Tulum is an amazing, spiritual and magical place with some of the best parties in the world. It has a beautiful community of people and has one of the most stunning beaches in the whole world. Booking for a month? Yeah screw that, you’ll be here for 6. Especially with the 6 month tourist visa you get automatically when entering Mexico. There are however, a few downsides to Tulum, but in this blog I’m going to let you know how you can work around these to make it your best trip yet.
The cost of an airbnb in Tulum is extremely expensive at the moment, due to the fact that it is one of the few places in the world open for tourism right now. It is being named the ‘Manhatten’ of Mexico.
Whether you can afford to rent in Tulum will obviously be down to your income so I’m going to split this into three sections:
The ‘work from home’ but from Tulum due to Covid: if this is you, and you are on a great NYC wage, Tulum has the most idyllic apartments to rent with a pool, cleaning service and bicycles included. Aldea Zama consists of all brand new properties and you’ve got the beach 10 minutes down the road. Why wouldn’t you trade in City life for Tulum life during the pandemic? An apartment to yourself is going to put you back around $1500.
The Budget Backpacker: if you are looking for South East Asia prices in Tulum, you won’t find them here. The cost of staying in a hostel dorm for a whole month roughly equates to around $500 which is the cost of your own airbnb in other parts of the world. However, like I said, Tulum is one of the only places open so us travellers cough up the cash to stay in paradise. I checked out 5 hostels in Tulum and reviewed the top 3. For the ‘Budget Backpacker’ the Mayan Monkey is the place to book.
The Digital Nomad: if you are looking to base yourself here rather than Bali which seems to be quite a large population of the people in Tulum, then you will definitely find it more expensive. However, it is totally doable to rent a room in a flat share. For this, roughly you are looking between $500 – $800 per month.
The demand for properties is huge in comparison to the supply of rental hence why it is possible for the landlords to rent them out at such high prices. A lot of people try to get an airbnb but contact the host and see if they will rent it to them directly to cut out the airbnb price. However, my experience of airbnb is that if something goes wrong, you have a really strong team associated with airbnb who will allow you to get your money back and if you bypass airbnb you don’t have this extra security. Click this link for £50 off when you book your first stay with airbnb: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/c/alexp124498
Local landlords advertise on Facebook marketplace and many of the Tulum Facebook groups, there aren’t any official websites.
Top Tip: Walk around Tulum and local landlords advertise their WhatsApp number on the outside of their rental building. If you contact the landlord directly they offer much more reasonable rates.
Forget travel cards and don’t make the mistake of bringing no cash with you! A high proportion of the shops and restaurants do not take card. It is essential you bring Pesos with you, a lot of people who travel to Cancun only take Dollars but in Tulum you need Pesos because you will get a very bad exchange rate if you pay in Dollars. It’s best to bring a relatively large amount of Pesos with you because a lot of the cash points in Tulum do not work, many run out of money and there are only a few banks in the centre of Tulum; Scotia Bank, HSBC and Santander which all tend to have an extremely long queue to take money out, I’m talking on average about half an hour. When you withdraw money in Tulum, you will also be charged.
Top Tip: Change your money at home. This will mean you can get the best exchange rate, you won’t have to pay for withdrawals and you won’t waste your day queuing for an ATM.
Top Tip #2: When taking money out at the bank, decline the conversion they offer you as this has a really bad exchange rate. Instead the withdrawal information will automatically be sent back to your bank at home and your bank will give you a reasonable exchange rate.
I read a lot about there being traffic in Tulum but even in my most imaginative thoughts I did not think there would be traffic as bad as what there actually is. There is literally one road that goes from the beach to the town. In the evening, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes up to 4 hours to get back to the town depending on how bad the traffic is (yes 4 hours actually happened). This is really dangerous on your bank balance if you take a taxi as they will charge you whatever they like. The cost of taxis from the town to the beach can range from $200 Pesos up to $600 Pesos depending on traffic and how far into the town or up the beach road you want to go. The way round this is to cycle but with no helmets and no lights on the bikes, weaving around traffic is not my idea of a gentle cycle back from the beach! Some people ride scooters but even then I see them stuck behind cars, the roads are so tight it’s not fun trying to get around every single car in a traffic jam.
Top tip: The Colectivo, it’s a local bus service that runs between the town and the beach zone. You can flag them down wherever you are but if there is traffic you are better off walking to the top of the beach road and getting in a Colectivo where there traffic eases up, as you will walk faster than the traffic. It’s only $20 Pesos which is a huge saving if you are comparing it to a taxi.
That is what we all come to Tulum for right? We see all the bohemian handmade shops online and it looks like paradise. However they are seriously expensive. I’m talking $80 (Dollars) for a bikini. Don’t get me wrong the clothes are out of this world and the quality is next level.
Top Tip: If you are on a budget, buy clothes on the beach, the girls that walk up and down are showing clothes that they have in the store but they are much cheaper.
The cost to rent a bicycle is around $150 Pesos up to $300 Pesos + $1000 Pesos deposit (some places ask for your passport as your deposit). If you lose the lock, they will not have a spare one, they will say they have to cut the bike lock and charge you out of the deposit… let’s be real, they have a spare key for the lock, so make sure you put the bike lock somewhere safe or wear it as a necklace. The bicycle rentals in high season often run out of bikes, so be sure to get there early at around 10AM.
Top Tip: If you are planning on staying in Tulum a while and using a bicycle to get around, I highly recommend buying a bicycle. They are always being advertised on Facebook marketplace and you can sell it at the end of your time in Tulum.
Top tip #2: Rent your bicycle out to friends or people in hostels who may just be visiting Tulum. The benefit to them is that they do not have to give a large deposit to the bike rental store and often the bike rental stores close at 5PM or 6PM, so they can have access to the bike in the evening as well. For you, if you rent it out regularly you are likely to have earnt the money back that the bike cost. When you sell the bike, it could work out that you rode a bike in Tulum the whole time for free.