Everything You Need to Know About Visiting Tulum | Travel Guide


Visiting Tulum, Mexico


Lately it feels like everyone and their mother is going to Tulum, at least from New York City. I made plans to visit Cancun, Mexico for my cousin’s wedding and decided I needed to also see what all the hype in Tulum was about!


Keep reading for my travel guide to Tulum and Cancun – covering the best things to do, where to eat and more!


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Tulum Travel Guide






Tulum Travel Guide

Tulum is famous for its soft, white sandy beaches and laid back vibe. There are actually two parts to Tulum: the original sleepy town that has now boomed with restaurants, scuba shops and affordable hotels, and the beach strip.

You might hear locals refer to the town as pueblo and the beach as playa. The two are roughly 5km apart and easy to get between via cab or bike. The best hotels and fanciest restaurants are located on the beach but if you want authentic Mexico food, head into town.

Here’s a breakdown of everything I saw and ate while in Tulum along with helpful tourist information and advice on costs, things to do, where to stay and more!






Best Time to Visit Tulum

The best time to travel to Tulum is in during Mexico’s dry season from December to April. Expect higher prices and crowds, since it’s peak season and the beaches are at their best.

Rainy season starts in Tulum around June and lasts until roughly October. Weather wise, it’s pretty much a flat, windless 80 degrees all year.


How Long to Spend in Tulum?

We went to Tulum in mid December and the beaches were fantastic – I didn’t experience any of the seaweed issues that some friends had mentioned. The weather was extremely hot, about 90 degrees every day and I definitely got a deep tan.

I would recommend budgeting 3 to 4 days in Tulum. This is enough time to see the ruins, do a day trip or two if you want to and still have plenty of time to relax on the beach and sample the best restaurants.

 Read more:  8 of My Favorite Restaurants in Tulum






Where to Stay in Tulum

The high end resorts are located on Tulum beach, a long north to south strip of land with the best beach access. You actually have to walk through a hotel property in order to get to the beach as there aren’t public access points from the main road.

The best beaches (and the nicer, luxury Tulum hotels) are further south as the farther south, the beaches are smoother with less seaweed.


The best luxury hotels on Tulum Beach

1 | Dreams Tulum – When I first arrived, every cab driver asked if I was headed to Dreams Tulum as this is the luxury hotel in the area. Dreams Tulum is a luxury all inclusive with its own spa and views of the Tulum ruins along with scuba diving, amazing rooms and family friendly activities for the kids. Note: it’s not located on the beach strip.

Check rates: Hotels.comBooking.com | Read reviews: TripAdvisor


2 | Be Tulum – A five star resort at the end of the Tulum Beach strip and highly ‘Instagrammable’. Even if you don’t stay here, come around sunset for cocktails, sit at the bar swings and enjoy the atmosphere!

Check rates: Hotels.com, Booking.com Read reviews: TripAdvisor






The Best Eco Friendly Resorts in Tulum

Eco resorts are quite popular in Tulum and all of these hotels are stunning. Design wise, they blend high end materials with the surrounding beach & jungle for a “glam rustic” vibe. These are the most popular accommodation to stay in Tulum at the moment!

But, if you are the type to want strong wifi, 24 hour electricity and hot running water, eco-hotels are probably not for you. They do try to protect the environment after all!


3 | Papaya Playa Project – Rustic and minimalist, the property is made up of cabins facing the beach. Book the cabanas for private patios that open up right on the water.

Check rates: Hotels.comBooking.com Read reviews: TripAdvisor


4 | Nomade – Amazing decor, a calming spa and its own private section of the beach. Nomade is one of the best hotels on Tulum beach.

Check rates: Hotels.comBooking.com | Read reviews: TripAdvisor


5 | Azulik – No electricity, but gorgeous tree hut suites that overlook the ocean. You’ve probably seen this hotel all over Instagram! Outdoor showers and a great on site restaurant as well.

Check rates: Hotels.comBooking.com Read reviews: TripAdvisor






Best Tulum Budget Hotels

For budget friendly options, head into Tulum town. Prices are cheaper, rooms are clean and you can always head to the beach on your own!


6 | Ginger Tulum Hotel – Located right in Tulum town between the main strip and the bus station, each room is slightly different. Comfortable, modern decor, free breakfast and wifi.

Check rates: Hotels.com, Booking.com Read reviews: TripAdvisor


7 | Azura Boutique Hotel – Near the edge of downtown and a quick short ride from the beach. Free internet, comfortable rooms and an all around solid budget option.

Check rates: Hotels.com, Booking.com | Read reviewsTripAdvisor





How to Get to Tulum

Cancun International Airport is the main airport in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo and where most visitors will fly in. From the Cancun airport, it’s about a 90 minute drive south on the main highway to Tulum.

You can either take:

  • bus transportation
  • rent a car


Public Bus from Cancun to Tulum

If you’re on a budget, you can take the local bus, ADO.

Depending on your trip dates and flight schedule, there may or may not be a direct ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Tulum. If there isn’t a direct option, you can take the bus route to Playa del Carmen and transfer.


Renting a Car

Finally, you can rent a car to have total freedom to explore on your own. A car is really handy if you plan to stay in Tulum Beach and want to do day trips to visit the different cenotes without the heavy crowds.

To book, check out Sixt which typically offers the lowest car rental rates.






Getting Around Tulum

Once you’re in Tulum, you don’t really need a car!


Bikes in Tulum

If you’re staying on Tulum beach, you can get around to the different hotels and fancy restaurants by either walking or renting a bike. The bicycles for rent are simple, older bikes and make for a great workout!

If you want authentic tacos al pastor which I highly recommend, you’ll need to head into Tulum central, the actual town. It’s about a 20 minute car ride north east of Tulum beach.


Cabs in Tulum

Depending on where you are on the long strip of Tulum beach, a cab ride will cost anywhere from 70 to 150 pesos. Make sure to negotiate and settle on the price before you get in, although prices are generally fixed, especially for gringos (ha!).

Here are some rough guidelines for how much a cab will cost from central Tulum to the beach.

Top of Tulum beach (around Papaya Playa Project hotel) – 70 mexican pesos

Middle of Tulum beach (around Hartwood) – 90 – 120 mexican pesos

End of Tulum beach (around Be Tulum hotel) – 150 mexican pesos





Best Day Trips from Tulum

Popular day trips in the area include

  • Visiting beautiful, eerie cenotes to swim or scuba dive
  • Swimming with turtles in the ocena at Akumal
  • Seeing the ancient Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza

I highly recommend doing all of these – they were well worth it and highly unique! Where else can you swim with turtles for free, right in the ocean, without diving?


Other popular things to do in Tulum are visiting Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, notable for its mangroves; Coba and Vallodolid. I didn’t personally have time for these but would love to come back!

The most convenient way to see any of these is to book a tour as they take care of all the rental gear, include lunch and private transportation. There are lots of dive shops in the town of Tulum central which can arrange day trips to all of these spots and have special tours for diving in the cenotes, swimming with bull sharks, etc.


Tulum Tours






Tulum Colectivos

If you’re on a budget, you can very easily hop into a colectivo, which is a shared Mexican van that predominantly locals use. We did this for Akumal and to see the Tulum ruins and had no problems. I always like to see the way locals get around to be honest!

Make sure to get in a colectivo going the same direction you want to go and just tell the driver your destination. They know all the touristy ones like Dos Ojos Cenote, Akumal, etc although if you want to go to Chichen Itza that is much farther and you have to take a bus.

It also helps to “act like a local” in terms of knowing how much things cost. If you act like a tourist and have no idea how much things cost, they will definitely keep your change and overcharge you, ha.

Here is a general cost breakdown of colectivo fares starting from central Tulum town:

Tulum ruins | 15 min ride via colectivo and 20-25 pesos per person

Akumal | 30-45 min ride via colectivo and 35 pesos per person

Dos Ojos Cenote | 15 min ride and 20-30 pesos per person






Packing Checklist for Tulum and Things to Know Before You Go

My quick overview of the absolute essentials to pack for Mexico is below. For my complete packing guide including outfits and what to wear in Cancun, you can read my Mexico packing list.

Sunscreen | A must have wherever you go, I like to bring both a facial sunscreen and all over body sunscreen. For the face, this Japanese brand is my hands down favorite – it’s non greasy, affordable and non-tacky without any scent. For the body, I love this broad spectrum sunscreen which smells like coconuts and leaves your legs nice and glowy.

Bug Spray | There are definitely mosquitoes and bugs around so protect yourself from any potential viruses by bringing along some buy spray in advance. Look for a high level of deet in order to be effective and just make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after applying.

I use this spray if I’m in the woods or a forested area but for regular day time use, I’ve been loving these wrist bands. The bracelets contain a blend of insect repelling oil so you don’t have to apply bug spray directly on your skin. I usually get 2 – one for my wrist and one for the ankle otherwise the range of coverage doesn’t seem to extend across the full body.

Snorkel and Fins | if you plan to visit the cenotes or Akumal to swim with turtles, I definitely recommend buying your own set snorkel mask and fin set before you go.

Yes, there are rental places at each but you’ll end up paying a lot more to keep renting it at each cenote and again at the Akumal beach.. so why not get a brand new and more importantly CLEAN set of your own? After all the snorkel goes into your mouth!

I bought a set on Akumal beach and of course it’s marked up significantly so just buy your own on Amazon (like this inexpensive set here) before you go.

Hand sanitizer and wipes | I generally always pack these and definitely when there’s sand involved!

Cash | In general, Tulum is not a credit card friendly place and you will need cash for everything, even paying for hotels. ATMs are not the most reliable so make sure to get enough Mexican pesos before you go. Some fancier restaurants will accept US dollars.


 Read more:  What to Wear in Cancun, Mexico: Packing List, Souvenirs & More





Have you been to Tulum? Let me know in the comments if you have extra tips to add! 


Visiting Mexico – Travel Checklist

From New York City, you can easily grab inexpensive direct flights to Cancun. From Cancun International Airport, either rent a car or take the local bus to Tulum, Playa del Carmen and other popular cities. If you're visiting Puerto Vallarta or Mexico's West Coast, you may need to transfer in Georgia or Texas if traveling during low season. Check here for flight deals.

For hotel bookings, we relied on Booking.com. For more help with planning your vacation to Mexico, we love Lonely Planet's Mexico guidebook. The local advice for admissions, times, maps and pricing was pretty invaluable.

If you plan to scuba dive, kayak or swim – I recommend bringing along a GoPro to take some fun photos!

Finally, make sure to visit Mexico with travel insurance. Whether you get injured and need to be hospitalized, your phone gets stolen, or a flight delay leaves you with nothing but the clothes on your back, travel insurance will help when you need it most. Get a quote for your trip here.


 You Might Also Enjoy: 


Mexico Vacation Planning Articles

The Essential Mexico Packing Guide


Quintana Roo, Mexico

Travel Guide: Everything to Know Before Visiting Tulum and Cancun

All the Best Food to Eat in Tulum

Where to Stay in Playa del Carmen for the Best Vacation


Cabo & Puerto Vallarta 

The Essential Puerto Vallarta Travel Guide

Everything You Should Do in Cabo San Lucas


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  1. Joyce
    January 18, 2017 / 1:49 pm

    I spent wayy too little time there last time. I can’t wait to go back and really experience Tulum! Thanks for this guide!

  2. Tai Cobb Klam
    April 24, 2017 / 9:24 pm

    Do you recommend Be Tulum over Casa Malca?

    • Sher
      April 24, 2017 / 9:49 pm

      Hi Tai – im not familiar with casa malca sorry! But yes be tulum is a gorgeous hotel and one of my favorites on the beach strip

  3. Jenn
    August 3, 2017 / 9:58 pm

    Did you buy the black dress with colorful flowers in Mexico? My family will be leaving for cancun next week. Do you think a day trip to tulum would be doable and worth it?

    • Sher
      August 4, 2017 / 12:10 am

      Hey Jenn, no I bought online here: http://rstyle.me/cz-n/cgg876b6e2f

      Yes, a day trip is a great idea! But the drive is about 1.5 hrs each way so try to leave early in the morning to maximize the day!

  4. Kathryn
    September 7, 2017 / 4:28 pm

    Hi sher we have ten days and was wondering would this be too long to spend in tulum? Would you recommend splitting time between here and Akumel

    • Sher
      September 8, 2017 / 7:30 am

      Hi Kathryn, it depends on the kind of vacation you like but I think you might prefer seeing another town if you have 10 days. Akumel is famous for the turtles and makes for a good day trip! You can also check out chichen itza, coba, playa del carmen, isla holbox!

  5. Alyssa
    January 21, 2018 / 9:51 am

    Thanks for this great information! Headed to this beautiful town in Feb. Did you have trouble getting purified ice cubes and water at any of the restaurants in town?

    • Sher
      January 21, 2018 / 5:32 pm

      Hm I didn’t check for purified water/ ice to be honest!

  6. Alyssa
    January 21, 2018 / 9:53 am

    What’s the best way to travel from Cancun to Tulum. I’ve heard there are shuttle options, bus options, or rental car options. I am staying at an air B and B so a hotel shuttle isn’t an option I think. What would you recommend?

    • Sher
      January 21, 2018 / 5:33 pm

      Bus is the easiest and cheapest but if you want flexibility, you can rent a car. Just be careful police have been known to scam foreign drivers by asking for bribes

  7. Melissa Torres-Montoya
    February 8, 2018 / 1:27 pm

    Hi Sher,

    Thanks for your great guides! Some of your other guides have been so helpful in my own travels. Are the photos you chose to include in the hotel section from Dreams Tulum?

    • Sher
      February 8, 2018 / 1:54 pm

      Hi Melissa – Nope, those are actually old photos from my hotel in Cancun. Tulum was a really relaxing trip for me so I totally forgot to take pics!

  8. Helen
    April 3, 2018 / 8:44 pm

    Thanks for information…heading to Tulum in a few weeks. Can you please tell me where the bird graffiti wall was taken?

    Much Thanks!
    From Canada!

    • Sher
      April 4, 2018 / 11:16 am

      Hi Helen! It was somewhere along the beach!

  9. June 27, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    Hi Sher, nice article. I’ve also been in Tulum and it was a great place to be. But do you know what was confusing me as I saw this blog post for the first time? It was the title photo, for it is not the picture of Tulum but of Chichen Itza.
    Greetings from Germany

    • Sher
      June 27, 2018 / 3:51 pm

      Hi Max – glad you liked the article! Ha, actually you’re not the first person to tell me that about the photo. The reason is I did a day trip to Chichen Itza when I went to Tulum so I wrote one post about the trip and incorporated all my photos in this article.

      I guess I need to go back to Tulum and get a nice hero shot to update this post!

  10. Noelle Fernandes
    July 9, 2018 / 5:34 pm

    Hi We are heading to Tulum in a few weeks and would love your perspective on renting a condo in the Aldea Zama area. Most of the hotels on the beach are booked and we have two kids (teen and pre teen) so need more room. You have great taste so I would love to hear your POV on staying in those areas. Thanks

    • Sher
      July 9, 2018 / 5:57 pm

      Hi Noelle! Hm, I had to look up Aldea Zama on a map as I wasn’t aware of it. Looking at Google Maps, its about a 35 minute walk from the main street that runs through Tulum town. I think it’s a little far to be honest.

      The beach hotels are expensive and can fill up fast – perhaps you’d be interested in staying in Tulum town? There are lots of restaurants and shops in the main town, and also lots of cabs that you can hail to take day trips or a ride to the beach. I’m not sure that Aldea Zama is as convenient for a first time visitor (but again, haven’t been so if others recommend it then maybe it’s great!)

  11. ania
    February 1, 2019 / 3:22 pm

    oh, I need to visit Mexico, its such an awesome place, great photos

  12. Kim
    February 2, 2019 / 12:40 pm

    This article was very helpful, thank you! Regarding the best restaurants in Tulum, during our stay there we also visited NÜ restaurant and it was INCREDIBLE. We absolutely loved Tulum! The beaches, the cenotes, the ruins, the food…

  13. Andrea
    November 26, 2019 / 9:00 pm

    I love this! I’m planing a trip for my 40th birthday with my boyfriend… I’ve been doing my research on hotels, but I’d like to know, is there one you’d recommend for a more romantic trip? Thank you!

  14. Holbox Trip
    January 10, 2020 / 5:54 pm

    Thanks Sher for sharing about our beloved country! Greetings from Holbox, Mexico :)

  15. Connie
    February 12, 2021 / 8:40 am

    Do you recommend drinking water I heard it’s not how about water bottle

    • Sher
      February 14, 2021 / 2:15 pm

      No, don’t drink the tap in Mexico.

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