7 Tips for Your First Visit to the Tulum Ruins

tulum ruins

If you’re headed to Cancun, Playa Del Carmen or anywhere in Riviera Maya, visiting the ancient Mayan Tulum Ruins is a must-see! The Tulum Archaeological Site – or Ruinas Tulum – is one of the best preserved sites of the Mayan civilization and due to it’s elevated cliffside location out of reach of large hurricane waves, it not only offers a large and well preserved glimpse into history, but it’s set in an absolutely beautiful landscape!

The drive is worth it, and if you have kids (with varying levels of tolerance for heat, walking, or history) you may be better off renting a car, and driving down to the Ruins in Tulum yourself. Beyond directions, see our tips below (especially the Driving and Parking sections!).


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Directions to Tulum Archeological Zone

The Address of the Tulum Ruins is:

Carretera Federal, Cancun – Chetumal Km 230, 307, 77780 Tulum, Q.R., Mexico

Driving to Tulum Ruins (Know Before You Go!)

Immediately when you pull off the main fare to head to the Tulum Archeological Site entrance, you’ll be berated by a dozen people selling parking, tours, etc. They will knock on your windows and even attempt to block your car – shouting to stop and that they are “official” – and it can be REALLY intimidating if it’s your first time experiencing this. These are independent tour operators selling parking and tours. Some of them may very well offer great services or fair prices, but make no mistake about it, they are not “official” or designated by the government and you need not stop.

When you get to the walkway to Tulum you will know because you won’t be able to drive any further – yellow metal gates will block the road and it’s pedestrian only after that point.


When you see the yellow gates, there is a large lot on your right and you can park there for around 100 pesos or $5. It’s not super far but it’s a short hike into Tulum from the parking lot. There are other lots around, which may try to charge you more – or require purchase of a tour – but the going rate in 2022 is around $5 to park.

Don’t leave anything in your car.

Top Tips for Your First Visit to the Tulum Ruins Archeological Site - Know Before You Go
Top Tips for Your First Visit to the Tulum Ruins Archeological Site – Know Before You Go

Getting from the Parking Lot to Ruinas Tulum

I recommend you just walk up to the entrance gates of Tulum. It’s not far and it’s paved, but I think most people will prefer tennis shoes or something with a little support. Be sure to bring water and any snacks you need, there’s no food or water there. The parking lot has many small shops adjacent to it where you can purchase water or snacks, but you won’t find a market in the actual archeological site.

Tickets to Tulum

At the entrance there is a ticket line. It is long and it moves slow – bring your patience! Or buy your Tulum tickets online before you go.

ProTip: To the left of the ticket line you’ll see a desk, there you can also purchase a tour (which includes entry) with almost no wait. It was only a couple of US dollars extra per ticket but not much, and the tour was GREAT! This is what we did, and I recommend it!

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What to Bring

Pack light when headed to the Tulum Ruins! It’s hot, and you’ll be walking a lot. Pack a small lightweight backpack or bag with bottled water and a few snacks if you have kids who will need them. Or, use a small hands-free cross body bag like the Lole Belt Bag. If you’re visiting during the summer months or a heat wave, you might also consider a small handheld fan or misting water bottle (fill it with ice water!).

Some of the local shops at the base parking lot area offer restaurants, ice cream, and other snacks.

Note About Accessibility in Tulum

Sturdy strollers will do okay for the walk in, and many of the walkways. Wheelchairs will be harder especially if manual, though I think it’s doable for the determined. There are speed bumps on the walk on which will make a somewhat easy walk much harder for a wheelchair (but doable…there is also a paid shuttle you can take to bypass it), and some pathways in the actual site may be quite tricky. There are definitely some areas which have stairs and won’t be very accessible (if at all). I’m hardly an expert on chair accessibility though and I’d defer to other travel sites for tips and suggestions on wheelchairs, and really encourage you to do some research beforehand if you or a family member uses a wheelchair.

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