I was in Tulum a few days ago and I’m still dreaming about this beautiful city! Tulum was absolutely paradise. Richie, Yvonne ( my sister in law) and I had such an amazing time there and I recommend everyone visit at least once. I love traveling, but I don't plan to break the bank every time I get that travel itch.
So here are 10 tips for your budget friendly trip to Tulum:
There are no direct flights to Tulum. Fly into Cancun and rent a car.
We flew into Cancun and from there rented a car. We got a great deal from Hertz and actually got a rental and a cooler for 5 days for under $400. The trip from Cancun to Tulum was about 1.5 hours. At first I was worried about driving but it was a breeze. The drive is literally a straight shot down I 307. Having a car was a bonus and allowed us to save money by not using Taxis and the freedom to go when and where we wanted.
2. Stay in Tulum Town, especially if you are on a budget.
Yvonne and I booked this trip as a surprise to Richie for his 30th birthday. If it was a trip solely based on my likes and desires, I would of booked a hotel down on the beach side of Tulum. The beach side of Tulum is where you find all your super nice hotels and hostels. I worried that by staying in the super touristy area we would not get to paint a true picture of Tulum. And since my husband likes an adventure I decided to book a cute boutique hotel in Tulum Town.
Hotel Biwa was walking/biking distance to all the cute bars, shops and restaurants in Tulum town. The hotel was not only very clean but also had a chic boho vibe. The hotel has a cute pool and breakfast is served everyday. Staffing was excellent and the price was amazing. For under $120 a night we had a 2 bedroom suite that was included a kitchen. Also, our stay included not only a spectacular breakfast AND a bike. I def recommend staying here.
3. Biking is the most common used transportation.
Tulum is a pretty small town. In fact, Tulum Town is about 2 miles from the beach. Thus, everyone bikes everywhere. We biked throughout Tulum town, but utilized our vehicle when going further out to Dos Ojos Cenotes or even Kaan Luum Lagoon. We aren't experienced bikers so the busy highway was intimidating.
4. Eat at Taqueria Honorio & Antojitos La Chiapanec
You're in Mexico so indulge on tacos. Plus, after biking up and down the streets of Tulum you deserve it. Both Taqueria Honorio & Antojitos La Chiapanec were recommended to me by multiple people so I knew it would not disappoint. Taqueria Honorio is located in Tulum Town and has funky hours (7-1:30 pm) but it is worth it. Try all four tacos offered, you owe it to your taste buds. Also, for drinks go with the watermelon juice. It was freshly squeezed all natural watermelon juice, no additives.
Antojitos La Chiapanec is a good night time spot for tacos. Go with the Pastor tacos. The meat literally melts in your mouth. Wash it down with a Corona.
5. Visit a less popular (and cheaper) beach club
It is so easy to fall for the desire to go to popular beach clubs like Coco Beach, however beach clubs like Caleta Tankah are as fun, offer more to do and are half of the price. Caleta Tankah should be on your list because it offers beach, beach cenote and cenote access. We spent an entire day splashing through both the beach cenote and cenote. This spot was perfect because since so much of Tulum's beaches have been struggling with controlling seaweed, the beach cenote offered the same waves, crystal clear salt water and vibes of the beach but without the seaweed. This was one of my favorite excursions.
6. Use Pesos over Dollars and bring CASH.
In Tulum Town most of the bars, restaurants and shops only except cash. Being married to a finance guy means never using your card in places he doesn't completely trust or is familiar with, so we took out cash in America and brought it with us. While a lot of the businesses will except American dollars, using dollars over pesos means paying more for a service. However, down by the beach we found most of the bars and shops except cards. There are currency exchange stops all over the town so go with the Peso.
7. Be prepared to drink fresh cocktails.
I fell in love with a mojito bar in Tulum, Batey Mojito Bar. Who would of thought one would fall in love with a mojito bar in mexico?! However, this spot knows what they are doing! Batey is known for its natural and eccentric cocktails. Throughout the day one of the bar backs takes sugar cane and uses a machine to squeeze out sugar. This sugar is then used to sweeten all of their cocktails. I fell in love with this place! Go, enjoy the nightly live music and even nibble on the sugar cane stem they leave in their cocktails.
8. The Beaches are filled with seaweed so visit a Lagoon or a Cenote.
Over the last couple of years Tulum has suffered from a crazy seaweed problem. The seaweed is thick and makes enjoying the crystal clear water almost impossible. But don't fret. My craving for clear water was solved by visiting Kaan Luum Lagoon. Its beautiful. After you walk through a jungle you are brought to an oasis. Make sure to bring a couple of beers, but don't litter, and enjoy the day.
Honorable Mention: Dos Ojos Cenotes. They have multiple cenotes for you to frolic in. The water is so clear you can see and even fill the fish swimming around you.
9. Do at least one night of Fine Dining.
Tulum's foodie scene was excellent. It was so impressive. One night we went to Encanto Cantina, which is located in Tulum Town but definitely has beach vibes. For starters we got an order of the Tuna Ceviche and the Fish chicharrones. Both dishes were so fresh. My favorite of the two was the fish chicharrones because of how unique it was. For entrees Rich got the grilled octopus, Yvonne had the fish of the day and I munched on everyone's meals. I enjoyed this experience because it gave us an opportunity to fast from Tacos and enjoy a different side of Tulum's culinary skills.
10. Go dancing in Tulum beach.
We did not go to Tulum during the high season (Jan-March) so it was pretty chill throughout the city. In fact, while we were in Tulum the city held elections and for about two days we could not drink in Tulum town. Thank God we bought liquor and beer to stack in the room before hand. However, this pushed us to go out into the beach area and party. My favorite beach bar/club is Guitano and Dibalo Cha Cha Cha. Both have a very funky jungle party feel, the drinks were unique and the DJ's kept the dance floor packed with people dancing. This was one of my favorite nights in Tulum.
Thanks for the read and I am sooo jealous that you are on your way to Tulum! I have been to many places and I must say Tulum quickly has become one of my favorite spots. I cannot wait to travel again. Hopefully I can make it out to One Tulum music festival one year. Lastly, I hope you found this post to be helpful as most of these points are things I wish I knew before my trip. Either way, have fun and enjoy!