Tulum’s New Airport Makes Traveling There Easier Than Ever: Here’s a Full Guide to the Mexican Hotspot

by  Meagan Drillinger | Feb 29, 2024

Tulum is literally what you think of when you picture a perfect beach escape: Dreamy, sun-bleached beaches, thick groves of palm trees, bamboo-lined paths that meander through thick jungle, and a boho-chic aesthetic that fuses earthy and high-end. 

For many travelers, Tulum is the ultimate Mexico vision: It’s why it's become one of the most popular destinations in the world. In fact, Tulum has grown so popular it recently celebrated the opening of its very own international airport. Previously, visitors had to fly into Cancun and drive two hours to Tulum, but the new airport cuts travel time from touchdown to toes-in-the-sand to just around 40 minutes. 

For many years, Tulum was little more than a ramshackle strip of barefoot, cash-only restaurants and a backpacker hostel or two, with a cult following of a small group of artists and hippies. Today, it’s a haven for creatives, wellness gurus, foodies, fashionistas, outdoor adventurists, and sun worshippers. If you’re looking to experience the very best that Tulum has to offer, read on to dig into our guide on how to plan the perfect trip to Tulum.

Where to Go in Tulum


Despite how many visitors Tulum gets per year, it’s quite small, though it's grown quite a bit since its early days of dirt roads and huts along the beach. Essentially, there are four main areas in Tulum: Beach Road, Tulum Town, La Veleta, and Aldea Zama. Each area is different, especially when it comes to pricing, but we’ll get into that in a bit. 

For now, what you need to know is that Beach Road is where you’ll find those dreamy, photogenic strips of white, soft sand and languidly swaying palms. This is also where the boho hotels and beach clubs line the shore, and where the majority of outdoor activities occur. It’s important to note that the beach area is about a mile and a half from town, which is quite far compared to the majority of beach towns in Mexico. 

Tulum Town is the oldest part of Tulum and where the original pueblo began — it’s where you’ll find most shops, restaurants, and bars. It’s also the section of Tulum you’ll see first as you drive in along the main Highway 307, and is the most convenient area for walking around or hailing cabs to attractions or other parts of Tulum.

Arkadij Schell/iStock

Aldea Zama is a more residential area, with many expensive apartment complexes. It’s quiet here and a bit removed from the services of Tulum Town, but it’s shrouded in jungle and close to nature meaning it’s very green and beautiful. 

La Veleta is another newer Tulum neighborhood, and a bit more removed from the other areas thanks to poorly maintained roads — it’s one of the neighborhoods in Tulum that is developing too fast for the rest of the infrastructure to keep up with. It’s very residential and home to everything from small bungalows to massive apartment complexes, though Calle 7 Sur has a few bars, restaurants, and some smaller markets to keep you entertained and fed.

The Best Time to Visit Tulum


Tulum may have year-round warm weather, but there are better times to visit than others. The best weather will undeniably be between November and April when days are warm and sunny and nights are cooler and breezy. High season, which lasts from mid-December to April, will see the largest number of crowds and higher price tags on hotels and resorts. 

The cheapest time to visit Tulum is May to June and September to October. However, be warned that the weather will be extremely hot and humid, and you run the risk of hurricanes in the summer and fall months. 

For a combination of good weather, low crowds, and reasonable prices, shoulder seasons are your best option. These sweet spots are July to August and November to mid-December.

How to Get Around Tulum

Once you’ve landed at Felipe Carrillo Puerto Airport, Tulum’s new international airport, it’s only about 40 minutes to town. Once there, you’ll find that Tulum is a very easily navigable city. That’s because it’s small, so depending on where you’re staying, you’re likely within walking distance of anything you need. If you’re staying in Tulum Town, you’re at the heart of everything, which means you can rely on your own two feet to get around. Just bear in mind that the beach is about a mile and a half away so you may need to call a taxi to get back and forth, or rent a bike.

Rainer Lesniewski/iStock

Staying in La Veleta or Aldea Zama means that you’ll either need a rental car or the number of a taxi company. Ubers are extremely difficult to come by in Tulum, and because of tensions between Uber and local taxi syndicates it’s often safer to use a local taxi. Local taxis are, however, more expensive. 

What to See and Do in Tulum

Simon Dannhauer/iStock

Tulum has skyrocketed in popularity because it can be many different destinations in one. What drew the early visitors to Tulum were its spectacular beaches, like Playa Paraiso which continues to stun visitors with its striking white sand and almost neon blue water. Beach clubs are a great way to get acquainted with the vibe of Tulum, though keep in mind that beach clubs can be expensive and require a minimum amount to stay. For travelers on a budget, all beaches in Mexico are open to the public, and you are more than welcome to bring everything that you need for the day and set yourself up on the sand.

Wellness and adventure travel are massive draws to Tulum, whether it's a yoga retreat or a beachfront cacao ceremony, kitesurfing, ATVing through the jungle, or diving the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef — located just off the coast of Tulum. Cenotes are another huge draw to this part of Mexico. The Yucatan peninsula sits on a bedrock of porous limestone, underneath which flow underground freshwater rivers. All across the peninsula, there are parts where the bedrock has collapsed to create underground caverns or sinkholes, known as cenotes. These spectacular underwater chambers are filled with brilliantly blue freshwater and are steeped in ancient Mayan beliefs. Today, visitors can snorkel or swim in them.

iStock/mikolaj ostaszewski

Speaking of the Mayan people, the area around Tulum is still rich with their heritage and history. Not only is Tulum near some of the most beautiful Mayan ruins in Mexico, like the ruins at Tulum, the pyramids at Coba, or the temples at Muyil, but you may also hear locals speaking the Mayan language, which is still thriving throughout southern Mexico and Central America, 


As much as Tulum is deeply rooted in the past, it is also a thriving, contemporary city that’s packed with eclectic restaurants, thumping bars and clubs, and stylish boutiques showcasing local designers. You can find everything from dirt-cheap burritos and tacos on street corners to haute multi-course vegan dinners tucked deep in the jungle. 

Where to Stay in Tulum

As we mentioned earlier, where to stay greatly depends on the neighborhood you choose and the amount you want to spend. If you’re only visiting for a few days and you’ve got the budget for it, Beach Road is a fabulous experience for Tulum first-timers. Being right on the beach means you’ll have the most spectacular ocean views and easy access to the many nearby beach clubs, restaurants, and bars. However, keep in mind that this is also where the most traffic in Tulum is, as Beach Road is just that — one road. 

The beach hotels are where you're going to have that quintessentially Tulum chic-but-boho, jungle-meets-beach experience. Azulik Tulum is the epitome of a Tulum beach hotel, complete with woven nests that hang above the jungle, Robinson Cruise-style bungalows, and a focus on gastronomy, wellness, and art. 

Courtesy of Azulik Tulum

Nomade Tulum is another fabulous option for that stylish, boho-chic experience on the beach. Think yoga, meditation, temescal sweat huts, oceanfront rooms, and a bumping beach club.

Tulum Town has more budget-friendly options when it comes to accommodation. These hotels and hostels are also a lot more centrally located, meaning you won’t need to spend as much money or time getting to all the restaurants and entertainment of the pueblo. You will, however, need to get back and forth to the beach. Tulum Town is also considerably louder than the other neighborhoods. 

For an iconic Tulum-style stay in this area, try Hotel Bardo, which is slightly tucked away for a more quiet experience and features a gorgeous spa. Consider splurging on the hotel’s private villas, which have living rooms as well as bedrooms, and personal plunge pools. 

Courtesy of Hotel Bardo

There’s also LiveTulum, right in the heart of downtown, which has affordable rates, comfortable rooms, a pool, and bicycles for rent. 

If you're looking for space and quiet, Aldea Zama may be the neighborhood for you. This area has more apartment complexes than hotels and is close to a supermarket. It's a great option for people traveling on a budget or those who want to stay in Tulum long-term. 

Azul Tulum is one of the most affordable options, with standard rooms as well as larger ones with kitchenettes. The building has a rooftop pool, bikes, and laundry service. 

Orchid House is a dreamy option in Aldea Zama, with that typically Tulum look that features plenty of stone, clay, hanging vines, and jungle scenery. The hotel has just 10 rooms, keeping it incredibly intimate. It features a central pool and bar, and a special jungle-top perch called the "Nest" where couples and friends can book special dinners.

Courtesy of Orchid House Tulum

Lastly, La Veleta is the option people tend to choose if they are looking to stay in Tulum long-term. The most affordable for longer stays, La Veleta has tons of Airbnb rentals and apartment complexes. 

It's important to note that Tulum is expanding a lot faster than its infrastructure can keep up with: The demand is so high that developments are springing up almost haphazardly. You may find that the road to La Veleta is a bumpy ride, so go slow and beware of potholes. Once you're in the neighborhood, though, you'll find the main drag is paved and there are plenty of restaurants and bars so you won't have to go back and forth to town. 

Holistika Tulum is one of the top places to stay in La Veleta, particularly if you're interested in wellness and spirituality. It has a calendar packed with classes, a pool, a health-focused restaurant, and lots of art. 

16 Tulum is another fan-favorite for its modern design, cozy zen areas, and rooms with private pools.

Courtesy of 16 Tulum

What Currency Does Tulum Use?

Tulum, like the rest of Mexico, uses the Mexican Peso. At press time, $1 is equivalent to 17 Mexican Pesos. You’ll find that a lot of people tip with USD in this part of Mexico, which can be convenient for you as a traveler, but for the employees in Tulum, it’s a hassle to exchange dollars for pesos. It’s always better for the locals to pay and tip in their local currency.

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