Each neighborhood in Tulum offers a unique experience, so choosing the one that suits your travel style and preferences can shape what type of experience you have in Tulum. Centro, or downtown, is perfect for travelers wanting a more local vibe, with a variety of eateries, shops, and nightlife at an affordable price. Tulum Beach, on the other hand, offers a more luxurious stay with high-end beachfront resorts and restaurants, ideal for those seeking relaxation and tranquility. Aldea Zama is a purpose-built residential area that sits midway between the beach and downtown, offering a mix of the two. Lastly, La Veleta, a rapidly growing neighborhood, is a great choice for those on a budget yet wanting to be near downtown. 

Tulum Beach (or Zona Hotelera): Best for unique beachfront hotels, glitzy restaurants and fun nightlife.
Zama (or Aldea Zama): Best for high-end accommodation at a great value. 
La Veleta: Best for a more immersive experience with local culture (top choice amongst digital nomads) 
Centro (Downtown): Best for good eats, cheap drinks and easy access to all that the area has to offer.  

Tulum Beach and Zona Hotelera

Where to stay in Tulum: Tulum Beach

The Zona Hotelera and Tulum Beach area is hands down the most popular area to stay in Tulum. After all, when most book a trip to Tulum, they envision spending days on its beautiful beaches and nights in some of the most architecturally astounding restaurants and bars in the world. The area is dotted with luxury hotels that do an incredible job of incorporating the local environment. Granted, the price for such perfection is steep. During the high season, a hotel room in Zona Hotelera ranges from around $2,000 to $8,000 per week–with some hotels far more expensive than that. 

While this area feels the most “Tulum” in terms of what you see on social media, it’s not the only part of Tulum–and it’s surely not actually the most “Tulum.” Not only is it the most expensive area of Tulum, but it’s also the least convenient in terms of everyday amenities, such as grocery shopping, cheap eats and day trips to explore the local area. And it wouldn’t be an honest take on Tulum Beach without mentioning the unfortunate fact that the smell of sewage is not uncommon thanks to widespread plumbing and sewage issues in the area. 

Pros Cons 
It’s at the beach It can be very expensive 
Many luxury hotels to choose from You have to drive to centro for a grocery store 
Lots of high-end restaurants, bars and beach clubs It can take a while to get in/out by car due to traffic 
Fun nightlifeThe smell of sewage is common 
Lots of cool little boutiques  

La Veleta

Where to stay in Tulum: La Veleta

La Veleta was once an area of Tulum where tourists didn’t really venture. Nestled in the jungle between the beach and the city center, it has traditionally been an area where locals lived. Now, however, it’s quickly being built up and becoming a favorite among tourists–particularly digital nomads who are looking to feel more immersed in local culture while still enjoying the glitzy lifestyle that Tulum has to offer those who can afford it. 

Keep in mind that it’s not necessarily the most convenient location in Tulum. It’s a bit of a trek to the beach–even on bicycles and if you’re planning to drive, you might want to think again as there’s very little parking at the beach and it can take a very long time to reach the beach if you happen to hit traffic (which is very common as there are only two roads in and out of the beach). It’s close to the city center, but you are on the far end, farther away from the main grocery store. If you’re looking to stay between the beach and centro, like the jungle vibes, and want a more raw feeling experience than Zama, consider La Veleta. 

Pros Cons 
It’s far more affordable than Zona Hotelera You’re still far from the grocery store 
It’s located between the beach and the city center, making both accessible It’s an area that’s being gentrified, so it can feel like you’re pushing out the locals 
Easy location for day trips It doesn’t feel as secure as Zama 
Digital nomad hotspot 


Where to stay in Tulum: Aldea Zama

Zama is the second most popular area of Tulum for travelers to stay in. Like La Veleta, it’s located in the jungle between the beach and the city center. But unlike La Veleta, it’s a bit closer to the beach. It’s also closer to the big grocery store in centro. It’s a purpose-built area that consists of well-designed condo buildings, many with resort-like facilities–including security, giving it a safer feel than other parts of Tulum. 

While it’s a short bike ride to the beach, it’s ideal for beachgoers who want more space as most of the accommodations are condo units–and a peaceful, quiet area to sleep at night. Whereas, the vast majority of accommodations at the beach are hotel rooms, giving travelers far less space compared to an entire apartment. On the downside, while most travelers have full kitchens in Zama, there are only a few restaurants in Zama. 

Pros Cons 
Close to the beach, but a far better value for price Very few restaurants 
Many high-end apartments in resort-like complexes No nightlife 
Peaceful, quiet area 
One of the safest areas to stay in Tulum 

Centro (Tulum City) 

Where to stay in Tulum: Centro (City Center)

Staying in Tulum’s city center offers an authentic taste of life in this Mexican coastal town–especially when you veer off the main street (the city center consists of one main road) and venture a couple of blocks beyond the main drag. The buzzing centro area is lined with a mix of traditional and modern establishments, from handmade tortilla shops to avant-garde restaurants. Colorful murals adorn the city’s walls, reflecting the vibrant art scene. In the evenings, the city center transforms into a lively hub, with music wafting from bars and cafes, inviting locals and tourists alike to enjoy Tulum’s vibrant nightlife.

In my experience, we ended up gravitating more towards meals and nights in centro than the beach. While the beach is great for high-end restaurants and clubs, centro feels more authentic. It has less of an ego, which sort of lends itself to feeling more fun. It’s also far more affordable, and doesn’t require reservations to get into places, long lines or steep cover charges.

Pros Cons 
Most affordable area of Tulum Farthest area from Tulum Beach 
Lots of restaurants, bars and shops nearby Less peaceful than the areas in the jungle (Zama and La Veleta) 
The outskirts of the city center feel more like “real” Tulum 
Ideal for those who are taking a lot of day trips 
Lots going on, which can make it more fun 

Bottom Line: Where to Stay in Tulum 

There’s really no wrong place to stay in Tulum, but depending on your travel style, preferences and what you’re looking to get out of your trip to Tulum, there are definitely more suitable areas for certain people. Naturally, if you’re planning to arrive and enjoy days lounging on the beach followed by dinners at luxury beachfront restaurants, choose Tulum Beach. If you want to experience more of the local culture and get a less touristy experience, stay near the city center. And if you want the best of both worlds, choose Zama or La Veleta.