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Travel Tips

Tulum Hotels

Mezzanine is changing the sleepy image of Tulum with its inspired modern design and a lively party beat.
From $135 US Dollars
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Coqui Coqui Tulum Residence and Spa
This unique small resort is located on a wonderful beach in Tulum.  There are just 7 beautifully appointed rooms.
From $425 US Dollars
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Suenos Tulum
This beautiful little hotel has everything for the ultimate get-away-from-it all vacation.
From $220 US Dollars
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A wonderfully rustic hotel located on a beach of cool white sand that stretches as far as the eye can see.
From $130 US Dollars
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Posada Margherita
A small and friendly rustic resort located on a beautiful stretch of beach with comfortable, spotlessly clean rooms and a great restaurant.
From $200 US Dollars
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La Zebra Beach Cabanas
La Zebra is located to the south of the hotel beach area.  This is a wonderful wide stretch of the beach which is quiet and yet within walking distance of lots of other small restaurants and bars.
From $228 US Dollars
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Be Tulum
Looking for some high tech amenities and modern conveniences in Tulum?  Be Tulum could be the first of a new wave of design hotels in this bohemian beach town.
From $669 US Dollars
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El Pez
El Pez is the sister hotel to the fabulous Tulum hotels la Zebra and Mezzanine.
From $284 US Dollars
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Regular Tulum visitors who are looking for a little more luxury in their accommodations will love la Encantada.
From $495 US Dollars
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Posada Punta Piedra
These charming cabanas have a picturesque location on a quiet cove in the central part of Tulum's beach zone.
From $140 US Dollars
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Hotel Calaluna (formerly Cabanas la Conchita)
Hotel Calaluna is the new name for one of our long time favorite Tulum properties, Cabanas la Conchita.
From $115 US Dollars
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Tulum Mayan Ruins

Picture of El Castillo at Tulum
View of El Castillo from the ocean

Tulum is the most visited of the Maya sites in the Yucatan and not only because of its proximity to Cancun. Although the Tulum ruins are structurally less impressive than Chichen Itza or Uxmal and much less extensive, they have the azure Caribbean as a backdrop - a startling contrast, and heaven for the photographer or artist. Because the area is small and there is comparatively little climbing involved, you can gain a fair appreciation of the site in a couple of hours.

Tulum was built around AD 1200 as the Mayan civilization declined

The most important contribution to your enjoyment here is your arrival time - the site is open between 8:00am and 5:00pm and from around 9:00am as many as 80 tour buses a day will deposit holidaymakers from Cancun and cruise ships outside the gates. Arriving at 8:00am is best, otherwise wait until the end of the day.

In 1994 access to the site was redesigned so that cars and coaches could no longer park adjacent to the ruins, and a new car park was built about 10 minutes walk away. A shuttle now provides easy access (at a fee) for those unable or unwilling to tackle the flat and paved pathway. The modern and shiny-clean visitors' center at the car park houses numerous souvenir shops in addition to cafeterias, refreshment stalls, toilets and telephones.

The rear of El Castillo at Tulum
Rear of El Castillo

The huge number of tourists visiting the site today belies the fact that as recently as the 1960s the site was accessible only by sea. In fact this was how the Spanish came across the city during Juan de Grijalva's expedition of 1518, at which time it was - uniquely among the Maya cities - still inhabited. Grijalva reports of the fortifications and buildings painted red white and blue, and compares the city favorably in size and stature to Seville.

Imposing as it may have been, Tulum was built around 1200AD as the Mayan civilization declined and lacks the elegance of earlier structures. For instance, whilst earlier Maya buildings typically had vaulted roofs, the ones in here were often flat and have consequently fallen much sooner. The layout of the site is unusually structural, with parallel streets surrounded by walls originally five meters high and seven meters deep. Most of the walls can still be seen, indeed the present day entrance to the ruins is as it was in ancient times, through a gate on western side of the fortifications.

As recently as the 1960's the site was accessible only by sea

There are three major structures of interest: El Castillo (the tower which dominates the area and is perched on the cliff edge), The Temple of the Frescoes and The Temple of the Descending God.

El Castillo is the result of several phases of building. Steps lead to an upper temple featuring columns decorated with plumed serpents as seen in Chichen Itza and an indication of Toltec influence. It would also have been used as a watchtower, with visibility over land and sea. Beneath El Castillo is a small but perfect beach, where the Mayans would have landed their canoes.

The Temple of the Frescoes at Tulum
The Temple of the Frescoes

The Temple of the Descending God is to the left of El Castillo when looking out to sea. Above the door of the temple is a stucco relief of a figure prevalent at Tulum, the upside-down winged god that also shows bee-like features. This figure is sometimes referred to as the "diving god" because of its position and the resemblance to a bee signifies the importance of honey to the Mayans.

The Temple of the Frescoes lies between El Castillo and the entrance to the site. Here fragments of color can be seen on murals depicting Maya life. Amongst the frescoes is a portrayal of a man on a horse, which indicates that these drawings were still being worked on after the Spanish invasion. (The horse was introduced by the Spanish and clearly had a disarming effect on the Mayans - originally it was thought that horse and rider were one being and later, when one of Cortés's horses died, its skeleton was worshipped as a god).

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