So you’re looking to travel to Tulum but may have heard that it’s quite expensive, at least compared to other parts of Mexico. While it’s true Tulum can be very expensive, possibly one of the most expensive places in Mexico, do not worry – it is still possible to travel to Tulum on a budget.
Tulum has exploded in popularity in recent years, popular with digital nomads (especially since the pandemic), Instagram influencers, bohemian hipsters, and even families. Because of the certain crow it attracts, the prices have gone up dramatically.
The main thing to consider is how long you’re planning on staying and what you’re planning on doing while there. If you’re going to party every night and looking to stay at a fancy beach resort, then this guide is not for you. Either way, we’ll make sure you save money and have the time of your life in Tulum! On with the guide.
How to travel Tulum on a Budget
Travel during the low season
While it may not be the best time to visit Tulum, the months from May to October tend to be the cheapest. The reason is that most people travel during the holidays in November/December/January.
Also, the summer months tend to be cheap as it’s usually unbearably hot and the beaches are covered in seaweed, a common problem along the Caribbean coast.
Either way, flights are going to be cheaper during this time, as well as accommodation – so if you’re looking to save money, it’s a no-brainer to travel during the off-season. If you can’t travel during the low season, then this guide will still be helpful if you want to travel to Tulum on a budget.
Take the ADO bus from Cancun Airport
Cancun is the closest major airport to Tulum, and flights are cheapest to here. Sometimes it’s even cheaper to fly to Cancun than Mexico City from some international destinations.
One thing to keep in mind is that there’s no Uber in Tulum, so that won’t be an option for getting there. You can check out our guide for getting from Cancun to Tulum here.
Once you find yourself in the airport, you’ll be harassed by all kinds of taxi drivers and shuttles. Ignore them. We recommend taking a bus straight to Tulum, the best and safest is ADO. You can book tickets beforehand here: https://www.ado.com.mx/
Buses typically leave every hour or so, and the ride to Tulum can be around 2-3 hours. They will drop you off in the center of town. The price is usually around 340 pesos ($16 USD).
Stay in the Town Center
This is an obvious no-brainer, staying on the beach or closer to the beach in the jungle is going to be much more expensive than staying directly in town. You can see a basic overview of the layout of Tulum on the map below.
Aldea is an up-and-coming more modern section of Tulum, with fancier apartments and condos. You’re going to want to stay right in the town center area.
The beach is around a 45-minute walk from here, but we recommend renting a bicycle from your hostel or hotel for around only 150 pesos per day. This is the best way to get around Tulum, in our opinion, and also the cheapest.
Stay at a Hostel
Also, an obvious choice, staying in a hostel dorm is going to save you tons of money rather than staying at a resort or Airbnb. There are tons of hostels in the town center, check out our hostel guide here. If you’re looking to do Tulum on a budget then hostels are a must.
If you want to stay on the beach, then we’d recommend Selina hostel in the zona hotelera, it’s still pricey but is going to be much cheaper than the surrounding resorts. The other benefit of staying at a hostel is meeting all kinds of awesome people!
Go to Free Beach Clubs
Tulum is full of awesome beach clubs, however, most are quite pricey, with minimum consumption of over 1000 pesos per person ($50 USD). While you can use this towards food and drinks, and you get access to beach chairs and the bathroom, it can seem pricey if you just want to chill and have a beer.
To most on vacation, $50 may not seem like a whole lot – but this could be your whole budget for a day if you’re travelling long-term. So it’s best to find beach clubs or bars that don’t have a minimum consumption or cover.
Ziggy’s Beach Club is a cheaper place that doesn’t have a minimum consumption or cover. CoCo Tulum also doesn’t have a cover as well as Revolución Pancho Villa, a cool little beachfront restaurant and bar in the north beach zone on Playa Paraiso. These beach clubs are the best for Tulum on a budget.
Visit Cenotes Instead of Nightclubs
Don’t waste your hard-earned money on getting wasted every night, yes – nightclubs are quite expensive here. The price you’ll pay for entry to a beautiful cenote during the day will be less than half the cost of cover at a nightclub.
If you really need to check out fancy nightclubs, then pre-drink at a bar or at your place instead of buying drinks there, just pay for cover. With so many cenotes to visit in Tulum, spend your money on these natural wonders instead of partying.
Cook or Eat at Cheap Restaurants
Cooking at your hostel or Airbnb is the number one trick for doing Tulum on a budget. Most hostels will have a communal kitchen where you can cook meals, also hotels and Airbnbs. This will save you a lot of money rather than eating out 3 times a day.
Of course, you can’t visit Tulum without checking all of the amazing restaurants it has to offer. You don’t have to spend a whole lot for delicious meals – it is Mexico after all. Here are some of our favourite budget places to eat in town:
Taqueria Honorio is one of the best taco spots in Tulum, especially for breakfast – they make amazing breakfast tacos. They also make an amazing cochinita pibil!
Hands down our favourite spot to eat on a budget. Amazing tacos, burritos, gringas and more. The great, fast service is a plus.
If you’re looking for vegan food that doesn’t hit the wallet too hard, check out Suculenta Tamaleria, which is famous for its tamales of course. Some of their food is super spicy so watch out, and their mole is mouth-watering.
Taqueria La Chiapaneca
You can’t miss this place with its giant pastor meat spits slowly roasting on the street sidewalk. If you love Chiapaneca food then definitely check this place out, it’s also cheap for the amount of food you get!
Mercado Tulum, located on Calle Osiris Sur, is an excellent place to not only eat cheaply but to go shopping on a budget as well. This place offers a wide range of food choices in their food court, from ceviche, octopus, tacos, fast food, and more!
Parque Dos Aguas Street Food
All around Parque Dos Aguas you’ll find street food vendors where you can eat super cheap. It’s also a nice park to relax and people watch.
A cute little restaurant that prides itself on healthy eating while not being too expensive, Burrito Amor is a busy spot for a good reason. With delicious smoothies, healthy bowls, and of course fantastic burritos, we recommend checking it out.
Consider Camping on the Beach
If you’re really strapped for cash and happen to have a tent and camping gear, then camping on the beach might be your best option for doing Tulum on a budget. You’ll still have to pay for a dedicated camping spot, but it’s still cheaper than hotels or even hostels.
Playa Maya allows camping for a certain price (around 200 pesos per night). Pancho Villa also allows camping for a round 200 pesos per person, per night. If you’re feeling adventurous you can try finding a hidden beach somewhere out of sight and risk it. Be careful – it is illegal to camp on the beach without proper permission.