One of the most important events in the Mexican calendar is the festival of the Virgin of Guadalupe. Mexicans undertake pilgrimages, sometimes lasting days, to churches to celebrate this event, which culminates on December 12th, with the pilgrims planning to arrive in the church at midnight of the 11th. Tulum this last weekend was no exception. The streets were filled with auto convoys escorting the pilgrims, some of whom had even walked from as far as Mérida to get there.
September 16th is when Mexico celebrates it independence. In Tulum they hold a very festive celebration in the city park, just off main street. The have lots of local food and entertainment and the party went on for hours. The also had a dance and celebrated with a fireworks display. I found it a fun experience even if I did get a bunch of strange looks from the locals, but it was a neat way to look into their culture. So if your in Tulum on Sept. 16th plan to spend your evening in the park, celebrating another countries independence. Don't worry if they give you the "gringo" look, your peso spends the same as their peso!
As in 2006 the entrance fee is of 38 pesos - this however does not include the use of a videocamera. For this priviledge you are required to pay extra money.
It could sound like a stupid advice, but DO bring pesos or dollars to pay for your entrance. I have seen people stuck outside because they only had euros - which are not accepted as a form of payment.
Eating in Mexico--and many countries outside of the US I presume--is a much more cultural activity and less rushed than some of us may be used to. Don't assume that the waiter will bring you the check--la cuenta--when all your food has been cleared, you've said no to any postres (desserts), and/or you've stated that you're finished (terminado). They won't assume you're done and want to leave unless you tell them, and even after that it can take a bit to have the bill delivered to the table.
Many of the tour books say that the locals in Tulum refer to the ruins as "Tulum" and their downtown as "Pueblo Tulum". I don't know where they got this little piece of insanity from! I've been there three times and whenever I say "Pueblo Tulum" to the cab driver he looks at me like I'm nuts! Then I say "downtown" or "bus station" and off we go. The word "pueblo" by itself will also get you downtown.
The main drag (Hwy 307) has a few souvenir shops, some mercados, a few very nice, restaurants, the bus station, some banks and pharmacies. It is slowly becoming a beautiful town.