The cliffside, beach setting of Tulum ruins is so spectacular that even the crowds can’t ruin in – find out what not to miss, visitor information & prices.
History of Tulum Ruins
Tulum ruins are located atop 12m high cliffs, along the Caribbean Sea – its name means “wall” in the Yucatan Mayan dialect. This strategic position made Tulum an important port town during the height of the Post-Classic period between 1200-1521 AD.
Tulum was one of the last cities built by the Maya & one of the last to be abandoned, 75 years after the Spanish conquest.
Tulum Ruins Archaeological Site
- House of the Cenote (Case del Cenote)
This is the first structure you’ll come across at Tulum ruins.
This building was a house that was built on limestone. It was extended with a room placed directly over a cenote.
Bones here found here too, so it may also have been used as a crypt.
- Temple of the Wind God (Templo del Dios del Viento)
This temple stands on top of a waterfront bluff.
- Temple of the Paintings (Temple de las Pinturas)
This 2-storey temple has the most decorative elements of any in Tulum.
It’s covered with murals & relief masks, not all of the details can be seen.
- The Castle (El Castillo)
This is the biggest building on the site.
It was the most important temple at the height of Tulum, when it was also brightly painted & decorated with sculptures.
On both sides of the stairs there are two small temples with inner altars for offerings. Major religious ceremonies were held in the upper temple.
- Palace of the Great Lord
The most important people in Tulum lived in this building.
It consists of several large rooms with benches along the walls. In the back there is a sanctuary where religious ceremonies were also performed.
- Temple of the Descending God
This temple takes its name from a sculpture of a winged figure falling from the sky.
500 years ago, it was decorated inside & out with numerous representations of Gods in mural painting.
Tulum Ruins Beach
After exploring the ruins, head down to stunning beach below.
It’s very hot in Tulum so cool down in the turquoise-green Caribbean sea & soak in the views around you & of the ruins above.
There are no toilets or change rooms on the beach or nearby, so wear your swimsuits under your clothes.
Tourism at Tulum Ruins
Tulum Ruins is extremely popular with tourists – it’s the 3rd most visited archaeological site in the whole of Mexico, after Teotichuacan & Chitzen Itza.
There’s no escaping the crowds, whether you’re on land or down on the beach.
It doesn’t help that Tulum is quite a small site, making it feel even more cramped.
The approach to the ruins is lined with vendors & hawkers selling souvenirs, food & drinks.
Despite the crowds, Tulum is still worth a visit – there’s a reason for its popularity & that is the spectacular setting. The ruins are nice but not as impressive as many others in Mexico, which you can also climb.
Plan to arrive as early as possible, before the tour buses descend. An afternoon visit may also be a good idea.
How to Get to Tulum Ruins
Tulum ruins are located 4km from Tulum Village. It can be reached by foot, taking around 1 hour. You’ll be walking along the highway the whole way, without any shade & Tulum is very hot & humid.
A taxi from Tulum Village to Tulum ruins costs around M$50 pesos.
There are no local buses & colectivos will charge almost the same price as a taxi. You could also try hitchhiking.
In a Nutshell
Entrance Fee: MN$65 pesos
Toy Train: MN$20 pesos return to ride the toy train from the entrance to the site (or it’s an easy walk)
Opening hours: 8:00 am to 5:00 pm every day
For more information on Tulum, see our post Tulum Village, Ruins & Beach: Budget Travel Guide.
*** The Final Word – Brave the crowds & the heat for the most scenic Maya ruin you will ever see! ***
How do you rate Tulum, compared to other ruins in Mexico?
Easy DIY travel outside city centres
Visited in June 2016