travel Guide Tips
In this last section of the Tulum travel guide, you’ll find more handy tips and some frequently asked questions.
Trip To Tulum Cost
This is another tricky question, and your Tulum vacation cost will hugely depend on your budget and expectations.
Expect to pay at least $60 – $120 per night for a modest double room in Tulum town, away from the beach and from $300 to $500 per night for boutique accommodation by the beach.
In terms of the daily food budget for eating out, set aside between $30 to $50 per day, which is still fairly modest and obviously doesn’t include drinking.
For activities, expect to pay from $50 to $100 per day. Here are some examples of how much things cost:
Gran Cenote entrance fee – $25
Bicycle rental – $10 per day
Basic Chichen Itza tour – $75
Beach club minimum spend per person – $50 – $100
Is It Possible To Visit Tulum On A Budget?
Tulum is not really a budget travel destination, and visiting it on a so-called shoestring will be extremely hard. There are, however, a few things you can do to make your backpacking in Tulum trip more affordable.
Where Do You Fly Into For Tulum?
Does Tulum have an airport? The answer is no. Tulum does not have an airport; the nearest airport to fly to is the Cancun International Airport.
How Far Is Tulum From Cancun Airport?
There is 118 km (or 73 miles) from Cancun to Tulum, and the most convenient way of getting from the Cancun airport to your Tulum hotel is by booking a private transfer.
How Many Days in Tulum?
While this is always a tricky question to answer because it depends on your travel style and on how many places you want to explore, I’d say stay in Tulum for a minimum of 3-5 days.
3 to 5 days will give you enough time to spend on the beach and see the most famous Tulum landmarks, a few cute cafes and a couple of cenotes.
Definitely set aside one full day for visiting Chichen Itza and another half a day if you also want to explore a little lower-profile but equally incredible ruins of Coba.
Is Tulum Safe?
Tulum is generally safe for foreign travellers. However, there are a few things you should be aware of. Also, always check the up-to-date Tulum travel advisory before your trip.
ATMs in Tulum | Only use the supervised cash points that are inside the bank.
Car rental scams | Mexico has been known for car rental scams where they either add an astronomical insurance cover to your daily rental or try to blame you for damages you’re not responsible for. Use a reputable car rental service such as Discover Cars to protect yourself from scams.
Petty theft | This problem is no different from minor theft problems experienced in big cities in Europe or the US. Always be aware of your surroundings, and don’t leave your belongings unattended. Also, get travel insurance!
Drug cartels | Tulum does have a problem with drug cartels; however, you are very unlikely to be of any interest to them. Again, be aware of your surroundings and take a taxi back to the hotel if you go out at night.
What State Is Tulum In?
Tulum is located in Quintana Roo.
What Does Tulum Mean?
Tulum in the Mayan language means “fence”, and it takes its name after the walled settlement of Tulum, which ruins can be visited today.
What Are the Best Alternatives to Tulum?
If you would rather enjoy a stunning Caribbean beach in a little less pretentious setting, choose Isla Holbox. Holbox is much cheaper than Tulum and also has great nightlife.
Tulum Travel Guide Final Word
I hope you found this ultimate Tulum Travel Guide helpful and that you’ve got everything you need to plan your perfect Tulum vacation. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to use the section below or meet me on Instagram.