The main reason to visit the Tulum Archaeological Zone is its stunning setting, on a limestone cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
Yes, the Tulum Ruins are very touristy but read here why I think they’re still worth visiting. However, do pack your patience if you go, and expect the crowds, buses, long lines, and all that over-commercialism brings to a destination. The good news is that if you’re really jonesing for a grande java chip frappuccino you can find one at the Starbucks in the Visitor’s Center! You may be pleasantly surprised by your experience, and awed by the scenic setting.
The Tulum Archaeological Zone is located 80 miles (128 km) from Cancun, 100 miles (62 km) south of Playa Del Carmen, and less than a mile (1 km) from Tulum Pueblo. If it’s your first time visiting the Yucatan Peninsula in the Quintana Roo area, then I would recommend first visiting Chichen Itza as that is a major Mayan archaeological site. However, if you have time, have traveled to the area before, or are staying in the Tulum area, then the Tulum Ruins really are a “must see”. I had been there before, years ago, and longed for that beautiful vista.
My husband, Ashton, and I were staying in Tulum and rented a car for a few days, so we drove to the Ruins. There are plenty of ways to get there as most of the hotels and resorts offer tours, and of course there are plenty of taxis.
This is the entrance to the parking lot. The cost for parking was $160 Pesos or $8 US at the time.
I have to appreciate the creativity that went into painting these colorful buses!
From the parking lot you walk into a large open air mall area that’s a visitor’s center, and has eateries, a market, and of course, ubiquitous souvenir shops. There are also random guides offering their services in this area. Note: this is not where you purchase your tickets. Initially we were looking around for the ticket booth, but that is in another area, a 10 minute walk away.
Above is said Starbucks, and they also have a Häagen-Dazs. Boy, have things changed since I was last here!
Once you’ve made it past the gauntlet of souvenir shops, it is a 10 minute walk – in the blazing hot sun – to get to the ticket booth area.
Alternatively, you can choose to ride the trolley for a minimal charge.
This is where you purchase your tickets, or hire an official guide.
The Cost was $70 Pesos per person, or about $3.50 at the time. Keep in mind that the currency exchange is constantly fluctuating.
The official guides.
The cost for a guide depends on the number of people in your group, as you can see above.
The entrance turnstiles.
A shaded, and welcomed rest area.
It’s another few minutes walk through the forest to the entrance of the wall.
At last, the entrance to the walled city of Tulum. To read more about the actual archaeological site, please see my post on Why Touristy Tulum is Still Worth a Visit.
Know before you go:
Hours: Tulum is open from 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. However, admission closes at 4:30 pm. The earlier you arrive the better, not only to beat the hordes, but also to avoid the blazing, midday sun. In fact, bringing an umbrella is a good idea, either for rain or sun.
Cost: $70 pesos when we were there (about $3.50 US). Foreign currencies are not permitted.
Bring plenty of water, as there is no one selling water inside the wall.
Bring a swimsuit if you think you might want to go swimming on the beach just below the ruins. We didn’t do it, but it would be quite refreshing.
While there are bathrooms around, they’re not the easiest to find. Below is the location of the ones inside of the market building.
The bathrooms (WC / toilets) cost $5 pesos. These fine gentlemen were taking care of these baños, and were kind enough to pose for a fun photo!