When it comes to deciding whether to visit Cancun or Tulummany people find themselves wondering which one is better.
Both locations offer stunning beaches and plenty of activities, but some key differences may make one or the other more appealing, depending on your interests.
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In this guide, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each destination so you can decide which one is right for you. We also compare different elements so you can learn more about both locations.
Cancun VS Tulum Review
Cancun is a popular resort city in Mexico known for its beautiful beaches, clear turquoise waters, and lively nightlife.
It’s a popular spot for spring breakers and young travelers looking to party, but if you’re not interested in the scene, there’s plenty to do.
Cancun has several luxury resorts and many affordable hotels and hostels. Flights to Cancun are easy to find from most major airports in North America and Europe.
Cancun is perfect for travelers who want to do a little bit of everything on their vacation, with plenty of options for activities, dining, and nightlife.
Tulum is a small town located on the Riviera Maya, about an hour and a half from Cancun. It has become more popular in recent years with its bohemian vibe, beautiful beaches and nearby ruins.
Tulum is less developed than Cancun, with high-end resorts and a smaller selection of hotels and hostels. However, there are still plenty of vacation spots and the city is slowly growing.
Tulum is less accessible than Cancun because there are no direct flights from North America or Europe. You must fly to Cancun and then take a bus or transfer to Tulum.
Tulum is perfect for travelers who want a more leisurely vacation, with plenty of time to enjoy the beach and nearby ruins without the big city vibe. It is also a great option for expats and digital nomads.
Pros and cons of Cancun
Let’s look at the pros and cons of staying in Cancun.
- Beautiful beaches with clear turquoise waters
- Nightlife and party scene
- Finding flights from most major airports is easy
- Many luxury resorts as well as affordable hotels and hostels
- Lots of activities, dining and nightlife options
- It can be crowded and touristy
- The beaches can be crowded
- Loud music at night can be disturbing
- Not as authentic experience
Sides and sides of Tulum
Now let’s look at the pros and cons of staying in Tulum.
- Beautiful beaches with clear turquoise waters
- Bohemian vibe and less touristy than Cancun
- Many hotels and hostels available
- Nearby ruins to explore
- Less developed than Cancun with fewer resorts and dining options
- No direct flights from North America or Europe
- Transportation can be difficult and time consuming
Cancun VS Tulum: Things to do
Both Cancun and Tulum have a lot to offer, but there are some key differences between the two destinations.
Cancun is a larger city with more development, so there are more activities, nightlife options, and hotels or restaurants to choose from.
Cancun can be a good base for exploring Isla Mujeres, Playa del Carmen or the nearby ruins of Chichen Itza or Coba.
Tulum is a smaller town, but it’s close to the Tulum ruins, which are some of the best-preserved ruins in Mexico.
The city of Tulum is also growing, so there is a lot to do now. However, it still doesn’t have as many options as Cancun.
That said, Tulum is a good base for organizing day trips from. You can read our guide to the best day trips from Tulum to learn more.
For example, you can easily visit the nearby town of Playa del Carmen or take a day trip to the island of Cozumel. You can also use Tulum as a base to visit Akumal or Bacalar.
Finally, you can use Tulum as a base to explore the nearby cenotes.
Cancun VS Tulum: Weather and When to Visit
Cancun and Tulum have similar weather because they are both located on the Yucatan Peninsula.
However, there are some minor differences. Cancun is a little further north than Tulum, so the weather is a little warmer in Cancun.
The best time to visit Cancun is from December to April when the weather is warm and dry. The rainy season lasts from May to November, and while it is possible to visit during this time, you may experience some rain.
The best time to visit Tulum is also from December to April when the weather is hot and dry. However, Tulum is a little further south than Cancun, so the temperature is a little cooler.
Cancun VS Tulum: Prices
Prices in Cancun and Tulum are the same, but there are some differences.
Cancun is a bit more expensive than Tulum because it is a bigger city with more development. However, you can find affordable hotels and hostels in Cancun.
Tulum is less developed than Cancun, so there are fewer luxury resorts. However, affordable accommodation can be found in Tulum.
In terms of activities, Cancun is more expensive than Tulum. For example, a tour of the Chichen Itza ruins in Cancun costs about $30, while a tour of the Tulum ruins costs about $5.
But if you want to travel from Tulum to Chichen Itza, you need to calculate the cost of transportation.
Cancun VS Tulum: Security
Now that you know the difference between Cancun and Tulum, you may be wondering which is the safest place to visit.
Overall, both Cancun and Tulum are safe places to visit. However, crime has increased in the Riviera Maya in recent years. In particular, there were reports of shootings in Playa del Carmen and Tulum.
These are usually associated with cartel crimes and are not aimed at tourists. Although tourists can be caught in the crossfire.
To stay safe, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and not flash anything of value in public. It is also a good idea not to walk alone at night or avoid taxis that are not from reputable companies.
If you are planning to party in Mexico, you should be aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol. It has been reported that tourists have been drugged and robbed after accepting drinks from strangers.
So it’s best to accept drinks only from people you know and trust.
Incidents in the streets where the police arrest drunk people for disturbing the peace. You will probably have to pay a bribe to be released if this happens.
How to decide between Tulum and Cancun
Now that you know the differences between Cancun and Tulum, you may be wondering how to choose which one is right for you.
If you are looking for an interesting scene, Cancun is a better choice. However, if you are looking for a quieter atmosphere, then Tulum might be a better option.
Cancun is also a good choice if you want more development and amenities. However, Tulum is better if you want to avoid the crowds and enjoy the natural surroundings. That being said, Tulum is also known for its high traffic, so make sure you choose a place close to the beach.
When it comes to price, both Cancun and Tulum are about the same. However, Cancun is a bit more expensive.
In terms of safety, both Cancun and Tulum are relatively safe places to visit. However, crime has increased in the Riviera Maya in recent years. Therefore, it is important to be aware of your surroundings.
Ultimately, whether to visit Cancun or Tulum depends on your personal preferences and the tours/activities you want to experience during your stay in Mexico.
To help you decide, we recommend listing the places you want to visit during your trip to Mexico.
Once you know the sites and attractions you want to visit, take a look at the map to see where they are. Is it closer to Cancun or Tulum? So you can see which city is the best base for your vacation in Mexico.
Cancun and Tulum: The Final Verdict
In the end, it really depends on what you are looking for when visiting Mexico.
If you want a party scene or a luxury resort, then Cancun is probably your best bet.
However, if you are looking for a quieter atmosphere and easy access to ruins or cenotes, Tulum may be a better fit for you.
Either way, both cities are relatively safe to visit and have their own charms. It just comes down to personal preference in the end! Think of it as a small city or town.
Traveling to Mexico soon? You can also read one of the following guides: