Do you want to visit the Tulum Ruins in Mexico? You’ve come to the right place!
As a Playa del Carmen resident and local travel blogger, I’ve been to the Tulum Ruins many times and I’m here to help!
In this post, I’m sharing everything you need to know about visiting the Tulum Ruins including an overview of the archaeological site, how to get there, visitor info, and top tips for visiting.
Read on for my complete Tulum Ruins Mexico visitor guide.
About the Tulum Ruins
First, let’s start with a brief overview of the ruins of Tulum:
What are the Tulum Ruins?
Located just outside of Tulum’s city center, the Tulum Mayan Ruins were originally built as an oceanside fortress and are the only beachfront Mayan Ruins in the state of Quintana Roo.
The most notable feature of the Tulum Ruins is the oceanfront location with the ruins elevated at a height of about 12 m (~39 feet), offering spectacular seaside views of the brightly colored Caribbean Sea.
At the Tulum archaeological site, many basic structures remain including El Castillo (The Castle) and many different temples. The site also offers a one-of-a-kind public beach access area to cool off after visiting the ruins.
Although the Tulum Ruins are not as grand as those found in Chichen Itza or Coba, they are definitely still worth a visit if not for the views alone.
Where are the ruins in Tulum?
Due to the site’s close proximity to the city center, visiting the ruins is the perfect activity for any Tulum itinerary.
Driving times from nearby destinations are as follows:
- Tulum to Tulum Ruins: 10 minutes
- Playa del Carmen to Tulum Ruins: 1 hour
- Cancun to Tulum Ruins: 2 hours
- Merida to Tulum Ruins: 3 hours
- Valladolid to Tulum Ruins: 1 hour 30 minutes
What does Tulum mean?
Tulum means “wall” in the Mayan language but the town was previously called Zama, which means “city of dawn.”
Can you climb the Tulum Ruins?
Unfortunately you are not able to climb the Tulum Ruins. The ruins have been off limits to tourists and are roped off to protect and preserve them.
How to Get to the Tulum Ruins
The ancient Ruins of Tulum can be visited fairly easily on your own or you can book a guided tour for the added convenience of roundtrip transportation with pickup from your hotel in Playa del Carmen.
Tulum Ruins Tour
If you don’t want to deal with the hassle of driving or figuring out public transportation, then I would recommend booking a Tulum Ruins tour.
Most tours will include all entrance fees, a knowledgeable tour guide, and roundtrip transportation with hotel pickup.
With these added activities, you get more bang for your buck and a hassle free booking option.
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Travelista Tip: If you have a larger group or are looking for a more personalized experience, consider booking a private Tulum Ruins tour.
If you decide to visit on your own, the best way to get to the Mayan ruins in Tulum is by driving or renting a car.
It is a little less than an hour drive south of Playa del Carmen, driving directly south on the main highway 307.
You will see signs off the highway with the “Ruinas” symbol. Turn left at the sign and you’ll arrive to the main entrance.
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Tulum Ruins Parking
Parking at the ruins is easily available but a little expensive (around $160 pesos ~ $8 USD) so make sure you have some cash on hand.
By Public Transportation
By public transportation, the Tulum Ruins can be reached by taking a colectivo or the ADO bus:
Colectivo to Tulum Ruins
If you don’t have a car, the cheapest way to get to the Tulum Mexico Ruins from Playa del Carmen is to take a colectivo (shared van).
The vans leave from the main bus depot on Avenida Juarez and Highway 307 (underneath the highway overpass). Just make sure you get on one that is heading towards Tulum.
It’s a little less than an hour’s drive from Playa del Carmen and costs around $45 pesos (~$2 USD) per person. Tell the driver you’re going to the ruins (“ruinas” in Spanish) and take note the stop is before the main stop in downtown Tulum.
Once you get off the colectivo, cross the highway and head straight towards the main entrance.
It’s about a 10 minute walk to the main entrance but there is also a shuttle train that drives visitors from the parking lot to the main entrance, which can be taken for an additional fee (I think it’s around $20 pesos).
ADO Bus to Tulum Ruins
The Tulum Ruins can also be reached by taking the ADO bus from nearby towns. The ADO is a large and comfortable charter-style bus, which provides a convenient and inexpensive mode of transportation to the ruins.
ADO tickets can be booked on the ADO website or directly at the ADO station and the route offers drop off directly at the Tulum archaeological site.
The ADO bus to the Tulum ruins is a little more expensive than a colectivo and runs less frequently but is probably an easier and more comfortable option especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Tulum Ruins Visitor Info
Here’s the basic visitor info for the Tulum Ruins including opening hours, entrance fee to Tulum Ruins, and best time to visit:
Tulum Ruins Opening Hours
The Tulum Ruins hours are currently daily from 8:00am – 5:00pm.
Entrance Fee for the Tulum Ruins
The Tulum Ruins entrance fee is around $85 pesos (~$4 USD) per person for visitors.
If you are planning to bring a GoPro or professional camera, you’ll need to pay an additional photography fee (around $45 pesos).
Entrance is free for Mexican residents on Sundays.
Best Time to Visit the Tulum Ruins
The best time to visit the Tulum Ruins is during the week. Entrance is free for Mexican residents on Sundays so it can get extremely crowded with local families.
In addition, it’s best to get there as early as possible if you want to avoid the crowds and get the best pictures.
Exploring the Ruins at Tulum
The ruins are located on a large site with an arrival area, the main archaeological site, and public beach access.
Once you make your way past the parking lot, there is an arrival area with the large colorful “Tulum” letters where you can take photos.
You’ll also find large souvenir shops, restaurants, and food and drink stands. Most of the souvenirs at the ruins are pretty overpriced and you’d be better off to stick to the shopping in Playa del Carmen.
You’ll then proceed to the ticket counter to purchase your Tulum Ruins tickets and go through some turnstiles. Then you’ll have to walk a ways through a wooded area to get to the stone entrance of the main archaeological site.
Tulum Archaeological Site
Once you pass through the stone tunnel at the entrance, you are free to explore the ruins at your leisure.
The ruins are all roped off so you can’t walk on them and just have to view them from a distance.
It’s a bummer but with hundreds of people visiting daily, it’s understandable that they have to preserve them.
There are small informational plaques in front of each structure (written in English and Spanish) that provide tidbits on the history and how each building was used.
You’ll learn that the ruins weren’t originally built by the Mayans but were inhabited and expanded by them in the 13th century.
The ancient city of Tulum ran as a sophisticated operation which included sacrificial temples, a castle (“El Castillo”), watch towers, and trading posts.
The best views can be found from the top of the Tulum site overlooking the Caribbean Sea. This is where everyone is fighting for photo ops and also where you can access the wooden stairs leading down to the public beach.
The ruins are widespread so be prepared for a lot of walking and some steps to get up to the top.
There is little shade on the main site so be prepared for the heat! Temperatures in Tulum can be very hot all year round.
Tulum Ruins Beach
One of the most unique features of the Tulum Mayan Ruins is the public beach access directly on the site.
The beach is very impressive looking as it’s enclosed by the massive cliffs surrounding the ruins.
The beach is beautiful and secluded but it can get very crowded so I would advise arriving early.
If you plan to swim, be sure to bring a swimsuit, towel, and biodegradable sunscreen.
👉 I personally use and recommend Sun Bum biodegradable sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.
What to Do After Visiting the Tulum Ruins
If you get to the ruins early, you’ll still have a good part of the day to explore Tulum.
Here’s my recommendations for things to do in Tulum:
Visit a Beach Club
After you’re done walking around the ruins, you’ll more than likely be dripping in sweat and ready for a cold beverage!
I would highly suggest heading over to a beach club in Tulum – it’s the perfect way to cool off and relax for the rest of the day.
Plus the beaches in Tulum are much more chill and widespread than the beaches in Playa del Carmen.
One of my favorite beach clubs in Tulum is Ziggy’s Beach Club, which is about a 20 minute drive from the ruins. There are a line of taxis waiting right outside the ruins that you can take to get there.
Once you pull up to Ziggy’s Beach Club, you will immediately feel Tulum’s tropical bohemian vibe.
With a palm tree lined entrance and cutely strung overhead lights, you’ll first pass by the hanging swings at the main bar before seeing the turquoise waters of the Caribbean in the distance.
From there, you can grab a table at the restaurant or head directly down to the beach to reserve a beach bed. Pricing varies by season but there is usually a minimum consumption for use of the beach beds.
Visit a Cenote
Another fun activity after the visiting the ruins is to head to a nearby cenote, which are freshwater swimming holes unique to the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico.
There are tons of cenotes near Tulum but Gran Cenote is probably the best one to visit that is the closest proximity to the ruins. The easiest way to get there is to take a taxi from the main entrance.
Tips for Visiting the Tulum Ruins in Mexico
Follow these tips to make the most of your experience at the Tulum Ruins:
- Get there early: The ruins are open daily from 8am – 5pm but can get very crowded. If you go early, you can beat the tour groups, enjoy the site with less people, and still have time to hit a beach club afterwards.
- Be prepared for the heat: There is very little shade at the ruins so I would bring a sun hat and a water bottle to stay hydrated. It can get VERY hot.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes: The ruins are very widespread with stairs and areas of uneven terrain. It’s best to wear tennis shoes, sneakers, or comfortable walking shoes.
- Bring beach gear if you want to swim: There is public beach access directly from the ruins so if you want to swim I would recommend bringing a swimsuit, towel, and biodegradable sunscreen.
- Bring an umbrella: It’s a good idea to bring a compact umbrella if you have one. There is little to no covered areas at the ruins and rainstorms can come on very quickly. This happened to me the first time I was there and I got drenched! And if it doesn’t rain, you can use the umbrella for shade!
Teeming with rich history and flaunting pristine oceanfront views, the Mayan Ruins at Tulum are definitely a fun option for a day trip from Playa del Carmen and one of the top things to do in Riviera Maya.
Even if you’re not a history buff, there is still much to be enjoyed at the ancient Mayan Ruins of Tulum from the stunning views, secluded beach access, and the many nearby options for exploring or just relaxing in Tulum.
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