Mexico 2013, Part 2: Tulum, the City of Dawn


Shop at Tulum

After poking around downtown, the next morning we headed off to Tulum, a Pre-Columbian Mayan city that once served as a major port for Cobá, another Mayan city further inland. It's the 3rd most visited archeological site in Cancun, after Chichen Itza and Teotihuacan, but it is the most well-preserved.

Tulúm is also the Yucatan Mayan word for fence, wall or trench, and the walls surrounding the site allowed the Tulum fort to be defended against invasions. Tulum had access to both land and sea trade routes, making it an important trade hub, especially for obsidian. - Wiki
The Great Palace

Though the Tulum archeological site is surprisingly small (the part you can wander around at least), there is still plenty to see because so many of the structures are still standing. You can still see the stone wall around the city and the reef they built to protect themselves against invaders by sea.

View of the Caribbean Sea. This beach is protected for nesting turtles.

See how the water suddenly turns dark blue? That is a barrier reef, which would ground any invading ships that should try to come to shore.

Cooling off in the Caribbean.  Credits: Julie.

There is also a set of stairs near the Pyramid El Castillo that you can use to walk down the cliffs and dip your toes into the Caribbean.  It's a great way to cool off on a hot day and a gorgeous place to take pictures!

God of Winds Temple. Credits: Julie.

Unfortunately, we were here after the sun had risen (plus it was a little cloudy), but if you can manage it, you should try to visit Tulum during sunrise. In fact, Tulum used to be called Zama, meaning City of Dawn because it faces the sunrise.

Inside the Cenotes House.

If you visit Tulum, 2 hours should be suffice to see the ruins and do a quick run through of the marketplace, which is pretty much exactly the amount of time we got during our tour. The first hour, we had an English-speaking guide and the second hour, we were allowed to walk around as we please. For the curious, we booked this tour (Tulum+Xel-ha+Transportation) through the Xel-Ha website and all in all, I think we got a pretty decent deal :) Though you could probably get a cheaper deal if you book in Mexico, booking online beforehand was very stress-free and we were very well taken care of. Totally recommended!

A gigantic, cold coconut :)  Credits: Julie.

It was also incredibly hot that day (my faux leather backpack was literally melting on my back - my shirt got permanently stained :\), so I stole a few sips from Julie's coconut ;) The coconut was a surprise to me, I thought coconuts were supposed to be brown and hairy ^^ but it tasted very refreshing all the same!

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