There are many ways to get to the Tulum Ruins no matter where you are traveling from (or to) in the Riviera Maya.
1. Check out a tour if you are just not sure. Tour prices can range from $45 usd to over $100 usd depending on what is included and if you combine the Tulum Ruins with another activity or Mayan ruin site. These tours will normally pick you up at your hotel and drop you off directly so there is no need to navigate the area if you don’t want to.
2. Take the Collectivo (public vans) to the Tulum Ruins. This is a great and inexpensive way to travel to the Tulum ruins. The collectivos pick up anywhere on the highway, or you can start off at their hub in Playa del Carmen on 2nd street between 15th and 20th. Price is based on where you were picked up and can be anywhere from 40 pesos (3.50 usd P/P) to 20 pesos (1.75 usd p/p) Ask the driver to let you off at the Tulum ruins on the highway. There is an 800 meter walk to the entrance and you are on your way. Entry is now 58 pesos and if you wish to hire a guide do so at the entrance.
3. Take an ADO bus to Tulum. This is again a great way to travel. A little more expensive but some people prefer the slower pace of the public travel buses. There are bus stations each city where you can purchase your ticket and leave on time. The ADO bus schedule is ON TIME…really, no waiting, no manana. If you are late, you are out of luck. You can be dropped off the Tulum ruins on the highway or you can take it into town and take a taxi to the Ruins. If you do not want that hot walk to the ruins from the highway, pay a bit more and ask the driver to let you off at the end of the beach road, the north end, where the walk is only 2oo meters, not 800 meters.
4. Rent a car. If you want to explore the area after your visit to the Ruins, this is great way to go. Parking is accessed after the first set of lights into Tulum across from Lobo Inn. (the lights are not working lights but they are there.) This is a left turn so indicate this in advance so drivers know you are turning. There is little shade for parking, and the walk is about 700 meters to the ruin site. If you are okay with leaving your car for an hour or so on the beach road, park your car on the north part of the beach road where the barrier is. WE have used this trick a few times and found it helpful. It is just about your personal comfort zone.
Bring a bathing suit, a hat, sunscreen and water. If you want to have lunch on the beach, be prepared for a walk to the south or you can grab a bite in town (highly recommended) or at the small mall as you head back to the highway. Walking into town is far, and walking along the beach can only happen once you exit the ruins and head south cutting in at El Paradiso or the old Santa Fe (no sign).
Read our overview of the Tulum Ruins before you arrive so you can have a bit of an overview before you go. This is a half day trip if you skip the beach and a full day trip if you decide to hang out on Tulum beach for the rest of the day. A day worth planning for sure.