Last Updated on September 2, 2020 by Bryony Clapperton
Before travelling to Tulum in Mexico I found myself reading the same question online over and over again.
Is Tulum expensive? It seems everyone is trying to figure out Tulum on a budget.
As one of the most instragamable places of recent years, and with influencers flocking from all over the globe to get the perfect pic.
There’s really no wonder everyone is asking the question: Is Tulum expensive? Here’s everything you need to know about budget travel Tulum.
Tulum travel guide
Where is Tulum?
Tulum is a a town on the Yucatan coast of Mexico. Around 2 hours from Cancun and an hour down the coast from Playa del Carmen.
This little beach spot is as popular as Cancun without the label. Tulum is the name of the town, but also the name of the popular archaeological site situated here.
Often, when people discuss Tulum they are talking about the ruins rather than the actual coastal town.
The famous Mayan Ruins of Tulum, the town bodes well with tourists year round visiting the beaches, cenotes and unique ruins.
The ruins of Tulum are one of the only Mayan ruins situated on the coast and one of the best preserved pre-Columbian archaeological sites.
The central monument of the ruins El Castillo is the most famous, with most tourists taking photos at this area of the site.
Getting to Tulum from Cancun
Getting to Tulum from Cancun is very easy. Cancun airport is 2.5 hours from Tulum and you can take the ADO bus direct from the airport to the Tulum bus station.
The ADO Tulum bus station is on the main highway 307 and you’ll find plenty of taxis outside to get to your hotel.
If you want to attempt getting to Tulum from Cancun the budget friendly way. You can jump in a collectivo from Cancun to Tulum.
Collectivos travel along the main highway between Cancun – Playa del Carmen – Tulum. A journey will usually cost around 40 – 60 Pesos depending on where you are going.
Collectivos are relatively safe, comfortable and are a very efficient way to travel in the Yucatan.
You can see Tulum on a budget if you stick to low cost travel options and hostels.
If you plan on spending a lot of time in Cancun or Playa del Carmen I 100% recommend a night or so in Tulum and as mentioned, this can be done cheaply.
Where to stay in Tulum?
There is only one place in my opinion you should be staying in Tulum.
Boutique TerraNova is possibly one of the best (and best value for money) hotels I have ever stayed in.
Although far out of the league of any backpacker hostel, TerraNova is very budget friendly. We found the hotel whilst browsing hostels and I’m very happy we did.
If you want to see Tulum on a budget a and are looking for affordable quality accommodation then TerraNova is for you.
Hotel Boutique TerraNova, Tulum review
Located just outside the main town of Tulum in an up and coming area of the main highway you’ll find TerraNova. Hopefully by the time you read this, Rafa – the owner – will have gotten a new sign fitted!
You will find the hotel behind a large wooden gate, from the outside it’s pretty difficult to picture the utopia that awaits you. The inside of the hotel is stunning, beautifully hand crafted with every attention to detail you can imagine.
The contrast between the white walls, dark wood, lush greenery and pool is literally perfect and upon arrival you’ll feel instantly tranquil.
The rooms are spacious, exceptionally clean and stylish with all the basic amenities you’d expect from a hotel and more.
The hotel is across two floors, with 6 large rooms available to book. There are some larger 2 story rooms in development due to be ready for the high season. I suspect these will be bookable in the next few months.
The main outside pool area of TerraNova boutique is pretty special, with a small bar, seating area and the amazing pool.
Due to the limited number of guests that can stay at TerraNova at any one time the pool is never busy. When travelling I often tend to spend as little time as possible in the hotel, however I make an exception for TerraNova.
For me, it truly was a 10/10 experience. Rafa is friendly, helpful and has all the insider knowledge of the local area that he’s willing to share with his guests.
If you are hoping to visit this area of Mexico, and are figuring out where to stay in Tulum check out Hotel Boutique TerraNova. You will absolutely not be disappointed.
Getting around Tulum on a budget
Taxis in Meixco are a pretty inexpensive way to travel from place to place in a city.
This is no exception for Tulum as you can pretty much travel from place to place in the town for very cheap using taxis.
If you decide to stay at Hotel Boutique TerraNova you’ll want to taxi to and from the bus station with luggage and also taxi to and from the main town.
As mentioned for longer distance journeys a colectivo is ideal if you are on a budget trip. Budget travel Tulum is straightforward if you stick to this.
Once in the main town of Tulum you are able to walk from place to place without the use of a taxi.
Where to eat and drink in Tulum?
There are a lot of fabulous bars and restaurants in Tulum. One of my favourite places to grab breakfast is Coco Tulum this cute hotel has a very chilled boutique feel and the food is amazing.
Coco Tulum is situated just outside the main town on the main road (highway 307) close to TerraNova – which is how we found it.
Although more upmarket than some of the more budget friendly places in the main town of Tulum, it is a convenient walk from Hotel Boutique TerraNova if you do end up staying here.
Another great budget eatery in Tulum (and close to TerraNova) is Burrito Amor, you can grab breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks here for a low cost.
Traditional restaurants in Tulum
In the main town of Tulum you’ll find a wide range of traditional and non-traditional/fusion restaurants.
I always try to include a traditional or local fave in my posts and this Tulum travel guide is no different. If you want very budget friendly and local favourite try Antojitos La Chiapaneca.
I’m not a massive fan of getting ill from food so I was pretty cautious when our group suggested this budget eatery, but if the locals love it, right?
You can pretty much eat all types of cuisine in Tulum. Whether you are a vegan, veggie or love traditional Mexican you’ll find a restaurant for all.
Most of the best places to eat are around the beach and hotel zone or just along the main street in Tulum. If you want to budget travel Tulum, stick to the main street restaurants for bargains.
Things to do in Tulum on a budget
No Tulum travel guide would be complete without a list of things to do in Tulum.
If you are backpacking Tulum on a budget why not make a note of some of these recommendations from someone who did some budget travel to Tulum.
Whether you like to visit island for diving and swimming, party until the sun comes up or just explore the touristy areas there is plenty to do in Tulum on a budget.
The following list will cover nightlife in Tulum, trips to Playa del Carmen and Cozumel, cenotes in the area and of course the famed Tulum Ruins and El Castillo.
First of all, one of the best budget things to do in Tulum is drink local beers and rum. Tulum is actually pretty renowned for its fun, party-hard and backpacker nightlife.
For drinking we found ourselves in a bar called TechnoTaco Tulum, the roof is where the party is at during the week and especially on a weekend.
TechnoTaco is budget friendly, with local beers and spirits being the best options to ensure you keep costs low.
Nightlife in Tulum during the low season can be slow compared to Cancun but TechnoTaco and Batey seem to be the faves from what we experienced.
Batey is the backpacker fave and as above, if you want an inexpensive night or are visiting Tulum on a budget then stick to local beers and spirits.
Visit Cozumel or Playa del Carmen
If you want to head up to Playa del Carmen for either a day trip or to see Cozumel, you can easily take an ADO bus or Collectivo to Fifth Avenue as mentioned earlier.
This will cost you around 40 pesos, once at Fifth Avenue – which is the main tourist area of Playa you can take the ferry across to the popular tourist spot of Cozumel.
The island is big on scuba diving and has some of the best spots in the Yucatan for diving. If you don’t dive you can enjoy the beaches and scenery on the island.
Visiting Tulum ruins
Most people visit Tulum for one thing and it isn’t TechnoTaco. A lot of people visit Tulum to see the archaeological site. This is one of the most popular things to do in Tulum.
In recent years, the ruins of Tulum have become more popular than some of the other well known Mexican ruins including Chichen Itza.
Located on the beach Tulum ruins are extremely photogenic, providing you visit at the right time of year. The area is best known as the Parque Nacional Tulum and is a protected area.
The beaches are usually famed for their white sands and crystal blue waters.
During the summer months and low season seagrassum washes from The Amazon towards Central America and The Yucatan.
This means, that if you visit during these months it’s highly likely the pristine blue waters of the Tulum backdrop will be mostly brown.
The seagrassum problem is something that is getting worse due to climate change and noticeably lover the last few years it has become a big point of discussion.
Tulum Ruins Entrance Fee
The entrance fee for Tulum ruins is relatively inexpensive at around 65 pesos per person this is around $4 maximum.
How to get to Tulum ruins on a budget?
As I mentioned earlier, you can get a collectivo to Tulum ruins. The distance from the main town is not far at all so the journey is quite pleasant.
This will cost around 20 Pesos which is under £1.
If you are unfamiliar with collectivo transport and want something with a little more aircon, you can take a taxi to Tulum ruins.
Although a little more costly than a collectivo, taxi prices in Mexico are relatively cheap so this won’t cost you more than 100 Pesos in the low season.
Visit a Cenote
Another of the popular things to do in Tulum is visit a cenote.
The area of the Yucatan is famous for the wide range of naturally forming cenotes in the region. You can swim in them, snorkel in them and even scuba dive in a cenote.
With hundreds of undiscovered and discovered cenotes in the area, you are spoiled for choice. You can book an excursion at your hotel or through a tourist information centre.
It is actually just as easy and budget friendly to go via collectivo or taxi if you are looking to budget travel Tulum.
Most have a small entrance fee, but many have more than one cenote that you can visit for the same fee.
Caleta Tankah Cenote and Beach Club
One of the most accessible and famous cenotes in the Tulum area is at Caleta Tanka.
It’s a unique one as it’s located on the coast and right on a sandy beach. The cenote itself is freshwater so you can swim in it right beside the ocean.
Caleta Tankah is a hotel and beach club and you do have to pay to enter, even though all beaches in Mexico are free for the public use there doesn’t seem to be a public access point here.
Is Tulum expensive?
Okay so I haven’t answered the all important question. Is Tulum expensive?
Based on everything I’d seen on Instagram I did expect Tulum to be less than budget backpacker friendly. However, I was pleasantly surprised during my stay.
Despite the snazzy boutique hotel facade Tulum has, it is a very down to earth beach town with a lot of budget fun to be had. Backpacking Tulum on a budget can be simple and easy.
You can eat and drink in Tulum very well on a budget, tourists enjoy the wide range on offer in the town with even the more upmarket spots having affordable menus.
A lot of the top accommodations in Tulum are also very good value for money as I experienced with Hotel Boutique TerraNova.
With so much to see and do on a budget, if you are looking for easy, simple budget travel Tulum then hopefully this guide answers the all important question for you.
Is Tulum expensive? No.
Tulum Daily Budget
The below daily budget breakdown is based on two people sharing at a hotel like TerraNova, for a lower cost option consider hostel dorms where your accommodation costs would be reduced to around $10-$15 per night.
Eating can be very low budget in Mexico if you know where to go, smaller local eateries sell breakfast eggs and tacos for around $5 per plate.
Similarly to eating, you can drink for around $1-$2 per local cerveza depending on where you go. 4 cans of Tecate in a Oxxo could cost as little as $4.
If you take local transport such as collectivo you can expect to pay around $4 per day for transport, however walking is easy and everything is close by in Tulum.
For me, the eating and drinking is the fun part, but if you want to budget for additional activities such as your Tulum admission then no more than $20 per day would be required.
A rough daily budget for visiting Tulum with a low cost accommodation option would be around $60-$70 per day. Around 1,200 pesos per person, but costs would be reduced depending on accommodation and activities.
Frequently asked questions
Tulum is located in an area of Mexico better known as the Yucatan Peninsula, it is very easy to get here from Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
As above, I would recommend no less than $60 per day per person for your daily Tulum budget. This can be reduced depending on accommodation cost but this roughly accounts for $20 sleeping. This is roughly 1,200 pesos per person.
Yes, of course it is. Like any destination always be cautious as a traveller or solo female traveller. If you go looking for trouble in Tulum or Mexico it is likely you will find it, but otherwise tourism is a massive source of income for Tulum.
You fly into Cancun airport as the closest Airport to Tulum.
Cancun is 131 km from Tulum this journey will take 1.5 – 2 hours.
As indicated, Tulum is not as expensive as people expect. You can easily get by on a $60-$70 per day budget in Tulum including food and accommodation based on two people sharing.