I spent three days in the coastal town of Tulum, and I look forward to returning there. Tulum is my favorite destination in Mexico and it is my kind of tropical paradise – pristine beaches, soft white sand, delicious food, and beautiful archeological ruins. It is the kind of place most wish to visit, and the place that can easily steal your heart.
However, Tulum is no longer on the list of travelers’ secret vacation destinations. Some travelers may find that Tulum is more expensive to travel to than Hawaii and New York (please read this blog post Too Much in Tulum for details), but for those planning to travel to Tulum short term and on a budget, you will find a way to make your finances work, just as I did.
During my three days there, I was able to live on less than $10 per day for food, transport, and attractions. I have compiled a list of tips on how to travel to Tulum hassle-free and on a budget.
Stay in the cheap hostel near the ruins
I stayed at Posada Los Mapaches Carraterra a week before Christmas. I consider myself lucky to have stayed in a private room with two beds, 24-hour electricity, a hot shower, and a fan for $55 USD per night. The internet collection was not stable, but I was off the grid most time. The breakfast is complementary. Each morning, I was offered a two-course meal including a plate of fruit and a main course. The ruins are across the street, so I was able to enter before 10 am, before tour buses arrived, to beat the hordes and explore the ruins at my own pace. Public transport can be accessible outside at the door. The location is perfect!
Picture: Archeological Tulum Zone, Tulum, Mexico
Try the fish tacos
The fish tacos in Urge Taquito are the best tacos I had in Mexico. I have not been able to find better tacos since then. The tacos come out with two fish sticks and without any garnish, but there is a salsa bar with various homemade sauces for you to make your own taco. The tacos are not only delicious; they are also cheap ($25 pesos each). The restaurant has a casual environment and offers an excellent customer service. Knowing I do not speak Spanish, one of the servers even sat down with me and explained the menu in English.
For public transport, take the Colectivo Vans
Colectivo Van (price ranges from $5 pesos to $40 pesos) is a cheap mode of transport in Tulum, so take advantage of it when you visit. The two major stops for Colectivo Vans are downtown area near the ADO bus terminal and the ruins. If you are on the highway, or in a place in between Tulum and ADO Bus station, simply wave your arm when the van is approaching. If the vans are not full, they will stop for you. You can travel to Cancun and Playa De Carmel on a Colectivo with a full blast air conditioner and comfortable seats.
For Tulum beach, visit Archeological Tulum Zone and Playa Paraiso
Archeological Tulum Zone is popular among visitors. It is a historical place rich with Mayan culture and history. For a day trip from Cancun, you can take the ADO bus or Colectivo Van, but it is not ideal because it takes almost three hours for a one-way trip from Cancun (with a possible layover in Playa De Carmen). I stayed in Tulum for three nights and set aside a day to explore the archeological ruins. Here, you can visit the historical building Temple of the Frescoses and El Castillo, which represents the culture of the Classic Period (1200-1500 AD). There is a beach at the ruins that is one of the most beautiful beaches in Mayan Riviera, with steep cliffs towering over the pristine water of the Caribbean. It is a wonderful place to relax, swim, and get tanned.
Picture: Beach at Archeological Tulum Zone by Julie Cao
Playa Paraiso is 15 minutes away from Archeological Zone and it is a wonderful beach for scuba diving and snorkeling. There are few a hammocks, lounge chairs, umbrellas, and beach bars for beverages and refreshments. The waves are gentle enough for swimming, the water is clear, and the ruins are visible from at distance. For budget travelers, bring a towel and your own food and drinks.
Follow these tips and you will have a wonderful time in Tulum without breaking the bank. Do not forget to visit Chichen Itza after your Tulum trip. Chichen Itza is about two –and –a-half hours away from Tulum and it is easy to travel to on the ADO bus, with the one-way bus fare starts from $99 peso. Find a place to stay overnight and get to the Chichen Itza first thing in the morning to miss the crowds.
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