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In Mexico, you will find beautiful beach destinations on both the Pacific and Caribbean coasts. On the latter, Tulum is one of the most trendy destinations where white sandy beaches meet ancient Mayan ruins. A trendy destination is an understatement, as Tulum, along with Cancun, has become a major tourist attraction of the Quintana Roo region of Mexico. In this article, I share valuable insider’s tips with the best spots and practical insights to get the most out of your stay!

Tulum Playa Las Palmas

About Tulum

Originally a humble village along the Caribbean coast, today tourism is the main source of income and where every bit of beach is owned by beach clubs. Around 2018, tourism took off and since the Covid period, Mexico became one of the most popular destinations because of lenient regulations.

Tulum is also constantly expanding to meet tourism needs and since December 2023, the city itself has its own international airport. As you can imagine, Tulum is not for everyone. The laid-back backpacker vibe is far to be found, though you’ll find the most local atmosphere in the center of town.

What to do in Tulum

Parque Nacional Tulum

My favorite place in Tulum is the national park. Here you will find both ancient Mayan ruins and pristine white beaches with turquoise seas without having to share them with a thousand other tourists.

Visit the beaches

From north to south you will find the beautiful beaches Playa Santa Fe, Playa Paraiso and Playa Las Palmas. On the beach there are several beach clubs. No big trendy bars with DJs, but relaxed restaurants with sunbeds right by the sea under swaying palm trees.

There is often a minimum spend on food/drink of about 500 MXN (about €30) per person if you want to use the beach beds. But if you spend a whole day here (which really isn’t a punishment), you’ll get to this amount.

I can recommend Beach bar Cinco and Beach bar Canova. They have nice beach beds, nice service and very good food.

Tulum strand Mexico

Explore the ruins

The Tulum ruins was one of the last cities inhabited by the Maya between the 13th and 15th centuries. It’s interesting to learn more about Mayan history and enjoy the beautiful views of the coast.

Tickets to the ruins are 95 MXN that can only be paid by cash.

Tulum ruines

Tips for your visit

Entrance to the Parque Nacional Tulum is 60 MXN. You get a wristband that allows you to re-enter the park.

I advise you to visit the national park early and go to the ruins first. This is because around noon the place gets really crowded and you can be waiting a long time to buy a ticket. The place feels a lot more magical when you share it with fewer people.

The national park has two entrances, one in the north with a large parking lot and stores, and the one in the south. In the northern entrance, you may only enter on foot or by bicycle. Parking here costs 100 MXN. At the southern entrance, you can enter on foot, by bike or by car. Cars are searched (for alcoholic beverages that you may not take into the park), so it may take a while before you can actually enter by car. By bike, you’ll bike right through.

Parque Nacional Tulum fietsen

Note: Do not buy a package with boat trip and the ruins at the parking lot. This is a scam. Just buy tickets to the ruins at the archaeological site itself.

The government recently decided to further develop the park as a tourist hotspot. As a result, the road from the southern entrance to the archaeological ruins has been paved since 2023 and entrances to the public beaches have been built.

So far (Feb 2024), the southern entrance is the most pleasant since you don’t have to deal with all the fuss of stores and hustlers there. Although that will probably change soon. If you go by car, you can drive as far as the ruins. It’s not possible to leave the park at the northern entrance. By bicycle, however, you can make a loop.


Part of what makes Tulum such a popular destination are the many cenotes located in the region. A cenote is a natural sinkhole created by collapsing ground and filled with groundwater. The ancient Maya used the cenotes for water supply, but also sometimes for sacrifices. Most cenotes are located in the regions of Yucatan and Quintana Roo.

Cenotes Mexico

Today they are beautiful natural swimming spots, often surrounded by jungle, where you can take a refreshing splash. Some cenotes have an underground system of passages that you can explore as a diver. If you don’t dive, it’s still fun to snorkel in the cenotes because the water is crystal clear.

Thanks to its popularity, there is an increasingly high price tag for visiting cenotes. For example, you sometimes pay as much as 500 MXN (almost €30) for entrance.

Cenote Calavera is located near Tulum. It’s a hole in the ground that you can jump into. The water is super clear and fun for snorkeling. But this place is especially interesting for scuba divers thanks to the underground passage system. A ticket costs 250 MXN.

Highly recommended are the Cenotes Escondido and Cenote Cristal. They are located near each other, separated by the main road (be careful when crossing, cars drive fast there!). At the ticket booth at Cenote Cristal, buy a ticket for 300 MXN that is valid for both. You can also choose to visit only one of the two for 150 MXN. There are restrooms, but you can’t buy food or drinks there, so bring plenty of your own.

Cenote Cristal Jungle Tulum
Cenote Cristal Tulum

A little further down the road you will find Cenote Corazón del Paraíso, another beautiful cenote in the shape of a heart. A ticket costs 200 MXN.

These cenotes are perfectly to visit on your own. Of course, a rental car gives you much more freedom to visit multiple cenotes and parking is often free. Sometimes you can also stop a collectivo on the side of the road. The cenotes mentioned above can also be visited by bike, although you have to get on the main road for these (without a bike lane). Always keep cycling carefully on the right side.

Restaurants and cafes

In Tulum Pueblo you will find a wide variety of restaurants, ranging from local to international cuisine. Moreover, the food here is generally a lot more affordable than in Tulum Beach.

If you’re looking for dirt-cheap local snacks, be sure to visit the Streetfood Market at Parque dos Aguas in Tulum center. Here you can try and buy crunchy churros, papas (potatoes), marquesitas (rolled waffles) and more. The stalls are set up in the afternoon, around 4 p.m. or so.

Another place where you can score a good local meal is at the covered Mercado Tulum. In the middle of the hall are tables and chairs of different eateries. Be sure to try local dishes from the Quintana Roo region including Cochinita Pibil (soft pork), fish empanadas and Quintana Roo enchiladas.

Fajitas Mexico
Batey Mojito Bar Tulum

For a cozy evening, the Batey Mojito Bar is highly recommended. As the name suggests, you can enjoy delicious mojitos here, and the addition of live music completes the atmosphere.

Delicious tacos for a small price can be scored at Taqueria La Chiapaneca. There can be long lines for a table here in the afternoon, but the wait is worth it, especially for the Al Pastor tacos, prepared with roast pork on a skewer.

Transportation around Tulum


Renting bicycles is a great way to explore Tulum. With these you can easily reach the Cenotes and the beach.

However, it’s good to know that the roads in Tulum are not always in the best condition. Sometimes there are simple bike lanes on the sidewalk, but often you have to take your bike onto the road. It’s important to always keep to the right when entering the main road. Traffic can be heavy here, although they do consider bicycles.

La Veleta Rental Bike offers bike rentals for 100 MXN for 24 hours, plus a deposit of 1,000 MXN per bike. Ola Bikes is another option, with a rate of 200 MXN for 24 hours and a deposit of 1000 MXN per bike. Always inspect your bike in advance and take a photo as proof, just to be sure.

Fietsen in Tulum
Fietsen in Tulum


There are also several scooter rental companies in Tulum. If you are experienced on a scooter, I can recommend this option as well. This way you can still cover more distance than on a bicycle.


For those who prefer not to get around on two wheels, colectivos are a convenient option. They shuttle back and forth between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, and from Tulum Pueblo further south. You can find collectivos in downtown Tulum or simply stop them along the road. Note that these vans only leave from the starting point when they are completely full. Remember to inform the driver of your desired disembarkation point.


If you are willing to spend a little more, a taxi is a quick but by far the most expensive option. There is no Uber in Tulum, so you have to rely on local taxis.

Taxis don’t use a meter, so the fare you agree with the driver in advance. Always negotiate the price. It pays off to speak a little Spanish! From the main road in Tulum Pueblo to the beach, you can expect to pay about 200 MXN.

Where to stay in Tulum?

The big question before traveling to Tulum is, what is the best place to stay? Tulum can practically be divided into two parts: Tulum Pueblo and Tulum Beach, both with completely different atmospheres. Tulum Beach attracts mostly rich Americans, couples and party people, where in Tulum Pueblo you taste a bit more of a local vibe.

Before traveling to Tulum, I was in exactly this dilemma. Both locations have their pros and cons. Tulum is largely a beach destination, which means it’s nice to be on the beach with a few minutes to spare. The factor that may still play the biggest role is the price tag. Hotels on Tulum Beach are a lot more expensive than in Tulum Pueblo.

Tulum Mexico

Tulum Pueblo

  • Affordable. Tulum Pueblo tends to be friendlier on your wallet, with accommodations averaging €50 – €100 per night for a double room. You’ll also find hostels with prices from €20 – €30 per night for a dormitory or single room.
  • Lots of choice of restaurants/street food. You have plenty of choice here when it comes to food, including local eateries to international restaurants.
  • Close proximity to the cenotes. The cenotes are basically accessible by bike from Tulum Pueblo.
  • Far from the beach. If you want to be close to the beach, you have to travel a short distance from Tulum Pueblo.

Tulum Beach

  • Right on the beach. Here you can wake up to the sea breeze and immediately feel the sand under your feet.
  • Busy/touristy. Tulum Beach attracts many visitors, so it can get quite crowded. You won’t find a backpacker vibe here.
  • Pricey. The convenience of a beach location comes with a higher price tag. Hotels here quickly cost >€200 per night for a double room.

Of je nu kiest voor Tulum Pueblo met zijn betaalbaarheid en lokale sfeer, of Tulum Beach met directe toegang tot het strand, beide opties hebben hun eigen charme.

How many days in Tulum?

A stay of 3 to 5 days in Tulum provides the perfect opportunity to fully explore this destination. If you have the luxury of spending 5 days, you can find a perfect balance between activities and a few days relaxing on the beach. In 3 days, you can explore the aforementioned highlights of Tulum just fine.

How to get there?

Cancun: From Cancun it will take you about 2.5 hours by bus. It’s also possible to travel directly from Cancun airport to Tulum. Tickets can be bought in the arrivals hall, or right outside the hall at the bus station. Check departure times and current prices on the ADO website.

Valladolid: From Valladolid it is about 1.5 hours by ADO bus. There is a time difference of 1 hour from Valladolid. ADO buses depart more than 15 times a day.

Bacalar: From Bacalar, it takes about 3 hours by ADO bus. Buses leave about 12 times a day.