Tulum Ruins: The Ulitmate Guide + Top Tips for Visiting

Date
Oct, 24, 2019
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(Last Updated On: February 24, 2020)

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?

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 an 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.

Travelling on to Chichen Itza? Check out my guide here and find out how to visit without the crowds.

NEED TO KNOWS

Tulum ruins hours: The ruins are open from 8 am- 5 pm every day with last admissions at 4pm. 

Tulum ruins location: 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 75 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. 

TOP TIPS FOR VISITING THE RUINS

Get there early or late. Most other bloggers will recommend you to get there at exactly 8 am in order to see the ruins before the tour buses arrive. I would have liked to but unfortunately, I didn’t manage it. I decided to go later and see how it went. I can recommend that going later is a great idea too. I entered at 3.30 pm and stayed until 5 pm finding that 1.5 hrs was enough to see the ruins. It was fairly quiet and there were no large tour groups!  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 mine 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. They 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!

Related posts you might like:

6 Incredible Cenotes Near Valladolid You Simply Must Visit

A Short Guide to Visiting Chichen Itza

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