My Travel Guide to Tulum – On a Budget!

Tulum was one of my favorite vacations, ever.

With sweeping views of white sand beaches, miles of jungles and restaurants that offer the most delicious and healthy foods (yep, they have vegan options everywhere)!

I did my best to share my experience with you while there but there’s so much more to tell! Everything from how we saved money, where we ate, what excursions we booked & my highlights so that you can decide what you would like to do too. I hope this blog helps you while planning out your next trip there!

DAY 1

We landed in Cancun around 1:30 pm. The flight from Chicago is only 3 hours and costed us $300 dollars RT. Not bad at all! From Cancun, the easiest way to get to Tulum is by bus via ADO. It costs about $13 dollars ($262 pesos) and is comfortable and safe. Some buses even offer free wifi onboard for the 2 hour trip!

We were dropped off on the main street in the town of Tulum where you’ll need to taxi (unless you decide to rent a car!) to get to your hotel/AirBnB. We chose to stay in an AirBnB because we found such good prices – $59 dollars per night! After exploring our place and settling in, we later rode bikes (our AirBnB offered them) to dinner at #BurritoAmor. The food was LIT 🙂 Not to mention my vegan burrito was just what I needed after a full day of travel.

We learned the prices for everything is much cheaper in town versus the beach.

My burrito was $69 pesos aka $4!

DAY 2

We woke up bright and early for a very exciting day ahead…CENOTES! This is what we were both most excited for so booked the excursion for the first day to start the trip off right. Our entire day was $108 dollars/per person.

Our tour guide Carlos picked us up with another couple and drove us to the Cenote Dos Ojos. We went to three different locations, eating fruit and cookies in between each, went zip lining and were treated to lunch afterwards. All of this was included in the price! I can’t recommend this excursion enough – Carlos was such a great guy & started his own tour company, SmilingTulum. You can book directly through them or AirBnB!

Please remember, when going into the Cenotes, there is no need to wear sun lotion (or at least choose lotions that are biodegradable).

After the Cenotes, we went back to the AirBnB for a much needed nap/sunbathing time by the pool. We freshened up and started to walk into town and go on our own self-guided food tour. We explored lots of different restaurants and would order an appetizer or drink at each. We split everything to keep prices down. By the end of the night, we had been to 3 different places and found some great night time music, dancing and new friends!

Pictured here: Backyard Patio seating at “Encanto Cantina”

Pictured here: tuna ceviche, classic margarita & svedka martini with avocado

Pictured here: lemon sorbet & chocolate ice cream from “Panna e Cioccolato”

Pictured here: Charlie’s

Pictured here: Mushroom tacos from Charlie’s (some of the best vegetarian tacos I’ve ever had!)

Pictured here: Meet Tim from Germany. A backpacker who was traveling for months and his next stop was: Guatemala! & Meet Sunny, a globetrotter himself who works in cryptocurrency!

DAY 3

BEACH DAY! We biked over to Tulum Art Club first for the BEST BRUNCH EVER. Seriously – just wait till you scroll down and see what we had. Admittedly, this place was a bit more expensive than other spots. But we loved the ambiance and energy of this place. Great locals everywhere as well as remote workers on their laptops. It was a cool cafe vibe & it’s worth to check out. We then biked to Papaya Playa where we lounged all day and ordered fresh juices and of course, chips and guac. Duh! This is also a bit more expensive as it costs a $55 dollar minimum to get a cabana – but you get the bed for the entire day and can order all the drinks & food to reach the minimum.

 

Pictured Here: Pink hummus toast, Vegan blueberry pancakes & avocado toast

DAY 4

We decided to take it slower in the morning and hang out/enjoy the AirBnB for a while (and save some money). We went to the grocery store Chedraui last night to pick up a few things – Bert made us coffee and a beautiful breakfast that we enjoyed outside on the patio.

After breakfast, we got our bikes and rode about 20 -30 minutes to the Ruins. We were told to get there early (think 8 am) to avoid the crowds but we really didn’t care. We just wanted to take our time and explore so we got there around 10. This was early enough because we stood in line for maybe 10 min to buy our ticket (about $4 dollars/per person). Plan to spend about 2 hours there to explore all the ruins, take photos and to take time finding a spot to enjoy the ocean view without technology (trust me, it’s so worth it)!

We started to get tired and hot (midday heat is no joke!) so we wanted to head back to town to get something refreshing to drink (iced lattes anyone)? We headed to our favorite cafe (yes, the same Art Club as yesterday) and I enjoyed a refreshing Matcha Latte and Bert had a Detox Latte.

We were also pretty hungry but wanted to try someplace new. We rode our bikes back towards our AirBnB which just so happened to be practically across the street from Raw Love! Later on, we also found out they have two locations, one in town and one at the beach. We enjoyed acai bowls and the most refreshing cucumber juices!

Pictured here: 2 “Q-coolers” (cucumber, mint, lime), the “Healthy Belly” bowl (papaya, ginger, turmeric, pineapple, banana) & the “Chocolate Dream” (cacao, vanilla, coconut milk, raw honey)

It was here where we decided we wanted to extend our stay in Tulum versus traveling back up to Cancun for our last 2 nights in Mexico. We lost $125 dollars since we cancelled our AirBnB in Cancun too late to be eligible for a full refund but our new place was only $45 dollars/per night! The cutest boutique hotel that had Matcha Mama right across the way as well as #Hashtagpoke on the lot.

 

After washing up, we met some locals earlier in the day who told us about a local fashion show happening in town.

We’re all for trying out new things, especially if a local recommended it (the less touristy, the better!)

So we headed out on foot and enjoyed a nice 15 minute walk to the hotel hosting it. Afterwards, we enjoyed a late, vegan dinner at Farm to Table. Muy Delicioso!

Pictured here: Bert had the shrimp ceviche while I enjoyed charred cauliflower with 4 different hummus dips! Note that the menu changes weekly because they only use the freshest, seasonal ingredients!

DAY 5

Our last day in Tulum arrived and we still hadn’t been to one of the main attractions of the travel destination, Tulum Beach! Yes, we went to Papaya Playa but we learned that was just the beginning of it. So we rented bikes ($15 dollars/per person for 24 hours) from “All About Tulum” where they recommended some top hotels to stop at. Most of them were the recommendations we read about online so we decided to listen to their advice and tried 4 places out (all access to the hotel beaches are free)! Similar to day 2, we tried an appetizer or drink and always split to save on costs. Remember, it’s much more expensive to eat at these hotel resorts so be careful – the bill can rack up, quick!

1st stop -> Posada Margherita

Pictured Here: there are dogs running around Tulum everywhere! Either stray or dog owners just let them run around – some of the best behaved dogs I’ve ever met. Meet “Pachi”, the owners bulldog at Posada – my heart melted!

Pictured Here: While Posada is known for their italian cuisine like pasta, this was our first stop so we weren’t hungry for it. We decided with fresh juices! They also gave us some pistachios and garlic bread for free!

2nd Stop -> Delek Tulum

Pictured Here: Chips & guacamole, mini shrimp tacos!

3rd Stop -> The Real Coconut 

Pictured Here: Mint Choc smoothie (cacao powder, fresh mint leaves, medjool dates, frozen bananas & coconut milk)

Pictured Here: Coconut Quesadillas (coconut flour tortillas, coconut cheese & shrimp)

4th Stop -> KA’AN

Pictured Here: We decided to just get a drink here because we were stuffed! They served a plate of jicama with different seasonings for free!

After a full day, we decided we should head back because we had a long bike ride ahead and wanted to beat the dark. It did start to rain a little bit but it was still 80 degrees so it was so much fun to ride through it! If you don’t like the rain, I would suggest getting an umbrella or a poncho!

We freshened up back at the hotel to get ready for our last night. Although we were sad and tired, we knew we had to make the most of it! We grabbed dinner at Swoon with a great rooftop and ended the night dancing with locals we met at Gitano. Even though there was a line to get in, it was free admission. We did have to taxi there since it was back at the beach and we were coming from town which costed 200 pesos (about $10 dollars). Regardless, such a great way to spend our last night soaking in the magic of Tulum 🙂

DAY 6

Today was our last day so we packed, returned our bikes and walked over to the Art Club for one last brunch. Afterwards, we grabbed our suitcases and taxi’d over to the ADO bus station. The bus left at 1:40 but we had to catch a 3:50 flight so we took the bus that departed at noon to Cancun City which is about a 25 min taxi ride from the airport. Not ideal but we got there in time!

Pictured Here: Chilaquiles, avocado toast & 2 cold brews with almond milk

Our trip was amazing and loved every moment of it. However, I do need to be sensitive to the fact of how fast the town is growing.

With this growth, the environment is paying for it.

Here’s a great article that explains what is happening. Or watch this documentary and learn how you can help! Let’s preserve places like this so tourists can visit a safe, eco-friendly location for years to come!

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