Tulum Ruins#4 in Best Things To Do in Tulum
The source of Tulum's popularity (and probably the reason you'll visit the area) are the Tulum ruins, one of the most popular Mayan archaeological sites along the Riviera Maya. Sitting on a patch of rocky coastline just south of Tulum's downtown, the ruins showcase several templos (temples) and castillos (castles) from the once-thriving pre-Colombian Mayans.
If you've already been to Chichen Itza, Tulum might prove a bit lackluster, as recent visitors said the ruins do not compare. The area isn't necessarily large nor is the architecture the most grandiose. But the scenery is dramatic; the ruins sit over the sea atop a small cliff, offering visitors beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.
Travelers recommend you bring a sun hat and sneakers, since you'll likely be walking around under the sun for most of the day. Don't forget your swimsuit either because the calm beautiful beach just below the ruins provides an excellent and dramatic swimming opportunity. You'll also want to pack plenty of water and a snack or two if you plan on spending the day here. Though you'll find a Starbucks and Subway near the entrance to the ruins, as well as local vendors, all of the prices are inflated, according to past visitors. Reviewers were divided on the necessity of joining a guided tour. Some found the guided tours to be informative, while others preferred to purchase a modest guidebook at the entrance and strike out on their own.
Depending on where your hotel is located, you can either hire a taxi or rent a bike to reach the ruins (they're located between 1 and 3 miles from the hotel zone). The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and there is a small entrance fee of 65 pesos (or about $3.50) per person. If you're hoping to take photos using something other than your smartphone, you'll be asked to pay a photography fee of 45 pesos (less than $2.50). To beat the crowds and busloads of fellow tourists, consider getting to the site at 8 a.m. (a line usually forms before the site opens) to enjoy the architecture in (relative) peace. Many travelers also reported that pesos are the only accepted form of payment here, so bring enough to cover your entrance fee.
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#1 Playa Paraiso
Just south of the Tulum ruins, the wide Playa Paraíso makes a relaxing end to a day exploring the area. With the recent arrival of the Playa Paraíso Beach Club, this stretch of sand has grown extremely popular with Playa del Carmen and Cancún daytrippers, as well as Tulum vacationers. But what it doesn't boast in seclusion it makes up for in activity – you'll find plenty of opportunities for snorkeling and scuba diving, plus a few hammocks, lounge chairs and umbrellas to choose from (if you get to the ruins early, you'll arrive at the beach in time to secure one), and a few beach bars should you want refreshment.
Reviewers were divided on the necessity of paying for access to the beach club. Some said the price (250 pesos, or about $13 for two beach chairs) isn't worth it, while others found the cost reasonable for the convenience. To save a little money, you can pack your own towels, chairs and snacks. As for the beach itself, some travelers described the shoreline as "beautiful," while others were disappointed with the amount of smelly seaweed.
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