Overview: Although some tourists decide to holiday at the growing number of eco-friendly and sustainable properties in Tulum, most still make... more »
Although some tourists decide to holiday at the growing number of eco-friendly and sustainable properties in Tulum, most still make... more » the destination a day trip from Playa del Carmen.
The top reason people take the trip is to explore the coastal ruins. The Mayan ruins of Tulum are unlike any other in Mexico as they include stunning views of the turquoise water from the cliffside. And although the site might get crowded in the middle of day with visitors, much of Tulum is free from crowds.
Tulum's town center has grown through the years, but the main strip really just provides a few shops, tour offices, and cafes. Most tourists don't spend much time here except for the bus station.
On this tour you will head to famous ruins, swim a cenote (an ancient Mayan freshwater sink hole), and take in lunch on the coast. It also highlights the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. less «
How To Get To Tulum:
You can take a bus from the main bus station in Playa located on Benito Juarez and 5th Avenue also called La... more » Quinta (the main tourist street) and arrive in Tulum for approximately 66 pesos (one way). Plus, many of the buses will stop at the ruins site directly (ask the driver). If the bus doesn't stop at the ruins, don't worry, you can take a taxi for under 50 pesos from the main (and only) station in downtown Tulum to the site.
You can also rent a car and drive down. Highway 307 (the main highway) is a direct route to Tulum from Playa del Carmen. The passage is safe and takes about an hour. But if you do rent make sure you understand insurance options and what your credit card may cover.
You can also hire a taxi for the day. Prices will be negotiable and it might make financial sense especially if you are a family of four or more. Five-hundred pesos will go fast once you add up the bus tickets and taxi costs, so keep that in mind.
Regardless of how you arrive to Tulum, leave as early as you can to make sure to have a full day to spend exploring the main attractions listed in this tour. The first bus is usually at 730am (schedule is in a link below).
What to bring: Swimsuit, towel, bug spray (natural biodegradable), suntan lotion (natural biodegradable), sunglasses, hat, and long sleeve clothing for the jungle along with shoes you can walk across stones (ruins).
Also bring enough pesos for the day. Although Tulum is a growing town, access to ATMs is not the same as it is in Playa del Carmen.
Additionally, pack a water and fruit or snacks for energy. The cenotes and ruins do not offer much.
Leave your valuables locked in the safe in your hotel room. less «
If you decided to take the bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, you will need to come to this bus station in the heart of Playa del Carmen.
From here, tickets cost ~66 pesos one-way to Tulum. And the first bus is normally around 7:30am (see schedule). Many of the buses stop at the ruins directly - you'll need to ask. If not, a taxi will cost... More less than 50 pesos from the heart of Tulum to the ruins site.
A taxi from Playa dle Carmen DC would be much more expensive than the bus, but prices are normally negotiable and can serve you for the entire day if desired. This might be a better option for a family. If you consider 3-4 round trip bus tickets, maybe 500+ pesos for a day is reasonable.
Another option is to rent a car. Highway 307 is a direct and safe road to Tulum and takes an hour from Playa del Carmen.Less
When you arrive at the ruins, you arrive at the parking lot. The actual entrance is still about a 1/2 mile away. You can easily walk it, but make sure you don't get caught up with all the vendors selling access and tours, this is not the main entrance. Keep going.
If Tulum is the only Mayan site you plan to visit in the Riviera Maya, you may... More also want to invest in a guide (all prices are negotiable). Official guides (there are guidelines and tests) will have a Ministry of Tourism badge. Make sure you look and / or ask for it. Also, don't be afraid to join up with a few other folks traveling in smaller groups to make a larger group and split the cost.
The Mayan ruins here are much smaller than the other famous Mexican sites, but they do offer some of the most scenic images with the views of the sea. Tulum was a walled trading city and thrived in the post-classic Mayan era during the 13-15th century. Europeans have accounts of the city, but it only stayed inhabited for about 70 years after their arrival.
If you don't purchase a guide, the famous areas to visit inside the ruins are the el Castillo (castle), Temple of the Frescos, and the God of the Wind Temple. They will appear on any map.
Tip: Take a swim at the beach on site. Some of the best views, if not best memories are from the water.
Open daily 8am-5pm
Cost: ~50 pesos for an adult, children under 13 are free. Also, camera photos are free, but expect an additional fee for videos upwards of 30+ pesos.Less
The Gran Cenote is located a few kilometers from the town center of Tulum and close to ruins. It is easily accessible by taxi or car.
Cenotes, freshwater swim holes, are part of an elaborate and incredible underwater river system that lies beneath the Riviera Maya. With more than 6,000 cenotes (some big, some small) mapped since the 1980s, the... More full extent of all water passages is still unknown. What is known is that swimming them is an adventure for the both experienced diver (scuba) and the casual snorkeler. All cenotes are at 75-78F (23-25C) degrees all year round. It can be very refreshing on a hot day in the Yucatan.
This cenote offers access for all skill levels. As soon as your mask hits the water the views are amazing. Huge stalagmites, stalactites, and columns make it seem as if you are in an underwater cave. Little or no swimming is required for these amazing views.
Tip: If possible, bring an underwater flashlight. When you explore deeper this will help you really experience the magic of this cenote. (If you don't have your own, follow someone who has one.)
Also be aware, you must use only non-chemical based bug spray or sun tan lotion or rinse before entry. Showers will be available. The aim is to keep the cenotes clean and natural. (This is the rule at ALL cenotes.)
Hours: Open 10am - 5pm daily.
Cost: 100 pesos per person to snorkel with equipment rental (including a wetsuit) available.Less
Lunch is best served on the water with a view and Tulum offers visitors many options. Along its stretch of eco-friendly coastal cabanas you will find numerous beach front restaurants (attached to the properties) to lunch.
For fresh Mexican food and fresh sugar cane squeezed cocktails select La Zebra, but this is one of the many options.
Open ... Morefor breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.Less
Sian Ka'an means 'Origin of the Sky' in Mayan and the 500,000 hectare biosphere first became protected land in 1986. It is now an UNESCO site.
The reserve contains tropical forests, mangroves and marshes. The diverse eco-system provides an amazing habitat for flora (1000+ species) and fauna, including more than 300 species of birds.
The vast... More reserve is accessible by car, but offers limited trails and is best viewed via a tour. Tours can be half day or full day, but will hardly cover the entire reserve. Some travelers spend more than one day at the reserve.
Hours: Tours start usually at 9am or 2pm and the last tour ends after sunset usually around 7pm.Less
This cenote, Cenote Dos Ojos (two eyes), is situated between Playa del Carmen and Tulum just off the main highway (307). It is open to the public and offers visitors a great chance to explore some of the most accessible cavernous cenotes in the region.
This cenote is operated by Mayans and has guides on-site that can be hired. Early in the... More morning is best, but this can also make for a great last stop on the way back to Playa del Carmen (if you have a car).
There is also a chance to visit a bat cave on site through the cenote water system.
hours: Open 8am to 5pm daily
cost: ~100 pesos for simple entry and access to snorkeling, all equipment is available for rent.