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26 EPIC Things to do in Tulum, Mexico (on any Budget)

26 EPIC Things to do in Tulum, Mexico (on any Budget)

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Here is everything you need to know about visiting Tulum, Mexico. This detailed guide will tell you about the best things to do in Tulum, where to stay, day trips from Tulum, and other important info for visiting. And the best part? We’ve included lots of free or cheap things to do for those traveling Tulum on a budget in addition to general money-saving tips – so no matter your budget, you can enjoy the gorgeous Tulum, Mexico!

Tulum, Mexico is the perfect place for travelers to explore. It’s full of exciting things to do and offers everything from Mayan ruins to pristine beaches to amazing food.

In recent years, Tulum’s popularity as a tourist destination has exploded! Word got around about how incredible this small town really is. Now tourists from all over the world visit Tulum with new hotels popping up on what seems to be every corner.

Honestly, it doesn’t surprise me – Tulum is one of the best places to visit in Mexico hands-down.

But with this popularity comes a couple of challenges.

First of all, you need to be prepared for your trip as the best tours and hotels will often get fully booked. You also need to know a few tricks about how to enjoy Tulum on a budget (there are some seriously inflated tourist prices and you’ll get caught out if you don’t know the ropes.)

And the last thing you want to happen is to miss out on the best things to do in Tulum.

That’s why I wrote this blog! It’s your ULTIMATE guide to visiting Tulum, Mexico including the best things to do, where to stay, budget-saving tips, and so much more!

About Visiting Tulum, Mexico

the ruins at Tulum, Mexico
The Tulum Ruins are stunning!

Tulum is a town in the Quintana Roo region of Mexico that attracts people from all over the world for its pristine beaches, Mayan ruins, as well as unique cenotes.

The amazing landscape combined with friendly locals in a relatively safe area is undoubtedly the reason this area saw almost 10 million tourists in 2016 alone (as reported by the Yucatan Times.)

Large volumes of high-budget vacationers visiting have increased the price tag attached to traveling this area of Mexico.

Luckily, Tulum is a much cheaper hideaway with a central location to explore all nearby attractions while offering budget accommodation and food options everywhere!

Tulum is about 3 hours driving from Cancun or about 1 hour from Playa del Carmen. It is the least touristic of the three while still being in the thick of all of the “must-see” attractions of the Quintana Roo.

Is Tulum cheap?

Shopping in tulum
Don’t do too much shopping if you’re visiting Tulum on a tight budget!

The oh-so-common question on everybody’s mind…is Tulum cheap?

In short, no. Tulum isn’t “cheap” per se, but it is affordable for backpackers especially if you’re budget-conscious.

For $5 USD you can get yourself a centrally located hostel with air conditioning and breakfast. Then for $2 USD, you can get a collective to basically anywhere you would want to go around the area. A huge street food meal of tacos can be found for less than $3 USD and a beer goes for about $1 USD.

With that said, you can’t be picky. these cheap places to stay and eat aren’t the nicest, so you’ll need to manage your expectations.

Tulum is definitely the best choice for a place to stay while exploring the Quintana Roo or Yucatan Peninsula while staying on budget (read further for my “Tulum on a Budget Tips”).

Related Read: Check out our blog about how we afford long-term travel.

Things to Do in Tulum, Mexico

You don’t have to be rich to enjoy Tulum, Mexico. If you carefully select what you want to see and do you will be able to experience a lot without breaking the bank!

Here are the 13 best things to do in Tulum (for travelers on any type of budget!)

Go to the Beach

 Xcacel beach, Tulum
Xcacel beach, Tulum

The town of Tulum isn’t right on the beach, the closest beach it is about one hour by walking or 20 minutes by bike (expect to pay about $4 USD for a bike for the day.)

However, if you are looking to explore more iconic beaches there are two great options I would highly recommend.

Akumal Beach

The first is Akumal Beach which is famous for the turtles there which you can snorkel with! This beach is only about 20 minutes drive from Tulum and accessible by collectivo. Akumal Beach can be busy at peak season times but is well worth a visit especially if you haven’t snorkeled with massive wild turtles before.

Want to go on a guided tour? This tour will take you snorkeling at Akumal Beach with turtles as well as exploring cenotes!

Xcacel Beach

Xcacel is another beautiful beach and when we went there it was empty – we literally had the turquoise ocean all to ourselves!

It is also accessible by collectivo and has a $3 USD entrance fee. The cool thing about this beach is that there is also a cenote only one-minute walk from the ocean which you can explore for free! We spent half a day here and it was gorgeous and cheap.

I would highly recommend this as a great day trip.

Explore the BEST Cenotes near Tulum

calavera cenote

One of the most famous things to do in the Yucatan Peninsula is exploring the cenotes which are literally everywhere! There are just too many to see them all – so you must choose wisely which ones to check out.

Definitely ask around for other peoples’ recommendations but I will tell you about the ones we chose to visit (based on what we heard are the absolute best!

Dos Ojos

Snorkeling in Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum
Snorkeling in Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum

This cenote is a complex underwater cave system. From land, it actually seems like two different cenotes as they connect underwater.

Dos Ojos’ entrance gates are easy to get to by collectivo (only 20 minutes from Tulum.) Once at the entrance gate, it is another 2 km walk to the actual cenotes. It is also possible to hitchhike this 2 km.

Dos Ojos Cenotes cost 350 pesos entrance fee which is one of the pricier cenote fees. However, if you have never seen a cave with bright blue water before then definitely check this one out regardless of the price.

Gran Cenote

This cenote is very different than Dos Ojos as it is less of a cave and has much more greenery. Imagine mangroves and a massive freshwater swimming pool.

Gran Cenote is popular for snorkeling, and the best part is that it is accessible by a short bike ride from Tulum (or a couple of dollar taxi ride.)

The entrance fee for Gran Cenote is 100 pesos per person.

Cenote Calavera

guide to tulum on a budget
Calavera Cenote!

This cenote would be my favorite! It is even on the way from Tulum to Gran Cenote.

Cenote Calavera is also 100 pesos entrance fee per person but is typically much less busy. It is more of what people typically imagine when they think of cenotes – a big hole in the earth with a swimming pool.

If you are in Tulum on a budget and can only afford to explore one cenote, I would recommend Cenote Calavera!

There are dozens of more cenotes to explore. For more details on the Cenote around Tulum check out our friend’s article from Best Cenote Dives here.

Scuba Dive in Cenotes

Diving in a cenote in Tulum
Diving in a cenote in Tulum

If you are visiting Tulum on a budget then scuba diving is the one things you might have to skip – but if you can afford it and you like to scuba dive then you MUST do it! To us, this is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Mexico overall!

Diving in a couple of cenotes is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. This was something I had been looking forward to for weeks! We’ve done a few ocean dives in the Caribbean already on this trip, but I was excited about something different – and it sure was different!

We first dove the Casa Cenote which was really neat because you literally dive underneath mangroves. When I looked up I could see all of the roots of the trees. This was a good dive to start with because although there were some covered areas, there were many openings allowing lots of light in and easy access to the surface if needed.

Diving in cenotes in Tulum

The next cenote we dove was Calavera which was completely opposite of Casa Cenote. Calavera Cenote was all cave diving around the large opening of the cenote. We saw lots of white rock formations. There was also a false surface effect that is created where the freshwater meets the saltwater.

This dive was a little bit more intimidating at first as we needed our flashlights the entire time and involved swimming in between some smaller spaces, but it made for a very exciting dive.

Book your Cenote Scuba experience with a Professional Company:

We like to support these smaller companies who truly take pride in their work and have a passion for scuba diving which is very apparent. But we also know the importance of safety when it comes to scuba diving (especially in cenotes!)

cenote diving in Tulum
Our scuba instructor was also a great photographer! The light from the cenote shining though was so cool!

Check out these tour which come highly rated for their fun, yet safe and professional, cenote diving experiences:

If you’re a certified diver, check out this awesome cenote dive experience!

If you’re new to scuba, you can still dive in a cenote. Check out this Discovery Dive in Casa Cenote!

For those of you who want to get your PADI certification, you can also do that here!

Go on a Food Tour

Tacos on a food tour in Tulum
If you want to try the BEST tacos you just have to do a food tour!

Mexican Food is amazing! So, it’s no wonder that joining a Tulum food tour would make this list. Of course, this will cost you a lot more than just wandering around and trying the street food, but you’ll also visit the best restaurants in Tulum (and go to the local secrets!)

From the humble taco to other delicious Mexican foods such as mole (mole is so good!) you’ll eat your way around the streets of Tulum and the best part is you’re going to leave with a full belly!

A great tour to do is this walking food tour through Tulum. Juan is an amazing guide and you’re sure to have an awesome time!

Learn to Cook Mexican Food

Cooking class in Tulum
Class is over, it’s time to eat…and drink!

Let’s be honest, do you really want to go back to eating Tex Mex after your Mexico Trip is over? Yeah, neither do I!

The best way to avoid this is to join a Mexican cooking class. Now, I didn’t do a cooking class in Tulum, instead, I actually did mine in Mexico City.

But it was honestly one of the best things I did in Mexico so I highly recommend doing one during your trip regardless of whether you do it in Tulum or another city around Mexico (one of the best things to do in Puerto Vallarta is also a cooking class!)

Most cooking classes go for around 3 hours but there are different styles to choose from depending on the experience you’re after. A few great ones in Tulum are:

Private cooking class with Chef – If you’re after a very professional cooking class so you can impress your friends at home then this is a good option. Antonio cooks more traditional Mayan foods and you’ll make 3 dishes on this tour.

Cooking class and mezcal tasting – Nothing is more Mexican than tacos and Mezcal, and on this top-rated tour that’s just what you’ll get! You’ll cook a 3-course meal as well as homemade salsa and tortillas. Then it’s time to try some authentic mezcal!

Rent a bike and explore

Riding a bike on the beach in Tulum
Riding your bike on the beach is not as easy as Bailey makes it look!

Walking around Tulum in the heat can sometimes be a little hard, especially since the beach isn’t exactly close to town.

So instead, rent a bike and explore. Bike rentals in Tulum are super cheap and you can get a bike for the whole day for around $5 a day – that’s if your hostel or hotel doesn’t rent them free already!

If they don’t, then don’t stress, there’s plenty of bike rental places in town. They will most likely rent scooters too, so if your legs need a break that could be a great option!

Visit the Tulum Ruins

The tulum Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
A beautiful change of scenery from the usual ruins deep in the jungle!
Credit – Big Stock – Tanaonte

Tulum was once a huge trading hub for the Mayan people and its steep limestone cliffs provided the perfect fortress to protect its port. The Tulum Ruins are what’s left of this old fortress and they make for an awesome place to visit!

For one, these ruins are located right on the coast some 12 meters high above the pearly white sand beach below – which you can swim at! And two, it’s a very interesting archaeological site in the region.

There’s lots to learn about the Tulum Ruins including how they used a pyramid as a lighthouse, but you’re sure to find out more about this on your visit!

It only costs 80 pesos to visit the ruins and another 45 pesos if you want to use your camera there. You can visit the ruins on your own which makes it very cheap. Just get the ADO bus from Tulum to Playe del Carmen and get off at the ruins. This bus costs 80 pesos.

If you want to know more about the ruins you can join this early access private tour with an archeologist. It’s a great tour for those wanting to know more about the history of the Mayan culture and the ruins. Plus, it is early access meaning you get to visit before the place gets CRAZY busy!

Swim with the whale sharks 

persons hand with whale shark in Tulum, Mexico
Swimming with Whale sharks is nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Don’t let the word “shark” conjure up images of Jaws and scare you away from this amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience! Whale sharks are called the “gentle giants” of the Mexican Rivera.

Whale sharks are large at 5-10 meters in length but are slow-moving and very docile. For many, swimming with Whale sharks is an experience on their bucket list that you can luckily do right in Tulum!

This particular tour will pick you up from the hotel and take you on a day-long snorkeling tour to see the whale sharks. They provide all the snorkeling equipment in addition to lunch, snacks, and drinks.

You’ll not only see whale sharks, but tons of wildlife and fish along the way – your expert guide will help point out some of the interesting creatures that live in this ocean. The cost for the tour is about 3,270 MXN (approx. $160 USD).  

Do some yoga 

inside of Yoga Dicha Tulum
Yoga Dicha is one of the most popular yoga studios in Tulum. Photo Credit: Yoga Dicha

Tulum is a popular area for wellness retreats and yoga. I mean, with gorgeous beaches and a laid-back atmosphere, it’s no surprise people come here for a bit of R&R! If you’re looking to do something creative, gets some movement in, and find your inner Shanti (peace), make sure to check out a yoga studio! 

Yoga classes in Tulum are not like the ones at your community center back home. Many are in gorgeous bamboo villas right on the water, often with a nearby spa to visit after your class! You can choose drop-in classes at studios or hotels, or stay for a night or multi-day retreat!  

Party the night away!  

people partying at Casa Jaguar in Tulum, Mexico
Ready for a few drinks?! Photo Credit: Casa Jaguar

Cancun might have the reputation for being a great party city, but Tulum should not be overlooked! There are tons of places to party the night away in Tulum, with most bars concentrated in the Pueblo or Middle Beach Zone.  

Some of Tulum’s hottest nightlife spots have a rotating schedule to host the biggest parties, so you can always check out where the biggest party is going to be that night – some bars that participate are Casa Jaguar, Gitano, and Papaya Playa Project

Day drinking is also an option in Tulum! Many of the clubs along the beach are great to grab a drink, play some games, and enjoy live music. 

10 EPIC Day Trips from Tulum, Mexico

While there are tons of fun things to do in Tulum, some of the best attractions are actually located outside of Tulum. This is why day trips are often some of the most popular things to do in Tulum. Below are some of the most popular day trips you can easily do when visiting Tulum.

1. Visit Chichen Itza

the light show at chichen itza night show
We visited Chichen Itza for the night show, it was really cool!

In my opinion, I couldn’t think of anything worse than spending so many hours on a bus to visit Chichen Itza. However, for most this is a reality as they don’t have the time to spend a night near Chichen Itza as I did.

So if you’re in that boat and don’t have the time to spare, then a tour from Tulum is a great option. The tours are 12 hours long and despite the long bus journey, Chichen Itza is spectacular to see.

On this tour, you’ll get a well-informed English-speaking guide, entrance to Chichen Itza, a guided visit to Ik-Kil Cenote (the best cenote in Mexico) and there’s an option to participate in a Temazcal ritual by a real Sharman!

2. Coba Ruins

The Coba Ruins in Tulum, Mexico
The temple at the Coba ruins are huge!
Credit – Big Stock – Mathes

I have been to the Coba Ruins a couple of years ago on a previous visit to Tulum, so this time around it was a miss for me. However, many backpackers are making the trip to check out these ruins especially since they are closer and cheaper than visiting the famous Chichen Itza.

The Coba Ruins are about 40 minutes away from Tulum by car or bus (ADO or collectivos go there regularly.) The entry fee is only 65 pesos making it a very good choice for activity in Tulum on a budget.

3. Rio Secreto Underground River

Rio Secreto Underground River, Mexico

Rio Secreto is one of the most breathtaking underground rivers in Mexico. This cenote can only be visited on a guided tour in which you swim and climb your way through the cenote exploring the beautiful stalagmites and stalactites while enjoying the crystal clear water.

Tours of the river cost $79 USD per person and this specific tour has over 198 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor! The tour lasts about 1.5 hours and includes all the equipment and guide.

Unfortunately, my photo really doesn’t do this place justice (my apologies) so head over to this blog if you want some visual inspiration!

4. Isla Holbox

 Hotbox Island, Mexico
Credit – Big Stock – Fotoember

The coastline of mainland Mexico is becoming more and more built up. Hotels are popping up everywhere using their beachfront land to try to claim entire beaches and coral reefs. For this reason, it can be nice to get far away from the huge hotels and restaurants and head to a place visited only for its beauty.

Isla Holbox is the perfect getaway from it all. Imagine, a small beach town located on the most beautiful pearly white sand with minimal traffic and the most amazing sunsets!

Getting to Isla Holbox from Tulum is a bit of a mission as you need to get yourself to Chiquila first. To do so, get the bus from Tulum and from there you’ll need to catch a ferry from Chiquila to Isla Holbox for 150 pesos. The trip takes 15 minutes and the ferry runs every 30 minutes. You can check ferry times and prices.

Because of the long journey, it’s best to stay a night or two. There are lots of accommodation options on the island you can browse them all here.

5. Playa del Carmen  

people walking on Fifth Avenue in Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Fifth Avenue is one of the most popular places to visit in Playa del Carmen. Photo Credit: kmiragaya on Deposit Photos

Playa Del Carmen is the perfect day trip from Tulum. It’s about a one-hour drive north of Tulum and is larger and more developed. There is a lot to see and do in Tulum, so budget a full day to explore!  

There is a large downtown shopping area (Quinta Avenida or Fifth Avenue) where you can get souvenirs like jewelry, textiles, hats, traditional handicrafts, and more. Just make sure you are ready to bargain to get some good deals! There are tons of restaurants and bars in this area to grab some food and drink as well. 

Besides shopping, popular spots to visit are Parque Los Fundadores (waterfront park with unique sculptures), the Frida Kahlo Museum, and the 3D Museum of Wonders. There are many tours that also leave from Playa Del Carmen to close by cenotes (caves), Xcaret water park, or to swim with dolphins.  

6. Sian Ka’an Biosphere 

a mangrove in Sian Kaan Biosphere near Tulum, Mexico
A mangrove in Sian Kaan Biosphere.

Sian Ka’an is a diverse nature reserve south of Tulum – a tropical wetland area amongst a strip of land that is bordered by beaches and lagoons.  

You can check out this amazing place with this tour, which will pick you up from your hotel. You will take a peaceful boat ride through a mangrove forest, cenotes, and lagoons, ending out at a coral reef in the ocean! Your guide will point out all kinds of wildlife and provide you with snorkeling equipment to check out the coral reef.

The tour includes transportation, water and snacks, and entrance fees to the reserve.  The cost for the tour is about 2,850 MXN/person ($144 USD) and it is a one-hour drive from Tulum. 

7. Xel-Ha or Xcaret 

Just one of the fun obstecles at Xel-Ha. Bailey visited with her family when she was a teenager!

Xel-Ha (pronounced shell-ha) and Xcaret (pronounced ish-ka-ret) are two popular tourist attractions in the Tulum area, and are both great excursions for a day! The price for a day is about 1,790 MXN ($90 USD) and both are within a 30-minute drive. 

Xel-Ha is best for those who are obsessed with snorkeling and swimming. It’s a deluxe all-inclusive aquatic park with a huge snorkeling area (over 90 species live there! It’s been described as snorkeling in an aquarium), a lazy river to tube down, zip lines, cliff-jumping, and a rope bridge. They also have hammocks and relaxed areas to chill or sip a margarita.  

Xcaret is a natural sanctuary park that focuses on entertainment, animals, and culture more than the snorkeling and swimming at Xel-Ha. While you can still snorkel here, you can also check out a Mayan village and see a traditional ceremony, or visit an aquarium and get up close to the animals. They also have these amazing underground rivers that you can float down and see the stalactites and stalagmites through the caves.  

8. Akumal Beach  

a huge sea turtle swimming
Swimming with wild sea turtles is one of the best things to do in Tulum!

Swimming and snorkeling with turtles is one of the absolute best day trips from Tulum. Akumal Bay is just a 30-minute drive from Tulum and is home to many, many large and majestic sea turtles! You can either bring your own snorkeling gear or rent some in the area to enjoy swimming with these amazing creatures.

Akumal Bay can be reached by taxi or collectivo (shared minivan), or you can join a tour group with a guide. The beach has restaurants and bars in the area to get some refreshments, too. 

9. Cozumel  

couples feet at a beach in Cozumel
What a perfect place to relax!

Cozumel is a small island just off the coast and makes a perfect day trip from Tulum! You can get there by heading north to Playa del Carmen and then taking the ferry across, which costs about 400 MXN ($20 USD) and can take up to 45 minutes. 

Once on Cozumel, you can either rent a car, use taxis, or rent bikes to get around the island! You’ll love exploring this island, checking out new beaches and places to snorkel or paddleboard. You can head to the Punta Sur Eco Park to check out some crocodiles and other animals or try scuba diving, which Cozumel is famous for! 

When you’re ready to refuel, there are a ton of good restaurants and bars, including Cerveceria Punta Sur or even a microbrewery with amazing food and beer! 

10. Bacalar  

bacalar lake, south os Tulum, Mexico
This is a lake – it’s beautiful!

Lago Bacalar, or the lake of seven colors, is an absolutely stunning oasis located south of Tulum, near Mexico’s border with Belize. This tour will take you on an all-day excursion so you can explore it for yourself.  

The freshwater lagoons of Lago Bacalar are crystal clear and a stunning turquoise color. Honestly, it is the most instagrammable spot! 

The lagoons are home to a variety of wildlife and animals and make for a unique nature experience. The tour will take you around on a boat to explore the area, including cenotes and a stop for lunch at the Colonial City.

The price for the tour is about 3,000 MXN ($150 USD) and it is a full-day excursion. 

Where to Eat in Tulum, Mexico

One of the most important things to consider when visiting a new destination is the food! For me, visiting local restaurants when I travel is one of my favorite activities.

Luckily for you, there is no shortage of amazing places to eat in Tulum. Below are some of our personal favorites!

El Camello Jr.

El Camello Jr. restaurant in Tulum, Mexico
Photo credit: El Camello Jr. restaurant in Tulum, Mexico

One of my favorite types of taco is seafood tacos and El Camello Jr. is a local favorite in Tulum. In fact, it was a friend of mine who grew up in Tulum who took me to this amazing place!

It’s walking distance from almost anywhere in town and they serve amazing tacos, ceviche, and whole fish. Basically, anything you order is amazing..and fresh!

Burrito Amor 

burritos from the restaurant Burrito Amor in Tulum, Meixoc
Those are some big burritos! Photo credit: Burrito Amor

You only need to head over to Burrito Amor’s TripAdvisor page to know that these are THE best burritos in town. Like, go back every day for another burrito kind of place! 

The location is perfect, right in the middle of town, and the environment and décor of the restaurant is fun, open, and modern. But really, it’s all about the burritos! They’re so yummy and they offer a lot of options for vegetarians or other diets.

Burrito Amor’s goal is to provide healthy, filling burritos that will keep you coming back every day! It is a great place to eat in Tulum.

Eat Street Food

man at a taco stand in mexico
A taco stand serving up cheap street food – yum!!!

Eating in Tulum on a budget is easy as there are so many affordable options when it comes to street food. Skip the fancy restaurants and give your wallet a break with street-side food trucks and taco stands.

We found lots of great-tasting, yet cheap, street food in Tulum. One of our favorites was also a local dish called Al Pastor, which is essentially pork-filled soft tacos.

Usually, you get about 5 small tacos for 3 USD and it is more than enough for one person. Street food is the best way to eat in Tulum on a budget.

Where to Stay in Tulum, Mexico

No matter what you’re looking for in a hotel, Tulum has it! Offering everything from hostels to 5-star luxury hotels to glamping, there is accommodation for any budget!

Here are some of the best places to stay in Tulum (categorized by budget!)

Hostels in Tulum

the pool at Hostel Che in Tulum, Mexico
The pool at hostel Che. Photo Credit: Hostel Che Tulum

Hostel Che Tulum – This hostel prides itself in having a social vibe. They have a beautiful pool and a central location. For only $15 USD a night you can get a dorm bed in an air-conditioned room with breakfast included.

Weary Traveler Hostel – These guys offer FREE cocktails every day for happy hour – what more could you ask for from a hostel really?! But besides that, they also have a good location and offer comfortable dorm beds for $13 USD per night including breakfast. You can also get budget private rooms here.

Hostel Bambu Gran Palas – This hostel offers a unique experience, it is built around a cenote! While it may not be the most luxurious hostel, the novelty of it is worth it. The location is also great for those who want to spend time at the beach (which is literally right across the road!)

Budget-friendly Hotels in Tulum

joy tulum hotel
Joy Tulum Hotel proves luxury doesn’t have to come with a high price in Tulum, Mexico! Photo Credit – Joy Tulum

Sol-Ha Tulum Boutique Hotel – If hostels aren’t your thing, this small hotel offers beautiful private rooms and incredible service. For less than $30 USD ou can get a king suite with air conditioning, a king bed, and an ensuite right in the heart of Tulum!

May Paya – This hotel is the perfect combination of budget and luxury. For only $27 USD a night for a double room, you will get access to the pool as well as the modern amenities in the hotel. The grounds are gorgeous and they even have an outdoor bar onsite!

Joy Tulum Adults Hotel – For those looking for some peace and quiet in Tulum this is the place. No kids allowed and a location slightly out of town makes for a quiet getaway. The outdoor pool is located among the trees. $30 USD will get you a double bungalow with a fan and included breakfast.

Luxury Hotels in Tulum

hotel blanco tulum mexico
Beautiful rooms at Hotel Blanco!
Photo Credit: Hotel Blanco Tulum

Hotel Blanco Tulum – This hotel is luxurious without the ridiculous price tag. For less than 2,000 MXN a night you can get a deluxe double room with air conditioning and a balcony. The hotel is centrally located and offers an outdoor pool as well as a hot tub!

Hotel Boutique TerraNova – This hotel is one of the top-rated in all of Tulum. They haven’t cut any corners when it comes to comfort and the staff are wonderful. All rooms have air conditioning and a garden patio. There is an outdoor pool and the hotel is located right in town.

Casa KanKin – If you are traveling in a group or with a family then this hotel is perfect. It offers self-contained apartments with kitchens that sleep up to 5 people! It is smack in the middle of town and has an outdoor pool. Rooms are air-conditioned and spacious.

Check out all accommodation available in Tulum!

Getting to Tulum, Mexico

The closest airport to Tulum is in Cancun. You can easily get from Cancun to Tulum using public buses or private transfers.

The most expensive bus is the ADO bus company which is also the quickest and most comfortable with a bathroom on board. Head to the ADO bus station and ask how much and how long to Tulum from wherever you are, these guys are helpful and many even speak English!

If you want to save a few dollars ask for the Mayab or Oriente buses (second-class buses.) These will typically be 1/3 of the ADO bus price and also leave from the ADO bus station.

Just be aware that sometimes the people selling the tickets only want to sell you the expensive ticket (because you’re a tourist) so be persistent or just ask a bus driver directly for information.

The second-class buses don’t have a bathroom on board and can sometimes fill up with more people than seats, but overall they are decent buses (some even have air conditioning!)

If you are flying into Cancun International Airport, consider saving time and just booking a private transfer. This transfer, in particular, is very affordable.

From Caye Caulker, Belize

Many people backpacking around Central America will visit Tulum after the equally as popular island of Caye Caulker in Belize (we actually did this.)

After taking the ferry back to Belize City from Caye Caulker, there are tourist buses going straight to Tulum at 11 am and 1 pm but they are pretty expensive (about $40 USD.)

A cheaper option is to get the “expensive” bus to Chetumal, Mexico only. From there, you can get the Mayab bus to Tulum for a fraction of the price.

Doing the journey this way will cost about $20 USD in total. It will take about 9 hours by bus to get from Belize City to Tulum including the border crossing.

Getting Around Tulum and Area

In terms of things to do in the actual town of Tulum, it is pretty limited to eating and shopping. The point of Tulum is that it is a great central location to begin exploring the amazing attractions the area offers.

When I arrived the first question I had was “how do I get to all of these places?”

There are a couple of ways to get around Tulum depending on your preferences. Taxis or organized tours are two options but these are the most expensive, so for the sake of this blog, I will focus on the budget-friendly options.

Option 1: Rent a car

Rent a car and drive anywhere your heart desires whenever you want!
A car rental for 24 hours will cost about 40 USD. Keep in mind that you will pay for fuel on top of that and even a couple of dollars here and there for parking.

This is a great budget option if you have a group of people splitting the costs!

You can browse rental car prices online.

Option 2: Collectivos

Catch the local “collectivos” which are essentially just minivans that run on direct routes and will stop for anybody anywhere along the route. They run regularly and the price depends on how far you go, but it is usually just a couple of dollars.

There are collectivos that run along the main highway from Tulum all the way to Cancun. Most of the attractions I will mention below will be accessible by this collectivo.

Simply wave down the collectivo on the correct side of the road (the direction in which you want to travel.) Jump in and tell the driver where you want to go. He will tell you when you are there and tell you the price (they have a set pricing chart so don’t worry about getting ripped off.)

Of course, a very basic level of Spanish will come in handy for this.

Tulum on a Budget Tips

-Stay in a hostel with a kitchen. Although street food is cheap, cooking for yourself is always cheaper.

-Carry your own snorkel gear. Snorkel gear can be rented at most beaches or cenotes. However, the rental fee will cost about the same as just buying your own set in the town of Tulum.

-Pack bagged lunches for your day trips as the restaurants near the attractions are expensive.

-Book a hostel that offers free water. With the humidity of Mexico, you could easily drink $5 USD worth of water per day.

-Travel in low season. Prices can double (sometimes triple) in the high season. High season usually is the months of November to February. Although the weather tends to be best in these months a strict budget is better suited to wet season travel.

Before you go…

Relaxing in Tulum
Thanks for reading and we hope this blog helps you enjoy Tulum!

Hopefully, this guide to Tulum on a budget is useful and inspires you to check out one of Mexico’s most beautiful regions! We had some really great times in and around Tulum.

We would encourage anyone to visit Tulum on a budget – and when you do, let us know if you have any other tips to add below!

Traveling more in Mexico? Maybe you’ll find some of our other travel guides helpful too!

For more check out our Mexico Landing page, it has all our blogs about Mexico laid out to make planning your trip easy!

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