The Tulum Ruins
They’re amazing, and definitely worth the visit. The Tulum ruins are second in number of visits only to the ruins outside of Teotihuacan, Mexico. Hoards of tourists from Cancun and Playa del Carmen descend on the archaeological ruins in Tulum every day. By noon the site is so crowded you can’t walk around without being pushed off the path by the larger tour groups.
Even with the crowds, heat, and humidity, the Tulum ruins are definitely worth visiting. Here are a few tips to make the most of your visit, and perhaps even carve out a few minutes of solitude for yourself.
Arrive by 7:45 (or earlier)
We arrived at the Tulum ruins at 8:05 and there were already several people ahead of us. Next time we’re going to try to get there about 7:30 and see just how early we’re allowed inside.
Decide What You Want to Do First
Do you want to see the Temple of the Wind? Go swimming on the beach beneath the ruins, or walk the eco-archaeological trail? Pick one thing and make that your priority before everyone else gets there.
The Temple of the Wind was my priority for this visit and we enjoyed a good 30 minutes to ourselves before it started getting busy. We decided to save swimming under the ruins for after we had finished walking around, but 10am the swimming area was seriously crowded.
Take A LOT of Water
The heat and humidity at the Tulum ruins is higher than on the beach or in town. By 10am it was almost unbearable. We had three bottles of water and a Gatorade between the two of us, but all that was gone within the first two hours. We were able to buy two overpriced ice-cold 1L bottles of water on the way out, and that saved us from dehydration. I recommend 2-3L of water per person.
Skip The Tourist Village
The vendors were just setting up their tourist traps when we arrived at 7:50. If you arrive later, just keep on walking past the barrier to the official Tulum ruins entrance. If you get pulled into the tourist village you will be bombarded by guides, tractors pulling cartloads of people, unofficial ticket sellers, and trinkets far lower in quality than those in the Tulum pueblo.
The official entrance is about 500m past the tourist trap, you will pass a small guard shack on the way in. Skip the tractors pulling cartloads of people and enjoy the scenic walk. If you’re lucky and catch a moment of quiet you might see a lemur family and baby crossing the road (we did!).
Skip the Live Tour Guide, Buy A Pocket Guidebook
Do you want to know what you’re looking at but don’t want to follow a live guide with 30 other people? I recommend purchasing a small guidebook at the gift shop. I bought all three above for less than $12 USD and I can take my time around each park. Save the $50, avoid the crowd and tour at your own pace.
Splurge on a Taxi Ride
If you’re staying in the Tulum pueblo (town) it’s easy to walk or bike the 3 miles or so it takes to get to the ruins. We are all about saving money, but this time we knew we didn’t want a long hot ride or walk back after hours of walking around the ruins. Treat yourself to a $4 taxi ride and enjoy the cool AC on the way back.
Bring Sunscreen and Insect Repellant
Walking around the Tulum pueblo has been a pleasant experience. We haven’t really needed sunscreen or protection from bugs. You will definitely need sunscren and insect repellant when walking around the ruins. The ocean breeze is pleasant, but it also creates an unbearable humidity and a breeding ground for mosquitos. The sun here was more intense than anywhere we’ve been so far.
Stand Your Ground
Stand your ground when walking the paths, there is no walking on the right or yielding here. The larger tour groups won’t budge and inch and will push independent travelers off the path if you let them. I’m not advocating violence when travelling, just assertiveness. The tourists at the Tulum ruins are some of the most aggressive I’ve met (and I’ve been to China).
Don’t Ignore The Signs/Don’t Touch the Wildlife
Please pay attention to the signs, they are there for a reason. The recent deaths of a toddler in Florida and a tourist taking a selfie at Machu Picchu could have been prevented if they had obeyed they signs. Also, the iguanas at the Tulum ruins are very tame. That doesn’t mean they are there for our entertainment. Leave them alone and take photographs from a distance.
I hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to the Tulum ruins. How do you like to travel We would love to hear what you think, please leave us a comment below.
Next Stop: Coba Ruins
Tulum Archaeological Ruins
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Price USD $4.50