Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen

…sometimes a bus is the best bargain…

Taking a bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen is very simple – if you know what you’re doing.

On this page I’m going to tell you everything that you ever wanted to know about getting on a bus from the Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen.

On the following page you will learn a simple-to-follow and step-by-step process to the following:

  • The exact steps you should take immediately after getting off your flight – No need to guess what you should do next.
  • How to find the correct bus company/ticket kiosk that sells tickets for the Cancun to Playa Del Carmen bus – You only need to remember three letters (see below).
  • How to assure you get a ticket and leave the Cancun airport before the tickets sell out and you have to wait for the next departing bus – Do you want to get stuck at the Cancun airport for longer than necessary? (very important in high season and helpful to avoid all the annoying salespeople at the Cancun airport)
  • How to get the best seat on the bus (the bus diagram I made will show you the advantages and disadvantages of sitting in the front, back, and center of the bus)
  • A little bit about the bus itself – simple facts here, nothing more.
  • Where the Playa Del Carmen bus stations (there are two) are located. This way you won’t get lost once you arrive here.
  • How to assure that both you and your luggage are the first off the bus at the Playa Del Carmen bus station – This is a two-step formula that works every time! It also helps keep your suitcases from getting crushed at the bottom of the stack.

But first of all, I’m going to tell you how I learned about the bus system here.

Without more ado, here it goes:

How I Learned All About The Playa Del Carmen Bus Station And Buses

About eight months ago I was at a local bar called Manne’s Biergarten. (NOTE: Manne and Susie really need to update their site; the design looks circa 1995.)

Being the friendly person that I usually am, I struck up a conversation with a woman sitting next to me.

I found out that she was from Canada. She was here on vacation. Her next stop was Belize. Her name was Kim, but I still call her Krazy Kim.

Kim was one of those people who is really nice, but who has wacko political views. We hit it off quite well.

When Kim left several days later, she told me that she would be back in a few months and that we would get together again.

“Fine. I’m game,” I thought to myself at the time.

That was nine months ago.

Several days ago she sent me a text message: “Hey, I am having problems buying my bus ticket online. Can I send you some money and you buy the ticket for me?”

She was taking the bus from the Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen. Then she was going to stay here for a few days. Finally, she was going to Belize and needed a ticket from Playa Del Carmen to Chetumal as part of the route.

“Of course,” I replied, and without any more fuss, I found myself at the bus station buying a bus ticket for my friend, Krazy Kim.

I had no idea it would be such a nightmare! A number of things went wrong:

  • There was a huge line of people, and by extension, a long wait.
  • They forced me to choose which seat Kim would sit in. While I vaguely remember her telling me to get a front seat, I did the exact opposite and sat her at the rear of the bus next to the toilet. Honestly, the toilet looked like the drivers area on the diagram they showed me.
  • After I got home and looked at the ticket number, I realized that I had made a mistake. So I marched back to the bus station and begged them to exchange the back seat for a front seat.
  • The ticket seller on duty looked like one of those sellers who doesn’t like changing tickets. I told the ticket seller that Kim would get sick if she rode in the back of the bus. He stared like a bored beaurocrat and wouldn’t listen to a word of it. I then informed him that Kim would turn the entire bus into a barfest-style barforama if she didn’t get a front seat. He began to listen. I stuck my finger down my throat and made barfing sounds. The ticket seller’s eyes opened wider. When I finally started giving vivid descriptions of the look and smell of pretzel puke, venison vomit, and breakfast barf (all mixed together), the seller quickly changed Kim’s seat. I can be pretty convincing sometimes.

LESSON LEARNED: If you ever need to exchange your ticket for a different seat, just make sure that you talk explicitly about barfing on the bus!

Despite all the nonsense, I learned a lot about the Playa Del Carmen bus system, and I’m going to share some tips with you that will help you be comfortable on a bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.

That’s why I decided to write this article. So, let me answer some basic questions…


The Exact Steps You Should Take After Getting Off Your Plane In Cancun

Most people like a “no-guesswork” approach to decision making.

To eliminate the guesswork, I’ve done all the thinking for you.

Here’s a list of EXACT steps you should take immediately after getting off your plane:

  • Go through customs and immigration as necessary.
  • Find out what number carousel your baggage will arrive at, and go to the baggage claim area. If you’re not sure, look for some of the people who were on your plane. Ask them if you are at the correct carousel. Also, check the screens above the carousels.
  • BEFORE getting your luggage (it will take 10 minutes to arrive), find the big ADO kiosk and immediately get in line.
  • Choose the seat/seats you want from the bus seat diagram (see below), and buy your ticket.
  • Go back to your assigned baggage carousel, and get all of your luggage.
  • Find out where your bus is located, and try to be the LAST PERSON WHO PUTS THEIR LUGGAGE ON THE BUS. The LAST luggage that gets put on the bus is the FIRST luggage to be unloaded in Playa Del Carmen.
  • Get on the bus, take your assigned seat (hopefully the best seat on the bus), and enjoy the ride to your next stop in paradise….

Let me go into greater detail about a few of the steps so that you have a massive advantage over other people on your plane.


What Company Runs The Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen?

You only need to remember three letters: A…..D…..O.

Although there are several other companies that operate buses in and around the Riviera Maya, ADO is the company that runs the Cancun to Playa Del Carmen bus.

The ADO ticket kiosk is in the baggage claim area on the wall closest to the most obvious exit. You would have to be blind to miss it, so don’t worry too much about finding it.

Here is some basic information about the Playa Del Carmen bus station and the primary company that serves it:

  • Company: ADO
  • Website: www.ado.com.mx
  • Phone Number: (don’t bother because they never answer anyways)
  • Hours: 24-hour ticket sales at the Cancun airport kiosk; 24-hour ticket sales at both Playa Del Carmen bus stations; limited customer service online. Don’t answer their telephones

If you click on the link above, you will notice there is not an English version of the ADO website.

Even though a HUGE percent of people traveling on the buses are English speakers, this idiot Mexican company refuses to have an English version of their website.

Imagine how much money they lose to private, English-based airport transfers due to this stubborn attitude.


Get Your Tickets ASAP Before The Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen Sells Out

I’ll be the first to admit it, this is not something that you should generally worry about for several reasons:

  • There are buses that run quite frequently from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen
  • If a bus does sell out, it’s not the end of the world. You would simply have to wait for the next bus. Depending on the season, this could mean anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes wait. Life could be worse.
  • There are always alternative means of transportation: taxi, airport transfer, colectivo (shared “local” shuttle bus).
  • In rare circumstances, the delivery of your luggage could get delayed. In this case, it would make no sense buying a ticket until you’ve got your luggage in the first place.

HELPFUL HINT: I know most of you will be very anxious to get from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen by bus, but whatever you do, DON’T FORGET YOUR LUGGAGE!!!

With that said, I recommend going directly to the ADO kiosk and buying a bus ticket from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen immediately – even before your luggage arrives in baggage claim.

Even if you don’t have to worry about the bus selling out, there is a more important reason to get your bus ticket quickly…

Getting The Best Seats On The Cancun To Playa Del Carmen Bus

When I first arrived at the airport and took a bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen, the bus was completely full.

Consequently, my mom and I sat on opposite ends of the bus – I was in the back, and my mom was in the front.

I didn’t mind too much because I got to sit next to a cute hippie-wannabe girl.

Hippie chicks can be quite annoying, but this one was really friendly. She kept rearranging her bra for some reason while we were talking. (I didn’t ask about her bra problem, but I probably should have offered to help. Those are the kinds of things that a gentleman does, right? – “Would you like me to help you with your bra?”)

It was slow season. Moreover, my mom was the one who bought the tickets. Consequently, I missed several important things:

  • The ADO bus ticket seller showing my mom a diagram
  • The ADO bus ticket seller asking my mom, “Where do you want to sit on the bus?”
  • My mom and the ticket seller realizing that there were only two seats left on the bus (the seats turn yellow on the computer screen once the specific seat is sold)
  • My mom didn’t have any choice whatsoever because the bus was already full.

Nonetheless, remember that you DO have a choice about where you will sit on the bus (assuming you’re not getting the last seats, like we did).

My experience would have been completely different during high season – my mom and I probably would have had to wait for another bus altogether.

In addition to high season, this city is growing exponentially, so even during slow season the buses fill up quickly nowadays.

It wasn’t until after having my experience with Krazy Kim (mentioned above) that I learned how bus passengers are assigned a seat at the point of ticket sale.

In addition, I learned that the assigned seats are not created equal.

Duh! I’m not always the sharpest pencil in the case. Forgive me, my dear readers.

Which Seats On The Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen Are Best?

Everybody wants to get the best seats – always.

Whether it’s at a movie, a football game, or a Mexican tour bus, people like sitting in the best seats.

But the truth is that, unlesss you’ve read this page, there’s no way in hell that you’re even going to know how to define “best.”

If you don’t know what you want, you’re going to have a hard time finding it.

Consider the following:

  • The seats at the very front, passenger side of the bus, have a great view of the road.
  • The seats at the back of the bus are conveniently located close to the bathroom.
  • The middle of the bus is usually more quiet (but you have to choose a seat away from the TVs).
  • The last seats at the back of the bus are the most private, but you have to deal with the sound of the engine (which is located in the rear of the bus).

Wow! I bet that you never thought choosing a bus ticket could be so interesting (and complicated)!

Luckily, you took your advice from Rufus, the self-proclaimed savant and Playa Del Carmen bus expert.

Below, you can see an ADO bus seat diagram.

Take a look at it, and then I will tell you a few tips and pointers about reading it.

The ADO Bus Seating Chart And How To Read It

For the most part, the seating chart that you see is quite easy to read.

Nonetheless, by the time you’re done reading this page, you will know more than 99% of people taking the bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen – or anywhere in Mexico, for that matter.

Here are a few pointers for finding the best seat when you take the bus:

  • You will choose your seat at the point of purchase.
  • You will be shown a diagram exactly like the one above.
  • The lower numbered seats are closer to the front of the bus, while the higher numbered seats are closer to the rear.
  • The restrooms are at the back of the bus.
  • There are multiple televisions dispersed throughout the seating area. They can be quite loud, so avoid sitting underneath one if you want some peace and quiet.
  • There is little luggage space near your seat, so pack “carry-ons” lightly. Your main luggage will be stored out of site and underneath the passenger area of the bus.
  • The most coveted seats on the bus are seats 3 and 4.

The Amenities Included On The Bus From The Cancun Airport To Playa Del Carmen

I know that some of you want to know a little bit about the bus itself that you will be taking to Playa Del Carmen.

Here is a list of some of the luxuries that you’ll receive during your 45-minute ride (from best to worst):

  • Amenity #1: Comfortable seats
  • Amenity #2: Reasonable air-conditioning
  • Amenity #3: Enough shoulder and leg room (if you’re not too fat and not too tall)
  • Amenity #4: Annoying, loud, cliché, Mexican soap operas or Hollywood movies blasted in phony Spanish voices on the small TV screens positioned above the seats of the bus.
  • QUESTION: Why can’t Mexicans ever make their own damn movies instead of making a mockery of ours with ridiculous-sounding, poorly-dubbed voice overs?
  • Amenity #5: A half-cleaned, sh*t-smelling, Mexican-style restroom that usually has no toilet paper and is only momentarily bearable

That’s it – No peanuts. No pretzels. No pinup girls/guys.

Oh, the irony, my dear readers.

HELP!: Does anyone know what you call the “Mile High Club” on a bus? I want to remind you all NOT to try it on the ADO buses, but I have no idea what they call this when it happens on a bus. The “Mile Long Club?” If you know, please tell me in the comments section below.

On to your arrival….

Where Is The Station That I Will Arrive At When Coming On The Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen?

Many people don’t know this, but there are actually TWO bus stations in Playa Del Carmen.

One is the regular bus station that is the most common destination upon arriving in Playa Del Carmen from the Cancun airport. It is on 5th Avenue & Benito Juarez.

The other is commonly known as the “alternative” station and is usually used for buses that are departing and arriving from destinations other than the airport. For example, when my friend Krazy Kim went to Chetumal (in order to get to Belize), she left from the alternative bus station.

For most of you reading this, I wouldn’t pay much attention to the alternative bus station in Playa Del Carmen. It’s simply not necessary; you’ll probably never use it.

However, know that it does exist and you can easily find it on the map below by zooming out of the view.


Take a close look at this map. It shows you exactly where you will be dropped off on the bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.

How To Assure That Both You And Your Luggage Are First Off The Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen

Now, to be completely honest with you, this is not a significant tip, but for some of you it may be nominally important.

Have you ever flown first class on an airline? Do you know how much more it cost for tickets?

Granted that there are a lot of other things that you get when flying first class.

However, one of the advantages is that you can board the airplane early or at any time during the boarding process. The other people have to wait until their seat rows are called.

But it gets even better.

Have you ever noticed that first class is always at the FRONT of the plane, and not the back.


Because this allows first class passengers to GET OFF the plane before anyone else.

So, if you want to get off the bus before anyone else, try to sit in the front of the bus.

It’s like riding first class. Yeah!

Now, how about your luggage? If you’re riding first class, your luggage should as well, right?

Well, luggage is stacked underneath the passenger area of the buses.

Because it is generally stacked, the luggage of the passengers who boarded first is either behind or under the luggage of the people who boarded last.

Consequently, if you want your luggage to come off the bus first, your luggage will need to be in the front / on the top of the other luggage. And this can easily happen if you board the bus LAST.

More succinctly, if you want to get off the bus first, sit in the front of the bus. If you want your luggage to get off the bus first, board the bus last.

Does this make sense?


Although I’ve told you everything you know about taking a bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, I have not told you everything that I know.

That’s because the rest of the information I know is almost completely useless.

The best information is already on this page – and this page is long enough.

Whatever happens, I’m sure I will see you getting off one of the buses that run from Cancun to Playa del Carmen in the near future.

Talk to you soon…

Lots of love,


Rufus signature

Now it’s your turn. Tell me about your experience taking the bus from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen!!!

18 comments on “Bus From Cancun To Playa Del Carmen

  1. THanks Rufus … not many will find time and care to other people’s travels. But your tips and advices sure is detailed and humorous …you should be a travel consultant between U.S. and MEXICO… more power to you and keep writing … I like reading it!!

  2. LMAO!!! The bus layout with the note: “filthy dirty bathroom.”

    I have ridden them a dozen times from Cancun to Playa Del Carman and four times to/from Merida and the bathrooms were hit or miss. Sometimes dirty. Sometimes clean.

    Great site!

  3. Thanks so much for all this info!! Super helpful!

    Do you know if you can purchase tickets for future days on the kiosk, or does it only sell tickets for the next bus time/that same day?

    Thank you!

    • Tim,

      45 minutes. However, by the time you figure in loading time, unloading time, ticket checking, and sweet little old ladies that move a lot slower than most people, I would figure about an hour.

      Hope this helps!


    • Kool Karina,

      You absolutely can buy bus tickets in US dollars. However, you’re not going to get the best exchange rate because it is a Mexican company and a Mexican bus line.

      However, the little bit of money that you lose in buying your bus tickets and paying dollars vs pesos is quite insignificant. You’re better off saving your time, getting on the bus, and losing a dollar or two than you are exchanging your money at the airport where you will get a horrible exchange rate!

      Have you ever bought a hamburger from McDonald’s or Burger King at any airport around the world? Then you know the prices are usually double. This is because rents at airports are so high. How do you think money exchange businesses pay their rent? Never change your money at the airport. It’s all the suckers that do that.

      Don’t be one of them!

      Wait until you get into town and you will get more favorable exchange rates.

      Hope this helps…

      Lots of love,


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