Tulum is a small eco-resort town on the Riviera Maya south of Cancún and Playa del Carmen, the site of some of the best preserved coastal Mayan ruins, and home of unspoiled Caribbean beaches, a world heritage biosphere reserve, and laid back, bohemian lifestyles.
To get to Tulum, fly into Cancún (CUN). From there you have two choices:
- If you want freedom to explore the incredible natural and ancient archaeological attractions in the area, rent a car.
- The other option is to catch a bus, a combi van or a shuttle to the Zona Hotelera in Tulum.
The ride to Tulum will take somewhere between 90 and 120 min, depending on the ground transport you choose. (More details below.)
The name Tulum generally applies to three separate areas, the Tulum archaeological zone, Tulum Pueblo (main town) and the Zona Hotelera (the beach area), so it’s important when arranging ground transport to know where you’re headed.
Important Information (**Please Read**)
- Traveling to México is considered international from the States. You will need an up-to-date passport to fly into Cancún.
- The unit of currency in México is the Mexican Peso. It is often displayed with a $ sign in front. It currently trades somewhere around M$12-13 to US$1.
To get to Cancún, try the following airlines:
If you’re flying in from Miami, Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta or London, there are direct flights to Cancún available on a number of airlines. Coming from Jacksonville or New Zealand, you have a host of options, most involving only one layover.
If you’re connecting domestically in the U.S., you may want to check rates on discount airlines like AirTran, JetBlue or Spirit. Their amenities are minimal, but the flight from Florida is only a couple of hours long. That said, we’ve been watching ticket prices for awhile now, and United, American and Delta often beat AirTran and JetBlue prices.
Flightstats.com has a comprehensive list of all scheduled arrivals into Cancun International Airport (CUN), and is a good place to get a handle on your options.
To get from Cancún to Tulum, use ground transport:
(tel. +52 984 871 3538)
If you prefer not to rent a car, Tukan Kin’s shuttles are a convenient way to get between Cancún and Tulum for minimal expense. We’ve dedicated a whole page on this site to ARRANGING AIRPORT SHUTTLES, so check it out to find out more.
All your standard car rental companies, Avis, Hertz, Alamo, etc., operate out of Cancun Airport. You can choose to reserve your vehicle in advance, though if you have the stomach for it, some say your best bet is to arrive and haggle.
Rental cars go for as little as $10 a day (plus $11-$15/day for mandatory insurance), so car rental is often the most economical option once you factor in the cost of an airport transfer and cabs for getting around to restaurants and sights. Remember, the drive from Cancun takes about 90 minutes, so make sure you choose a flight that gets in before about 2 PM so that you’re not driving after dark. It’s not a good idea to be on the unfamiliar highway at night as the road is not well-lit.
Please note, Mexican liability insurance is absolutely required. You will not be able to rely on your home insurance policy, nor any policy you buy online before you leave, so don’t waste your money. The rental agency will make you buy their liability insurance, so go in expecting that. It’s usually about $11-$15/day, but check the fine print when you reserve, or give them a call. Some people don’t know this and complain that they were “scammed” at the rental agency because they reserved a very inexpensive car and the insurance essentially doubled the price of the rental. This is not a scam, it’s just the standard policy.
Buses and combis or colectivos
Air conditioned red ADO buses run every 30 minutes between Cancun Airport and Playa del Carmen, and cost less than US$10. There are also 3 direct buses a day to Tulum. From Playa del Carmen, you can either transfer to a first-class Tulum-bound ADO bus for a little under $6 (these run once an hour) or grab a little white van called a combi or colectivo. The combis run up and down highway 307 between Playa del Carmen and Tulum every 10 minutes or so, and there is a designated pickup stand in Playa del Carmen as well. The driver will flash his/her lights if there is room in the van, and you want to catch it, flag it down. You pay when you get out in Tulum Pueblo. It should be somewhere between 15-25 pesos, which is about $1-2 US. From there you can hitchhike or taxi to Tulum Playa and Plaza Azul, your hotel.