The Tulum ruins of Mexico are one of the most well-known archaeology sites in the world and the lone ruin overlooking the Caribbean Sea has become a symbol for the entire region as well as one of my favorite pins on my Pinterest board! So visiting the ruins was a must for us! But the tours seemed so pricy, plus I don’t really enjoy those group tours with a guide, so we decided to go and explore them ourselves. And overall it cost us around 7€ per person to go there and see the ruins, when it would have cost us around 70-100€ when booking through the hotel! Make sure to go as early as possible (from 8am) to avoid big groups! And if you visit on a Sunday, the entrance is free!
So, it’s super easy to do it yourself, plus you get to see more of the real Mexico instead of lying in a resort by the pool. We fetched the local small bus, called Collectivo, and paid around 35 pesos (€1.50) for one way. Just tell the driver where you would like to go and they will stop the bus there - it’s a easy as that. A taxi would have been 15-20 dollars easily! And from the stop, you just walk down to the ruins (5 minutes not more) and buy a ticket (70 pesos=€3) and enter the ruins. First you’ll notice the cute raccoon like animals hanging around the entrance. They’re called Coatis and they’re a member of the raccoon family. Even though they’re super adorable, you should be careful and not pet them, they’re still wild animals and could be carrying diseases. We also spotted a snake in the entrance, so be careful where you step! But don’t be scared, as all the wild animals are always scared of you more than your are scared of them.
The ruins are not that big of an area actually, and there are plenty of explanatory signs and text below each ruin, so you can easily experience them without a guide. It’s a beautiful walk around the ruins and you will find countless of amazing places for photos here! And then you see the beach.. and oh is it blue or what! It’s stunningly turquoise and even though that day was so windy (there was a red flag), people were still taking a dip down on the beach near the ruins. What a heavenly place!
When were the Tulum Ruins built?
According to archaeological findings at the Tulum ruins, the site began to be inhabited as early as 564 A.D. Although with never more than an estimated 1,600 inhabitants, the site remained occupied until shortly before the end of the 16th century, when disease brought by the Spanish eliminated the majority of the population.
More about the ruins
Each Mayan city had a specific purpose, and Tulum was a seaport, trading mainly in turquoise and jade. In fact, when the Spanish first arrived there in 1518 they considered Tulum to be as large as Sevilla. However, shortly after the Spaniards began their occupation of Mexico, the ancient Mayas who once called this majestic site their home abandoned it. As well as being the only Mayan city built on a coast, Tulum was one of the few protected by a wall. Made of limestone, the 784-metre wall encloses the site on three sides, is seven metres thick, and varies between three and five metres in height. Surely this fortification helped preserve the seaport. But there are also several theories for the purpose of this wall. One has a Mayan population of 600 on the inside, protected from invaders. Another suggests only priests and nobility were housed within the walls, while peasants were kept on the outside.
After visiting the ruins, we headed towards the Tulum beach or at least where the long strip of beach starts and enjoyed a Corona in a one of the first beach bars we spotted. We were also going to have a tour with a boat to admire the ruins from the sea as well as doing some snorkelling, but due to the wind we skipped that part. If you do want to do the tour on the boat buy the ticket from the official town tourist guy, who is in the corner where you step out of the collectivo. But don’t get dragged into any other tour sellers there!
- The Tulum ruins are open Monday through Sunday from 8am- 5pm
- Free entrance on Sundays to all archaeological sites on for Mexican citizens and foreign residents.
- If the ocean is calm, book the boat tour to snorkel & admire the ruins from the sea
- Enjoy lunch or drinks in Tulum beach afterwards
- Use plenty of sunscreen - and go for my new favorite Natural Tone Organic Sunscreen!
Take cash with you, as a lot of the places don’t accept card