Cancun to Playa Del Carmen
…getting here and back again…
Since moving to Playa Del Carmen and starting this website, I’ve received thousands of questions from people around the world.
The second most popular question is, “Where is the best place to meet women?”
But with my pathetic recent track record with the ladies, I’m not sure you want to listen to my advice here.
The most popular question is how to get from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.
I’ve done this journey tens, if not hundreds of times.
So, rather than try and write my usual jokes about Disney films and beach volleyball, I’m going to stick to plain and simple advice about going from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.
There Are Many Cancun To Playa Del Carmen OptionsCancun International Airport.
Even if you’ve come over land through Mexico, there is a good chance that you’ll come via Cancun.
Between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen, there are five main options, and I’m going to detail all of them.
Like anywhere in the world, the fastest and most comfortable option is the most expensive.
Whatever time of day it is, there will always be transport available.
Here are you options (from cheapest to most expensive):
- Colectivo (shared van, sometimes referred to as a “combi” or “combi colectivo”)
- ADO bus
- UBER (only one-way from Cancun to other destinations–NOT from other destinations to Cancun)
- Taxi on arrival
- Private shuttle (great prices if reserving with multiple people)
- Resort/hotel pickup (NOTE: Small hotels usually don’t offer this service, but the expensive resorts sometimes do)
- Rental car
In fact, there are so many options that you’ll probably have several competing offers.
Don’t bother with all of them – know your plan and stick with it.
No matter what option you choose, it is usually best to plan ahead.
If you’re traveling alone, a bus may be your cheapest option. However, if you’re traveling with another person, it will often be cheaper to reserve private transportation.
If you take a bus or colectivo (shared van), the driver will only stop at designated locations. This often forces travelers to take another form of transportation once they arrive in downtown Playa Del Carmen (e.g. bus from Cancun to downtown Playa, and then a private taxi from downtown Playa to your hotel/resort). In addition the cost is always going to be PER PERSON.
If you take a private transfer, you can share the cost with your travel friends or family members. As an added luxury, you will be dropped off at the exact entrance of your hotel/resort.
So a good time to make your reservations for your airport transfer is….well…..NOW!
Reserve Your Airport Transfer Today & Get the Absolute BEST PRICES In Town!
I searched, stalked, examined, explored, hunted, hounded, chased, caught, released, and rummaged through the whole damn Riviera Maya for the best and cheapest airport transfers.
I finally found one that was cheap and reliable.
The owner of the company is named Oscar. He can help you with airport transfers and anything else you need here. He’s lived in the area for 4.5 years, so he knows EVERYBODY.
In addition to transfers, Oscar knows more about tour options than probably anybody in the area.
So don’t hesitate to ask him any questions you might have.
The Most Basic Airport Transfer Option
There is one choice you will have to make when deciding on your transfer: one-way or round-trip.
The difference between them is quite self-explanatory, but here’s a brief primer:
One-Way vs. Round-Trip
- One-way transfers – Transfers that bring you from the airport to your hotel/resort on ARRIVAL DATE
- Round-trip transfers – Transfers that bring you from the airport to your hotel/resort upon ARRIVAL DATE+ DEPARTURE DATE
***IMPORTANT PRICING INFO***
Full Price List:
ONE-WAY AIRPORT TRANSFER
- $50 USD – 1-4 People, Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen
- $65 USD – 5-8 People, Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen
ROUND-TRIP AIRPORT TRANSFER
- $100 USD – 1-4 People, Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen + Playa Del Carmen to Cancun
- $130 USD – 5-8 People, Cancun Airport to Playa Del Carmen + Playa Del Carmen to Cancun
NOTE: THE PRICES ABOVE ARE FROM CANCUN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT TO DOWNTOWN PLAYA DEL CARMEN. IF YOUR RESORT IS FURTHER FROM THE AIRPORT, PLEASE ASK FOR SPECIFIC PRICES.
Fill out the form below and someone will contact you shortly.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen In A Taxi
Private taxis are the most expensive option to get from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.
Although they are quite efficient, they are not all that comfortable, most of the drivers don’t speak English, and taxi drivers around Cancun and Playa Del Carmen are just generally filthy people.
Furthermore, the drivers like to go fast.
Many of them have entertained the possibility of meeting a NASCAR scout and will try to impress you with some dodgy overtaking maneuvers (just in case you happen to work for NASCAR).
When you land in Cancun International Airport then there are some pretty annoying human lice trying to offer you free transportation in return for a timeshare presentation.
Don’t take them up on the offer – trust me.
The arrivals area is certainly not a place where you’ll have a stress free start to your vacation.
For this reason many people pre-book a taxi.
You will have a smiling man waiting for you with a name board.
Cool and classy.
Most companies use English-speaking drivers and some even allow you to select a type of vehicle.
It’s probably a little more expensive than getting a taxi on arrival, but it can definitely save some hassle.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen Taxi Prices
However, there are many different companies, and this price really varies, so shop around.
If you find it cheaper than $60 USD, then you’ve done very well.
For a 4-7 seater passenger minibus prices start at $65.
For 8-11 people you will pay $70.
That means that if you’re in a group, you can get some very cheap private airport transfers.
If you’re alone, then $60-$70 USD might hurt – and the big van is going to feel quite empty, unless you have a lot of luggage.
One company I can recommend is Exeltur.
Some of my buddies have used them and said it was a good service.
Probably the largest pre-booked taxi service is Cancun-Cab.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen By Taxi On Arrival
It’s pretty straight-forward to catch a taxi when you arrive at Cancun International Airport.
Just IGNORE all the pushy taxi lice you first encounter and ignore any offers of ground transport.
I’ll repeat: if anybody comes up to you and offers you transport, then politely tell them to kiss your ass and back off.
At Cancun Airport you will find taxi booths where you can arrange a taxi to anywhere in the Riviera Maya.
They all have very similar prices.
$60 USD to Playa Del Carmen was the best price the last time I was there.
Just take your pick, and you’ll be in a taxi within a few minutes.
They all normally use air-conditioned saloon vehicles with plenty of room.
Some of them might try and get you to buy a return ticket.
It’s not usually worth it, as going from Playa Del Carmen to Cancun is always a little cheaper than going Cancun to Playa Del Carmen.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen With A Shared Van
In order to take advantage of this option, exit the airport terminal, veer right, and look for the people with clipboards who are shouting about shared taxis.
They have shared vans going to many places in the Riviera Maya.
These services are scheduled to leave every 15-30 minutes, although in reality they’ll wait a little longer if you’re the only passenger.
They’re air-conditioned, have lots of leg room, drive fast, and there is a good chance of meeting some other interesting travelers.
Last time I used this service it cost $25.
In this scenario, you don’t need to pre-book.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen By Bus
The cheapest way to get to Playa Del Carmen is by using the local bus service.
There is a bus stop outside terminal 2 and terminal 3 at the Cancun International Airport.
The bus runs along the coastal highway and will drop you off at the bus station on 5th Ave.
From there you can get a very cheap taxi to your hotel.
The buses are surprisingly comfortable, air-conditioned, and there are usually very few passengers on-board.
I wouldn’t recommend pre-booking as you have to select a departure time.
There is always space on the bus.
The bus costs around $10 USD and takes one hour.
However, while they claim to stick to a schedule, you sometimes have to wait a long time for a bus.
It all depends on luck.
Land at the right time, and you could be straight on the bus for a very cheap transfer.
Barely miss the bus, and it’s annoying to wait around in the airport.
Note: Some buses will go direct to Playa Del Carmen, while others will go to downtown Cancun where you will take another bus to Playa Del Carmen.
It’s better waiting for the direct service than arriving at the Cancun bus station and having to tote all of your luggage around with you.
My recommendation is to head for the bus first.
If there is going to be a long wait then take a shared van.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen With A Hotel Pick Up
If you’ve got a high-end hotel / resort then they might include a free airport pick up.
If so, then you’ve done well!
These are always super-comfortable and the staff are so eager to please it’s almost annoying.
However, if your hotel doesn’t offer a free pick up, they might offer you an airport transfer.
Sometimes this is a way for them to make extra $$$.
So check the price against other private taxi companies.
Cancun To Playa Del Carmen In A Very Short Summary
If you didn’t read all the above, here’s the key info when traveling from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen:
- It takes 45-60 minutes depending on how competent your driver is.
- A private taxi will cost minimum $60 USD.
- Either prebook or use one of the taxi booths at the airport when possible.
- Private minivans are great value as they only cost less than $100 for up to 10 passengers.
- Avoid the human lice at the airport.
- A shared taxi service costs around $25.
- Find it on the right after you leave the terminal.
- A direct bus goes from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen.
- It costs ~$10 USD.
- However, you might have to wait a while.
I hope all this helps you get here ASAP from Cancun and into Playa Del Carmen in time for an extended happy hour.
See you at the bar!
Lots of love,
Do you have any tips or tricks about getting from Cancun to hear and back again? Please leave them in the comments section below!
On December 19, 2016 Monday, I will be arriving with my girlfriend to get to playa del carmen. Do you think I will be able to catch the last ADO bus which is it 11:50 PM? coming from california. Perhaps I can just do carry on luggage?
Congratulations on your decision to come to Playa Del Carmen with your girlfriend. I’m sure both of you will have an incredible time here.
In regard to your question about timing of the bus, I think you should be ok. This is why:
According to the schedule on the ADO website, the last bus for December 19th 2016 is at 11:50 p.m. Technically, that is the last bus for THAT DAY. However, if you look at the schedule for December 20, 2016 the first bus on that day departs at 00:30 (which is 12:30 AM). Consequently, if your flight arrives at least 30 minutes before then, you should be ok.
So, remember, although it is confusing (and ADO has done a horrible job of displaying their schedules) look at the NEXT DAY in order to see the latest departure of buses. A final note about this is that there is an ADO app on the Google Play Store that you can use to check the schedule as well. It’s a little bit more clear. I know when I used Google Chrome to check the schedule, Chrome’s automatic translation completely screwed up the times on the page. So I would recommend trying the app instead of relying on the website. Here’s a link:
Also, here is a picture of both the app page and the NEXT DAY schedule I referred to earlier:
As a final note, there are several other transportation methods available. Most of them are going to be more expensive. However, you could take a shuttle bus or what is called a colectivo. Believe it or not, these are actually cheaper than the buses (although it may be difficult to take if you don’t speak Spanish as they are mostly used by the local people here). Whatever happens, I’m sure you will find a way to Playa Del Carmen!
I hope this helps, and I will see the both of you here soon…
Hi Rufus, you did not mention renting a car in cancun and driving down. my wife and i did just that a couple years ago and we enjoyed driving to different beaches and the ruins. what i didn’t quite understand is the loss damage waiver. my credit card insures me when renting a car. i know i would have a possible deductable but i think my insurance company would also cover that. can you tell me any facts i should know about the insurance when renting.
thanks, we will be coming down in a 2 months
Renting a car in Cancun is a great option. It really gives you control over transportation during your trip. Here in Play Del Carmen, you won’t need a car too much, but they are nice to have if you want to do some exploring on your own. (Paid tours usually include transportation.)
Honestly, Dennis, I am not sure about how the “loss damage waiver” works. Moreover, I would guess that all rental companies are going to have completely different insurance plans for drivers. Of course, they are an unnecessary upsell in many cases – especially for you because of your credit card. Even with an insurance plan (and I know it’s a pain in the a$$) you should really read the entire contents of any contract that you sign. Really, people should.
But knowing that most people don’t, it only makes sense to work with a reputable company. Even if you have to pay a little more, it could save you big time in the long run.
I can’t think of any other facts you should know except to remember to obey the law while driving. The police here are corrupt as hell and love screwing English-speaking people (or anyone for that matter). But don’t be intimidated by them. Usually they back down if you stick to your story and don’t get intimidated.
Oh, and one more thing: don’t forget that all distances, speed limits, markers, etc ARE ALL LISTED IN KILOMETERS – NOT MILES! If you’re not from the US, you already know this. But if you are from the US, it’s easy to get mixed up!
Enjoy your trip, Dennis, and I hope to see you around town while you’re here! And please send me some pictures when you get home! I love adding visitor photos to this site!!!
If we don’t rent a car in Playa del Carmen, what is the best and cheapest way to get around including visiting Cancun?
You have several transportation options (from cheapest to most expensive):
• Colectivo (shared shuttle bus primarily used by locals)
• ADO bus company (limited destinations)
• UBER (only available out of Cancun)
• Private shuttle
• Transportation included with excursion/activity
Each of these have benefits and drawbacks:
The “colectivos” are shared vans. They are unbelievably cheap and are also air-conditioned. However, the drivers usually only speak Spanish and you will need to know where to get off. Of course, they call out the names of places as they drive by them. BUT, they say the names of stops quickly and in Spanish. Basically, they assume YOU know where you’re going. In addition, they all leave from one primary location (Calle 2 & Avenida 25 – https://goo.gl/maps/9Zyq5hQg6Hr). If you are with someone who speaks Spanish or are completely comfortable approaching strangers until you find someone who speaks good Spanish, there is absolutely no way to beat the colectivo prices. Plus you get an authentic feel about how the locals get around.
Your second option is the ADO bus, but it only stops at bus stations. You can visit ado.com.mx to see if they stop at the locations you’ve planned. Fairly nice buses, but limited stops.
UBER is (hopefully) coming to Playa Del Carmen, but right now is only available OUT of Cancun. This means that you can get an UBER, but only from Cancun to other destinations in the area–not the other way around.
Taxis are an option, but are expensive, and taxi drivers are notoriously dishonest. If you are going anywhere by taxi, you need to understand the local taxi zones and the rates.
A private shuttle is probably the most expensive, but offers the most amenities. It will have AC, an English-speaking driver, possible included drinks, etc. It will also drop you off/pick you up at your EXACT desired location.
Debra, your final option is to get around with activity providers. Almost all excursions in the area will provide transportation to and from destinations. If you are visiting the various locales via a tour, your transportation will already be included.
As you can see, much depends on your experience in the area, location of your hotel, and your ability to communicate effectively in Spanish. But if you’re looking for THE ABSOLUTE CHEAPEST WAY TO GET AROUND, the colectivos are your best option and are very easy to use once you understand how they work. They are what the backpackers use. And when I say cheap, I mean DIRT CHEAP. For example less than $3.00 USD per person/each way from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum (probably the farthest you’ll be going). And they’re even cheaper for closer destinations!
I hope this helps! If you need anything else, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Lots of love,