If you are planning a trip to Tulum than this post is for you. Below is a detailed guide of things to do along the way from either Cancun or Playa del Carmen, as well as in Tulum.
How to Get to Tulum
1. Getting from Cancun to Tulum
a. ADO bus
The ADO bus station is located in downtown Cancun between Tulum Ave. and Uxmal Ave. The bus depart about every hour from 8:12am- 11:00am then sporadically. The price for a one way ticket is $90 pesos, and takes 2 ½ hours to get to Tulum.
Colectivos are shuttle buses that serve as a cheap alternative for locals to get from town to town. Though these minivans are not 1st class buses, they are quite comfortable, quick and cheap. Surprisingly, the majority of colectivos even have A.C. To get to Tulum from Cancun, you will have to take 2 colectivos. One from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and then another from Playa de Carmen to Tulum.
The colectivos run every day and depart once they are full. It does not take long for the minivan to fill up, as many people use colectivo as their main mode of transportation. Of the many times we took the colectivos, we waited a maximum of 5 minutes before we departed and we were one of the first people in the van.
You can catch a colectivo in downtown Cancun, in the parking lot of “La Comercial Mexicana” (supermarket) on Tulum Ave across from ADO Bus station. You will take the colectivo to the last stop, which is Playa del Carmen for $30 pesos and then catch another colectivo in the same area where you get off to Tulum for $40 pesos. It takes a total of two hours to get to Tulum from Cancun.
2. Getting from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum
a. Ado Bus
The bus station is located on 5th Ave. and Benito Juarez. The buses to Tulum depart from Playa del Carmen every day from 8am-12:30pm (check bus schedule before departing). A one way ticket cost $66 pesos.
The colectivos depart from Playa del Carmen on Calle 2 between 15th and 20th Ave. The colectivos leave very frequently from 5am to 11pm and depart once they are filled with passengers. A one way ticket costs $40 pesos. It takes 45mins – 1 hour to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
Recommendation: Use Bookaway to easily compare and book bus or minivan tickets from Cancun or Playa del Carmen to Tulum.
Things to Do Along the Way to Tulum
Between the route from either Cancun or Playa del Carmen there is a lot to do. Below is a list of things with some details about each place.
Playa del Carmen
If you are coming from Cancun, I suggest that you stop in Playa del Carmen for a few hours or even a day. Playa has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and you don’t want to miss out on that, or do you? If you are looking for souvenirs, restaurants and bars, you should definitely visit 5th Ave. It’s one of the most popular streets in Playa. Both the ADO bus, and colectivo stop at Playa del Carmen.
For a more in depth guide on Playa del Carmen check out this Playa del Carmen guide from our friends over at Getting Stamped.
Xel-Ha is a water theme park, almost like a natural aquarium with activities that include but are not limited to inner tubing, swinging over cenotes, and swimming with dolphins. The all-inclusive park fee is $89USD for adults (cheaper when purchased online and if purchased 7 days or more in advance) and includes access to the park, all you can eat and drink, use of snorkeling equipment, locker and towel.
Xcaret is a unique theme park, that not only gives you ample opportunity to have fun but also to learn about the Mexican and Mayan culture. The park has water activities, an archaeological site, a re-created Mayan village and jungle trails. You can swim in underground rivers, go snorkeling, see a re-enactment of the pre-Hispanic ball game, visit ancient Mayan ruins and so much more. The basic admission fee is $99 USD for adults (cheaper when purchased online and 7 days or more in advance). The fee includes access to the park, a buffet meal with unlimited drinks and 1 beer, snorkeling equipment and lockers. Xcaret is usually an entire day visit and opens from 8:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m.
Akumal is consider to be a perfect beach to go for kayaking and snorkeling as the area is rich with coral and sea life. The beach is home to turtles, barracudas, and a variety of small fish. Many visitors visit Akumal to swim with the turtles that live only a stone throw away from the shore, so don’t forget to bring your snorkeling gear.
Cenotes In and Around Tulum
A cenote is a naturally formed sinkhole in the Earth’s surface made up of limestone. Millions of years of rainfalls ate away the limestone, creating underground cave pools. The water that fills the cenotes can be either fresh water, salt water or both. These naturally forming cave pools vary in structure. They can be completely open, similar to a lake, almost completely close with just a small opening at the top or somewhere in between.
No matter where you go during your trip to Tulum, it is an absolute must to visit at least one cenote while in Mexico. The Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has about 6,000 cenotes. So, there is no reason why you shouldn’t visit at least one. Trust me, after going to a cenote, you will never be able to look at beaches or pools the same way again.
Along the way to Tulum from Cancun or Playa del Carmen you will find a large amount of cenotes. Below is a list of the best Mexican cenotes along the way that we believe are worth the price.
- Cenote Azul (Entrance fee: $70 pesos)
- Chaak Tun (Entrance fee: $240 pesos)
- Dos Ojos (Entrance fee: $150 pesos )
- Gran Cenote (Entrance fee: $120 pesos)
Archeological Ruins In and Around Tulum
The Tulum Ruins are considered one of the most preserved ruins in Mexico, though not as impressive as Tikal, Chichen Itza or other popular ruins, they are worth a visit. There is also a beautiful beach right by the ruins, so don’t forget your bathing suit.
Admission fee: $59 pesos
The Cobá Ruins are considered to be one of the most unique ruins in Yucatan Peninsula. The Coba Ruins are surrounded by four natural lakes and many of the buildings in the ruins are covered by the jungle. The tallest pyramid in Coba, Nohoch Mul is 138 feet high and can be climbed by visitors unlike some other ruin sites. Once you get to the top you will get to experience a breathtaking view (I won’t spoil it, you will just have to see it for yourself).
Admission fee: $59 pesos
Muyil Ruins, also referred to as Chunyaxche, are located just 15km south of Tulum. The Muyil ruins are surrounded by jungle and visitors can hike through them as they appreciate the beauty of this small site.
Admission fee of $40 pesos
Where to Stay in Tulum
Below are some of the best places to stay in Tulum. No matter your travel style and budget, I am sure you will find one that suits your needs.
$ = Budget | $$ = Mid Range | $$$ = Luxury
Mama’s Home | $
This cute little guesthouse/hostel is the perfect spot to chill out after a long day of sightseeing and to meet other laid back travelers. It is located in a quiet street in Tulum town, next to the bus station, local bars and restaurants, and everything else one would need. It’s your home away from home. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Lobo Inn | $
If you rather stay within walking distance to the beach and the Tulum ruins than in the city center then Lobo Inn is the perfect place for you. It is one of the only good quality budget options available near the beach. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Secret Garden Hotel | $$
This charming hotel is by far our favorite place to stay in Tulum. It is located in the city center of Tulum, away from the noise but within walking distance from shops and restaurants. Each room at Secret Garden is decorate with local furniture and typical handmade ornaments and is equipped with an AC. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Posada los Mapaches | $$
Posada los Mapaches is located right across from the Tulum ruins and only a few minutes from the beach, cenotes and many other attractions. The owner, Chelo, is super friendly and knowledgeable, and takes good care of you during your stay in Tulum. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Alma Tulum Boutique Hotel | $$$
Private beach access and year-round outdoor pool, do I need to say more? Alma Tulum Hotel is rated for the best value in Tulum and you surely won’t be disappointed staying there. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Be Tulum Beach & Spa Resort | $$$
If you are looking for an authentic experience in luxury, this adult-only resort is the best place to stay in Tulum. The resort is located in the jungle and has direct access to the beautiful white sand beaches of Tulum. Each suite comes equipped with a private pool or hot-tub, free WiFi and a private balcony. Now if doesn’t convince you to stay there, then I don’t know what will. Click here to read reviews and check availability.
Tulum also has plenty of beautiful Airbnbs. For suggestions take a look at our guide to the best Airbnbs in Tulum.
Get Travel Insurance
No matter how long or short your trip, getting travel insurance is a must. You never know what will happen and you don’t want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills just because you didn’t get insurance. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
As you can see there are many things to do in and around Tulum and most sights are easily accessible by public transportation or taxis. We hope that we made planning your trip a little bit easier and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below.