While in Cancun, we decided to take a day trip to Tulum, to see one of the best Mayan ruins in Mexico and a few of the cenotes. Both the Tulum Ruins and Gran Cenote are popular among tourists and are a must-see for many travelers. To help make your visit even better we put together a detailed Tulum guide with more information, hotel recommendations, and tips you won’t find in your usual travel guide.
Though the Tulum ruins are not as big as the ruins of Chichen Itza or Uxmal, it is still one on the most visited ruins in Mexico. There are 60 ruins on this site. The most popular one being El Castillo (the Castle), as it is the tallest building there and is usually the one featured in travel magazines and guides. Within the Tulum ruins, there is also a gorgeous beach. This beach is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches along the Mayan Riviera, so don’t forget to bring your bathing suit and take a swim after visiting the ruins.
Admission Fee: $59 pesos
Parking Fee: $70 Pesos
Hours of Operation: 8am – 5pm
Insider Tips for the Tulum Ruins
- There are almost no shaded areas, so we strongly recommend you bring lots of water, and a hat to prevent fainting, and dehydration.
- No food or alcohol is allowed nor are there any stores within the archeological site. Though bags are not checked before entering, we recommend you eat before you go in, to help keep the ruins preserved.
- Unlike other ruins in Mexico you cannot climb or touch any of the ruins there.
- Though you can wear flip-flops to the ruins, we suggest you wear sneakers or supportive shoes so if you miss a step or trip on a rock you don’t hurt yourself.
- Bring swimming clothes as there is a Playa (beach) on site.
- After passing the information booths near the highway, where the colectivo will drop you off, you will have to walk about 1km to the entrance of the Ruins. Do not buy any tickets along the way, as people will try to sell you expired or fake tickets.
- The ruins take about 45mins to an hour to complete.
- Get to the ruins early as it get crowded and very hot in the evenings.
After visiting the Tulum ruins, we headed to the Gran Cenote, which is just 6 km from the ruins and 3.5 km from downtown Tulum. There are many cenotes in Mexico but the Gran Cenote is supposed to be one of the best ones.
The Gran Cenote is a big beautiful garden cenote that lives up to its name. It is a must see in Mexico. The cenote is open to swimmers, scuba divers and snorkelers. The fresh blue water cenote is crystal clear and very refreshing. Don’t expect the water to be as warm as the ocean, because it’s not. While swimming you will see plenty of stalactites and stalagmites, they are kind of cool. Ever wanted to swim with fishes, turtles and bats (yes, I just said bats), while you can do it all here. The cenote has a rope that you can hold onto as you explore, and there are also a few shallow spots for non-swimmers.
Admission Fee: $120 pesos; and $150 pesos for divers
Snorkel Gear Rental: $80 pesos (you can also rent scuba diving gear)
Hours of Operation: 8am – 6pm
Insider Tips for the Gran Cenote
- The only way to get to the Gran Cenote is by driving or a taking a taxi. Biking and hitchhiking is always an option as well.
- A taxi from the ruins to the cenote will cost you around $110 pesos one way. If you are on a budget like us, we recommend you leave the ruins and walk a little bit alongside the highway, a taxi will see you and ask to pick you up. It should charge you $80 pesos, no more.
- Another option to get to the Gran Cenote from the ruins is to catch a colectivo alongside the highway to downtown Tulum for $20 pesos and then grab a cab from there for $80 pesos
- Try hitching a ride back to Tulum as paying for another taxi can be pricey.
- We recommend you bring along swimming goggles or rent snorkeling gears because the sight underwater in the cenote is amazing and not one to be missed.
Overall we really enjoyed our day trip to the Tulum Ruins and the Gran Cenote. The Tulum Ruins are not as impressive as some of the other ruins in Mexico, but you are also only paying one fourth of the price. If you have been to some of the other ruins in Mexico, Tulum might be disappointing to you. The Gran Cenote, however, is a must see. The cenote is huge and you can easily spend some time there exploring the cave system and admiring its beauty. We would go back in a heart beat. So if you have time for a day trip while in Cancun or Playa, definitely consider visiting both places.