Visit the Ruins at Tulum: everything you need to know 2024

Discovering the Mystical Tulum Ruins: A Journey Through Time

Tulum’s iconic archaeological site, perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of the Caribbean Sea, offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply seeking an unforgettable adventure, visiting the Tulum Ruins is an experience you won’t want to miss. In this blog, we’ll take you through the highlights of this enchanting site and provide some practical tips to make the most of your visit.

Temple of the Wind at Tulum
Temple of the Wind at Tulum

A Brief History of Tulum

Nestled along the stunning Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, the Tulum Ruins stand as a testament to the grandeur of the ancient Mayan civilization. Tulum, originally known as Zama, meaning “City of Dawn,” was a significant Mayan port city between the 13th and 15th centuries. Its strategic location on the coast made it a crucial hub for trade, particularly in honey, turquoise and jade. Unlike many other Mayan sites, Tulum was still inhabited when the Spanish arrived in the early 16th century, which adds a layer of historical intrigue to its ruins.

The city is surrounded by a massive limestone wall on three sides, with the fourth side open to the sea, which is believed to have provided protection against invaders. The ruins we see today offer a glimpse into the sophisticated urban planning and architectural prowess of the Mayans.

Tulum Ruins a Private Tour by The Custom Tour
Tulum Ruins by The Custom Tour

Highlights of the Tulum Ruins

El Castillo

The most iconic structure at Tulum is El Castillo (The Castle). Perched on a cliff, this impressive pyramid served as a lighthouse for Mayan sailors navigating the treacherous waters. The views from El Castillo are breathtaking, providing a panoramic vista of the Caribbean Sea that is perfect for photographs.

Temple of the Frescoes

This small yet intricately decorated building served as an observatory for tracking celestial events. Inside, you can find detailed murals depicting Mayan gods and other symbolic imagery, which offer a fascinating insight into Mayan cosmology and religious practices.

The Beach

One of the unique features of the Tulum Ruins is its proximity to a beautiful, secluded beach. After exploring the ruins, you can take a refreshing dip in the clear, warm waters of the Caribbean. The famous Tulum beach is located just a 10 minute walk south of the site, accessible by foot or bicycle, this is the beginning of the Hotel Zone where the road is called Tulum-Boca Paila

The Wall

The 784-meter long wall surrounding the ruins is an impressive feat of engineering. It stands at about 3-5 meters high and 8 meters thick, showcasing the defensive capabilities of the Mayan civilization. Walking along the wall offers a sense of the scale and security that Tulum provided to its inhabitants.

Ruins at Tulum
Tulum Ruins

Practical Tips for Visiting Tulum Ruins

Best Time to Visit

The Tulum Ruins can get quite a lot of big tour buses, especially during the peak tourist season from December to March. To avoid the crowds and the heat, it’s best to visit when the site opens at 8 AM. Alternatively, visiting later in the afternoon can also be a good option. 

What to Bring?

– Reusable Water Bottle: The tropical climate can be very hot and humid, so it’s important to stay hydrated. Plastic bottles are not allowed.
– Comfortable Footwear: The site involves a fair amount of walking on uneven terrain, so comfortable sneakers are recommended.
– Sunscreen and Hat: There is limited shade at the ruins, so protecting yourself from the sun is crucial.
– Bring Cash in Mexican Pesos: Make sure to bring pesos with you to buy your tickets and bracelets faster. Most of the times the internet is spotty at Tulum beach, therefore the credit card terminals might not be working.

Getting There

Tulum is located about 60 kilometers south of Playa del Carmen, or 130 kilometers south of Cancun. You can reach the ruins by car, bus, or a guided tour with The Custom Tour. If you’re staying in Tulum town or one of the nearby beach resorts, it’s a short taxi ride or bike ride to the site.

Guided Tours

While it’s possible to explore the ruins on your own, a guided tour can enrich your experience with detailed historical context. Many knowledgeable guides are available at the entrance, or you can book a tour in advance with us. Avoid the big tour buses at all costs, remember you can maximize your vacation time by booking a private tour.

Tulum beach
What to do after a morning at the Tulum ruins?

Tulum Ruins & nearby attractions:

You decide where to go next! We offer you a combination of adventures and activities in different tour packages, some include lunch, some are just perfectly designed half-day adventures:

Tulum & Turtles Tour: Start your adventure snorkeling next to sea turtles in their natural habitat, afterwards you will explore the ruins.

Tulum & Coba Ruins: Beat the heat and the crowds at Tulum Ruins, and enjoy a a bicycle ride around Coba’s jungle, ending your day with a traditional lunch.

My Tulum Deluxe: Tulum Ruins + Ziplines + Canoeing + Cenote cliff-jumping and visiting a Mayan Village with an authentic Mayan lunch. 

Tulum & Cenotes: half-day to the ruins first, and snorkel one of the most beautiful cenotes in the area. 

Tulum Express: simply exploring the ruins with a professional tour guide, at your own pace. 

Iguana at Tulum Ruins
Iguana chilling at Tulum Ruins

Latest Updates about Tulum Ruins:

The Jaguar Park coming in 2024: 

The Jaguar Park protects the archaeological zone of Tulum and more than 1,000 hectares of conservation land that surrounds it. The new Archaeological Zone of Tulum entrance is located within the Jaguar Park. The new facility will have a greater capacity to serve visitors. It will be a great connection between the Tulum National Park and the Maya Train. By the end of 2024 there will be a new access to the beach, a restored lighthouse, a museum and two kilometers of bike paths.

Are the Tulum Ruins open to the public now?

Yes, the ruins at Tulum are open to the public. The main archaeological site remains operational while some facilities are still under construction (Spring 2024). The wooden staircase from the ruins to the beach is not open (remodeling works). You can still enjoy the beaches at Tulum by walking a few minutes south from the archaeological site.

Tickets at Tulum Ruins are Mx$95 per person, these are available for purchase at the main gate. Visitors must pay a separate Mx$60 per person eco-tax for entering the Tulum National Park. Remember you don’t need to worry about buying your admissions when touring with us.

Things to avoid at Tulum Ruins

Avoid climbing the buildings as it is prohibited. Plastic bottles, backpacks, drones and smoking products are not allowed on-site. Remember to bring a reusable water container.

Private Tours Cancun Tulum Riviera Maya Mexico
The Custom Tour offers the best private tours in Tulum

Let’s wrap this up!

A visit to the Tulum Ruins is more than just a journey through ancient structures; it’s a step back in time to an era of great cultural and architectural achievements. The stunning natural setting, combined with the rich history, makes Tulum a must-visit destination for travelers.

Whether you’re soaking in the panoramic views from El Castillo, marveling at the intricate murals in the Temple of the Frescoes, or simply relaxing on the nearby beach, the Tulum Ruins offer a truly unforgettable experience.

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