Getting Around Playa del Carmen

How to Get Around Playa del Carmen (2022 Transportation Guide)

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Are you visiting Playa del Carmen and wondering about the transportation situation? You’ve come to the right guide!

As a Playa del Carmen local, I’ve lived in Playa del Carmen for over 3 years without a car and have discovered all the best ways to get around Playa del Carmen and the Riviera Maya region.

In this post, I’m sharing a complete guide on how to get around Playa del Carmen including the most common transportation options, cost information, and top transportation tips.

How to Get Around Playa del Carmen

How to Get Around Playa del Carmen

These are the most common ways to get around Playa del Carmen Mexico:

Walking

Is Playa del Carmen walkable? You bet! That’s one of the things I love about living in Playa del Carmen is that the entire downtown area is extremely walkable.

Everything in the downtown area outlined on the map below is known as “Centro” and is pretty walkable.

The town is centered around the lively 5th Avenue (“La Quinta Avenida”), which is a pedestrian-only street than spans for over 20 blocks and where you’ll find the majority of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.

You can easily walk within a few blocks from 5th Avenue to the beach, restaurants, shopping malls, and grocery stores.

The Playa del Carmen downtown area is laid out a grid system and is pretty easy to navigate once you get your bearings. You can easily rely on Google Maps to get around but here are the basics:

  • Avenues (“Avenidas”) run parallel to the beach and blocks increase by 5 starting at the beach (for example 1st Avenue, 5th Avenue, 10th Avenue, etc)
  • Streets (“Calles”) run perpendicular to the beach and blocks increase by 2 starting at Avenida Juarez (2nd street, 4th Street, 6th Street, etc)

While walking around town, I would recommend walking down 5th Avenue or 10th Avenue as those are the busiest streets and most pedestrian-friendly.  There are usually a lot of other people out and about in the main tourist areas, which makes it feel safe walking around. 

Travelista Tip: Be sure to use caution when walking around Playa del Carmen as pedestrians do not have the right of way. 

Playa del Carmen Walking 5th Avenue

Biking

Biking is extremely popular in Playa del Carmen for both tourists and locals, and you’ll find bike parking racks all around town. The best street to bike down is 10th Avenue, which is one of the main roads and has a dedicated bike lane for a good distance of the downtown area. 

If there is not a bike path, be sure to be very mindful of traffic as the drivers in Playa can be a little crazy–they often don’t look both ways when making right turns!  

If you’re looking for the best places to bike along the beach, unfortunately there aren’t really any biking paths with beachfront views in Playa del Carmen.

Travelista Tip: Bike theft is unfortunately a common occurrence so make sure to use a high quality bike lock and lock it around a very secure structure.

Playa del Carmen Bicycle

Biciplaya

Biciplaya is a bike rental service that can be used for short trips around Playa del Carmen.  There are bike stations all over Playa where you can pick up a bike for 30 minute periods. 

This is a good option for quick trips from Point A to Point B rather than renting a bike by the hour or day. Once you finish your ride, bikes must be returned to a station via the app.

You can download the Biciplaya app to manage rentals and sign up for a plan.  It’s a very inexpensive way to get around Playa del Carmen especially if you don’t have a car. 

Biciplaya Playa del Carmen Bike Rental

Colectivo

If you want to get around Riviera Maya including going north of Playa del Carmen towards Cancun or south towards Tulum, you can easily take a colectivo (shared van).

A colectivo is the most popular form of public transportation in Playa del Carmen and is basically a taxi style van that runs continuously up and down the main highway. 

Once you get the hang of it, colectivos are an easy and inexpensive way to get to beautiful beaches, cenotes, and towns just outside of Playa del Carmen. 

Skip ahead for detailed instructions on taking a colectivo:

Playa del Carmen Colectivo

City Bus

City buses are also available in Playa del Carmen and are primarily used by locals to get to neighborhoods further away from downtown. These public buses can be large and clunky and are much more crowded than a colectivo.

When taking city buses, you pay upon entering (usually around $10 pesos) and will have to tell the bus driver where you would like to get off. The majority of the buses run down 30th Avenue and have their destinations painted on the windshield.

ADO Bus

The ADO bus line is one of the largest buses lines in Mexico and serves the southern part of Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula.

The large, charter-style buses offer a safe, comfortable, and economical way to travel between many cities and airports. You’ll even be treated to air conditioning, restrooms, and TV screens onboard.

In Playa del Carmen, the ADO buses are most commonly known as the airport bus, as it’s the cheapest way to get from Cancun Airport to Playa del Carmen.  The main ADO bus terminal in Playa del Carmen (“Playa del Carmen Turistica”) is located on 5th Avenue and Avenida Benito Juarez.

The Playa del Carmen ADO bus station also serves as a Riviera Maya transportation hub to reach other nearby destinations like Tulum, Cancun, BacalarHolbox, Merida, and Valladolid. 

Read my full ADO guide here for more detailed instructions on how to take the ADO bus service in Playa del Carmen.

👉 ADO bus tickets can be booked directly on the ADO website (Spanish only) or on BusBud (English) for a small surcharge.

Playa del Carmen ADO Bus Service

Taxi

You can take a private taxi to get just about anywhere in Playa del Carmen. They are so abundant that you can find them all over the city and easily hail them from the street.  Taxis in Playa del Carmen are generally safe but there are bad taxi drivers out there which give them a bad name.

The safest option is to use a Playa del Carmen taxi service app, where you can request a taxi via Whatsapp and send them your location.

There is an added charge (only around $35 pesos) for the convenience but it is a much safer and more reliable option, especially if you are traveling alone.

After confirming, the taxi app will provide you with the taxi number and estimated arrival time. Playa del Carmen taxi fares around town cost around $50-$100 pesos.

🚕 One taxi app I use is called Radio Taxi which can be arranged on Whatsapp at +52 984 316 3751 (English).

Playa del Carmen Taxi

Tips for Taking A Taxi in Playa del Carmen

Be sure to follow these important safety tips when taking a taxi in Playa del Carmen:

  • Confirm the price upfront: Always confirm the price of the taxi before getting in.  Taxis drivers will definitely overcharge at a higher rate for tourists. 

  • Try to speak Spanish: If you can speak Spanish with the driver, you are more likely to get a fair rate.

  • Never sit in the front seat:  This sets you up for someone to hop into the backseat and attack you from behind. Also don’t get in a taxi if there is someone in the passengers seat.  Chances are they are working together.

  • Record the taxi number: It’s a good idea to save the taxi number in your phone or send it in a quick text message to a friend in case of emergency or if you left anything behind.

  • Double check for personal belongings: Always be sure to check the backseat of the taxi before exiting for any items that may have been left behind.  If you do leave something, chances are you will not get it back.

  • Don’t take taxis from 5th Avenue:  The 5th Avenue taxi zone will be charged the tourist rate which will be double or triple the normal price.  In most cases, you can walk one block up to 10th Avenue and hail a taxi at the normal rate. 

  • Always wear a seatbelt: Be sure to always wear a seatbelt when taking taxis, especially for long distances.  Drivers in Mexico can be a little unpredictable and it’s not uncommon for accidents to occur. 

🚨 Do you need travel insurance for Mexico? Yes! Most insurance plans in your home country will not cover incidents abroad. I recommend using Travel Insurance Master, which is a handy travel insurance marketplace where you can compare policies. Get a FREE quote by clicking here!

Rental Car

Another option for getting around Playa del Carmen is by renting a car, which gives you the freedom to explore some more off-the-beaten-path attractions and get to discover the region at your own pace.

This is the best option if you’re staying for an extended period of time and want to take some day trips to visit the nearby Mayan ruins, cenotes, hidden beaches, and attractions of the Yucatan peninsula.

I recommend using Discover Cars because you can compare multiple car rental companies and see detailed ratings for overall value, ease of pick-up, efficiency of agents, and car condition.

Car rental scams are unfortunately common in Mexico so be sure to read the fine print and check reviews. You may see advertisements online for Playa del Carmen 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, do your research and book online in advance.

👉 For a hassle-free experience, book your car through my favorite rental service Discover Cars by clicking here!

Ferry

In downtown Playa del Carmen, you’ll also find a ferry terminal with a passenger ferry that goes from Playa del Carmen to the island of Cozumel.

There are two ferry services companies (Ultramar and Winjet) with alternating schedules that leave every hour.

The ferry crossing takes about 40 minutes and round-trip tickets cost around $500 pesos (~$25 USD) per person.

Read my full guide here for more detailed information on taking a day trip from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel.

Playa del Carmen Ferry to Cozumel

Private Tours

If you don’t feel comfortable driving on your own in Playa del Carmen, you can also consider booking a private tour to get around.

This will be the most expensive option but gives you the convenience to design your own itinerary and take advantage of having a local driver with knowledge of the destination.

Here are some of the top-rated private tours in Playa del Carmen with private transportation included:

How to Take a Colectivo From Playa del Carmen to Cancun

To get from Playa del Carmen to Cancun by public transit, you can either take a colectivo shared minivan OR the Playa Express. 

I would recommend taking the Playa Express, which is basically the same thing as a colectivo, but the vans are larger, newer, and more comfortable. 

Read my full transportation guide here for more detailed information on getting from Playa del Carmen to Cancun.

Cancun Colectivo Station

You can get on the Playa Express or a colectivo at the main bus depot near Avenida Juarez and the main highway 307 in downtown Playa del Carmen.

Cancun Colectivo Schedule

The Playa Express does not have a specific schedule but leaves frequently when the buses are full. The buses run from early in the morning to late at night.

There are not specific bus stops along the way from Playa del Carmen to Cancun but rather it picks people up off the side of the highway and drops them off upon request.

If you’re going somewhere in between Playa del Carmen and Cancun, you’ll have to tell the bus driver where you would like to get off.  Simply shout “Bajan” (Stop) or “En (Name of Destination)” when you’re getting close. 

If you’re nervous about shouting out your stop, I would recommend telling the driver as soon as you get on.  It’s very helpful if you know some Spanish phrases as most of the drivers don’t speak English.

Cancun Colectivo Cost

If you take the Playa Express all the way to Cancun, it will take about 1 hour and will drop you off at the ADO bus station in Cancun. The cost should be less than $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) and you will pay upon exiting. 

It’s best to have exact change or small bills on hand as most drivers do not have much change and credit cards are not accepted.  Trust me they will not be happy if you try to pay with a $500 peso bill! 

✈️ Looking for the best Cancun airport transportation options? Head to my guide here for the safest and most reliable ways to get to Playa del Carmen from the Cancun International Airport.

How to Take a Colectivo From Playa del Carmen to Tulum

On the contrary, you can also take a colectivo to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Note the Playa Express does not go to Tulum so you’ll want to look for the vans that say Tulum on the front and side. 

Read my full transportation guide here for more detailed information on getting from Playa del Carmen to Tulum.

Tulum Colectivo Station

As of 2022, colectivos can be picked up in downtown Playa del Carmen near the Chedraui grocery store and the main highway 307 (behind the McDonald’s).

There will be a line of colectivos and you’ll want to make sure you get on one that says “Tulum” on the side. 

Tulum Colectivo Schedule

Colectivos do not have a set schedule and just depart when they are full so you’ll never have to wait long to get on the road. They typically depart every 5-10 minutes and run from early in the morning to around 11:00pm.

Once you’re on the colectivo, it will take a little longer to get to Tulum (about 1 hour) as colectivos stop frequently to pick people up and let them off along the way. 

There aren’t specific stops so you’ll need to tell the driver when you would like to get off if it’s before the final stop in Tulum.

If you don’t speak Spanish, this is probably the most nerve-wracking part of taking a colectivo so I would recommend letting the driver know your final destination as soon as you get on the colectivo so he knows where to let you off.

Tulum Colectivo Cost

The colectivo to Tulum costs around $50 pesos (~$2.50 USD) and you will pay the driver upon exiting. 

It’s best to pay in pesos and you’ll want to have small bills on hand as most drivers will not have much change. Credit cards are not accepted.

Once you get off the colectivo in Tulum, you can hail a taxi or rent bicycles to get the beach clubs, Tulum hotels, or your final destination in Tulum.

Travelista Tip: You can take a colectivo to some of my favorite destinations between Playa del Carmen and Tulum including Cenote EdenCenote Cristalino, and Cenote Azul, as well as the stunning beaches of Playa Xpu Ha and Playa Xcacel.

FAQs about Getting Around Playa del Carmen

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about transportation in Playa del Carmen:

Is there Uber in Playa del Carmen?

Uber is not available in Playa del Carmen. There have been many attempts by Uber to start service in the region that have been unsuccessful.

Protests from the taxi syndicate and transportation authorities have blocked Uber and other shared ride apps like Lyft from operating in Playa del Carmen.

What is the best way to get around Playa del Carmen?

The best way to get around Playa del Carmen is by walking. The entire downtown area, known as “Centro”, is completely walkable where you can explore Fifth Avenue (the main tourist area) on foot or hit the beach.

Playa del Carmen 5th Avenue

Do I need a car in Playa del Carmen?

You do not need a car in Playa del Carmen as the small town is walkable and there are many public and private transfer options available. However, a rental car is nice to have if you wish to visit more off-the-beaten path attractions and explore at your own pace.

How far is Playa del Carmen from the airport?

Playa del Carmen is located about 1 hour south of Cancun Airport (about 34 miles) driving directly south on the main highway 307.

Can you walk around Playa del Carmen?

The downtown area of Playa del Carmen is extremely walkable and you can easily get around on foot to shop, dine, or hit the beach.

Final Thoughts: How to Get Around Playa del Carmen

I hope this Playa del Carmen transportation guide was helpful in explaining how to get around in Playa del Carmen.

Even if you don’t have a car, it’s very easy and inexpensive to get around Playa del Carmen and explore all the amazing attractions in the Mayan Riviera.

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