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Ultimate Visiting Guide to Tulum Ruins Mexico Ancient Mayan City by the Sea You Must Visit

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Discover the magic of the Tulum Ruins Mexico, a breathtaking ancient Mayan city perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea. This beautiful Mayan ruins is the only Mayan ruins perched next to the ocean. Tulum Mayan Ruins Mexico archaeological wonder in Tulum Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is an absolute must-visit. Read on to uncover the secrets of this fascinating site and learn how to make the most of your visit to the Tulum Ruins.

Ultimate Visiting Guide to Tulum Ruins Mexico Ancient Mayan City by the Sea You Must Visit

No time to read it all? Here’s a quick highlight:

  • The Tulum Ruins are a 13th-century Mayan city located on a cliff in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula
  • Best Way To Visit Tulum Ruins: On A Tulum Ruins Tour
  • Best time to visit: early morning (8 am) or late afternoon (after 3 pm) to avoid crowds and heat
  • Must-see structures in Tulum Ruins: El Castillo (the main pyramid), Temple of the Frescoes, House of the Columns
  • Don’t miss the chance to swim at the secret beach below the ruins
  • Bring sun protection, water, and cash for entrance fees and parking

Want more details? Keep reading for a comprehensive guide to visiting the Tulum Ruins.

tulum ruins mexico

best Tulum ruins mexico tours

While you can visit Tulum Ruins independently, I highly recommend going as part of a guided tour. Not only will you get valuable insights into the fascinating history and culture of the Mayans, but tours often include convenient roundtrip transportation and stops at stunning nearby cenotes (more on those later!). It’s the best way to experience the full magic of Tulum Ruins without any hassle. Here are the best tours curated based on highly rated reviews and recommendations. Just book and enjoy your incredible trip!

Our Top Pick: best Tulum Ruins Tour of tulum archaeological site

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Private Tulum Ruins Tour


  • 5 star reviews
  • guided tour
  • private transportation
  • flexible cancelation policy

If that tour isn’t perfect for you check out my comprehensive list of the Best Tulum Ruins Tours The Top 6 Tulum Ruins Tours To Book: An In-Depth Guide.

Getting There: Tulum Ruins Address and Directions

The Tulum Ruins are located on the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula in Quintana Roo, Mexico. The address of the archaeological site is:

Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307 Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico 77780

tulum ruins mexico

Distance From Cancun: How Far is Tulum Ruins From Cancun?

The Tulum Ruins are located approximately 131 km (81 miles) south of Cancun, and the drive takes around 1 hour and 40 minutes, depending on traffic.

Directions to tulum ruins mexico from Nearby Cities

Tulum ruins History

The Tulum Ruins, originally named Zamá or “place of the dawning sun,” was a major trading and religious center for the Mayan civilization between the 13th and 16th centuries. The city was built as a seaport fortress, protected by steep cliffs on the east and a limestone wall enclosing the other three sides.

tulum ruins mexico

At its peak, Tulum had a population of about 1,600 people and served as a crucial hub for trading goods like turquoise, jade, cotton, cacao beans, and more. The city’s strategic location on the coast made it an ideal spot for commerce and defense.

Planning Your Visit to Tulum Mexico Ruins tulum archaeological site

Best Time to Go to Tulum Mexico ruins

To beat the crowds and the heat, plan to arrive at the Tulum Ruins right when they open at 8 am. Another good option is to visit during the late afternoon, around 3-4 pm. Avoid Sundays, as entrance is free for Mexican citizens and residents, making it the busiest day of the week.

DayOpening HoursBest Time to Visit
Monday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Tuesday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Wednesday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Thursday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Friday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Saturday8 am – 5 pm8 am or 3-4 pm
Sunday8 am – 5 pmAvoid due to large crowds
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How Long to Visit the Tulum Ruins?

Self-Guided Visit

If you’re visiting the Tulum Ruins on your own, you can expect to spend approximately 1-2 hours exploring the site. This should give you enough time to:

  • Walk through the main entrance and get your bearings
  • Visit the key structures, such as El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the House of the Columns
  • Read the informative plaques and take photos
  • Descend to the beach below the ruins for a swim or relaxation (if desired)

Keep in mind that the ruins can get quite hot during the day, so you may want to adjust your pace accordingly and take breaks in shaded areas when needed.

tulum ruins mexico

Guided Tour

If you opt for a guided tour of the Tulum Ruins, your visit may last longer, typically around 2-3 hours. A knowledgeable guide will provide in-depth information about the site’s history, architecture, and cultural significance, enhancing your understanding and appreciation of the ruins.

Guided tours often include:

  • A comprehensive overview of the Mayan civilization and Tulum’s role as a trading port
  • Detailed explanations of the key structures and their purposes
  • Insights into the daily life of the ancient Maya people
  • Opportunities to ask questions and engage with your guide

While a guided tour may take longer, it offers a more immersive and educational experience that many visitors find worthwhile.

tulum ruins mexico

Combining with Other Activities

Many visitors to the Tulum Ruins choose to combine their trip with other nearby attractions, such as:

If you plan on combining your visit to the ruins with other activities, be sure to factor in additional time for transportation and the duration of each activity. A full-day excursion that includes the Tulum Ruins and one or two other attractions can easily last 6-8 hours.

tulum ruins mexico

Suggested Mexico Tulum Ruins Itinerary

To help you plan your visit, here’s a suggested itinerary for a half-day trip to the Tulum Ruins:

  • 8:00 am: Arrive at the Tulum Ruins and purchase tickets
  • 8:15 am – 10:15 am: Explore the ruins independently or with a guide
  • 10:15 am – 11:00 am: Descend to the beach for a swim and relaxation
  • 11:00 am – 11:30 am: Browse the souvenir shops and grab a snack or refreshment
  • 11:30 am: Depart the Tulum Ruins for your next destination

By allowing 2-3 hours for your visit to the Tulum Ruins, you’ll have ample time to appreciate the site’s beauty and significance without feeling overwhelmed or exhausted.

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How To Get To Mayan ruins Tulum  

The Tulum Ruins are located about 3 km from Tulum Town and can be reached by car, bus, taxi, or bike.

  • Private & Group tour to Tulum Ruins: Take the planning out and sit back and go on a guided tour with round trip transportation.
  • Car rental : The ruins are a 1 hr 45 min drive from Cancun and 45 min from Playa del Carmen via Highway 307. Parking costs about 100 MXN ($5 USD). Rent a car in advance from Discover Cars
  • Bus: ADO buses run from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, with some stopping directly at the ruins. The fare is around 80 MXN ($4 USD) one way.
  • Colectivo: These shared taxis are the cheapest option, costing about 60 MXN ($3 USD) per person from Playa del Carmen. Find them at the colectivo stand on Calle 2 Norte between Avenida 15 and 20.
  • Taxi: A one-way taxi ride from Playa del Carmen costs around 600 MXN ($30 USD).
  • Bike: You can rent bikes in Tulum Town and ride to the ruins, which takes about 20-30 minutes.
tulum ruins mexico

Tulum Ruins Entrance Fees 

  • Entrance fee: 70 MXN ($3.50 USD) per person
  • Parking: 100 MXN ($5 USD)
  • Video permit: Additional $4 if shooting video; photos are free
  • Bring cash, as credit cards are not accepted

Additional Fees and Permits to visiting tulum mexico mayan ruins

In addition to the entrance fee, there are a few other costs to keep in mind when visiting the Tulum Ruins:

  • Parking: If you’re driving to the ruins, expect to pay around 100 MXN ($5 USD) for parking
  • Video Permit: If you plan on using a video camera, there is an additional fee of approximately $4 USD
  • Photography: Taking photos with a regular camera or smartphone is free of charge
Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

Tulum Ruins Tickets 

  • Buy your tickets at the official entrance, not from vendors in the parking lot
  • Bring a swimsuit if you want to enjoy the beach below the ruins
  • Wear comfortable shoes, a hat, and sunscreen, as there is little shade at the site
  • Stay hydrated by bringing plenty of water
tulum ruins mexico

How Long Does It Take to Walk Through the Tulum Ruins?

The Tulum Ruins site is relatively compact compared to other Mayan ruins, such as Chichen Itza or Coba. Most visitors spend between 1-2 hours exploring the site, depending on their pace and interest level.

To fully appreciate the history and significance of the structures, consider joining a guided tour or hiring a guide at the entrance. This will provide a more in-depth understanding of the site and may take longer than exploring on your own.

Exploring the Mayan Ruins Mexico tulum

As you walk through the ancient city, you’ll be transported back in time, marveling at the well-preserved stone structures surrounded by lush vegetation and the stunning backdrop of the Caribbean Sea. Keep an eye out for the many iguanas sunbathing on the ruins!

Must-See Structures

  1. El Castillo (The Castle)
    • Main pyramid of Tulum
    • Served as an ancient lighthouse with two small windows at the top for navigating the reef
    • Perched on a cliff overlooking the sea
  2. Temple of the Frescoes
    • Best-preserved building at the site
    • Features an intact mural with original colored paint
    • Located in front of El Castillo
  3. House of the Columns
    • Large, complex building with four rooms
    • Features a series of columns that once supported the roof
  4. House of the Halach Uinic
    • Residence of the city’s ruler, who served as high priest
    • Well-preserved structure showcasing the importance of the halach uinic in Mayan society
tulum ruins mexico

Mayan ruins tulum visit Tips:

  • Take your time exploring the ruins and reading the informative plaques
  • Respect the ancient structures by not climbing or touching them
  • Hire a guide or join a tour for a more in-depth understanding of the site’s history
Coco Tran — Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran

Tulum’s Secret Beach

One of the highlights of visiting the Tulum Ruins is the opportunity to swim at the secluded beach located below the main pyramid. Accessible via a wooden staircase, this slice of paradise is the perfect spot to cool off after exploring the site.


  • The beach typically opens around 10 am, so plan accordingly
  • Be cautious of strong surf and currents when swimming
  • Watch for iguanas sunbathing on the cliffs as you descend to the beach
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Where to Stay Near the Tulum Ruins

Tulum offers a variety of accommodation options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxurious beachfront resorts. Here are some top picks for each category:

Tubo Tulum HostelAzucar Hotel TulumNomade Tulum
starting at $15/night$100-200/nightstarting at $500/night
  • Tubo Tulum Hostel: A fun, eco-friendly hostel with dorm and private rooms, just minutes from the ruins. Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km 7.5
  • Azucar Hotel Tulum: A stylish boutique hotel featuring a pool, spa, and restaurant, located between the ruins and Tulum Town. Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km 7.5
  • Nomade Tulum: A luxury beachfront resort offering yoga classes, wellness treatments, and gourmet dining. Address: Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila Km 10.5

Final Thoughts

The Tulum Ruins are a testament to the ingenuity and resilience of the Mayan civilization, offering a fascinating glimpse into the past. By following these tips and recommendations, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your visit to this incredible archaeological site. So pack your sunscreen, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the magic of the Tulum Ruins.

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How Much Does It Cost to Go to Tulum Ruins?

As of 2024, the entrance fee for the Tulum Ruins is 80 MXN (approximately $4 USD) per person. Additional costs may include:

  • Parking: 100 MXN ($5 USD)
  • Video Permit: $4 USD (if using a video camera)
  • Guided Tour: Prices vary, but expect to pay around $50-100 USD per person for a half-day or full-day tour that includes transportation and a guide.

Are the Tulum Ruins Worth Seeing?

Absolutely! The Tulum Ruins are a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Yucatan Peninsula. Here’s why:

  1. Unique Location: Unlike other Mayan sites, the Tulum Ruins are situated on a stunning cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea, offering breathtaking views and a one-of-a-kind experience.
  2. Well-Preserved Architecture: The ancient structures at Tulum are remarkably well-preserved, allowing visitors to get a genuine sense of what life was like in this Mayan city.
  3. Rich History: Tulum was an important trading hub and religious center for the Maya civilization. Exploring the ruins provides insight into their fascinating culture and history.
  4. Beautiful Beach: The secluded beach below the ruins is a perfect spot for a refreshing swim after touring the site.
  5. Easy Accessibility: Tulum is located just 2 hours south of Cancun and 1 hour from Playa del Carmen, making it a convenient day trip from these popular tourist destinations.

Why is Tulum Famous in Mexico?

  1. Mayan Ruins: The Tulum Ruins are among the best-preserved coastal Maya sites in Mexico, attracting thousands of visitors each year.
  2. Stunning Beaches: Tulum boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with soft white sand and turquoise waters.
  3. Eco-Chic Vibe: The town of Tulum has become a popular destination for travelers seeking a laid-back, bohemian atmosphere with a focus on wellness and sustainability.
  4. Cenotes: The area around Tulum is known for its many cenotes, natural swimming holes formed by the collapse of limestone bedrock. These crystal-clear pools are perfect for snorkeling and diving.
  5. Proximity to Other Attractions: Tulum is an ideal base for exploring other nearby sites, such as the Coba Ruins, Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, and the vibrant town of Playa del Carmen.
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