Ditch The Tour: Tulum Ruins

Ditch The Tour tulum ruins
With Tours to Tulum Ruins overpriced and crowded, why not save some money and visit independently?

Tulum Ruins are one of the most photographed areas of the Riviera Maya. Stunning ancient buildings sit proudly atop some of the most talcum powder soft beaches in the whole area. It’s no surprise that this is one of the most popular excursions in the area.
But what if you want to avoid being herded around like a flock of sheep? What if you wanted to gently meander around the sandy pathways at your own pace? Is it even possible to travel there without a guide? How on earth would you even get there? And of course, would I actually save myself money?
Read on to find out the answers to these questions:

How To Get Here:

The sleepy town of Tulum is situated along the Riviera Maya around an hour away from Playa Del Carmen and two from Cancun. If you hire a car you can easily drive along the 307 highway from Playa straight to Tulum. Parking at the ruins is $30 pesos.
If you don’t have a car there are 2 public transport options: ADO and Collectivo.
The ADO bus is a big air conditioned coach with set times. You have to catch these at the ADO bus terminals and buy your tickets before boarding the coach either at the ticket office or online. The cost for this can range from $31-$62 pesos from Playa Del Carmen & $69-$138 from Cancun. Only certain buses stop at the ruins so make sure you select coaches visiting ‘Tulum Zona Arqueologica’.
The Collectivo’s are local shared taxis that you can flag down on the highway or catch in the middle of Playa on Calle 2 between 15th & 20th Av. This is the option we use when travelling around the area. Top tip: Avoid the back row, it can be a bit of a squeeze! The cost to Tulum is $40 pesos, you pay the driver when you leave the bus.
There is not a direct collectivo from Cancun to Tulum, simply catch the collectivo to Playa Del Carmen and then transfer onto the Playa-Tulum collectivo.
Collectivos run from 6am-10pm and run every 5-10 minutes so you never have to wait too long.
If you are staying at one of the many resort hotels between Playa & Tulum you can still catch a collectivo. Just walk out of your hotel onto the highway and stick your arm out when you see a Playa-Tulum collectivo pass by!

So lets say we take the collectivo, that’s $40 there and back.

Transport total: $80 pesos.

Upon Arrival:

If you travel by collectivo, the bus will drop you across the road from the ruins, The ADO will pull into the ruins. From here you need to walk past all of the people screaming ‘Free Information!’. Yes, they will give you free information and you are more than welcome to talk to them and get your free map BUT they will then turn this into a sales pitch about how the best way to see the ruins is by boat, spending the next ten minutes of your life explaining why this paid tour is the best thing since sliced bread. You can politely decline, take your map and continue along the path to the ruins.

Once you reach Starbucks you have two choices. You can either continue walking straight down the road you are on (it is VERY hot and VERY humid) or for $20 pesos per person you can head to this little booth and collect a wristband to ride the tractor trolley.

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Lets face it, you’re going to be spending the next couple of hours walking around in blazing sunshine. Take the trolley. You can thank me later.

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When you leave the trolley you will see the entrance to the ruins. On your left facing the ticket office are the bathrooms. There are NO facilities once you are inside the ruins so go now. Even if you don’t think you need.

As you approach the ticket office there will be tour guides offering their services. We didn’t use a tour guide as we felt we could navigate ourselves but if you really want an in-depth tour then hiring one of these official tour guides can be beneficial. They have a wealth of information about the ruins that you wont find out from the signs. Prices are negotiable but I’ve read in a few places a cost of around $700 pesos is normal. It’s ideal if you are with a group of friends as you can spilt the cost.

Straight in front of you is the ticket office where you can purchase entry for $65 pesos. Next head over to the right hand side of the ticket office and wander through the jungle until you come to the automatic ticket barriers. Hold your ticket underneath the laser for it to scan the QR code. Walk through the barrier, up the stairs and you’ve made it. Welcome to Tulum Ruins.

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Total Cost: $20 pesos for the trolley & $65 pesos for admission: $85 pesos

How To Tackle Tulum Ruins:

There are two entrances to the walled fort. One on the left and one to the right. When we arrived most people headed for the left so we entered via the right. As we walked through the ruins it seemed as if we were walking in the opposite direction to everyone else, which actually suited us fine as we were avoiding the crowds. We walked straight towards the exit then turned left up through the eco-walk towards the Caribbean. We explored the beach side of the ruins before heading back down towards the entrance and walking round the rest of the ruins. Not the most logical route but as i said, we avoided crowds!

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 When you exit the walled enclosure turn right and walk down the road back to the entrance where you can catch the trolley back to this century.

Conclusion:

The cheapest tour i could find was around $740 pesos per person for a half day to Tulum Ruins.

Take the collectivo and travel independently, it will cost you a whopping $125!

I think the figures speak for themselves.

Top Tips:

-Take water. LOTS of water. More water than you think you will drink. Do not underestimate how hot and humid these ruins are. Once you are inside the walls there is nowhere to buy anything. You can purchase drinks at the area beside the highway but it’s all overpriced.

-Wear a hat. There is very little shade and you will get hot. When we arrived we saw a lot of people carrying umbrellas….i thought it was strange….until i saw them using them to protect themselves from the sun. What a great idea! I wish i had thought of it!

– Slap on the sun cream. Self explanatory.

-Make sure your phone/camera has full charge and plenty memory. It’s one of the most photographed places in the Riviera Maya for a reason.

– Wear comfortable shoes. I wore my Haviannas that i practically live in and was fine. The paths are sandy with a couple of rocky bits.

– Get your ass outta bed! The earlier you arrive at the ruins the better chance you have of avoiding hoards of other tourists. We arrived at 9am and by the time we left around 11am the place was filling up. A lot. (They open 8am-5pm everyday)

– Wear your bikini/swim shorts under your clothes. The beach is powder white sand and 50 shade of turquoise. There aren’t any changing areas so wear them under your outfit.

– Feeling hungry after exploring the ruins? Jump in a taxi and head into Tulum Centre. You’ll get a much better meal for a much better price. Taxis are situated at the highway entrance and cost around $70 pesos.

– Take some Magicool or one of these cooling cloths with you. Not only will they keep you cool in the ruins but we’ve been using both every time we feel the heat here in Mexico!

-Take Pesos. There are no cash machines at the ruins.

Have you visited the ruins in Tulum before? What’s your top tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Ditch The Tour Guide-
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20 Replies to “Ditch The Tour: Tulum Ruins”

  1. We always try to ditch the tours whenever possible, they’re always way too over priced and almost always feel too rushed! Much better to do things your own way. This does look like an interesting place to visit.
    Paul recently posted…Hostel Review: Trip ‘n’ Hostel, Tirana, Albania! A fun hostel in this fascinating city!My Profile

    1. Completely agree with you Paul. The only time we will pay for a tour is if there is absolutely no possible way for us to arrange it by ourselves. You can spend as much or as little time as you want and really get to see what you want to see.

  2. Like Paul, we always try to see sights on our own. We prefer to have our own time to take photo’s and see what we want when we want. Your article is full of good tips from how to get there and what to do once there. Especially bringing our bathing suits to enjoy that beautiful turquoise water!
    Nancy recently posted…Making European Train Travel EasyMy Profile

    1. Oh yes! And ever better, because it’s so hot you dry off in 5 minutes so no need to worry about changing into dry clothes!

  3. I have been hearing alot about the beaches here recently, but it was nice to learn a bit more about it. Love the tips for the ruins, they sound fascinating!

    1. The beaches in Tulum are stunning! Next time we visit we will 100% organise some time down in Tulum instead of just the odd day here and there.

  4. Great guide! I would much rather tour independently than pay out the nose for an escorted tour that leaves you no flexibility! Plus you cannot argue with the price of DIY!
    Brianna recently posted…Airport Security Lines: A Survival GuideMy Profile

    1. Exactly! I’ve been on tours before and i always end up really restless because they’re busy looking at things I’m not interested in or they end up taking you to ‘this local store’ where you end up walking around for an hour with people trying to sell you complete crap! Independent all the way!

  5. Have to prepare my brown skin as I visit Tulum. Looks worth to get browner to see this fascinating tuins though.

    1. Oh yes. Visiting the ruins is definitely a good way to get a tan!

  6. I’m not a crowd person, so this is great to know. I’d rather spend less, be around less people, and have a better time. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I’m exactly the same Lara! I hate big crowds and having to fight to see what’s going on. Visiting on our own meant we avoided all of that.

  7. I love posts that compare two options. You are right, the collectivo is a no brainer, if you are looking at finances.

    1. Exactly. The collectivos here are fun! Just a bit of a squeeze if you’re in the back row!

  8. Great tips – especially the bikini one – I always do that when I know theres a possibility to get in the water, no excuses lol. Oh and I always prefer DIY tours so this is awesome info for when I make it to Tulum.

    1. I know! Any excuse to top up the tan! 🙂

  9. Great info and tips for a place I’ve never been to. Amazed that you can visit ruins near what would normally be thought of as a resort environment.

    1. You’d be surprised at how many ruins are in really built up areas! Here in Playa Del Carmen there are ruins scattered all over the place, you just need to know where to look 🙂

  10. I was privileged to read your post. and I left a comment. so great to meet you. I’m “following” you. I hope you have a great weekend.

    1. Thanks! I hope you have a great weekend too.

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