Tulum was the last stop on our trip to Mexico (and the US) and it turned out to be the perfect way to end our 3-week holiday. We had started our travels in Mexico by spending some time in Mexico City, then travelling to Oaxaca, Valladolid and Bacalar before ending the circuit in Tulum.
By the time we got there, we were ready just to kick back, and have the most relaxing 3-day experience we could afford. So, this Tulum travel guide will reflect just that. If you are looking for a laid-back itinerary, with a few exciting activities to do in Tulum, then read along!
What's Covered in this Post
Tulum Travel Guide – Getting There #1 (Car Rental)
We arrived in Tulum after a flight from Oaxaca to Cancun via Mexico City. In Cancun, we picked up our rental car and then drove down to Valladolid first. The drive from Cancun to Tulum is just under two hours, however, we decided to make stops in other parts of the Yucatán Peninsula first.
This allowed us to visit and spend a good amount of time in places like Chichen Itza, Cenote Ik Kil, and Bacalar. While day trips to these places are common from Tulum, I recommend overnight stops instead if you have the time to spare and are interested in visiting.
Tulum Travel Guide – Getting There #2 (ADO Bus or Transfer Service)
If you rent a car, it will make the commute easier and probably faster. However, if you choose not to, it is worth knowing that Mexico has good bus connections across multiple cities in the country. One of the bus companies that can get you to Tulum is ADO.
We used this service, booking through Busbud, to travel from Mexico City to Oaxaca and it was an extremely comfortable and safe experience. You can easily book a bus ticket online via Busbud (preferred) or show up at the terminal and buy one physically.
Lastly, if you arrive in Cancun, there is an option to book a private transfer or shuttle ride to Tulum. The private is the most expensive option to get there.
Getting Around in Tulum
The options to get around in Tulum include using a rental car, scooter or bicycle, Colectivo (shared transportation) and taxis. Colectivos are the cheapest form of transportation and from what I read online, they are geared more towards locals, not foreigners.
If you do not rent a car, bike or scooter, then taxis, though more expensive in the long run, are your best bet to get around in Tulum. Remember to negotiate your fares before you begin your ride.
Best Time to Visit Tulum
The best time to visit Tulum is between November and April. These months typically have favourable weather conditions and if you time your visit outside holidays and festivals, you can enjoy lower fares in Tulum and the town without the crowd. In late May, the rainy season begins and lasts through October, when hurricanes are most likely to occur.
Visiting Tulum in May – What to Expect
We visited in late May, which is supposedly the hottest month in Tulum and also the start of the rainy season. Personally, having lived in a tropical country all my life, I did not find the weather too uncomfortable. We had beautiful sunny days for most of our stay and it only rained when we were commuting from Bacalar and back to Cancun.
The only time I did feel a little uncomfortable was at night when the weather got warmer and we did not have air conditioning in our room. The ceiling fan did little to keep the room cool but it was enough to keep me asleep. If you’re used to cooler climates, it might be better to stay in an accommodation with air conditioning.
Where to Stay in Tulum – Hotel Zone or Tulum Town?
After reviewing the pros and cons of both areas and our travel preferences, we chose to stay in the hotel zone at Diamante K. Visiting in May, we were able to take advantage of the excellent discounts the hotel was offering and our stay was quite pleasant overall.
When considering accommodation options in Tulum, your travel preferences, mobility and budget will be the determining factors in choosing where to stay.
Hotels in Tulum town are generally cheaper, and sometimes, fancier than those you would find in the “Zona Hotelera”. But if you want to be closer to the beach, cool restaurants and beach clubs, then the hotel zone is where to be.
Tulum Travel Guide: Some of The Best Things to Do
We spent 3 nights in Tulum and here’s how that went…
Things to Do in Tulum – Day 1
We began this day in Bacalar, where we went paddleboarding at sunrise before driving to Tulum at noon. We then spent the rest of the day eating tacos, taking walks on the beach and ending it with dinner at Mezzanine and drinks at Casa Maria, the restaurant on Diamante K’s property.
Things to Do in Tulum – Day 2
On our second day, we pitched up under a beach cabana at the hotel and just spent the entire day there! This was Mark’s best day in Tulum. We did nothing but eat, sleep, and take dips in the pool. It was a superb day!
Things to Do in Tulum – Day 3
Mark planned out the perfect day on our third day in Tulum! It was my birthday and on the itinerary were breakfast at Ahau Tulum and photo stops in the area, a spa session, a snorkelling trip with sea turtles in Akumal and dinner at Rosa Negra. This was my best day in Tulum!
To wrap up this Tulum travel guide, I’ll share a few tips that I think are important to note before you visit. I hope that you find them helpful…
Tulum Travel Guide: 13 Things to Note Before You Go
- Many hotels in the hotel zone do not have constant air conditioning. They run on generators and will only have it on at certain times. If you are visiting during the warmer months and don’t do well with heat and humidity, be sure to keep an eye out for hotels that offer ACs and the hours they do.
- You’ll find several hotels not listed online. If you are staying in the area long-term, you might find better travel deals if you simply hop around and ask about prices and discounts.
- Travelling during the low season has its advantages and disadvantages – you will typically get reduced prices everywhere but you could also get unlucky with bad weather.
- Negotiate your taxis
- Many places are cash only, so be sure to have smaller bills when you go out. When we visited, we found that many ATMs in the hotel zone dispensed only US dollars. We struggled to find a working ATM that dispensed pesos.
- Consider where to stay based on your activities, budget and time of visit – we found hotels in the hotel zone to be about the same prices as many in town when we went.
- If you plan to visit the hotel zone daily, be aware that taxi prices could go as high as $30-40 per trip and traffic in and out of the beach zone can get pretty bad. Weigh these costs and figure out what is better in the long run
- Beware of the car rental scam when renting a car in Tulum – I talked about it a bit here.
- You may be pulled over by cops in your rental car/scooter, be sure you have the right licenses for these vehicles. We got pulled over once while nearing Tulum from Bacalar. It was a painless process in the end but a bit nerve-wracking when it happened.
- In May when we visited, the beaches in Tulum were covered in seaweed. I didn’t mind this so much but if you are hoping to spend time in crystal clear waters, be sure to check the beach conditions before you book your trip.
- When you go out to eat, be sure to check your bill to avoid extra charges. We got charged twice for a meal at Ahau Tulum – it could have been a mistake but it certainly made us look twice when we got our bills everywhere else.
- Tipping is expected in most places and servers will often ask
- For Nigerians visiting Mexico, you can check out this post for details on how to apply for a visa. If you have a valid, open (and used) visa to the US, UK, Canada, Japan or any Schengen country, you can visit Mexico without applying for a visa.
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That’s all for this Tulum travel guide! I hope you find it useful if you plan to visit someday. If you’ve been to Tulum before, I’d love to hear all about your experiences. Please leave me a comment and let’s reminisce together 🙂