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TULUM, MEXICO (La Valeta) “The City of Dawn”

(2022-24, 5 WEEKS)

Read my long-from blog post on my month in Tulum.

Watch my video about Tulum.

UPDATE: My month visit in 2024 is my third time visiting Tulum. I am here to judge its future potential as a world-renowned destination and to understand what it would take to get there. Given my extended stay, and it has been a year since my last trip,

I am giving Tulum a clean slate and withholding judgment for ten days. If you want to read about what my original thoughts were based on a few days, scroll to the bottom.

  • Check your bills! There's a very high likelihood that you will be overcharged. How did it happen to me? 10 extra pesos for forgetting my ticket to pick up my laundry (never in the 100 cities I'd had my laundry washed has that been a thing)
  • When the energy goes off, go to a coworking space or the cafe/resto in the Motto by Hilton hotel
  • Best evening activity: Palma Central (food trucks) on Tuesdays nights with a salsa class at 7pm
  • How to negotiate in Mexico: half their extortionate initial cost. Then, half it again. Taxi from Cancun to Tulum was 5,600 MXN ($32). Half it to 2,800. Half it again to 1,400. I got the ride for 2,000, but I later met a guy who got it for 1,275.
  • “cenote” means “sacred well” in Mayan
  • Spanish is not necessary here
  • Very high police and military presence. You'll see one every 5 minutes.
  • Wifi
    • In Airbnb: 45Mbps
    • In a cafe: 320Mbps
    • In coworking: 490Mbps (Mangohub)
  • A well developed WhatsApp group scene for events, coworking, etc.: https://chat.whatsapp.com/BNcNKKPJhunK52aaJpAo5a
  • 75% of latinos here are Argentinians
  • Sargazo/Seaweed on the beach all months I've visited: January, March, May (the official 'seaweed season' runs April to October)
  • Still a TON of construction going on, entire blocks fully being constructed.
  • A bike/scooter city. If you get a scooter, you can get the 125cc for 5k monthly with hard negotiating, although I recommend a more powerful one given the day trips you will likely do. Also, get storage to lockup your helmet.
  • Best laundromat (yes, very rare, and very hard to find): DAGETP (no Google pin yet, but it's in La Valeta on Calle 7/the popular street)
  • Biggest Airbnb Buildings
    • Cacao - 54
    • Panoramic - 84 (360-degree rooftop pool with 12 meter waterfall)
    • Mistiq (reservations: +52.984.247.1151)
      • Mistiq Villas - 30 private residences facing a pool
      • Mistiqq Tulum - 96
      • Mistiq Gardens (and Mistiq Gardens II) - 102
      • Mistiq Temple
      • Mistiq Premium
    • Xalet - 63 (with shopping area onsite and small sand beach)
    • Adoro - (natural cenote plus some private residence onsite)
    • Central Park Lagunas - 177
    • Cantral Park

The following two paragraphs are my notes from prior years' trips.

The infrastructure is poor. The water smells bad. During high season, the electricity (and thus water) goes out often. The wifi is poor, even in the nicer neighborhoods. Everything is obscenely expensive for no increase in value. Full of rich white hippy-ish people who don't speak Spanish trying to get an "authentic" international experience, sometimes with their kids along for the "multicultural" ride. I have nothing wrong with this. It's only an observation. I find it interesting that these environmentalist (probably) liberals (probably) turn an eye to all the piles of trash on the road, dumping of sewage in the mangroves, and septic tanks leading into the groundwater. The roads are not paved with indents that fill with water. Horrible during rain. A 6 minutes taxi ride from the bus stop to the hotel is $11. Just up the road in Playa del Carmen, this same ride would be $2. Day pass at the gym $14. Beard trim $23. The only somewhat normal price was laundry service at $4 for a load, but there's no possibility of same day service. It reminds me of Bali in many ways, and that's not a good thing. Like Bali, the locals aren't all that friendly, mostly ignoring the visitors. They're not overtly rude, it's subtleties, and, in restaurants, bad service. Once I ordered, I went to the bathroom, and my food was placed on a separate table. I sat down and the server pointed to my food on a different table. I'm still unsure why people like it here so much other than it's a safe environment outside of the western world?

With that said, there is potential. Minus the humidity, it's got pretty good weather, it's got beach, it can be very walkable. I'd love to see a coordinated effort in development like planned sidewalks, paved streets, trash pickup, or not cutting down 99% of the trees and losing a lot of the potential magic vibes. The dirt roads, can even work. Walking on a basic, dirt road turning to your left and there's a modern coffee shop. That would be cool. Instead what I'm seeing, like Bali, is privately developed plots of land which look great (!) then total shit an inch from the privately owned land, garbage, uneven roads, aesthetically poor.

The best visual Tulum neighborhood guide that I found
Known For: Mayan Ruins, Zamna music festival, Instagrammable
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CITY IMPRESSIONS

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I choose the items below as they’re generally available everywhere. Thus, easy for comparison. The prices reflect the cheapest option given my standard. In any estination you can find slightly cheaper prices if you wanted to sacrifice convenience (ie going to local market or out-of-town grocery store).
ITEM
  • Airbnb Nightly Rate
  • Dinner (regular)
  • Dinner (fancy)
  • 10min Taxi
  • Scooter Rental (125cc)
  • Scuba (2 tanks)
  • Coworking Day Pass
  • 1-Hour Massage
  • 1-Month Gym
  • Beard Trim
  • Pedicure
  • 2wk Acuvue2 Contacts (6)
  • 16.9oz Water
  • 2KG Wash+Fold
  • Expresso
  • Salmon
  • Chicken Breast
  • Almonds
  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Red Wine
MEXICAN PESO (in town/on beach)
  • 1,530 / 4,333
  • 400 / 1,000
  • 900 / 1,700
  • 200
  • 516
  • 3,500
  • 400 / –
  • 799 / 1,199
  • 950
  • 400 / –
  • 400
  • 560
  • 7.5
  • 23/KG
  • 45
  • 299/KG
  • 182/KG
  • -/KG
  • 59/KG
  • 21.70/KG
  • 89
US DOLLARS (in town/on beach)
  • 89 / 252
  • 23 / 58
  • 52 / 99
  • 12
  • 30/day
  • 204
  • 23 / –
  • 46 / 70
  • 52
  • 23 / –
  • 23
  • 33
  • 0.44
  • 0.61/LB
  • 2.62
  • 7.90/LB
  • 4.81/LB
  • 0.00/LB
  • 1.52/LB
  • 0.57/LB
  • 5
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