Your Guide to Planning a Trip to the Tulum Ruins

Walking Through Time at One of Mexico's Most Popular Mayan Ruins

The Tulum Archaelogical Site is one of the most popular tourist destinations along the Riviera Maya. This once vibrant trading port was home to around 1,500 Mayans at its height.

Tulum Quick Facts

  • Annual Visitors: 1.3 million (2022)
  • Operating Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Built: Between 1200s and 1450s
  • Closest Town (Municipality): Modern Tulum
  • Best Way to Get There: Via a Private Tour

What are the Tulum ruins?

Tulum was one of the last Mayan cities built before the Spanish conquistador invasion. The Postclassic ruins lie along the Riviera Maya's coastline, with sandy beaches at the southeast side.


The ruins are a fortified walled city, with the visitor center lying outside the northwest wall. During its time as a populated city in the Postclassic Era of the Mayan Empire, Tulum served as a trading hub.


Walled cities and coastal towns were anomalies the Mayan Empire. Tulum was the only coastal town built by the Mayans, but the exact number of walled cities is not easy to pinpoint due to gaps in historical and archaelogical records.

What is inside the Tulum ruins?

The entire site lies within the fortified wall. There are several key structures of interest, although you can explore the entire site within 90 minutes:


  • The Fortified Wall - This wall surrounds the entire site and was built to protect the city from invadors.
  • Gran palacio o casa del Halatch Uinic - This two-building structure features a shrine of the ambiguous "descending god."
  • Casa de Chultun
  • Flataforma funeraria
  • Templo de los frescos
  • Casa de las columnas
  • Templo del Dios Viento - Translated to "Temple of the Descending God," there is no historical consensus about which god this is referring to.
  • El castillo - "The castle" is the largest building on the site. It features two levels which were build in phases. Tourists cannot climb to the upper temple.
  • Oratorio
  • Mirador
View map of architectural site

When was Tulum built?

Mayans built Tulum during their decline, between the 1200s and 1450s. This is referred to as the "Postclassic period."

What should I bring to the Tulum ruins?

  • Pesos - nearby vendors may not accept foreign currency, although many do
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Light clothing
  • Light snack and a bottle of water
  • Small backpack -- large backpacks are not permitted


byu/yallneedkoreanjesus from discussion

Where are the Tulum ruins?

Tulum is in the Riviera Maya, a coastal region along the east coast of the Yucutan peninsula, in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo.


The archaeological site sits on the coastline about 3.5 kilometers (2.1 meters) southeast of the modern municipality of Tulum.

How do I get to the Tulum ruins?

The Tulum ruins is about a 10-minute drive from the modern city of Tulum. Most of our rental properties are in Akumal, which is 28.6 kilmeters (17.7 miles) northeast of Tulum.


If you are coming from Akumal or farther north from Cancun, most of your drive will take you along the Carretera Cancun-Tulum (Cancun-Tulum Road).

Any transportation you take will bring you to the parking lot, where you will have a short, 10-minute walk to the entrance of the architectural site.

Via Rental

There are several car rental businesses in Akumal. However, one of the benefits of booking directly with Akumal Villas is that we can arrange for a car rental for your journey to Tulum.



If you are driving from the north, the turnoff for the ruins is before you get to the city center. You will see a yellow, diamond sign in the median and a blue sign that says “Ruinas Tulum.” Afterward, you will see a sign in English pointing you to parking.

Via Taxi

Shared taxis (colectivos)

Sharing a taxi with other tourists is one of the most affordable options to travel to the ruins site. These taxis will run to the site periodically from the Tulum municipality.


You can catch a colectivo just like hailing a taxi - and they run all across Highway 307 - including in Akumal.


The risk you run with collectivos is that they do not run until the van is full, and if you are hailing a colectivo, it may be full or unable to accommodate a larger party by they time if gets to you.

Private Taxis

You can arrange a private taxi to take you to the site as well if you prefer to operate on your own schedule. These run more expensive: a round trip from Akumal to Tulum and back can cost $65 or more depending on when you travel.

el castillo in the tulum ruins, a large stone castle with a staircase square upper level

Taking a Private Tulum Tour with Akumal Villas

Several local companies offer tours to Tulum. Akumal Villas offers two different tours to Tulum, each with transportation provided:

Tulum Half-Day Tour

Our most affordable option, you explore the ruins site in the early part of the day followed by a dive into the nearby Gran Cenote. Tours start at $149 per person.


Learn more about the Tulum Half Day Tour

The Cool Tour

This 10-hour tour takes you to Tankah, the settlement of Akumal, and the Tulum ruins. Along with touring the ruins, you will have the chance to zip line, swim, and relax on the Caribbean coast.


Contact us about the Cool Tour