Ahh, Tulum. The Mexican city we’ve seen all over Instagram throughout the last two years! Tulum is one of those places that everyone talks about and you just can’t help but wonder, “Is it really worth the hype?” Well, today we are going to break it all down in our Tulum travel guide.
First things first, let me start by saying that I absolutely love Tulum. While it may be overhyped in some sense, it is a beautiful city, with a vibrant culture, good vibes and great food. There are a million things to do, which makes it an excellent destination no matter the type of traveller you are. If you prefer to lounge around by the ocean, the white sand beach is there waiting for you. Prefer city life? Tulum town has dozens of restaurants, markets and cafes for you to explore. Even if you’re more of an explorer, you’ll enjoy yourself in Tulum as you go visit cenotes (underground caves to swim in) and Mayan ruins.
On the other hand, given its rising popularity in the last few years, it has definitely lost a bit of its authenticity. Tulum is rampant with tourists and ex-pats, and you will hear a lot of English while walking around. Also, depending on where you choose to spend most of your stay, the prices can be quite high! For example, accommodation and restaurants by Tulum beach (Playa Tulum) are much more expensive than those in town (Tulum Pueblo).
Getting to Tulum
The easiest way to get to Tulum is to fly into Cancun. From there you can take a bus with the local bus company ADO. There are many buses running from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, then to Tulum. The journey by bus takes about two and a half hours since you’ll need to transfer in Playa del Carmen. If you prefer a quicker ride, you can also take a “colectivo”, which is a larger van shared by up to 10 people. This is usually quicker as you’re skipping the transfer but can be a bit more stressful as you need to let the driver know when you want to get off and most of them speak Spanish only. Perfect time to practice your español!
As for where you’d like to stay, there are essentially two options — Tulum Pueblo or Playa Tulum. As I mentioned, it is much cheaper to stay in town than by the beach. However, keep in mind that while Tulum isn’t a huge city, the beach is not walkable from town. You’ll need to take a taxi or rent a bike/scooter to get from one to the other (about 20 minutes out). It definitely depends on what kind of experience you’re looking for! The beach has a lot of boutique hotels and luxury resorts, whereas el pueblo has more of an authentic feel as this is where the locals live!
What to do
One of the most popular things to do in Tulum is to visit the Mayan ruins, which are luckily only a ten-minute drive from the playa. It is one of the most popular attractions as it is the only Mayan city to be built on the coast! Make sure to wear your bathing suit underneath your clothes, as the beach is directly accessible from the ruins. Trust me, you’ll want to take a dip after all that walking!
Another must-do activity while visiting Tulum is to swim in a cenote (or several!). Did you know that the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico has approximately 12,000 cenotes?! Two of the most popular ones are Gran Cenote and Dos Ojos. For a more secluded experience, try Cenote Calavera!
Where to eat
One of the best things about Tulum are the hundreds of food options! From authentic Mexican street tacos to farm-to-table style restaurants, the Tulum food scene is not to be missed. For some of the most flavourful and filling burritos, Burrito Amor is a must! If you’re looking for a killer brunch, try Del Cielo — they’re open all day, but brunch is their specialty. Still in the pueblo, I’d recommend El Carboncito for the best al pastor tacos. Some playa restaurants to try, include Posada Margherita (delicious Italian food, specializing in handmade pasta and pizza) and Mezzanine (authentic Thai cuisine — try their fresh rolls, you won’t regret it!).
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Written by: Sacha Vincent-Toskin