12 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To Tulum

Tulum is a beautiful town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It is a popular vacation destination and the perfect getaway, no matter if you want to relax at one of the white-sand Tulum beaches, swim in cenotes, or party all night long.

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When I came to Tulum the first time in October, there were a few things I wish I knew before visiting, because it was raining the whole time I was there. I came to Tulum again in February and had a way better experience, so I put together the 12 things I wish I knew before traveling to Tulum, for you to keep in mind when planning your vacation.

A lot of these tips can save you money so make sure you read all of them.

1. Tulum Centro vs. Tulum beach

The one thing you need to know before traveling to Tulum is that Tulum is separated into two parts, one called Tulum beach, and the other one the downtown area of Tulum is called Tulum Centro or Tulum Pueblo. The ruins and all of the resorts and all-inclusive hotels are at Tulum beach.

It takes approximately 15-20 minutes by car to go from Tulum Centro to the beach, depending on where at the beach you want to go. The street that connects the Centro and the beach is about 3 km long.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

2. Tulum Beach is huge

The Tulum beachfront area is huge. We made the mistake of wanting to walk on the Tulum main road at the beach and let me tell you: It can take hours of walking to get from one place to another depending on where you want to go. You´re probably better off taking a taxi or renting a scooter or ATV.

3. Dirt Roads

The main road of Tulum beach is a dirt road. Whenever it rains the potholes on that street get filled up really high and it rains a lot in Tulum so they are rarely completely dry.

It can be quite annoying to walk on that street or take a bike. This is also one of the reasons why it can take so long to drive from one spot to another because taxis, bikes, etc try to avoid the potholes. Make sure you don´t wear your nicest sandals (like I did :D) and bring a pair of sneakers.

Tulum beach

I think the main street in Tulum is not made for the amount of traffic and therefore no matter if you walk, drive or bike this street, it´s no fun.

You just have to decide what´s best for you. We rented bikes the first time we were in Tulum and the second time we walked most of it and took colectivos (minivans) to get around.

4. Finding Parking lots can be hard and expensive

It´s hard to find Parking lots in Tulum beach. It can also get really expensive to park your car once you found a good spot. Keep that in mind when planning your trip to Tulum.

5. Visit Tulum during low season for the best deals

The high season in Tulum is during winter and Spring Break. From December to April there are a lot of people visiting Tulum from all over the world escaping the winter season in their home country.

Especially from December to February there are a lot of tourists from the USA and Canada planning their trip to Mexico in order to get some sunshine.

Tulum ruins
Tulum ruins at the beach

The low season is from May to December with the slowest month being September. During the low season taxis and hotels are way cheaper than during the high season.

6. Taxi prices depend on the season and can be really expensive

When I first was in Tulum in October I paid about 250 pesos ($12 USD) for a taxi ride to get from Tulum Centro to Tulum beach. When I came for the second time to Tulum in February which is the high season I paid for the same ride 400 pesos ($19 USD) and one time even 600 pesos ($29 USD) during rush hour.

On the way back at night I paid 800 pesos ($38 USD). Keep in mind we´re still talking about the 3 km long road that connects Tulum beach and Tulum Centro.

So that is a really expensive taxi ride and you usually can´t negotiate much with the taxi driver.


7. There is no Uber in Tulum

Taxi prices can be outrageous and there is no Uber in Tulum. The taxi drivers know that and that’s why they crank prices up during the high season and rush hour. It´s best to bring a lot of cash or take the colectivos, which brings me to my next point:

8. There are colectivos going from Centro to Tulum Beach

I didn´t know this on my first visit to Tulum and it seems not a lot of people know about it. Also, I haven´t read that in any other blog before. This tip saved us so much money!

There are colectivos (minivans) that go from Tulum Centro to the beach and they only cost 30 pesos ($1,45 USD). They leave from Parque Rotario at the corner Venus Ote. and C. Orion Sur. Basically, colectivos are minivans used by locals to get from one point to another. You get in and let the driver know when you want to get out by yelling “Bajan”

It is not a comfortable ride and you will probably bang your head at least 3 times but the price difference between a taxi and a colectivo makes it worth it. I was so happy to find out that there are colectivos in Tulum because it saved us a ton of money.

9. Best time of the year to visit Tulum

Tulum’s climate is tropical and the rainy season is from May to October with August and September being the rainiest months. During that time prices for hotels and airplanes, are low.

The best time to visit Tulum is from late November to mid-March with January being the driest month.

Tulum beach

This is unfortunately also the high season and prices are more expensive. You just have to decide what´s more important to you, perfect weather or cheaper prices.

10. Tulum Centro is cheaper than Tulum Beach

The hotels, bars, and restaurants are way cheaper in Tulum Centro. All the luxurious hotels are at the beach and their bars and clubs are more expensive than the bars and clubs in the Centro. So if you´re on a budget it´s best to stay in the town center. Keep that in mind when planning your trip.

11. Use Mexican Pesos not Dollars

While it is amazing that a lot of restaurants and cafes offer that you can pay with US Dollars, their currency exchange is way off. At the time of writing this, the currency exchange is 1 USD = 21,36 Mexican pesos.

In most restaurants, they have a sign that tells you what you get for your Dollar. I saw a lot of different ones but one that stood out was 1 USD = 17 pesos.

So for a restaurant bill of 600 Mexican pesos, the restaurant would tell you that you have to pay 35 USD but in reality, it should be 28 USD. Keep that in mind when paying in USD.

Speaking of restaurants: Check out the best Cafes and Restaurants in Tulum

12. Always have cash with you

Cash is king in Mexico. In a lot of restaurants, they add a 4% charge on top of your credit card. So it is good to always have cash with you.

There are a lot of banks and ATMs and you can withdraw Mexican pesos and you only get charged a small fee for the currency exchange.

Tulum is a great city to visit with its turquoise water and white-sand beaches. You will have a ton of fun here, there is no doubt. Just make sure you plan your trip according to your budget and your time with all these tips in mind to make the most out of your trip.


Let me know if these tips are helpful. Have you been to Tulum?

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Jessica Buck

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