A Travel Price Comparison for Mexico Tulum vs. Cancun for Attractions, Nightlife, Resorts, and Scuba Diving & Snorkeling

Should you visit Tulum or Cancun?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Trying to figure out where to travel next? This travel comparison between Tulum and Cancun can help. It includes a travel cost comparison in addition to other factors. For many travelers, the cost of a destination is a primary consideration when choosing where to go.

Tulum

Tulum is a lively, ancient, and archeological town. The beauty of this spot is also one of the main reasons why visitors come. Visitors also love the shopping, museums, and nightlife.

Cancun

Cancun is a adventurous, wild, and party-hard city. This is also a very beautiful destination which attracts plenty of visitors. It's also known for hiking, shopping, and museums.

Tulum and Cancun: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty


Is there more to do in Tulum or Cancun?

Travelers will usually find more to do in Tulum. Although Tulum and Cancun are popular destinations, Tulum has more sights and attractions for tourists. Tulum is famous for its archeological sights, beautiful beaches, and dramatic cenotes. It is also well known for the Tulum archeological ruins. Cancun is famous for its water sports, white sand beaches, popularity at spring break, and access to Mayan ruins.

How is Tulum different from Cancun?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Cancun and Tulum. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Tulum or Cancun?

Tulum
Cancun

Tulum is renowned for its museums and history. Also, Cancun is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its museums and landmarks.

The museums and tourist attractions in Tulum are world-renowned. It's famous for its world-renowned archeological ruins. The Tulum Archeological Site is very popular for its Mayan temples and castles. You can also travel a bit further to see the Cobá Ruins.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Cancun can be an interesting and educational experience. It's possible to do a day trip to visit the impressive Chichén Itzá, but closer by you'll find El Rey Maya Ruins and El Meco Archaeological Site. You can also visit the Maya Museum in town. For something truly unique, you can take a diving or snorkeling trip to the Cancun Underwater Museum.


Is the Food Better in Tulum or Cancun? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Tulum
Cancun

Tulum is a very popular place for its restaurants. Also, Cancun is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its restaurant scene.

Tulum has a huge number of terrific restaurants. Despite being well established as a top tourist destination in Mexico, you'll still find authentic and delicious local cuisine. Favorite dishes around town include the ceviche, tacos al pastor, and sopa de lima (chicken soup).

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Cancun area. If you step away from the tourist scene, you'll find some amazing local restaurants that serve authentic and fresh Mexican cuisine. Favorite dishes in the area include tamales, sopa de lima, and tacos al pastor.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Nightlife?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun are amazing when it comes to partying.

Tulum is a must-see party destination. It's world renowned for its wild nightlife scene and you'll find iconic beach parties, jungle raves, and trendy Tuluminati parties. Most of the local places that are a bit more affordable are in town, and the more touristy and expensive places are around the Middle Beach Zone.

Cancun is a destination that you simply have to visit at least once for nightlife. It's long been known as a party destination and there are large world famous clubs as well as smaller bars where you can hang out. The party never stops here, so be prepared for all night dancing and drinking, and it will definitely live up to its reputation.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Resorts?

Tulum
Cancun

If luxury resorts are your style, both Tulum and Cancun have amazing options.

Tulum is a world class resort vacation destination. If you're on a budget, you can stay in town for a more reasonable price, but if you want a classic beach vacation, head to the Zona Hotelera stretch along the coast. There are luxury hotels as well as resorts with beachfront pools and luxury restaurants.

Vacationers flock to Cancun for its luxury resorts. You'll find most of the accommodation options in the Hotel Zone, which runs along Boulevard Kukulkan. The stretch can be divided into three areas, which each have a slightly different personality.


Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun offer amazing scuba diving or snorkeling.

Tulum is a world class destination for scuba diving and snorkeling. The water along the coast is shallow and clear, which is perfect for snorkeling. There are also dive trips that take you a short distance out to diverse and beautiful reefs.

People travel from around the world to go scuba diving and snorkeling in Cancun. Beautiful reefs and world class dives make this a popular destination for those who want to explore the undersea world. You'll find plenty of snorkeling and dive excursions in the area with diverse coral and marine life.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Beaches?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun are considered to be amazing beach destinations.

Tulum is considered to be a world-class beach destination. World class beaches with turquoise water and long stretches of sand make this a true beach-lovers paradise. Playa Paraíso is a favorite beach in the area and many consider it among the most beautiful beaches in Mexico.

Cancun offers stunning beaches that attract visitors from around the world. There are stunning white sand beaches and turquoise blue water that make this a beautiful beach destination. There are miles of sandy coastline with many of the beaches found in the Hotel Zone.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Hiking?

Tulum
Cancun

Tulum is a very popular place for its hiking trails. Also, Cancun is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its hiking experiences.

Many visitors explore the nearby hiking trails while visiting Tulum. There are coastal walks and routes that take you through the jungle or by archeological ruins. There are many places where you can enjoy a stroll through nature.

Cancun has hiking trails worth exploring. There are some beautiful walking paths and hiking trails that are within the area.


Is the Shopping Better in Tulum or Cancun?

Tulum
Cancun

Tulum is a very popular place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Cancun is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Tulum is well-known for its shopping. Quirky souvenir shops, local artisan boutiques, and colorful bazaars make shopping a fun experience. Make sure you check out Mercado Maya or the Tulum Bazaar while you're in town.

Many visitors go to Cancun to go shopping. While most people visit for the beaches and nightlife, there are shopping malls and markets where you can enjoy some retail therapy.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Families?

Tulum
Cancun

Cancun is terrific for its family-friendly activities. Also, Tulum is not as famous, but is still a good town to visit for its kid-friendly activities.

Cancun is an extremely popular city to visit for families. Although this part of Mexico has long had a reputation for its party scene, the area also attracts many families, who come for the family-friendly resorts, world class snorkeling, and fascinating jungle tours. You can snorkel at the Garrafon Natural Reef Park or have fun on the water slides at Ventura Park. Xel-Ha Park is also worth a visit.

Because of its large number of kid-friendly activities, Tulum is very family-friendly. Kids will love the beaches and archeological sights as much as adults. You can also visit a cenote or see the sea turtles at Akumal Bay. If you're open to getting out of town, there are many adventure parks in the area as well.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Couples?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun are amazing destinations for a couple's getaway.

Tulum is a great town for couples, as it has plenty to offer. Beautiful beaches, world famous archeological sights, and a wild nightlife scene make this a great honeymoon or couple's destination. There are also spas, cenotes, and even cooking classes that you can take together.

Cancun is fantastic couple's destination with fun and romantic activities. As a world class honeymoon destination, you'll find stunning white sand beaches, amazing snorkeling and diving, and a huge range of entertainment options. You can enjoy the nightlife scene or check out Cirque du Soleil. Sunset boat cruises and romantic horseback rides all make this an amazing honeymoon destination.


Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun are superb destinations for backpackers.

Backpackers come from all over to visit Tulum. It's no longer an undiscovered backpacker paradise, but there are still affordable options in the area and there's a great nightlife scene.

Many backpackers visit Cancun. Mixed in between the luxury resorts are a few hostels that cater to the backpacker crowd. There are so many activities in the area, from diving to partying, that appeal to the backpacker crowd, that it won't be long before you find your people.

Is Tulum or Cancun Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Tulum
Cancun

Both Tulum and Cancun offer nice public transit options.

Tulum has a few public transit options. There are shared vans, Collectivos, that provide transportation through the area. The Tiburon is also a local bus that runs along the coastline.

Cancun has some public transit options. The buses are an efficient way to get around. They stop along Boulevard Kukulcán and throughout the downtown.

Is Tulum or Cancun a more walkable city?

Tulum
Cancun

Tulum and Cancun both are superb when exploring on foot.

Tulum is very walkable. It's easy to walk around downtown Tulum and explore on foot.

Cancun is a very walkable town. The Hotel Zone is where most tourists spend their time, and this area is very walkable.


For even more information, also check out Is Tulum Worth Visiting? and Is Cancun Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Cancun or Tulum?

How long in Tulum or Cancun?

Both Tulum and Cancun have a number of activities to choose from. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Cancun than in Tulum. Usually, 3-5 days is a good amount of time for Tulum, and 4-7 days is enough time in Cancun.

Families should spend more time in Cancun than Tulum. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Cancun, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Tulum than Cancun. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Tulum that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Tulum than Cancun if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Tulum.


  • How many days in Tulum or Cancun? Ideal Length of Stay
    Tulum 3-5 
    Cancun 4-7

One day in Tulum or Cancun?

Many travelers enjoy the scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping when visiting the destination of Tulum. Hikers are also drawn to this area. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than one day exploring.

In Cancun, many people enjoy the food and scuba diving and snorkeling that this wild destination offers. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it.

A weekend in Tulum or Cancun?

Tulum is a great place to explore. With so much to do, a weekend is probably not enough time to see everything. Your budget might influence how long you stay.

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Cancun. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision.

Five days in Tulum or Cancun?

It's hard to know how much time to spend in Tulum. For many, it makes a great getaway for five days. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. With all of its activities, you can easily fill five days here. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

Cancun is a fun place to experience. In Cancun, many people enjoy the shopping and museums that this destination offers. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. This would be the perfect place to spend five days, as it has just the right amount of activities.


A week in Tulum or Cancun?

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the lively destination of Tulum. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.

In Cancun, many people enjoy the museums and nightlife that this party-hard destination offers. Plenty of people spend one week in the area when traveling. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. One week is often enough time to do most activities.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Family-Friendly Tours to Mexico, The Best Historical Tours in Mexico, The Best 2-Week Tours in Mexico, and Tours for Outdoor and Nature Lovers in Mexico.


Which place is cheaper, Cancun or Tulum?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Tulum is $122, while the average daily cost in Cancun is $148. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Tulum and Cancun in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Tulum $60
    Cancun $98
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Tulum $120
    Cancun $196
Compare Hotels in Tulum and Cancun

Looking for a hotel in Tulum or Cancun? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Tulum


Hotels in Cancun


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Tulum Hotel Prices and Cancun Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Tulum $28
    Cancun $18
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Tulum

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Tulum are as follows:


  • Scooter Rental
    $18

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Tulum

Some specific examples of transportation prices in Tulum:

  • Transfer from Tulum airport to Bacalar: $240
  • Horseback Riding in the Jungle w/ Transfers and Lunch: $100
  • Tulum to Xcaret - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $76
  • Tulum to Playa del Carmen - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $81
  • Tulum to Chetumal - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $181
  • Tulum to Cancun - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $120
  • Tulum to Cancún Airport (CUN) - Private Departure Transfer: $69
  • Tulum to Bacalar - Private Transfer with Optional Sightseeing: $152
  • Tulum Hotels to Merida Rejon Airport - Departure Private Transfer: $113
  • Roundtrip Transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum: $269
  • Roundtrip Private Transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum: $211
  • Private transfer from Cancun airpot to Tulum up to 7 persons: $191

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Cancun

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for transportation costs in Cancun:


  • Taxi Around Town
    $1.68
  • Airport Shuttle (for 2)
    $14
  • Ferry to Isla de Mujeres (for 2)
    $17
  • Local Bus (for 2)
    $2.04

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Cancun

Also for Cancun, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Cancun Airport Small-Group Transfer to Cancun Hotels: $8.00
  • Cancun airport private transfer: $14
  • Private Transfer in Cancun: $17
  • Shared Round-Trip Transfer To/From Cancun International Airport: $19
  • Shared Transfer to Cancun Downtown or Hotel Zone: $20
  • Private Transfer Cancun Airport to Cancun (Hotel Zone & Center): $20
  • transfers between hotels in Cancun hotel strip: $20
  • Private AC One Way Transfer from Airport to Costa Mujeres: $21
  • Chetumal to Chetumal Airport (CTM) - Departure Private Transfer : $24
  • Private transfer from Cancun Airport CUN to Cancun zones: $25
  • Cancun Hotel Zone Private Transfer From & To Cancun Airport: $25
  • Cancún Airport (CUN) to Punta Sam / Isla Blanca - Private Arrival Transfer: $27

Is it cheaper to fly into Tulum or Cancun?

Prices for flights to both Cancun and Tulum change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Tulum $34
    Cancun $29
Typical Food Prices in Tulum

Some typical examples of dining costs in Tulum are as follows:


  • Lunch
    $3.00

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Tulum

Also, here are some specific examples of food and dining related activities in Tulum.

  • Mexican Cooking from Scratch and Mezcal Tasting in a Local Home in Tulum: $87
  • Vegan Walking Food Tour with Tasting: $90
  • Tulum Vegan Food Tour: $92
  • Gourmet Experience: 5 Course Dinner, Cocktail Class and Wine Pairing: $159
  • Private transfer for 5 hours (go dinner,cenotes, shopping and more) : $299

Typical Food Prices in Cancun

For Cancun, here are some examples of average food and meal prices for travelers:


  • Lunch for Two
    $21

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Cancun

For Cancun, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Captain Hook: Pirate Show and Dinner Cruise in Cancun: $46
  • Mayan Chichen Itza And Pirate Dinner Two Day Experience: $57
  • The Ultimate Cancun Taco & Street Mexican Food Tour: $59
  • (2x1 price) Pirate Night! Dinner, Fun and Show: $63
  • (2x1 price) Dinner Show and Pirates Experience : $63
  • (2x1 price)Pirate Adventure! Open Bar, Dinner and Show : $63
  • Cancun Street Food Tour with Food Stalls, Local Market and Murals: $64
  • Pirate Show and Dinner (2x1 price)! Best Promo : $64
  • Private Ultimate Cancun Taco and Street Mexican Food Tour: $69
  • Cancun Authentic Downtown Food Tour: Tacos and Local Flavors: $78
  • Mexican Cooking Class with fresh Local Market ingredients selection and transpor: $79
  • Cancun Hands-On Mexican Cooking Class : $79

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Tulum $32
    Cancun $35

Tours and Activities in Tulum

Some specific costs of activities, tours, and entrance tickets for Tulum are as follows:

  • Full Day Tour from Tulum to Rio Lagartos: $179
  • Romantic tour in Tulum: $169
  • 2 Cenotes Guided Snorkeling Adventure in Tulum: $149
  • 4-Hour Cenotes Tour with Hotel Pickup in Riviera Maya: $109
  • 5x1 Deluxe Tour Tulum, Coba, Cenote Transportation from Tulum: $88
  • 5x1: Tulum, Coba, Cenote and Mayan Village Full Day Tour: $77
  • ATV Adventure and Horseback Ride with Ziplines, Cenote from Tulum: $105
  • ATV Extreme Adventure Single with Ziplines & Cenote Swim: $137
  • ATV Extreme Adventure Single with Ziplines and Cenote Swim: $140
  • ATV Tour with Ziplines and Cenote Swim Experience in Quintana Roo: $59
  • ATV, Zipline and Cenote at Extreme Adventure with Tulum Pickup: $89
  • Adventure Tulum: $108

Typical Entertainment Prices in Cancun

Below are a few sample prices from actual travelers for Cancun's activities, tours, and tickets:


  • Seasick Pills
    $0.60
  • Whale Shark Tour (for 2)
    $102

Tours and Activities in Cancun

For Cancun, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • ATV Jungle Adventure with Ziplines, Cenote Transportation Included: $8.00
  • Tour to Kin Ha Cenotes with Craft Jewelry Workshop : $12
  • Cancun Mayan Museum Skip-the-Line Ticket: $12
  • Amazing jungle tour adventure speed boat in cancun : $13
  • Half Day National Reef Park Snorkel Adventure in Puerto Morelos: $15
  • Best ATV & Mavericks Experience in Cancun + Cenote + Zip Lines : $20
  • Day Tour to Isla Mujeres Catamarán with Unlimited Drinks: $22
  • Explore Tulum, Coba, Cenote, Playa del Carmen full day 4x1 tour: $22
  • Chichén Itzá Marvels Day Trip:Cenote Oxman & Valladolid Adventure: $25
  • Zipline, Cenote and ATV Adventure with Pickup: $25
  • Adrenaline day in Cancun, Atvs, Ziplines and Cenote experience in the best park!: $25
  • ATV, Ziplines and Cenote swim full experience from Cancún : $25

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Tulum $25
    Cancun $13

Sample the Local Flavors in Tulum

Some specific costs for nightlife related activities in Tulum:

  • 30 Minutes Brewery Tour in Tulum: $39
  • Wine Tasting at Pan y Vino Tulum: $59
  • Beer Tasting and Brewery Tour: $69

Sample the Local Flavors in Cancun

Also in Cancun, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Social Pub Crawl in Cancun: $39
  • Brewery Tour / Craft Beer Tasting Cancun Mexico: $116


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Tulum and Cancun, we can see that Cancun is more expensive. And not only is Tulum much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Tulum would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Tulum and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Cancun would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Cancun than you might in Tulum.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Tulum Expensive? and Is Cancun Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Tulum or Cancun?

Cancun has a larger population, and is about 60 times larger than the population of Tulum. When comparing the sizes of Tulum and Cancun, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.