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The 4 best ways to get from Cancun to Tulum

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Wondering how to get from Cancun to Tulum?
In this post, I’m going to share what is the best way to reach the popular Mexican beach destination from Cancun.


Tulum is one of the most demanded destinations for its spectacular endless beach and for the bohemian vibes that make Tulum one of Mexico’s most attractive destinations for style-conscious travelers and ex-pats alike. Many artists and foreigners searching for a new lifestyle have been flocking over the years and contribute to transforming this old fisherman town into one of the most upscale Mexican destinations.

Besides, despite some crime episodes and some covid cases spike due to carelessness, Tulum still remains a safe place to travel, if you follow the due precautions.

But first thing first, how do you reach Tulum?
There is no airport in Tulum yet. So if you are flying to Mexico, the closest airport for Tulum is Cancun International Airport, connected to all the main world destinations. You will find many flight deals from the world’s most important cities.

But you might be spending some time on the stunning Cancun beach in one of the spectacular all-inclusive hotels in Cancun. Worry not. Whether you are coming from Cancun airport or Cancun Hotel Zone or Down Town, I got you covered.

Read also: Amazing things to do in Tulum

Tulum beach 1

Getting from Cancun to Tulum

How far is Tulum from Cancun?

The distance Tulum Cancun Downtown is 131 km, about 81 miles, and 2h to 2h 40 minutes depending on how you travel. You will see what I mean later on.

From Cancun Airport to Tulum it’s a little shorter, 118km (73mi), 1h 25 min to 2 hours.

How to get from Cancun airport to Tulum

There are several means of transport from Cancun Airport to Tulum, and it might be not very easy when you don’t know how to move around and so easily if you know your options. And that’s why I am writing this post. First of all, you need to know that you will be approached by a group of people nicely dressed in uniform as soon as you clear customs and just before getting out of the airport, offering a transfer to your place. Just ignore them. They are vendors selling timeshare deals, which are everything but a deal.

You have instead 2 options of transfer from Cancun to Tulum:

  • by ADO BUS
  • by private shuttle

ADO bus transfer from Cancun Airport to Tulum

The cheapest way to get from Cancun to Tulum is by the ADO bus. There are only two rides per day heading to Tulum directly. However you can just hop on the ADO bus to Playa del Carmen, which is more frequent, and then from Playa del Carmen to Tulum will be easy wither by ADO or Colectivo. You can check out the ADO schedules here and book online. However, in this case, I would rather wait until you land, just in case your flight is delayed.

COST – 276 MXN (about 14 USD)
TIME – 2 hours

How to find the ADO bus in Cancun Airport
  • After you clear customs, you will see the ADO booth, among others, such as car rentals and rate exchange. If you don’t find it, you can ask around, and they will point it to you.
  • You can purchase the ticket either at the ADO booth or directly on the bus.
  • Sometimes there is no agent available, so you can get out of the airport and get straight to the bus stop and purchase the ticket on the bus.
  • If you can’t find where the bus stand is, there are many tour reps around. You can ask them, and they will tell you where it is.
  • One way ticket for an ADO bus ride from Cancun Airport to Tulum is 208 MXN pesos (about 10 USD)
  • ADO  is the cheapest way to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun, or Merida. The ADO busses are modern and equipped with AC and TV, which is playing all the time. Sometimes the AC is way too cold. So be prepared. They are super safe, and they store your luggage beneath the bus, with overhead compartments for your small bags, although I always recommend keeping your personal belonging on your lap and always with you.
Cancun with beach waves

Private transportation from Cancun airport to Tulum

There is no Uber in Cancun or anywhere else in Quintana Roo. If you want private transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen you either book a taxi or a private shuttle organized by a local company. It’s not the cheapest way but the fastest and the most comfortable.

Since transportation from Cancun airport is regulated, only authorized companies can have access and operate at the airport.

A taxi from Cancun to Tulum would cost around 150 USD. I would always recommend choosing a private transfer Cancun Tulum with a trustworthy company versus a random taxi for the following reasons:

  • You don’t have to negotiate the rate or risk of being ripped off. With a transportation company, the rates are set and reasonable.
  • You will find somebody waiting for you with a board on their hands, regardless of your arrival time or delays.
  • They offer different kinds of services starting from 100 USD per person.
  • They offer a more personalized and professional service and an English speaking guide.
Tulum Beach - how to get from Cancun to Tulum

How to get to Tulum from Cancun downtown

The best way to get to Tulum from Cancun downtown is either by ADO bus or Colectivos. Their terminals are both located in the same area. See the map below.

ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum

The ADO bus from Cancun to Tulum takes more time to get to the destination, almost 2h 45′ because it’s slower than the colectivos and has to enter in to Playa del Carmen traffic to drop off and pick up. It is slightly more expensive than the colectivos and a little safer, just because their drivers are more cautious when it comes to speed. ADO busses have a specific schedule which you can find here on the ADO website where you can book your trip in advance. The fare varies according to the different times of the day.

ADO Fare – from 170 to 270 MXN (approx. 8.5 to 13 USD)

If you choose to use the colectivos you need to know that you will have to get to Playa del Carmen first and from there get on another on to Tulum.

Colectivo Fare – around 45 MXN (2USD approx.) for each segment. (total 90 MXN- 5 USD)

There are two kinds of colectivos though:

PLAYA EXPRESS: departing right in front of the ADO CancunTerminal entrance and getting to its terminal in the heart of Playa on the Av 20.

REGULAR COLECTIVO: departing from the little plaza behind the Soriana Super just opposite the ADO Cancun Terminal (as indicated on the map here below) and getting to the Chedraui parking lot. Once in Playa del Carmen, you will need to walk on the main road (Carretera Federal) under the bridge where the other vans for Tulum will depart.

How to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

Getting from the city of Cancun to Tulum by taxi

You can get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun downtown (or from your hotel in the Hotel Zone) by taxi, but I would recommend negotiating the rate beforehand. It shouldn’t be more than 2000 MXN (100 USD), sometimes cheaper.

You might want to ask your hotel concierge if they know some reliable taxi driver who suggests a trustworthy taxi diver or if you have used a taxi before. You found somebody particularly nice, and you might want to ask for his/her number and call them when you need them. I normally do that.

Cancun beach with background - Cancun to Tulum

Getting from Cancun to Tulum on a tour

If you have decided to spend your vacation in Cancun you might want to consider visiting Tulum on a day trip. There is so much to see in such a tiny and yet charming big “village” that it’s worth the 2-hour distance. I would always suggest renting a car but if you don’t feel like it, you can always join one of the amazing tours available. Click on the link below to explore your options.

Coba, Cenote, Tulum, Playa del Carmen in one day – It’s a lot to cover in one day, and you will end up exhausted, I am warning you. However, if you have limited time and want to see as much as possible, this is a great option.
Tulum and Cenote Dos Ojos – This is a great option if you want to explore the unmissable Mayan archeological site, one of the best cenotes of the Riviera Maya. It’s a great program where you don’t have to rush from one site to another and have the time to soak in the Tulum site and enjoy the amazing Tulum Beach before reaching the Cenote.
Tulum and Playa del Carmen tour – This full-day tour is also planned with a relaxed pace for you to enjoy the Tulum Mayan site and then get to Playa del Carmen to browse around bars and shops. Mind that there is no Cenote included.

How to get from Tulum to Cancun

From Tulum to Cancun Airport Shuttle (Private).

The service Tulum – Cancun Airport is also covered by cancunairporttransportations.com. I found them to be a very established and professional company with lots of flattering reviews. They offer a private door to door service at your desired time, with an English speaking driver.

Getting from Tulum to Cancun Airport by ADO bus

The ADO terminal in Tulum is located in the “Pueblo” Downtown on the main road. There are only 2 scheduled busses going to the Airport at a specific time and it will take about 2 hours to get there. They are usually on time although you must consider the long distance and the chance of a delay. I always suggest calculating a good margin of time from your scheduled flight, just in case, and book your seat in advance. You can do it online from ADO website. If the ADO schedule doesn’t match with your flights then you might want to consider getting to Playa del Carmen and get the Airport ADO Bus from there, where there are more busses running during the day.

Tulum ruins

From Tulum to Cancun International Airport by Taxi

Taxis in Tulum are extremely expensive for some reason and most of the time tend to take advantage of unwary tourists, so I would rather book a private shuttle like the one mentioned above, which I find safer and more reliable. Obviously unless during your stay you have met a good trustworthy taxi driver (there are still some left) that is willing to offer you the service at a reasonable, fair price.

How to get from Tulum to Cancun Downtown by Colectivos

Just like on the way from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, you have to connect in Playa del Carmen and get on another van (colectivo) from Playa del Carmen to Cancun.

From Tulum to Playa del Carmen

You can find the colectivos mini vans parked right opposite from the ADO station. They leave at any time no stop as soon as they are almost full.

tulum beach - from Cancun to Tulum

From Playa del Carmen to Cancun

Playa Express: They leave from Calle 2 between 20th and 25th Avenues from their parking lot on a regular basis during the day and will leave even if not full. There is also a new pickup spot at the ADO bus station on 20th Avenue and 12th Street. Their terminal is right in front of the ADO bus terminal in Cancun although they can drop you off anywhere you wish along their route.

Regular minivan – a little smaller than the Playa Express, they leave from the corner of 2nd Street and 20th Avenue. There is a parking lot at the northeast corner of the intersection where they will be yelling out “Cancun”.

Their terminal is close to the ADO station, besides the Soriana super, as indicated in the above map.

Is there UBER in Tulum or Cancun?

Unfortunately, there is no UBER in the entire state of Quintana roo. They tried but the taxi lobby just made the UBER’s driver life impossible if not too risky, so they give up.

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Harry Miler

Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

Thanks for sharing this guide. I have a question, from your point of view, what do you consider to be the most economical and fastest option?

Isabella

Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

Hello Harry, thanks a lot for your kind message. I am glad it was helpful. Unfortunately the most economical is not the fastest. The fastest is by taxi, the most economical is by bus. I hope it helps. Let me know should you have any further questions.

Miguel Herrera

Tuesday 2nd of February 2021

Great post!

The first time I went to Tulum I transfer myself with an ADO bus. I have no complaints but it took more time than I would have liked.

The second time I chose to use a private transportation service and I think that was perfect for me tho it was a little more expensive.

I think next time I´ll try renting a car lol.

Anyway, thanks for the info. Cheers!

Isabella

Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

Hello Miguel, I totally agree with you. Renting a car is the best way. Keep in mind that renting a car from the airport is more expensive though, but certainly, the most practical thing to do. Stay tuned because I am going to write a post on driving in Mexico, and how to rent a car in Mexico without getting scammed as I did. :)

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