Tulum is one of the most up and coming places to visit on the Mayan Riviera in Mexico. For those seeking a more relaxed, sustainable and zen experience, Tulum is a great alternative to the huge, all-inclusive resorts Cancun has to offer. Apart from its amazing, white sand beach, Tulum also boasts many clear-blue cenotes nearby, jungle adventures and of course, its Mayan ruins located in the most beautiful location imaginable. Even if you’ve already visited Coba or Chichen Itza, I’d still highly recommend for you to go as they are totally different. Even if Mayan ruins aren’t your thing, the Tulum ruins are a must, simply for the stunning jungle location and one of the best beaches around. In this Tulum ruins guide I’ll let you know about the best time to go, what to see and all the other useful tips I picked up on my visit. Are you ready for a meaningful, enriching and peaceful experience at the Tulum ruins?
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NEED TO KNOWS
↠ Tulum ruins hours: The ruins are open from 9 am- 6 pm (2021 hours) every day with the last admissions at 5 pm.
↠ Where are the Tulum ruins located? They are located 3km outside of downtown Tulum or 3-5km from the hotel zone. You can get there by bicycle, scooter or car. If you come by car or scooter you have to pay for parking. Parking for cars is 80 pesos and 50 for a scooter.
↠ Tulum ruins entrance fee: Admission is 80 pesos for adults.
↠ The ruins and their entrance are located about a kilometre’s walk from the car park. You can rent bikes to cycle it but to be honest, it was a nice walk and I personally didn’t see the point.
↠ COVID-19 Update: Due to the pandemic, all the beaches at the Tulum ruins are closed. Normally, one, beautiful beach is open to the public at the Tulum ruins, however, it’s now closed to be on the safe side. Everything else functions normally.
Not sure where to stay in Tulum? Check out The Best hotels in Tulum.
HOW TO GET TO THE TULUM RUINS?
The Tulum ruins are located about 5 km outside of the centre of Tulum town. It is walkable, but not recommended in the heat of the day. if you’re coming from Tulum town, it’s best to get a taxi or rent a bicycle or scooter.
From Cancun or Playa del Carmen, you’ll need to either take public transportation or rent a car to get to the Tulum ruins. It’s 130 km from Cancun or 63 km from Playa del Carmen and takes about 2 hours or 1 hour respectively.
Public transportation: When it comes to visiting by public transportation you have two options, the ADO bus or local minivan/ colectivo. I highly recommend taking the local colectivos over the ADO to visit the Tulum ruins for a number of different reasons. Firstly the ADO bus will only drop you off at the bus station in Tulum, while the colectivo driver will drop you right on the highway outside the ruins (just let him know you want to get off there). This eliminates the need to have to rent a bicycle or take a taxi back on yourself to the ruins. Secondly, colectivos are much more flexible departing when full- all you need to do is turn up, get in and it will be on its way shortly. This makes them much more frequent than ADO buses. If you have luggage, however, you’ll need to take the ADO bus as colectivos have no space for large bags.
From Cancun, catch the colectivo to Tulum from just outside the ADO bus station in downtown Cancun. From Playa del Carmen, colectivos to Tulum depart from under the flyover, between Calle 5 Sur and the Chedraui Supermarket, or from Calle 2.
Renting a car: Renting a car is a great way to get to the Tulum ruins from anywhere in Quintana Roo or Yucatan and it allows for flexibility, allowing you to explore a few more other cool spots in Tulum such as the Amazing Tulum cenotes.
The best sites to book your car is Rental Cars. They search both local and international car rental companies to help you find the best possible price. This is the easiest way to rent a car in Mexico. USe the form below to find the best deals for your trip:
Take a tour: Another way to see the ruins- probably the most hassle-free way- is to take a local tour. Most tours depart from Cancun or Playa del Carmen and often combine the Tulum ruins with a visit to a local cenote or the Coba Ruins. Make sure to book with a reputable company in order to fully enjoy the experience. My picks are this tour which combines the Tulum ruins with a cenote and this tour combining Coba and the Tulum ruins departing from Cancun.
WHAT TO SEE AT THE TULUM RUINS
The Maya ruins in Tulum display what was once a vast, walled Pre-Colombia settlement. Many of the walls still stand today and tourists enter and exit through the small paved gaps in the thick wall. Archaeologists assume Tulum served as a port due to its Caribbean Sea location- serving the nearby Coba citadel. It was one of the last settlements built and occupied by the Maya before the Spanish started arriving in the 15th Century. The most noteworthy buildings here are Pyramid El Castillo (The Castle), the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God.
El Castillo is the largest and most prominent building on the site. This building, built on a previous shrine was used as a watchtower to monitor canoes coming in and out. The top gallery has two observation windows and it’s believed that in the shrine beacons were used to guide sailor home at night.
The Temple of the Frescos was used as an observatory to track the movements of the sun. The building itself is made up of a lower gallery and an upper gallery, on which you can see some of the best surviving relief-carvings in the area. Look closely and you can still see remains of the colourful paint that would have been visible on these buildings.
The Temple of the Descending God is another well-preserved, single room structure built on top of another temple, worth seeking out.
Visiting Chichen Itza? Check out the guide here and find out how to visit without the crowds.
TOP TIPS FOR VISITING THE RUINS
↠ Get there early or late. The Tulum ruins is a busy site with people coming in from all over the Yucatan Peninsula. In order to have a more relaxing experience head early or later in the day. Not only can you take better photos without people in them but you’ll also be able to avoid the hottest part of the day. Another benefit of getting their early or late is that you have softer light for photos.
↠ Don’t go on Sunday. On Sundays Mexican nationals enter the ruins for free, meaning that it’s even more crowded than usual. If you can, go on a different day or as mentioned previously go early.
↠ Bring a lot of water. It’s hot and there isn’t too much shade, bring a reusable, sustainable bottle pre-filled with water. Don’t have a reusable bottle? Don’t worry! Get my personal favourite here.
↠ Leave your tripod at home. Previous to my visit I had read that tripods weren’t allowed so I left mine at home. Any solo traveller will know that this isn’t ideal, as it’s one of the only ways to get photos with yourself in them. My bag wasn’t searched, however, but there are guides and guards around and I’m sure one of them would have told me something if I had whipped mine out. If you’re a solo traveller you just have to do it the old way and ask someone to take photos of you.
↠ Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll be doing a lot of walking so this goes without saying
↠ Bring a towel and swimwear. The Tulum ruins are located on a clifftop overlooking on the most beautiful little beaches and you can actually go down and relax there and even swim. There’s nowhere to change, however, so make sure you already have your swimwear on before you enter.
↠ Check the tide times before you go. At high tide the water comes in so close, leaving visitors with almost no beach space, so it’s better to time your visit with the low tide if it’s possible of course.
Upon approaching the ticket desk you’ll see lots of guides ready to be hired. If you choose to take the services of a guide they will take you around and explain everything to you. I opted against it as I wanted to take my time walking around at my own pace. There are many plaques around displaying basic information about a particular site, building or custom which you can read as you stroll along.
Any comments or questions before your visit? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!
Planning a trip right now? These are just some of my favourite websites I use to book everything from hotels to rental cars!
Rentalcars.com for quick and easy car rentals worldwide
Booking.com for great deals on hotels
Agoda also for great deals on hotels
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