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Tulum vs Cancun: Which One is the Best for Your Next Trip?

Choosing between Tulum vs Cancun is a difficult decision to make. Both places have stunning sandy beaches and historical monuments that will leave you fascinated. To help you choose the best spot for your next vacation, I invite you to check out the comprehensive review of these both locations. Let’s start exploring!

Tulum vs Cancun

Quick Comparison

Tulum and Cancun are the jewels of Mexicos vacation spots. They offer some similarities such as:

  • Delicious Mexican cuisine;
  • Sparkling blue seas;
  • Well-preserved Mayan ruins.

However, there are numerous significant distinctions like affordability, safety, beaches, nightlife, and much more. Continue reading to learn about their pros, cons, and 10 different aspects that distinguish them from one another. Let’s dive deeper into the details!

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Cancun vs Tulum: Comparison Chart

The table listed below has all the essential details:











Taxis Available

Taxis, Shuttles, Buses

Airport Proximity

1 hour

20 minutes








More relaxed

More resort-y


Wide Variety

Larger variety than Tulum

Cultural Activities

Ruins + Cenotes

Museum + Ruins

Hotel Accommodations

Boutique hotels

All-inclusive resorts


Smaller boutiques

Large shopping centers



Budget Friendly

Major Events



Quiet Atmosphere



The Positives and Negatives of Visiting Both Cancun vs Tulum

Let’s compare both Cancun to Tulum. I’ll examine the benefits and drawbacks of each to help you determine which place is best for you.

Pros of Tulum

Let’s look at some of the pros of going to visit Tulum:

Pros of Tulum
  • Variety of activities: Tulum is famous for its Yoga classes, tantra seminars, Temazcal ceremonies, Breathwork, and other activities which may be found in abundance.
  • Scenery: Some extraordinary tourist destinations are a short distance from Tulum, including the Laguna Kaan Luum, a beautiful lake.
  • Relaxed Atmosphere: Tulum does not have the hustle and bustle of the city. Visitors enjoy a very chill and relaxed atmosphere there.

Cons of Tulum

Let’s look at some of the downsides of going to visit Tulum:

Cons of Tulum:
  • Expensive: Everything from lodging to meals to going out is becoming too pricey. The region around Tulum in Mexico is the costliest in the country.
  • Far-away beaches: The beaches are a few kilometers outside of the city center, making transportation a trouble for anybody who isn’t staying at a beach hotel zone.

Pros of Cancun

Let’s check out the benefits of a trip to Cancun:

Pros of Cancun

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  • Affordable hotels: The all-inclusive holiday packages offered by the world-class hotels in Cancun are surprisingly reasonable and include transportation, meals, and lodgings.
  • Underwater Museum: The Underwater Museum in Cancun is the largest of its kind in the world. British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor came up with the concept of creating an underwater museum to safeguard the coral reef off the coast of Cancun.
  • Easy to get to: The massive Cancun international airport doubles as a hub for both public and private transportation. There are bus parking areas at each of Cancun Airport’s terminals.

Cons of Cancun

Let’s weigh some of the drawbacks of a trip to Cancun:

Cons of Cancun
  • Seaweed: Cancun is experiencing a serious seaweed problem. Cancun’s beaches are practically unusable for swimming due to the dark, sticky covering of seaweed that accumulates on the water.
  • Not Ideal for Relaxing Environment: Cancun is known as the spring break central. The hotels may be packed with college students, creating a very rowdy and party atmosphere during the months of March and April. This is not ideal if you are looking forward to a relaxing vacation.

How Do I Get To Tulum, And Where Is It Exactly?

Tulum is a town on the Caribbean coastline of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Tulum and the neighboring Playa del Carmen make up the Riviera Maya. Here’s how you can reach Tulum:

  • Fly into the International Cancun Airport;
  • From there, it’s a two-hour drive to the charming Tulum town.

Important! Remember that if you’re planning a trip to Tulum, you won’t be able to fly there directly. However, the government has plans to establish a high-end airport there in 2023 due to the city’s growing popularity, but its opening was delayed to April 2024.

How Do I Get To Cancun, And Where Is It Exactly?

Cancun is situated along the eastern coast of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. It is within an hour’s drive from Tulum.

Travelers pondering how to reach the city should know that Cancun Airport is the primary gateway to the Yucatan Peninsula. This is the starting point for flights to the Yucatan Peninsula and the Mayan Riviera.

Tulum vs Cancun: Beaches Compared

Previously I have compared the accessibility of both locations. Now let’s shed some light on their beaches and what makes them special.

Tulum Beaches

Tulum is a haven for beachgoers, and its shores are competitive with, if not superior to, those of Cancun. Tulum Beach, Las Palmas, and Akumal Beach are some of the best-known beaches in the region.

Tulum Beach

The lengthy stretch of powdery white sand and crystal clear blue water will make you want to capture the scene forever. You can relax with a nice book and a parasol on the beach, or go exploring in search of a deserted cove.

Beaches in Cancun

Cancun’s numerous stunning beaches include clear, turquoise sea and soft, white sand. Many Mexican beaches are open to the public:

  • Caracol Beach: It is one that will surely become your favorite. It’s open to the public and boasts a water park, food is as well as pristine and clear water for swimming.
Caracol Beach
  • Playa Delfines: This is another one of Cancuns spectacular beaches. It’s ivory-colored sand and clear water will leave you with a breathtaking view. If you’re lucky you might even get to see some dolphins.
Playa Delfines

It is worth noting that many hotels have exclusive use of a certain stretch of beach for their guests alone.

Best Activities in Tulum

Fantastic beaches are not all Tulum has to offer. Here are some of the most exciting and fun activities you can expect to enjoy during your stay in Tulum:

1. Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Mayan ruins are a fascinating cultural and historical site:

  • The House of Columns and the Temple of the Frescoes are two of the most visited attractions.
  • Playa Ruinas is a world-famous beach known for its palm palms, blue ocean, and stunning Mayan ruins.
Playa Ruinas

2. Revitalize Yourself at a Cenote

A long time ago, the Mayans held awe and respect for these cavernous pools, which they believed served as portals to the afterlife:

  • The cenotes are now a popular place to go swimming and scuba diving.
  • There are several beautiful cenotes in Tulum that are perfect for a refreshing swim.
  • Two of the most popular are Grand Cenote and Dos Ojos.
Dos Ojos Cenote, Tulum

3. Beach Clubs

Tulum is known for its stunning beaches, many of which have exclusive clubs offering excellent meals and refreshing drinks for a charge. Ziggy’s and similar beach clubs provide a new experience every day of the week.

For more catchy ideas, check out this amazing video.

Best Activities in Cancun

Cancun is filled with exciting activities. Some of the most fascinating and enjoyable things to do in Cancun are listed here:

1. Xcaret Park

Visit Xcaret Park and experience the rich Mexican culture and nature. It’s an eco-archaeological park with underground rivers, wildlife, and cultural shows to enjoy.

Xcaret Park, Cancun

2. Mayan Ruins

The Mayan Museum in Cancun displays priceless relics discovered at the Chichen Itza site. There are hundreds of artifacts on display across the museum’s three galleries. This video showcases their beauty in a great way.

3. Mercado 28

The central flea market is teeming with vendors selling everything from trinkets to leather products. You may perfect your bartering skills here. The food court at Mercado 28 offers tourists the chance to try a variety of cuisines without breaking the bank.

Here’s a video on activities in Tulum having greater ideas that you would love.

Tulum vs Cancun: Nightlife Compared

The partying at night in both Tulum and Cancun is excellent. Let’s take a look at how they compare.


Cancun is well-known among college students as a fun place to spend Spring Break. It is a popular destination for Spring Breakers because of its exciting nightlife and abundance of possibilities to dance till morning.

  • Mandala: One of the best places to hang out in Cancun after dark is the Mandala. This lively club is a top destination for revelers in Cancun.
Mandala Nightclub, Cancun
Credit:, @Mandala Cancun
  • Congo Bar: Congo Bar Cancun is another option; it’s a multi-story nightclub and bar featuring dancers and live music.
Congo Bar Cancun
  • Theme parties: At many clubs in Cancun, they throw special parties with fun themes like foam, beach, or neon parties. These exciting themes add a lot of fun and energy to the nightlife experience.


Tulum may not have as many bars and clubs as Cancun, but it still has some fantastic options for a fun night out.

  • Batay Mojito & Guarapo: Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar is one of my top picks. This pub features a fun atmosphere, a beer garden, and live music; also, the mojitos here come in a variety of tasty flavors.
  • Xibalbar: In addition, Xibalbar is a fan favorite. This rooftop bar has the greatest hookah in town, along with tasty food and beverages and excellent service. On average, it stays open until 1 a.m.
Xibalbar, Tulum
Credit:, @Xibalbar Tulum
  • Concerts: If you time your trip to Tulum right, you may catch one of the music festivals held there. This guarantees that you will never be short of a good time.
  • Fine dining: More upscale restaurants and bars, such as Gitano and Casa Jaguar, cater to those prepared to indulge in the Beach Zone.
Gitano restaurant, Tulum

Tulum vs Cancun: Cuisine and Restaurant Scene

It would be a shame to visit Mexico and not sample some of the delicious regional foods. Tulum and Cancun are attractive in part because of the abundance of excellent local restaurants you may find strolling the streets.


Tulum is a tiny, almost rural coastal town with a fantastic dining scene.

  • Mayan Dishes: Many dishes found here are Mayan in origin, for example, the cochinita pibil. It is a traditional type of pork barbeque cooked with orange juice and a local spice called achiote.
Cochinita pibil
  • Farm-to-Table: Some restaurants have a farm-to-table concept, which means they serve dishes like Tacos al Pastor made from ingredients grown on their own farms or bought from nearby local farmers.

However, if you want to eat at the best restaurants, such as Autor, you’ll need to fork out a hefty sum of money. As can be guessed, it is better to obtain something to eat at a low-key or moderately-priced restaurant.

Autor restaurant, Tulum


Cancun offers a wide range of dining options compared to Tulum.

  • Delicious Seafood: There are several luxury hotels nearby that have excellent restaurants, like Kiosco Verde Marisquería known for its delicious seafood dishes such as shrimp, octopus, and ceviche.
  • Mayan Culinary: For a taste of ancient Mayan culinary traditions, I would recommend you to visit Hacienda Sisal.
Hacienda Sisal, Cancun

In the hotel district, you’ll find popular chain restaurants like Hard Rock Café, Hooters, and Bubba Gump, along with many others.

The Best Places to Stay in Tulum vs Cancun, Price-Wise

Cancun and Tulum, as two major tourist hubs, provide a wide variety of hotel alternatives to fit every traveler’s requirements and budget. Tulum is famous for boutique hotels but is growing and already has a decent selection of lodgings, however, Cancun hotels are larger and more varied.

In the sections that follow, I’ll examine each location and feature a hotel that falls into each of these three price points: inexpensive, moderate, and luxurious.


The listed below info is based on Tulum accommodations:

  • Inexpensive: Caribena, decorated in classic Tulum style, is a budget hotel that doesn’t appear like one. The beach and the historic sights of Tulum are within easy walking distance. And when you get back from a day of sightseeing, you may relax in the refreshing waters of the outdoor pool. It will cost you around $70 for a one-night stay.
Caribena, Tulum
  • Moderate: Nahouse Jungle Lodges allow guests to experience Tulum’s stunning natural environment while staying in tastefully designed villas with access to a large pool. The beach is nice, but the jungle in Tulum is equally as tropical and beautiful. Prices start at around $180 per night.
Nahouse Jungle Lodges, Tulum
  • Luxurious: The Ma’xanab Tulum Hotel is everyone’s dream. From the well-furnished apartments to the lush outside rainforest setting. In addition to the exclusive beach and spacious outdoor pool. There’s a good reason why this five-star hotel is always booked solid: some of the rooms are equipped with their very own infinity pools. Prices are around $600 per night for one room.
The Ma'xanab Tulum Hotel

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Here’s the breakdown of Cancun accommodations:

  • Inexpensive: Stylish accommodations that don’t break the bank are rare to come by in Cancun, but you’ll find them at Nomads Enigmatic Hotel & Hostel. Built-in a classic Mexican design, this downtown Cancun hostel features a bar, an outdoor pool, and a beautiful common garden. Prices start at around $70 for a room.
 Nomads Enigmatic Hotel & Hostel, Cancun
  • Moderate: In the Cancun hotel zone, it is next to impossible to locate a beachfront hotel that doesn’t charge exorbitant rates. However, for more than half the price of many other hotels, the Oleo Cancun Playa Boutique All-Inclusive Resort provides an all-inclusive experience, including accommodations with sea views. Prices start at around $1400 for a room for 4 nights with the all-inclusive plan.
 Oleo Cancun Playa Boutique All-Inclusive Resort
  • Luxurious: Turquoize at Hyatt Ziva Cancun, with its spectacular seaside views and infinity pool, is as high-end as it gets. It is located in the midst of the activity in Cancun’s hotel zone and offers every luxury conceivable, including butler service. Prices are around $700 per night for 1 room. You can soak in its luxury in this video.

What Time of Year is Best to Visit Tulum vs Cancun?

The very short distance between these two Mexican sites means that they will likely share the same climatic conditions. Cancun and Tulum are both accessible year-round, but there are seasons when you might wish to skip visiting.

  • It’s best to avoid: Many people choose to avoid this area during the months of September through November due to the increased probability of storms occurring during that period. There is still a possibility that your trip won’t be ruined by a hurricane if you go during that timeframe, but that likelihood is much lower.
Time when should avoid visiting Cancun and Tulum
  • Peak season: The months of December through April are often regarded to be peak seasons. The forecast calls for sunny, pleasant weather with minimal precipitation. Since this is the peak travel season, expect larger crowds and higher hotel and airfare costs. Avoid holiday and school vacation times if you want to avoid the crowds.

Tulum vs Cancun: Which Is Safer?

Safety is the concern of many visitors. Let’s find out which place is more secure:


Tulum has been deemed to be a secure travel location by the OSAC.

Safety in Tulum
  • But OSAC also lists cartels as a problem for Tulum along with polluted water and natural catastrophes.
  • Downtown Tulum and Cancun are both dangerous places to go at night.
  • Aside from that, you should be alright if you stick to well-lit locations and conceal any valuables.


It’s typically safe to travel to Cancun.

  • The local government has taken measures to ensure the safety of the tourists. Its crime rate is much lower compared to the rest of Mexico.
Safety in Cancun
  • Keep your guard up, especially if you value your possessions, as pickpocketing and petty crimes such as scams are still present like in any other location.
  • While Cancun does have its share of gangs, tourists are not their primary target so you should be safe regarding gang violence.

Which is Better for Families Expeditions: Tulum or Cancun?

Both Tulum and Cancun are great options for a family holiday, but each has its own unique offerings. Tulum is a smaller, calmer town than its larger neighbor Cancun.


Staying in Tulum also allows you to take the kids to a water park for a day of more typical holiday fun.

  • Xel-Ha and Xplor Park are two of the waterparks in the area.
Water parks in Tulum
  • In Tulum’s rivers, cenotes, and coastal seas, you may witness a broad variety of marine animals when snorkeling at Xel-Ha.
  • Ziplining, rafting, water slides, and the discovery of cenotes and underground rivers are just some of the activities available at Xplor Park.


Here’s what families can expect at Cancun:

  • Dolphin Discovery Cancun is a great place for families to visit together. The park’s namesake gives visitors a good idea of what to expect, but there are plenty of other aquatic animals to see and learn about as well.
Dolphin Discovery Cancun
Credit:, @Dolphin Discovery
  • The Captain Hook Cancun adventure would delight your children if they are hoping to encounter their favorite pirates while on vacation. A few hours at sea on a pirate ship await you, complete with a delicious meal and a lively performance.

Which is More Expensive, Tulum or Cancun?

Tulum and Cancun are two of Mexico’s most visited cities, so visitors have their pick of hotels and restaurants. Cancun is a larger tourist hub, thus naturally there are more places to stay and eat.

Which is More Expensive, Tulum or Cancun

Consequently, the average daily cost varies slightly between these two cities, with Cancun coming out slightly cheaper for meals, beverages, and lodging. On the other hand, Tulum proves to be a little expensive spot due to being trendy and posh.


Which one is better Tulum or Cancun?

It is difficult to decide between Tulum and Cancun. If you prefer a relaxing environment along with natural beauty, then you should opt for Tulum. Alternatively, if you are a party person and love crowded areas, you should plan your next tour to Cancun.

Why is Tulum so special?

Tulum is so special because of its spectacular beaches, relaxing atmosphere, and historical Mayan ruins.

Is Cancun or Tulum warmer?

The weather in both cities is very similar, although Cancun is very slightly warmer than Tulum.

Is it worth seeing Tulum?

It is worth seeing Tulum due to the stunning scenery and the deep and rich history of its ruins.


Summing it up, Tulum and Cancun are both worthy of your attention. But, if you are not a crowd person and prefer a peaceful environment, you would love Tulum. It boasts a genuine Mexican Vibe. You can explore the famous Mayan Ruins along with the crystal clear blue water of its beaches. Lastly, the perfect night atmosphere will make sure your trip is memorable.

In contrast, Cancun is a modern city that features a busy vibe. What makes it stand tall among any other destination is its underwater Museum. You will love its theme parties. The luxurious accommodations are also a plus.

Both places are amazing to visit and you will be sure to enjoy them with your loved ones. If you found this article helpful and informative, share it with your friends.

Tulum vs Cancun