For those of you planning a Latin American adventure, there really are only a few starting points. And for those leaving from the UK, chances are if you're starting in Mexico, you'll be flying into Cancun with Thomas Cook. Sure, you don't get fed, watered or entertained - but it's bloody cheap!
However, whilst the temptation may be to head to throw on a sombrero, buy a beer and sit on the first beach you come to, we implore you to get on a bus and get out of Cancun, as just a couple of hours down the coast is the real destination for anyone in the know!
Once a hippy outpost, Tulum is now the Caribbean beach destination on the Riviera Maya.With uncluttered picture-perfect white sand beaches and a laid-back vibe, it was by far our favourite spot in the Yucatan.
With beautiful beach front resorts and highway adjacent backpacker retreats, Tulum really does have something to offer on every budget. The beach is pristine, the sea inviting and crowds can easily be avoided.
If the only reason you are here is because the guidebooks have peddled the misconception of an imposing Mayan ruin providing the backdrop to your tanning sessions, then lower your expectations. The guidebook pictures are from an unattainable angle and misleading.
Tulum is very backpacker-centric on the central highway, so travellers rather than locals form the majority.
If you're staying in one of the towns many hostels, hire a bike to cycle the 3km to the beach. There are 2 rental places on the highway heading toward the large traffic light intersection, where you can choose 24hr rental for $75 pesos.
Tulum is also well located for a day-trip to the Coba ruins. Despite what you may be told, it is difficult to find public transport to these popular Mayan temples, a taxi is often a much better, albeit a little more expensive, option. One-way will cost between $200 and $300 pesos, which, if travelling as a group can work out fairly reasonably.
There are a number of beautiful cenotes in the area, some within cycling distance. Your hotel or hostel will be able to provide you with a list and directions.
Collectivos run regularly from Playa del Carmen, taking appprox. 45 mins and costing $35.
Heading south or inland, 1st and 2nd class buses leave the bus station on the highway to most destinations.
Budget-breaker or maker?
Maker. If you want to stay on the beachfront, then a more pricey hotel is your only option. However, the highway has plenty cheap eats and backpacker bars.