hi. we did Tulum last year.....
this was our experience:
supposedly they only take pesos at the gate.....unless that is if it's SUNDAY, or a holiday, then it's FREE.....however, all the tour companies won't tell you that, and still charge you top dollar for the tour.
we went there with a rented car, with no pesos....and i asked a local merchant/scum bag if I could get some change, and he wouldn't give me change, so he wanted me to buy an underwater camera for 25 $ U.S. so of course I said NO......then I thought i just buy a coke, gave the scum bag merchant a $20 US, in hopes to get pesos in change....guess what.....he gave me US dollars in change!!! I couldn't believe it. all I wanted was pesos so we could pay the guy at the gate...........SO, we leave that guy alone, and he's still harrasing me to buy the camera...we walk away........and I was hoping I could just pay in US at the gate.....now this was new years day-'02, a Holiday.....on the way to the gate I asked some american looking people if they had pesos, so we could pay at the gate.....they said "today is a holiday, Tulum is free"......!!! so.......we walked right in. no questions asked.
We did see tour groups going in, with the tour guide approaching the gate, going through the motions as if to pay the gate-guy....then escorting all the "rich americans" on their tour....like cattle.....as we walked right on by.
SO......if you're going to Tulum, it should be free on sundays, and free on holidays. ( but nobody will tell you, cause they all want a piece of the cake)
AND.....IN my opinion, you can do the "tour" yourself in 15 minutes.......it is my opinion that to spend ANY money on a tour ( ie: 30-50 bucks per person) that it is a total rip-off.....and on a hot day, standing there listening to some local try to explain what the hell is going on...is just too much and not worth it.
WE did Tulum in 45 minutes and left and were glad as ever we didn't do the "tour". ( we'd probly still be standing there)
KEEP in mind.....90% of these places you can do yourself and you don't need to do a tour.....if you can get there on your own somehow, or even take a local bus, then you can walk in and pay just like as if you're going to the Zoo here in america.....
We reneted a car from our resort, and in one day did, Tulum, XEL-Ha and the Cenotes....all for the cost of the rental car (70 bucks) and the cost of Xel-ha..i think that was like 15 bucks each.......the cenotes is a scuba diving thing that we didn't have the time for, I'll do that next time!
JUST for the record, the resort car retal was 25 bucks more than the rental in town....in Playa del carmen, you can rent a car for like 50 bucks for the day U.S......and you can do so much stuff in just one day! just be carefull driving and don't bring much cash, just enough to get you by for the day......and watch out for the cops......hahahha
ok....enough of me and my crap. feel free to e-mail me ok....