‘Is Tulum in Cancun?’ is one of the top Tulum-related questions asked on the internet. And, it’s not surprising, this once backpacker town with hippie vibes is now one of the most visited places in Mexico.
Visitors from around the world flock to the Caribbean coast of Mexico for sun, sea and cervezas. That and the Mayan ruins, plentiful marine life and variety of fun-filled attractions around.
So, you’re sure to have lots of questions about Tulum. As such, I’ve answered the most common ones below…
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Is Tulum in Cancun?
No, Tulum is located approximately 2 hours and 80 miles from Cancun. Both are popular vacation spots along Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula Caribbean coast with gorgeous beaches and beautiful weather but are separate places.
Where is Tulum in Relation to Cancun?
Cancun is located at the northwestern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. While Tulum is located 80 miles southwest along the Caribbean coast.
Both places are located in the state of Quintana Roo and along the same coastline. Highway 307 connects Cancun and Tulum.
Is Tulum the same as Cancun?
No, Cancun and Tulum are two separate places in Mexico. The two do have a lot of similarities, but there are also key differences.
Both have golden-sand beaches that stretch for miles and enjoy the same tropical, Caribbean sunshine that many people seek in Mexico.
However, Cancun is the home of all-inclusive resorts – particularly if you stay in Cancun hotel zone. You’ll mostly meet other holidaymakers in Cancun; the majority are from North America as well as some Europeans.
And while Tulum has all-inclusive resorts in its (smaller) hotel zone, the town is more of a boujee and hipster destination. Not so long ago it was a small town popular with backpackers but it has grown to attract an international crowd. Expect unique hotels and spots specifically curated and sculpted for Instagram-worthy photos.
In both places, the downtown areas are very different from the beachfront resorts. This is where you’ll find the locals, small eateries and more budget-friendly accommodations.
How far is Tulum from Cancun?
Tulum is 80 miles (130 km) southwest of Cancun, along the coast of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. When travelling by road, the journey usually takes around 2 hours.
How to get from Cancun to Tulum
The towns make up the two most popular places in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. Because of this, there’s no shortage of transport options between the two.
Whether you’re looking for public or private transport, day trips or longer stays. The information here has everything you need to know about getting from Cancun to Tulum.
A taxi is the most expensive way to get to Tulum from Cancun. Plus, you need to consider whether there’ll be enough room for your luggage – especially if travelling as a group of 3 or 4.
Expect to pay around 100 USD to get to Tulum. For groups of 3 or more, it’s almost always cheaper to book a private shuttle.
Private Shuttle or Shared Transfer
Offering door-to-door service, shuttles are often the best compromise of cost, comfort and efficiency.
Private vehicles seating up to 10 people are available around the clock. Shared shuttles are normally of a similar size, if not only slightly bigger.
Prices vary based on time of travel, time of year and other factors. So check the price and availability for your travel dates below…
Tours are a great way to visit Tulum for a day trip. Plus, you can also combine Tulum with other nearby towns and attractions for an action-packed day out.
If you’re interested in Mayan history, this tour to Tulum and Coba ruins is going to be right up your street.
For more variety, visit Tulum Ruins, enjoy free time at the beach and cool off in a nearby cenote on this tour from Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Alternatively, check out this tour to the famous Tulum sculpture, 4 different cenotes and Tulum ruins to see the best the town has to offer.
Public buses to Tulum leave from Downtown Cancun. If you’re staying in the hotel zone, you’ll need to take a taxi or the local R1 bus to the bus station first.
Tickets to Tulum cost 230 pesos – but are up to half price if booked in advance through the ADO Bus website. These buses are comfortable, safe and easy to use.
Tickets can be bought online or at the bus station.
There are no direct colectivos from Cancun to Tulum. Instead, you’ll need to first take one to Playa del Carmen and then a second to Tulum.
Luckily, in Playa del Carmen, the colectivos all leave from the same place under the highway. So, you should easily be able to transfer.
Renting a car is best if you want the freedom to explore Tulum and Quintana Roo at your own pace. The roads are safe and easy to drive on, so you shouldn’t have a problem.
Would I recommend hiring a car just to drive to Tulum? No. But a car does make it easier to get to places away from public transport routes.
Can you do a day trip to Tulum from Cancun?
Yes, visiting Tulum from Cancun is a very easy day trip (and vice versa).
The journey takes around 2 hours each way. As such, you can easily travel by yourself on a bus. Or, you can join a tour that will also take you to the top attractions and sights around.
How far is Tulum from Cancun Airport?
Cancun International Airport is 73 miles (118 km) northeast of Tulum. This is the nearest international airport from Tulum other than Cozumel – which is located on an island off the coast of Mexico making it more difficult to get to or from.
The journey from the airport to Tulum takes a little under 2 hours if travelling direct. But, if you’re using public transport, it’ll be a little more as generally there’s a stop in Playa del Carmen along the way.
Find the best prices and the best dates with flight comparison sites like Skyscanner!
Make sure you use tools such as ‘Add nearby airports’ and set your departure airport as wide as possible (you can just put the United States) to see the cheapest places to fly from! Check prices for your trip here…
How to get from Cancun Airport to Tulum
Whatever your group size, budget or travel preferences, there’s a way to get from Cancun Airport for you.
Tulum isn’t in Cancun, but Cancun International Airport is the closest to the town. So, you’ll have to make this journey to reach Tulum.
Whether you’re looking for an easy journey or last-minute availability, keep on reading…
Taxi or Private Shuttle
If you jump in a taxi outside the airport without pre-booking, expect to pay around 100 USD one way to Tulum.
However, pre-booked taxis and private shuttles (that seat up to 10) are very reasonably priced. Especially, when you consider a per-person cost.
Get the best deal and compare prices and check availability online today.
Still offering direct terminal pick-up and drop-off in Tulum, shared shuttles are a budget-friendly option.
The journey takes a little longer as you’ll pick up other passengers from different terminals. Plus you’ll drop them off in different places in Tulum.
But, a shared transfer is still fantastic value for money. Check prices and availability for your travel dates on comparison sites for the best deals.
Currently, around 10 buses a day run from the airport to Tulum. Each bus collects passengers from the 3 terminals before starting the journey to Tulum.
The first bus is around 10 am and the last around 9 pm. Times vary depending on which terminal you travel from.
If booked in person at the airport or through the ADO website or app, tickets cost 365 pesos per person. However, the website and app often do not work, freeze a lot and fail to take payment. Super frustrating.
In these cases, check prices and availability through a comparison site and enjoy a hassle-free booking experience.
Renting a car is easy from Cancun International Airport. Plenty of rental car companies are based around the airport.
The drive from the airport to Tulum is very straightforward and the roads are safe. And, having a car in Tulum makes it really easy to explore the town and surrounding areas.
Is Cancun or Tulum more expensive?
Generally, things cost roughly the same in Tulum and Cancun. But, I’d say it’s easier to spend less money in Cancun vs Tulum.
For example, travelling between the beach and downtown area in Tulum requires a taxi ride or hiring a bicycle. Whereas in Cancun, you can take the public bus for 12 pesos ($0.65).
Additionally, as Cancun is larger, there are more hotels resulting in more competitive pricing. Additionally, there are more budget options in the downtown area.
In contrast, Tulum is known for its unique boutique hotels, which come with a hefty price tag. And, as the downtown area is smaller, fewer options are making the prices higher as there is plenty of demand.
For food, the options in the hotel zones of both places are going to be the most expensive. In the downtown areas, however, local cuisine can be bought for a much cheaper price. Food stalls and local restaurants offer the best value for money.
Which is safer Tulum or Cancun?
Both Cancun and Tulum are relatively safe. But, for tourists and international visitors, I’d say that Cancun is slightly safer.
This is because most people stay in the hotel zone in Cancun. The resorts are safe and within the hotel zone there might be the odd opportunistic petty crime like pickpocketing. But, for the most part, the sheer number of holidaymakers results in a fairly safe zone.
Unfortunately, in Tulum, there have been more instances of tourists being caught up in cartel violence and police corruption. In 2022, there were a small number of shootings that resulted in fatalities in restaurants in Tulum.
Additionally, being pulled over by the police and then unexplainably blowing positive for drink driving or having drugs on you isn’t as uncommon as you’d hope. Being detained in a Mexican jail and being forced to pay large fines probably isn’t on your vacation itinerary, so do be careful when driving or renting a scooter.
That said, 99% of visitors won’t experience any crime. Thousands of solo travellers, couples and families visit every year without a problem. And, the area is far from dangerous compared with other parts of Mexico where the cartels have more control.
Do you have any questions or want any more information? If so, drop a comment below and I’ll get back to you!
Information is correct as of February 2023 but is subject to change in future.
More Mexico Travel Guides…
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