Is Tulum worth visiting? Are you planning a trip to Mexico and debating adding Tulum to your Itinerary in Mexico?
Whether that’s the case or you’ve heard all the hype and are curious about Tulum, this breakdown of the five pros and cons will help you decide if Tulum is worth visiting!
Tulum is one of the most popular places in Mexico if not all of North America. The small beach town along the Riviera Maya has become world-famous for its beaches, cenotes, elaborate nightlife, bohemian-chic boutique hotels, and social media allure.
While Tulum has many great attributes, the beach town has its cons, and they should be considered before making a trip out there. Having been to Tulum many times, I’ve experienced each side of things!
Getting to Tulum
Tulum is straightforward to get to from Cancun International Airport. It’s a two-hour drive along the main highway in the Riviera Maya.
The main highway traffic can affect your travel time by around 10 to 15 minutes to Tulum from Cancun Airport.
Options to Tulum from Cancun Airport
- Take the ADO Bus (the cheapest method)
- Private Airport Transporation (the most convenient way)
- Car Rental
- Mayan Train (available as of December 2023)
Getting around Tulum
Tulum has three main areas: Hotel Zone, Tulum Town/Centro, and Aldea Zama. Unfortunately, they’re not walking distance from one another, so getting around Tulum isn’t convenient.
This makes choosing where to stay in town important, and I’ve elaborated on where to stay in Tulum below. But first, let’s discuss how to get around!
Walking: If you’re staying in Tulum Town, walking around is possible, even at night, as many things are nearby, except the beach. You’ll need to walk 50 minutes from Tulum Town to the beach. In other areas, not many things are within walking distance.
Rent a Bike: This is an affordable way to get around Tulum, but be careful at night because many roads don’t have streetlights. There are bike rental shops around town, but many hotels/AirBnBs also have free bikes for guests.
Taxi: Taking a taxi is the most common way around Tulum, and you’ll spot taxis everywhere. But it’s not cheap to take taxis in Tulum, and prices rise at night.
Rent a Scooter/Car: Another option is renting a scooter/car; prepare for a bumpy ride; the roads aren’t paved in Tulum.
Colectivo: This form of local transportation is used only along Tulum’s two significant main roads. Refer to my guide below on how to use them.
5 Pros of Tulum
Beaches & Cenotes: Tulum boasts stunning beaches with crystal-clear turquoise waters and powdery white sand, the primary reason many visit the famous beach town.
Additionally, Tulum is famous for its cenotes, natural sinkholes filled with fresh water, once used by the Mayan Civilization.
Visiting a few cenotes in Tulum is a must-do, providing an opportunity to swim, dive, or snorkel. Surrounded by lush vegetation and awe-inspiring rock formations, cenotes are very picturesque.
Many Things to Do: There are plenty of things to do in Tulum: sunbathing at the beach, visiting the famous Tulum Ruins, day partying at one of the many beach clubs, boat excursions, and more!
Nightlife: The nightlife in Tulum is a large reason why many travelers come to Tulum. Over the last few years, Tulum has become one of the world’s best places for those who enjoy a long night out.
The nightlife in Tulum is top-notch, from remote jungle parties to beach parties in the day or night, happening till the early morning hours, bars playing pop/house music, and nightclubs.
Many refer to Tulum as the off-season Ibiza. During the winter months, Ibiza, Spain, is in low season while Tulum is in high season, so all the famous International DJ talent comes to play in Tulum instead!
Excellent Day Trip Base: Tulum is located in an ideal part of the Riviera Maya; staying here means you aren’t too far from many other popular places to explore.
Akumal, Playa del Carmen, Valladolid, and Chichen Itza are all nearby for day trips from Tulum!
Atmosphere: Another main attraction to Tulum is the atmosphere in the beach town.
It offers a laid-back bohemian vibe with an emphasis on eco-friendly travel. The main reason you’ll spot many yogis and backpackers visiting the town.
Tulum also offers its luxurious side along its Hotel Zone, where you’ll find many boutique hotels, beach clubs, and restaurants known for their stylish/rustic jungle decor, blending seamlessly with the surrounding jungle and beach landscapes.
5 Cons of Tulum
Beaches aren’t Close: This is a very inconvenient con about Tulum; many visit Tulum to come and spend days at the beach. But unless you’re staying at one of Tulum’s costly hotels in the Hotel Zone located directly on the beach, you won’t be close to the beach.
If you’re staying in Aldea Zama, centrally located, you’re around a 1-hour walk from the beach.
For those who stay in Tulum Town, also known as Centro Tulum, it’s around a 1 hour and 20/40 minutes walk, depending on if you go to the North or South part of Tulum Beach.
So yeah, this is a big con about Tulum. It’s a beach town, and ideally, you’d like to be within walking distance from the beach. It’s best to either take a taxi/ride a bike to the beaches.
Lack of Transportation: To follow up on distances between areas in Tulum, it’s not easy to get around Tulum because the town lacks transportation, and at night, you’re stuck only using taxis.
Taxis are king in Tulum, and many taxi drivers take advantage of this by charging high prices to tourists, also known as the “Gringo Tax“. Use my getting around Tulum to navigate this.
Many choose to ride a bike in Tulum, but at night, many roads are dark, and some roads are iffy. Areas are far apart, and Tulum is not walkable from area to area, making the beach town inconvenient.
If you’d like to save on transportation, stay in Tulum Town, where you’ll find many bars, nightclubs, and restaurants nearby hotels/hostels. But the downside to staying here is you’re furthest from the beach, compared to staying in Aldea Zama or the Hotel Zone.
Expensive: Tulum is expensive to visit for the average travel budget. The beach town has its luxurious side along the Hotel Zone, where cocktails sell for $20 – $30 US at fancy restaurants and beach clubs.
Besides, taxis aren’t cheap; many drivers charge $30-$50 US to go anywhere in town, and distances aren’t too far. And they won’t use a meter, so don’t think of suggesting it!
Scams: You’ll most likely run into a local trying to scam you at least once if you stay in Tulum for 7-10 days.
From taxi scams to the occasional beach theft and even corrupt police, Tulum definitely has its scams.
Overall, Tulum is far from one of the cheapest places in Mexico to visit, but you can definitely visit Tulum on a budget. There’s a reason it’s still a popular destination among backpackers.
Not the Safest at Night: It’s unsafe to wander around Tulum on dark roads between different areas within the town. Take a taxi if you must go from one area to another at night.
If you’re walking around within your area like Aldea Zama, Tulum Town, or Hotel Zone at night, you’re okay, especially near lit roads, restaurants, etc.
But it’s not the safest if you’re walking on dark roads between each area in Tulum. Not that it’s dangerous or anything, but it’s advised not to do so.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Let’s discuss where you should stay in Tulum. First, I’ll cover the three main areas in Tulum that I’ve mentioned several times.
As mentioned, Tulum is not walkable; to get around Tulum, you have to take a taxi, bike places, or rent a car.
That being said, the area where you choose to stay in Tulum matters because of this. So choose what works best for you!
First, decide what area you’d like to be in: Tulum Beach, Aldea Zama, or Centro.
Tulum Beach: For those who want to be close to the beach, the downside is other than fancy restaurants, staying here means you’re further from most things in Tulum.
Aldea Zama: This is the most popular area in Tulum; it’s in the middle between Centro Tulum and the beach; staying here means you’re close to both main points of Tulum.
Centro Tulum: Staying here means you’re close to all the restaurants, bars, shops, and more. It’s very convenient, but you will be furthest from the beach among these three areas.
Here is a short list of luxury boutique hotels, Centro hotels, and hostels in Tulum that I recommend after many visits!
Things to Do in Tulum
Tulum Ruins: Located along the coastline, visiting and seeing the many ruins here is a must-do when you’re in Tulum!
Casa Tortuga Cenotes: A Cenote park with 4 excellent and unique cenotes to discover and swim in. Casa Tortuga Cenotes Tulum is only 15 minutes away from Centro Tulum.
Tulum National Park: Free park to visit along Tulum North Beach and the best place to watch sunsets in Tulum.
Swim with Turtles in Akumal: Only 30 Minutes away from Tulum is Akumal Beach, a shoreline famous for its many sea turtles inhabiting its waters.
Catamaran Boat to Isla Mujeres: Isla Mujeres is an island located across the water from Cancun and is absolutely stunning. On this tour, you will sail to Isla Mujeres from Tulum.
Chichen Itza: Mexico’s most famous attraction, the archaeological site of Chichen Itza, is a must-visit when visiting this region of Mexico. Attend this Chichen Itza tour from Tulum!
Best Time to Visit Tulum
The best time to visit Tulum is during the town’s dry season, from November through April.
During these months, when the weather is ideal in Tulum, it’s warm enough to go to the beach, and humidity levels aren’t too high, with a perfect slight jungle breeze here and there!
For those wondering, the busiest time to visit Tulum is in January and February. Festivals are happening in town then, and many visit to escape the winter up North or in Europe after the holidays.
The worst time to visit Tulum is in the off-season, from May through October, also known as the rainy/monsoon season, when humidity index levels rise, and there’s a greater chance for tropical rainfall.
Also, the shoreline of the beaches in Tulum during the off-season can get full of sargassum/seaweed!
Dry Season: November to April
Rainy Season: May to mid-November
Hurricane Season: June to November
TIP: The best and cheapest time to visit Tulum in the year is during November when the season is changing, and there are still more affordable flights/hotels!
What is Tulum Known for?
Tulum has many notable features, but what stands out the most is its rich historical Mayan attributes featuring its well-preserved Mayan ruins, conveniently located on a perched cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea and cenotes.
Beyond its historical past, today, Tulum is most known as a lively beach town for tourists to enjoy long days sunbathing, exploring the jungles of Tulum, or partying at one of its many beach clubs.
At night, Tulum is just as fun as during the day, offering many lively restaurants, bars, jungle parties, and more!
With so much to experience in Tulum in the day and night, it’s hard for one to get bored. That’s why it’s such a popular place for tourists to visit. Also, Tulum’s local food and restaurants are excellent!
Lastly, it must be mentioned that a big attraction to Tulum is the town’s overall “allure.” Let me explain: Yogis, backpackers, those who love techno music, and social media influencers are all fascinated with Tulum.
Is Tulum Worth Visiting? — Final Thoughts
So, is Tulum worth visiting? Yes, at least once, Tulum is very much worth visiting! Whether you’re a beach person, fascinated by history, or looking for lively nights out, Tulum offers it all.
There are plenty of things to do in Tulum, and the nightlife in the town stands out the most in Mexico. But as mentioned above, Tulum definitely has its cons, which must be considered before visiting.
Tulum is For: If you’re looking to visit somewhere with a stunning beach shoreline, don’t mind the inconvenience of transportation, and would prefer to visit somewhere with many things to do during the day and various lively things at night.
Backpackers, yogis, techno fans, and those looking to explore the history of the Mayans or enjoy visiting trendy destinations, Tulum is definitely for you, and you will love visiting Tulum!
Tulum isn’t For: If you’d like to be near the beach during a holiday but are not looking to spend too much on your hotel, you’re best off not visiting Tulum because that’s impossible.
Staying in Playa Del Carmen or Cancun would make more sense at that point; both offer affordable accommodations near the beach.
Also, travelers looking to visit Tulum with a mid-range budget but would like nicer accommodations, Tulum isn’t cheap, and you’d be best off staying in one of the two places I’ve mentioned above.
Tulum isn’t recommended for families; it’s a bit too lively, it’s not as safe at night, and overall, the beach town attracts crowds without families.
But if you’d like to visit Tulum with your family, stay in its neighboring beach town, Akumal, which is equally beautiful and more suited for families, and make a day trip to Tulum!
Is Tulum good for tourists?
Yes, it is, there are plenty of things to experience in Tulum. It’s a great base for day trips, and its nightlife is the best in the Riviera Maya!
What is so special about Tulum?
Tulum has a bit of an “allure” because it’s popular amongst many groups: yogis, backpackers, techno fans, and social media influencers.
But besides all that, Tulum has stunning beach shorelines, beautiful cenotes to explore, and ancient ruins, and it is a fun beach town to visit!
Is Tulum nicer than Cancun?
Both have beautiful beaches, though Cancun has slightly better beaches than Tulum.
But Tulum has stunning cenotes and a charming jungle/beach landscape that Cancun doesn’t offer!
Is Tulum a luxury destination?
Tulum can be a luxury destination if you stay in the Hotel Zone, where many expensive boutique hotels, beach clubs, and fancy restaurants are.
But if you’re looking to visit Tulum on a budget, stay in Tulum Town. There are many affordable hotels/hostels there and places to eat!
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