Exploring the ruins of Tulum in Mexico

(Last Updated On: 3. July 2018)

Tulum is one of the most well-known Mayan sites. Translated from Yucatec Maya it means “wall”, “trench” or “fortress”. About 130 km (80miles) south from the popular tourist place Cancún, it is one of those impressing Mayan places, which is located directly at the coast of the Caribbean Sea. Indeed, this place was not a usual spiritual place like Chichén Itzá or Ek Balam, but it was an important trading node. Because of its importance, this place was still habitable as the Spanish conquistadores arrived there. The ruins of Tulum are quite good preserved and attracting pretty much tourists every day. In this article I will give you some information about this place. So, read on, folks.

Where are the ruins of Tulum located?

The ruins of Tulum are located, like so many Mayan archeological sites, at the Mexican peninsula Yucatan.

tulum, tulum mexico

To be concize, it is located (as mentioned) about 130 km (80 miles) south of Cancún and east from the village of the same name – Tulum. Check out the map below, folks.

tulum, tulum mexico

What is the best time to visit Tulum?

The best time to visit Tulum or Mexico in general is commonly considered during the dry period between December and April. But keep in mind that every coin has two sides. So expect find yourself amid a lof of other tourists and by temperatures about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) at this time. We’ve been there in October at the end of the low season, and it was already about 32 degrees Celsius (apprx. 90 degrees Fahrenheit). But we had luck and it was a sunny day as we went to the Tulum ruins. In total, during our whole visit in Mexico in October there were just 2 days of tropical rain for about 1 hour each.

How to get to the ruins of Tulum?

It depends on where you stay in Mexico. If you have a stop in the village Tulum, it will be easy to get to the ruins. Either you take a taxi or if you are on a budget, you can take a a shared taxi (like in Valladolid towards Ek Balam), called colectivo. With a colecitvo you would pay about 25 Pesos per person and the ride would last about 15 min.

If you don’t plan to make a stop in the village Tulum, the best way to get to the ruins of Tulum is to rent a car or book a guided bus tour. We had our headquarters in the hotel zone of Cancún and booked a guided tour which was organized from our hotel. Sure, to go by a rental car would have been much comfortable. But as we booked 12 nights in our hotel, we got the tour for free. All we had to pay, was the Mexican VAT.

If you book a guided tour, you need to keep in mind that you will arrive at Tulum at almost the same time with other tourists from other touring companies. In this case, expect crowds of people. But nevertheless, in Tulum there are much less crowds than in Chichén Itzá, folks.

If you decide to rent a car, try to get to the ruins of Tulum as early or as late as possible to avoid the crowds. As the gates of Tulum are closing at 5 pm, you should enter this site at the latest at 4 pm. But in this case you need to hurry up, so I recommend getting there at 3 pm. More about opening hours see the section below.

Parking at Tulum

Parking at the parking place of Tulum ruins is fee-based and it costs about 120 Mexican Pesos. Use the currency converter (right upper area) to show the price in your home currency, folks.

Entrance fee  and opening hours in Tulum

The ruins of Tulum are opened 7 days a week from 8 am to 5 pm

The entrance fare amounts to 65 Mexican Pesos. If you would like to visit this place with a guide, there are several locals at the gates of the ruins offering this service. I did not use it and thus, I cannot tell you if it is worth its money or not. But when I asked for the price, I’ve been told, it would cost about 600 Mexican Pesos. So it’s up to you, folks, what you prefer to do. Please note, that the entrance fares may change over time.

The good news is that the entrance every Sunday is free for locals and tourists. So, if you are on a budget, it is your opportunity to see this place for free (except of the parking fee, of course).

What will you find in Tulum?

Well, actually there are four main buildings which are the main attractions. There are of course, several other buildings, but they don’t have any names.

Please note: The names of the mentioned buildings are NOT the original names. The original names are not known and therefore the scientists, like archeologists, invented some own names to distinguish the buildings.

  • The first one is called  “El Castillo”. This is the building which overlooks all the others, and which is good sighted from the sea. That’s probably why the Spanish priest Juan Díaz considered this construction as the biggest building he ever seen. Obviously, he hasn’t been in Chichén Itzá and haven’t seen the Kukulcan Pyramid…
El Castillo
El Castillo
  • Temple of the frescos . This one got its name because of the numerous murals of serpents, lizards, fishes and other marine animals. The function of this building is not clear. However, presumable it was used to worship diverse godheads.
Temple of the frescos
  • Temple of the God of Wind. This building was erected on a natural hillock, straight at the close proximity to the see. It consists just of one room, and it is assumed that this place was used to worship the god of the wind.
Temple of the God of Wind
  • The temple of the Descending God. This building got its name because of the painting of a descending god. But the real function of this building is not clear. It could also be possible, that this building was the residence of the Mayan ruler.
The temple of the Descending God

More photos from the ruins of Tulum and other Mayan sites you will find in my Mexico gallery, folks.


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