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I made my way from Playa Del Carmen (PDC) to Tulum by public transport.
In PDC I stayed in a nice, 1 bedroom apartment and paid a 50% discounted rate of MXP328 / night including taxes.
It was time to move south to Tulum.
I knew that I wasn’t going to be so lucky with my accommodation in Tulum … but, I was going there mainly for an Adventure Trip … so, I was happy to Backpack it.
I planned to stay in Tulum for 7 nights.
PLAYA DEL CARMEN TO TULUM:
Tulum is a short Bus ride south of PDC.
There are many each day … almost every 30 minutes.
I chose the 12:20pm AU Bus at a cost of MXP49. It was an off-season promotional price … I believe that the price is usually MXP60.
The bus was comfortable and we were in Tulum in about 1 hour.
Tulum is the site of a pre-Columbian Mayan walled city that served as a major port for Cobá.
Tulum was one of the last cities built and inhabited by the Maya; it was at its height between the 13th and 15th centuries and managed to survive about 70 years after the Spanish began occupying Mexico.
Old World diseases brought by the Spanish settlers appear to have resulted in very high fatalities, disrupting the society and eventually causing the city to be abandoned.
One of the best-preserved coastal Maya sites, Tulum is today a popular site for tourists; mainly Backpackers.
So far, in Mexico, I have found free internet to be widely available in the restaurants and bars. Your accommodation usually includes free internet too. In the bigger towns and tourist areas, this seems to be reasonably reliable.
This means that you won’t need the usual GRANDPAcker 2GB Mobile Phone Data Package; you should be able to get away with less data.
After my total frustration with Telcel, I was giving AT&T a try … I have had no problems with AT&T so far. I can get a good signal almost everywhere.
WHERE TO STAY:
Tulum reminds me of Khao Lak in Thailand in more ways than one. But nowhere near as ‘developed’. It is still a bit ‘raw’.
The main ‘action’ is in town … and, it is a surprisingly pleasant town to stay in … with a wide selection of restaurants and bars to choose from.
To get the best out of Tulum, you need transport … a bicycle will do. Bicycle rentals cost about MXP80 / day. You can expect to halve this for long term rentals.
If you stay nearer the beach, accommodation prices increase dramatically … and the prices become too expensive for GRANDPAckers.
I would suggest that GRANDPAckers are best to find accommodation in the center of town and to commute to the main Tulum beach from there.
A general accommodation search for the 1st week of November (the last month of ‘Hurricane Season’) reveals the following …
HOTELS & HOSTELS (Nightly Rates):
As you can see, the affordable accommodation is ‘Backpacker’.
Hotel and Hostel search sites display prices EXCLUSIVE of TAXES. You, usually, have to add 19% to the displayed price to get the final price.
If you start your search early, you may be able to find the ‘deep’ discounts that you need to afford to stay in a GRANDPAcker Standard Hotel … if, not, you are looking at Backpacker accommodation.
TRIPADVISOR VACATION RENTALS (Weekly Rates):
If you plan to stay a week or more, another good option is to use TRIPADVISOR.COM to book a Holiday Rental / Vacation Rental.
Holiday Rentals are usually rented by the week. A simple future search on TRIPADVISOR.COM demonstrates what’s available nicely (please note that these prices are in US$s):
Vacation Rentals are, usually, displayed INCLUSIVE of TAXES but EXCLUSIVE of any Security Deposit (if required).
Unlike other (larger) towns, the Vacation Rentals in Tulum are reasonably close to the center of town … which makes staying in them very feasible.
However, the Vacation Rentals available (above) are too expensive for GRANDPAckers.
I booked 2-3 weeks before my arrival.
I used BOOKING.COM to pre-book 1 week at The Weary Traveller Hostel.
I knew that it was Backpacker … but I couldn’t afford an Hotel on my GRANDPAcking Budget of MXP1,000 / day.
The Weary Traveller came with excellent reviews (from the younger Backpacking crowd).
Between 6:30pm and 7:30pm they had a free House Cocktail every night. This got the guests started and sticking around to drink and party into the night … but they were reasonable and things got quiet come 11:00pm.
I chose The Weary because I planned to ‘splash out’ on activities that week … and staying at The Weary seemed to be a good ‘fit’ for the fun activities that I had planned.
As expected, the room was very basic.
There was no wardrobe (so, out came my washing line again) and no mirror over the sink (so, out came my travel mirror again).
TULUM ACCOMMODATION SEARCH:
Have a look yourself:
You can walk around Tulum Town on foot.
Trike / Tuk Tuk:
You don’t find things like Trikes or TukTuks in Mexico, so those ‘supercheap’ options are not available to you.
Scooter / Bicycle:
Sometimes you need transport to make the location of your accommodation work. To make The Weary work for me, I needed to rent a bicycle now and again. Tulum is flat and perfect for cycling.
The Weary rents bicycles for MXP80 / day … which is an ‘OK’ rate for tourist areas in Mexico.
Taxis are reasonable cheap in Mexico if you know what the Rule Of Thumb should be. Alas, tourists get over-charged frequently.
Taxis do not use meters and the price should be confirmed first. The guideline is MXP10 for the ‘flag fall’ plus MXP10 / km. You can almost double this at night.
So far, I have found UBER Taxis to be a safe and cheaper option than using the Taxis on the street. But, alas, UBER does not operate in Tulum.
EAT & DRINK:
You have your normal selection of restaurants offering meals (mostly) in the MXP120-200 price range.
You have your usual ‘Street’ options of Tacos at MXP10 and Tortas at MXP25-35.
The Weary sold cold cans of beer for MXP20 but the normal price around town is MXP30-35.
The Weary also did Beer-Burger Combos. For MXP65 you got 2 beers and a ‘make it yourself’ Hamburger. There were other Combos to choose from. Excellent value for money.
YOUR HEALTH & SAFETY:
There is no reason to feel unsafe in Tulum. But, as always, exercise normal levels of caution … don’t make yourself an obvious target.
WHERE TO GO / WHAT TO SEE / WHAT TO DO:
You can’t go wrong with going to Tulum Beach.
You can also visit the local Mayan Ruins.
A must do is to SCUBA or Snorkel some of the local cenotes.
MONEY / PRICES / SHOPPING:
There are plenty of Tourist Shops selling goods at Tourist Prices.
Tulum does not have a Supermarket.
There are several ATMs around town if you need to get cash.
WHEN TO GO:
July through October is hurricane season in this part of the world, and the weather becomes more changeable and less predictable during these months.
The rainy season is May through October.
The high season is December through May as these are the months with the most temperate and driest weather.
GRANDPAckers should find plenty of affordable accommodation options in Off Season: June to September. May and October should, also, be very possible. Peak Season my be a bit harder but not impossible.
From Tulum I head south to the coastal town of Mahahual.
An ADO bus leaves from Tulum to Mahahual 3 times each day: midnight, 9:00am, and 5:00pm.
I will be on the 9:00am.
Tulum is a pleasant surprise.
However, accommodation (again) is the problem … you will (most probably) be staying below GRANDPAcker Standard in an Hostel.
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