Mexico's Tulum in a Day: Exploring the Last Maya Port City

Tulum | Introduction

The city of Tulum has a history of a thousand years and was an important city in the late Mayan civilization. Located near Cancun, it is famous for its ancient Mayan ruins situated on cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea and is also listed as one of the World Cultural Heritages. Tulum was one of the last port cities built by the Maya. In the late classical period, the Maya shifted their economic focus towards maritime trade. The peak period of Tulum was around 1200-1450 AD, when it was a major trading hub in Central America, until the late 16th century when the Spanish arrived, leading to its eventual abandonment.

Tulum | Transportation

Tulum is about two hours away from Cancun, you can drive yourself or join a local travel agency for a day trip to get there. For general tourists, I would recommend joining a day trip with a local travel agency as the first choice, which is more economical and convenient, and you don't have to worry about not adapting to the transportation situation in Mexico.

A day trip is usually a morning trip to Tulum, followed by an afternoon swim at Dos Ojos Cenote. On weekdays, there are not as many tourists going to Tulum as in Chichen Itza, so it is a more relaxing trip. When we came here, there were about 10 of us on the bus, but on the way back, the tour guide opened a whole bottle of tequila for us.


The Mayan ruins of Tulum remain in their original state to this day, and as soon as you enter the ruins, you will see the original walls of the ruins.

The architecture of the town is fairly well preserved and has not been damaged by the colonizers. The reason for the decline seems to have been mainly due to the diseases brought by the colonizers, but the buildings and murals in the site are also well preserved.The site of Tulum is not a small one, and it is possible to walk around it for the whole morning. The most important site in the town is the Temple of the Frescoes, one of the best preserved buildings on the Tulum site. It is a small building with a single entrance and a central room whose walls are famous for their frescoes.

From the higher grassy area in the south, there is a good view of the entire complex of buildings in the site area. The design of the buildings takes into account the astronomical calendar, where at certain times, such as the important dates of the change of seasons, people would see direct sunlight from different windows.

The ruins are situated on the edge of a cliff, with a Mayan altar at the top of the highest point of the citadel. Opposite the citadel is a ceremonial platform and to the north is the Temple of the Winds, dedicated to the God of the Feathered Serpent, overlooking the Caribbean Sea, one of Tulum's most spectacular natural backdrops. The temple has a distinctive dome and its structure is different from other Mayan buildings. The design is thought to be related to Kukulcan, the god of wind. The beach next to the temple is a popular destination for tourists who come here to swim and dive. The area around the ruins is surrounded by rainforest, and from time to time, you will see some cute wild animals. (Most of them are big lizards, that's all...)

Nearby Attractions | Cenote Dos Ojos

One common day trip itinerary often includes a visit to Cenote Dos Ojos for some water fun. Throughout the Yucatan Peninsula, you can find various limestone caves known as cenotes, and Cenote Dos Ojos is one of the more famous and unique ones. "Dos Ojos" means "Two Eyes" because this cave system is made up of two nearly identical circular sinkholes connected by an underground river. The clarity of the water can be seen from the photos. To dive deep into the cave, you would need a scuba diving license, but you can do semi-open water cave snorkeling in the areas where sunlight can penetrate.

All the underground rivers in the region serve as a vital water source for the local people, so it's essential to shower and keep clean before entering the water. You can bring your snorkeling gear as the water here is very clear, and you can spot various fish species.

Further reading

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