When you think of popular and affordable backpacking destinations, Tulum probably won’t be on your list. Visiting Tulum on a budget definitely isn’t easy but it’s certainly possible. You’ll find all the information you need to visit Tulum for well under 50$ per day below! So keep reading if you want to see what Tulum has to offer without breaking the bank,
In recent years, Tulum has become a hip holiday town filled with eco-chic boutique hotels, beach bars and a plethora of cafes and restaurants most of which come perfectly decorated with Instagram in mind. As a popular destination for vacation goers that want something different from the all-inclusive resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, Tulum attracts young professionals, families, honeymooners, backpackers and celebrities alike.
We knew it would be a bit of a challenge to stick to our budget while visiting Tulum. Nonetheless, we wanted to make this vacation town our first stop of our two month trip through Mexico.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when first seeing the prices of hotels in Tulum. There are so many boutique hotels that line the beach and every single one of them are over a backpacker budget! We soon discovered that AirBnb would be our best bet at finding accommodation in Tulum within our budget.
For about 500 pesos per night (33$ CAD), we booked a large private room with A/C, private bathroom, shared kitchen and patio area.
Although quite basic, our place was very clean, well located in town and felt very safe.
2. Stay in Tulum town
If you’re trying to save money, you’ll want to stay in Tulum town.
Not only are the hotels along the beach out of any backpacker’s budget, but the food and drink options that line the beach are also two, sometimes three times more expensive than what you’ll find in town.
Locating yourself in town has some major advantages that will help you stick to your budget. The town is small enough to walk or cycle everywhere, which will help you save big on transportation costs. Taxis are cheap in Tulum but will add up quite fast if you’re using them several times a day.
Although saving on transport is great, the best thing about staying with the locals is the food.
3. Street Food
Staying in Tulum town also means you’ll be able to indulge in all kinds of delicious Mexican street food!
If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know street food is the way to go to fully immerse yourself in the local culture.
Oh, and street food in Tulum is also some of the best Mexican food you’ll have in your life.
We found our best meals here by wandering from food stall to food stall, guided by the smell of barbecued meats, fresh salsas and tortillas being grilled. You can find delicious tacos for as little as 12 pesos in the street.
There are also a few great local restaurants that serve delicious food for a fraction of the price you’d pay along the beach.
Here are some of our favorite places to eat in Tulum town:
- Taqueria Honorio
- El Canaston
- Torta (sandwich) y taco stand in front of the Super Aki (open for breakfast and lunch)
- Farm To Table
- Taco stand in front of the OXXO at the corner of Calle Geminis Sur and Highway 307
4. Rent Bicycles
Renting a bicycle is the best way to get around the Tulum region. Cycling from town to many cenotes takes about 15-20 minutes along the highway.
To get to the beach, there is a bike path along all of Route 15 and the ride takes 20-25 minutes.
We really recommend renting bikes from Ola Bike Rental (not sponsored whatsoever).
As of November 2018, they charge 130 pesos for a 24h period, which is a little bit cheaper than prices we were quoted elsewhere in town (between 150 and 180 pesos).
They offer amazing customer service and their bikes are in great condition. They are also very reliable and transparent.
Renting bicycles also means you can take your time and stop at every photo opportunity you find (and trust us, there are a lot in Tulum!). We absolutely love this slower way of transport, going at our own rhythm and exploring as much as we can.
Biking through Tulum reminded us of riding our scooter in Bali, stopping when and for as long as we wanted. This was definitely our favorite way to get around the island of the Gods. If you’re planning on visiting Bali, click here to read our ultimate guide on travelling through this magical island.
It’s also a great way to get a bit of a sweat going on!
5. Visit the Cheaper Cenotes
There are many cenotes that are easily accessible from Tulum. However, the most popular ones do come with a steep entry fee. A visit to Grand Cenote will set you back 180 pesos per person whereas Cenote Dos Ojos will cost you 350 pesos per person.
If you’re budget is tight, you might have to pick only one or two cenotes to visit in Tulum. We opted to go for the lesser known Cenote Calavera instead of Dos Ojos, where the entry fee was a more reasonable 100 pesos per person. Although very different and much smaller, we loved this one just as much as the Grand Cenote.
Camera Gear we Shoot With
- Camera bag : Wandrd Prvke 31L Backpack + Camera Cube
- Mirrorless camera : Sony a7 III
- Extra camera batteries : RAV Power dual batteries and charger
- DSLR camera : Nikon d5600
- Favorite lens : Nikon 35mm f/1.8
- Drone : DJI Mavic Pro
- Tripod : Manfrotto Compact Action Tripod
- Flexible tripod : 5KG Gorilla pod
- Powerbank : Anker High Capacity
- Hard drive : La Cie Rugged Mini 2TB
6. Do Your Own Grocery shopping
While booking your accommodation, picking a place with a kitchen is a great way to keep the cost down. We decided to cook all our breakfasts at home, saving us lots of pesos over 3 days!
We bought a dozen eggs, fresh fruit, avocados, bread, milk and coffee and ate our breakfast in the cute little courtyard in our AirBnb daily.
The best grocery store in Tulum is definitely the Super Aki located at the intersection of roads 307 and 109. It’s a huge warehouse that has pretty much everything you’d find in a Coscto back home!
Tulum on a Budget: How much does it actually cost?
If you have any other tips on how to save money while travelling to Tulum, please leave them down below in the comments!
Overall, we loved our time in this pretty beachside town and we definitely feel like this is a place we’ll keep coming back to.
Many people we’ve talked to about Tulum have said it’s left a sour taste in their mouths just due to the hole it put in their bank account. It’s definitely a place that takes some more thorough planning if you’re on a tight budget, but we had a blast doing it.
After crunching all the numbers, we can proudly say that we stayed well under our budget of 45$ CAD per person in Tulum. If you look at that in USD, that’s just under 35$ per person per day!