Planning a vacation in Riviera Maya in Mexico and not sure if Tulum is worth the hype and money? (because yes, we all know that Tulum is expensive). In this post, I’ll share my thoughts on whether Tulum is worth it and the pros and cons of a vacation in Tulum!
If you’re new to this blog, hey, we are Liza and Jose. We are based in London, however, due to the fact that Jose is Mexican, we come to this beautiful country very often! If you’re interested in more blog posts about Mexico, check out our Mexico travel category! We also have a lot of content about other countries (we’ve travelled to over 93 counties), you can find out more on the Destinations page!
Here’s what you can expect to find in this blog post:
Without further ado, let’s start!
Where is Tulum in Mexico?
First of all, let’s clear all the possible questions about the location of Tulum. Tulum is a town located at the end of Riviera Maya in Mexico. It’s around 45 minutes away from Playa del Carmen and around 1.5 hours away from Cancun. Tulum is served by Cancun International Airport. Airport taxis are usually very expensive (over $100) so sometimes it’s cheaper just to hire a car than taking a taxi both ways! You can check prices for a rental here, however, make sure to avoid hiring from National or Hertz unless you want to be scammed.
Who is Tulum for?
If you’re wondering, who is Tulum for, I would say that everyone can go to Tulum! The Tulum city centre is more hippy / hipster / vegan / yoga-tailored, while the Zona Hotelera is both for party-goers and people seeking relaxation (depending on the hotel).
I’ve seen some families in Tulum as well, but generally, it’s not such a family-friendly destination compared to the rest of Riviera Maya with large resorts and kids clubs! If you have kids, some of the best resorts with amazing kids clubs are Grand Velas and Barcelo!
Tulum doesn’t have many resorts: it’s all about exclusive 3-4* boutique hotels with private beach clubs and beach bungalows that resemble treehouses.
Pros and cons of Tulum
Let’s start with the pros and cons of Tulum and then talk about whether Tulum is worth it or not (and whether Tulum is worth the hype)
Pros of Tulum
Tropical paradise & Instagrammable destination
Tulum (Zona hotelera) looks like a tropical paradise. Even the beach road looks out of this world with stunning rattan huts, trendy restaurants and Instagrammable hotels! I haven’t seen anything like that anywhere in the world (not even in the Maldives or Seychelles)
You can do it on a budget
If you don’t have a very high budget, you can still enjoy Tulum! Yes, the Zona Hotelera would probably be off-bounds price-wise, however, you can still stay in Tulum Centro and enjoy the public beach or the beach clubs.
Party never stops
If you’re an avid party-goer, you will love Tulum! Party never stops there, and there are parties almost every day.
Amazing food variety
Unlike many destinations in Mexico, Tulum has quite a few food options, especially when it comes to international food. I can’t say that I tried the best food in Mexico in Tulum, but it was good, and there were quite a few choices, from Japanese food to Italian food. (Don’t worry, I’m not discriminating against Mexican food: it’s just we’ve been in Mexico for over one month this time and in some destinations we visited, there was only Mexican food, so we’ve eaten it for three weeks in a row 3 times per day, hence, the variety was greatly appreciated).
Tulum has some of the best beaches in entire Mexico! Playa Paraiso is absolutely stunning, and the Zona Hotelera beach is absolutely fabulous!
Tulum is also a destination for yoga and spirituality lovers. There are plenty of retreats, and a lot of hotels offer yoga classes and gatherings. Just make sure to choose a destination that doesn’t neighbour a night club; otherwise, you’ll have a lot of sleepless nights.
Amazing places to visit nearby
Tulum isn’t all about partying, eating and laying on the beach. There are so many amazing places to visit nearby. I recommend hiring a car and spending a few days just exploring these places. Start with the Mayan ruins in Tulum; they are absolutely beautiful. Then, there is the Sian Kaan bio reserve. There are also plenty of beautiful cenotes nearby. Finally, you can even drive to the famous Chichen Itza yourself (read my post about driving to Chichen Itza to find out how).
Alright, enough good things about Tulum! Let’s talk about the problems or lowlights of Tulum (obviously, some of them are subjective)
Cons of Tulum (things that are not great about Tulum)
Tulum is full of contrasts
Tulum is a town that is full of contrasts. Half of the roads in Tulum are not paved, and you can often see fancy new buildings in front of trash dumped directly on the road or very small wooden houses full of chickens and turkeys.
Limited internet connectivity
Something you need to keep in mind is really unreliable Internet access in Tulum! It’s very hard to find a place that offers reliable high-speed internet. If you’re planning to work from Tulum, there are a few coworking spaces like Digital Jungle; however, I haven’t seen any in Zona Hotelera. In some places, there isn’t even a phone signal, so you need to rely on wi-fi only!
Drug hotspot of Mexico
Unfortunately, with the rise of the party scene in Tulum, it also became a drug hotspot of Mexico. The drug trade is happening on the streets in daylight, and you can see drugged people everywhere.
Tulum’s fame and hype is contributing to the destruction of the jungle and bio reserve
Unfortunately, the local government is quite corrupted, so it allows the total destruction of the jungle. While a lot of hotels are very respectful to the environment, some others just cut all the jungle and destroy the natural habitats of all the local wildlife. So do some of the restaurants (e.g. Bagatelle – I don’t recommend going there at all unless you support such behaviour).
With the rise of popularity of Tulum, more and more hotels are trying to bribe the government and buy plots to build massive hotels in Tulum. If that continues, Tulum will become similar to Cancun Zona Hotelera with not a single palm tree.
If you don’t want to party, your accommodation options in Zona Hotelera are limited
Like we described in our guide to different areas of Tulum, Zona Hotelera has become a party place. If you want to stay away from the crowds and have quiet nights, you will have to pick a hotel towards the end of Zona Hotelera, around the Sian Ka’an reserve. Some of quieter hotels in Zona Hotelera are Glamping Libellula and Hotel Rosa del Viento!
Alternatively, you can also stay in La Veleta away from the beach, or if you want to be on the beach, you can consider the area of Playa Paraiso!
Summary of pros and cons of a vacation in Tulum: is Tulum worth the hype?
Alright, hopefully now you know a bit more about whether Tulum is worth the hype! To summarise, I can say that we enjoyed our stay in Tulum and we would love to return one day, however, as we are not avid party-goers, we would pick a hotel away from the nightlife zone so that we would be able to sleep. I’m not sure whether the most expensive hotels in Tulum are worth it unless you want to party hard; however, there are plenty of hotels that aren’t as expensive. I can totally recommend Tulum for the vibe, for the beach and for beautiful and unique and Instagrammable hotels!