We arrived the following day at the Tulum ruins in Mexico late in the afternoon, during prime tour bus hours. This is hardly the way to beat the crowds. As we were pulling up to park and walk to the ruins (where the signs direct you to go), we were stopped by a man running after our car. He was from the free information desk. Fearing it might be a scam, because does free actually exist, we kept driving. I turned my head to see him run into the street and waving his hands to get us to roll the window down, so we finally decided to stop. He was very friendly and courteous. He gave us a map of the park, information on free parking, and sent us on our way.
Where is this free parking you ask? We will get to that detail later!
After driving several minutes down the street, in the opposite direction of where we had spent the previous day trying to find the ruins, we spotted cars lining the street. There were no parking signs lining each side of the road with cops patrolling, but no one was being ticketed. The way that the free information desk had us go to was only a 5 minute walk and finally we were at the Tulum Ruins in Mexico!
A Little Bit About Tulum
Tulum, known as the “Walled City” is the only Mayan settlement built on a Caribbean beach. It is also known as one of the few sites where the Mayan’s enclosed it by building a wall in order to protect the priests and sacred leaders. This specific ruin’s earliest known existence dates back to the mid-500 AD time period.
During the peak of Tulum’s existence, there were roughly 1,000-1,600 individuals settled here. This location was important to the Mayan’s as it was close to sea and land trade. It was the central area for trading internationally between Central and South America and the main hub for distributing goods to other settlements (such as Coba and Chichen Itza).
Although, ideally, we did not arrive during the most ideal time of the day, it did not feel as busy as it was. There were hundreds of people there, but we did not feel as though we were surrounded by swarms of people. The settlement is vast, but at the same time not overwhelming. We were able to enjoy the ruins without feeling like we were surrounded by hundreds of people, but we were still able to see a good portion of the Tulum ruins in Mexico from several different vantage points. Being that it was 90* in the middle of the day, there was a nice ocean breeze.
Hours of Operation: 8am-5pm
Best Time to Visit: 8am, when the grounds open. You will be one of the first ones in line and you will not be competing with hundreds of visitors who have just gotten off the tour bus.
Entrance Fee: $65 pesos ($3.37 USD) and a $45 pesos ($2.33 USD) fee to use a video camera, though to be honest, no one was actually enforcing this rule (as of May 2016).
Parking Fee: $70+ pesos ($3+ USD) if you park at the shopping center’s parking lot (where the signs lead you to) and it is a 15 minute walk to the Tulum ruins in Mexico.
Free Parking: You will make a left out of the shopping center onto 109. You will follow that all of the way down until you reach the fork in the road (there will be a huge Tulum sign with business on there). Make a left and follow that all the way down. When you are close enough, you will know because there are dozens of cars lining the street. Parking is usually limited here, so when you see a spot, claim it. Beware of parking for vendors as you do not want to take their parking. It is about a 5 minute walk from your car to the entrance of the ruins.
Have you ever been to the Tulum Ruins in Mexico? What was your most memorable experience?