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This is a detailed one day trip guide for those who are planning to head to Tulum – a small Mexican town located on the coast of the Caribbean Sea, 65 km south from Playa del Carmen. Please note that you can fit in more places to visit in one day, but if you are planning to enjoy the beauty of each site and of course to have at least two meals during the day, this guide is for you.
Mayan Ruins of Tulum
The old city of Tulum (Pre-Columbian Mayan walled city) is nested on 12 meter high cliffs along the east cost of the Yucatan Peninsula.
The former name of the site is Zama, meaning the City of Dawn, which was given for its location facing the sunrise. Tulum was one of the last cities inhabited and built by Mayan people, serving as a major port for Cobá.
It’s a perfect start to your day. The views are breathtaking! We enjoyed the site so much!
- Location: It’s very easy to find. Just follow the signs, look for “Zona Arqueologica”. It’s 1 km from Highway 307 on the left hand side if you are coming from Playa del Carmen/Cancun and 2 km before the intersection of the highway and the Coba/beach road in Tulum.
- Entrance fee: 57 pesos
- Parking: 70 pesos
- Opening hours: From 8 am to 5 pm
Gran Cenote is a big beautiful garden cenote with crystal clear refreshing blue water and easily accessible caves for snorkeling and diving. This place is popular with families and first time cenote swimmers, like us.
It’s a great experience. The water is so clean and crisp. The caves are full of stalactites and stalagmites of all shapes and sizes. Be prepared to see fish and turtles (bet you didn’t expect to see turtles right?).
When going down the stairs, turn on the right and you will find a shallow snorkeling area with soft white sand bottom and natural open hole on the other side of the cave.
More advanced swimmers can try out the large cave to the right. Be ready for the 15 meter journey into darkness, hundreds of stalactites and bats!
We took our snorkeling gear with us. If you don’t have one, you can rent it right there for an extra 70 pesos.
- Location: Drive 4 km by the Coba road from the intersection of Highway 307 and beach road in Tulum. It will be on your right hand side.
- Entrance fee: 120 pesos; 150 pesos for divers
- Parking: Free
- Opening hours: From 8 am to 6 pm
Have Your Delicious Meal
There are quite a number of restaurants and cafes in Tulum considering it’s such a small town. I would like to recommend several places which are really good!
1. Kinich Restaurant
Try out this cozy restaurant with its authentic Yucatan Food. The ambience of the place is very pleasant. The food is tasty and service is very good. Prices are quite resonable as well. Don’t miss it!
2. El Camello
Looking for excellent seafood? This place is definetely your choice. El Camello offers delicious, cheap and fresh seafood. This is the most famous marisqueria in Tulum, some people say it is the best in Mexico! 😉
3. Trattoria Romana
For a break from Mexican Food there is this amazing (yet very simple) italian restaurant. The food is great. The owner, an Italian, is very friendly, speaks to every guest and makes sure you get a perfect plate.
4. El Gourmet
It’s a small coffee shop, run by a sweet local family. It’s a great place for a coffee and snacks. They sell homemade pastry, cheeses, ham, sandwiches and other yummy things. These guys are very friendly and try their best to make you happy.
How to get to Tulum from Playa del Carmen
It’s very easy to get to Tulum from Playa Del Carmen. You have 3 options here:
1. ADO Bus. Departs from Playa del Carmen every day from 8:00 am to 12:31 pm (see the photo below). The price of a one way ticket is 66 pesos. ADO buses are very comfortable and fast.
2. Colectivo. Colectivo – minivans used by locals to get around within and outside the town. It’s a quick and cheap way to get to the desirable destination. It’s less comfortable than ADO buses and doesn’t have AC but is still safe. The Colectivo to Tulum runs every day between 5 am to 10 pm. It leaves from Calle 2 between 15th and 20th Avenue every 15 minutes. A one way ticket will cost you 40 pesos.
3. Car. If you prefer to travel without using public transport, as in any country of the world you can rent a car. I don’t know why many people say that it’s cheap to rent a car here. I would say it’s expensive, but affordable. Of course it all depends on whether you are going to purchase full insurance, which adds $25 to your bill. If you choose to rent a car, go only to the world famous companies like Hertz, Avis or EuropCar.
We rented our car from Hertz and were very happy with it. All the process of renting was very smooth and thank God we didn’t have any problems on the road. However it was expensive. We paid $75 each day. The fuel is cheap in Mexico, so with a distance of 65 km from Playa to Tulum, we didn’t spend much money on gas. If you’d like to rent a car but you are not sure about it, check out my guide to renting a car abroad. You’ll get all the necessary information and a few tips on how to rent a car and don’t loose money. If you don’t feel like reading that long post and would like to book your car right away, I suggest you to use the website that we always use to rent a car abroad. We always manage to find cars that we like and to pay less than you would pay at the office.
Accommodation (Update of 2017)
I know you are planning a one day trip to Tulum, but just in case you feel like staying there for one or two nights, I’d like to show you a few affordable and really good hotels where you might like to spend a couple of nights while in Tulum. All the hotels below have free wifi, free parking and rated highly by the travellers.
Free WiFi, free private parking, free use of bicycles, outdoor pool and pet-friendly. The hotel has a sun terrace and views of the garden, guests can enjoy a drink at the bar.
Free WiFi, free parking, family rooms,rooftop solarium, airport shuttle, located very close to Mayan Ruins.
Free WiFi, free parking, outdoor pool, family rooms, airport shuttle, free use of bicycles, spa and wellness centre.
Free WiFi, free parking, airport shuttle, non-smoking rooms, water park, daily maid service, free access and discounts on consumption in several private beach clubs.
Guys, I haven’t stayed at these hotels but I chose them the way I chose accommodation for ourselves, considering every single detail. When we went to Tulum all the hotels were extremely expensive so we opted for an Airbnb apartment. We use Airbnb very often and we love it! Just in case you’ve never rented an apartment through Airbnb just click this link and you’ll get up to $25 discount from me on your first trip.
Tulum is a very beautiful place. If you have time, not only one day, I encourage you to come to this town for a few days. There are more things around to do and to see. Enjoy your holidays!
Are you planning to have a day trip somewhere else rather than Tulum from Playa Del Carmen? Then check out my detailed posts on One Day Getaway in Cozumel, or find how to visit Chichen Itza from Playa Del Carmen in one day!