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3 great tips on how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

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Wondering how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen or any other destinations on the Riviera Maya? In this post, I will tell you all the options you have both from Cancun Airport and Cancun Town.

If you want to reach any destination in the Yucatan Peninsula by plane, getting to Cancun is your best option. You might even want to spend a couple of days in Cancun and enjoy its amazing beach before moving on to your destination. Or you want to go straight away to your hotel or apartment from Cancun airport. But how to get to your final paradise destination? I will tell you all about it in this post.

Although it’s very easy to go anywhere else in Mexico from Cancun, the multiple options you have can be overwhelming especially if you travel alone and you want to make sure you pick the safest option.

In this post, I will explain how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen and other destinations in detail.

How to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen

How far is Cancun to Playa del Carmen?

The distance between Cancun and Playa del Carmen is 68 km (42 miles) about 1 hour if you consider Down Town Cancun.

Distance from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen is a little less as you avoid Cancun traffic, 55 km (44 miles), and 45 minutes with no traffic.

Traveling from Cancún to Playa del Carmen is much less complicated than you think and you will find a variety of transportation options to chose from. Here below I will explain all the available options of transportation between Playa del Carmen and Cancún, both ways.

How to get from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen

Transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen can be tricky if you don’t know how to move around, especially because at your arrival the first thing you see is a bunch of people dressed in professional-looking uniforms offering you transfers but in reality, they are selling a timeshare, so make sure you avoid those. It’s never a deal (at least for you).

Read on for your best options.

ADO bus from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen

ADO busses offer the cheapest way to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen, and you find rides from 8 am to 10 pm at almost every hour or 40 minutes. You can check out the ADO schedule here and book online. However, I would not recommend that just in case your flight is delayed.

How to find the ADO bus in Cancun Airport
  • As soon as you clear customs just before getting out of the airport you will see different booths, mainly for car rentals, and tours. The ADO booth will be among them and if you don’t find it you can just ask around and they will point it to you.
  • You can purchase the ticket right there or on the bus directly.
  • Sometimes there is no agent available so you can just get out of the airport and get straight to the bus stop and purchase the ticket on the bus. If you can’t find it ask the tour reps waiting for their clients just outside the airport and they will point you in the right direction.
  • One way ticket for ADO bus ride to Playa del Carmen from Cancun Airport is 208 MXN pesos (about 10 USD)
  • ADO  is the cheapest way of getting from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen, Tulum, Cancun, or Merida. ADO fleet has modern busses equipped with AC and TV although very often it’s too loud and with low-quality movies or telenovelas, obviously in Spanish, and the a/c is freaking cold.  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 never out of sight.

Private transportation or taxi from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen

Cancun to Playa del Carmen private transportation is not the cheapest way to get to destination but it’s definitely the faster and more comfortable one.

You have to know that transportation from Cancun airport is regulated and you need to have a special permit to be able to operate at the airport. So only authorized taxis or private companies can offer the service.

Therefore, I would recommend choosing private transportation with a trustworthy company versus a random taxi for the following reasons:

  • No matter how late is your flight, there will be somebody with your name on a board waiting for you outside the airport
  • They normally have better rates starting from 60USD and they offer different kinds of services and you don’t have to negotiate the price as you would have to do with taxis
  • They offer more personalized and professional service and an English speaking guide

Getting a shuttle from Cancun airport to Playa del Carmen

Cancun airport shuttle is a very common way to get to Playa del Carmen with an average cost not as cheap as the ADO bus but less expensive than private transportation.

I partner with Get your Guide, which offers various options, including shared transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen. They usually include a door to door service with rates starting from 300 pesos.

How to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun downtown

The best way to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun downtown is either by ADO bus or Colectivos. They are both located in the same area. See the map below.

ADO bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen vs Colectivos

The ADO bus from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is slightly more expensive than the colectivos and a little safer, according to many, just because the colectivo drivers are not shy when it comes to speed. ADO busses are bigger and they take a little extra time to get to the destination. They 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 65 to 85 MXN (approx. 3 to 4.5 USD)

Also, the ADO busses would stop only at the terminal ADO in Playa del Carmen, which is by the Quinta Avenida in the heart of Playa, whereas the collectivos can stop wherever you ask them along their route, of course.

Colectivo Fare – around 45 MXN (2USD approx.)

There are two kinds of colectivos though:

PLAYA EXPRESS: departing right in front of the ADO Terminal entrance.

REGULAR COLECTIVO: departing from the little plaza behind the Soriana Super, (as indicated on the map here below)


Getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen by taxi

You can get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun downtown by taxi but I would recommend you negotiate the rate beforehand. It shouldn’t be more than 1000 MXN (50 USD), sometimes cheaper.

It’s best if you know somebody (maybe at your hotel) who suggests a trustworthy taxi diver or if you have used taxi before and 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.

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun

If you need to go from Playa del Carmen to Cancun you will have the same options as above.

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport

From Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport Shuttle (Private).

I chose to partner with since I found them to be a very established and professional company with lots of flattering reviews. They offer a private service and come and pick you up at your hotel at your desired time, with an English speaking driver for a seamless service.

Getting from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport by ADO bus

From Playa del Carmen bus station (on the 5th Av.) there are scheduled busses (ADO) going to the Airport at a specific time. They are usually reliable although 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.

From Playa del Carmen to Cancun Airport by Taxi

If you have been in Playa del Carmen for a while during your vacation you might have met nice taxi drivers that you have established a good relationship with and they have taken you around maybe even on tours. In this case, you might be able to negotiate a reasonable fair to Cancun Airport. (I paid 700 MXN in February 2020, just to give you an idea)

Getting a shared shuttle service from Playa del Carmen to Cancun airport

Also, from Playa del Carmen to Cancun, you can find a shared Shuttle service to get to the Cancun Airport. It’s advisable to book a return service one time.

Getting from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Downtown

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun Downtown by Colectivos

Just like on the way from Cancún to Playa del Carmen, you have the two options for the colectivos (shared shuttle service):

Playa Express: They are minivan leaving from Calle 2 between 20th and 25th Avenues from their parking lot. They leave 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.

How to get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun downtown by ADO bus

In Playa del Carmen, there are two ADO bus stations. The one on the 5th avenue is the terminal for local busses that run around the Yucatan peninsula, and that’s where you would get your bus to Cancun. Check on the ADO website for schedules and prices and to make a reservation.

Renting a Car at Cancun Airport

Renting a Car at Cancun airport as soon as you arrive is the best solution, unless you are planning to spend all your time laying on a beach chair with a cocktail on your hand and the phone on the other. If you are anything like me and you love to explore, the car rental is the best option as you will have the chance to get to off the beaten track places and popular sites in freedom and at your own pace.

Is there UBER in Cancun or Playa del Carmen?

Unfortunately there is no UBER in Cancun, nor in Playa del Carmen or Tulum.

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Friday 19th of February 2021

There is great information! So good to have correct updates! I opted for private transfer but used a different company offering the same services. And I really loved Playa del Carmen.


Saturday 20th of February 2021

Hello Gus, I am glad you have found the information helpful. Yes, Playa del Carmen is definitely an interesting place! :) Safe travels!