Considering renting a car in Tulum for your next vacation?
Tulum is an incredible destination to visit but many of the main attractions are quite spread out. You have long stretches of beach, various ancient ruins, more cenotes than you’ll ever have time for and so much more.
This makes renting a car in Tulum the absolute BEST way to get around the area.
By renting a car you get total freedom to decide where to go and when suits you. You aren’t left waiting on pricey taxi rides or unreliable buses. It is also possible to visit some places that are just not accessible otherwise.
With so many rental car options and information on the internet, where do you even start?!
Don’t worry we’ve got you covered. In this Guide, we will make sure you get all the relevant and important information, so you can get started with renting a car right away.
Another reason we will always choose to use Discover cars is that they have free cancellation up to 48 hours before your pick-up. So you get to book with peace of mind knowing that if your travel plans change you won’t be out of pocket.
And as seasoned travellers, we can safely say travel plans change all the time.
Renting a Car In Tulum: The Best Options
Tulum has a huge selection of rental car companies to choose from. Some really great and reliable and many are not so great and pretty unreliable. I will compare a few of the best rental companies in Tulum to save you the time and effort of doing all the research yourself.
I would still recommend always using a website like Discover Cars to do a price comparison, to make sure you get the best deals.
For all rental companies in Tulum, you will need a driver’s licence and a credit card both with a year’s validity and a passport in order to rent a car.
Despite its name, EuropeCar actually offers car rentals all over the world. They are one of the biggest car rental companies worldwide and one of the most trusted.
They are often not the cheapest option when you shop around online but that is because you are also paying for reliability, decent quality cars and good customer service, should you need help.
- Price Range – $55 – $300 per day
- Deposit – You will need a credit card for this and they will hold anywhere between $5000-$10000 depending on the car. This is by far the largest deposit required from all of the rental companies.
- What’s included – Basic level of mandatory Insurance
- Minimum rental age – 18
- Extra costs – Younger driver daily charges, additional driver daily charges, options of medium or premium level insurance instead of the basic, Glass and Tyre protection, breakdown cover, optional WIFI
- Car Selection – Around 17 different types of cars are available ranging from a small 1.0-litre Renault Kwid to 3.6-litre Volkswagen. They have a mix of Manual and Automatics so you can choose whichever you are most used to driving. All of their cars have air-con.
- Mileage allowance – Unlimited
- Rating on Discover cars – 8.2/10 Excellent
Finally, they have an app so you can check in online before you collect your rental and speed up the whole process.
They are open from 8 am – 6 pm which gives you a nice big window for collecting and dropping off your rental.
🚗 Mex Car Rentals
Mex Car Rentals is a Mexican rental company that has locations all throughout the country. Whilst searching on Discover cars they do come up as the cheapest options, but this often comes at a price somewhere else down the line.
They have a bit of a reputation for being a little sneaky and adding extra costs when you arrive to pick up the car. Whatever fees you see online, it is safer to double them and that is what you will most likely end up paying.
- Price Range – $23 – $55 per day
- Deposit – Again a credit card is required and they will hold anywhere between $530 – $1455 depending on the car
- What’s included – Basic level of mandatory Insurance and a basic level of collision cover.
- Minimum rental age – 18
- Extra costs – Mex also charges Younger drivers daily charges, additional driver daily charges, options to upgrade to Total coverage insurance for $18 extra a day, Glass and Tyre protection, Roadside assistance cover (no price available they will charge this at pick up)
- Car Selection – They have around 8 different cars to choose from ranging from a small Volkswagen Polo to larger estate cars. They only have Automatic cars available and all of their cars also have air-con.
- Mileage allowance – Unlimited
- Rating on Discover cars – 7.1/10 Very Good
The Mex Car Rental office is open 9 am – 5 pm and is located right next to Europe Car.
Alamo is another worldwide car rental company, that Is used and trusted by many.
A nice perk of Alamo is they have the option to pay for the car in advance for a discounted price. If you cancel, you will be charged a fee if you pay in advance. This is perfect for getting a better rate for last-minute bookings. Or you can pay on pick up and keep the option of free cancellation.
- Price Range – $55 – $90 per day
- Deposit – A deposit of $ 816.86 will be held on the driver’s credit card
- What’s included – Basic level of Mandatory insurance with no deductible
- Minimum rental age – 21
- Extra costs – They have various optional insurance extras, a tablet with WIFI, GPS devices to rent and charges for younger drivers.
- Car Selection – Alamo has a large collection of Automatics and Manual cars. They range from mini cars such as Chevrolet Spark to SUVs, Jeeps and up to full-size cars like a Volkswagon Jetter. All cars have air-con.
- Mileage allowance – Unlimited
- Rating on Discover cars – 8.5/10 Excellent
Alome is located centrally in Downtown Tulum and they are also open 8 am – 6 pm.
With over 1500 locations worldwide, National are another big car rental company with a reliable reputation.
- Price Range – $49 – $80 per day
- Deposit – A deposit of $500 – $786.24 is required when renting through National, they will hold this on your credit card.
- What’s included – Third-party liability insurance is included.
- Minimum rental age – 21
- Extra costs – As with the previous companies there is the option to add various different insurances, roadside protection and WIFI. There will be a fee for young drivers and also for any additional drivers you wish to add to the booking.
- Car Selection – They have a selection of around 16 different cars to choose from ranging from a Chevrolet Matiz to a Kia Forte. Both Manual and Automatic cars are available to choose from. All cars have air-con.
- Mileage allowance – Unlimited
- Rating on Discover cars – 8.1/10 Excellent
National Car Rentals are open 9 am – 5 pm and are also located in Downtown Tulum.
Costs Associated With Renting A Car In Tulum
It is often the case when renting a car in Tulum that the price you see online isn’t the final amount you end up paying when you go to collect your rental car. If you know this and are prepared for it, then you will have a much better experience when the time comes. I’ll explain why;
When you choose the car you like the look of online, you will see a daily rental charge. This may or may not include the mandatory insurance that you have to have when driving in Mexico.
Some rental companies include the bare minimum insurance whilst others don’t, it is always wise to check before booking. Sometimes even if the minimum is included, companies have been known to still insist you pay for full coverage insurance upon pick up.
There are often Taxes to pay as well, which will have been in the fine print but not obvious when booking. The best thing you can do is take the price you see online and double it. This is more like what you will be paying for your rental car in Tulum.
It is frustrating we know, but sadly often unavoidable.
Other fees to be aware of that are usually included at the time of booking are an extra daily fee for drivers under 25 years old. Additionally, you will have to pay an extra daily fee if you want to add a second driver to share the driving with. Each of these fees is around $10 a day on average with most companies.
With these extra fees in mind, a great way to keep the costs down is to allocate one person as the driver and ideally pick someone older than 25 if possible.
Keep in mind that there are many toll roads in Tulum and the rest of Mexico that will add extra costs and also the price of Gasoline will not be included in the rental.
Is renting a car in Tulum safe?
Renting a car in Tulum is safe and a very common way for tourists to explore the area. Crimes against tourists on the road or in rental cars are very low. The biggest safety issues to be aware of are the conditions of the roads themselves and other drivers.
Locals are known to be pretty reckless when it comes to driving so you will need to be extra alert to compensate for this.
Although you should be fine and left to go about your business, you should still practice caution and keep the doors locked and windows closed whilst driving, especially when stopping at traffic lights.
Lastly, don’t leave any valuables in the car and try to always park in a secure car park.
Tips For Driving In Tulum
Renting a car in Tulum is going to be so much fun and give you tonnes of freedom to make the most out of your vacation. As with doing anything in a new country, it is important to understand the different rules and conditions that you are going to experience.
Being prepared will always allow you to make the most of your experience. Tulum and Mexico in general have some pretty bad road conditions. We are talking gravel, huge potholes, dirt tracks uneven roads and all kinds of obstacles in the roads.
Not to mention local drivers can be pretty unruly. It is really important to be alert at all times when driving a rental car in Tulum.
To give you a head start I have put together a list of important things to remember and be on the lookout for whilst driving in Tulum;
✔️ Drive on the right-hand side of the road – In Mexico, it is important to know that they drive on the right-hand side of the road. Great if you’re coming from the US but definitely one to remember if you’re visiting from the UK.
✔️ Speed limits – Speed limits will always be shown on road signs in kilometres per hour. There are often road signs showing the speed limit but on highways, it is usually a max of 100kph and on small residential roads anything from 30-60kph.
It is important to not go over the speed limit, as tempting as it might be. You will see locals speeding all the time. Trust me when I say the police will see and they will stop you before any local because they can usually charge you far more for speeding than a local.
✔️ Look out for speed bumps or Topes – Topes is the local name given to the incredibly common speed bump. Sometimes they are accompanied by a yellow sign at the side of the road, but not always.
So keep your eyes open for them. The last thing you want is some unexpected airtime thanks to an undetected speed bump.
✔️ Don’t call or text whilst driving – It is strictly against the law to use a mobile phone whilst driving, as in most countries. So if your phone is needed for navigation make sure it is in a phone holder on the dashboard and not in your hand or on your lap.
✔️ Use the main toll roads – Mexico and Tulum have a huge network of toll roads. Yes, they come at a price but they are far better maintained and much nicer to drive on. This way you can avoid damage to the vehicle and reduce the risk of having any extra unwanted charges when you return the car.
✔️ Mandatory Liability Insurance – In Mexico and Tulum, it is required by Law to be insured whilst driving. This has to be a specific type of insurance provided by licenced companies within Mexico.
Most rental companies can provide you with the insurance you need, but you cannot rent a car without it. Having your own travel insurance will not be enough on its own.
✔️ Have your driving license on you – Just as you would in your home country, it is wise to keep your driving license on you when driving the car. Should the police stop you, they will ask to see it and you don’t want to give them any reason to be able to fine you.
✔️ Wear your seatbelt – In Mexico, it is required by law that you wear a seatbelt whilst in a car. That goes for everyone, not just the driver. Plus with the way some of the locals drive, you will be able to see why it’s so important.
✔️ Have cash on you – Having some Cash on you is a good idea. Some small changes will be handy for paying for the toll roads. Many Gas stations won’t have the option to pay by card and cash will be your only option.
✔️ Download google maps offline – This is something I do on every trip regardless of if I will be driving or not. Admittedly it is extra handy if you do plan to rent a car. By downloading the area to an offline map you don’t have to worry about losing your internet connection and getting lost if you drive in more remote areas.
✔️ Police Stops – Tourists in Mexico and Tulum who have rented a car will nearly always end up with a story about how they were stopped by the police for one reason or another.
The likelihood is you will have done absolutely nothing wrong (because we know you won’t be speeding, on your phone or not wearing a seatbelt) but they will probably explore their creative skills and come up with some obscure reason that you need to pay a fine.
Don’t worry too much, it is pretty common and will end up as an amusing story to tell the folks back home.
✔️ Gas stations – In Tulum and the rest of Mexico, you do not get your own gasoline at a gas station. They all have attendants who will come and do it for you.
A couple of tips are to make sure that before they start the meter is at 0. Tell them if you want it full or how much you would like to add. Make sure to count out the cash to them note by note to void any funny business. Remember, not all gas stations have the option to pay by card.
If you plan to leave Tulum and go further afield, check on google maps before you set off where the next gas stations will be. Some stretches of road in Mexico can go for miles and miles with no gas stations and the last thing you want to do is run out of gas.
Popular Destinations In Tulum
There is so much to see and do in and around the Tulum area that it can get a little overwhelming trying to decide how to spend your time.
I have carefully picked 5 of the top things to do based on some of the things we loved most on our visit to Tulum. Plus a couple of really great places we would love to go back and explore.
Having a rental car makes visiting these places a million times easier.
☀️ Cenote Calavera
This Cenote is pretty close to Tulum but is one of the most interesting and fun cenotes in the area. It would be easy to spend a whole afternoon jumping in and out of the water and relaxing on their deck chairs in the sun.
They also have a bar where you can get drinks and snacks, changing rooms, showers and toilets.
The entrance is around $18 plus an additional $15 if you want to take in a camera or go pro (shhh just don’t tell them). They have life jackets available too.
We walked from downtown Tulum to this cenote, which took about an hour and left us 2 big, sweaty, messes. I really wish we had had a car, it would’ve made getting there so much easier.
➡️ If you prefer to have someone do all the organising for you then check out this full-day tour to visit 4 different Cenotes
You can read our full guide to this cenote here.
☀️ Tulum Ruins
If you’re keen on history and exploring ancient ruins then you should definitely add Tulum archaeological site to your itinerary. Located not far from downtown Tulum, but ideal if you have a car. Head along the main road out of Tulum towards Cancun for about 3km and you will get to the main car park.
The biggest draw to this ancient Mayan site is that it is the only complex they built by the ocean. The stunning ocean views make this site totally unique.
➡️ We love the look of this tour to explore Tulum Ruins and Coba Ruins (plus a cenote!)
☀️ Azulik City of Arts
If you are a lover of Arts then this is the place for you. Popular among Instagrammers for its stunning architecture, Azulik is a totally one-of-a-kind place.
Located between Tulum and Valladolid, it can be easily visited on a day out or added in as a stop-off on your way through. Roughly 26km from Downtown Tulum, allow for around 40 minutes to drive there.
➡️ Check out their website for more information
☀️ Chichen Itza
A Visit to Tulum would not be complete without making the time to go and explore Chichen Itza, one of the 7 wonders of the world.
This incredibly well-preserved Mayan pyramid will leave you seriously impressed, trust me. This was one of our highlights when visiting Tulum and the Yucatan region.
We hired a scooter to reach the site but having a car would’ve been ideal because the roads to get there are large fast roads. Much safer in a car than a scooter that’s for sure.
From Tulum, it is around 150km which should take about 2 hours in a rental car.
Read all about our visit to Chichen Itza.
➡️ Save time and book your Skip the line tickets to Chichen Itza here!
☀️ Reserva de la Biosfera Sian Ka’an
This very special biological reserve is an ideal place to visit if you’re renting a car in Tulum. Located just south of Tulum it is normally very hard to access as public transport to the area is uncommon and unreliable and it is pretty remote.
Having a car means you can go and explore remote, idyllic nature and go in search of the dolphins that live in the reserve.
➡️ Check out this awesome boat tour of Sian Kaan to get out and explore the reserve.
Where to Stay in Tulum
Tulum is actually split into two main areas; The Playa/beach area and Downtown. Both areas have their perks.
The beach is super safe and pretty much just hotels, resorts and restaurants so you have everything you could possibly need, right there on the beachfront. It is, however pretty expensive.
Downtown Tulum, is more affordable, close to the bus station and also has tonnes of bars and restaurants to choose from.
To help you decide here are a few options for different budgets;
📍Best Budget Spot – Day Tripper Hostel – This popular and social hostel is located right in the centre of downtown. For only $20 a night, you can get a bed in a mixed dorm with free breakfast included.
📍Best Mid-Range Spot – Hostel Oryx Tulum – This Hostel has great reviews and is ideally located on the main road downtown, super close to everything. For $50 a night, you can get a private room with a bathroom, and complimentary breakfast and they have a great pool to relax in too.
📍Best Luxury Spot – Posada Lamar Tulum – This Luxury beachfront hotel has private ensuite rooms for $132 per night. What could be better than lounging right on the private beach or spending your days by the pool?
Renting A Car In Tulum – Final Thoughts
As you have seen, renting a car in Tulum is not only safe but a really convenient way to get around and explore some really great, nearby places.
One of our only regrets whilst in Tulum was that we didn’t rent a car. We plan to go back one day and explore some more cenotes. When we do we will 100% be renting a car!