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 Options
Almost everyone who comes to Playa Del Carmen lands in Cancun 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!
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
Expect to pay at least $60-70 USD from Cancun airport to Playa Del Carmen.
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
This semi-private transportation option is the best choice if you’re a single passenger and can’t be bothered waiting for the bus.
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!