To the surprise of many, Mexico is not just tequila and Cancun, there is actually so much history waiting to be discovered in the land across the border.
I took a week-long vacation to Tulum located in the Yucatan Peninsula with the point of not only relaxing on some amazing beaches but seeing some of the world’s best Mayan Ruins in the process.
Getting to Tulum is its own little adventure as you must fly into Cancun and make your way down the Peninsula by either Bus, Taxi, or car; the choice is yours and each offers its own pros and cons.
How to get there
- Moderate trip time
- Can be pretty crowded
- Requires a transfer
- Very cheap
- Fast trip time
- Ride alone or with a small group
- Better if booked before arrival
- Can be expensive
- Travel at your pace
- Just you and the road
- Moderate to low cost
- Beware of traffic laws and signs
Personally, I choose the bus route as the very cheap ticket prices and convenience of the bus pickup at the airport matched my needs perfectly.
Taking the bus does require a transfer that occurs in Playa del Carmen, overlay times vary but buses leave for Tulum basically every hour. With a short stop here it’s the perfect place to relax, fuel up and start taking in the culture that Mexico has to offer.
Music, beer, tacos, and vendors are at every corner with the beach being within walking distance from the bus station itself. The actual bus travel time is about 2 hours total and before you know it, you will be arriving in Tulum.
Once in Tulum, the rest is up to you, whether you plan to simply slum it on the beach or do some exploring.
Personally I opted for both with the latter being my main focus. The Mayan culture has always been something that has interested me and this trip was my opportunity to experience it first hand.
The main way of traveling in Mexico is by taxi or colectivos so if you don’t plan on renting a car, taxi drivers will become your new best friends.
I would suggest that if you happen upon a driver you like, be sure to ask if they have a card this way you can call them whenever you are in need of a ride and if you were as lucky as I was it did not matter if it was day or night.
The Mayan Culture
Located in dense jungles (be prepared for humidity and mosquitoes) Coba is a must-see on any trip to Tulum as it has one of the tallest pyramids in the Yucatan.
The ancient Pyramid, Nohoch Mul, is open to the public and can be climbed. It’s 130 steep steps to the top, but the view is more than worth it, trust me. This site is still being excavated and restoration is ongoing in this dense jungle site.
Tulum was the only Mayan city built on the coast and it offers a mesmerizing oceanfront view built upon limestone cliffs.
These well-preserved ruins served as a seaport in the Mayan era and is now a calling card to this up and coming area. It would be a waste if you were to only come for the beaches and miss this unique site that is just a short taxi ride from the city center.
One of the seven wonders of the modern world and it more than lives up to that title.
This was truly one of my main reasons for picking this area to visit. There is so much to see here, a guided tour is honestly the only way to explore this for your first trip.
This site contains many extremely well-preserved structures including the Temple of Kukulkan (which unlike Coba these steps can not be climbed), the Great Ball Court (which is beyond impressive), Temple of the Warriors (along with the group of a thousand columns), the El Caracol (the observatory demonstrating their knowledge of astronomy) and many more.
Take It All In
After exploring to your heart’s content always end your day at the beach or even better take a dip in a Cenote which is found all over the area.
These sinkholes offer a break from the heat with cool waters in a usually shaded cave that attracts locals, tourists, and cave divers all the like.
Cenotes are great but by all means, take in the beach clubs and nightlife that Tulum has to offer. As this area has begun to grow and become more popular so has restaurants, clubs, and bars.
With amazing food, views, beaches, and culture Tulum offers a unique vacation experience that anyone could enjoy.