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.
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.
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
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!
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.
- Research in advance – make sure you understand which neighborhoods are safe, common methods of thievery, and any cultural customs that you should be aware of.
- Be aware of your surroundings and know where you are going, so you can avoid having your head down in your phone or map.
- Avoid wearing flashy jewelry or showcasing expensive electronics, especially if you’re traveling alone at night.
- Find a buddy to travel with! It’s super easy to make new travel friends if you’re staying at hostels
- Don’t carry all of your credit cards and cash at once! This is definitely something that I’ve been guilty of in the past, which has resulted in me having all of my money stolen. I recommend always leaving behind one debit card and one credit card in your hotel or hostel room, plus any extra cash that you won’t be needing that day.
- Don’t tell strangers that you’re traveling alone. It’s best to not let strangers on the street know that you are traveling alone as a solo female. Of course, if you’re staying at a hostel and mingling with other solo travelers, feel free to share.
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!
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.
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.
Budget: Mama’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-Range: Una 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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 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.
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.
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:
- La Condesa
- Centro Historico
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.
Planning a trip to Mexico? Here are some articles to check out:
- The Ultimate Tulum Itinerary
- Tulum Solo Travel Guide
- Tulum on a Budget
- Best Tulum Instagram Spots
- 7 Best Restaurants in Tulum, Mexico
- Guanajuato City Guide
- Mexico City Guide
- Best Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende
Interested in solo travel? Check out these articles:
- 7 Smart Solo Female Traveler Safety Tips
- Solo Hiking: 9 Hiking Tips for Female Travelers
- Backpackers Hostel: How to Choose the Best Hostel
- How to Make Friends When Traveling Solo
- How to Become a Solo Traveler
- Why Everyone Should Experience Solo Travel
- Top Tips for Solo Traveling as a Female
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So, you want to explore Tulum on a budget? Tulum, Mexico is one of those cities that has been flooding everyone’s Instagram and Pinterest feeds these past few years. 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!
When I booked my first spontaneous solo trip down to Tulum in 2018 the main questions that I got were, “Isn’t Tulum expensive?,” “How much did you spend?,” or even the more upfront statement of, “You must have spent a shit ton of money!”. Well let me just say it now, my trip to Tulum was not expensive by the average vacation standard. I’ve returned to Tulum twice more since then, in 2019 and most recently in 2021. While prices do continue to go up, it is absolutely still possible to visit Tulum on a budget. Keep reading to find out just how to explore Tulum on a budget!
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.
Once you arrive at Cancun International Airport you will need to make the journey to Tulum. Luckily, it’s super easy to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport. As I was traveling in Tulum on a budget I chose to travel by ADO bus. A ticket to Tulum costs just $14 USD and takes approximately 2 hours. A private van or taxi service will be more expensive, however perhaps more convenient for those traveling in a group of two or more people.
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: Tulum Beach and Tulum Town. More recently there has been development in Aldea Zama 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 stayed in Tulum Town, otherwise known as Tulum Pueblo.
In Tulum Beach the hotels are typically priced at $200+/night, but there are plenty that are easily $1000+/night. These rates seem to just be going up and up over the years. That said, it is still possible to snag a good deal during the off-season.
I have stayed in a number of places in Tulum Town 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 by travel friends.
Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel
I absolutely loved this hostel! The rooms were clean, the staff was super friendly, and the common areas were perfect. The property has both a downstairs common area and a rooftop with a small pool. While I did meet some awesome people while staying here, this is most definitely not a party hostel. It a great option for anyone visiting Tulum on a budget.
Dorm beds start at $16/night. There are private rooms available as well starting at $50/night. Breakfast is included in the price of the room or bed. Additionally, there are discounted bikes for rent on the property.
Find out more about Amorcito Corazon Hotel y Hostel.
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 Amorcito, 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.
Dorm beds start at $16 per night and private rooms start around $65/night.
On my most recent trip to Tulum in 2021 I spent 5 nights at Turquoise Petit. I was working remote, so I wanted to make sure that I had a spot that was comfortable, quiet, and cute. For this reason, and for current safety reasons, I was looking for a place with a private room versus a dorm room for this trip.
I absolutely loved my time at Turquoise Petit. With rooms starting at $70 USD per night it is a great mid-range hotel option for visiting Tulum on a budget. There are two pools, complimentary breakfast, filtered water, and bike rentals, and the best jungle vibes. It is located in La Valeta, so you’ll be close to tons of restaurants and bars.
Find out more about booking a night at Turquoise Petit.
Not sure what to pack for your trip to Mexico? Fellow travel blogger, Lesley, shares her comprehensive packing list!
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 30-45 minutes to reach the beach resorts and restaurants in the hotel zone. There is a bike path along the main road (109) which allowed me to feel relatively safe while getting around. Once you hit the beach road the traffic is much slower.
Tulum by Taxi
Fortunately, taxis are also readily available if you aren’t looking to get a bit of extra cardio in! Taxis from the center to the beach road typically cost 300 MXN ($15 USD), depending on the exact destinations. If you are traveling in a couple or group then this may even be a cheaper option for your Tulum budget.
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 as cheap as 50 cents! 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.
Visit Gran Cenote
I 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). If I had more time I would have liked to spend some time exploring some of the other cenotes such as Dos Ojos and Carwash.
Cost of Entry Ticket: $15 USD
Explore the Tulum Mayan Ruins
So I am going to just go ahead and say it, I was not all that impressed by the Mayan ruins in Tulum! Perhaps if I had gone right when they opened I would have found the experience more enjoyable. However, after a hot bike ride over I was rewarded with what felt like a Disney World experience.. in a bad way. The ruins were filled with hundreds of tourists, especially families with young kids. Overall, I’m glad that I went but I don’t feel that it is a must-see while in town! If you have more time then I’d recommend heading to Coba. A trip to Coba will allow you to visit Cenote Choo and the nearby Azulik Uh May exhibit, which is one of best Instagram spots in Tulum.
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 typically start at $10, depending on the studio. I took an 8am morning group class at the Azulik Resort and loved it! The studio was by far one of the most beautiful that I’ve ever practiced in.
Enjoy the Beaches
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”.
If you are looking for a no-frills public beach then I recommend checking out the beach just to the right of Azulik. Here you’ll be able to layout your towel and enjoy a beautiful sandy beach.
Another option is to enjoy one of the private beaches. Every hotel is going to be different. Some will allow you to use their facilities after making any sort of purchase (drink, meal, etc), while others have a minimum. For example, the facilities at Habitas are available to non-guests who spend a minimum of $50 each at the restaurant or bar. In this case, the facilities include a beachfront pool, hammocks, and a gorgeous private beach.
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. Maybe you just need to look like you belong, haha!
Dining in Tulum on a Budget
The food in Tulum was an absolute highlight for me! I feel like the majority of my time (and money) is spent moving from one restaurant to the next! For the most part I found that the food in Tulum city center was budget-friendly, whereas the food on Tulum Beach was moderately priced to very expensive. I recently completed a guide to 28 restaurants in Tulum, where you’ll find tons of budget-friendly options.
Antojitos la Chiapaneca
Looking for a no-frills taco spot? Antojitos la Chiapaneca is your spot! This restaurant offers a variety of tacos, tortas, quesadillas, and empanadas! The tacos are less than 50 cents a piece so it’s hard to run up too high of a tab here! Conveniently located just two blocks from Amorcito Hotel y Hostel on the main trip. I’ve eaten at this spot at least 10 times over the years.
Located in Tulum city center, this restaurant is known for its excellent steaks! I, however, went to El Asadero for the tacos! This cozy restaurant had all the elements of an upscale eatery, without the high prices. With a selection of $1 tacos and $2 quesadillas I was very content! This is an excellent option for dining in Tulum on a budget!
Okay, so this restaurant isn’t exactly budget friendly but it was my absolute favorite! Dishes here are typically in the $10-15 range, so coming from New York you shouldn’t be too overwhelmed. The decor at Macondo, Nomade’s vegetarian restaurant, is just amazing! Not to mention, it is a great place to shoot some photos!
“Best Tacos in Tulum” Stand $
Now I didn’t give this place it’s name, but when I saw it come up on Google Maps, I knew that I had to try. I was staying just two blocks down the road at Petit Turquoise hotel, so it was an easy dinner choice. I got the impression that it is just about always busy. Even on a Monday night there was a constant flow of customers.
The owner of the stand was super friendly and served up two large tacos, some grilled veggies on the plate, and a fresh watermelon juice for 60 MXN ($3 USD). The tacos themselves are flavorful, but they’ve also got an array of sauces from mild to spicy to add on top. There are a few tables, but many people take it to go. I don’t usually eat a ton of chicken in Tulum, as it is a less popular meat. However, with the popularity of this spot it felt like a safe choice.
If you’re visiting Mexico, here are some other posts that might be helpful:
- Best Tulum Restaurants
- Best Tulum Instagram Photo Spots
- How to get to Tulum from Cancun Airport
- Guanajuato City Guide
- Mexico City Guide
- Best Restaurants in San Miguel de Allende
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