During our family trip to Akumal Mexico last month, we planned to spend much of our time at our all-inclusive resort. However, I knew that we definitely wanted to take a Tulum ruins tour. I always like to include some sort of history and/or education into our family vacations. After two days in the sun, we decided to book the Tulum ruins tour from our resort’s excursion desk. It was the best day to visit, because the kids needed a break from the beach and pool. In addition, it was a cloudy morning, which was perfect since there isn’t much shade at the ruins. We loved the tour, and learned so much about the Mayan culture in a short time. If you are visiting the Riviera Maya, I definitely recommend that you visit the Tulum ruins during your trip.
Note: We paid our own way for this entire trip, including the tour. This post includes affiliate links. A purchase/click-through on one of these links may result in a commission paid to us at no additional cost to you. All opinions are our own.
Taking a Tour of the Tulum Ruins in Mexico
Visiting Tulum Mexico
Tulum Mexico is about 90 minutes from the Cancun Airport, in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo on the Yucatan Peninsula. It was about a fifteen minute drive from our resort in Akumal. Tulum itself doesn’t just refer to the Mayan ruins – it also refers to the resort area, which is filled with a number of hotels and resorts.
There are a variety of different ways to get to the ruins, including taking a taxi and renting a car. However, our group of 24 opted to book a guided tour. It felt like the safest and easiest way to travel, and we were treated to guided narration not only at the ruins, but also on the drive to the ruins. For us, it was definitely worthwhile. These tours are usually not private, but because we had so many people, we were able to book two vans with one tour guide.
Like most tourist attractions, it’s best to visit the ruins early in the day, as they can definitely get crowded. We dressed in swimsuits because of the impending rain. I also brought along an umbrella that works as both a sun shield and a rain umbrella. There isn’t much shade at all, so it’s a good idea to have sunscreen, water, and a hat with you. If you plan on swimming, you’ll definitely want to have bathing suits and towels. There isn’t a changing area or bathroom, so have them under your clothing.
Entering the Tulum Archaeological Site
Our tour vans dropped us off right in the front of the parking lot, right by the shopping area. Our guide recommend stopping in the rest room at the main shop first, as the ruins don’t have restroom facilities. We then met him and headed to the entrance. It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot to the ruins. As you walk through, you’ll find a number of shops, including a Starbucks and ice cream shop. There are also several souvenir shops and pharmacies. This was the only off-site shopping that we did during our vacation, so it was nice to have a few places to pick up souvenirs and necessities.
You’ll also see some street vendors offering unique photo opportunities. During our visit, we saw a large snake, an iguana, and a monkey available to take pictures with. Keep in mind that you’ll be expected to pay for these opportunities, so communicate before committing.
Our tour included tickets to the ruins, and they were handed out to us at this point. If you are visiting on your own, you’ll need to buy tickets at the gate. I’ve heard that these tickets need to be purchased with cash, and only pesos are accepted, so plan ahead.
Touring the Tulum Ruins
Once we went through the front gate, our tour guide started his narration. The Tulum ruins are definitely smaller than other Mayan ruins, including Chichen Itza. But since we were traveling with 12 kids, it was definitely the perfect tour length for our group.
The walk around the ruins is pretty easy. I don’t think it would be easy to push along a stroller, but it isn’t a challenging walk. You aren’t allowed to climb the ruins, and the ground isn’t too slippery. I had on flip flops and it was still easy to walk.
During our tour, we saw the three major structures – El Castillo, the Temple of the Frescoes, and the Temple of the Descending God – in addition to the other structures. We also had time to take group and family photos at several areas, including a gorgeous spot overlooking the Caribbean Sea.
At one point, we stopped in a shady, grassy spot while our tour guide explained a little bit about the culture and history of ancient Maya. He also gave us a quick tutorial about their unique number system, which the kids really enjoyed. I found everything interesting, and definitely feel that we would have missed out if we’d just purchased an entrance ticket on our own.
There’s also a beach that guests to Tulum can visit, depending on conditions. We were there right before a huge rainstorm, so the red flags were up. It’s a beautiful spot though, and we enjoyed getting some photos of the water before heading back through the main gate to the shopping area. Our tour included some time at the end for shopping, and we were all eager to visit the shops. After making some small purchases, we boarded our vans and headed back to our resort in Akumal.
Other Add-ons to the Tulum Ruins Tour
We only wanted to visit the Tulum ruins, but there were other add-on options. For instance, we could have opted to also visit a local cenote as part of our trip. There was also a full-day tour that included a trip to the Tulum ruins, ziplining, ATVing, and a swim in a cenote. If you do plan on doing a few of these things, it’s probably most cost effective to book them all together.
Have you been to the Tulum ruins?