Friday, March 12, 2010

Top Five Best Kept Secrets About Tulum, Mexico (On the Cheap)

Here´s a sample article I wrote for an online travel mag. Enjoy!

If you´re contemplating a visit to Tulum, Mexico, no doubt you´ve found your way to the many travel sites designed to lure you towards the perfect beaches, Mayan ruins, and underground cave-diving expeditions that await the adventurous, off-the-beaten-Cancun-path traveler - for a price, of course. Before you change those hard-earned US dollars into soon-to-be-spent pesos, however, here´s a list of ways to enjoy Tulum on the cheap, designed to keep you -and your wallet- full, happy, and ready to toast "¡Viva la Mexico!" over your next 2-for-1 margarita.
1) Eat local and you´ll eat well. Expect to pay steep American prices on the beach, slightly less outrageous ones on the main drag, and next to nothing at either end of town, where you can find good tamales and tacos for less than one US dollar, and fresh fruit popsicles for even less. Speaking of fruit, don´t overlook the fruiterias, or fruit markets, either, where a couple of bucks can keep you hydrated and in taste-bud heaven for days. As for las bebidas, keep an eye out for billboards offering drink specials - you´ll find plenty of half-price Margaritas and Cuba Libres (rum and coke with lime) all along the main street.
2) Bargains abound (but you wouldn´t know it from the price tags). As a tourist town, Tulum is priced accordingly, but fear not - with the right expression of indifference and "un poquito Español", a handmade hammock marked for eleven hundred pesos in the morning can easily be gotten for four fifty right at the end of the day. Though prices at the grocery stores and restaurants are fixed, everything else is fair game for a haggle - including taxis, if you catch them anywhere other than the main street. (Hint: plan on souvenir shopping on Sunday, when all the other shops are closed and the few open vendors are looking to make a sale).
3) Mayab, the locals´ bus. If you want a cheep ride from Tulum to Cobá, Playa del Carmen, or even Cancun, Mayab bus line is the way to go. A 250 peso taxi ride from downtown to Cobá will cost you twenty-two pesos on Mayab; even less if you catch it from the grocery store at the end of town. Another common option is hitchhiking; locals do it all the time, follow suit at your own risk.
4) The ruins are overrated (and other tourism sacrilege). While beautiful, the Mayan ruins at Tulum are overcrowded and disappointingly cordoned-off. For a more authentic, adventurous look at the architecture of the ancient Mayans, take the bus to Cobá, where you can rent bicycles and ride among the jungle ruins, stopping to climb a pyramid or wander through an ancient ball court at your leisure.
5) No guide, no problem. Between the locals, the international tourists, and the large number of expats who call Tulum "home", the town is filled with friendly, helpful people who are happy to point you toward good deals and fun adventures. And whether you´re traveling by yourself or with a group, a smile and an invitation to share a drink are all you need to find good company for any number of day trips, nighttime dancing, and future adventures - wherever your wanderlust takes you.

Copyright (c) 2009-2014 Jessica Bellantone. Please email me when reproducing content. Thank you! Registered & Protected