Tulum, the gem of the Riviera Maya, is famed for its turquoise seas, ancient ruins, and chic hotel scene. There’s so much to see by day, but if you’re a night owl, you might be wondering what are the top things to do in Tulum at night.
Tulum is a nightlife hotspot and is often dubbed the Ibiza of Mexico. The beach club scene might be exclusive and hard to navigate, but there are plenty of other things to keep you entertained. Our guide explores nine of the best activities to do in Tulum come nightfall from pub crawls to night shopping and satisfying your sweet cravings.
This bohemian city is just as much about having fun after dark as it is about the Caribbean beaches and cenotes, but you might just find that some of these experiences incorporate those things. Let’s get into it.
Visit a Beach Club
One of the big appeals of Tulum’s nightlife is the elusive hotel zone and its upscale beach clubs. Located east of Tulum Pueblo, you’ll find most of the expensive resorts, restaurants, and unique stays here but amid all the refinement and tranquility are the best parties in town.
The beach clubs are notoriously expensive but dancing the night away at one is a right of passage for any visit to Tulum and many offer welcome deals and discounted guest lists to help keep prices down (this might involve arriving before a certain time so keep your eye out for event information on social media pages).
Papaya Playa Project, a sustainable boutique hotel complex with beachfront cabins and cottages, hosts one of the most renowned weekly events in Tulum. Famous DJs, upbeat music, a beachfront setting and an energetic crowd will set you up for a night to remember. They even host a monthly full moon party, but this exclusive event is a far cry from the glow paint and alcopop buckets of Koh Phangan.
Saturday is the best night to head to Papaya Playa and it’s open until 3 am which is otherwise unheard of on the beach.
There’s also Gitano’s, the pumping Friday night spot in the high season in Tulum. Known for its disco house nights that offer a welcome break from the predominant techno scene of Tulum’s beach clubs, Gitano is set under thatched canopy in a jungle-like venue serving up some of the best mezcal cocktails east of Mexico City.
For midweek fun, head to Mia by Selina, the elegant restaurant and club run by the well-loved hostel group. Two Wednesdays a month, Mia by Selina combines Tulum’s electronic music culture with their premium dining to bring an all day party that runs from 2pm – 1am, hosting some of the biggest DJs in the business.
All these clubs have entry fees ranging from $30-80 per person depending on the night and you should expect to pay premiums for drinks and food too, but it will all be worth it for a night you’ll never forget.
Join a Pub Crawl
It’s not all about the flashy beach clubs though. Tulum Pueblo’s humble center is often overlooked by more luxury travelers but it shouldn’t be. Most of the action, from amenities to restaurants, is concentrated in the downtown and a bar hop is a great way to get accustomed to the best of Tulum’s nightlife.
For $20-30 an experienced guide will take you around three to four venues with welcome shots and discounted drinks included. This is your chance to soak up the lively atmosphere of Tulum’s best backpacker haunts and meet like-minded individuals as you do.
The hostels are where most of the fun is at in Tulum and you’re sure to stop by some well-loved spots on your night. Ché Hostel with its happy hours, ladies nights, and karaoke is a great place to get started, and finishing your night on the rooftop of Straw Hat or Santino’s Bar is non-negotiable.
You can expect drinking games and endless fun. A pub crawl is a far cry from the beach club party scene but you’ve got to tick it off your Tulum bucket list.
Got to a Lively Dinner
Another way to get the party started is by enjoying a sizzling Mexican dinner–Tulum style. Tulum is known for its foodie scene from the seafood barbecues at the beach to the vegan salad bars tucked away in downtown, but Tulum is also notorious for enmeshing its nightlife with its culinary experiences.
There are plenty of places to enjoy mouth-watering Mexican food in Tulum but if you’re looking for a bit of excitement from your midweek dinner, head down to Casa Jaguar or Rosa Negra in the hotel zone.
Casa Jaguar is a stylish restaurant in a jungle setting with a peaceful environment by day, but every Thursday night at 11 pm, dinner and cocktails turn into a raucous dance party. Rosa Negra offers somewhat of a more unique dining experience. It has a rustic, bohemian style, but this restaurant is known for its lively ambiance and you can join the party every night of the week.
Described as one of Tulum’s most successful gastronomic concepts, the menu at Rosa Negra pays tribute to all Latin American cuisines with dishes inspired by Peruvian, Argentinian, Colombian, Brazilian, and, of course, Mexican culture The mood is set by candlelight and a percussion show fills the floor with energy while you enjoy your meal.
Audience participation is all part of the fun and you’ll be swinging your napkin along with the crowd before you know it.
Explore the Night Markets
If you don’t want to party in Tulum, there’s still a lively atmosphere to be enjoyed in downtown come nightfall and the market is one of the places to head. It might not have much to contend with the sprawling bazaars of Southeast Asia, but there’s a generous selection of local stalls with food, jewelry, cosmetics, and handcrafted souvenirs to peruse.
Tulum is known for its artisan silver and silver work. In fact, Mexico is one of the leading producers of silver in the world, and although the very best can be found in the small city of Taxco in Guerrero, you’ll still find high-quality Mexican silver with 92.5-99.9 percent purity in Tulum.
You could spend hours browsing the small selection of stalls, trying on bracelets, and sampling local food. You’ll find the small night market in Parque Museo de la Cultura Maya, surrounding the Tulum sign, between Calle Osiris and Calle Alfa on the main strip.
Tuck into Street Tacos
Now, you can’t mention night stalls without talking about street tacos. Street tacos are as authentic as you can get. Forget Tex-Mex cuisine, these bites of deliciousness combine corn tortilla with meat, onions, and cilantro. There’s no cheese, tomatoes, or lettuce in traditional Mexican street tacos but you can find quesadillas at some of the taco stalls in Tulum.
Tulum’s most popular taco is al pastor, spit-roasted pork with a Mexican-Middle Eastern spice blend. You’ll also find chorizo and beef tacos, and some seafood options, best washed down with a glass of horchata or sweet hibiscus tea.
Street taco stands pop up all over Tulum, day and night, but they’re busiest come-nightfall when drunk tourists stumble out of the bars in search of a salty treat to soak up all that tequila. There is a line of stalls near the night market, but the highest concentration of stands can be found at the corner where Avenida Satélite meets the main strip.
Located in between the hostels and the clubs in Pueblo, a street taco from one of these stands is the perfect pit spot if you’re looking to line your stomach before a night of drinking, or if you’re heading home to your dorm room bed.
You also have to sample a street taco if the party scene isn’t your thing. We promise, they’re just as delicious when you’re sober and stalls can be found all over town. There’s even a vegan taco stand at the corner of Avenida Satélite so that plant-based revelers can still get their taco fix.
Enjoy Live Music and Cocktails
Tulum Pueblo doesn’t exclusively cater to the backpacker crowd. There is a middle ground between the trashy hostel nights and expensive beach club events in Tulum and Batey Mojito and Guarapo Bar perfectly score the balance.
Batey’s is famous among visitors to Tulum but it is also well-loved by locals and you can expect an authentic and energetic atmosphere and the best handcrafted cocktails. Their world-class mojitos made with fresh sugar cane that is pressed before your eyes are a must-try. Live music fills the air and the venue is rammed on Fridays and Saturdays, but there is always somewhere to perch at the bar or you can gather with other punters around the vintage-painted Volkswagen Beetle that serves as an eclectic centerpiece.
Above Batey’s, on the corner of Andromeda Ote and Calle Centauro Sur, you’ll find Penca Blue Hostel with its rooftop bar. Although a hostel, this venue is a lot more chilled out than places like Straw Hat and Santino’s and a great place to head after the live music has finished at Batey’s. Expect happy hour drinks, DJ tunes, and plenty of space to showcase your dance moves with views over Tulum downtown.
Take a Salsa Class
Salsa might not be Mexican, but Tulum is a great place to celebrate all aspects of Latin American culture and the city is brimming with professional salsa dancers waiting to teach you a few moves.
Salsa is associated with the music genre of the same name which originated from an amalgamation of Cuban dance styles but was first popularized in the US, specifically in New York City, in the 1960s. Salsa combines mambo, pachanga, and rumba, as well as some other American dances like swing and tap, using an eight-beat step arrangement to fast Latin music.
Although salsa is all about your feet placement, the real skill is what you do with your arms and hips as your step, slide, and spin. Advanced salsa can be done with a partner and is a sensual way to get close to your significant other or bond with a like-minded stranger.
Tulum Art Center is a great place in downtown Tulum to congregate with other budding dancers and brush up on your dancing skills once a week. Or there’s La Zebra, the beach hotel and restaurant which hosts Sunday salsa nights every week from 6.30 pm to 7.30 pm. You can drop in for free and enjoy live music from the band from 7.30 pm onwards. Of course, you could also book on to a private lesson or a lover’s salsa experience of which there are many to choose from in Tulum. Ask your hotel or consult the internet for more information.
Satisfy your Sweet Tooth
The simple pleasure of evening gelato isn’t exclusive to western Europe. If you’re skipping the partying and hitting the night market or working up an appetite on the salsa dance floor, there are plenty of places to grab a sweet treat from afterward in Tulum.
Panna e Cioccolate is a small local favorite with a host of traditional ice cream flavors to choose from and cozy outdoor seating. Watch the world go by downtown as you tuck into an after-dinner treat. Or there’s Aldo’s Gelato on Avenida Tulum on the corner of Orion Sur. Aldo’s is best for indulgent frozen treats and adventurous sweet creations like bubble waffles, sprinkle cones, ice cream sandwiches, and sundaes.
Traditional sorbets, creamy cookie doughs, and a selection of traditional flavors adorn the menu. You’ll also find hot and cold drinks, as well as other desserts, and even sandwiches. Aldo’s is open until midnight so it’s a perfect late-night stop.
Check out a Cenote
Now, this nighttime experience isn’t an everyday one but if you’re looking to splash your cash on a special evening this might be the adventure for you.
Cenotes are large natural sinkholes or underground caves, resulting from the collapse of sedimentary limestone rock that has revealed a pool of groundwater. The regional term is associated with the Yucatan Peninsula but you can find cenotes all over the world. What makes them so special in Tulum is their ancient Mayan heritage as they were historically used as the drinking water supply by the indigenous peoples and occasionally for sacrificial offerings.
Tulum is also unique for the sheer number of cenotes and you won’t find this quantity anywhere else in the world. The cenotes are a huge tourist attraction and there are loads that you can visit, usually for a small entrance fee, to dive, snorkel, sunbathe, and snap the perfect Instagram shot.
Most cenotes close at dusk but there are a few that you can visit in the evening, usually as part of a guided tour or exclusive package experience. Cenotes are an entrance to Xibalba, the Mayan underworld, and exploring the stalactite caves and turquoise waters is made even more magical at night.
Tours usually involve a group swim, a talk from a local guide, and a dinner by candlelight prepared with local ingredients. Prices vary between $60-$150 USD per person depending on the type of experience and tour operator you choose, but for the price of a beach club ticket, it’s sure worth it.
Is Tulum good for nightlife?
The humble Mayan city has risen on the tourism scene in recent decades and Tulum has become a renowned spot for nightlife and parties, not only in Mexico but the world at large. It has more upmarket appeal than the nearby resorts of Playa del Carmen and Cancún, but Tulum downtown is also well suited to backpackers and budget travelers, with something for every nightlife reveler.
Is Tulum safe at night?
The Yucatan Peninsula is the safest region in Mexico when it comes to all types of crime. Although it does experience its fair share of drug and gang-related activity, of which nowhere in Mexico is completely free, tourists can usually avoid these issues by staying away from drugs and sticking to their limits on nights out. That said, Tulum isn’t somewhere you can walk around freely at night. Sightseeing on foot and by bike is fine during the day, but you should travel by taxi or private transport at night.
How many nights do you need in Tulum?
It depends on your vacation style, but if you’re just passing through, you’ll need at least three nights in Tulum to check out a few cenotes, hit the beach, and explore the nightlife. Backpackers usually spend a few days in a hostel before heading south to somewhere like Bacalar or even Belize, but if you’re after a more relaxing break by the beach, we recommend at least a week or two to get the most out of the Riviera Maya.