Cancun City to Ancient Mayan Ruins

Cancun City to Ancient Mayan Ruins on the Mexican Caribbean.

Tulum Ruins Cancun

Cancun, on Yucatan Peninsula, has a sweet tropical air. The Mexican people are just as warm, and even a newbie travelling solo can’t get lost in here.

First Time in Southern Mexico

All buses heading out have their destinations hand-painted across the windscreen. The bus from downtown to the shopping malls, hotels and beaches takes 20 minutes and costs 7 pesos (around US 55c). They’ll pick you up from anywhere; just flag one down if it’s going where you’re headed.

Cancun Shopping

Tulum Ruins Sea Beach

If you’re heading on an extended journey, make sure to get necessities here that you wont be able to find in Mexico Proper. Vitamins, essential oils, medicines – you will see Walmart in bigger towns, but not outside the touristy areas.

Don’t get too sucked in to the high-end USA mall stores, but their icy, air-conditioned coldness offers some respite from the sweltering streets, and from the street market vendors with their similar tourist stock and even less inventive cat calls… “Almost free.”

Cancun Beaches and Lagoon

Wear your swimsuit today as you will need to cool off, and right behind this wall of 5* hotels and shops is a beach that fell from heaven.

Turn your back on all that new world glitz, and look out over endless azure and bright white sea. The sand is tiny circles of pearl. The beach is fourteen miles long, so you can find your own space, or wander into one of the hotel pools. Enjoy a lounge and some shade, learn the meaning of siesta.

Girls Drink Free in Playa

Cancun Beach Sea Huts

When you’re sick of the sound of traffic, head south an hour to Playa Del Carmen (US$4-8) Here, you’ll find everything you need within 5 minutes walk (the bus, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs), and you are rarely further than one block from that warm, inviting turquoise sea, whether it’s pre-breakfast, or a midnight skinny-dip. This is one of the prettiest beaches I’ve seen to skirt a city.

By night Playa Del Carmen turns into Mexico’s mini Euro nightclub scene. Pumping clubs a plenty, all within two blocks of each other and probably your hostel too.

Girls are offered free entry at most clubs and, if you don’t mind lining up like cattle, and drinking cheap vodka (moonshine), you can drink your way for free through various happy hours if you are a lucky lady (or if you befriend one).

Dangers and Annoyances – The Beach At Night

As dangerous as Mexico can sound, most of these tourist areas are very well policed. Some may suggest, too well, that the most trouble you’re likely to run into on a Mexican beach after dark is over zealous police on the take.

Police in Mexico

If they catch you kissing (okay, and a little undressed), they may demand 900 pesos (US$78). There are those who, unaware of their rights, have simply handed over the cash, or gone to the ATM, rather than have it escalate.

Useful Tactics

Cancun Beach Mexico

I found it worked better to act indignant, to tell them I don’t pay bribes, and walk away acting shocked that they tried to steal my money! It doesn’t matter if they don’t speak English. An incensed woman is the same in any language, and difficult to handcuff. Only carry cash or cards in places they cannot legally search.


After the thumping Playa Del Carmen, head about 45 minutes further south to Tulum. One dusty main street, the feel of a one-horse town, with good food – from the pork and pineapple tacos opposite The Weary Traveller Hostel, to the sushi. Yes, sushi.

The town is a few miles from the sea, so the cultural life gets divided between the beach communities, spas and cabanas, and the town bars and restaurants. Tulum is a spiritual, soulful town full of talented artists, jewellers, musicians, all selling their wares and delight. By day dance to a reggae band on the sand at Playa Paraiso, or, on Sunday nights practice salsa on the beach platform to the live band at Zebras.

The Tulum Ruins – a Dream Comes True

Iguanas Tulum Ruins

The Tulum Ruins are one of the most visited archaeological sites, especially in the lead up to 2012. The ruined city of Tulum was a fortress, surrounded by a huge wall and the ocean cliffs. It developed as a rival city state as the Mayan civilisation had begun its decline after 900 A.D. The occupied city survived for 70 years after the Spanish conquest.

The ruins themselves are in a small area under half a mile across, and can be seen in a few hours. There is an easy wooden walkway down the cliffs so you can cool off with a swim, where royalty swam, and you’ll come out gleaming. Tulum has a calmness, a peace you don’t find everyday.

Tips for Walking the Ruins

Go early. Take a lot of water. The cruise ship tourists come in droves after 10am. Or, sleep in and turn up in the middle of the day. You’ll sweat a lot more but there will be less random strangers in the background of your pics at the end of the day – plus, you’ll meet more iguanas.