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Travel Guide North America Mexico Yucatan Peninsula Quintana Roo Tulum

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Introduction

Tulum ruins

Tulum ruins

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Tulum is located about an hour's drive south of Playa del Carmen, in the state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. The tourist destination is now divided into three main areas: the archaeological site, the pueblo (or town), and the zona hotelera (or hotel zone).

The archaeological site is relatively compact (compared with many other Maya sites in the vicinity), and is one of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites. Because it's located close to the Mexican Caribbean coastline (the so-called "Riviera Maya" surrounding Cancun) it's a popular destination for tourists. Daily tour buses bring a constant stream of visitors to the site throughout the day. The Tulum ruins are the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza. It is popular for the picturesque view of the Caribbean and it's great to jump in the sea after exploring the ruins.

The town is fairly small. You won't find much nightlife or souvenir shops, except for the main road that runs just behind the beach. Accommodation in Tulum is sparse; hotels are relatively expensive and often fully booked which makes your stay in Tulum somewhat exclusive. But Tulum does offer something special; idyllic white beaches and the warm Caribbean sea just outside your door.

A large number of cenotes are located in the Tulum area such as Maya Blue, Naharon, Temple of Doom, Tortuga, Vacaha, Gand Cenote, Abejas, Nohoch Kiin and Carwash cenotes and cave systems. If you're into to (cave) diving this is a must, but go with a certified guide. Also snorkelling or just going for a refreshing swim is very nice.

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Sights and Activities

Tulum is mostly known for its ruins, which strike an impressive image next to the sea, but were constructed during a time period of Maya culture that was waning. The site is notable for a small cenote, beautiful beach below the ruin laden cliffs and some well preserved stellae in only one of its structures. After visiting other ruins in the area such as Coba, Chichen Itza and Ek Balam, Tulum's main claim is the sea-side setting. It is best visited on a clear, bright day or at sunrise. Bring your swimming suit. At the time of writing, one of the best sections was closed to visitors and covered with plastic bottles and other refuse.

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Events and Festivals

Day of the Dead

Although the Day of the Dead is also celebrated in many Latin American countries except Mexico (and also in parts of Europe, Asia and Africa), the Day of the Dead (Spanish: Día de los Muertos) is most intensily celebrated in Mexciowhere where it is equal to a National Holiday. The holiday focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember friends and family members who have died. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, in connection with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day (November 1) and All Souls' Day (November 2). Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars honoring the deceased using sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed and visiting graves with these as gifts. Although it is about the Dead, it is also a celebration where eating and partying both are common as well.

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Weather

Tulum has a tropical climate with generally hot and humid weather. June to November is the rainy season when there is a chance of hurricanes as well. This is also the hottest season. December to April is slightly cooler and is the dry and sunny season. There are more crowds however during these months. Probably May and November are good months for a visit, with mostly fine weather and less people.

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Getting There

You can catch an ADO bus to Tulum directly from Cancun International Airport three times a day: 2:10PM, 7:45PM and 8:45PM. Ticket prices are about US$15. The ride will take about 2 hours.

You can also take the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen with departures nearly every hour for about US$12. Once in Playa del Carmen you transfer to a second bus to Tulum for an additional US$5.

Rental cars are priced reasonably and are the easiest way to get around the Tulum area. Shop around rates upon arrival, and feel free to haggle. Check with your credit card company to see if they automatically insure you, most do so you don't have to pay the additional insurance that the rental agency often tries to insist you purchase. It is a very easy drive to Tulum. To get there you take the only highway south from Cancun Airport straight down past Playa del Carmen, Akumal, etc. About 90 minutes from the airport you will arrive in Tulum.

Many of the hotels in Tulum offer a pick-up service from the Cancun International Airport for an additional US$80-120 depending on the hotel.

You can also take a taxi from the airport from US$145.

If you drive yourself to the ruins before opening time, it may be a bit confusing as to where to go and what to do. As soon as you park, a man on a bicycle should find you and charge you for parking (M$50). You must go through a sort of half open-air mall (which is empty before 8AM). From there you can either sign up with a tour guide (US$20 per person), pay for a shuttle ride to the ruins (M$20), or walk a mile along a road to the ruins. The guides are reported to be better story tellers than actual experts on Mayan culture. The walk is on level ground and passes quickly as you admire the jungle and abandoned shops along the way. If you can walk it, do it and save a few bucks! As you approach a stone wall, to the left will be a brown wooden building where you can purchase your ticket into the ruins (M$51, an additional M$35 if they see that you have a video camera). From there, head along a stone path through the jungle and into the ruins.

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Getting Around

There seems to be a public bus which leaves Tulum Pueblo around 9:00am and noon and goes to the beach and ruins, and returns from there at 12:15PM and 5PM. Ticket prices should be around M$5 one way.

Collectivos run infrequently from the pueblo to the beaches (M$20).

Taxis are an inexpensive way to get around but for the most part, Tulum 'Pueblo' is so small that walking is a simple, though often dusty, option. Taxis from 'Pueblo' to the coast is M$70-90. It is advisable to either take a taxi or rent a bike when traveling between the 'Pueblo' and the beach, as the walk is rather long, dusty and unattractive. It is highly recommended to have Mexican pesos upon arrival, as taxi drivers may charge you more if you carry dollars only and pay in dollars. You can exchange money in the most banks upon arrival, too.

Bikes are available for rent from various shops in Pueblo. Iguana Bikes M$150-250 for 24 hours, Kelly M$100 for 24 hours. Bikes are a convenient way to get around town and to/from cenotes and the beach. Please be careful when riding a bike on the highway. Bring a headlamp/flashlight if biking at night.

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Sleep

The sleeping options have a poor price-performance ratio. In the zona hotelera (at the beach) really simple rundown cabanas with shared bath and without seaview are sold for M$550.

View our map of accommodation in Tulum or use the form below to search for availability (Travellerspoint receives a commission for bookings made through the form)

Booking.com

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Keep Connected

Internet

Internet cafe's are widely available and you generally can find one in the direct vicinity. Sometimes photocopy stores or photo processing stores will double as an internet cafe with a couple of computers. Look for signs reading "Acceso a Internet" or "Cibernautica" or "Cibercafe". Charges range from approx. US$1 an hour to US$3 an hour, depending on the location.

Phone

See also International Telephone Calls

Phone cards can be purchased anywhere and are needed for the majority of public phones. To call any number outside your region you have to dial 01 then followed by the area code. If calling a cellphone from a normal phone start with with 044. If calling cellphone to cellphone just dial the 10-digit number. To make an international call dial 00 followed by the country code then the local number. To call to Mexico, also dial 00 (most of the times) followed by the national code 52.

Post

The Mexican postal service is operated by Correos de México. The post service in Mexico is pretty good although not very cheap. It is reliable regarding the sending of postcards, but it takes at least a week to send it to other countries (US/Canada), more so if you send it to Europe or Australia. For packages it is better to use international services like FedEx or UPS. If you are sending a package internationally with the Mexican postal service, take the package OPEN to the post office, they may want to inspect it. Seal it up at the post office. Post offices typically open from 8:00am to 6:00pm Monday to Friday, and 9:00am to 1:00pm Saturday. You will find post offices (Oficina de Correos) is almost any town or city in Mexico. To buy stamps it is best to go to the post office, although you can also get them at stamp machines, located outside the post offices, at bus stations, airports and some commercial establishments.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 20.1048502
  • Longitude: -87.4789476

Accommodation in Tulum

We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in Tulum searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in Tulum and areas nearby.

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This is version 20. Last edited at 15:11 on Oct 2, 17 by Utrecht. 9 articles link to this page.

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