Do not book a tour agency visit to Tulum. If you do, you'll be missing out on two of the best parts of this charming area: one of the greatest beaches in the world and a nifty little downtown. Tulum is very easy and inexpensive to get to from Cancun. Plan to take a taxi to the Cancun bus station and from there take the bus to the ruins... and bring your bathing suit!
Tulum is located 131km (81 miles) south of Cancun, about a 1½ hour drive. Taking the bus may require you to transfer in Playa Del Carmen, but it's a very simple thing to do. Bus fare from Cancun is cheap, only about $10 - 15 USD per person.
I do not suggest travelers do the Tulum/Coba day trip combination offered by the companies. It makes for a very long day with little time to enjoy the sites. (Less than 30 minutes at Tulum.) Everybody who visits through an agency complains later that they didn't have enough time to go for a good swim or see the downtown.
The Mayan ruins at Tulum date from 564 AD. They comprise of a walled-in fortress perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean. This is the picturesque site that you see used in many of the Mexico travel brochures. A complete tour of the ruins doesn't take very long (about 3 hours) and the cost of admission is inexpensive (38 pesos in 2004).
You can access the real Tulum beach (not that small one at the ruins) by walking or taking a taxi about 1km down the coastal road beside the ruins. This is a must-see while in Tulum. The beach is breathtaking. The water is crystal clear, clean, and that fantastic neon-blue colour. On the beach you can find some restaurants and if the urge takes you, book a cabana for an overnight stay.
Tulum's downtown was once kind of ugly, but they've done a lot of work and it is now quite pretty and also well worth a visit. There are bus stations both downtown and at the ruins, so getting back to Cancun is easier than ever.
See my Tulum Travel Page for more information about Tulum.
Tulum is the ancient Mayan city overlooking the fabulous blue waters of the Caribbean, with a fantastic beach, beautiful views and fascinating history. Tulum is an easy half day trip that you must see. It is also probably a good idea to join this trip with a stop at Xel Ha. David's dad rented a car for the week so we did a day trip to Tulum and Xel Ha. Tulum was built in the Early Classic period (AD250-600) and developed into an important city in the years AD1200-1530. Tulum is quite a small site and unlike Chichen Itza has a beach that is just an amazing sight. The beach is also good for a dip to cool yourself down in the heat. Tulum is one of the most visited of all Mayan ruins, and it's also the only major Mayan ruin to be found along Mexico's Caribbean coastline on the "Riviera Maya". It would be a shame to miss it. Tulum is surrounded by three walls and with the ocean forming the fourth boundary the city was designed to be defensive. A warning and danger tip would have to be the many Iguanas found all over the place. The best part about Tulum is that it is never too crowded. One of the big spectacles at Tulum is the voladores, or flyers located close to the entrance. They dress in brilliantly colored traditional costumes, climb up a 150 foot pole, tie their ankles to ropes wound around the pole and then jump off. They fly gracefully around and around as the ropes unwind until they reach the ground. As the voladores "fly," another performer balances at the top of the pole and plays haunting tunes on his wooden flute. Overall we all loved Tulum and would recommend it to anyone who visits Cancun.
Tulum is great. It's close to Playa del Carmen and it's the only piramid by the sea. It's quite amazing how these mayan guys built all these, and the landscape is great. If you're going to Tulum, BRING ON YOUR SWIMSUIT. There's an AMAZING beach right next to it. Impossible not to get in the water. You'll thank me afterwards.
From the resort row, it'll be worth it to rent a car and take a pleasant 3 hr. drive to the ancient Mayan temple complex of Tulum where you can soak in the historical sight as well as the amazing view of the sea!
Yup this temple sits at a cliff overlooking the carribbean sea! If you feel like taking a dip, a small beach by the alcove can be host to your 40degree heat break.
One of our free trips included a bus tour of the Tulum ruins combined with an afternoon at the Xpu-Ha Palace Resort. Because of the crowds that descend on Tulum, the busses have to park away from the site and it involves quite a bit more walking than Chichen-Itza. Also, since this is a relatively small walled fortification, it can be crowded - especially if a cruise ship disgorges its load (Chichen-Itza is much further inland, making a quick cruise ship tour difficult). We did not have as much time to explore here, but it was interesting to compare the two sites.
An interesting fact about Tulum is that it is the only ruin located directly on the coast. There is a very nice beach located directly below the cliff on which Tulum is situated. Our bus tour was too short to allow us time to explore it, but we had a good view from above!
As we were leaving the site, I took this photo from the landward protective wall, looking back over the main area of Tulum's buildings toward the ocean cliff. This site is much newer than Chicen-Itza, springing up in the 1200s, and it was still inhabited when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the 1500s.
Close to Cancun are Mayan ruins that stir the immagination. While Tulum, Chichin Itza, and Coba have well-deserved reservations, I also liked less traveled sites, such as Muyil.
If you go to Tulum, get there in the morning before the tour buses -- the site is compressed in a relatively small area and fills up fast. We got there around 8:30 - 9:00 and things were still relatively quiet -- but by the time we left the parking areas were full and more were coming in.
Muyil is just south of Tulum -- a relatively small site, but one that has some impressive buildings and gives a sense of discovery.
The Grand Pyramid is impressive at Coba, rising 12 stories above the jungle. The guidebooks mention that bikes are availble to rent because the sight is so spread out. They should be more emphatic: rent a bicycle if you go there.
Chichin Itza has a well-deserved reputation. Stay for the Light and Sound show if you can -- we took a tour bus to avoid driving late at night (and considering the cost of the toll road it was well worth it). Be sure to get the headphones unless you speak Spanish. Our guide was kind enough to arrange headphones for us, but we heard many people say that they wish they had gotten them.
I will always remember a large, orange-colored, full moon rising next to the great pyramid at Chichin Itza.
Ek-Balam has the most impressive artistic work -- well preserved statutes that defy description in this page.
Snorkeling is wonderful around Cancun. We were somewhat disappointed with Aquaworld's snorkeling tours -- both at Punta Nizuc and the Isla de Mujeres. Both of these tours took you out on boats with a guide in groups of 10 or so. It got a little crowded, but the reefs were great. You might want to consider a tour with Scubamex in Paamul instead.
There are lots of snorkeling areas south of Cancun: Paamul, Akumal, and Xpu-Ha all have beautiful beaches with access to reefs. Be sure to wear BIODEGRADEABLE sun block - and don't touch the reefs. We need to protect them for our children.
One of the ancient Maya Indians cities... or naturally ruins of it. Maybe not so impressive than some other ruined cities but a landmark of very old civilization. If you go to Cancun, I think you should also visit one day, or half of it in Tu-Lum. Actually we did Xel-Ha and Tu-Lum in one day and I think it was quite okay schedule for that.
Tulum 's view facing the rising sun and looking over the Caribbean is spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means "Wall", and the city is one of very few the ancients ever built. Plan to spend a few hours roaming around as there are several interesting stustures to visit.
It is believed the site was built sometime around A.D. 564 (the inscription on a stele) This places Tulum within the Classic period.
Entrance is $35~40 pesos (video cameras extra $30 pesos)
Open 8am to 5 pm, everyday.
You'll be bussed to it, you'll shop a little bit, then start the long walk or hot train ride back to the ruins. I'd suggest walking; the train is, well, freaking hot.
You'll spend about an hour here (as a tour), walking the ruins. You won't be allowed into the actual buildings themselves, but you'll see plenty of big ol lizards, palm trees, interesting tablets full of history to read about Tulum, it's how's & why's, the Mayan people; and that huge temple.
And, when you get to the boiling point (hardly any shade here!), go strip down & jump into the ocean! The ocean here is VERY calm, clear & oh my does it feel great. Float on a wave and stare up at what used to be a fortress for the Mayans.
Then go buy yourself a sarong or some Mexican jewelry. =-)
I had a great time getting to Tulum. Tulum lies approximately 80 miles south of Cancun--an easy and popular day trip (often in combination with Xel-Ha). The site, Quintana Roo's most famous and well-restored, is the only Mayan port city ever discovered. Tulum flourished from 1200 to 1500, and was still occupied when the Spaniards conquered the area in 1544. While not as extensive as Chichen Itza, Tulum's breathtaking location on a 40 foot bluff overlooking the turquoise Caribbean gives it a special magical quality.
Once you have entered Tulum through a small archway in a stone wall, it is just a short walk to El Castillo, from which you can see most of the ruins and the beautiful coastline. Other notable structures include the Temple of the Frescoes and the Temple of the Descending God. A small, but beautiful beach lies between the Castillo (Castle) and the Templo del Dios del Viento (Temple of the God of the Wind). It is a fun place for swimming or snorkeling if you have the time.
This was our first place to visit and I just Love it, The entrance fee is very cheap, around $3.00Dlllrs. The ruins are small it take less than a hour, but is the better place for pictures because is the Only
place where you can see Mayan ruins and caribbean sea together.
You Can take Beautiful pictures. (1st picture was in my forst visit, ou honeymoon) 2nd picture (our last visit 2008 with our son, in the same place)
the ancient Mayan city of Tulum on the coast of Quitana Roo dominates the Caribbean from its clifftop vantage point.
the impressive walled city is located on the coast and dates from the Post Classic period (A.D. 900-1521) A wall surrounded the ceremonial and political center of the city, while the common people settled on the perimeter.
The most noteworthy structures in Tulum are El Castillo , built on a 12-meter tall cliff facing the sea; the Temple of the Descending God, with a bas.-relief carving of the god Itzamna on the facade; and the Temple of the Frescoes, elaborately painted on the inside and decorated with masks on the four cornices
I enjoyed the trip to Tulum.The beautiful cliff-top archaeological site of Tulum,86 miles south of Cancun,dating from the Maya Post Classic period(AD 900-1512),is one of the most famous landmarks in the Maya world.It has wonderful views of the Quintana Roo coast.
We went here on a two centre trip and had about 2 hours here.Our guide took us around the temples and told us about them,then we had free time.