Mar 03, 2021 Travel Guide: Tulum Ruins
Transportation: Options for transportation are a rental car, taxi, driver for the day, or bicycle. Parking at Tulum ruins is easily accessible and from research varies 100-160 pesos. Parking is quite expensive when compared to entrance price. Cheapest way of transport is biking to the entrance where you can ride the 3/4 mile walk up and park your bike for free. However, if you purchased a Tulum guided excursion tour most tours offer transportation included in the fixed price. The parking lot is 3/4 mile from entrance to ruins. You can walk this or take a small train for a fee of 62 pesos=2.97 USD per person. We walked and were at the entrance in no time.
When to Visit: Tulum Ruins is open 8am-5pm. It is best to visit early in the morning or in the evening. Since tour buses arrive all throughout the day it can become crowded. We did visit around 9am and there were a good amount of people visiting it did not seem crowded, however; as we were leaving it looked like tour buses were arriving. Also better to visit during weekdays. Thank goodness cruise ship tourists were not visiting currently so it was less of a crowd. Entrance fee to the Tulum ruins is 80 pesos per person=3.83 USD.
Tulum Ruins Tour vs Independent Travel: I am always pro independent travel at a leisurely pace. It is more budget friendly and can always be tailored to your travels vs traveling in a tour group. However, the perks of traveling in a tour group is you can sit back and relax while a tour guide introduces the history and most notable spots. Typically a bus for transportation, guide, and ticket prices are included in the tour group fixed price. Typical tour prices can run you anywhere from $50-250USD per person depending on what is all included. At the ruins information center we were quoted $15 USD per person with guide or $35 USD per person with guided tour and after a boat tour to see the ruins from sea and then a small snorkeling excursion.
What to Pack: Certain temples and historic sites make you cover shoulders and knees. There were no guidelines for dress upon entrance. However, things to wear are swimsuits and coverups. No place to change into swimwear so best to wear it upon arrival. Since Covid-19 you cannot swim on the beach at the Tulum ruins. Although since guidelines are changing daily you may have the opportunity to swim or walk along the beach. The views are amazing and the beach pristine. Also pack sunscreen, hats, and a fan if you cannot take the heat and prevent sun damage. The ruins do not have much shade and is open aired so be prepared. Also note no food/drink vendors are inside the actual ruins. So pack a snack and water. The ground is unpaved so bring comfortable walking shoes.
Pesos or USD: Upon research it is noted to bring pesos. There is an ATM machine at the entrance and per reviews is always down. Therefore you have to go to the currency exchange counter at the entrance and has a large fee for exchanging currency. I would bring a good amount of pesos while visiting before arrival.
Guided or No Guide: Upon entrance there are numerous people offering to give you a guide. Prices we received were $8USD and $15USD per person to $30 USD for our whole group prior to entrance. From my limited research the official guides will be upon entrance to the Tulum Ruins. When we entered there were official guides waiting for people to be guided. My best advice is to wait for the guides inside the Tulum Ruins.
The original Mayan name for the Tulum’s ruin is Zama translating to place of the dawning sun. Another reason to visit upon opening since it has a beautiful view of the sunrise. This ancient city sits on the cliffs in the city Quintana Roo overlooking the Caribbean ocean. The ruins are stunning and definitely worth the visit. You will notice the many resident iguanas sunbathing in the sun. I laughed so hard looking back at pictures since some are photobombing there were quite a lot around the area. There are informational plaques at many points along the ruins for you to read the history.
House of the Columns: This is the most complex building. It is also known as the Palace. It was a place for Mayan leaders. Although most of the roof has collapsed you can still have an understanding of what the structure looked like from the base.
El Castillo: Most prominent building in the Tulum Ruins. Bordering the ocean has the most magnificent views. Since this area was a prominent trading post for South American and the Yucatan. This building was believed to be a lighthouse to guide boat captains as they sailed. It’s thought that if the captains could see daylight through the two windows of this building, they wouldn’t hit the reef beneath the water.
The Descending God: An upside down God holding one or two things in his hands. This figure can be found at one or two different archeological sites. It is believed that the Descending God is the Mayan God of Bees. Tulum reached its height between the 13th and the 16th centuries as an important trading post. It is the only city that was built on the seashore. Food items specifically honey hence the God of Bees, metal objects, and cotton were traded here.
Market: Close to the parking lot upon entrance is a market with a variety of crafts being sold. I would say if you are staying in Tulum this would be the most affordable souvenirs for your trip. Since it is a market you can bargain with sellers. I LOVED the variety of leather handbags that have different etchings in the bag all handmade. Basket bags, crochet cover-ups, and wide brim hats were my top favorite items being sold. I bought a basket bag for $12USD. You can also grab snacks, alcoholic, and non-alcoholic drinks being sold by different vendors. My sister loved trying the Mexican Coca-Cola since it is being sweetened with cane sugar. Bathrooms are located in the market free to use.
Street Performers: The streets are lively upon entrance. Many street vendors are trying to get you to take photos with a giant snake, monkey, or even iguana. Towards the market there is a group called papantla flying dancers. The dance purpose is to offer their gratitude to Chi’chini (the Sun God), Xipe Totec (God of Spring & Fertility) & to Tlaloc (Rain God). With a small donation of course.
Outfit Deets: I recommend wearing a swim suit since you may have the option to swim at the beach. Also I wore a white kimono and jean shorts for coverup. I also use Neutrogena lightweight moisturizer with a SPF of 50 so no sun damage later and does not feel oily. However, there is a light scent of sunscreen. This is an old Nanette Lepore swim piece love her pieces hope she designs again soon!