If you’re thinking about heading from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, don’t hesitate to make the quick journey.
Tulum is one of the most beautiful (and most popular) cities on the Riviera Maya, and it’s not hard to see why. From palm lined beaches and colorful coral reefs to ancient Mayan cities and mouth-watering cuisine, you’ll want to take some time to see this beautiful town.
Whether you’re heading to Tulum for a day or planning on staying for an entire weekend, deciding how to get there in advance can save you both time and money. There are a few ways you can travel from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, and both budget travelers and those looking for a comfortable journey will have no problem finding a mode of transportation that suits their itinerary.
We’ve put together a guide for all the ways to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, so continue reading to figure out which option is best for you.
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Although it may feel overwhelming to figure out how to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, there are actually multiple modes of transportation readily available for tourists. The journey between the two cities is a common one, so businesses in the transit industry abound here.
All the options we’ve listed are tried and true, but the best way to travel will depend on a few key things. Some are better for cost while some are better for comfort, but all of them will get you to Tulum safe and sound. Check out the highlights and read more in-depth about all the options for traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum below.
- Take a colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
- Hop on the ADO bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
- Rent a car in Playa del Carmen
- Hire a private taxi from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
Click here to find out the best time to travel to Tulum!
Playa del Carmen to Tulum: Transportation Guide
Take a Colectivo from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
One of the best ways to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is by taking a colectivo, or shared bus. Taking one of these shuttles is the cheapest option available, and it’s popular enough that buses run from early in the morning to late in the evening.
The journey takes about an hour one way, but the driver often has to make multiple stops along the way – so don’t be surprised if it ends up being more like an hour and a half.
Depending on where you hop on and off, you can expect to pay between 40-100 pesos (around 2-5 USD). Make sure you bring small bills to pay with, as drivers usually don’t carry enough change to break large bills.
You could also buy your ticket online ahead of time if you want to avoid any hassles on the day of, but this is only recommended if you don’t mind booking for a specific time slot. If you prefer to have some wiggle room in your itinerary, there is no price difference for booking ahead and buying your tickets the day of, you’ll just need to wait in line and possibly practice using your Spanish.
This is a popular way to travel, and the lines might get long during busy times. That being said, the colectivos fill up fast and hit the road as soon as they are full, so you shouldn’t have to spend too much time waiting around. If there isn’t a bus waiting for you when you arrive, fear not, another one will likely arrive in minutes.
Most of the colectivos leave from Avenida Benito Juarez and have since the start of the pandemic, but the location could always change back to its original location on Calle 2. Even if you don’t speak Spanish, figuring out the shuttles is relatively easy. Just look for the sign in the front of the bus, and listen for someone calling “Tulum”.
Keep in mind that this is the cheapest option for a reason, and you won’t have a lot of room for large luggage and many of the colectivos do not have the luxury of air conditioning. Another downside to the colectivos is that they drop you off in a specific spot, so if you are staying in a hotel in Tulum, you’ll need to find a taxi or walk the rest of the way. Nevertheless, taking a colectivo while in Mexico is basically a rite of passage, and if you’re trying to stay cheap, this is the way to go.
Hop on the ADO Bus from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
If you’re hoping to stick to your budget but the colectivos seem a bit intimidating, the ADO bus is another good choice for traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum. Most drivers are bilingual, so you won’t have to worry about speaking Spanish, and you won’t need to tell the driver where you’re going anyhow.
The ADO bus is much larger than the shared shuttles, so if you have a lot of luggage or want some more room to stretch out your legs, this is your best bet. Of course, more perks usually come with a higher price tag, but the fare on the bus is not actually much more expensive than the colectivo.
Depending on the date and time of your departure, prices range from 52-108 pesos (around 3-6 USD) for a one-way ticket at the time of writing. You can book your ticket in advance or wait until the day of if you’re not sure which day you’d like to head to Tulum.
One of the downfalls of taking the ADO bus is that there are fewer departures from Playa del Carmen to Tulum than the collectivo, but if you plan your trip ahead of time you can avoid waiting around at the bus station unnecessarily. Similar to the colectivo, you won’t be dropped off at your final destination, but rather at the downtown bus station.
Hire a Private Taxi from Playa del Carmen to Tulum
One of the most convenient ways to get from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is by grabbing a taxi. If you don’t like public transportation this might be your best option, especially if you are only going to Tulum for the day and then heading back. Another perk of hiring a private taxi is that they will drop you off wherever you want to go, whether that be at the beach, the doorstep of your hotel, or a local restaurant.
Unfortunately, this is not a viable option for those looking to keep the budget low. Taxis to Tulum from Playa del Carmen usually cost around 600 pesos (around 30 USD), but if you’re traveling with a few other people the split cost isn’t too terrible. That being said, it is definitely a more expensive option when you compare it to the miniscule prices of the ADO bus and the colectivos.
What’s more is that taxis in Playa del Carmen don’t have meters, so you’re at the mercy of your driver when it comes to the price. Unfortunately, taxi drivers in this area have a bad reputation for swindling gringos, so depending on how opulent and foreign you look, you might end up paying even more for this mode of transportation. Whatever you do, don’t hail a cab from the touristy areas of Playa del Carmen, especially Avenida 5. You can almost guarantee a higher rate from this zone.
If you can, have your hotel call a taxi for you, they will even help you with negotiating a price if you don’t speak Spanish.
Read this to learn how safe Tulum really is!
Rent a Car in Playa del Carmen
Your final option for traveling from Playa del Carmen to Tulum is to rent a car. Tulum is a fairly spread out city, so by renting a car you’ll be able to see as much of it as possible. With your own four wheels, you could also see some more of the beautiful Riviera Maya and Yucatan Peninsula, all at your own pace.
The downside of renting a car is that you’ll need to find a parking spot, which can often be hard to find around town. You can avoid this predicament by finding a hotel that offers free parking to guests, but make sure to read the fine print because this is not offered at every accommodation. You’ll also want to think about parking options around town, the ruins, and anywhere else you might be driving to, as some areas get pretty full during peak seasons.
There are plenty of car rental companies in Playa del Carmen, and rates will vary depending on what size vehicle you need, what time of year you are visiting, and how far in advance you book. Although this is by no means the cheapest option, it can be less expensive than taking a taxi if you’ll be doing a lot of back and forth travel during your time in Tulum or if you’re traveling with a group.
Heading to Tulum from Cancun? here’s how to get from Cancun to Tulum!
How far is Tulum from Playa del Carmen?
Tulum is about 65 kilometers (40 miles) from Playa del Carmen, and depending on traffic and which transportation option you choose, you can expect the journey to take at least an hour.
Is one day enough in Tulum?
It is possible to experience some of the best of Tulum in just a few hours, and even if you’ve only got a day to spare it is still worth the trip. From the ancient ruins and gorgeous white sand beaches to the vibrant downtown area and exceptional cuisine, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy, so much so that it would be easy to spend a full week here alone.
If you do want to spend more than a day in Tulum, there are plenty of incredible Airbnb, VRBO, and vacation homes in Tulum.
How do you get to Playa del Carmen from Cancun?
If you’re flying into Cancun and need to make your way to Playa del Carmen, you’ll have a few different options. Just like the route from Playa del Carmen to Tulum, it all depends on your budget, your desired comfort level, and how fast you want to get there. You’ll find options for private transfers, buses, taxis, or car rentals at the airport.
Playa del Carmen is about halfway from Cancun to Tulum, so it’s the perfect home base for those who are looking for a stopover along the way.
Can you go directly from Cancun to Tulum?
There are a few ways to get from the Cancun airport into Tulum, though it is a bit further away and direct options may cost you more than a trip from Playa del Carmen.
If you’re heading to Tulum first or skipping Playa del Carmen altogether, check out our guide on how to get from Cancun to Tulum.
Check out this Mexico travel guide for awesome tips on where to stay and what to do!
How do I get to the Tulum Archaeological Zone?
One of the biggest draws to Tulum are the ancient coastal ruins, located about 4 kilometers (around 2.5 miles) to the north of the city. Oftentimes people skip the city of Tulum altogether and just spend the day exploring the ancient Mayan city, so there are plenty of ways to get there.
If you’re coming from Playa del Carmen and want to go straight to the archaeological zone, all of the options from above will get you there, though the journey differs slightly.
If you’re taking a colectivo, you’ll need to let your driver know you’re headed to the ruins (“las ruinas de Tulum” in Spanish), otherwise they won’t stop. The price is the same, so don’t make the mistake of getting off at the main Tulum stop and then taking a taxi the rest of the way.
The ADO bus has a few direct routes from Playa del Carmen to the ruins each day, just be sure to check the schedule and get on the right bus.
If you’re taking a private taxi or renting a car, nothing changes – just an added perk to these more expensive options.
Planning a Trip to Mexico? Read these Guides:
- Best Tulum Cenotes you NEED to Visit (Travel Guide)
- Diving in Mexico: 10 Dive Sites You Can’t Miss
- 13 Marvelous Mayan Ruins in Mexico You Have to Visit