Tulum is Mexico’s infamous and iconic beach town, with stunning white sandy beaches, clear blue water, and stylish eco-friendly resorts in the middle of the Mayan jungle. After spending a week or so here you’ll understand why it’s quickly becoming one of the hottest spots in Mexico and the Caribbean.
With a variety of ancient Mayan ruins, a plethora of cenotes, a diverse and exciting nightlife scene, and endless stretches of pristine beaches, finding a Tulum travel guide that will cover everything is almost impossible. Nevertheless, we have come up with the ultimate Tulum travel guide for you to experience in at least 5 days minimum, the more the better.
How Many Days Should You Spend in Tulum?
We recommend spending at least 5 days in Tulum if you want to experience the most that this magical beach town has to offer. As there are so many day trips to take, tours to experience, and beaches to discover – it’s best not to rush this.
Our Tulum travel guide is organized by daily activities, spanning only 5 days. This in no way means you have to follow these guides strictly. You can change the days around if you don’t feel like doing an activity, or even take a day off if you just want to chill on the beach sipping a margarita.
A Quick Summary & What To Expect in Tulum
Tulum is in the Mayan Riviera, around 2 hours south of Cancun and 1 hour south of Playa Del Carmen. Once an ancient Mayan port town, it has become a popular tourist destination in recent years – especially among the young and affluent rich, bohemian Instagram influencer crowd.
Because of this Tulum is much more expensive than say, Playa Del Carmen and one of the priciest spots in all of Mexico. That isn’t to say you can’t experience this wonderful little town on a budget – you definitely can and we’ll let you know how.
Money: The main currency in Tulum is of course the Mexican Peso, however a lot of establishments will take US dollars. Take note also that a lot of bars and restaurants only accept cash and not cards. Tipping is common among tourist towns in Mexico, and Tulum is no exception. Expect to tip around 10-15% at most places.
Safety: For the most part, Tulum is a safe town. While you may have heard of recent events involving cartels and drug violence, if you know where to go and how to stay safe you will not have a problem. Check out our Tulum safety guide here.
Climate: The climate varies in Tulum depending on the time of year. Typically the temperature hovers around 80 °F (30°C) year-round. However, the best time to visit Tulum is from November to February when the weather is cooler, sunnier and there’s less seaweed. Check out our guide for the best time to visit Tulum.
How to Get to Tulum
In order to get to Tulum, you’ll first want to fly to the Cancún airport. From there you can either take a taxi, bus or colectivo to Tulum town. We recommend taking the ADO bus, which leaves about every hour from the airport. You can book tickets online here: https://www.ado.com.mx/
Getting Around in Tulum
Hands down the best way to get around Tulum is by bicycle. If you’re staying in the Tulum town center then you’ll definitely need one as the beach is around a 45-minute walk away. You can rent bikes at your hotel, hostel, or bicycle shops along the main street in Tulum.
The other way is of course a taxi, it’s a little more pricey but more accessible and easier. If you’re staying on the beach then you usually don’t have to worry about this as you can walk to most places you want nearby.
Where to Stay in Tulum
For a complete outline of where to stay in Tulum, check out our guide here.
Where to stay in Tulum depends on a few things such as your budget, or what you plan on doing. If you’re looking to save money then we recommend staying in the Tulum town itself, at a hotel or budget hostel. Take a look at our hostel guide here.
There are also some more upscale areas in Tulum town such as La Veleta and Aldea Zama which are a bit more developed and modernized, but still cheaper than staying around the beach area.
If you want to stay on the beach then you’re going to be spending a bit more money. You would probably have the best time staying at one of Tulum’s amazing resorts. Another alternative is booking an Airbnb on the beach or near the beach. Check out our list of Airbnb’s here.
5-Day Itinerary Tulum Travel Guide
Day 1 – Discover & Relax on the Beaches
Of course, on day 1 arriving in Tulum, the first thing you’d want to do is to check out the famous beaches. With some of the best beaches in Mexico, with beautiful, soft white sand and clear turquoise-blue water, it’s no wonder people flock here.
We recommend starting on the public beaches to the north as it’s easier to access, this includes Playa Ruinas, Playa Santa Fe, and Playa Paraiso. Feel free to take time to explore all of the different beach clubs, bars, and restaurants around these beaches.
If you have extra time on your first day then you can also explore the Tulum Ruins which also has the spectacular Playa Ruinas beach below.
If you happen to be staying at a resort in the Zona Hotelera, then you’ll have a wonderful array of private beaches to explore – for resort guests only.
Further south you’ll find the south beach zone, which has its own unique beaches. Even further is beautiful Sian Ka’an beaches, including Boca Paila. However, we recommend taking a full-day trip to this area instead.
Further south you’ll find the highest concentration of beach clubs. Some we recommend visiting are:
Playa Paraiso Beach Club (this is in the north beach zone, easier to get to)
Feel free to check out our ultimate guide to Tulum beach clubs as well here.
Day 2 – Mayan Ruins & Tulum Town
For day two we recommend visiting the Mayan Ruins, very close to the town of Tulum itself. You can check out our guide to the ‘Tulum Pyramids’ here. In our opinion, it’s best to rent a bicycle and bike here.
Make sure to bring swimwear as you can swim at Playa Ruinas, with the ‘El Castillo’ temple looming overhead on the cliffside. The cost to enter is 70 pesos ($3.50 USD) and they’re open from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day.
Exploring the town of Tulum should be on your list of things to do as well, as it has a lot to offer. If you’re staying on the beach you can either rent a taxi or a bicycle from your resort or hotel to get here. The town of Tulum also makes a great base to explore other areas near Tulum, such as Akumal or the Coba ruins.
Spend the day exploring the cute little town, eating at a wide variety of restaurants, shopping at boutique souvenir shops, and of course discovering cool bars. While here we recommend eating at Safari Comedor Zama, a nice outdoor Yucateca-style restaurant, or if you’re on a budget try Tropi Tacos!
For a bar to drink and chill out during the day, check out Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar which typically turns lively at night with a larger crowd gathering around. If you really want to part, check out Straw Hat Hostel, notorious for cheap backpacker parties.
Day 3 – Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve
A trip to Tulum is not complete without checking out the stunning Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a large natural park south about a 30-minute drive south of Tulum.
This place has everything, from Mayan ruins to freshwater lagoons and marshes, coral reefs, a lush green jungle filled with flora and fauna, and much more.
In the southern part of the reserve, you’ll find Punta Allen a stunning and quiet little fishing town with beautiful beaches and an amazing coral reef perfect for snorkeling. If you plan on going here, get up nice and early as it’s quite the trek to this point.
While here, be sure to check out the Muyil Ruins, an ancient Mayan settlement stretching over a stunning 38 hectares throughout the jungle. Driving along the coast along Boca Paila will reveal amazing empty beaches that you can call your own.
There are two entrances to the reserve, the Punta Allen entrance, and the Muyil Ruins entrance. If you have only 1 day, choose one of the entrances. Punta Allen will be more recommended as you’ll see a lot more. The Muyil entrance is mostly just lagoons, jungle, and Mayan ruins. Follow our Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve guide for an overview of what to expect.
Day 4 – Cenote Exploring
If you want to go swimming but are all beached out, then consider checking out the plethora of cenotes in Tulum and the surrounding areas. Cenotes are natural sinkholes formed in limestone rock after the collapse of an underground cave, revealing water and a pool underneath.
If you want to stay near Tulum then we recommend the following cenotes:
If you want to venture a little further out then be sure to check out:
A lot of cenotes will allow you to snorkel or even scuba dive. Typically they cost less around 100 pesos to enter and can easily be reached by taxi, bus, or even bicycle (our favourite mode of transportation). Check out our in-depth guide to the cenotes around Tulum here.
Day 5 – Party
So it’s potentially your last day in Tulum and you want to finish off with a bang? Then without a doubt, you must check out the nightlife scene here in Tulum.
Depending on what you’re looking for, Tulum offers something for every kind of party addict. If you want to go clubbing, head to somewhere like Casa Jaguar which has fantastic parties every Thursday night. Be sure to check out Gitano on Friday, Wednesday, and Sunday nights, the restaurant and mezcal bar that turns into a party at night.
Even if you want something more chill such as a bar, Tulum offers excellent options as well. Kin Toh is a resort and restaurant bar but well worth the visit with its stunning decor and views, located at Azulik. Alternatively, you can try Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar right in Tulum town, or La Zebra Hotel located right on the beach.
Be sure to check out our extensive Tulum nightlife guide, which will help you find the best places and the best nights to go partying.
If you want to spend the whole day on the beach sipping margaritas with friends and just enjoying your last day having fun in the sun, then you can spend time at one of Tulum’s many beach clubs, that we’ve outlined further up above in the post.
And of course, if you happen to be in town during one of Tulums notorious festivals, you’re not going to want to miss it. The famous electronic festival Zamna will be playing in September, December, and January. Day Zero is expected to come early next year and there are of course many festivals nearby in Playa Del Carmen and Cancun to check out.
Still have time?
So your last day in Tulum has finally come to a close, but if you’ve managed to fit everything in this guide in, then pat yourself on the back – you’ve seen more than most people who spend even longer amounts of time there.
If you still have time, then consider taking a trip to Chichen Itza, go partying in Playa Del Carmen, or check out our extensive guide of amazing things to do in Tulum. Consider even checking out the stunning beaches of Cancun, while more resort oriented and developed than Tulum, it’s still an ideal day trip with lots to see and do including Isla Mujeres.
Overall, there’s no way you can experience the magic and everything to do in this beautiful paradise within 5 days, so consider coming back, or staying a little longer.