Affordable Tulum: Beach Bliss on a Budget

Last Updated on February 26, 2021

When is the last time you had a vacation so perfect that you considered burning your passport and staying forever?  It’s like this for me every time I go to Tulum. After many trips there over the last 10+ years, I’m sharing my best tips for visiting Tulum on a budget so others can experience this too!

Tulum is located about two hours south of Cancun, at the southern edge of the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula.  Ten years ago it was a sleepy vacation spot for hippies and backpackers. Now, Tulum’s eco-chic boutique hotels, hip beach bars and trendy restaurants are frequented by stars. While Tulum isn’t one of the cheapest travel destinations, it’s still possible to get some beach bliss in Tulum on a budget!

Affordable Tulum
Tulum is located about 80 miles (130km) south of Cancun, along a stretch of coast called the Riviera Maya.

Be warned though, that part of Tulum’s charm is its chilled out eco-vibe. Some hotel options don’t have air conditioning due to the lack of power grid (with solar power or generators only).  Other hotels have electricity limited to only evening hours. Also, you might find that showers in Tulum are a bit salt,y since they use untreated ground water or rainwater collection systems!

Also, for the mist budget-friendly Tulum getaway, you should book as far in advance as possible (3 months for some dates).  You’re likely to find the best deals in September – November.  I’ve got some great budget Tulum hotel options for you, including some with kitchens to save on meal costs.

If you’re traveling now: Please be sure to follow local regulations, practice social distancing, and wear a mask to keep yourself and others safe. Many Tulum hotels are separate cabanas which could be a good option. Also, there are many outdoor restaurant options in Tulum. Stay safe, friends!


Want your own private space in Tulum? Don’t miss my guide to the best Airbnbs in Tulum, with options for every type of traveler and budget!

Airbnb Tulum Mexico: Stylish Stays + Bonus Tulum Tips!

Get expert tips on the best Airbnb Tulum stays, from budget glamping to beachfront cabanas, stylish apartments. and luxury villas for a group!

Read more


This post is packed with tons of tips and links with my best tips from many Tulum trips, so be sure to pin it for later!

Budget Tulum
Affordable Tulum

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In this Budget Tulum Guide:


Tulum on a Budget Travel Basics

Tulum Haphazard Rating: 1 of 5. The only worry you have in Tulum is getting here and then not wanting to leave!
To Instagram: Mayan ruins overlooking the sea, cenotes, white sand beaches with blue waters
To Eat: Tacos on the beach, local fish and ceviche, specialty local cocktails and meals at upscale restaurants and bars
When to Go: For the best flight and hotel deals, try September – November; avoid holidays like Christmas, New Year’s, Day of the Dead, Semana Santa, spring break


Tulum on a Budget Step 1: Snag a Cheap Flight

The closest airport to Tulum is Cancun (CUN). Set alerts on the usual search sites: Kayak, Google, TripAdvisor.  Also sign up for the free Scott’s Cheap Flights mailing list, which sends you daily emails with cheap deals from your preferred airports.

Check routes from your area and see which airlines generally have the lowest prices and direct flights.  Consider other nearby cities that are hubs (like Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Baltimore, etc.)  Sign up for direct alerts from airlines like JetBlue and Southwest which also fly to the Caribbean, but might not be part of the search site alerts.

I’ve seen Tulum flight prices from D.C. drop in the fall and again in the late spring.  I flew roundtrip one April for $300 thanks to a TripAdvisor alert, and booked a flight two years ago in November for $210 thanks to Scott’s Cheap Flights!


Step 2: Plan On Just 1-2 Activities And A Lot Of Relaxing

I once spent five days in Tulum moving from beach lounger to onsite restaurant to hotel room, then starting the circuit again the next day.  A nice man brought me drinks and tacos whenever I wanted, and it was the most blissed-out five days of my life.

But, if you rent a car or are willing to take taxis, I recommend at least one activity. Top tips: visiting the Mayan ruins on a cliff overlooking the sea (the only ruins by the sea in Mesoamerica) and swimming in a cenote.


Tulum Ruins

Tulum Ruins: I’ve toured with and without a guide.  If you’ve never seen Mayan ruins before, consider springing for one.  They can be hired at the entrance for around $30.  Or tour at your own pace reading the signs at each ruin, which are in Spanish and English.  Warning: there’s no shade.  I recommend going early in the day and bringing a bathing suit.  You can take stairs down to the beach for a swim.  Expect to pay in pesos for your visit, around $4 per person plus $7 if you park.  Pay a little more to take the train from the parking lot to the ruins rather than walk.

Love ruins and history in your travels? Check out my guide to the best Mexico ruins including Tulum!

Best Mexico Ruins: Ultimate Guide to 20+ Ruins in Mexico

Nestled in the jungles of Mesoamerica, the rediscovered ruins of Maya, Aztec and Zapotec cities stand as monuments to the power and knowledge of these ancient civilizations. How many of these Mexico ruins have you visited, and which are on your bucket list?

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Cenotes Near Tulum

Cenotes are sinkholes found throughout the Yucatán.  They were created by collapsing limestone, then filled by underground springs.  Some are open to the sky, while others are more like swimming in a cave.  I recommend Zacil Ha, or nearby Aktun Ha, also known as “Cenote Carwash” (although you will see more scuba divers there). You won’t need a wetsuit since both are open cenotes, plus at Zacil Ha there are loungers, a snack bar, etc.  It’s refreshing on a hot day, and a totally unique Yucatán experience!

There’s also one cenote located on the beach road, toward the end of the hotel zone on the jungle side of the road at km 10. It’s Cenote Encantado, and you can easily take a colectivo van or ride a bike to get there if you’re staying on the beach road.

To get there on your own:

I’ll also share some budget tour options from Airbnb Experiences. These have become one of my favorite ways to find more local and authentic experiences when I travel:

Experience 4 cenotes by bike | Snorkel with turtles in Akumal Bay


Budget Tulum Step 3: Stay Part or All of Your Trip in Tulum Pueblo (Town)

In Tulum, you have a few options of what area to stay in: Tulum pueblo, the beach road south, and the beach road north.   You can even stay inside Sian Ka’an, the biosphere reserve past the hotel zone.  Since it’s so remote, though, it’s not an affordable Tulum option.

Advice

IMPORTANT: In your hotel search, watch for tricky hotels from neighboring towns that have added “Tulum” to their hotel name. Be sure you check the hotel’s city name and location on a map before you book! But don’t worry – I’m going to give you my best affordable Tulum hotel options.

Check out the map below to get an idea of where Tulum Town is in relation to Tulum Beach and ruins.

Affordable Tulum
Tulum has two parts: Tulum Pueblo (town) and Tulum Playa (beach). The beach road runs from the ruins in the north down to the entrance of the Sian Ka’an Biosphere.

Tulum Town (Pueblo) Budget Hotel Suggestions

My first trip to Tulum, I stayed in town for 3 of my 6 nights.  For the first few days, this let me have easy access to the ruins and cenotes for snorkeling.  Plus I saved a little money to splurge on the beach part of the trip.

I TOTALLY recommend this method for a more affordable Tulum trip.  We enjoyed a few days of cenotes and ruins and then retired to a beachfront cabana for 3 nights.  Tulum town has many boutique hotel options if you still want to feel a little posh.

Advice

PRO TIP: USE BEACH CLUBS TO GET BEACH ACCESS WHEN STAYING IN TOWN. If you stay in Tulum Pueblo for your entire trip and want to hang out at the beach, find a hotel or restaurant that advertises as a “beach club.”  This usually means that they rent daily lounge chairs for a fee, or allow non-guests to use their beach by agreeing to a minimum food and drink spend. On the north beach road, try Villa Pescadores.  Or south, try Papaya Playa Project, Ziggy Beach Bar, Villa Las Estrellas, or La Zebra. Taqueria La Eufemia restaurant is the cheapest beach access I’ve found and a fun spot with lots of friendly people!

Based on my own Tulum trips and hobby of hotel stalking, I suggest scoping out these budget Tulum Town hotel options around $100/night or less.


Coco Hacienda Tulum | Tulum on a Budget Hotel in Town

AC, pool and spa center, free WiFi, restaurant on-site. Adults-only hotel.  Exceptional reviews!  Check out their Insta!

Budget Tulum Town Hotel - Coco Hacienda Tulum with a spa and pool

Coco Hacienda: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Hotel Posada 06 Tulum | Budget Tulum Pueblo Hotel

AC, pool, free Wifi, breakfast included.  Check out their Insta!

Affordable Tulum town hotel - Hotel Posada 06 with a pool and breakfast included

Hotel Posada 6: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Xscape Tulum | Budget Tulum Pueblo Hotel

AC, pool, free Wifi, restaurant on-site.  Check out their Instagram!

Affordable Tulum town hotel - XscapeTulum with thatched roofs in the jungle

Xscape Tulum: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Sanah Villa | Stylish Tulum Airbnb in Town

This stylish yet affordable Moroccan-styled Tulum villa with a private pool is set in the jungle of Tulum town. AC, pool, free WiFi plus optional puxury amenities like massages. This is a spectacular Tulum budget option if you want a secluded location with your own pool!

Sanah Villa Tulum vacation rentals
Image: Airbnb

Sanah Villas: Click to check availability and pricing on Airbnb


Mango Tulum |  Tulum Budget Hotel in Town

AC, pool, free Wifi, restaurant onsite.  Super affordable at $50/night and great reviews!  Check out their Insta!

Mango Tulum budget hotel with a pool and secluded garden

Mango Tulum: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Mayan Monkey Hostel

This new hostel is located on the road from Tulum town to the beach, and has rates starting at just $12 or around $50 for a private room! Great reviews of the common spaces, pool and nightly DJ. Check out their Instagram!

Affordable Tulum - Mayan Monkey Hostel Tulum budget option on the road from town to the beach

Mayan Monkey Hostel: Check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


If you like mid-century design, check out my review of Hotel Tiki Tiki – a budget boutique hotel in Tulum Town!

Hotel Tiki Tiki: Review of A Mid-Century Gem in Tulum

Looking for a boutique Tulum, Mexico hotel on a budget? Check out the Hotel Tiki Tiki, where you just might run into Don Draper at the mid-century bar!

Read more


Step 3 Continued: …Or Find A Budget Hotel Deal On the Tulum Playa (Beach)

To find Tulum beach hotels, select “beach” as an amenity in your search, or use a map or this link to search only the beachfront hotels.  If you book early or during the low season, it’s possible to find some great deals.

Keep in mind that if you don’t book a beachfront hotel, you might need to pay a daily fee for a lounger or order a minimum amount of food and drinks.  This includes the few hotels located on the jungle side of the road without their own beach access.  Read the fine print of the hotel description to know what your amenities are – especially if breakfast is included.  Also be sure your selection has a private bath: some cabanas have shared bathrooms.

Advice

The Tulum beach road – named Carretera Tulum-Boca Paila – is numbered according to distance from the ruins.  Look for the kilometer markers to find your hotel’s address, restaurants, etc.


Budget Tulum Beach Hotels: Beach Road South

Driving from Tulum town toward the beach, you’ll have an option to go left or right along the beach road. If you turn right, the Tulum Beach Road South is where most of the hotels, restaurants, and bars are located.  It’s easier to walk and bike to get to things here, and parking is limited.

Check out my affordable Tulum beach hotel options under $200/night for a Tulum getaway on the beach road south.  Try different dates since they can vary widely based on bookings and season.  Some have AC overnight and all have the option of private baths.


Zamas  | Budget Beachfront Tulum Hotel

Bungalows and rooms, some with ocean views, with AC and a pool! Gorgeous beachfront with free Wifi in public areas.  Check out their Insta!

Budget Tulum beach hotel - Zamas Hotel beachfront bongalows and rooms with a pool

Zamas: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Rosa Del Viento  | Beachfront Tulum Hotel

One of the last hotels on the beach road, but this hotel has a nice private beach and included breakfast.  AC, and free Wifi in public areas.

Budget Tulum beach hotel  - Rosa Del Viento with a private beach and secluded spot

Rosa Del Viento: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Playa Xcanan Tulum | Tulum on a Budget Beachfront Hotel

Playa Xcanan is one of the most affordable Tulum beachfront options. it includes a free breakfast, WiFi, and terraces with a hammock. They also offer family rooms with up to 3 beds.

view of the beach at Playa Xcanan Tulum - budget beachfront hotel

Playa Xcanan: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Posada del Sol Tulum  | Tulum Beach Hotel

This beach hotel spans both sides of the beach road.  The budget rooms are on the jungle side and are one of the most affordable stays along the beach road!  AC, free Wifi in public areas and included continental breakfast. Check out their Instagram!

Budget Tulum beach hotel - Posada del Sol Tulum with rooms on both the jungle and beach side of the road

Posada del Sol: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Casa Ganesh Tulum | Beachfront Tulum on a Budget Hotel

Casa Ganesh is a budget, pet-friendly hotel in a great location at km 7.6, right across the street from the best restaurants in Tulum. AC overnight, WiFi, and private bathrooms. There’s no restaurant onsite, but plenty of options nearby.

Casa Ganesh Tulum - where to stay in Tulum

Casa Ganesh Tulum: Check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Coco Tulum | Beachfront Tulum Hotel

Coco Tulum is a classic Tulum hotel: whitewashed decor, a beach bar with swings and a gorgeous private beach.  There are rooms on both the beach and jungle side of the road, some with shared baths. Amenities include yoga classes, spa facilities and an onsite restaurant.  Coco Tulum is a fun place to stay with friends – there are lots of rooms available, so you can book a few if needed. AC, WiFi and breakfast included in the room rate.

Coco Tulum - Eco Chic Tulum hotel

Coco Tulum: Click to check pricing and availability on Booking.com ⫸


A few more budget options on the Beach Road South in case those are booked:


Budget Tulum Beach Hotels: Beach Road North

The beach road north is quieter, and people who really want to “get away” will like this area because the beach hotels here feel so much more secluded.  I imagine it’s what Tulum used to be like before its popularity exploded in recent years.  To stay here, you should have a car or be ready to take taxis, since there are fewer restaurants close by.

I’ve got several budget options plus some affordable luxury hotel options on the Beach Road North for you under $200.


Playa Esperanza | Budget Beachfront Tulum Hotel

Playa Esperanza is one of the cheapest beachfront hotels in Tulum. Each room has its own balcony for views of Tulum’s stunning beaches. Keep in mind: some rooms have shared baths, and electricity hours are limited in the room. But there is a restaurant and bar on site and you’ll step right from your cabana onto the beaches of Las Palmas beach.

Playa Esperanza Airbnb Tulum Mexico

How to book Playa Esperanza:

Check rates and availability on Airbnb ⫸

Check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Cinco Tulum Glamping

The Cinco Tulum glamping yurts are on the North Beach Road, just south of the Tulum ruins beach.  Bathrooms are shared, but each tent has its own patio. The camp has a restaurant and bar, and a continental breakfast is included. This is a low-key, relaxing Tulum escape where you can just chill out and wake up to the sound of waves every day.

Cinco Glamping - Tulum beachfront

Click to check Cinco Tulum availability on Booking.com ⫸


Villa Pescadores | Beachfront Tulum Hotel

If you want to simply chill for several days while pretending you’re a movie star, I recommend staying at the beachfront Villa Pescadores. This is the place that made me consider burning my passport!  You can kick off your shoes and never put them on again until you leave.  It has 18 cabanas all with a private bath and AC overnight, and electricity all hours.  Wifi is available in the rooms and at the beach. They have a great restaurant for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — plus servers who will bring you food and drinks on the beach so you never have to leave your lounger!  Check out their Instagram!

Budget Tulum beach hotel - Villa Pescadores with beachfront cabanas and a restaurant onsite

Villa Pescadores: Check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Poc Na Tulum  | Budget Tulum Beachfront Hotel

Great reviews and affordable Tulum room options, but most without AC.  Beachfront, Wifi in lobby, breakfast included.

Budget Tulum beach hotel - Poc Na Tulum thatched roof bungalows and rooms

Poc Na: Click to check rates and availability on Booking.com ⫸


El Paraiso Tulum

El Paraiso is a small resort located just south of the Tulum ruins beach. Its 10 rooms each feature AC, TVs and private baths. Amenities include a restaurant, bar and beach club, and breakfast is included in the room rate.

El Paraiso Hotel Tulum

El Paraiso: Click to check room rates on Booking.com ⫸


Ikal Tulum

Ikal Tulum is less than a mile from the beach at the Tulum ruins, on a quiet stretch of beach between the Playa Maya public beach and Playa Paraiso.  Ikal has a striking rustic design and offers spa services, yoga classes and an onsite restaurant. Free parking; breakfast available but not included.

Ikal Tulum Hotel

Ikal Tulum: Click to check pricing and availability on Booking.com ⫸


Want more tips on beachfront stays in Tulum? Check out my full guide to Tulum beach accommodation, including boutique hotels, luxury stays and villas for a group!

Where to Stay in Tulum: Best Tulum Beach Hotels, Resorts & Villas

Tulum has a seductive hold over many vacation-goers thanks to its stunning setting and beach hotels that let you step from your room right into sugary-soft white sand. Find out the best places to stay for a dream vacation, honeymoon or girls’ trip here!

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Budget Tulum Step 4: Eat at Smaller Local Spots

Tulum Pueblo is full of great local spots, like Tropi-Q, Pizzeria Manglar, Suculenta Tamaleria, Fonda Huauzontle, Taqueria Honoria (breakfast and lunch only), and Antojitos La Chiapaneca, (which is about a block from the bus station if you arrive hungry!).

Along the beach road, things get pricier! I recommend a few low-key and affordable Tulum beach options:

  • Taqueria Eufemia – located around km 10, a spot popular with locals because of their cheap but tasty tacos and fun vibe.  Also cheap beach access if you want to eat and drink all day!  Park on the street and look for a sign between Hotel Amoirera and Camping Chavez.  Check out their Instagram – it’s fun!
  • Safari Tulum at km. 8 by the Tulum Jungle Gym, they’re known for their octopus tacos, chill vibes, and kitchen in a vintage Airstream trailer! Reviews here and Instagram here.
  • Restaurant Tunich – at km 5.5, a cute and friendly cafe for breakfast and brunch with great reviews.
  • Ziggy Beach Bar – at km 7, cocktails, live music and legendary tuna nachos.  Check out their Instagram

Tulum Grocery Stores

You’ll also find two grocery stores where you can pick up supplies in Tulum on a budget. The Super Aki Tulum is smaller with a limited selection, while the Super Chedraui is more like a Super Wal-Mart. Super Aki is on the corner when you turn onto the road to the beach from town (map here), and Super Chedraui is a little further toward the beach road (map here).

Bring plastic zip bags or containers if you’ll keep fruit or sweets out in a cabana, to protect them from ants.

Don’t miss my Tulum packing list for more tips on what to take along!

Tulum Packing List: What To Wear In Tulum + Outfits Inspo

Pack light and chic for your Tulum, Mexico getaway! My Tulum packing list will help you be ready for a perfect vacation in any season, including weather info and extras based on activities.

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Affordable Tulum Step 5: Get Creative on Getting Around

The most affordable Tulum ground transportation option from the Cancún airport is taking a bus to the Tulum Pueblo.  Even if you’ve never been there before, many tourists do this each day.  For this option, be sure to get cash at the airport for the buses and for a taxi from the bus station to your hotel. Check out this guide to different transportation options which includes a video of how to take the bus.

Advice

Cancun airport has ATMs right after exiting customs, in the alcove by the public restrooms.

You can also pre-book a private transfer like Paradise Transfers, so that a car is waiting for you upon exiting the airport, but this is usually over $100 each way.

When I visit Tulum, I typically rent a car. I find it to be about the same price as airport transfers and taxis, and as long as you’re comfortable driving, it gives you much more flexibility. 

If you’re considering renting a car, check out my article on Driving in Mexico for all the info you need on car rentals in Cancun.


Driving in Mexico: Useful Car Rental, Insurance & Road Tips

From renting a car and insurance to road signs, speed bumps, and gas station scams: detailed tips for driving in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula and beyond!

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Tulum on a Budget Step 6: Adjust Your Expectations

Tulum is a truly unique destination, with spectacular beaches, ruins with a stunning view of the coast, and a laid-back vibe.  It’s not going to be an all-inclusive experience, but it will be one of the coolest places you’ve visited. Relax and embrace the beach bliss!  And start plotting how you might lose your passport and have to stay…


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More Tulum Tips and Resources

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Affordable Tulum: Beach Bliss on a Budget

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Adrienne, The Haphazard Traveler

I used to be a hot travel mess, but I got better! I kept the name and now blog my best tips for culture and adventure travel from around the globe. Follow along for travel advice, destination info, and photography from faraway lands - and at home in Washington, D.C.

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