If you’re visiting Tulum, one thing that should definitely be at the top of your list is to pay a visit to the impressive Tulum Ruins. Tulum was once a mighty walled city built by the Mayan people, the ruins of which are still standing today.
The Tulum Ruins are some of the best-preserved Mayan ruins you can see. As such, they attract people from all over the world.
Planning your visit to Tulum’s Mayan ruins? Discover everything you need to know – from their history, how to get there and entrance, in this insider’s guide.
Why Visit the Tulum Ruins?
No visit to Tulum would be complete without seeing its ancient ruins. Here are a few reasons why you should visit this impressive archaeological site.
Gives Insight Into Mayan History
The Mayan people are famous for being one of the dominant empires of the ancient world. They are well-known for excelling at pottery, hieroglyphic writings, calendar making and mathematics.
They’re also famed for their imposing architectural structures, such as the Tulum Ruins. Tulum was initially built to protect its people. The town is also known for being an important trading and religious center between the 11th and 16th centuries.
The Tulum Ruins are one of the most well preserved Mayan sites along Mexico’s coast and provide a glimpse of how the Mayans lived and why they were a renowned civilization.
Stunning Natural Scenery
This impressive Tulum archaeological site sits on the edge of a steep cliff. It overlooks the gorgeous Caribbean Sea.
Right below the site lies the Tulum Ruins Beach, one of the area’s best beaches.
The site is also surrounded by palm trees, delicate cactus flowers, and even sunbathing iguanas.
Tulum Ruins: What To Expect When You Get There
The ruins sit inside the Tulum National Park. It is a massive area with a few important structures. These structures include:
The Tulum pyramids are one of the most well-known landmarks in the area. El Castillo is the tallest of these pyramids, standing at 24-feet (7.5 meters) tall. It served as a lighthouse that guided ships into the port.
Temple Of the Frescoes
The Temple of the Frescoes is a two-story building in front of El Castillo. In Tulum’s peak, it had an important social and religious significance.
It has interesting architectural elements, murals, decorations, and sculpture. While it has had some wear and tear over the last 800 years, you can still see a few of them today.
House of Columns
The House of Columns, also known as El Palacio (The Palace), is a large building complex consisting of four rooms. It served as the residence for important Mayan leaders.
House of Halach Uinic
Each Mayan city had a supreme leader and high priest known as the Halach Uinic. The House of the Halach Uinic served as the residence for the leader and is one of the most well-preserved buildings on the site.
The History of Tulum’s Ruins
It’s believed that Tulum is one of the last great cities built and inhabited by the Mayans. Its original Maya name was Zama, meaning “City of Dawn,” as it faces the sunrise.
The city served as an important site for the worship of “The Great Descending God,” whose image is still found on the temple in the Tulum Ruins. Tulum was originally built as a seaport fortress along the steep ocean cliffs.
At its peak between the 13th and 15th centuries, around 1,600 people called Tulum home. It was a booming trade center and port mainly for the trading of obsidian rock.
Other goods such as jade and turquoise stones, cotton, food, copper, axes, and cacao beans were all traded in Tulum. Tribes from all over Mexico and other Central American countries would travel to the town for trading purposes.
Today, the huge stone wall that surrounds the site protected Tulum and the nearby city of Coba from pirates and invasions from the east.
Planning Your Visit to Tulum’s Mayan Ruins
There are a few things that you should know before visiting Tulum and its ruins. Here is some useful information to help you plan your visit to the Tulum Ruins.
Tulum Ruins Address
Physical Address: Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico
The Tulum Ruins sit on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Quintana Roo State of Mexico. It stands on the north side of Tulum Beach and is a few minutes away from the Tulum Center.
Tulum Mayan Ruins Opening Hours
The Tulum Ruins are open seven days a week from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm EST.
It is best to arrive early in the morning, at around 8:00 am, as there are fewer crowds. From around 10:00 am, crowds start to pick up, with larger tour groups arriving.
There is also very little shade onsite, so it’s best to arrive early as it is much cooler.
Getting to Tulum Ruins Independently
There are a few ways to get to the Tulum Ruins.
Renting a car is best for self-exploration. You can rent a car from Cancun Airport, which services the greater Tulum area. This will cost you around $40 per day.
Tulum is about 45 minutes away from Playa del Carmen and 90 minutes away from Cancun. There’s a parking fee of 160 Pesos ($7) at the Tulum Ruins.
If renting a car is too expensive, you can take a bus from Playa del Carmen or Cancun. It will cost you around 80 Pesos ($4) for a one-way trip from Playa del Carmen and around 260 Pesos ($13) from Cancun.
Some buses stop directly at the ruins, while others stop at the bus station in Tulum, which is about 1.8-miles (2.9 km) from the ruins.
One of the cheapest ways to visit Tulum and the ruins from Playa del Carmen and Cancun is to take a Colectivo, or group taxi. It costs around 60 Pesos ($3) per person from Playa del Carmen and 130 Pesos ($6) from Cancun for a one-way trip.
If you’re planning to take a taxi from Playa del Carmen or Cancun, it will cost you approximately 600 to 800 Pesos ($30 to $40) for a one-way trip.
From Tulum Town
The Tulum Ruins are about 2.5 miles (4km) from the town center. You can rent a bicycle from anywhere in the town, which will cost you around 170 Pesos ($8) per day, and cycle to the ruins.
You cannot ride a bike inside the site, but there are bicycle racks with locks outside the entrance gate. You can also take a taxi from the Tulum center, which will cost you approximately 60 to 100 Pesos ($3 to $6).
One of the cheapest ways to get to the ruins from the town center is to use a Colectivo, which costs around 20 Pesos (less than $1).
On A Tulum Mayan Ruins Tour
Tours of the Tulum Ruins from Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or any other location in the Riviera Maya can cost anything between $50 and $250 depending on what’s included in the tour. Some tour options include full-day and half-day tours.
Other tour options combine visiting the Tulum Ruins with other activities like visiting the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve and visiting a cenote.
This tour from Cancun, which costs around $99, for instance, offers the following :
- Hotel pick up and drop off
- A certified bilingual guide
- Entrance fees to the Tulum Ruins and Coba
- A visit to Playa Del Carmen
- Entrance fee to one cenote
- A buffet lunch
When choosing which tour to book, it comes down to what you would like to do and your budget.
Tulum Ruins: Frequently Asked Questions
Are the Tulum Ruins Worth Seeing?
Absolutely. No visit to Tulum would be complete without visiting this important historical landmark as it gives visitors a glimpse into the mighty Mayan civilization’s past.
How Much Does It Cost to Go to Tulum Ruins?
If you plan on getting to the Tulum Ruins by yourself, the entrance fee is 65 Pesos (around $3.50). If you plan on filming at the Tulum Ruins with video camera equipment, this will cost you an extra 30 Pesos (a little over $1).
What Are the Ruins in Tulum Called?
They are simply called the Tulum Ruins. The ruins are part of the Tulum Archaeological Zone.
How Far is Tulum from the Mayan Ruins?
The Tulum Ruins are about 2.5 miles (4km) from the town center.