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Tulum Mayan Ruins Guide

The Great Mayan City By The Sea

Updated March 2024

Tulum Ruins Visitors guide. The ruins of Tulum. Visit Tulum Ruins.
Tulum Hotel Guide

Welcome to Tulum

Welcome to our guide to the captivating Tulum Mayan ruins. An archaeological gem located along Mexico’s scenic Yucatan Peninsula. Discover the remnants of an ancient Mayan city that flourished against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. In this guide, we’ll delve into the history, cultural significance, and architectural marvels of Tulum. We’ll also provide practical tips for your visit, such as the best times to go, how to get there, and what to bring. So let’s explore the Tulum Mayan Ruins together!

Welcome to our guide to the captivating Tulum Mayan ruins. An archaeological gem located along Mexico’s scenic Yucatan Peninsula. Discover the remnants of an ancient Mayan city that flourished against the backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. In this guide, we’ll delve into the history, cultural significance, and architectural marvels of Tulum. We’ll also provide practical tips for your visit, such as the best times to go, how to get there, and what to bring. So let’s explore the Tulum Mayan Ruins together!

Tulum Map

Tulum Map

Contents

Tulum Ruins At Sunrise
Tulum Ruins
Tulum Ruins Visitors guide. The ruins of Tulum. Visit Tulum Ruins.

A Bit Of History

Tulum was the last great city constructed and inhabited by the Mayan people between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. It was a site of worship to the Great Descending God whose image adorns the temples within the site. Tulum was also of great importance for sea trade, most specifically for the trading of obsidian. Tribes from all over Mexico and other Central American countries would travel here for commerce. It’s said that the great wall around the city was erected to protect it from envious traders and pirates who wanted to steal the prime location for themselves.

Tulum Ruins Visitors guide. The ruins of Tulum. Visit Tulum Ruins.

Tulum Today

Today, numerous structures remain, spread out over groomed lawns and oceanside cliffs. The site’s buildings are an evolution of architectural styles that showcase the growth of the area over the centuries. Whether seeking a scenic holiday or the chance to dive into rich Mexican culture or Mayan history, Tulum is an epic travel destination. Below is our guide to making the best of your visit to Tulum. We hope you enjoy!

Where Are The Tulum Ruins?

Playa Del Carmen On A Map

The Tulum ruins are located on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. They are in the heart of the Riviera Maya on the Caribbean Sea. Tulum is approximately 45 minutes south of Playa del Carmen and 90 minutes south of Cancun by car.

The Tulum ruins are a few minute ride from the nearby town of Tulum Pueblo, often just called “Tulum” as well, where many people choose to stay when visiting the area.

Tulum Ruins Visitors guide. The ruins of Tulum. Visit Tulum Ruins.
Tulum By The Sea
Tulum Visitors Guide

When To Visit The Tulum Ruins

The tropical climate in Tulum is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

The Tulum ruins are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week. As it is a popular tourist attraction, the ruins do get busy with around 2,000 visitors each day. The best time of the day to visit the Mayan ruins is around opening time. This is typically the prime time to explore with fewer crowds.

The tropical climate in Tulum is quite predictable and easy to make plans around. Without much of a temperature difference throughout the year, (the average temperature lingers around 83 degrees F) it’s the rainy hurricane season that most travelers need to pay attention to.

The Tulum ruins are open from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM, seven days a week. As it is a popular tourist attraction, the ruins do get busy with around 2,000 visitors each day. The best time of the day to visit the Mayan ruins is around opening time. This is typically the prime time to explore with fewer crowds.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine. Also, this is the hurricane season so keep an eye on the forecasts. Fewer tourists so you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Tulum. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

January – April

Perfect weather-wise, but sees the highest influx of tourists. If you are not a people person, consider this.

May – October

The hottest and most rainy months of the year but still plenty of sunshine. Also, this is the hurricane season so keep an eye on the forecasts. Fewer tourists so you can typically expect lower rates at hotels, resorts and tour companies during this time.

November – December

The autumn-winter months are considered by many to be the best times to visit Tulum. The hurricane season has passed by this time and the humidity is low. Can be a little “chilly” in the evenings.

How To Get To Tulum Ruins

From Tulum Town

There are many ways to visit the ruins from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, Akumal or Tulum town. The ruins are around 2.5 miles from Tulum town center, 45 minutes from Playa or about 1.5 hours from Cancun. Here are some great options for visiting the ruins.

Mexico Airport

By Air

Most people fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN) when traveling to Tulum. This is the largest airport on the Yucatan Peninsula offering direct flights from the United States. It takes around 2.5 hours by car to get from the Cancun International Airport to Tulum. However, direct flights are coming to the new Tulum International Airport soon.

The new Tulum Felipe Carrillo Puerto International Airport (TQO) is now open. The airport allows International travelers to connect to Tulum via Mexico City with domestic airlines such as Aeromexico. Direct flights from the United States will begin arriving at Tulum Airport in March of 2024. The airport is an easy 35-40 minutes from the famous Mayan Ruins of Tulum.

Island Life Mexico

By Car

Renting a car might be the best scenario if you plan on exploring the area a bit. From the Cancun International Airport, rent a car and head down the only highway southbound. You will pass Playa del Carmen, Akumal and so on. Approximately 90 minutes later you will arrive in Tulum Town. If you will be spending the night in town, be sure to check if your lodgings are in the Zona Hotelera (hotel zone) or Centro (town center), as your turn off will be on different sides of the road. Signs for the ruins themselves are plentiful. We recommend booking your car here for the best prices.

  Book a car for pick up at the Cancun airport here.

  Book a car for pick up in Tulum town here.

Island Life Mexico

Take a Tour

There are a number of wonderful tours available to visit the Tulum Ruins from Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum center. Many include visits to cenotes and other fun activities for the day.

  To join an amazing all day tour that includes transport to the ruins, a guide, a snorkeling trip and a swim at a local cenote, check out this hugely popular tour that can pick you up in Cancun, Playa or Tulum town.

  If you’d prefer a private tour, this is a highly rated private tour from Tulum or Akumal that includes hotel/resort pickup and guide.

  There are many, many more popular Tulum tour options to explore here.

The beaches of Tulum

By Bicycle

Another popular option is to bicycle to the ruins from local hotels. Exploring the area by bicycle is often recommended by locals as it gives you the chance to get around at your own convenience. You can rent a bike for around $8 US a day anywhere in Tulum town and explore at your leisure.

  • If you are staying by the beach, the bicycle rides can be much longer so check distances with your hotel.
  • You cannot ride within the Tulum ruins site, but there are bike racks outside the gates.
  • In the summer months, the bike ride can be too hot. Save your energy for walking around the ruins.
Taxi in Mexico

By Taxi

If you want to take a taxi to the Tulum Ruins, they are everywhere in Tulum, Cancun & Playa del Carmen and can take you straight to the ruins. Be sure to discuss the prices in advance of taking the ride so you don’t get overcharged. Taxi’s from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Tulum are convenient but can be quite expensive. Taxis in Tulum are an easy way to get to the ruins which are about 2.5 miles from Tulum town center. Flag them down on the road or have your hotel call one for you.

Tulum Ruins Visitors guide. The ruins of Tulum. Visit Tulum Ruins.
Exploring The Tulum Ruins
Tulum Ruins, one of the best things to do in Tulum

Tips For Visiting Tulum

The Inside Info

There is so much to do in Tulum. Here are some helpful tips to make the most out of your visit to the ruins.

Wear cool and comfortable clothing to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum
Wear cool and comfortable clothing to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Wear Cool, Comfortable Clothes

Wearing the wrong outfit to the ruins can ruin your time (pun intended). You should wear loose-fitting or light-colored clothing that is comfortable. You are likely to sweat as you walk around the ruins in the hot Mexican sun. In addition, wear comfortable trainers enabling you to walk around the site. Some visitors come in their swimsuits as they go straight to the beach after seeing the ruins.

Tulum Mayan Ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea
Tulum Mayan Ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Bring Plenty of Water

You are likely to visit the ruins when the temperatures around Tulum are at or near their hottest. The weather on the Yucatan Peninsula is humid and can zap you of moisture. Carry a large bottle of water with you to sip as you explore the ruins to keep you hydrated in the heat. There is very little shade from the hot sun around the ruins.

Mayan Ruins of Tulum
Mayan Ruins of Tulum

Only Buy Tickets at the Information Booth

Upon arrival to the Tulum Mayan ruins, you may see several individuals selling tickets away from the site. Do not be fooled as these tickets are not authentic passes to enter the Tulum ruins. You should only purchase your tickets at the site’s gate.

Tulum Mayan Ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea
Tulum Mayan Ruins overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Arrive Early

The Tulum ruins can get crowded, with 2000 travelers visiting each day. We highly recommend arriving early! You will not only avoid the crowds but also beat the heat. Tour buses arrive around 10 AM, and the ruins become incredibly busy at that time. It’s also a good idea to avoid going on Sundays. Entrance to the ruins is free for Mexicans and foreign residents on Sundays, so it gets more crowded than usual.

Mayan Ruins of Tulum overlooking the Caribbean Sea
Mayan Ruins of Tulum overlooking the Caribbean Sea

Bring Your Pesos

The Tulum Mayan Ruins only accept Mexican pesos for the entrance and any snacks or beverages you may want to buy. Don’t forget to have some pesos with you because there are no ATMs on site. You’ll need pesos for almost everything, from taxi fares to meals.

Be aware that if you want to take photos with a device other than your smartphone, you must pay a photography fee, around 45 MXN – $2.50 USD. There is also a fee for parking at the Tulum Ruins, which costs 160 MXN or $8 USD. If you don’t want to pay for parking, you can also park for free along the public beach of Playa Santa Fe and walk a similar distance to the Tulum Ruins.

Iguana in front of the Tulum Mayan Ruins
Iguana in front of the Tulum Mayan Ruins

Respect The Wildlife

It’s important to respect the local flora and fauna when visiting the ruins of Tulum. While visiting, you will likely spot different exotic wild animals and plants. You will likely spot iguanas and coatis (similar to a raccoon), and sea turtles often nest on the beach below the ruins. As tempting as it may be, please avoid touching the animals or plucking the flowers while visiting the ruins of Tulum.

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This Post Has 10 Comments

  1. Bob Devermann says:

    Heed the warning regarding tickets. we bought tickets from a stand just across the road from the market place just as you turn in from the highway. HUGE ripoff. $100 for two for “special” ticket to get in faster ( probably saved 10 minutes) trolley to entrance to ruins ( but walk was less than 1/2 mile, and the worst part, a private guide who was awful. He was hard to understand. Did not an offer a lot of information, and 30 minutes later said the tour was done and we had seen only 1/2 the site. My advice, get a tour package from your hotel with transportation, entrance ticket, guide, and usually involves visiting a cenote. Much better value!!!

  2. Lauren says:

    This is very helpful! Do you have a guide on specific ruins to see? Thank you.

    1. Daniel says:

      The big 3 in Yucatan are Tulum, Chitchen Itza and Coba. Check out all three!

  3. Daniel says:

    Tulum ruins are NOT closed. I don’t know what that article is talking about honestly. Glad you love the guides!

  4. Overland Travel says:

    An unforgettable experience, was there in 2005. Traveling USA – Mexico – Guatemala.

    1. Daniel says:

      Awesome! I hope you made it to Tikal too. Epic!

  5. Hibba Rocha says:

    Very nice guide. I will visit Tulum later this year. Thank you.

  6. Chavez family says:

    Tulum is incredible. Highly recommended. Our kids favorite part was swimming in the sea there of course!

  7. Beth & Franklin Hofstetter says:

    The Tulum ruins are extraordinary. We never would have thought to bring our swimsuits, excellent tip. Our kids loved swimming at the ruins.

  8. Giorgia Zhang says:

    Bring a lot of water and money for souvenirs. The temples are so interesting. Not as big as Chichen Itza but it is in a much more beautiful location.

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