Tip: Stay and dine in the city center for cheaper price

Tulum on a budget? Let’s do it!

Tulum is a popular city in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. What was once a sleepy, bohemian town is now one of Mexico’s most popular and most expensive destinations. Tulum, Mexico is one of those cities that has been flooding everyone’s Instagram and Pinterest feeds these past few years.

And while the city has undeniably gotten way more expensive over the years, there are still ways to visit on a budget. When most people think of Tulum they envision beachfront private villas, sandy white beaches, and lavish restaurants. While it does absolutely have all of those things and more, this hip town in Riviera Maya also has hostels, public transportation, and 50 cent tacos!

Keep reading to find out just how to explore Tulum on a budget! But first, if you’re limited on time I’ve pulled a few of the top-rated tours in the area.

Top-5 popular tours in Tulum

How to Visit Tulum on a Budget

The great thing about Tulum is that it is not super expensive to get to from most parts of the US! You can often find direct flights from New York, Los Angeles, and Miami in the $200 range and flights from Washington D.C. and San Francisco in the $300 range. Please note that many of these flights are fly and return on weekdays as roundtrip weekend flights tend to be more expensive due to a higher demand. To find the cheapest flight options from your city, you can use this search form below:

At the moment Cancun International Airport is still the closest airport to Tulum (1.5-2 hours by car), but this will change soon with new flights going into Tulum’s brand new airport.

Luckily, it’s super easy to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport. The easiest and fastest is definitely by car, but if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget you can join a group shuttle with Daytrip for as little at $18 USD.

Regardless of the transportation you chose, plan to budget at least $20-40 USD per person each way.

Prepare for your trip to Tulum

Where to Stay in Tulum on a Budget

The first thing to understand about Tulum is that it is broken up into two main parts: the beach and not the beach. Tulum Beach, or the Hotel Zone, is by far the most expensive place to stay. It is difficult to find any lodging under $250 per night, with plenty of hotels that are easily $1000+/night. That said, it is still possible to snag a good deal during the off-season.

In recent years there has been a lot of development and construction, especially in the town center, Aldea Zama, and La Valeta. as well, a third area to stay in Tulum. Staying in Tulum Beach usually means staying at a beachfront property. While this is obviously the ideal for many, these properties are significantly more expensive. For this reason, I have personally always stay in the town, either in the center or in La Valeta.

Pool at Turquoise Hotel
Pool at Turquoise Hotel
Hotel breakfast vibes
Hotel breakfast vibes

I have stayed in a number of places in Tulum that range from super budget to mid-range and more luxury. I will highlight these below, as well as a few of other budget-friendly Tulum hotels that come highly recommended.

Photo credit: Hostelworld

Mama’s Home Hostel

Mama’s Home hostel is a great option if you’re traveling to Tulum on a budget and are looking for a more social atmosphere. The night that I stayed here I was welcomed with an evening of free pina coladas! While this hostel is more social than other places I’ve stayed in Tulum, it still enforces an 11pm quiet policy to ensure that those who need it can get a good night’s sleep! Rooms are basic but sufficient.

Check rates and availability

Photo credit: Booking.com

Una Vida

Una Vida is a more luxury accommodation option in Tulum town that still offers great rates. Located in the town center, Una Vida has a large, very Instagrammable pool, minimalist decor, and a great location for exploring the city.

Prices start around $200 USD/night.

Check rates and availability

Turquoise Tulum Hotel

I spent 5 nights at Turquoise Tulum Hotel in 2021 and loved it. I was working remote, so I wanted to make sure that I had a spot that was comfortable, quiet, and cute. It is located in La Valeta, so you’ll be close to tons of restaurants and bars.The hotel has since expanded but reviews are still good!

Check rates and availability

Photo credit: Booking.com

Era Hotel & Spa Tulum

Luxury on a budget, with rooms often below $100 USD. Located in the heart of La Valeta neighborhood. A 4-star hotel with a restaurant on site.

Check rates and availability

Getting around Tulum on a Budget

There are a few different options for getting around Tulum on a budget. These typically include biking, taking taxis, or riding on the local collectivo.

Exploring Tulum by Bike

Biking around Tulum is probably my favorite way to get around and a great option if you are visiting Tulum on a budget. Staying in the city center means biking 20-45 minutes to reach the beach resorts and restaurants in the hotel zone, depending on where you’re staying and your final destination.

Follow that Dream sign in Tulum, Mexico
Follow that Dream sign in Tulum, Mexico
girl on a bike in Tulum
Biking is the best way to get around Tulum on a budget

Tulum by Taxi

Fortunately, taxis are also readily available if you aren’t looking to get a bit of extra cardio in! The short answer, however, is that taxis in Tulum are expensive. On my first visit to Tulum a taxi between the beach and the town was around $5 USD. During COVID times that shot up to around $15 USD. Now you can expect to pay $50+ USD for the short ride.

My biggest advice is to find a single taxi driver that you trust for all of your rides, to ensure both safety and a fair price. I met my taxi driver Juan back in 2019 and have used him as a driver for every trip since. His WhatsApp contact is: +52 984 137 7794.

Tulum by Collectivo

These are the cheapest option for anyone traveling to Tulum on a budget. You can get from the city center to the beach for super cheap. These are also a good option for getting to some of the nearby cenotes. However, you will need to flag down a van on one of the designated routes.

You can get more specific information at your accommodation. One thing to note is that if the van is full then you’ll have to wait until the next available, which could definitely add to your travel time!

Best things to do in Tulum on a Budget

Most likely you only have a few days in Tulum, in which case you’ll want to maximize seeing exactly what Tulum itself has to offer. If you have some more time then I recommend heading to some of the neighboring areas as well, such as Mahahual and Valladolid, where you’ll find my favorite cenote, Cenote Oxman.

Explore lesser-known cenotes

There are so many cenotes in and near to Tulum to visit. They are typically a super budget-friendly and fun thing to do.

The most famous cenotes in Tulum include Gran Cenote and Calavera. I originally chose to visit Gran Cenote while in Tulum because it is the most famous of the cenotes in the area (aka the one that I was seeing all over Instagram). It is absolutely beautiful but the ticket price is a bit steep at $25 USD.

As an alternative, you can visit lesser known cenotes like Cenote Escondido and Cenote Cristal. We spent the morning at Cenote Escondido as a group when I visited Tulum in 2024 for my bachelorette weekend.

Cenote Escondido wasn’t crowded at all, there is a fun rope swing, and the entrance fee is only around $8.50 USD, which is a fraction of the cost of the Gran Cenote entrance fee.

Gran Cenote
Gran Cenote
Cenote Escondido
Cenote Escondido

Take a Yoga Class

While the yoga classes in Tulum aren’t the most budget friendly, my yoga class was definitely a highlight of my trip. Class prices are usually around $15+, depending on the studio.

Here are some of the beautiful studios in Tulum for yoga:

Enjoy the Free Beaches (or Beach Clubs)

While in Tulum you have a few different beach options. There are both public and private beaches, however you’ll figure out quickly that the private beaches are better maintained from the “seaweed issue”, and the public beaches are becoming few and far between.

My best advice is to find a restaurant on the beach that doesn’t have a minimum. Some of these restaurants will allow you to use their facilities after making any sort of purchase (drink, meal, etc), while others have a minimum.

I found the policies to differ a bit from day to day. For example, one day we were allowed to spend the afternoon on the day beds after purchasing a meal at one restaurant, whereas the next day they claimed the beds to be for hotel guests only.

Cocktails from Ziggy's beach club
Cocktails from Ziggy’s beach club
Beachfront ceviche from Ziggy's
Beachfront ceviche from Ziggy’s

Explore the local ruins

There a number of famous ruins that can be visited as a day trip from Tulum, such as Chichen Itza or Coba ruins. While these are both definitely still possible, a cheaper and more budget-friendly spot to visit is Tulum’s very own ruins.

The ruins are located right on the beach in Tulum, and cost only around $6 USD to visit. You even have the option of visiting by bike (which is what I did) to cut down on any transportation costs.

I would avoid visiting during the middle of the day, as the sun can be very strong with little to no shade.

tulum ruins
Tulum ruins (one of the best things to do in Tulum on a budget)

Visit Kaan Luum Lagoon

Just a few minutes down the road from town is Kaan Luum Lagoon. This is a great beach alternative if you’re looking to swim and lay out. It can get pretty busy on the weekends, but the week days tend to be relatively empty.

The fee to enter Kaan Luum Lagoon is 300 pesos ($17.50) for foreigners. While it’s not the cheapest entrance fee, it’s still a more affordable option than a beach club with minimums.

Dock at Kaan Luum
Dock at Kaan Luum
Fun interactive sculptures at Kaan Luum
Fun interactive sculptures at Kaan Luum

You may also like…

15 Things to do in Tulum

Dining in Tulum on a Budget

The food in Tulum is an absolute highlight for me! I feel like the majority of my time (and money) is spent moving from one restaurant to the next, enjoying all of that delicious Mexican cuisine!

For the most part I have found that the food in Tulum city center is way more budget-friendly than any restaurants on the beach. There used to be a handful of affordable dining options on the beach, but those are few and far between at this point.

Here are my favorite restaurants and bars in Tulum on a budget:

Antojitos la Chiapaneca
Antojitos la Chiapaneca
Los Aguachiles
Los Aguachiles

TRAVEL TIPS

🏘️Book your accommodation

Booking.com will help you to book accommodation in advance and check availability

✈️Book your flight in advance

To find the cheapest flight options, you can use WayAway and find the most suitable option for you

🧾Get your tickets and tours

with Viator and GetYourGuide to get the most out of your journey

Here are some other articles to help you plan your trip to Tulum:

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Tulum on a Budget: A Guide to Tulum, Mexico pin
Tulum on a Budget: A Guide to Tulum, Mexico pin

Are you ready to head out to travel solo but are nervous about your safety? That is totally normal and is something that you should take into account before you set out. Today, I will share my top seven smart solo female traveler safety tips with you so that you can get prepared and kick your fears to the curb! 

Hiking Bukhansan as a solo female traveler.

Research in Advance

Each and every place in the world is unique with its own history, culture, cuisine, customs, and so much more. It is what makes traveling incredibly enticing and memorable because every location is a new adventure. Before you embark on your trip, be sure to research the location in advance. 

Of course, you should learn about all the fantastic parts of the destination, but you should also inquire as to the darker sides as a smart solo female traveler. Investigate what you should/shouldn’t wear, locations to avoid, common methods for thievery, attitudes toward women, statistics on crime, and anything else that could affect your safety as you travel. 

Being aware of these facts could help you to avoid conflict, not offend the locals, and keep yourself safe no matter where you go. 

Book the First Night

I know that it can be fun to embrace the spur of the moment attitude that comes with solo female travel, yet no one wants to be wandering around a foreign city in the middle of the night because they arrived later than they planned. No matter where you go, you should always book the first night’s accommodation. This way, you can arrive safe and sound, even if you have travel complications. 

know where you're going - solo female traveler
One of my top solo female traveler safety tips is to always make sure to know where you are going ahead of time!

Know Where You Are Going

Walking around with your head buried in a map, your face pressed against your phone, or with a lost look paints a “victim” sign on your back. Looking lost makes you an easy target, and we certainly don’t want that! You should always know where you are going. Make sure to research a destination before you leave. Have a mental image of where you need to go or easy to follow notes. 

If you do end up getting lost, try not to show it. Walk confidently, as though you were just another local knowing exactly where you are going. Then, I recommend popping into a local shop or café to gather your bearings and look at your map. Shopkeepers won’t mind, and it will keep you out of public view. 

P.S. If you are taking a taxi/Uber/etc. anywhere at night, make sure to order the ride while you are still inside, and only exit the building once they have arrived. This will prevent you from standing on a street corner for 10 minutes with nowhere to go. 

Have a Back-Up Plan

Any experienced traveler will be the first to admit that something will always go wrong on a trip; it is just the severity of the issue that differs. When that happens, we don’t want to panic! Whether we missed a flight, our backpack got stolen, or we ended up completely lost, it is crucial to have a back-up plan. 

Take a moment (actually, take a few) to think of ALL the things that could go wrong on your trip. For whatever pops into your head, make a back-up plan. That way, if it happens, you know exactly what to do. It is better to be over-prepared than underprepared when being a smart solo female traveler. 

solo female traveler safety
Things may not always go perfectly during a solo trip, make sure to have a back-up plan.

Keep Your Private Info Private

As we travel, we meet a variety of new people, which is fantastic! While most people are kind and honest, you will eventually encounter a bad apple. Sadly, those bad apples don’t come with a warning label. As a smart solo female traveler, you need to be cautious at all times, especially when it comes to your private information. 

Think of the creepiest person you ever met. What wouldn’t you want to tell them about yourself? Your full name, hometown, hotel address, weekend plans, and more are probably all on that list! The same should apply to new people. You don’t know their intentions, so don’t give a possible “bad guy” an invitation to take advantage of your personal information. 

Understand Your Limits

As a smart solo female traveler, it is vital to understand your limits. Understanding your limitations can be both physical and emotional. Physically, it would be best if you understood how far you can walk in a day or what level of exertion your body can withstand so that you don’t physically strain yourself during activities. If you participate in alcohol or drug use, you should understand your tolerance levels and when it is time to stop. Overindulging in any kind of substance can lead to disastrous consequences that are nightmare fuel for any woman. 

Emotionally, it would help if you understood your travel limits. How frequently can you switch destinations or interact with others before you feel drained? You need to make sure to schedule “me time” or rest days so that you don’t become stressed or overwhelmed. 

solo female traveler safety find a buddy
Finding a buddy (or lots of travel buddies) is one of the many perks of solo female travel.

Find a Buddy

Finding a buddy is an excellent choice for keeping yourself safe, especially if they are other smart solo female travelers. It is a known fact that people who travel in pairs or groups are safer from attackers. Plus, when someone is watching your back, they can point out things you have yet to notice or advise you against a reckless action. Not only will finding a buddy keep you safer, but it could also lead to you making a lifelong friend and creating valuable memories. 

I first met one of my favorite travel buddies on a sailing trip in Mallorca, and since then we have spent 3 days in Porto and traveled through Bali on a budget, among other trips.

Do you have other concerns about being a solo female traveler? Hit me up in the comments or shoot me a message, and I will be happy to chat with you about your concerns. You deserve to be safe wherever you are, and I want to help you do that. 

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7 Smart Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips pins

Looking for the best hostel in Chiang Mai? Keep reading!

Located right in the heart of one of Thailand’s best cities you’ll find a cozy spot that makes you feel right at home at one of the best hostel in Chiang Mai. Tucked away on a quiet side street, Haus Hostel is the perfect option for anyone traveling to Chiang Mai on a budget, not to mention one of the best hostels in Chiang Mai. Rooms are affordable without skimping on comfort and decor. During my stay I felt right at home on their comfy common room couches (eating their delicious free breakfasts)!

Over the past few months I have been lucky enough to stay at Haus Hostel on multiple occasions! During my latest visit to Chiang Mai I received a free stay in exchange for an honest review of the property. Having already stayed at the property on past trips, I was more than happy to review this incredible hostel!

Haus Hostel - Best Hostel in Chiang Mai Thailand - Common Area

Best Hostel in Chiang Mai - Haus Hostel at Night

 

THE LOCATION

Located just South of the Chiang Mai Old Town walls, Haus Hostel is the perfect base for visiting all that Chiang Mai has to offer! In just a few minutes walking you can reach a number of restaurants, street food markets, and local attractions. A few nearby highlights include:
– Chiang Mai Old Town (main tourist center for restaurants, temples, bars, massage parlors, etc)
– Wualai Saturday Night Market (Saturday nights from 5pm; souvenirs, street food, local goods)
– Chiang Mai Gate Food Market (open daily – farmer’s market by day, food stalls at night)

THE ROOMS

The hostel currently offers 4, 6, and 8 bed dorm rooms, with both mixed and female-only options available. Each bed is equipped with a personal reading light, charging outlet, privacy curtain, and large storage locker. I loved that the lockers were large enough for my big backpack, as it added an extra layer of security. The privacy curtains are a must for me as well, as they offer a sense of privacy in a shared space – something that is extremely important for many long term backpackers. Some of the rooms even include a personal window which is a great touch! The rooms were extremely clean and actually smell great (a big change from many of the hostels that I’ve stayed in in South East Asia)! Each room is equipped with an A/C that can be adjusted as you please.

Dorm bed prices range from $10-13 (price subject to change) depending on number of beds and type of room. While there are cheaper options available in the area, in my opinion the amenities at Haus Hostel are well worth the price!

 

Haus Hostel - Best Hostel in Chiang Mai Thailand - Bunk Beds Haus Hostel - Best Hostel in Chiang Mai Thailand - Bunk Bed

THE PERKS

Haus Hostel’s light decor is both cozy and aesthetically pleasing with ample natural light due to the all glass front.

Free Breakfast

Many hostels offer “free breakfast,” when really you are offered only toast and coffee/tea, leaving a bit to be desired. The free breakfast at Haus Hostel is a bit more substantial, with options of cornflakes and eggs in addition to the standard toast with jam. Coffee, tea, and drinking water are also available free of charge at all hours.

Haus Hostel - Best Hostel in Chiang Mai Thailand - Free Tea and Coffee

Social Atmosphere

While Haus Hostel is definitely not a party hostel, it offers a social atmosphere, a serious qualification for best hostel in Chiang Mai. The comfy common area is a great place to meet fellow travelers, especially for those individuals who are traveling solo! Not to mention, the rooftop area is an added bonus! While I definitely found it easy to meet other travelers, I would have appreciated a bit more effort on the hostel’s part to create activities or events to encourage mingling.

Best Hostel in Chiang Mai - Haus Hostel

Haus Hostel - Best Hostel in Chiang Mai Thailand

Towels

It may seem like a silly perk but as a traveler who can’t be bothered to carry around my own towel, free towels at hostels is a major plus! The staff is super accommodating and happy to lend out travelers who are hoping to shower either before checking in or after checking out.

Friendly Staff

One of things that make Haus Hostel the best hostel in Chiang Mai is the wonderful staff! The staff at Haus Hostel is beyond friendly and willing to help you out with tips, advice, or bookings. When our cooking class pickup was running late they were happy to call and get everything sorted for us!

Quiet

The rooftop closes at 10pm and the social scene is moved to the local bars, which means that Haus Hostel is a great place to stay if you are looking for a solid night of sleep! As there are so many early morning activities in Chiang Mai, a good night of sleep in a quiet hostel is sometimes in order!

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