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Tulum vs Playa del Carmen – Is Playa del Carmen Better?

Last updated on January 13th, 2023 at 01:25 pm

Tulum vs Playa del Carmen – When deciding on a trip to Mexico’s Yucatan area, Tulum and Playa del Carmen is often compared. Between the two, Playa del Carmen gives you the modern, urban beach experience, while Tulum gives a smaller and hip beach experience, with the Mayan ruins and the rise of eco and sustainable tourism. Read here Akumal vs Playa del Carmen and Tulum vs Chichen Itza

Comparing Tulum vs Playa del Carmen

With the rise of digital nomads building communities, Tulum is now a popular digital nomad hub with its hip bars, beautiful beaches, eco hotels and Temazcal ceremonies while Playa del Carmen remains the urban and modern beach vacation in Mexico.

READ MORE: How to Get from Cozumel to Cancun Airport (All Ways), Isla Mujeres vs Cozumel, Cozumel vs Cancun, Cozumel vs Tulum, Holbox vs Cozumel, How To Get From Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen (All Ways), Playa del Carmen to Bacalar by Bus, From Holbox to Playa Del Carmen (All Ways), From Chiquila to Playa Del Carmen By Bus, How to Get from Cancun to Chichen Itza

Where to Stay: Tulum vs Playa del Carmen

A total of $20 USD would be the range of your budget for accommodation in Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel. There are hotels mid-budget for $50-70 USD and you can find luxury accommodations starting from $120 USD.

CLICK HERE TO BOOK YOUR ACCOMMODATION IN BACALAR BEFORE YOUR TRIP WITH BOOKING

BOOK YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

You can read Heymondo Vs Safetwing cheapest travel Insurance. You can get for $135 USD your Heymondo Travel Insurance with Heymondo discount code valid for 90 days. Read our full Heymondo Travel Insurance Review

You can get Safetywing Travel Insurance for Digital Nomads valid for 28 days Safetywing for $50 USD per month with kids until 10 years old included

Things to do in Tulum

Public Beaches in Tulum – Tulum vs Playa del Carmen

Playa Paraiso

Playa Paraiso directly translated to Paradise Beach is one of Tulum’s most stunning beaches as it sits in the Caribbean sea. It is known as one of the world’s most popular beaches.

Here you’ll see the National Park of Tulum and the archeological zone. Playa Paraiso is also an open and public beach. It’s a good beach for lounging around and gentle for family visits as well, with swimming and activities available.

Read here how to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum!

Mayan Beach / Playa Ruinas

Just from its name, the Mayan Beach in Tulum overlooks the famous Mayan Ruins. This definitely gives you a bit of a balance of having a beach area, and having a look at the ruins too, and of course you can tour the Mayan Ruins being in closer proximity to it.

Playa Pescadores

A part of Playa Paraiso, Playa Pescadores is another open and free to the public beach of Tulum and one of the most beautiful as well. You can hire boats from this part of the beach to do tours in Tulum, but make sure that you book with reputable boat or tour companies as some are known to be unfriendly and aggressive.

Playa Santa Fe

About 10 minute walk from the ruins, Playa Santa Fe is another beach you can spend time in if you want to be close to the Mayan ruins. Another beautiful public beach as well.

Playa Boca Paila / Playa El Canto

This is Playa Boca Paila and can usually be toured with Sian Ka’an

One of the hidden gems of Tulum, Playa Boca Paila, called Playa El Canto by locals, is located by the entrance of the National Park and Biosphere Reserve of Sian Ka’an.

Private Beaches / Beach Clubs in Tulum – Tulum vs Playa Del Carmen

Ziggy Beach

This is the Ziggy Beach Club inside The Beach Tulum Property

Ziggy is a beach club hotel in Tulum, and one of the more luxurious and popular attractions of the area. You can have lounge areas here, and you’ll have access to their bar and restaurant. It’s one of the more expensive areas to stay in as Ziggy is considered high end compared to all the places around Tulum.

Caleta Tankha Beach

The Caleta Tankah Beach

Caleta Tankah Beach is another of Tulum’s private beaches, costing around 100 Mexican pesos to enter. Beach clubs are good options if you want a little more “privacy” in that it’s not immediately open to everyone unless you pay, but still not the most expensive private beach in Tulum.

More Top Things to Do and See in Tulum

Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Ruins make Tulum popular and historic at the same time. Its ancient Mayan ruins overlook the beautiful Mexican Caribbean waters, making this part of the world not only exotic and unique but adds to the beauty the Tulum beaches bring.

Coba Mayan Ruins

A day trip to the Coba Ruins is not to be missed when visiting Tulum!

The Mayan Coba Ruins are one of the most important parts of the Mayan Ruins or Tulum Ruins, about 28 miles or 47 kilometers inland from the Caribbean coastline. To access this part of the ruins, you’ll take a short drive from Tulum or Valladolid. This is one of the most frequented Mayan ruins in Tulum, so if you want to explore this part of Tulum’s beauty, take time to visit the ruins.

El Centro (Tulum Pueblo)

Image via Alma de Flores Tulum, El Centro

The Central city of Tulum, El Centro is the place to visit when you want to get away from beaches for a bit, and of course, see its local life – local restaurants and good food (Mexico is very popular for this of course), and try other activities in the town without being in the beach and the beach clubs.

Sian Ka’a Biosphere

This is the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO site in Tulum

Sian Kaʼan Biosphere Reserve is a biosphere reserve in the municipality of Tulum in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo. It was established in 1986 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. “Sian Ka’an” means “gate of heaven” or “a place where heaven begins

Tulum Cenotes

Dos Ojos Cenote / Two Eyes Cenote

If you want the option to swim, free dive, and dive while being in one of Tulum’s picturesque cenotes, visit the Dos Ojos or Two Eyes Cenote.

Cenote Calavera / Skull Cenote

Another of Tulum’s Instagram worthy cenotes, is the Cenote Calavera. Be careful as guides here may not be watching you as you swim but there are a lot of people in the area because of its popularity. Prices can be high too.

Big Cenote / Gran Cenote

Gran Cenote or the Big Cenote is the most popular Cenote and is very touristy in Tulum. It’s on the way to Coba, so make sure you plan properly if you want to swim and take pictures here.

Cenotes Casa Tortuga

Cenotes Casa Tortuga in Tulum is not only a place in the middle of the jungle of Tulum that you can stay in, you also have access to 4 beautiful cenotes on the property when you stay here.

Instagrammer Popular Areas in Tulum

Ven a la Luz at Ahau Tulum Beach

Ven a La Luz Artwork in Ahau Tulum

This artwork is arguably one of the top Instagrammer worthy photos in Tulum and it’s an artwork in the Ahau Tulum Beach Resort. It’s a beautiful sculpture on its own, and definitely an easy spot to recognize to mark your visit in Tulum

Cenote Suytun

Cenote Suytun is one of the most Instagrammer worthy places in Tulum
This is Cenote Suytun in Valladolid Mexico

Hard to miss the most Instagrammer worthy photo in Tulum, which is the Cenote Suytun. Okay, Instagram shows it as part of Tulum, but it’s an hour and a half drive away. If you’re staying or visiting Valladolid, it might be more reasonable to do it from there, as it’s only a 15-minute drive away. You can also do tours and cenote visits around here, as Cenote Oxman is near Cenote Suytun, an easy trip to do together.

Things to do in Playa Del Carmen

Parque Los Fundadores / Founders Park / Parque Los Fundadores

Parque Los Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen in Quintanaroo, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel
Parque Fundadores or the Founders Park, Playa del Carmen

Parque Fundadores or the Founders Park is found in Playa del Carmen’s City Center and is free for access to the public. You’ll easily see this arriving in Playa del Carmen, as it’s one of the first sights to see, just outside ADO Bus Station.

In Parque Lost Fundadores, you’ll see the Portal Maya Statue, a beautiful statue of two figures high up in the air, reaching to touch each other.

Xcaret Park

Xcaret Park, Playa del Carmen, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel - Best Vacation in Riviera Maya

Xcaret Park is best when you want to visit a private-themed park and resort. Inside Xcaret Park, you’ll see Jaguar Island, Coral Reef Aquarium, and Monkey Island. It’s an eco archeological park in Playa del Carmen.

Xenses Park is also part of Xcaret.

3D Museum of Wonders

Something fun to do with kids or kids at heart, the 3D Museum of Wonders has a lot of illusional artwork created by Michaelangelo, DaVinci and other famous artists.

Cenote Chaak Tun / Cavernas Chaaktun

The Cavernas Chaaktun are small caverns that you will love swimming in and discovering in Playa del Carmen. Not to miss if you love nature and would love to do some exploring while in Playa del Carmen.

5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue

5 Avenida Norte / Quinta Avenida / 5th Avenue Playa del Carmen, Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel - Best Vacation in Riviera Maya
5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen

The 5th Avenue in Playa del Carmen also known as Quinta Avenida is one of the popular streets in Playa del Carmen that is frequented by tourists. It’s a street where everything is happening, and where the local sellers can speak English, so if you’re trying to find a comfortable way to start your trip in Playa del Carmen, and want to talk to English speakers, you might like this place.

Chikin Ha

Chikin Ha is another Cenote in Playa del Carmen that is worth your time if you’re looking to experience more nature. It’s a 30-minute drive from Playa del Carmen, and a cenote good for swimming.

Xplor

Xplor is another all-inclusive park in Playa del Carmen. Perfect for families and friends and groups.

Playacar / Sandos Playacar

Playacar
Playacar – Playa del Carmen vs Cozumel

Playacar beach is a bit of an exclusive resort experience if that’s what you’re after.

Exclusive resorts, higher-priced accommodations, and food are here. All-inclusive is that you can get in Sandos.

Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote
Cenote Cristalino

Cenote Cristalino or Crystal Clear Cenote is one of the top beautiful cenotes to visit in Playa del Carmen less than 30 minutes from Playa del Carmen. This cenote has an entrance fee of $200 pesos (Mexican) for adults and $150 for children. Mexicans get some discounts, with $170 for Mexican adults and $120 pesos for children.

10. Rio Secreto

Rio Secreto, Playa del Carmen

Playa del Carmen has an underground river, the Rio Secreto. This reminds us of the beautiful Palawan Underground River in the Philippines, a UNESCO heritage site itself.

Because it is one of Playa del Carmen’s main things to do, you can’t go to Rio Secreto without an official tour of the reserve.

Tickets cost $79 (Mexican pesos) for adults and $39.50 for kids from ages 4 to 12 years old.

Rio Secreto is definitely not one to miss as it is one of Riviera Maya’s most fascinating things to witness.

Best Time to Visit Mexico

There are 2 seasons dry and wet season. The rainy season starts in May. The best time to visit Mexico is from the months of November to April because it is the months of the dry season. However, lots of tourists prefer to travel from January to March since it’s not peak season but it can be rainy for a few days.

Click here to know more about the weather in Mexico

Cash in Mexico

Mexico has its own currency called the Mexican Peso. A $1 USD=19 MXN. There are lots of ATMs and exchange currency in many parts of the country. And you have to know that the country’s dollars are very common and well-accepted. Click here to know more about the exchange rate of Mexico.

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Final Thoughts on Comparing Tulum vs Playa del Carmen: Which One to Choose?

You will never go wrong for any vacation in Yucatan Area and definitely not with a fight between Tulum vs Playa del Carmen but for this comparison, we pick Playa del Carmen as our winner.

Ruben Arribas is the co-founder of Gamintraveler and a Spanish traveler who has traveled to more than 100 countries around the world. He is now a full-time digital nomad.