Tulum Traveller Information & Travel Tips
The Three Tulums – there are three different areas all referred to as Tulum only minutes away from each other by car.
Tulum Pueblo (town) is right on highway 307 running South-North. “El Pueblo”, as referred to by locals, is home to most workers of the tourist industry and where many of the stores, supermarkets, bus station, hostels and small hotels are found. Some great restaurants and live music can be found in Tulum pueblo. Do not miss it!
Tulum Playa is along the coastline that leads into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere [Ecological Reserve], the Caribbean white sandy beaches to the east, an impressive mangrove & wetland reserve to the south. Tulum Playa is home to many of the fancier, ecological, boutique and spa hotels, restaurants and beach clubs.
Tulum Ruins is the archaeological site where the Maya ruins of Tulum stand. The road is flanked by several restaurants, a commercial area geared to one-day visitors, a huge parking lot, a small bus station that operates part-time and a handful of middle range hotels.
How to get to Tulum
There are many airlines that fly to the Cancun International Airport. The majority of international flight use Terminal 3 though some (i.e. charters) use Terminal 2. Tulum is 130 km from Cancun and there are several ways for you to get to Tulum. Pre-booked private van/car, the bus or airport taxi. Once you exit the airport terminal you’ll be in the arrivals/pick-up area, you’ll see many companies holding signs. If you have pre-booked a private transportation look for a sign with your name on it, if not you will have to purchase a taxi or bus ticket (ADO).
The ADO bus from Cancun airport will take you to Playa del Carmen and takes at least 50 minutes. From Playa de Carmen you take another bus to Tulum town (another 1-2 hours depending on the amount of stops). Near the bus station in Tulum you take a taxi to your hotel. The entire trip will take 2-3 hours and can cost between $20 – $30 usd per person.
Pre-booked private transportation. This is by far the most popular mode of transportation, especially for families and groups of friends. The trip takes about an hour and a half and the price are per vehicle not per person.
Arriving at the Cancun Airport
You will receive the two required Mexican forms at the airport check-in or on the flight. A Mexican immigration form is required for each person and one Mexican customs declaration is required per family. If you make a mistake ask the flight attendant for another, more forms are available in the Cancun airport’s immigration area as well. Remember to bring a couple pens on the plane with you.
When you exit the plane there will be signs and airport personal showing you which way to go and immigration agents checking your paperwork to make sure you’ve filled it out properly. If all is well they will point you towards the escalator and stairs (elevators are nearby) that lead to the immigration area. There are usually more agents at the entrance showing you which line to get into. During peek season and travel days, the lines seem endless, just take a deep breath and pass the time chatting with people around you.
Be sure to have passports and immigration forms ready. The agent will scan your passport, stamp it and tear off the bottom section of the immigration form(s). The part the agents hands back to you is you “Tourist Card” which you will have to give back when you leave Mexico – keep it safe! Most people fold it and put it inside their passport. If you lose it, there is an Immigration counter/office in both Terminal 2 and 3 to help you when you depart. The process of replacing a lost tourist card can take awhile so arrive at the airport in plenty of time.
Baggage claim is to your right after you pass immigration. This can be tricky at any airport as the screens are not always updated quickly and often more then one fight is using a carousel. Once you have found the correct carousel and claimed your bags, (remember to always tag your luggage with your contact and hotel info, just in case), its forward to customs.
Get in line for customs inspection. All your luggage including carry-ons will go through a scanner. Once you give your customs form (one per family) to the agent you’ll be asked to press a button. A green light means go on ahead and if you get the red light the agents give your bags a more thorough inspection which usually take a couple minutes.
There are bathrooms in all three areas; at the entrance to immigration, to the far right in baggage claim and and just in front of the customs agents after you are cleared.
After going through customs you enter what is nicknamed the “shark tank”, the area between customs and the exit where there are tour, transportation, rental car booths and dozens of time-share and tour sales people. They are experts at spotting first time visitors and will descend like a duck on a june bug. The best strategy is to not look around as you walk from customs to the terminal exit, rather talk to each other or if traveling alone, check your cell. If approached anyway, simply smile and a “no thank you” should work. Be polite, remember they are trying to make a living, and say you are being met and keep walking unless of course you are interested in a tour or timeshare.
Money in Tulum
The Mexican peso is the standard currency used in Mexico. 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 peso bills are most often used but you will occasionally see a 1000 peso note. Peso coins are in denominations of $1 $2, $5, and $10 pesos, there is also limited edition $20 peso coin in circulation.
Most hotels accept credit cards (check when making your reservation) as all as the higher-end Beach Clubs, Restaurants and tour companies. Foreign currency, mainly US dollars and Euros, are also accepted most everywhere, however you will not get the best exchange rate.The smaller bars and restaurants are usually cash only.
ATM fraud is a problem all over the world so take steps to protect yourself. Many travelers open a “Travel Account” and transfer the amount of money they need on a daily basis as well as setting a withdrawal and purchase limit. Be sure to advise your bank the dates you will in Mexico.
There is a growing number of travelers using online transfer services of TransferWise.com and xoom.com Check their websites for details.
Weather in Tulum
The weather in Tulum is usually what you hope for… perfect! The average temperature is around 80F/26C.
December – April enjoy the mildest temperatures of the year, with highs between 75 – 80F (23 – 26C) and lows from 60 – 65F (16 – 19C). Evenings during these months can be quite cool so be sure to bring a sweater or light jacket
The humidity can get pretty high in the warmer months of May – October. Temperatures can climb upwards of 85F (32C). Because of the humidity it can feel much hotter, and rains more frequently.
The official hurricane season is from June through November but September and October are the months when tropical storms and hurricanes are most likely. It is always a good idea to purchase travel insurance, even more so during hurricane season.
To call Tulum: Mexico’s country code is 52, Tulum’s area code is 984 and all land line phone numbers are 7 digits. So, if you are calling from the United States and Canada you would dial:
011 (International code) 52 (country code) 984 (area code) and the 7 digit phone number. Example: 011 52 984 XXX XXXX
If you are calling a Mexican mobile phone from abroad add a 1 after the 52 and before the area code. Example: 011 52 1 984 XXX XXXX Not sure if it is a land line or mobile? Try the first way and if it doesn’t work, add the 1 🙂
To make international calls FROM Mexico you dial access code 001 for the US and Canada; and 00 + country code for the rest of the world.
Check with your provider before you go to Mexico and tell them you will be in the Cancun Mexico area (some providers offer temporary plans for travelers) and you want to make AND receive calls while there.
Drink only bottled water and be sure to drink lots! It’s the tropics and your body will thank you for the extra liquid. Bring your own refillable water bottle and help do your bit to save the environment.
Using tap water to brush your teeth, or inadvertently getting a little water in your mouth while showering is nothing to worry about. Restaurants use purified water for ice, and most wash fruits and veggies in it, or use Microdyn.
What to bring
Tulum very casual, t-shirts and shorts are fine anywhere though you might want to bring something dressier for evening.
- Biodegradable sunscreen and mosquito repellent
- Refillable water bottle
- A small flashlight
- Necessary medications and a photocopy of your physician’s original prescription
- Electrical socket adapter
- Sunglasses & Hat
- Zip lock bags – you’ll be happy you did when you’re leaving and your bathing suit is still wet.
Be certain to carry a photocopy of your passport’s information page and copies of any relevant visas with you. These copies can help immensely if you lose your original passport. Copies of any insurance policies, such as travel and medical, should be carried with you, as well their emergency contact numbers.