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:

Like what you read about exploring Tulum on a budget? Make sure to Pin it for later!

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

If there is one thing to know about me it is that I love Mexico. Well really I love all travel, but Mexico is one of those countries that I just keep visiting, again and again. The close proximity to the US makes it an easy and affordable trip. What I love about Mexico it that it has so much to offer, from sandy beaches and striking cliffs, to bustling cities with incredible cuisine (plus all of tequila and mezcal, of course). However, one of the questions that I get the most is on Mexico solo travel, and the best places in Mexico to travel alone. 

girl sitting on street in guanajuato
Mexico Solo Female Travel

Solo Female Travel: Why everyone should experience solo travel 

If you’ve never taken a solo trip before, you may want to first take a step back and dive into some of my solo travel resources. This guide covers exactly how to “become a solo traveller” a question that people ask me all of the time! I also have resources that outline my top tips for solo travel, as well as guides on how to choose the best hostel, how to make friends while traveling solo, and, of course, why everyone should experience backpacking alone

Why Should I Travel Solo to Mexico?

Mexico is truly one of the best solo travel destinations! I could go on for days listing all of the reasons that I love Mexico, but here are a few of the aspects that make it a great destination for solo travelers:

Casual Dining Options 

While I personally love dining solo, the experience is not for everyone, especially in more upscale dining locales. Luckily, you can find Mexico’s best dining options on street corners and in bustling markets, with some of the best street food in the world. 

crab tostadas at contramar
Best restaurants in Mexico City

Mexico is Easy to Get to (from the US)

If you’re traveling to Mexico from the US, it is extremely easy to get to. You can find direct flights to Mexico City, Cancun, Guanajuato, and Los Cabos from a number of major cities across the US, usually within 2-6 hours

Cheap $

Mexico is both cheap to get to, for those traveling from the US, and super affordable as a travel destination. There is a misconception that traveling in Mexico is all expensive resorts and beach clubs, but it definitely doesn’t need to be that way. Here is my ultimate guide to Tulum on a budget.   

Mexico Solo Travel: Is it safe?

No matter where in the world you’re traveling, you’re going to want to follow my smart solo female traveler safety tips. There is no denying that there is a higher rate of crime in Mexico, and other nearby countries in Central America. However, there are lots of ways to stay safe as solo traveler in Mexico. Just like any country, there are cities and neighborhoods with varying levels of crime. It is important to do your research in advance, so that you understand these nuances and can have a great trip. Based on my own travels and experiences, I feel that Mexico solo travel can be safe, as long as you are taking the right safety measures. I have solo traveled in Mexico before, and plan to do so again in the future!

swimming at the cenotes in tulum, mexico solo travel
Exploring Tulum as a Solo Female Traveler

Solo Female Travel Safety Tips

Here are a few high level tips for staying safe as a solo female traveler in Mexico, or anywhere else in the world. 

As for the safety of traveling alone in Mexico, as long as you are taking the necessary precautions, you can have a super fun and safe solo adventure! 

girl twirling in the jungles of tulum

Best Places in Mexico to Travel Alone 

As I mentioned above, a destination’s level of safety is super dependent on the safety measures that you take when solo traveling. However, I’m going to outline a few of my favorite places in Mexico, and the safest places to visit in Mexico. This list is by no means comprehensive of all of the other incredible cities to visit in Mexico, just a snippet of my favorite spots. 

girl poolside in tulum

Tulum

In my opinion, Tulum is one of the safest places in Mexico to vacation. I have personally taken two Tulum solo travel trips, plus I led an awesome group of ladies there on one of my small group trips, and had an absolute blast each time. 

Tulum is located on the Yucatan peninsula. While travel safety in certain parts of Mexico is questionable, as I’ve discussed throughout this guide, Tulum and the Yucatan Peninsula is well-known as a safe and beautiful destination. Tulum is quickly becoming one of Mexico’s trendiest destinations, known for their bohemian beach vibes, yoga retreats, and delicious healthy cuisine. You could spend a week just dining at all of the best restaurants in Tulum. Plus, I swear Tulum has the most Instagrammable spots.

Both the beach strip and Tulum town are super walkable, but if you are trying to get between the two I recommend biking. It is a super cheap, easy, and active way to get around Tulum on a budget. If you’re traveling to one of the nearby cities, or from Cancun airport to Tulum, the ADO bus is an easy option for solo travelers visiting Tulum. 

From here you can visit other nearby destinations, such as Holbox or Puerto Vallarta. There are also a number of great day trips.

Where to Stay in Tulum

Budget: Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel

The rooms are clean and the staff is super friendly and helpful. The property has both a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. Dorm beds start at $16 USD/night, while private rooms start at $50 USD/night, making it a great option for anyone traveling to Tulum solo or on a budget.  Breakfast is included in the price of the room.

BudgetMama’s Home Hostel 

Mama’s Home hostel is a great option if you’re traveling solo and looking for a more social atmosphere. Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night.

Mid-RangeUna Vida

Una Vida is a great, moderately priced accommodation option in Tulum. Located in Tulum center, Una Vida has a large, Instagrammable pool, minimilist decor, and a great location for exploring the city. Prices start around $90 USD/night.

Luxury: Be Tulum

Be Tulum is one of the top hotels in Tulum, but with it comes a steep price tag. A night at Be Tulum averages close to $1,000 USD/night, for what will definitely be an unforgettable experience.

Luxury: Nomade

Everything about Nomade is perfect, from the decor to their various restaurants. Not to mention, your room will be only steps from the beach! Rooms typically range from between $300 USD – $700 USD per night.

Luxury: Azulik

Azulik is a luxury, eco-friendly haven. With no wifi or electricity, this hotel boasts some of the most interesting looking rooms. Whether you stay here as a guest, or stop by for a meal, Azulik should definitely be added to your Tulum itinerary.

colorful streets of Guanajuato
Exploring the Colorful Streets of Guanajuato

Guanajuato 

Guanajuato is a true hidden gem in Mexico, and a city that I can’t wait to visit over and over again. Located in central Mexico, Guanajuato City is the capital of the state with the same name. Will rolling hills of scattered colorful buildings, and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten, Guanajuato should be on your bucket list whether you’re planning a solo trip or not. To be honest, I didn’t even know of Guanajuato’s existence until a few months before my trip there. Now I can say that it might just be one of my favorite places in the world. 

girl sitting on street in san miguel de allende

San Miguel de Allende 

San Miguel de Allende is located in central Mexico, in the state of Guanajuato. San Miguel has been named the Best City in the World a handful of times, and it’s easy to see why. It is also a hub for artists all over the world, and is home to more than 100 locally owned galleries for you to explore. 

Where to Eat in San Miguel de Allende

San Miguel is known for its great restaurant scene. Here are a few spots to check out:

QUINCE

Begin your weekend escape with a sunset cocktail at the QUINCE rooftop bar. With perfect views of the famous Parroquia de San Miguel Arcangel, this is a spot that you can’t miss!

Bovine

Bovine Brasserie is a luxury dining experience that is not to be missed! Located right in the center, this is the perfect way to jumpstart your weekend away! I highly recommend the tomato salad, with fresh buffalo mozzarella, peaches, and basil, as well as the grilled octopus over a bed of hummus.

El Camaroncito

If there is one restaurant that you shouldn’t miss while in San Miguel de Allende, it is this one! You’ll recognize El Camaroncito by the long line of local waiting for a table. Come early and place your order, two different sizes of the same classic shrimp ceviche. The sauce is super mild, but you’ll find tons of spices on the table to add more flavor.

Baja Fish Taquito

It can be a bit difficult to find good, affordable restaurants in San Miguel de Allende. This one checks all of the boxes for cheap and delicious tacos. The shrimp are definitely the way to go, washed down with some fresh juice or a beer.

girl in mexico city at sunset

Mexico City

Mexico City is a destination that is seeping with culture, has tons to see and do, and quite possibly offers some of the best food in the world. Whether you have 1 day or 1 month to explore Mexico City, you won’t run out of places to explore and enjoy. 

Traveling to Mexico City alone is a decision that might raise some eyebrows, but that does not mean that it’s ridiculous or impossible to visit as a solo female traveler. While all of my trips to Mexico City have been with a friend or family, I met tons of other solo female travelers who were traveling to Mexico City alone with no issues. 

That being said, it is super important to use your common sense if you’re traveling to Mexico City during a Mexico solo travel trip. I recommend staying in a hostel, which is one of the best ways to make friends when traveling solo. There is always safety in numbers, especially if you plan on enjoying Mexico City’s incredible nightlife. Of course, if there is only one thing that you do in Mexico City, make sure you’re enjoying all of the city’s best street food. 

Where to Stay in CDMX

Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Mexico City. There is no denying the fact that there is a higher rate of both violent and non-violent crime in the city, however in the more touristy neighborhoods, the most common crime is theft. Here are some of the best neighborhoods to consider for your solo trip to Mexico City:

Getting around Mexico City

When it comes to getting around the city, especially at night, I recommend using a ride sharing app like Uber, rather than a taxi. Ubers are incredibly cheap in CDMX, and offer the additional safety features of tracking your ride and driver rates. Plus, you can share your rides with your friends or family back at home, so they are notified any time you start and end a new ride. 

How to Meet People in Mexico as a Solo Female Traveler

As a I’ve mentioned a few times throughout this article, staying at a hostel is one of the best ways to make friends when traveling in Mexico alone. It is also one of the most affordable ways to travel. However, I totally understand that not everybody loves the idea of sharing a bedroom with a bunch of strangers. If you’re looking for the social atmosphere, without the shared dorm, most hostels also offer private rooms. These tend to be similarly priced as a guesthouse or AirBnb, but will offer the social atmosphere that accompanies a hostel. 

If even private rooms aren’t your thing, there are still plenty of other ways to make friends when traveling alone in Mexico. I recommend booking local tours to meet fellow travelers. These can range from cultural walking tours or street food tours, to more adventurous hiking or activity-based trips. 

What next?

Planning a trip to Mexico? Here are some articles to check out:

Interested in solo travel? Check out these articles:

Like what you read about Mexico solo travel? Be sure to pin for later!

A Guide to Mexico Solo Travel pin