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Visiting Tulum Ruins-Our Everything to Know Guide

Tulum airport

Tulum Ruins

Tulum ruins is a very popular day trip from Playa Del Carmen. How can you maximize your experience there?  How can you visit on the cheap and not waste time? Here is our guide to give you all the information you need!

Tulum Ruins

One look at the photo above and it is no wonder why this beautiful spot is so popular to visit. Tulum ruins is just a 40 minute drive south of Playa Del Carmen and makes for a great day trip. (For a cool model of what Tulum used to look like when it was occupied, check out this gallery). This walled city was occupied all the way up until the 15th Century and saw the arrival of the Spanish. Today this is the most preserved coastal Maya city which makes it so interesting for tourist to visit.

Should you go to Tulum by yourself or with a tour?

Both are good options but for different people the answer is not the same. It really comes down to convenience. A basic half day tour cost about $39 USD and that includes hotel pick up and drop off, entrance fee to the ruins and tour guide. So basically for two people with a tour it will cost about $80 USD compared to doing it yourself for about $25 USD for two people. The difference is the convenience of not having to figure out how to take the bus and if you go by yourself you will not have a guide. Other tours will almost always add in something else  because the amount of time to get there and see it is not a full day. If it is a cenote or other stop this can be an added benefit to taking a tour, you get to do something that you otherwise might not do on your own, however it will be more then the above mentioned “basis”tour price. We do however NOT suggest taking a Tulum ruins tour with Xel-Ha package. Xel-Ha is a full day of fun at a natural snorkel park. You can easily spend all day there and just barely see everything, plus you get free food and drink there all day, so if you visit the ruins as well, you are missing out on full value.

How to get to Tulum ruins

If you drive yourself there it is easy to follow the 307 Highway straight to Tulum. When you enter the town of Tulum you will see a parking lot and signs for the ruins but this is just for busses. The parking lot and car entrance is farther up on the left side with a large “Tulum” sign in yellow and it will say parking.

You can take the colectivo to Tulum from Playa Del Carmen. You can read our article on the colective in the link. It cost 40 pesos one way and make sure the driver knows you are going to the ruins in Tulum and not just Tulum. The ruins stop comes first but if you miss it, it will be about 40 peso taxi back to the ruins from the center of Tulum. The colectivo is about 15 minutes faster then the ADO bus and cheaper, but not as comfortable.

ADO busses go almost hourly to Tulum ruins. It cost between 54 and 62 pesos each way. Tip: Be sure to check the schedule for the return. They do not start until 1:40pm in the afternoon and you might not want to be there that long. So a later departure will ensure a bus going back to Playa when you want one. The only problem will be  that you are visiting the ruins in the heat of the day.

Note: If you take the bus or colectivo, they both let you off closer to the entrance then parking! Go public transportation!

How much is the entry price to Tulum Ruins?

Entrance to the ruins is 65 pesos. If you are a resident or national it is free on Sundays. Parking for a car is 120 pesos, this has recently gone up and bordering on ridiculous prices for parking. Since the parking lot is so far from the entrance they offer a tractor pulled train for 20 pesos each way. If it is hot and you don’t want to walk that much this can be a nice option, otherwise enjoy the free walk. Water and food are all more costly here, so plan ahead and bring a bottle of water if you can.

What hours are the ruins open?

The ruins are open everyday of the week from 8:00am-5:00pm. However it should be noted that you need to enter by 4:30pm because that is the cut off time for letting people in. That way you can have at least 30 minutes to walk around and exit before they close.

What to see in Tulum ruins

If you have  guide of hire a guide at the entrance then you will be shown all the places of interest within the walled city. It is actually not that large. What makes these ruins so special is the beautiful turquoise waters that lap the beaches just below the ruins.

Guides can be seen near the ticket booth offing services. Prices for a guide are all negotiable. A higher price should be given for a group of 4 or more people. If it is a slow day or not the best weather you might be offered a lower price. Generally tour guide prices range from 200-700 pesos. Guides will have official ID and are trained to give good tours.

Tip: Bring your bathing suit or better yet, wear it under your clothes so you can jump in the water. It makes for a fresh break from walking around the ruins. There are no changing facilities by the beach (only the bathrooms by the ticket booth) and having a towel will come in handy.

Fun fact: There is an average of 3,287 people visiting. That puts it in perspective how busy this place can be at peak times. However it is a large grounds and that is spread out over the day.

Here is a handy map of Tulum ruins 

Tulum ruins map

Tulum Ruins Map

Look at the map and follow the numbers

  1. This is where the trail from the parking lot leads you and the train drops you off. There are public bathrooms here and the only ones near the ruins, so take advantage of them. This is where you will buy your tickets and then follow the red line to number two.
  2. You can enter the first gate but the second gate is much nicer and you can get several good photos here. Basically the side of the ruins near the ocean is much more photogenic and interesting. You can walk the other parts as well, but you can observe them from a distance if you like. As you walk to number three you will get a beautiful beach view.
  3. This spot will put you in front of the most famous spot in the ruins, The “Castillo” or “castle” as it is called.
  4. This overlook here will be where you can take some of the best photos! This is also where there is a large wooden staircase going down to the beach and you can get in the water here.
  5. Make sure you go around the back of the “Castillo” to get another great view.
  6. Walk to here and you will see some detailed carvings on the buildings, then proceed to the exit, number seven.
  7. This is the exit. It is a quiet end of the ruins. As you go out there is usually a person selling water or ice cream, which you might want after being in the sun.
  8. Walk here to go back to your car or bus. This is also where you can catch the tractor train.
Tulum Ruins

Tulum Ruins

More tips for visiting Tulum ruins

If it might rain, a rain poncho can save the day. There is not any protection from rain while walking around.

It is usually hot walking around, so comfortable clothes, shoes, sunscreen, hat, glasses and water are all good things to keep in mind.

If you drive to the ruins, there are many gift shops by the entrance. It is almost hard to find the trail to the ruins. Don’t give attention to overly aggressive sales people and don’t take photos will the animals if you care about them. They belong in the wild and not working all day. Already in other parts of the Riviera Maya the use of animals in the street has ben banned.

It takes about a hour to walk around. If you have hired a guide, take a swim or are in a large group it can easily be two hours. Beyond that many people will find it hot to be out for that long.

Here is a short video we made showing you some of the features of the ruins

We hope you enjoy your visit to Tulum ruins. It is one of the spectacles of the Mayan world that is just in our backyard.

Have you been to Tulum ruins? What tip do you have for other tourist? What would you do differently next time? Let us know in the comment box below.

70 Comments on Visiting Tulum Ruins-Our Everything to Know Guide

  1. Hi there! I plan to do a free day trip to Tulum by collectivo. I want to go to the centre of town and rent a bike. How far of a bike ride is it to the ruins? Can I ride by bike around instead of walking? Any ideas on low cost but quality bike rentals in Tulum? Thank you in advance.

    • There are many places that rent bikes in Tulum and all are about the same price. The ruins are about 3 km from the center of town. If you go to visit the ruins you will need to lock up your bike before going in. Also check out the road to the beach because there is a bike trail and it makes for a lovely ride. Enjoy!

    • Tulum was nice but we think it is a little over rated. There is a great view over the ocean but we like Coba ruins better. More to see, biking and climbing the pyramid.

  2. Mary Cutsworth // June 6, 2016 at 11:48 PM // Reply

    We were planning a visit to Tulum ruins and were not sure how we were going to get there. We just knew the photos of it were amazing and we wanted that photo. Your guide helped us get there and spend time in the best way. Thanks for this guide and next time we come to the Rivera Maya we will be checking out your other guides because we are thinking about going to Coba or Ek Balam ruins. It you had to pick one of those, which one do you think we should go to? We are an active couple in our late 20’s and maybe want to swim too.

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 7, 2016 at 7:51 AM // Reply

      Hello Mary. We are glad you found our guide helpful, we like to be able to give people the tools to make their vacations a success and enjoy everything that is here. For your next time down we would recommend both ruins because they are equally nice, but we do lean toward Coba. Both ruins have cenotes nearby you can swim in and both ruins have temples you can climb to the top. So since you are an active couple that is a great thing to do. But at Coba you can rent bikes and visit the ruins. The trees are also larger here and the experience is more jungly.

  3. Tracy Wusterman // July 22, 2016 at 2:46 PM // Reply

    Your guide made it easy for us to Playa our trip to see Tulum ruins. We found everything you described and did it on our own. Thanks.

  4. alli & john // August 12, 2016 at 1:26 PM // Reply

    Hi, we just wanted to say a big thank you for writing and posting this guide it has been very helpful. We are heading to Tulum ruins just now and with your map we will not go wrong. We don’t want to go home we love it here. Thanks again xx

  5. We wanted to thank you for a good article. we followed your tips and had a very good day visiting Tulum ruins. I love you website by the way.

  6. Hello. We just got back from Tulum ruins and had a good time and followed your advice. It was really hot and we are glad we took water. The prices were high around the entrance. The view of the ocean was outstanding and we cannot wait to visit next year!

    • Hello Sarah. We are glad you had a good time at Tulum Ruins. Maybe next year you will be ready for some more ruins. There are several good options to consider. We have a whole guide to Mayan ruins and what to expect at each one. See you next year here!

  7. Christy Powell // September 30, 2016 at 12:33 PM // Reply

    Hello,
    I found your guide very helpful. I am on my way down to Playa del Carmen with a group of 28 people. I am interested in the tour (for the entire group) you had described for $48. The link however sends me to viator.com with much higher prices. Do you know how I could book this more directly and work out a group rate? Thanks for your help:)

    Christy

    • Hello Christy. Thank you for letting us know. That is the problem with links because sometimes they change the price. We will change that and get back to you this evening with more up to date information. We will send you an email and anything else you need just let us know. We are glad to help out.

    • Hello Christy. Do you know your dated for coming to the Riviera Maya and what day you would like to visit Tulum ruins? If you visit before November 1st there is a rate of $40 USD per person.

  8. Hi! I am planning a DIY day trip to tulum ruins from playa del carmen. What is the best place to catch a bus back to playa del carmen?

    • Hello Farah
      Are you talking about the ADO Bus or the colectivo? There is an ADO bus top by the highway near Tulum ruins. This is the same place you would catch the colectivo. Just be sure to check the ADO schedule because there are not as many busses that leave from the Tulum ruins stop as the downtown Tulum station.

      • Hi there, thinking about finding our way to Tulum and do we have to purchase our ADO tickets before hand for the return trip or we can purchase before boarding at the bus stop by the ruins?

        • Mr.Yucatan // April 12, 2017 at 8:56 AM // Reply

          Hello

          You can purchase your return tickets there in Tulum if you like. There are limited times for the bus so if you want, it is not a bad idea to buy your ticket already and plan on departing at a certain time. That will guarantee your seat. It is usually not full but gives you peace of mind.

  9. These are good details for visiting. We have been to Tulum ruins once before but this time we are coming with friends, so we hope to follow your instructions and take our friends there ourselves.

  10. Christina Goshell // November 2, 2016 at 11:47 AM // Reply

    Hi! I am going to drive to the ruins and have a couple questions:
    1) Are the signs guiding you to the ruins clearly marked on the highway?
    2) Is the tractor-pulled train and the guides right there in the parking lot when we arrive?
    3) What is the best time to visit the ruins? We would like to avoid the tour buses, if possible!

    • Hello Christina

      The signs are pretty clear. If you are driving, do not pull into the first street to your left as you enter Tulum where it says ruins. This is for bus stops and taxis. There is no parking here. You must drive until you see the large TULUM sign on our left. This is the main entrance and where you park. You will pay for parking here.

      The train to the ruins is there and comes frequently. We always walk though.

      The best time to see the ruins is not in the heat of the day. Most tours arrive at 9am or after. Later in the day you can get in but you want to have time to walk through before they close. So after 3pm if it is not hot.

      We hope this helps you and you have a great trip to Tulum ruins.

  11. Sanora Baptiste // November 3, 2016 at 5:05 AM // Reply

    We visited Tulum ruins this week and the one tip we have for other guest is walk from the parking lot to the entrance. You really don’t need to take the train the short way. Save the money and buy something with it later.

  12. Scot Newport // November 3, 2016 at 3:41 PM // Reply

    You give good details for visiting. We have been a few times and really like Tulum ruins.

  13. We’re very grateful for your complete guide. We visited Tulum ruins yesterday and it was easy to follow your directions. It make it easy to visit. Thanks.

  14. G. Mulchivic // November 11, 2016 at 7:52 PM // Reply

    Very detailed guide to visiting. It is cool to see the view from the ruins and if open the swimming is great at the foot of the cliff.

  15. What time does the gate to the ruins open? Why are the tour company prices so much higher than the prices you quote?

    • The ruins open at 8:00am There are hundreds of tours that operate to Tulum ruins. Some include Xel Ha and some are just the ruins. Some tours overcharge people and some give good value. That is why we like to give recommendations for tours or give people the information to do it themselves.

  16. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Tulum Ruins. Regards

  17. I can’t find a contact site for Viator for questions. I think our hotel, Grand Princes, may be out of their pick up area for the early public tour of Tulum ruins? How do I find out before paying?

    • Hello Carol

      This is a good question. We looked over their description and only says most Playa Del Carmen hotels. We would suggest booking it and seeing what they say. There is a 100% cancelation policy if you cancel 2 days before, so you should be covered. We wish we could offer you the tour personally so we could guarantee all the answers but we do have to refer people to tour companies.

  18. So, what’s your part on all this? Why do you have this site?
    It is very helpful.
    Do you get a commission?

    • Hello Carol

      We mainly have this website for two reasons. 1. To help people discover all the things that are here and how to enjoy them. Sometimes making a guide to show people how to see places themselves. 2. Help good merchants or restaurants get known. Many places that we go to never know we just wrote about them. We have a great sense at the end of the day that we have helped people both find things and support good hard working people that offer good services. We also will talk with businesses because we see many people overpay or have no idea how to do marketing here. Another platform we have is supporting cultural tourism and preserving it.

  19. Hi there, we are going to visit Tulum(early) and then Coba on Christmas eve. Going to use the Ado buses from Playa del carmen. Can you tell me which bus stop i need to get off at Tulum please as there are 2 stops: Tulum or Tulum Zona Arqueologica (is this the stop closer to the ruin)? Look forward to your reply.

    Many thanks in advance
    Sukyi

    • Hello
      Yes the Tulum Zona Arqueologica stop is the one at the ruins and the other is in the center of Tulum. These stops are about 2 miles apart so make sure you get off at the correct one. We hope you have a great time visiting Tulum ruins.

  20. Thanks so much for your reply.

  21. Hello, we are going to Playa Del Carmen in January 2017 for the first time and staying in North Playa. We would like to try to take the colectivo. How do I catch the colectivo from my hotel and how do I know where to get off for the ruins? Are there visible signs from the freeway? Thank you very much.

    • Hello Nancy

      As you can see in the colectivo article, the colectivos do not run straight from Cancun to Tulum. They only run Cancun to Playa or Playa to Tulum, so you will need to get to Playa and transfer to a Playa Tulum colectivo. When you enter the Tulum area there is a sign and a small parking lot with a small building. It is not the best signage but the driver should let you off on the highway there and you just cross the highway and walk down the road. It is one of the first things on the left as you enter town.

  22. Mark Mitchell // December 23, 2016 at 3:56 PM // Reply

    Hi
    Are the Tulum Ruins open on New Years Day?

    Thanks for your time
    Mark and Linda

    • Hello Mark and Linda

      According to the official website it is open. We hope this is the case if you are going that day. If not and you are visiting Tulum with a car you can go to the beach and see Tulum ruins from a distance from Playa Paradiso. It is a long shot but just in case it is closed you can enjoy your time there.

  23. Hi there – I’m staying near Akumal at Bahia Principe Akumal hotel. If I was to take a collectivo how much would it cost and how do I do so? Is there a set schedule or might my kids and I be standing out on the highway a long while. If we take a taxi, sounds like it drops us off at a different entrance? How far a walk to where you actually get tickets and is it clearly marked? We are not interested in a tour. We also want to get there for 8am.

    • Hello Lara
      The colectivos are the cheapest way to get there but that does not always mean the most convenient. It would cost about 20-25 pesos per person each way. The first step is making it out to the highway. There is no set schedule but they come by about every 5 or 8 minutes. They will drop you on the highway across from the ADO bus stop and taxi stand area. It is not signed the best but you will need to cross the highway and walk down a short street and then turn left to walk down the road/pedestrian road to the entrance. There is a “train” that is pulled by a tractor that ferries people from the main parking lot to the entrance. You can catch this and pay for it or walk to the ticket booth. At that hour it should be cool and not an issue unless you don’t want to walk about 1o minutes. Make sure you only buy the entrance tickets from the official booth.
      To take the colectivo back you will walk back to where you got off and take the colectivo from the opposite side that you got off on.
      A taxi will drop you off at the same spot. Only cars enter the other entrance and park in the lot.
      We would suggest either option to you. A taxi is easier but more expensive.

  24. lalaine berry // March 13, 2017 at 8:47 PM // Reply

    hello yucatan…. will you pls give me the address of the calle where i can catch the ADO. then exact address of the calle where i can catch the collectivo? this is really help for us. we are going next month to mexico and our first stop is tulum.

  25. Julia Slinskey // March 22, 2017 at 11:37 AM // Reply

    ARE THEIR ANY BENCH’S TO SIT DOWN AND REST NEAR THE RUIN’S?

    • Mr.Yucatan // March 22, 2017 at 2:22 PM // Reply

      Hello Julia

      There are not many options, so if you had a foldable chair, that might be good to bring. The ruins are not huge but if you go with a tour you will have to wait for the group. There are some low steps in places to sit but if you have limited mobility, these are low.

  26. Hello.
    We will be staying in Cozumel. We are planning a day trip to PDC, and take the Colectivo to Tulum ruins.After some time there we would like to go for 2 to 3 hours to Akumal beach. What would be the best for us to take the Colectivo to Tulum ruins and then a taxi to Akumal and ask the driver to wait for us, and take us back to PDC? What would be the approximated cost of it? Or take Colectivo to Akumal and again after the beach?

    • If you are going to be taking the colectivos, you might as well take these to Akumal as well. If you are going to the beach in the front of Akumal, you just walk about 10 minutes into the town from the highway. If you do a taxi you would just take it one way and get another waiting taxi to your next destination.

  27. Thanks for guide, its really helpful. I will be driving there from Playa.

    You keep saying, do not pull into the first street to your left as you enter Tulum where it says ruins. This is for bus stops and taxis. There is no parking here. But from google street view I saw a parking lot for cars at the end of the road before the the road block/entrance. Can’t I just park there? It stated M$70 from the street image. Which is 10peso higher from your second turning, but its nearer and shorter walking distance. Am I correct?

    • Mr.Yucatan // March 28, 2017 at 5:39 AM // Reply

      Hello Alvin
      It does appear to be parking there but every time we or others have attempted to drive down this short road, there are people that wave you off. Perhaps because it is full? The official parking is the second entrance coming from the north. Let us know if you are successful parking here.

  28. Where is the nicest part of the beach in Tulum? Would I be able to walk there from the ruins?

    • Mr.Yucatan // April 19, 2017 at 5:15 AM // Reply

      Hello Graham

      There is one of the nicer beaches just south of the Tulum ruins. You cannot however walk there on the beach because there are rocky cliffs that break up the beach access. When you exit the ruins there is a paved road that is closed to cars up to a certain point. If you walk this road south you will come to a beach access road. This will take you to a nice wide beach where there are a few beach bars.

  29. Adriana Coble // May 1, 2017 at 2:05 PM // Reply

    We just got don’t visiting Tulum ruins. We had a great day and your guide was very helpful. Thanks a ton.

  30. Are there lockers at the ruins? Are their taxis at the ruins to take you to the area for swimming with the turtles? How far is that? Do you know how much to rent equipment for a couple of hours at the beach?

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 15, 2017 at 8:04 PM // Reply

      Hello Jan

      We do not think there are lockers at the ruins. Akumal where the turtles are is about 25 minutes up the coast. It is possible to take a taxi there but it will be a little expensive. Another factor to think about is the bay is highly regulated because only a limited amount of people can go per day and only certain tour companies offer the tour. It is a very popular things to do and it just recently reopened. Here is one option, a tour to Tulum ruins, swimming with the turtles and a cenote visit. 3-in-1 Discovery Combo Tour: Tulum Ruins, Akumal Turtles Plus Cenote and Caves

  31. I was going to Tulum ruins and came across your website. Spot on and good and helpful for us. Thanks!

  32. sad tourists // May 30, 2017 at 8:42 AM // Reply

    I booked the Tulum tour based on your website and advice/link. However, the tour operator never showed up. I do not think you should be promoting this tour. We are very disappointed and now wasted a vacation day.

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 30, 2017 at 10:01 AM // Reply

      Hello dear sad tourist

      We are sorry that this tour provider has not showed up. We hate bad companies and we have deleted them from the website and article. We will look for another one. Thank you for your feedback. We only like to have responsible companies on our website and respond very quickly to our readers. Let us know if there is anything you need for your vacation.

  33. Joanne Buendia // May 31, 2017 at 5:29 PM // Reply

    Hi. What is the average cost for a taxi ride from Riviera Maya hotel to Tulum? What is the Entrance fee for adult and children? Is there a restaurant near Tulum? T

    • Mr.Yucatan // May 31, 2017 at 6:47 PM // Reply

      Hello Joanne

      These are all very good questions. The Riviera Maya is a big place with about 40 miles of coastline but you probably mean some hotel between Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. It will vary but around 300/500 pesos each way. It is always good to ask before getting in. There is not a good restaurant at the ruins. If you want to eat out in Tulum, it is best to take a taxi about 2k into town and walk around and find one that you like. Most of the restaurants are along the 307 Highway. There is the hotel zone but this is further and you should plan exactly where you want to eat out. It will tend to be more expensive there as well. The price is 65 pesos, which is very affordable. We believe this is the same for children.

  34. Hi there I have a few questions. From Hacienda Tres Rios in Riviera Maya Playa del Carmen was thinking of doing the collective van rather then renting a car. What do you suggest? I heard it’s not worth the tour fees for Tulum ruins and plus we want to explore a little of Tulum after the exhibit. Would like to know is it easy to find a collective van from our resort – Hacienda Rios to both Tulum and Cancun? Also do they have a service like Uber around there that would help benefit a family of 5. To spend a full day in Cancun with a return is it reliable with collective express and where could we find them by our resort. Lastly, Tulum Ruins how close do they drop you off from the entrance to the exhibit?

    • Mr.Yucatan // June 1, 2017 at 10:34 AM // Reply

      For the first thing, it will be better if you rent a car. For one, you need to take two colectivos to Tulum since you are on the north side of Playa. And that means two colectivos back to your hotel. You will also need to take a taxi into Tulum town from the ruins. It can also be hard to find a colectivo at times for a group or family. So there is a lot of transportation and it will be easier in a car.
      If you want to visit Cancun from your hotel, you can take the colectivo into downtown Cancun. There is not too much to see there. Most tourist are in the Hotel Zone. You would do better to walk around Playa on 5th Avenue. There is much more to see and more enjoyable.

      The Tulum ruins are about a 10 minute walk from the colectivo stop.

      • Thank you for all your helpful feedback.

      • Sorry forgot to inquire so what do you think Tulum tour or on our own since we want to explore the day in Tulum or is Tulum too small to explore & eat prior to heading back to our resort? How far is 5th ave from our hotel Hacienda? Prior to leaving the US is it wise to pre purchase rental here and ins?

        • Mr.Yucatan // June 1, 2017 at 12:40 PM // Reply

          Tulum ruins are easy to walk around yourself and part of the tour is mainly the transportation. No tour will take your around the town, so it is best of you spend your money on a rental car and still save money. We just write about a good local car rental company that is Canadian run here. They have a small fleet of cars and the owner usually calls you and sets everything up with you. Here is the link and the email is in the article. http://everythingplayadelcarmen.com/car-rental-playa-del-carmen/

          From your hotel to Playa is about 15-19 minutes driving. Or you can do that part with colectivos but they will drop you on 2nd street at the south end of town and you can walk up 5th Avenue.

  35. Magnificent guide and details. We used to help us see Tulum.

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