How to Get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen (2023 Transportation Guide)
Trying to figure out how to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen? You’ve come to the right place!
I’m a travel blogger that lives in Playa del Carmen and I’ve traveled to Playa del Carmen from Cancun too many times to count!
I know from personal experience just how confusing, overwhelming, and stressful researching Cancun airport transportation can be. With all the online transportation services available, it can be tough to know which ones to trust.
In this post, I’m sharing the safest, most convenient, and most reliable ways to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen in 2023.
Use this Cancun to Playa del Carmen transportation guide to take the stress out of your Mexico travel planning!
Getting from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
First, let’s start with some important things to know about arriving to Cancun International Airport (CUN):
Cancun to Playa del Carmen Distance
Playa del Carmen is located about 1 hour south of Cancun Airport (about 34 miles) driving directly south on the main highway 307.
It’s basically a straight shot down the highway which makes the drive from Cancun International Airport to Playa del Carmen very easy but you may face occasional traffic and road construction delays.
What to Expect at the Cancun Airport
It’s important to know that upon exiting Cancun Airport, you are immediately going to be bombarded by hoards of salespeople trying to sell you transportation, tours, activities, and timeshares.
This area can be extremely loud, chaotic, and overwhelming and is where many people can get taken advantage of.
There are certainly no shortage of scam artists at the airport trying to rip you off and some may even pretend to be your transportation company.
You’ll want to be prepared for this and my advice would be to just make a beeline past all of these people and only look for the official signs for your chosen airport transportation provider.
If someone approaches you, be cautious and don’t believe what they say unless you’re 100% sure they are the official transportation representative.
Best Transportation Options from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
There are various options for getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen whether you’re looking for something cheap, a shared shuttle, private transportation, or a rental car.
It’s important to know that Uber at Cancun Airport is not available so you’ll need to pick one of the options below!
MY TOP PICKS
🚐 Best Private Transfer: Cancun Airport Transportation ($70 USD)
🚍 Best Shared Transfer: Cancun Shuttles ($29 USD)
🚌 Cheapest Option: ADO Bus ($12 USD)
🚗 Best Rental Car Service: Discover Cars (from Playa del Carmen)
🚕 Taxi: Not recommended
All-Inclusive Resort Transportation
First and foremost I would check with your hotel or resort to see if airport transportation is included in your stay.
Some of the higher-end all-inclusive Riviera Maya resorts will include complimentary airport pickup for guests so be sure to check your hotel package or call or email the resort to see if that’s an option.
Private Transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
For the quickest, most hassle-free, and easiest option, you’ll want to book private transportation from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.
This is honestly what I usually do and recommend for anyone visiting because it is just so convenient having a private shuttle pick up and dropoff with door-to-door transportation service.
After a long flight, it’s the fastest way to go and definitely a nice treat to be picked up and get to your hotel or resort as quickly as possible. Because…the beach and margaritas are waiting! 🍹
I recommend booking with Cancun Airport Transportation, which is a trusted company that provides private and reliable airport transfers with convenient online booking options and friendly bilingual drivers.
Pricing options for Cancun to Playa del Carmen private transportation are as follows:
- Private Van (up to 3 pax): $70 USD one way or $125 USD round trip
- Private SUV (up to 6 pax): $99 USD one way or $175 USD round trip
- Group Shuttle (up to 16 pax): $120 USD one way or $220 USD round trip
- Limo Service (up to 6 pax): $349 USD one way or $600 USD round trip
- Limo Service (up to 10 pax): $425 USD one way or $674 USD round trip
Note pricing may vary depending on where you’re staying if it’s further outside of the normal zones.
While a private Cancun airport transfer has a higher price, it’s the most convenient way to go with someone waiting for you when you get off the plane and not having to deal with the added stress of multiple transport options.
👉 Book a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation by clicking here!
Travelista Tip: Get the best price by booking a round trip transfer ahead of time for $125 USD, which comes out to $62.50 each way for up to 3 passengers.
Shared Transportation from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
If you want to go directly from the airport to your hotel but don’t want to splurge on private transportation, then a shared Cancun airport shuttle to Playa del Carmen is the best way to go.
Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen shared shuttles run frequently from the airport and typically hold up to 15 passengers.
Each passenger will then get dropped off at their hotel or resort along the route to Playa del Carmen.
While this is a cheaper option, the downside is that it can often take a long time to get to your resort with so many stops along the way.
The normal 1-hour ride can often turn into 2+ hours depending on how many people there are to drop off.
I recommend booking the Cancun to Playa del Carmen shuttle service with Cancun Shuttles, which costs about $29 USD one way.
This is the best option for a solo traveler who wants to go directly to their hotel. For couples or a larger group, it is cheaper to book the private transportation.
👉 Book a shared shuttle with Cancun Shuttles by clicking here!
ADO Bus from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
The ADO Airport Bus is the cheapest way to get from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
At only $230 pesos ($12 USD) each way, the ADO bus is safe, comfortable, and provides great value for the money.
The charter-style ADO bus is very large and comfortable with air conditioning, restrooms, and televisions onboard.
The travel time from the airport is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
ADO Bus Schedules
ADO buses runs roughly every 30 minutes and is the most trusted airport bus service in the region.
Service starts around 8:00AM and ends around 11:30PM. Check the ADO website for exact departure times.
Tickets can be booked online in advance on the ADO website or Busbud but I wouldn’t recommend doing this from Cancun because it’s very hard to predict what time you’ll actually be leaving the airport.
Customs and Immigration at the Cancun Airport usually has insanely long lines that you’ll likely get stuck waiting in and miss your scheduled bus. Not to mention, possible baggage claim delays.
From my experience, it’s best to purchase your ADO tickets directly at the red ADO kiosks that are located in each terminal right after exiting baggage claim.
If for some reason the kiosk is closed, bus tickets can also be purchased outside at the ADO stand directly in front of the departing buses.
Credit cards are accepted at the counter only so I would recommend having cash on hand (pesos or USD) in case the counter is closed.
ADO Departure Location
From there, exit the airport and head to the bus terminal parking all the way in the back behind the hoards of salespeople.
You should see the red ADO stand where you can wait for your scheduled bus.
The bus destination will be on the reader board at the front of the bus so look for the ones that say “Playa del Carmen.”
Large luggage can be stowed under the bus and you’ll want to keep all of your valuables with you on your lap or under the seat in front of you.
ADO Station in Downtown Playa del Carmen
The ADO bus will drop you off at the Playa del Carmen Turisitica Station directly on 5th Avenue (Quinta Avenida) and Avenida Juarez in downtown Playa del Carmen.
From the Playa del Carmen bus station, you can walk if you’re staying close by or there is a line of taxis waiting to take you to your final destination.
Travelista Tip: If you don’t have a ton of luggage, I would recommend walking a few blocks towards 10th Avenue, where you can grab a taxi at a much cheaper rate.
For a detailed guide on taking the ADO bus, see my full step-by-step guide here!
Rental Car from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
If you want to explore some more off-the-beaten-path locations during your trip, you can consider booking a rental car for the freedom to drive places on your own.
Having a rental car is a good option if you want to get out and explore Riviera Maya’s many attractions and day trips like its incredible cenotes, the ancient Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, beautiful beaches, and nearby towns in the Yucatan Peninsula.
Rental Car Pickup from Cancun Airport
There are several rental car companies available at the Cancun Airport but I would be very cautious about this option.
There are a lot of horror stories about Cancun Airport car rentals including long wait times, not getting the car you booked, and extreme upcharges for insurance.
You may see advertisements online for Mexico car rentals as low as $1 per day but then you’ll get nailed for all the added fees and insurance premiums.
If you decide to rent a car from the airport, do your research and book online in advance.
I like to use Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
Just be sure to read the fine print and check reviews as rental car scams are unfortunately common in Mexico and much more prevalent at the Cancun Airport.
Rental Car Pickup from Playa del Carmen
If you really want to rent a car, the safer option would be to just book the private transportation to Playa del Carmen.
Once you’re there, then you can rent a car in Playa del Carmen to avoid any hassles or ripoffs at the airport.
👉 For a hassle-free experience, book your car through my favorite rental service Discover Cars by clicking here!
Taxi from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen
I really wouldn’t recommend taking a taxi from the Cancun Airport if you can avoid it.
Regular taxis are not permitted to pick up at the Cancun Airport so only official airport taxis are allowed.
This means they are often extremely overpriced and will require a lot of haggling with taxi drivers to negotiate a price to your destination.
And with many scam artists pretending to be “official operators”, it’s difficult to know which drivers are actually safe and reliable.
Airport taxis are where a lot of people get ripped off and can end up paying $100 USD or more just to get to Playa del Carmen.
Your best bet is just to book the private transfers for $70 USD for a safe and hassle-free experience.
How to Get from Downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen
If you want to get to Playa del Carmen from downtown Cancun, there are a few different options available.
Downtown Cancun to Playa del Carmen drive time is a little over 1 hour but you can pretty much expect there to be some traffic delays in Cancun. The total distance is around 42 miles (68 km).
Similar to the ADO Airport Bus, the Cancun to Playa del Carmen ADO Bus is a comfortable, charter-style bus that runs between the two cities.
The trip takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and there are 3-4 departures every hour. The cost is just $104 pesos (~$5 USD).
Pick-up is at the ADO bus station in Cancun and drop-off is at the Playa del Carmen Turistica Station in downtown Playa del Carmen on Fifth Avenue.
The Cancun to Playa del Carmen bus is an affordable and comfortable way to travel between Cancun and Playa del Carmen and a great option if you don’t have a car.
The Playa Express is a large, Mercedes Sprinter-style van that runs continuously between Playa del Carmen and Cancun.
Originating at the ADO Station in Cancun, the Playa Express does not have specific bus stops along the way but rather picks people up off the side of the highway and drops them off upon request.
The cost to travel from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is around $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) and can be paid upon exiting.
For drop-off, you’ll need to tell the driver where you’d like to get off if it’s before the final stop in Playa del Carmen.
The most economical option via public transportation would be to take a colectivo from Cancun to Playa del Carmen.
Colectivos can also be picked up near the ADO Station in Cancun and usually the final destination is written on the windshield.
Colectivos operate in the exact same way as the Playa Express however the white colectivo vans are typically older, smaller, and more crowded. They cost slightly less than the Playa Express but are not as comfortable.
If you prefer more private transportation, taxis are widely available from downtown Cancun as well from the Cancun hotel zone to Playa del Carmen.
Taking a Cancun to Playa del Carmen taxi is much safer and more reliable than taking one from the airport.
You can expect the taxi cost from Cancun to Playa del Carmen to be about $1000 pesos (~$50 USD) each way.
FAQs about Getting from Cancun to Playa del Carmen
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about Cancun-Playa del Carmen transportation:
Uber is not available in Playa del Carmen. There have been many attempts by Uber to start service but protests from the taxi syndicate and transportation authorities have blocked Uber and other shared ride apps like Lyft from operating in Playa del Carmen.
A shared shuttle from Cancun to Playa del Carmen is around $29 USD per person with dropoff at your hotel.
Alternatively, the ADO Airport bus costs $230 pesos ($12 USD) per person with a dropoff in downtown Playa del Carmen.
No, you typically cannot pay for taxi service with a credit card in Cancun or Playa del Carmen. Make sure to have enough cash on hand (pesos or USD) and always confirm the price upfront before getting in the car.
No, it is not customary to tip taxi drivers in Mexico.
While not required, it’s common to tip private drivers at the end of the private transfer service from Cancun to Playa del Carmen. Around 10% of the service price would be an acceptable tip.
Pretty much all of the drivers I’ve had have been extremely friendly and professional so you will likely want to give them a tip.
🚕 Related Reading: Where You Can Uber in Mexico
Tips for Traveling to Playa del Carmen from Cancun
Follow these tips for a safe experience when traveling to Playa del Carmen from Cancun:
- Don’t get distracted by the salespeople at the airport: Upon exiting the airport, it’s best to just make a beeline past all the hoards of people trying to sell you transportation, tours, activities, and timeshares. Many will try to scam you by pretending to be your transportation company. Be on the lookout for an official sign with your pre-arranged transportation company logo or head all the way to the back for the ADO bus.
- Have cash on hand: When arriving in Mexico, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand (pesos or USD) to pay for the ADO bus or to tip the luggage attendant or your private driver.
- Keep an eye on your luggage and keep valuables with you: Keep an eye on your luggage at all times to make sure it’s actually placed in the vehicle. Never place valuables in the trunk of the van or underneath the bus. It’s best to always keep your purse, wallet, travel documents, and any valuables with you in your lap.
- If you’re traveling alone, send your live location to a friend: Whenever I’m traveling alone, I always send my live location to a friend on Whatsapp just in case something were to happen on the drive.
Conclusion: Cancun to Playa del Carmen Transportation Guide
I hope this Cancun to Playa del Carmen transportation travel guide helps to take the stress out of your Mexico travel planning.
The easiest and most hassle-free way to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen is by booking a private transfer in advance.
Or for more budget-friendly options you can consider booking a shared airport shuttle or taking the ADO bus. Although these options will take longer to get to your destination.
Avoid taking taxis or renting cars directly from the airport but both are good options once you get to your hotel or resort.
Now that you know how to get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun, you can focus on the fun things like tours and activities!
Traveling to Mexico soon?
These are the Mexico travel resources I use and recommend:
🏨 Hotels: I always find the best deals for Mexico hotels and resorts on Booking.com. If you prefer a vacation rental, check VRBO as they are often cheaper than AirBnB’s added fees!
✈️ Flights: I recommend using Skyscanner for the best Mexico flight deals. Be sure to sign up for their price alerts for your preferred travel dates.
🚗 Rental Cars: I like to use Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, car condition, and overall time spent.
🚙 Cancun Airport Transportation: I recommend booking a private transfer with Cancun Airport Transportation for the quickest and most hassle-free option!
🤿 Tours & Activities: I always use Viator or GetYourGuide for booking tours and activities in Mexico. You can cancel up to 24 hours before the tour for a full refund, plus they have excellent customer service if you were to have any issues.
🚨 Travel Insurance: After my Dad broke his hand in a taxi accident in Playa del Carmen, I always recommend buying travel insurance before your trip for added peace of mind! I recommend Travel Insurance Master for short trips or Safety Wing for digital nomads.
☀️ Biodegradable Sunscreen: Don’t forget to add biodegradable sunscreen to your Mexico packing list! Regular sunscreen is prohibited when swimming in the ocean and cenotes in Mexico, so you’ll need to pack some biodegradable sunscreen for sun protection. I recommend Sun Bum Sunscreen, which is reef-friendly, vegan, and cruelty-free.