How to Easily Get to Tulum Mexico (for Cheap)

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Tulum Mexico is one of the most fascinating destinations to check out in the Yucatán Peninsula. It’s a beautiful place but there are a few different routes that you can take to get there.

In this article, I will break down all of the different ways to get down to Tulum Mexico. I’ll also show you some of the cheapest methods.

How to get to Tulum Mexico

You can easily get to Tulum Mexico from popular Mexican cities including Cancun and Playa Del Carmen.

You can choose to take a private transfer or if you would like to save a good deal of money you can look into taking a bus. In some cases, you might need to take a ferry but I will explain that more below.

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What is Tulum?

Just in case you’re not fully clear on what Tulum is, it’s the site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city.

This was one of the last cities built that was inhabited by the Maya, and it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries.

Today it is one of the best preserved costal Maya sites and the third most-visited archaeological site in Mexico, after Teotihuacan and Chichen Itza (Tulum received over 2.2 million visitors in 2017). 

Beach with ruins

Where is Tulum Mexico?

The starting point for good directions is always knowing where in the world a given location is.

Tulum is located in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo along the east coast of the Yucatán Peninsula on the Caribbean Sea.

It is about one hour south of Playa Del Carmen by automobile and about one hour and 45 minutes south of Cancun.

If you are coming from the island of Cozumel, it will take you about two hours to get to Tulum after you factor in a ferry ride and automobile transportation.

Check out the map below to see where it is in relation to other tourist hotspots.

Related: Cabo vs Cancun: Which is Better for You?

Map of Tulum

Which airport to fly into for Tulum?

When you visit Tulum, you are not going to be flying into Tulum.

Instead, you will be flying into one of the major airports in the nearby area, likely Cancun or Cozumel.

Cancún International Airport (CUN)

Cancun would be the preferred choice for most people because it is a much larger airport that serves many more destinations and thus offers you the option of getting a nonstop flight much easier.

Cancún International Airport (CUN) serves over 25 million passengers a year making it the second largest airport in Mexico.

Cozumel International Airport (CZM)

Meanwhile, Cozumel International Airport (CZM) is a much smaller airport. It only serves about 550,000 passengers a year keeping it outside of the top 30 busiest airports in Mexico.

(Many people who want to visit Cozumel will fly into Cancun and simply take a taxi/ferry over to Cozumel.)

So if you chose to fly into Cozumel you are going to have to factor in the time to get from the island to the peninsula which adds about an hour each way to your time.

Aerodromo de Playa Del Carmen

Playa de Carmen also has an airport but it is a very small airport. I

t’s called Aerodromo de Playa Del Carmen and I’m not even sure how many passengers it serves but it is a very small amount.

Although Playa del Carmen is the closest city to Tulum, you would most likely not consider flying into this airport.

So my advice would be to plan on flying into Cancun and then make your plans from there. Staying in Playa Del Carmen probably makes the most sense if you want to utilize your time as much as possible because it is the closest big city to Tulum. But at the end of the day, Cancun is only 45 minutes further away so it’s not that big of a time difference.

Related: Mexico Tourist Card (FMM) Ultimate Guide 

Getting to Tulum

Because of its close proximity to both Playa Del Carmen and Cancun, Tulum is a very popular day trip location.

It’s perfectly normal to stay in a bigger city like Cancun, Cozumel, or Playa Del Carmen when planning a trip to Tulum.

So, I will assume that you are going to travel from one of the three cities mentioned above when visiting Tulum and we will look at some of your options.

Getting to Tulum from Cancun

If you wanted to take a private transfer from Cancun to Tulum most likely you will be paying around $109 USD for a one-way trip that should take you about one hour and 45 minutes.

You also may want to factor in a tip which could be somewhere in the $10 range. Be careful about excessive tipping while visiting Mexico.

You could consider taking an Uber from Cancun to Tulum and that would cost you around $1,800 Mexican pesos for an UberX (~$86).

Related: How Much Does Uber Charge Per Mile?

You could look into do taking a bus like the Ado bus. There are many different departure times that you could choose from and the cost would be about $11 to $23.

Other bus operators include:

  • Autocar Cancún
  • Autobuses Unidos (AU)
  • Ómnibus Cristóbal Colón (OCC)
  • Turismo Alianza
  • Ómnibus Cristóbal Colón (OCC)

For these bus rides and all of the ones below, it’s recommended that you make an advance booking.

You could also go to the private shuttle bus routes but that will cost an estimate at $315. For a large group that cost could be worth it but for one or two people that’s pretty pricey.

Renting a vehicle can also be a pretty economical way to get to Tulum. A one day rental in Cancun can be under $15 (before fees)!

Getting to Tulum from Playa Del Carmen

Playa del Carmen is a great place to depart from when visiting Tulum because it is so close.

If you are headed from Playa del Carmen and want to take a private transfer to Tulum the price will be at about $65. As mentioned above, this ride will take you about one hour.

You can also arrange to take a bus to Tulum from Playa del Carmen.

Most likely, you will be looking at the ADO bus which runs at different times of the day and takes about one hour to get to Tulum.

Other bus services you can look into include:

  • Transporte Foráneo Cancún-Playa del Carmen
  • Autocar Cancún
  • Autobuses Unidos (AU)
  • Ómnibus Cristóbal Colón (OCC)

These bus rides can be extremely cheap, costing as low as a couple of bucks and up to about $13.

You can also look into doing a private shuttle bus but this will be a much more expensive way to get there. I would expect to pay around $160 if you go with a company like Wayak.

Getting to Tulum from Cozumel

The best way to get from Cozumel to Tulum is likely to take a ferry to Playa del Carmen and then take a bus to Tulum.

The cost will differ but you will probably be spending somewhere between $10 and $30 and you can expect this to take about two total hours.

Depending on where you are staying in Cozumel, you may have to take a taxi to the ferry port in Cozumel, and then take the ferry to Playa del Carmen, and then hop on the bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.

The ferry ride should take you close to 40 minutes.

While that sounds like a lot of moving parts, you should not have issues arranging this transportation for under $30.

Tour packages

In many cases you might want to consider a tour package that will take you to to Tulum and other spots.

You can find packages that offer other activities including things like ATV riding, zip lines, swimming the turtles.

I would definitely look into exploring the beautiful cenotes and perhaps some reef snorkeling as well.

These tours typically are either a half-day or a full day with a half-day being around 5 hours and a full day being closer to 10 hours (factoring in transportation time).

Final word

As you can tell, there are a few different ways that you can get to Tulum from major tourist hotspots in the area.

If you want to save money you should seriously consider taking a bus but if you have a little more money to splurge then private transportation will also be an option.

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