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Best Things To Do in Tulum, Mexico

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There are so many things to do in Tulum, and it's becoming one of the biggest hotspots in Mexico! It's no wonder why when this trendy beach town is located just two hours from Cancun, and is surrounded with so much charm and beauty.


This place is growing fast, so take a trip as soon as you can! Here is everything you need to know, and the best spots in Tulum to check out.

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Where is Tulum, Mexico?

Tulum is located along the Riviera Maya on the Yucatan Peninsula. It is one hour south down the coast from Playa del Carmen, and two hours down the coast from Cancun. The Yucatan Peninsula is situated in the Caribbean Sea, in the most southern most region of the country.

where is Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is one hour south of Playa del Carmen, and two hours south of Cancun.


Getting to Tulum

Most people come to Tulum from Cancun, as that is the closest airport to Tulum. Located just two hours away, there are plenty of buses that go from Cancun to Tulum throughout the day.


Flights to Cancun from the US are extremely frequent and affordable. We've found flights as cheap as under $100! Our trick? We use Skyscanner to check which dates are the cheapest to fly each month.

Playa del Carmen is just one hour from Tulum, and Valladolid is an hour and a half, both of which also have service in and out of Tulum from the ADO station in downtown Tulum.


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Entry Requirements for Mexico

When traveling to a new country, (even if it's a neighbor one) it's still important to know exactly the requirements for entering. Here is all you need to know for entry requirements for Mexico.


Visa Entry Requirements

Back in the day, Americans were able to travel to Mexico without passports. It's been a while since that has changed, but I think it's important to address since I have met hundreds of Americans thinking they could travel to Mexico without a passport. Whether you are visiting Mexico via cruise ship or on your own, you will in fact need your passport to travel.


Covid Entry Requirements

From day one, Mexico has been much more accepting to letting people in during times of Covid. Luckily, conditions around the world have kept getting better, and there are no longer any restrictions due to Covid.


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Local Adjustments

Whenever you travel there are things that you may forget about, that may be different from where you are coming from. Here are a few of the local adjustments to keep in mind while traveling Tulum in Mexico.


Language

The official language in Mexico is Spanish. While many people do speak English, It is definitely much more helpful if you can learn the basics of Spanish.


Currency

The currency used in Mexico is the Mexican peso. Currently (March 2023) the conversion rate is 20 pesos for every 1 USD. While many big hotels and restaurants may take credit card, you'll want cash for local markets, street vendors, and tipping. USD are accepted, but things are more expensive when you pay with dollars. The best way to exchange money is to go directly to the ATM, not to an exchange office.


Outlets

The outlets in Mexico are the same as the US and Canada. The standard voltage is 127 V and 60 HZ. If you come from the Americas you won't need to get an adapter, but if you are coming from Europe you'll need an energy adapter and converter for the energy difference.


Water Potability

The water is pretty notorious in Mexico for not being super safe to drink. While I've drank the tap water, and had ice in my drinks with no issue, it is advised to stick the bottled water here.


Tipping Culture

The tipping culture in Mexico varies a bit, but is pretty similar to the US. Especially in the Riviera Maya, where there is a high influx of American tourists, it is common to tip between 15-20% in restaurants, as well as services such as massages.

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Things to Do in Tulum

One of our favorite parts of Tulum is the variety of things there is to do! This city seriously has something for everyone. Here are some of the things to add to our Tulum bucket list, and some of the best spots to check out.


1. Discover the Achaeological Zone

One of the most famous spots in Tulum is hands down the ruins. Although Chichen Itza is one of the seven wonders of the world, these ruins are extremely unique because they are located right on the seaside. The ruins give dramatic views from the top, and also can be admired from the beach right below them.

Ruins, things to do in Tulum

Tulum has a set of ruins perched right along the beach.

*Due to COVID the ruins are currently closed until further notice.

 

Update: The ruins have been confirmed to be back open.


Want to take a tour of the ruins and have a full day planned out? Here are a few different excursion options:


2. Visit the Cenotes

Did you know that there are about 2,000 cenotes on the Yucatan peninsula? And did you know that this is the only place in the entire world that has cenotes? Well right in and around Tulum are some of the most spectacular cenotes, so make sure you check out at least one while you're there! Here are just a few of our top picks.

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Cenote Calavera

We love this spot because it is actually walking distance from downtown Tulum! (about a half hour exactly). The cenote features a rope swing, ladder, and two holes to jump in. 


The entrance is 250 pesos (about $12 USD). Keep in mind that tripods, professional cameras, and GoPros all have an extra charge of 100-200 pesos each.

Cenote Calavera Tulum, Mexico

Cenote Calavera is the closest cenote to the center of Tulum.

Gran Cenote

This cenote is one of the most popular swimming spots in Tulum. Although we aren't a fan of the way it is managed, we have to say that the cenote is pretty beautiful.


There are two large areas of the cenote, that are connected by a cave. The one to the right is in our opinion the more beautiful one, and usually less crowded. Swim on over through the cave to the other side and you will experience extremely turquoise waters, turtles swimming around, and a small cave on the other side.

Gran Cenote, things to do in Tulum

Gran cenote is just a few minute drive up the road past Cenote Calavera. Please note that you can not bring tripods, professional cameras, or drones. They have lockers for rental, but will not allow you to use them to store those particular belongings. They will simply just not let you in.


When you enter you must shower and wash your hair, and after that you will see the area with lockers to store your belongings after for an extra charge, The cenote entrance itself is 300 pesos or $15 USD.


Want to know some of our favorite cenotes in Mexico? You can check out our list of the top ten:

Did you know that there are a few thousand cenotes in the Yucatán península? With so many to choose from, which are the best cenotes in Mexico to check out? Well we're here to help!First things first: What is a cenote? Well it's something that is truly unique and that

Read More

Nohoch

This cenote was one of the best cenote spots near Tulum. It is a little bit more under the radar, so not nearly as crowded. The water is crystal clear, and is surrounded with vines and caves. The entrance is 150 pesos before 3:00, and after 3:00 is free of charge.

Cenote Nohoch, things to do in Tulum

Dos Ojos

We didn't actually have the pleasure of checking out this cenote, but we do know a bit about it, as we made a stop for some info. This is actually a full park, with various cenotes inside. You can choose which cenotes you would like to visit, and prices vary according to how much you would like to see.


We suggest carving out at least a half hour of your day for this one, as there is a lot to see. For food, we suggest eating at the tiny restaurant right outside the park. The food is extremely affordable and delicious! Also keep in mind the park closes at 4:30, so try to get there early. 


Want to go snorkeling or diving in Dos Ojos? Here are a few different activities you can sign up for:


Cenote Casa Tortuga

This is another cenote right near Tulum that we didn't have the pleasure to see, but are adding it to the list because we heard so many good things about it. Cenote Casa Tortuga has crystal clear waters and is located just a few miles outside of Tulum.


Want to experience all that Casa Tortuga has to offer? Here are a few different excursions to choose from.

3. Take a Dip in Kaan Luum Lagoon

Located just a half hour from the center of Tulum, is an amazing lagoon to check out. Kaan Luum seen from a birds eye perspective shows a large circle of water in which the color completely changes. They have swings and hammocks in the water, a long pier, lounge chairs, and a platform to get a great view of the lagoon from.


They are open from 9 am to 5 pm and the cost is just 100 pesos to enter. Drones are allowed, but there is an extra charge of 150 pesos for using them.

Laguna Kaan Luum, things to do in Tulum

Don't have a car to go on your own? Here are a few different tour options you can take:


4. Snap Away at the Hotel Zone

Tulum is an Instagrammer's dream! The chic atmosphere is shown in every corner of this city, so grab your camera and get ready for some beautiful photo opportunities!


1. Matcha Mama

This spot is not only great for a famous picture on their swings, but is also a great stop for some refreshing treats such as smoothies, acai bowls, or of course-matcha! The prices run a little higher, due to the fact that this spot is in the hotel zone, but we definitely think the acai bowl was worth a stop with the heat of Tulum, and the lovely atmosphere.

Matcha Mama, things to do in Tulum


2. Follow that Dream sign

The famous 'follow that dream' sign is located right outside Lolita Lolita, and is such a fun and inspirational spot to take a quick photo. It's right next to the road, so there is no need to enter anywhere, pay any fees, or worry about lines.

Follow that dream, things to do in Tulum

3. Ahau

This is one of the most famous spots to take a picture in Tulum, and there's no wonder why. The giant human sculpture opening its heart and full of greenery is simply spectacular.

Ahua, things to do in Tulum

4. Selina

Selina is one of our favorite hotel chains, because it is trendy, affordable, and always in a great location. We can also say that Tulum is no exception to this when it comes to location and design.


The inside of Selina looks like a super chic beach club, and the outside has a gorgeous wooden entrance, so even if you don't stay there, you can still take a great shot outside this beautiful spot.

Selina, things to do in Tulum


5. Azulik

Azulik is hands down one of the most gorgeous spots in Tulum. This resort has innovative and natural displays of art in every crevice. The architecture is just fascinating, as well as inspiring. 


Head up to the nests that dangle off the hotel, where you can wine and dine with the best birds eye views of Tulum. We're not going to lie, the price tag is pretty high, but if you have the money to splurge, it's a pretty spectacular experience.


6. Hun

Hun Hotel was not in operation due to COVID when we visited, but is now back. Right inside, there is a giant hand that extends into the jungle of Tulum. It is a really empowering feeling to be sitting (or standing) in the palm of a hand surrounded by greenery, and definitely makes for a pretty awesome photo (and drone) opportunity.

Hand at Hun, things to do in Tulum

7. Casa Malca

This spot was actually Pablo Escobar's mansion! How cool is that? This hotel comes with a heavy price tag, but good thing is that there is also access for those that aren't staying there. We do have to say, that it still isn't cheap, but definitely a more affordable option than actually staying at the hotel.


If you would like to enter the restaurant area, the entrance fee is about $100 USD, $50 of which can be used towards food and drinks. This entrance gives you access to all three restaurants on site, and plenty of cool spots around the mansion.


5. Enjoy the Sunshine at Playa Santa Fe

Plahya Santa Fe, things to do in Tulum

Playa Santa Fe is one of the only public beaches in Tulum, and is definitely one of the spots to check out if you are not staying in the hotel zone. This long stretch of white sand sits right near the archaeological site, and is absolutely stunning for sunrise. Take a walk up the stairs at the end for some great birds eye views of the beach!


6. Check out Downtown Tulum

When many people think of Tulum, they automatically think of the hotel zone. While the hotel zone is absolutely stunning and trendy, there are also great local spots in Tulum! Downtown Tulum is definitely worth checking out for its great shopping, as well as its awesome food scene.


Getting Around Tulum

When it comes to getting around in Tulum, we found that it is less public transportation friendly than Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Here are the different options for moving around the city:


Rent a Car

We personally think that this is the best option to get around, as it gives you plenty of flexibility, and will allow you to get to the cenotes and lagoons outside the city much more easily. Make sure to book in advance, as this is the most popular option.


Please avoid using Hertz.
Although it is a well known brand, the Mexican branch (particularly in Tulum) is horrific. We had a reservation and they just gave our car away and forced us to pay a higher price instead of honoring the rate. There were also two other guys in there fighting with them as well, and the customer service overall was extremely disappointing.


Taxi

Unfortunately Uber does not operate in Tulum, so taxi is the only option when it comes to private transportation. Make sure your bargain with the driver beforehand, so they don't try to rip you off.


Public Bus

We only actually saw the public buses running a few times. There is no real timetable, but if you happen to catch one from downtown to the beach, it costs just a few pesos. We found it difficult to get onto any of the buses, because they tended to be full, so we resorted to hitchhiking, which worked out very well for us.


Food & Drinks in Tulum

Let's be honest, one of the best parts of traveling is trying the cuisine, and Mexican cuisine is so great! One of the things we love the most about Tulum though, is its variety. You can find places with organic health food dishes, local cheap eats, or commercial resort food. There is something for everyone in Tulum!


These are our local favorites:


Street Food

Speaking of local food, the cheapest and tastiest way to eat is to check out the street food! Right next to the main plaza in downtown Tulum you can find a street lined with vendors selling typical Yucatecan food such as tacos, salbutes, and quesadillas.


Want a quick snack? Grab some esquites or elotes (corn with various toppings). Want something sweet? Try a delicious marquesita (a thin waffle topped with cheese, Nutella, or fruit), or a "machacado" (shaved ice with different flavors and toppings-seriously sinful!).


The best part? Each item costs around $1 USD so you can try plenty of things, leave completely satisfied, and with no spending guilt!

street food tulum
Mexican street corn
Cancun marquesitas street food
Cancun Street food, Plaza Palapas

Chapultapec

This is one of our favorite spots in Tulum for a quick drink and snack (or maybe a few). Here everything on the menu is about $1 USD- yes, you heard that right- mojito? $1, tuna taco? $1 tequila shot? Yep, $1. 


Not only is it cheap, but the atmosphere is great too. There are two levels, which are completely open so you can enjoy the views and people watch, or see the crazy fire dancers that perform throughout the night.


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Where to Stay in Tulum

When it comes to choosing a place to stay, the first decision to be made it to decide between downtown Tulum or the hotel zone. They are both very different, but both have pros and cons.


The Hotel Zone is much more expensive, but also has better access to the hip nightlife, beaches, and trendy shops. This is where all of the fancy resorts lie, and you can expect to pay a lot here. If the money doesn't bother you, and you like this kind of atmosphere or want to splurge, then this is the area for you.


Some really awesome places to stay include Papaya Playa Project, Azulik, Casa MalcaEncantadaSelina, and Nomade. (Simply click on each name to check out the properties on Booking.com.)


Want to book a place in the Hotel Zone? Just check out the other different options below:

Booking.com
Hotel Zone, things to do in Tulum

The hotel zone is the most popular area to stay, but it is very expensive.

Downtown Tulum is a little further from the beach, but has better access to the cenotes, as well as the more local side of Tulum. Here you can find a wide variety of accommodation, from cheap hostels to boutique hotels (with a much lower rate than the hotel zone).


Want to book a place in downtown Tulum? Simply refer to the "Centro" on the map below for the different accommodation options.

Booking.com

Our Stay we felt was a happy medium. Bufo Alvarius is located just on the edge of downtown Tulum, and on the road that leads to the beach. It was $26/night for a simple but clean and beautiful room, and had a nice pool, outdoor gym, and small shared kitchen in case you'd like to cook.


They also have purified water available 24/7, and great customer service. For the price and facilities offered, this is a great budget-friendly option. As a bonus you can sign up for one of the morning rituals. It is about $100 USD/person, but we heard it is quite an interesting experience.


Bufo Alvarius Tulum

Bufo Alvarius is a great mid-range place to stay in Tulum.


Is Tulum, Mexico Safe?

Mexico has a pretty bad rep when it comes to safety. But like anywhere, there are certain areas that are more dangerous than others. Cancun tends to have a higher crime rate than Tulum, and overall we felt pretty safe. We do suggest staying in groups at night though, and keeping an eye on your things, as bad things can happen anywhere.


Other Things to Know About Visiting Tulum

Now that you know how to get around, where to stay, and the best things to do in Tulum, let's share a few final details. Here are a couple of other things to keep in mind while visiting Tulum, Mexico


Weather in Tulum

Tulum is in the Caribbean area of the country, so it gets very hot and humid. It never gets cold at all here, but there are two seasons- rainy and dry. The dry season runs from mid to late October til April. The rainy season is from May to October, with the later months being prone to bigger storms like hurricanes.


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The Best Time to Visit Tulum

If you'd like to visit the cenotes at their best, you'll want to visit in July, but if you want the most pleasant temperatures, then the best time is to visit in the winter months from November to February.


We definitely suggest avoiding the months of September and October, as the Caribbean is notorious for having hurricanes at this time.


How to Pack For a Trip to Tulum, Mexico

Tulum is a place to enjoy the beach, ruins, and cenotes. Here are some of the things we suggest packing:

  • Sunscreen (the sun is super strong)
  • Bug Spray
  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Flip Flops (we personally always get Havaiana flip flops, as they are comfy and long lasting)
  • Water Shoes (for the cenotes)
  • Sneakers (for excursions)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings)
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Sun Glasses 
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and doesn't sacrifice quality)
  • Action Camera (we use the Insta 360 X3 because it's small & waterproof)
  • Waterproof Phone Pouch (we use the Cafago Waterproof Phone Pouch)
  • Dry Bag (for water activities)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)

When it comes to packing clothing, we also suggest bringing some trendy clothing, as Tulum has a very boho chic atmosphere, with some classy bars. Nice sandals, sundresses, big hats, and sunglasses are some of the items you'll want to bring to wear while in Tulum.


Here's another complete list of things to pack in Mexico by BRB Gone Somewhere Epic:


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Tulum, Mexico is the perfect place to get away for a weekend, or even a full week! With so much to do and see, it is definitely a place that really anyone can enjoy.


Traveling to other places nearby? We have plenty of other guides though this area of Mexico that are worth checking out.

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