Tips on Visiting Tulum on a Budget

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 $25 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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How to visit Tulum Mexico on a Budget


Julie Cao

Julie Cao is a travel blogger, travel writer, and global citizen currently living in Toronto Ontario.

8 thoughts on “Tips on Visiting Tulum on a Budget

  • October 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm

    I LOVE a great fish taco & a deal. I’ll have to check this out if I’m ever in the area. We’re planning an epic roadtrip and scouting our route right now. Might have to add Tulum to the list.

  • October 21, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    I’ve heard great things about Tulum but never knew it was so budget friendly! The beach looks amazing, and I would definitely have to check out Chichen Itza too! Did you find Tulum to be crowded with tourists, as many places in that part of Mexico are?

    • October 23, 2016 at 5:29 pm

      It is touristy and the beach is filled with people during the noon, but you can arrive early in the morning so it was not that crazy. Tulum is only one hour away from Chichen Itza.

  • October 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Wow, I always love delving and do immersion whenever I get the chance once I visit one place. Mayan culture and history would be a good thing to try when I visit this place.

    • October 23, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      I love to delve deeper into a new place too. There are tons of Mayan ruins in Mexico, good for visitors like you that is interested in its culture and history.

  • October 21, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Thanks for the share. Its great to know the budget tips. The beech lookstoo beautiful

  • October 22, 2016 at 10:29 pm

    I was there in 2014, but it was on a day trip from Cancun. The ancient ruins were my favorite part as I’m not a beach person at all. The public transit sounds interesting since I rarely drive outside the United States and Canada.

    • October 23, 2016 at 5:34 pm

      I dont know there is this Colectivo Van but the owner of the B&B kept telling me to take the van instead of the cab and they are dirt cheap to travel around the Tulum, and I am the only visitors on the van, others are all Mexicans. It is great way to get to know more people and the culture.


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