Tulum to me sounded like this majestical place where you wake up in your bohemian-styled hostel and stumble out onto the beach and be surrounded by many Mayan ruins and sea turtles, with only a few people around and surplus taco stands! Maybe this is how it once was, but now it is packed with tourists, and is a bit pricier than less known towns around Mexico. Budget backpackers can not afford accommodation on the beach, and will have to stay in the town ship away from the beach for cheaper prices. However, this place is still absolutely worth to see! The beaches are crystal clear and beautiful, you can swim with turtles (for free!!!), gorgeous cenotes at a price, cheap tacos (2×1 pastor at 12pesos when you shop around a bit), and laid back feel.
What I didn’t expect is that (of course) everything comes at a price! Unfortunately, I went during the absolute busiest time of year, New Year! Every hostel was booked out, prices were through the roof at 240pesos for a dormitory that was booked 2 months in advance (500pesos if you didn’t book in advance), 100 peso bike rentals, expensive cabs, 500 peso scooter hire, rude collectivo drivers who didn’t seem to like travellers and charged twice as much for us, gringo-rates for tacos, and police that mug drunk tourists! However, even though all of this threw me off a little at the start.. I really began to love this little town! How to get to Tulum
Tulum is a popular tourist destination, and it is easy to get to.
Tulum by bus
Wherever you are on the Yucatan Peninsula, there should be an ADO bus terminal that offers you a bus direct to Tulum. If you are outside of the Yucatan Peninsula, you may have to change buses a few times get to Tulum. But it will be easy! If Tulum is not an option from your nearest bus terminal, bus to Playa del Carmen and you’ll be able to get a collectivo to Tulum.
The price of your bus will vary depending on the length of your journey. However, bus travel in Mexico can be cheap if you choose it to be! At the ADO bus station, there are several different bus brands and classes. If you choose to travel with ‘Mayab’ bus, the price is usually significantly cheaper! I always booked all of my tickets straight from the bus station. Usually on the day of travel, too. You can also book online on the ADO website, or at least look at the prices online/ see how many seats are still available for the day you want to travel.
Tulum by collectivo from Playa del Carmen
Tulum is super easy to get to from Playa del Carmen. You can take a collectivo/van from Playa del Carmen for 45 pesos one-way.
In Playa del Carmen, go to Calle 2, between 15th and 20th Avenue. You will find many vans here parked on the road. You will also normally find a line of people waiting to get into the next van. Join the line and wait to get into a van. Keep and eye on your maps and stand up and ask the driver to stop when you get near your destination. Pay the driver when you depart the bus. The fare is different depending on when you get off. Playa del Carmen to the center of Tulum will be 45 pesos.
Getting around Tulum
In Tulum, it’s not as easy to get around as other small towns! I stayed in the town of Tulum, which is quite a hike from any beach! But otherwise central for buses and collectivos to surrounding attractions. I’m sure this place was once a quiet beach town without much effect from tourism, but now the locals have cottoned on and things are different! Taxi drivers and tour agencies have seen green and know they can get good money from tourists coming from Cancun or short-time travellers with more money. This makes it harder for us backpackers on a budget to find a bargain!
Collectivos from Parque to Tulum Beach
10 pesos (some will try to charge you 20) to the beach zone where all the resorts are. Ask to be dropped off at Playa Selva. Walk down the entrance way of enfermia (popular fish taco place on the beach) and this will get you on the beach! You will struggle otherwise, as the whole beach is pretty much privatised and blocked off by fancy resorts.
Collectivos to Cenotes
wave down a collectivo on the main Street, they will have Playa del carmen on the window, and tell them which cenote you want to go to. The price should be around 20-30 pesos, they should be a fixed price and depends on which cenote you chose. This only works for the cenotes along the main road. Cenotes off this road require a taxi, walking or hiring a car, scooter or bike.
Getting out of Tulum
You can get to many cool places from Tulum! Check out the different places and how to get there, below:
- Playa del Carmen: wave down a collectivo from anywhere along the Main Street. This should cost you 45 pesos and will take you to the centre of town.
- Cancun: you can either take the collectivo to Playa del Carmen and another collectivos from there to Cancun, OR, take a bus from Tulum direct to Cancun. You can buy bus tickets from Tulum ADO bus terminal on the Main Street in Tulum. ADO is more expensive, but if you are on a budget, ask for the second class bus (Oriente or Mayab) and it should be much cheaper :).
- Bacalar: take an ADO (1st class), or Oriente or Mayab bus (2nd class) to Bacalar. ADO bus terminal sells tickets for each of these buses, but will always offer you ADO 1st class first. You must ask for the 2nd class service otherwise they will sell you expensive ticket by default.
- Valladolid: Same as above, ADO bus terminal (120 pesos for 1st class bus)
- Merida: Same as above, ADO bus terminal.
- Coba: Taxi or bus to Coba. Or hire a car or scooter.