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Thornhill, Ontario

Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat and Hang Out!

Blogs 31-60

 

 

Tulum: Where to Stay, Eat and Hang Out!

Aleksandra Radic

Planning a trip to Tulum? Not sure where to stay? Here's a few tips I gathered from my recent trip there.

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WHY TULUM?
Other than the beautiful beach, I was really attracted to the health and wellness culture in this small town. It seemed to me like it was the perfect place to relax, do yoga, eat good food and have an overall great time. Tulum is also known for being conscious about its environmental impact, beautiful cenotes and Mayan ruins. The town sits right next to the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve which is the largest protected area in the Mexican Caribbean. 

Having been there now, I loved staying at the beach instead of the town. For those of you who haven't been, you can separate Tulum into two sections: Tulum Playa/Beach and Tulum Town. Having been there now, I preferred Tulum Playa and its rustic, small town vibe. But also...you have the jungle on one side and the beach on the other. Sounds like heaven to me!

The first thing you need to know is that Tulum is not cheap, so don’t expect to survive on a super tight budget. That being said, if you're not very picky and willing to shop around a bit you can stay and eat for less. 


WHEN TO GO
September is the start of the low season and I think we picked the least popular week to go because the town was dead. Hotels and restaurants were pretty deserted.  It really depends what you’re looking for but it was almost too quiet for us. However, the prices were better and we never waited in line to get seated at any restaurant. High season picks up in early November.

GETTING THERE
The closest airport to Tulum is Cancun. The cheapest return (and direct) flights I’ve seen from Toronto are roughly CA$300. Obviously, it depends if you’re going in low or high season, but we paid CA$440/each.

Tulum is approximately 1.5 hour drive from Cancun and you can get there by taxi, shuttle or bus. You can also rent a car, which is really helpful if you want to explore the area. The bus is the cheapest option, but it’s not direct so if you’re pressed for time it’s not the best option. We decided to book a shuttle. It was just the two of us in a big, air conditioned van. We paid US$77 for a one way ride with Avatays and I highly recommend them.

If you take the bus, look for the ADO bus company at the airport. That will take to Playa del Carmen where you’ll have to switch buses. The next bus will take you to Tulum town. If that’s where you’re staying – great, otherwise you’ll have to take a short taxi ride to Tulum Playa. This is definitely the cheapest option. We wanted to do this, but since we were kind of pressed for time we decided to save time and spend a little more money.

If you can rent a car, do it. It’s much easier to get around, but it’s not necessary.


TULUM TOWN

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WHERE TO STAY
The town is pretty cute, but nothing special. Accommodation in town is MUCH cheaper than being on the beach. You can rent an apartment through AirBNB or stay in a hotel. Restaurants are much cheaper too and there are more options for authentic Mexican food. To get to the beach from town is about a 20-35min bike ride, depending on where you are staying.

BEST COFFEE
Since I love my coffee, I must share with you the best place to get a coffee.

Kibok: Almost everyone knows this place and it’s for a good reason. It’s pretty small but they serve amazing coffee and espresso based drinks and some snacks as well. It’s right beside a happening bar called Batay.

Mmmm...found my cortado.

Mmmm...found my cortado.

Right across from Kibook is a place called Le Bistro which has really good breakfast for $4-6. It’s not hard to find cheap food in town, so this isn’t the only option. Another one is Don Cafeto.


TULUM BEACH

Staying at the beach is much more expensive, but it's a better option if you want to be able to walk to the beach. The main street is really cute and filled with all kinds of café’s, restaurants and boutiques (all very much overpriced). 

Make sure to rent a bike. It's a great way to get around the beach, to the ruins and the town (in 25-30 min).

Make sure to rent a bike. It's a great way to get around the beach, to the ruins and the town (in 25-30 min).

You can almost separate Tulum Beach into two sections, the expensive side and the cheaper (still not super cheap) side. The further south you go from Hotel Zamas, the more expensive everything gets and the further north you go (towards town) the cheaper it gets. There is a little strip of road that goes right along the water which kind of separates the two ‘sections’. We found the cheaper places to be just north of that strip along the water. That’s where you can find a few of our favourite and cheaper café's restaurants including Tunich, Creperia and Mateo’s.

You can find ATM machines all over the place. Some spit out only US dollars and others Mexican pesos. There are also a couple of places where you can exchange money. One is near Coco Tulum.

Best Coffee
La Creperia has really good coffee. I’m pretty sure the owners are Italian and of course, they always know what they are doing when it comes to coffee.

Where To Eat (If You're On A Tighter Budget)

Juanita Diavola (right beside Coco Tulum) has the best thin crust pizza! Food ranges from $12-$18. The coffee is decent too.

Tunich: We only discovered this place near the end of our stay, but it’s located on the north east side of the main street. The food is really good and the portions are huge! To give you an example, a smoothie is $4 and a big breakfast is around $9. This is a great price compared to most of the other places on the beach that charge double. You can get anything from eggs and pancakes, to salads and burritos.

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Mateo’s: Chill place with good reggae music and yummy tacos. During the day you can get fresh coconuts and smoothies for a few dollars.

La Eufemia: Super chill place on the beach. Nothing fancy and the crowd is a mix of locals and tourists. Cheap beer and tacos. During happy hour you can get 2 margaritas for $10. Beer is even cheaper.

Raw Love: In terms of price, this place falls somewhere in between this list and the list below. All the food is raw and delicious. The café is super cute with a ton of hammocks.

Charly’s Vegan Tacos: casual place with good tacos and vegan desserts.

Where To Eat (If You Don't Really Have A Budget)

There are many places like this, but here are a few:

Posada Margarita: Amazing pizza and homemade pasta.

Hartwood: Fresh seafood and the menu changes daily. We've been told that during high season, it's really hard to get a a seat for dinner.

Juanita Diavola (right beside Coco Tulum) has the best thin crust pizza! Food ranges from $12-$18. The coffee is decent too.

The Real Coconut at Sanara Hotel: Really good and expensive breakfast. Great view of the beach.

Nomade: Haven’t tried the food, but I would just go for a drink and hang out in the beautiful restaurant!

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CASA MALCA
Just because it's Pablo Escobar's old house. If you try and look for it, it's the huge door with no signs right off of the main street in Tulum Playa.

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WHERE TO STAY
Nothing is really that cheap along the beach. If you stay north of the strip, you can find more affordable places. We stayed at Coco Tulum, which is very central and right on the beach. The hotel is beautiful with very minimal decor. The property is very well maintained and everything clean. We had a  garden view room with a shared bathroom. I though the shared bathroom might be a problem, but since it was low season we basically always has the washroom to ourselves. We also hot fresh towels and new bottles of water every day! Staff is super nice too. One of the bestselling features is the beach bar (it's awesome) but it’s insanely overpriced. One margarita is $17!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A FEW TIPS...

- Make sure you exchance your money to Mexican pesos. If you use US dollars, you will end up loosing money every time because they round everything up.

- There are a couple of small mini markets where you can buy toiletries, snacks, wine etc. There is actually a store selling only Wine and it’s located near Amansala hotel.

- If you are looking for yoga classes, definitely look around before you decide. The prices vary a lot. Coco Tulum has yoga classes for $25/hr, Yoga Shala for $11/hr and Ahau Tulum was $6/1.5hrs.

Our Top Picks for Drinks

La Eufemia: great place to catch the sunset. Super casual, popular with locals and cheap food/drinks.

Clan Destino: fun place to check out for dancing especially when there is live music. The bar is right on one of the cenotes. Pretty cool.

I Scream Bar: This place is pretty much open 24/7. It’s pretty much a hole in the wall but the bartenders are so entertaining that you’ll keep wanting to go back. It’s nothing fancy and the drink list is limited but its cheap. They also have vegan ice cream, which is super random.  If you go, say hi to Eric – he is THE best dancer in Tulum. J

Gitano: trendy bar/restaurant. Nice atmosphere and good music. (Expensive)

Eden: trendy bar with a pool in the middle. Really good music. (Expensive)

Playa Papaya Project: Good place for big parties on the beach.

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VISITING THE RUINS

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You can rent a bicycle from one of the hotels and bike to the ruins. It will take you about 25-30 minutes.  The tickets cost around $4USD. Try to go early as it gets really got in the afternoon. Because I’ve been to so many ruins around the world, the Tulum ruins were a little underwhelming. They are situated in a really beautiful spot, but if you miss it, don’t feel bad. The cenotes are much more interesting.

If you’re planning a trip to Mexico soon (or anywhere else) check out TripScout. It’s a travel app with city tours provided by locals for an authentic experience. My favourite part of it is the audio tours and the offline maps which allow you tonavigate around the city without using your data or international roaming plan. You can use code: customsandcoffee to download your free guide!

Plus, check out some more photos from our trip below...