Traveling to Tulum on the Cheap

Written By Jeff Hindenach
Last updated November 10, 2017

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May 29, 2016

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Looking to travel to the white sandy beaches of Tulum but not sure you can afford it? A trip to Tulum, Mexico can severely damage your wallet if you are not careful. Located around 130 miles south of Cancun, Tulum has become a hot spot for weddings, family vacations and relaxing weekends away from the stress of life. While Tulum has beautiful, clean, white sandy beaches, the town’s eco-friendly nature can cost you more than most tourist towns in Mexico. Here are some tips on how to travel to Tulum without breaking the bank.

The hotel you pick is going to be based on your comfort level. Most hotels in Tulum are “eco-chic,” which is a better way of saying that they are a little rustic. Most don’t have air conditioning. Most hotels run on generators, so they use electricity sparingly. We even had the power go out a few times (only for a few seconds) while we were there. You can’t flush your toilet paper in most hotels. And some have rooms that are not located on the beach, which means they are going to be pretty hot and humid since they don’t get the cool beach breeze that tends to be a suitable substitute for air conditioning. My best advice is to find a hotel that is right for you.

Many of the more rustic hotels in Tulum don’t have online booking, but if you are looking for a convenient way to choose the best hotel for you (and at a discount), has a great selection of great beach hotels in Tulum, including Ana Y Jose, which features 24/7 air conditioning. also has some great deals on excellent Tulum hotels.

It is always humid in Tulum, although some seasons are more humid than others. Any of the dry months (January-April), are usually less humid, although there is really no way to predict the weather. If you are opposed to the warm or humid weather, it might be a good idea to look for a hotel in Tulum that offers 24/7 air conditioning. If you want a hotel that has 24/7 air conditioning, there are only a few available, but they usually cost a little more. If you are OK with letting the beach breeze cool your room down (which is also much cheaper), we recommend a place like The Beach Tulum (pictured), which has many rooms that open right on the beach.

May and June in Tulum tend to get extremely hot, so if you are used to colder climates, it might be good to avoid Tulum during this time. July through October is hurricane season, and while the hotels will be extremely cheap, you run the risk of being stuck in the middle of a hurricane on your vacation. November and December are good months to visit Tulum because hurricane season is over and the temperatures begin to dip again. There are also less tourists because of the holidays.

First off, never ever ever take a taxi to Tulum. That’s basically just throwing money away. Most hotels can hook you up with a shuttle service that picks you up at the airport in Cancun and takes you directly to your hotel. These services run about $120 one way, or $200 for round trip. If you really want to save money though, you might consider renting a car, especially if you are only going to be there for a few days. If you are paying $20/day for 4 days, it’s only $80, compared to $200. Plus, Cancun airport and Tulum are connected by only one road, highway 307, so there is less of a chance of getting lost. Our only warning is to take pictures of any scrapes or dents in the car before you leave the rental place, since some of the rental places are known for trying to scam tourists.

Here are few of the car rental companies that operate out of the Cancun Airport:

  • Dollar: Not the best reviews for customer service, but good feedback on reliability.
  • Thrifty: Mixed reviews but overall a solid service.
  • Budget: One of the best reviewed car rentals from Cancun airport.
  • National: Known for not pressuring you for insurance, although it might be a smart idea.
  • Hertz: Overall a solid service, no major complaints.

Stay away from the resort restaurants, unless you are staying at one and it is convenient to eat there. Otherwise, there are plenty of smaller, local places that offer amazing food for half the price. There is a little strip of hotels, shops and restaurants right before you get to the major strip of hotels in Tulum. This is a good area to find places to eat, drink and shop. Also, if you are looking for a bit more of the Mexican culture, you can travel to downtown Tulum to find an authentic place to eat. Just keep in mind that downtown is mainly populated by locals, so don’t expect any tourist red-carpet treatment.

If you absolutely must do the major touristy attractions, then make sure you go early enough in the mornings to beat the crowds, especially if you are going to the Mayan ruins. They open at 9, but getting to the parking lot by 8:30 a.m. is a good plan, as you have to walk a ways to main entrance. If you are there right as the gates open, you’ll generally have the place to yourself. If you go even 15-30 minutes later, you’ll have to deal with the first rounds of tourists that are streaming off the giant buses that transport them.

Overall, it is hard not to enjoy your time in Tulum. It has the most beautiful beaches and the friendliest people you will ever meet. Just make sure that if you are picky about the weather, accommodations or food, that you do some research beforehand to make sure you have the best Tulum experience that you can.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Simple. Thrifty. Living. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of financial journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing on personal finance for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

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