Latest update: 12 May 2023
Tulum is one of the best beach spots in Mexico. It is not a question of whether you go to Tulum when you are in the area, but where you stay. The distance between the center (Tulum Pueblo) and the beach (Tulum Playa) is about 4 kilometers. I will help you make a decision and choose a hotel in Tulum.
The Tulum Beach area boasts trendy hotels, fabulous restaurants, and hippie-chic shops – all beautifully decorated. It reminds me a little of Ibiza and Seminyak in Bali. Tulum Playa is essentially a long paved street where, unfortunately, many cars drive. But once you’ve found your spot, you’ll be in paradise. Or maybe not… there are more and more reports that Tulum has been entirely ruined by digital nomads and tourists. You be the judge, ok?
There are only a few places to enter the beach directly. Instead, you must go through a restaurant or beach club almost everywhere, with or without payment, to get to the beach. If you’re staying at a beach hotel, you can use the beach facilities for free.
The center of Tulum
The center of Tulum is about a 20-minute bike ride from the beach. It’s a nice ride, mainly on a paved bike path. The attractions are also easily accessible by bike or colectivo (a small van) for a few pesos from the center. Staying in the center of Tulum (Tulum Pueblo) is a good idea if your budget is smaller. This is where the cheaper eateries and accommodations are. It’s a long street with mainly souvenir shops and local restaurants. There are a few bars (mezcalerias) in a side street where the party goes on until late.
So, where should you stay in Tulum?
Where you sleep depends on your budget and the distances you want to travel to sights. At the beach, you pay the top price; in Tulum Pueblo, it’s cheaper. Of course, that means a nice bike ride to the beach, but that’s fine for me – the Dutch love their bikes! From Tulum Pueblo, sights in the area are also easier to reach by bike or a colectivo.
Would you like to treat yourself? Then Tulum Playa is the right place for you. Fantastic food, and beautiful beach hotels, but a lot more expensive.
Just for comparison. At Camping Chavez on the beach, you pay 60 euros to sleep in a smelly tent for two. You pay that same amount for a good hotel room in Tulum Pueblo.
Tip! Have you arranged a place to sleep? Check out what you can do in Tulum: the best sights, tips & day trips
Hotel tips in Tulum Pueblo
My hotel provides free bike rental and a good breakfast. But it now has new owners. So, I can’t promise you’ll have the same service. The hotel is ideally located at a crossroads: turn right to go to the beach, left to the cenote, and straight to the ruins. There’s a large supermarket across the street, handy if you want to do some shopping yourself. After my stay, a swimming pool was also installed: it looks beautiful!
Book with Boutique Hotel Pacha.
But my favorite hostel in Tulum is, without a doubt, Mama’s Home. There’s a delicious breakfast daily to start your day. Since there’s a large long table in the brightly painted courtyard, you quickly meet people with whom you can spend the rest of the day. The hostel has a cozy atmosphere. There are only a few rooms, and activities are organized on a small scale. Think of a cocktail or ceviche evening, for example. From 11 p.m., all music goes off, and everyone is requested to sleep or drink outside. There’s only one shower for the downstairs dormitory, but there are three for the upstairs dormitories. If I ever end up in Tulum again, I’ll definitely stay in this hostel.
Hotel tips in Tulum Playa
I’ve been to Tulum a few times now, but my budget hasn’t allowed me to sleep in Tulum Playa yet. Except for one night camping with a Volkswagen van at Camping Chavez. I recommend the following hotels based on having a quick peek or drink.
- Coco Tulum (bounty paradise!)
- Casa Malca (super chic)
- La Valise (jungle on the beach)
- Be Tulum (beautiful garden, fantastic food)
- Papaya Playa Project (lots of parties here too)
- Nomade Tulum (Instagram favorite)
These hotels in Tulum Playa are all quite steeply-priced. There are only a few hostels in Tulum Playa. Selina is one of them. You still pay 80 euros per night for a bed in a dormitory. But that does include a tasty breakfast and beautiful common areas.
More Mexico inspiration?
Helpful links for your Mexico trip
- Travel guides. I love the practical travel guides from Lonely Planet, buy them at Bol.com or Amazon.
- Flights. Compare all your options! Definitely check out Momondo, Skyscanner, and Kiwi.
- Travel documentation. Make sure you have the right documentation to travel to Mexico. iVisa can help you out.
- Bus. Book bus trips in Mexico with Busbud or 12Go.
- Accommodation. All-time favorite: Booking.com. Find hostels via Hostelworld.
- Money. Your bank cards may not get accepted everywhere. You could opt for a Revolut card as an additional card when you travel.
- Activities. You book the best tours and activities with GetYourGuide and Viator. ‘Free’ walking tours are available at GuruWalk. And for bike tours, try Baja Bikes.
- Attractions and museums. Get a 5% discount on museums and attractions at Tiqets with the coupon code KIMOPREIS22.
- Car rental. My go-to car rental companies are EasyTerra and Sunny Cars as they have all-inclusive / worry-free offers.
- Travel gear. Buy your gear at Bever or Decathlon, or simply at Bol.com.
- Package deals. Rather go on a catered trip? You have many options! For the Dutch, try ANWB vakanties, Tui or Sawadee, or maybe you can find a sweet deal at Vakantie Discounter or D-reizen?
Or: try a yoga retreat in Mexico!
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First published: February 2018 The article has been updated since.