Is Tulum Expensive? Exploring Paradise at Riviera Maya

Imagine this: warm sands beneath your feet, the soothing melody of the Caribbean waves, and, well, me, having explored the wonders of Tulum. Now, let’s get real about this little piece of heaven’s price tag. Is it budget-friendly or a splurge?

When I decided to visit this seaside town, the budget was my first concern. I’d heard that it was more costly than other Mexican destinations like Playa del Carmen and Cancun. But turns out it doesn’t have to be!

Join me as I share stories from my trip, giving you the lowdown on the costs so that you can plan your adventure without any surprises. Ready for a laid-back guide to Tulum that won’t break the bank? 

Is Tulum Expensive?

The truth is, vacationing there can certainly be expensive if you’re not careful. But that didn’t hold me back when I was visiting.

Once a lesser-known destination than other parts of Mexico, this seaside vista has now been popularized by celebrities and influencers willing to hand over large sums of cash.

So, yes—you can expect the need to set a larger budget for visiting the walled city where the Mayans had built their only beachside castle.

I was so enchanted by photos of the castle that I decided that I must go there! Researching where I can cut costs is what allowed me to visit this seemingly luxury destination multiple times on a budget. 

Average Cost for Visiting Tulum

Alright, let’s take a casual stroll through what to expect while visiting. I’ll unpack the canvas of expenses that paint the portrait of a Tulum expedition. 

The accommodations can range from beachfront hideaways to cozy corners in town near a tantalizing array of local delicacies.

Let’s delve into the cost spectrum while weaving in personal narratives and budget-conscious discoveries. We’ll also navigate the flight into Cancun, the bustling gateway to Tulum, and explore the ways to make this journey a pocket-friendly affair.

If you’re also worried about the cost of this vacation, here’s a breakdown so you can plan accordingly.


hotel for visitor

The first thing I think about when planning a getaway is where to rest my head. My journey began with an enchanting stay in a rustic beachfront cabana. Waking up to the symphony of crashing waves was a daily reminder that paradise was right outside my door. Yet, the town’s allure isn’t confined to the shore. 

I’ve seen some snug hostels and boutique hotels worth staying in, and their prices aren’t as high as the more extravagant stays on the shore.

While many of the hotels are pricey, Tulum’s accommodations cater to varied tastes and budgets. Try looking around for what’s more appropriate for your budget. 

Here’s a breakdown of the average prices:

  • Budget Accommodation: Hostels range from $10 to $30 per night.
  • Mid-range Options: Boutique hotels and guesthouses vary from $50 to $150 per night.
  • Beachfront Luxury: Upscale beachfront resorts typically start from $200 per night and can go well above $500.


food at tulum

Ah, the culinary escapade in Tulum – an adventure that delighted both taste buds and the wallet. Their food scene dances with authenticity and flavor.

My quest for the perfect taco led me to a modest street-side eatery. And it was an affair of succulent seafood and vibrant salsas, all wrapped in a tortilla that made my taste buds sing. 

The truth is, if you eat like the locals, you won’t burn a hole in your wallet. The food landscape there invites you to explore beyond the glitz, so take a stroller to the bustling markets for the best food. 

Is Tulum expensive to eat out? Here’s a rough breakdown:

  • Street Food: Tacos and street eats can cost as little as $2 per meal.
  • Local Eateries: Dining at local restaurants might range between $5 to $15 per person for a meal.
  • Beachfront Restaurants: Upscale beachfront dining can cost anywhere from $20 to $50 per person for a meal.

My favorite places to eat were Nativo Tulum, the street stalls on Av. Satélite & Av. Tulum, and El Camello Jr.


passengers entering a airplane

Tulum is just one and a half hours away from Cancun airport, so getting there wasn’t a hassle at all. I used websites like Skyscanner and Google Flights to find the cheapest tickets to Cancun, then planned my vacation around those dates.

The high season for tickets from the US to Cancun is  February, March, and April. You’ll typically pay less for airfare if you go in September, which is the cheapest month when it comes to airline tickets. 

How expensive is Tulum airfare from the US? Flights to Cancun vary widely based on location and time of booking, ranging from $160 to $800 for a round trip. I flew out of Chicago O’Hare airport for $170 via Spirit Airlines. 

Transportation Cost Around The City

The best (and reportedly safest) way to get around this port town is by taxi, which is relatively affordable.

If you’re on a seriously tight budget, renting a bike is a viable option for going to the beach. That was my favorite way to get around town, but I understand it isn’t feasible for families or larger groups. 

I also visited the nearby island of Cozumel for diving and the stunning beaches. That cost me a shuttle ride to Playa del Carmen and a ferry to the island. The total was under $25 (it’s about $3 cheaper if you choose the 40-minute ferry, Winjet; instead of the 20-minute one, Ultramar).

Activities & Tours

Venturing into the heart of their adventure scene was like unearthing a treasure trove of experiences. Cruising on a catamaran over the Caribbean’s crystalline waters felt like sailing through a dreamscape. 

I also recommend you go snorkeling because the playful marine life and vibrant corals are a priceless sight to see. A couple of my friends decided to rent ATVs for a jungle ride, so I got the chance to enjoy a day of adventure!

The historical aspect of this Mayan haven was an experience full of wonder. I planned a day to visit the Coba ruins.  The quietness of the paths lined with age-old trees and the serenity amidst the stone ruins felt like stepping into a sacred realm. The trip to the Coba ruins wasn’t too bad—just around 45 minutes and cost about $3. 

The prices are as listed below:

  • ATV Tour: ATV tours through the jungle might range from $50 to $100 per person.
  • Coba Ruins: Entrance fees to Coba Ruins are around $10 to $15.
  • Snorkeling: $20-$50 per person, depending on location and gear provided.
  • Cenote Tours: Entrance fees are around $10 per person.

Shopping Cost

girls at shopping

This ancient port town isn’t particularly famous for shopping, but you might want to get some souvenirs and handicrafts. The best prices for those would be in the downtown, also known as the El Centro. Just be sure to carry cash because some smaller shops won’t accept plastic. I didn’t do much grocery shopping, but the prices are affordable if you need to buy anything. 

Average Cost for Visiting as a Couple

This enchanting place is perfect for a romantic getaway. Although I was single when I visited, it’s safe to say that Tulum is an affordable option for couples. Here are a few costs you might consider:

  • Accommodation: For a couple, mid-range options may average between $70 to $150 per night.  For a week-long getaway, this could amount to an average of $490 to $1,050 for accommodation.
  • Dining: Dining at local eateries or mid-range restaurants might average $20 to $40 for two people.

Average Cost for Visiting as a Family

There are many family-friendly lodgings here and plenty of appropriate activities too. If you’re wondering, “how much does a trip to Tulum cost for a family of four?” here’s a rough estimate:

  • Accommodation: Family-friendly stays can vary from $100 to $200 per night.
  • Activities: Family activities like exploring ruins or cenotes might range from $20 to $50 per person.

The total estimated cost for a family of four on a week-long trip to Tulum, including accommodation, dining, transportation, and activities, might amount to approximately $3200. Of course, that’s excluding airfare, and the total can vary greatly depending on your family’s spending habits. 

The Beaches & Clubs

tulum beaches

Technically speaking, there is no such thing as a private beach in Mexico, and almost all of them are free. Here are some things you need to know before you find the right beaches for you.

Resorts and Beach Clubs

Most of the resorts and beach clubs are on the South Playa. Getting to the southern beaches can be tricky, especially if you are not staying at an accommodation in the hotel zone. I could enjoy many nights walking around the beach at no cost because I was staying at one of the hotels there.

If you want access to one of the stretches of beach adjacent to a club or resort, just go in and buy yourself a delicious cocktail.

I visited some of the beach clubs a few times. Of course, they all charge an entrance fee. Prices vary between $50-$200, but many beach clubs give back the entrance fee as dining credit.

Public Beaches

There are a handful of public beaches where you won’t have to buy something to enjoy. These are mostly situated on the Northern side, away from the resorts and beach clubs.

One of the most beautiful beaches there is Playa Paraiso. This is one of the most stunning beaches on earth, with powdery white sand and turquoise water that gleams like jewels in the sun.

One of the more crowded public beaches is the one you will see by the Mayan Archaeological Ruins. Since people come to check out the ruins, they also end up spending time on the beach, so you can expect more people there. However, if you show up early, you can definitely find yourself a spot to lay your towel before it gets too populated.

If you love ceviche and like mingling with the locals, then Playa Pescadores is a must-visit. This little strip of sand has that rustic, port-town beach vibe that you will simply adore.

If you want to get a more secluded beach experience, then you can visit one of two places. One is Las Palmas, which is a quiet beach with few amenities around but makes for a lovely romantic hideout.

The other one is the beach within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere. This is literally known as the secret beach, and within it hides the most beautiful little stretch of sand and lagoons that will make you lose yourself in the natural beauty of the Riviera Maya.

Tulum Vs. Other Mexican beach towns

Now that we’ve covered the average cost per day in Tulum, you’re probably thinking that it’s quite a bit more expensive than other Mexican beach zones. That’s certainly true, but if you budget correctly, it’s still an affordable vacation spot that’s worth visiting

Comparing this ancient port town to other seaside places in Mexico is akin to exploring different strokes on the canvas of coastal paradises.

Each town paints a unique picture, revealing its own charm, culture, and allure. Tulum, with its blend of Mayan mystique and bohemian spirit, stands as a distinct gem along the Yucatan Peninsula. Its ancient ruins overlooking pristine beaches create an ambiance that’s both historical and trendy.

Let’s take a closer look at how the prices here compare to other towns:

Tulum Vs. Playa del Carmen

Ah, the coastal showdown! Tulum and Playa del Carmen are like siblings, sharing that same gorgeous Caribbean coastline but offering distinct experiences.

When it comes to accommodation, Playa del Carmen can be slightly more wallet-friendly. In Playa, budget accommodations, including hostels or modest hotels, range from $10 to $40 per night, while mid-range stays go for about $50 to $150. Compared to Tulum’s pricing, staying in Playa might save you a few bucks.

Transportation in Playa del Carmen is notably more affordable. Taxis and local transport can cost about half as much in Playa, so moving around the town or getting to the beach won’t pinch your pocket as much.

Dining out in Playa del Carmen can be more budget-friendly. Local eateries often offer meals for roughly $5 to $10 per person, which is a bit cheaper.

But, when it comes to that serene beach experience, Tulum has an edge. 

While both towns offer beautiful beaches, Tulum’s natural charm might cost you a bit more. The beach clubs there tend to charge higher entrance fees, ranging from $50 to $200, whereas Playa del Carmen might offer similar experiences at a slightly lower price point.

Tulum Vs. Cancun

Now, let’s talk about Cancun—a bustling city that knows how to party! When comparing Tulum with Cancun, the differences become quite apparent.

Accommodations in Cancun are notably more varied. Budget-friendly options in Cancun, including hostels or simpler hotels, range from $10 to $50 per night, providing a wider spectrum of choices.

However, if you’re eyeing those luxurious beachfront stays, expect to pay a premium similar to Tulum or even higher.

Transportation in Cancun is a mixed bag. While local transport and taxis within the city might be cheaper, getting to certain tourist spots or attractions could cost slightly more. However, overall, transportation tends to be a bit more affordable in Cancun.

Dining out in Cancun offers diverse choices, with prices somewhat similar to Tulum, especially at mid-range restaurants. However, if you’re seeking budget meals, Cancun might have more options that won’t break the bank.

When it comes to activities, Cancun offers a similarly wide array of options, including tours to nearby ruins, snorkeling, and water-based adventures. However, depending on the activity, prices might vary slightly.

Tulum Vs. Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is another gem along the Mexican coastline! When compared to Tulum, the vibe and offerings tend to vary quite a bit.

Accommodations in Puerto Vallarta can be quite affordable, with budget options ranging from $15 to $50 per night and mid-range stays averaging around $60 to $150. Similar to Playa del Carmen, staying in Puerto Vallarta might offer slightly better pricing.

Transportation within Puerto Vallarta is notably cheaper. Local taxis and transportation options are generally more pocket-friendly, allowing you to explore the city without spending as much.

Dining out in Puerto Vallarta also tends to be more economical, with numerous local eateries offering meals for around $5 to $15 per person.

When it comes to the beach scene, Puerto Vallarta’s charm might come at a slightly lower price. While they have stunning beaches, Tulum’s beach clubs and entry fees tend to lean towards the higher end.

How to Spend Money in Tulum

how to money for tulum

Ultimately, the only answer to “How much is a trip to Tulum?” depends on your spending habits. If you plan correctly and make the right choices, you can enjoy this enchanting beachside town just as I did. 

Crafting a budget-friendly trip isn’t about compromising the essence of this captivating destination; rather, it’s about indulging in its allure while being mindful of expenses. Here are my top tips on how to have fun at this little coastal haven, even on a tight budget. 

Explore Tulum During the Off-season

The best time to explore this town is from October to December. Visiting there any other time will be considered “off-season” for tourism in Tulum.

What makes off-season exploration of this Mayan haven special is the lack of tourists. Yes, it might bring occasional showers or warmer days, but it also unveils a different side of the town.

You would be able to partake in most of the joys of the area during that time, like delving into the wellness scene, enjoying the food, sightseeing, and shopping.

One thing that might dampen your time there is the seaweed problem. During the seaweed season, which runs from April to October, an insane amount of Sargassum washes ashore, making it difficult to access the beach.

The season can end up extending on either end, so the best time for off-season travel is January-March.

If you are there during Sargassum season, you need to avoid the beach. However, don’t forget the Cenotes are very much active! So you can have fun exploring these ancient caves and the azure waters within.

Explore the Stunning Tulum Cenotes Instead of Tulum Beach Clubs

woman sitting near at cenote

While I did go to beach clubs a couple of times, I spent most of my beach time in the public areas. Better yet, I took the more adventurous option of exploring the cenotes. 

Venturing into their cenotes was a spiritual communion with nature. The jungle paths led to hidden gems – these freshwater pools amid lush greens. The moment I laid eyes on these natural wonders, I was captivated.

These cenotes weren’t just cost-effective alternatives; they were invitations to connect with nature’s splendor.

Swimming in these clear waters felt like diving into a hidden realm, an experience that left an indelible mark on my journey.

Stay in the Town Center

Choosing a cozy spot in the heart of Tulum’s El Centro isn’t just about saving money; it’s about embracing authenticity. The narrow streets lined with colorful buildings were my daily canvas for exploration.

I’d start my mornings with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee wafting from local cafes, sharing nods and smiles with residents going about their day. 

The guesthouses and budget-friendly stays within this lively hub offered a genuine taste of local life, where conversations with fellow travelers and shared stories became the highlight of my evenings.

Opt for Public Transportation to Save Money.

Public transportation was a game-changer in navigating Tulum on a budget. Boarding the local buses and colectivos felt like a cultural immersion, each ride brimming with vibrant conversations and snippets of local life.

I remember one particular bus ride where a local family shared anecdotes about their favorite spots, guiding me to hidden gems off the beaten path. 

These cost-effective rides not only trimmed down my expenses but also enriched my journey with unexpected connections and local insights.

Eat Like a Local

Tulum’s culinary scene is a tale of flavors that narrates the town’s history. Exploring street stalls and unassuming eateries felt like a gastronomic treasure hunt. Each bite was a revelation – from tangy ceviches to perfectly spiced tacos.

Engaging with vendors and chefs unraveled stories behind traditional recipes, transforming meals into cultural experiences. Don’t worry so much about food poisoning. I can safely say that the street food here is as safe to eat as anything in the States.


Budgeting for Tulum is more than just a strategy; it’s a pathway to deeper, more authentic experiences. By exploring off-season charms, immersing in local living, embracing cost-effective travel options, savoring culinary delights, and uncovering nature’s treasures, you’re not just trimming expenses – you’re enriching your journey.

This tiny seaside harbor, with its unspoiled beauty and cultural tapestry, invites you not just to witness but engage, not just observe but immerse. 

At the end of the day, you can certainly enjoy exploring what this place has to offer and stick to your budget.